Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/14/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/14/2009Al Qaeda is calling for a jihad against China over the oppression of the Uighurs in Xinjiang, and asks that fellow Muslims help generate a huge media storm about the cause.

In other news, the Hamas-run government in Gaza has forbidden women to ride motorcycles.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, LJ, Sean O’Brian, VH, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Meet the ‘Father of World Currency’
The Real Battle Over America’s Banking System
 
USA
Decline is a Choice
Does the Vaccine Matter?
Eligibility Attorney Mocked, Fined $20,000
Freedom Watch Founder Talks to Lou Dobbs About New Book
If Obama Had Told Us Before His Election
Iver’s Licenses Scanned in Search for Fugitives
‘Now We Have Proof …’
Obama’s Unrestrained FBI: Is This America?
Toymaker Releases Michelle Obama Doll to Do Battle in the Shops With Action Figure of Her Husband
What’s Michael Moore Talking About?
Why I Hate Obama’s America
 
Europe and the EU
Austria: Mayor Demands Racial Segregation at Refugee Camp
Bomb Attack Stuns Italy
Germany: Smuggled Kurds Disappear From Refugee Camp
Italy: Strait Bridge: First Building Site to Open in December
Italy Backs Blair for EU President
Italy: Messina Bridge Work to Start in Dec
March for Shariah in London, UK
Minarets Raise Questions for Austrians Too
Mussolini an MI5 Agent in 1917
No Fiat Cash for Chrysler
Police Take Rioters on Holiday to Spain
Pope to Visit Rome Synagogue
Slovenia: Deal on Minimum Salary for Gorenje Workers
Terrorist Mastermind Who Was Granted Asylum in Britain for 10 Years is Jailed for Life for Paris Bombings
The Bishop’s Ax Falls on Obama. And on the Vatican Curia
UK: Abducted Sisters, 11 and 12, Trapped in Morocco Due to Custody Battle
UK: Pledge to Help White Working Class and Stop Them Being Driven Into the Arms of Extremism
 
Balkans
Germany to Send Kosovar Refugees Home
 
North Africa
Libya: Gaddafi Asks for Official Role for Son Seif
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza Zoo to Receive ‘Authentic Zebras’ From Tel Aviv
Gaza: New Hamas Ban, No Women on Motorbikes
Lieberman: Realism Needed, Far From End of Conflict
 
Middle East
Dubai: Population Up 33% in 4 Years
Iran: Petition Demands Freedom for 2 Christians
Iranian Nuke Crisis Creates Giant Headache for NASA
Syria: No Narghile in Public Places, Decree Signed
The Contempt of Iran for America
Why Bin Laden Really Turned to Terrorism
 
South Asia
Afghanistan: No More Italian Troops
Handsome Muslim Men Accused of Waging ‘Love Jihad’ In India
West Java: Villages Against Burial of Two Islamic Terrorists
 
Far East
An Atomic Iran: Many Words, Few Results
China Protests Extension of EU Footwear Tariff
China: Al-Qaeda Urges Holy War to Defend Muslims
China: Good News From Beijing, The Number of Billionaires is Rising, So is the Economy
 
Immigration
Berlusconi: Landings Reduced by 90%
France: Illegal Immigrant Reported by Bank Clerk
Germany: Policy of Avoidance
Vatican: Bishop Berates Libya on Human Rights
 
Culture Wars
Judge: Abortion Laws Protect Girl Who Sought Pregnancy-Ending Beating
Playboy Targets Kids by Stripping Marge Simpson
UN Commissioner Blasts Italy
 
General
Interpol and UN to Fight Crime Globally

Financial Crisis

Meet the ‘Father of World Currency’

Robert Mundell masterminded China plan to destroy dollar

A plan to replace the dollar with a world currency originated with Columbia University economics professor Robert Mundell, who won a Nobel Prize in economics in 1999 for creating the euro and is now widely regarded as “the father of the euro.”

Mundell, currently an economic consultant to China, is the originator of the suggestion that the International Monetary Fund should utilize Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs, to replace the dollar as a new standard for holding foreign exchange reserves in international trade transactions.

SDRs are international reserve assets calculated by the IMF in a basket of major currencies allocated to the IMF’s 185 member nation-states in relation to the capital. The assets are largely in gold or widely accepted foreign currencies the members have on deposit with the IMF.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Real Battle Over America’s Banking System

The battle to reform the American banking system needs to include reimposing the barrier between investment banking and depository banking (Glass-Steagall), pay incentives based on what is best for Americans and not just the top executives, the end of too big to fail, and other changes which are frequently discussed by financial writers. These are vital issues.

But there is more to the battle for reform than you might know.

New York Versus the Rest of the Country

If you are happy with the banking system, and don’t think it needs to be reformed, then you probably work for one of the banks headquartered in New York.

Indeed, the banks outside of New York have acted much more conservatively, used more conservative capital ratios and less leverage and gotten less involved in credit derivatives and other speculative investments.

Buy a banker in the Midwest a drink, and he will probably rail against the giant New York banks for causing the financial crisis, costing the smaller, better run banks a lot of money and huge fees, and driving many smaller banks out of business.

And even within the Federal Reserve, what the New York Fed and Bernanke are saying is wholly different from what the heads of the regional Fed banks are saying. The Fed banks in Philadelphia and Kansas City and Dallas and elsewhere disagree with what the New York Fed and Fed’s Open Market Committee are doing. See this and this.

So the battle isn’t between bankers versus outsiders. It is between the giant New York money-centered banks and the rest of the country. Reserve Requirements Congresswoman Kaptur said last week:

We used to have capital ratios. We need to get back to them. Ten to one. For every dollar in your bank, you can lend ten. You know what J.P. Morgan did? A hundred to one. And then with derivatives, who knows how much?

Remember, Milton Friedman — the monetary economist worshipped as the guy with all of the answers in the latter part of the 20th century — advocated for 100% reserves.

Friedman has been deified as the economist to follow. But his views on reserve requirements have been completely ignored.

Goldman Using Taxpayer Dollars to Buy Stock in China?

As everyone knows, Goldman became a “bank holding company” in September, to be able to access funds from the Fed at essentially zero percent interest.

But in a new interview with Bill Moyers, Simon Johnson noted that in August of 2009, Goldman switched again — to a “financial holding company”.

What’s the difference?

Johnson says that being a financial holding company means that Goldman can borrow money from the Fed at essentially no cost, and then invest it in any thing it wants. For example, Johnson says that Goldman has bought a large share of the stock of a Chinese automaker. Johnson says that if the investment succeeds, Goldman will reap the profits; but if it fails, the taxpayers are on the hook.

[Return to headlines]

USA

Decline is a Choice

The New Liberalism and the end of American ascendancy.

Among these crosscurrents, my thesis is simple: The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no. Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline—or continued ascendancy—is in our hands.

[…]

The current foreign policy of the United States is an exercise in contraction. It begins with the demolition of the moral foundation of American dominance. In Strasbourg, President Obama was asked about American exceptionalism. His answer? “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Interesting response. Because if everyone is exceptional, no one is.

Indeed, as he made his hajj from Strasbourg to Prague to Ankara to Istanbul to Cairo and finally to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama drew the picture of an America quite exceptional—exceptional in moral culpability and heavy-handedness, exceptional in guilt for its treatment of other nations and peoples. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own country for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness (toward Europe), for maltreatment of natives, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantánamo, for unilateralism, and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.

Quite an indictment, the fundamental consequence of which is to effectively undermine any moral claim that America might have to world leadership, as well as the moral confidence that any nation needs to have in order to justify to itself and to others its position of leadership. According to the new dispensation, having forfeited the mandate of heaven—if it ever had one—a newly humbled America now seeks a more modest place among the nations, not above them.

[…]

This renunciation of primacy is not entirely new. Liberal internationalism as practiced by the center-left Clinton administrations of the 1990s—the beginning of the unipolar era—was somewhat ambivalent about American hegemony, although it did allow America to be characterized as “the indispensable nation,” to use Madeleine Albright’s phrase. Clintonian center-left liberal internationalism did seek to restrain American power by tying Gulliver down with a myriad of treaties and agreements and international conventions. That conscious constraining of America within international bureaucratic and normative structures was rooted in the notion that power corrupts and that external restraints would curb arrogance and overreaching and break a willful America to the role of good international citizen.

But the liberal internationalism of today is different. It is not center-left, but left-liberal. And the new left-liberal internationalism goes far beyond its earlier Clintonian incarnation in its distrust of and distaste for American dominance. For what might be called the New Liberalism, the renunciation of power is rooted not in the fear that we are essentially good but subject to the corruptions of power—the old Clintonian view—but rooted in the conviction that America is so intrinsically flawed, so inherently and congenitally sinful that it cannot be trusted with, and does not merit, the possession of overarching world power.

For the New Liberalism, it is not just that power corrupts. It is that America itself is corrupt—in the sense of being deeply flawed, and with the history to prove it. An imperfect union, the theme of Obama’s famous Philadelphia race speech, has been carried to and amplified in his every major foreign-policy address, particularly those delivered on foreign soil. (Not surprisingly, since it earns greater applause over there.)

[…]

Take, for example, missile defense, in which the United States has a great technological edge and one perfectly designed to maintain American preeminence in a century that will be dominated by the ballistic missile. Missile defense is actually being cut. The number of interceptors in Alaska to defend against a North Korean attack has been reduced, and the airborne laser program (the most promising technology for a boost-phase antiballistic missile) has been cut back—at the same time that the federal education budget has been increased 100 percent in one year.

This preference for social goods over security needs is not just evident in budgetary allocations and priorities. It is seen, for example, in the liberal preference for environmental goods. By prohibiting the drilling of offshore and Arctic deposits, the United States is voluntarily denying itself access to vast amounts of oil that would relieve dependency on—and help curb the wealth and power of—various petro-dollar challengers, from Iran to Venezuela to Russia. Again, we can argue whether the environment versus security trade-off is warranted. But there is no denying that there is a trade-off.

[…]

Because, while globalization has produced in some the illusion that human nature has changed, it has not. The international arena remains a Hobbesian state of nature in which countries naturally strive for power. If we voluntarily renounce much of ours, others will not follow suit. They will fill the vacuum. Inevitably, an inversion of power relations will occur.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Does the Vaccine Matter?

(Summary of article)

Full research article:

www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911/brownlee-h1n1

As late as this August, the company’s own Web site contained the following statement, which was written under the direction of the FDA: “Tamiflu has not been proven to have a positive impact on the potential consequences (such as hospitalizations, mortality, or economic impact) of seasonal, avian, or pandemic influenza.” An FDA spokesperson said recently that the agency is unaware of any data submitted by Roche that would support the claims in the company’s September 2006 news release about the drug’s reducing flu deaths.

Why, then, has the federal government stockpiled millions of doses of antivirals, at a cost of several billion dollars? And why are physicians being encouraged to hand out prescriptions to large numbers of people, without sound evidence that the drugs will help? The short answer may be that public-health officials feel they must offer something, and these drugs are the only possible remedies at hand. “I have to agree with the critics the antiviral question is not cut-and-dried,” says Fauci. “But [these drugs are] the best we have.” The CDC’s Nancy Cox also acknowledges that the science is not as sound as she might like, but the government still recommends their use. And as with vaccines, she considers additional randomized placebo-controlled trials of the antiviral drugs to be “unethical” and thus out of the question.

This is the curious state of debate about the government’s two main weapons in the fight against pandemic flu. At first, government officials declare that both vaccines and drugs are effective. When faced with contrary evidence, the adherents acknowledge that the science is not as crisp as they might wish. Then, in response to calls for placebo-controlled trials, which would provide clear results one way or the other, the proponents say such studies would deprive patients of vaccines and drugs that have already been deemed effective. “We can’t just let people die,” says Cox.

Students of U.S. medical history will find this circular logic familiar: it is a long-recurring theme in American medicine, and one that has, on occasion, had deadly consequences. In 1925, Sinclair Lewis caricatured a medical culture that allowed belief—and profits—to distort science in his Pulitzer Prize—winning book, Arrowsmith. Based on the lives of the real-life microbiologists Paul de Kruif and Jacques Loeb, Lewis tells the story of Martin Arrowsmith, a physician who invents a new vaccine during a deadly outbreak of bubonic plague. But his efforts to test the vaccine’s efficacy are frustrated by an angry community that desperately wants to believe the vaccine works, and a profit-hungry institute that rushes the vaccine into use prematurely—forever preempting the proper studies that are needed.

The annals of medicine are littered with treatments and tests that became medical doctrine on the slimmest of evidence, and were then declared sacrosanct and beyond scientific investigation. In the 1980s and ‘90s, for example, cancer specialists were convinced that high-dose chemotherapy followed by a bone-marrow transplant was the best hope for women with advanced breast cancer, and many refused to enroll their patients in randomized clinical trials that were designed to test transplants against the standard—and far less toxic—therapy. The trials, they said, were unethical, because they knew transplants worked. When the studies were concluded, in 1999 and 2000, it turned out that bone-marrow transplants were killing patients. Another recent example involves drugs related to the analgesic lidocaine. In the 1970s, doctors noticed that the drugs seemed to make the heart beat rhythmically, and they began prescribing them to patients suffering from irregular heartbeats, assuming that restoring a proper rhythm would reduce the patient’s risk of dying. Prominent cardiologists for years opposed clinical trials of the drugs, saying it would be medical malpractice to withhold them from patients in a control group. The drugs were widely used for two decades, until a government-sponsored study showed in 1989 that patients who were prescribed the medicine were three and a half times as likely to die as those given a placebo.

Demonstrating the efficacy (or lack thereof) of vaccine and antivirals during flu season would not be hard to do, given the proper resources. Take a group of people who are at risk of getting the flu, and randomly assign half to get vaccine and the other half a dummy shot. Then count the people in each group who come down with flu, suffer serious illness, or die. (A similarly designed trial would suffice for the antivirals.) It might sound coldhearted, but it is the only way to know for certain whether, and for whom, current remedies actually work. It would also be useful to know whether vaccinating healthy people—who can mount an immune response on their own—protects the more vulnerable people around them. For example, immunizing nursing-home staff and healthy children is thought to reduce the spread of flu to the elderly and the immune-compromised. Pinning down the effectiveness of this strategy would be a bit more complex, but not impossible.

In the absence of such evidence, we are left with two possibilities. One is that flu vaccine is in fact highly beneficial, or at least helpful. Solid evidence to that effect would encourage more citizens—and particularly more health professionals—to get their shots and prevent the flu’s spread. As it stands, more than 50 percent of health-care workers say they do not intend to get vaccinated for swine flu and don’t routinely get their shots for seasonal flu, in part because many of them doubt the vaccines’ efficacy. The other possibility, of course, is that we’re relying heavily on vaccines and antivirals that simply don’t work, or don’t work as well as we believe. And as a result, we may be neglecting other, proven measures that could minimize the death rate during pandemics.

“Vaccines give us a false sense of security,” says Sumit Majumdar. “When you have a strategy that [everybody thinks] reduces death by 50 percent, it’s pretty hard to invest resources to come up with better remedies.” For instance, health departments in every state are responsible for submitting plans to the CDC for educating the public, in the event of a serious pandemic, about hand-washing and “social distancing” (voluntary quarantines, school closings, and even enforcement of mandatory quarantines to keep infected people in their homes). Putting these plans into action will require considerable coordination among government officials, the media, and health-care workers—and widespread buy-in from the public. Yet little discussion has appeared in the press to help people understand the measures they can take to best protect themselves during a flu outbreak—other than vaccination and antivirals.

[Return to headlines]


Eligibility Attorney Mocked, Fined $20,000

Judge: Perhaps ‘eccentric citizen’ convinced president ‘alien from Mars’

A Georgia judge blasted attorney Orly Taitz, who has handled a number of court challenges to President Obama’s eligibility, fining her $20,000 for what he called “frivolous” court actions and mocking her concern over Obama’s background.

[…]

“Or perhaps an eccentric citizen has become convinced that the president is an alien from Mars, and the courts should order DNA testing to enforce the Constitution. Or, more to the point, perhaps the court should issue a nationwide injunction that prevents the U.S. Army from sending any soldier to Iraq or Afghanistan or anywhere else until Ms. Taitz is permitted to depose the president in the Oval Office,” he continued.

[…]

Taitz, who is collecting support for her court battles on her website at OrlyTaitzEsq.com, told WND the order is “outrageous.”

“There was no reason to do it in such a manner,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Freedom Watch Founder Talks to Lou Dobbs About New Book

Klayman says he agrees with the overall discontent about Washington demonstrated in the record numbers of Americans passionately voicing their anger at town hall meetings, and he explains how the country arrived at the crisis it faces today.

[…]

He said President Obama now is on a march toward appeasement around the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


If Obama Had Told Us Before His Election

If Barack Obama had campaigned on what he has actually done in his first 300 days in office, would he have been elected? That’s the question so many are asking today.

If Obama had told us he would appoint 34 czars, reporting only to himself and not vetted or confirmed in the constitutional way, building a powerful unitary executive branch of government, would he have been elected? What if he had told us that his green jobs czar had been a communist, that the science czar wrote in a college textbook that compulsory “green abortions” are an acceptable way to control population growth and that the diversity czar has spoken publicly of getting white media executives to “step down” in favor of minorities?

If Obama had told us he would take over the automobile industry faster than any socialist dictator ever nationalized an industry, fire the CEO of General Motors and replace him with a Democratic Party campaign contributor, would Obama have been elected? If Obama had campaigned on closing down thousands of profitable car dealers, nearly all Republicans, would we have believed that this vindictive financial retaliation against those who didn’t vote for Obama could happen in America?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Iver’s Licenses Scanned in Search for Fugitives

The FBI is using facial recognition software to scan driver’s licenses in an effort to locate fugitives:

“Earlier this year, investigators learned that a double-homicide suspect named Rodolfo Corrales had moved to North Carolina. The FBI took a 1991 booking photo from California and compared it with 30 million photos stored by the motor vehicle agency in Raleigh.

In seconds, the search returned dozens of drivers who resembled Corrales, and an FBI analyst reviewed a gallery of images before zeroing in on a man who called himself Jose Solis.

A week later, after corroborating Corrales’ identity, agents arrested him in High Point, southwest of Greensboro, where they believe he had built a new life under the assumed name. Corrales is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles later this month.”

[Return to headlines]


‘Now We Have Proof …’

“The radical Islamists overseas have repeatedly told us how they intend to infiltrate all areas of our society, and use the freedoms that are guaranteed under our Constitution to eventually replace it with Shariah law. They have telegraphed their intent. Now we have proof,” says Rep. Sue Myrick, co-founder of of the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus of more than 100 members.

What is that proof?

It’s a new book — out today, published by WND Books. It’s called “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” by P. David Gaubatz and Paul Sperry. And it’s been a long, hard journey bringing it to you.

Think of it as the ACORN sting on steroids.

It’s the result, in part, of a six-month-long undercover operation inside the Council of American-Islamic Relations, one of the most visible and prominent Muslim lobby groups in the country. You see its representatives and spokesmen on national television. You hear them whining about anti-Muslim bias and bigotry in the U.S. You hear them talk about supposed civil liberties violations against those who do nothing but practice the Islamic faith.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Unrestrained FBI: Is This America?

It was only on Sept. 29 that we citizen civilians were able to actually, though partially, look inside the 258-page “FBI Domestic Investigations and Operations Guidelines (DIOG).” For months, the Electronic Frontier Foundation had been trying, through the Freedom of Information Act, to find out if we’ll have any privacy left. At last, the lurking report came heavily censored.

According to the Associated Press (Oct. 1), Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney David Sobel is “more concerned with what the FBI removed from its guidelines for public consumption than what it disclosed.” He added that this heavily “edited version blacked out descriptions of how the FBI pursues investigative ‘assessments’ of Americans without any evidence of wrongdoing — and how it uses informants in political, civil and religious organizations.”

To be sort of safe, watch what you say on your phone or the Internet, or to the person sitting next to you during the Sunday church service.

As Sobel says in patriotic frustration: “The critical parts of the guidelines are being withheld, so it’s impossible for anyone to make any informed comment on what the FBI is doing.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Toymaker Releases Michelle Obama Doll to Do Battle in the Shops With Action Figure of Her Husband

First Lady Michelle Obama is known for her toned arms and fashion sense.

So it was inevitable that an ‘action figure’ doll showing off her trademark bare arms would hit the market.

A US toymaker has released a 6in doll that is expected to be a big seller at Christmas — and outsell those of her husband.

[Comments from JD: Just in time for Christmas.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


What’s Michael Moore Talking About?

Moore declares capitalism evil, but he’s never clear about what “capitalism” means. Considering how much time he spends documenting the cozy relationship between business and government, I thought he might mean “state capitalism.”

But then he uses the term “free market” as a synonym for what he doesn’t like.

What does the free market have to do with businesses manipulating government and strong-arming Congress for bailouts? Moore properly condemns both.

What does he want instead of “capitalism”? He’s coy about that. Claiming that the public became increasingly curious about socialism once Obama was accused of favoring it, he goes to the only self-described socialist in Congress, Sen. Bernie Sanders, to ask for a definition. Socialism, Sanders tells Moore, means “the government represents the middle class and working class, not the wealthy.”

Huh? That’s socialism? It’s not government ownership of the means of production and the abolition of private property and free exchange? Sanders reads Marx and Lenin very broadly. By his definition, I’m a socialist. I want government to represent the middle and working classes. Of course, Congress does that best by leaving them free, economically and otherwise.

Moore visits the National Archives to see if the Constitution establishes capitalism as the country’s economic system. Seeing the words “people,” “union” and “welfare” in the document, he says, “Sounds like that other ism.”

That’s just silly. The Constitution limits government’s power to interfere with the people and their property. The Constitution is on the side of the free market.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Why I Hate Obama’s America

According to the left, I am now a member of a treasonous group. I cheered when President Obama and his newly made-over milquetoast wife made a—es of themselves in Copenhagen while attempting to wheedle the Europeans into granting Chicago the 2016 Olympics. And I gnashed my teeth when the Nobel Prize Committee decided to fete Obama with the Peace Prize. So, that makes me an America-hater.

“Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?” asks Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post, singling out Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck as paradigmatic of the conservative “hate America” movement. “The problem for the addlebrained Obama-rejectionists is that the president, as far as they concerned, couldn’t possible do anything right, and thus is unworthy of any conceivable recognition.”

No, Eugene, that isn’t the problem for us. Here’s our problem: President Obama seeks an America that resembles modern France far more than the free and prosperous America our forefathers fought and bled and died for. President Obama’s America is not America: It is the United Nations writ large, with socialist redistribution at its center and moral relativism at its core. I root against President Obama’s America because I don’t want to see it become a reality. And the only way it will become a reality is if President Obama is able to make it a reality.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: Mayor Demands Racial Segregation at Refugee Camp

By David Rogers

A Lower Austrian mayor has demanded racial segregation at a refugee camp to stop an explosion in violence between refugees.

Social Democrat (SPÖ) Mayor of Traiskirchen Fritz Knotzer said yesterday (Mon): “People of different nationalities who are prone to violence should be kept apart.”

He added that the people behind recent violent incidents at his town’s camp should be put into preventive detention and deported as soon as possible. He also called for a limit of 500 refugees at the camp at any one time.

The mayor added that criminal migrants should have no future in Austria.

But Knotzer insisted Traiskirchen was one of the safest towns in the province and would remain so provided more policemen were out on duty there. He claimed violence at the camp posed no threat to residents and was confined to the camp area.

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


Bomb Attack Stuns Italy

Fears raised after Libyan targets Milan barracks

(ANSA) — Rome, October 12 — A bomb attack on a northern Italian police barracks Monday luckily failed to claim lives but left Italy guessing if it was in the sights of Islamist terrorists.

Mohamed Game, a 34-year-old Libyan who has lived in Milan for years and has two children with an Italian woman, was spotted on his way into Milan’s main Carabinieri barracks and let off the device he was carrying in a metal case.

Although much of the explosive for some reason failed to explode, Game, who took the brunt of the blast, lost a hand and was blinded in both eyes.

A Carabinieri corporal was grazed in the hand by a fragment.

Game was not linked to known terror groups and the case was at first being considered an isolated incident but investigators said later they could not rule out that Game was planning a suicide attack. The unprecedented case alarmed Italian officials.

The head of the parliamentary security committee COPASIR, Francesco Rutelli, observed that Italy had never suffered the likes of the March 2004 al-Qaeda-linked Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people and left 1,800 wounded, or the July 2005 London bombings that killed 56 and wounded 700.

Although some plots have been foiled, Rutelli said, Italy has until now been considered “predominantly a place of transit and recruitment” for Islamist terrorists.

“We must therefore analyse what has happened with great attention and hope it was an isolated incident,” he said.

In the wake of the attack, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni called a meeting of the National Security Committee on Tuesday evening at 19:00 Italian time (17:00 GMT).

Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said Italian soldiers and police would now receive more training to spot possible terrorists.

“They are already getting this type of training but I will have it stepped up,” he said.

The bomb could have done “much more harm” if all the explosives had gone off, La Russa added.

Although the nature of the attack was still unclear, he said, it was nonetheless a “symbolic” attack against Italy’s armed forces.

He said he could not rule out a link with talk of a withdrawal of Italian troops from Afghanistan after six soldiers were killed in Kabul on September 17.

BOMBER ‘WANTED TO DO SOMETHING FOR ISLAM’.

Game “wanted to do something for Islam,” a close friend told reporters.

Speaking outside Game’s Milan home, fellow Libyan Mohammad Israfil said his friend “wasn’t a fundamentalist but in the last four to five months he returned to Islam and occasionally said we should do something for our religion”.

Game also said Italy should pull its troops out of Afghanistan but “it was always rather generic talk,” added Israfil, who is to be questioned on the bombing.

He said Game was “an expert electrician” who lost a construction firm two years ago after running up debts.

The firm employed 45 people, Israfil said.

“I last saw him yesterday afternoon, we had a coffee. He appeared normal, we talked about the fact that we would have to look for a small job, that they are hard times for everyone”.

Israfil said he would have to look after the family Game has with Giovanna M., a home help from Puglia.

Neighbours said the couple had lived there for years and had two children aged 3 and 5, plus two older children Giovanna M. had from a previous relationship.

A young man who lives above Game said: “They seemed a normal family. He was polite, said hello, you never heard them quarrel”.

Game was heard saying “something in Arabic” when he saw the machine guns being levelled at him, police said.

But the barracks commander said he could “categorically rule out” it was anything about Afghanistan.

Investigators stressed they had found nothing so far to connect Game to a plan foiled last year to bomb the barracks in southwest Milan.

Two Moroccan nationals were arrested in December in connection with that plot, in which they were heard on wiretaps discussing a serious of Milanese targets.

Security has since been stepped up at the barracks, a factor which may have helped foil Monday’s attack.

Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti praised the “promptness” of the guards.

Bomb experts said the device used by the Libyan appeared to have been made with explosives from large fireworks.

Milan Prosecutor Armando Spataro said it contained nitrate, a common bomb-making ingredient.

An unspecified amount of the explosive had failed to go off, Spataro said.

Game, who was arrested in hospital, has lived in Milan since 2003 on a valid permit, Spataro said.

He was accused of receiving stolen goods in 2007.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Germany: Smuggled Kurds Disappear From Refugee Camp

By David Rogers

Scores of Kurds found in the back of a lorry being smuggled to Germany last Friday night have gone underground, according to the Interior Ministry.

Police found the 64 Kurds when they stopped a lorry from Istanbul at a checkpoint on the southern motorway (A2) in Neunkirchen district.

Three Turkish people smugglers were arrested and the Kurds were taken to the Traiskirchen refugee camp in Lower Austria after they applied for asylum.

But the ministry said today (Tues) all the Kurds had disappeared from the camp by Sunday evening, adding they would lose the right to state assistance and the processing of their asylum applications would be stopped if they failed to reappear at the camp by this evening.

The ministry added that around 200 asylum applicants disappeared from the camp every month.

Gerald Tatzgern, the head of the Federal Crime Office’s (BK) anti-smuggling section, said yesterday more arrests in the case of the smuggled Kurds were likely in the coming weeks or months as Austrian forces cooperated with police in other countries.

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


Italy: Strait Bridge: First Building Site to Open in December

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 7 — The beginning of building work towards the construction of the bridge on the Messina Strait will be the relocation of the railway line to Cannittello, in the district of Villa San Giovanni. “The site will open in December,” said Pietro Ciucci, chairman of Stretto di Messina S.p.A. and temporary commissioner for the construction works until a few days ago (is mandate ended on Sunday). “The beginning of activities will necessarily involve relocating interferences,” Ciucci told ANSA, ‘and in this particular case, the Cannitello railway, which will be moved uphill’ ‘. At the beginning of 2010, activities will also start on the other shore: road works will open in Sicily, with the planning and laying of the Torre Faro road connection towards Messina. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy Backs Blair for EU President

Frattini says he has the ‘stature and charisma’ for the job

(ANSA) — Riyadh, October 14 — Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Wednesday reiterated Rome’s support for former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to take the future post of European Council president envisioned under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Union’s revised governing charter which is expected to go into effect next year.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of his visit to the Saudi capital, Frattini said Blair was “authoritative and charismatic” and that it was imperative that he be elected with broad support.

“We still need to work to overcome the reservations of some countries. What we cannot allow to happen is for a split to emerge when we vote,” the foreign minister said.

In Blair’s favor, Frattini observed, was that he “has the stature of a statesman. He is a pro-Europe Briton, or at least a Briton who has fewer doubts about Europe, and this is important”.

Under the Lisbon Treaty, which now only needs to be ratified by the Czech Republic, the president of the European Council will be elected by the council itself, made up of all heads of state or government, for a two-year term.

Until now the Council president was the government chief of the country which held the EU’s six-month rotating presidency.

The future Council president will not be allowed to hold any office outside the EU and it may be possible to merge this post with that of the president of European Commission, the EU’s executive arm.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi has repeatedly come out in favor of Blair and on Wednesday in a letter to Il Foglio said he agreed with the right-wing daily which has come out in favor of Blair for EC president. EU leaders are set to elect a future EC president at their summit in December and, once approved by the Czech Republic, the Lisbon Treaty will go into effect on January 1.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Messina Bridge Work to Start in Dec

Italy emerging from public works ‘slumber’, Berlusconi says

(ANSA) — Rome, October 14 — Work on a bridge connecting Sicily to the Italian mainland will begin between December and January, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said on Wednesday.

“Italy must wake up from a long slumber which has created an infrastructure gap that has hindered us from fully exploiting our wealth and potential,” the premier said during the presentation of development plans for the airports in Rome and Milan.

The Messina bridge, which once built would be the longest suspension bridge in the world, was originally greenlighted by Berlusconi’s previous government eight years ago but was shelved by an intervening centre-left government.

Berlusconi revived the project when he returned to office in May of last year.

Supporters hail the project as a huge job-creation scheme that would give Italy’s image a major boost while bringing Sicily closer to the mainland in both physical, psychological and social terms.

But it has been opposed by environmentalists and dogged by concerns over its safety and fears of potential Mafia involvement.

The 3,690-metre-long bridge has been designed to be able to handle 4,500 cars an hour and 200 trains a day and would replace slow ferry services between the island and the mainland.

The 6.5-billion-euro bridge is set to be completed in 2017.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


March for Shariah in London, UK

[Note from LJ: If this lot have permission to march from the House of Commons (which is against the law) it would prove that there’s one rule for them and another for us. As far as I know, it’s also treasonous to call for the overthrow of parliament and monarchy.]

Excerpt:

In light of all this, Islam4UK would like to declare the launch of a spectacular procession that will take place on 31st October 2009.

We hereby request all Muslims in the United Kingdom, in Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and all other places to join us and collectively declare that as submitters to Almighty Allah (SWT), we have had enough of democracy and man-made law and the depravity of the British culture. On this day we will call for a complete upheaval of the British ruling system its members and legislature, and demand the full implementation of Shari’ah in Britain.

In forthcoming days, Islam4UK will also publish, as a run up to this special event, a fascinating insight into how Britain’s architecture, transport and culture will be revolutionised under the Shari’ah.

           — Hat tip: LJ[Return to headlines]


Minarets Raise Questions for Austrians Too

Imam warns minaret ban will fuel extremism

The construction of minarets is controversial not just in Switzerland — where a vote on the issue takes place in November — but also in neighbouring Austria.

Yet Austria is unique in western Europe in that Islam has been a recognised religion in the country for more than 100 years, since the time when the Habsburg empire was also home to Bosnians.

But there were few Muslims living in what is now Austria. The first mosque, in Vienna, dates back only to 1979 and owes its existence to Muslim immigration following the Second World War.

Since then the Muslim population has almost trebled, and the demand for more mosques has grown — along with resistance from rightwing parties.

“Pummerin instead of muezzin” was the slogan adopted by Heinz-Christian Strache, the head of the far-right Freedom Party in the most recent Viennese election. The large bell on St Stephen’s cathedral should not have to compete against calls to prayer from minarets, he argued.

Strache has also demanded that the Austrian parliament pass a ban on minaret construction that would enter the country’s constitution, something which has yet to happen, although the party has gone from strength to strength in recent elections.

The other far-right party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria, founded by ex-Freedom Party leader Jörg Haider, has also taken up the fight against Islam and minarets.

In many Länder the party is calling for tighter building regulations, to prevent local character being spoilt through the construction of Muslim places of prayer. The reason is always that “in Christian Europe visible signs of the strength of Islam” should not be permitted.

Until now none of Austria’s nine Länder has changed its law in this respect, but the pressure of rightwing parties has had an effect.

Hidden minaret

The minaret on the Vienna Hubertusdamm mosque reaches 32 metres into the sky, but hardly anyone notices it any more. When Austria’s oldest mosque was built 30 years ago, the then mayor, Leopold Graz, praised it as a symbol of Vienna’s desire to be “a welcoming and friendly home to all people who live and work here”.

The construction of the second mosque on Austrian soil, in Telfs in the Tirol, was more problematic. Residents lodged complaints against the 20-metre construction, signatures were collected and the Freedom Party threatened to take the issue to the administrative court.

After lengthy negotiation, it was agreed that the building would not be higher than 15m and there would be no call to prayer. The mosque finally opened in 2006.

The country’s third mosque is being built in Bad Vöslau, in Lower Austria. Here too the building application provoked a storm of protest, although it fully complied with regulations. Agreement was ultimately reached on a symbolic minaret: two low structures attached to the back of the mosque roof.

Proven need

Some 400,000 Muslims live in Austria — almost five per cent of the total population. For the president of the Islamic community, Anas Schakfeh, it is clear that there is a need for more mosques.

There are 200 prayer rooms, but these are seen as no substitute for mosques.

Islam dictates that a mosque should stand on land that belongs to the Islamic community and should be open for prayer five times a day and for Friday prayers.

But theology does not require mosques to have minarets; this is a tradition, a symbol of the presence of Muslims.

Joe Schelbert, swissinfo.ch (Adapted from German by Morven McLean)

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


Mussolini an MI5 Agent in 1917

Book claims he was recruited to stop WWI pacifists in Italy

(ANSA) — London, October 14 — Some two years before he started the Fascist movement and soon after being expelled from the Italian Socialist Party for his interventionist views, Benito Mussolini was recruited as an agent for the British MI5 intelligence service, a new book claims.

In his authorised ‘biography’ of MI5, Defense of the Realm, author Christopher Andrews wrote that the future Duce was recruited by MI5 in 1917 to work in Italy to ensure that Italy remained loyal to the Allied cause against Germany.

Andrews added that for his services, Mussolini was paid 100 British pounds a week, the equivalent of 6,000 pounds today.

Mussolini’s main task was to make sure Italian pacifists, including his former comrades in the Socialist Party, did not succeed in blocking munitions factories in Italy.

The tool the future Italian dictator had to do this was his daily Il Popolo d’Italia, which he he founded in 1914 after leaving the helm of the Socialist Party organ Avanti! and which was one of the causes of his being expelled from the party.

“Britain’s least reliable ally in the war at the time was Italy after revolutionary Russia pullout from the conflict,” Peter Martland, the Cambridge historian who found the documents linking Mussolini with MI5, told the British daily The Guardian.

“The last thing Britain wanted were pro-peace strikes bringing factories in Milan to a halt” and so while Mussolini’s salary “was a lot of money to pay a journalist at the time, compared to the four million pounds Britain was spending on the war every day, it was petty cash,” he added.

The time Mussolini was said to have gone on MI5’s payroll coincided with his return to Il Popolo d’Italia after some nine months of military service, which ended when he was seriously injured in a mortar bomb explosion.

After the war he abandoned his Socialist views altogether and in March 1919 created the bud of what would become the Fascist Party. Just over two and a half years later he would become Italy’s prime minister and in 1925 had absolute power.

Andrews’ ‘biography’ of MI5 was recently published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of Britain’s domestic intelligence service.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


No Fiat Cash for Chrysler

‘No need’ says CEO Marchionne

(ANSA) — Rome, October 8 — Despite Chrysler’s plummeting sales and shrinking market share, Italian automaker Fiat has no intention of pumping cash into the Detroit No.3 it took control of earlier this year, Sergio Marchionne, chief executive officer for both companies, said on Thursday.

Chrysler sales tumbled 42% last month over September 2008 and its North American market share in one year shrank from 9.5% to 8.3%.

In an interview published by the Toronto daily Globe and Mail, Marchionne said Chrysler did not need a cash input because it was “managing its resources well”.

The CEO said he expected Chrysler to begin producing an operating profit within the next two years.

According to The Globe and Mail, Chrysler still has some $7 billion in cash available from the bail-out fund set by by the American and Canadian governments and various lines of credit. Marchionne is set to unveil a new turnaround strategy for Chrysler on November 4 which The Globe and Mail said will “give details on Chrysler’s five-year production, marketing and financial plan, including the extent of the collaboration with Fiat”. “While Fiat and Chrysler will remain separate companies, they are expected to reveal a full technological and design merger scenario,” the Toronto daily added.

Fiat recently acquired the Bertone design and chassis company where it is expected to produce Chrysler models, including those of the Jeep marque, for sale in Europe.

Earlier this year Fiat acquired a 20% stake and management control of Chrysler in exchange for its cutting-edge green and small car technology, as well as access to Fiat’s sales and service networks in Europe and Latin America.

The stake will rise to 35% once benchmarks are met in the US, including producing Fiat and Alfa Romeo models in Chrysler plants.

Fiat has an option to take a majority stake in Chrysler once federal bail-out loans have been repaid.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Police Take Rioters on Holiday to Spain

TEGELEN, 07/10/09 — Two policemen from Tegelen municipality travelled to the Spanish coast with Moroccan teenage criminals for a holiday to improve the atmosphere between them.

One of the two policemen said yesterday in local newspaper De Limburger that he made the trip “as a person, not as a policeman.” The trip went to the Costa Brava. “You get to know each other at a different level. It works.”

The trip to Spain was made by minibus. De Limburger did not reveal how many youngsters went along or how long the trip took — or what it cost and who paid for it.

After the trip, it was a lot quieter in Tegelen, the policeman claimed. Earlier, police cars were vandalised in the twon, but his travel companions are not doing that any more now, he added.

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


Pope to Visit Rome Synagogue

Benedict second pope in temple on January 17

(ANSA) — Rome, October 13 — Pope Benedict XVI will become the second pope ever to enter the Rome synagogue on January 17, the Vatican announced Tuesday.

A date for the visit has been long in coming after the president of Rome’s Jewish Community, Riccardo Pacifici, announced the pope’s acceptance of an invitation in March.

The pope gave his official acceptance at the beginning of the Jewish New Year in September leading some observers to expect a visit this autumn.

Instead, his visit has been scheduled on Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Day, inaugurated by John Paul II in 1990, four years after he became the first pope ever to enter a synagogue with his visit to the one in Rome. Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Day coincides with a Jewish holiday celebrating miraculous rains which saved the ghetto in Rome from burning to the ground after an 18th-century pogrom.

Last year, the Italian Jewish community boycotted the commemoration ceremonies after Benedict reinstated an Easter prayer which calls on Jews to convert.

Relations with Jews and Israel came under further strain in January when the Pope lifted the excommunication of bishop Richard Williamson, a member of an ultra-traditionalist Catholic society and a vocal Holocaust denier.

But Benedict has worked hard to ease the tensions, widely condemning Holocaust denial and reiterating his commitment to Catholic-Jewish relations, which have been a main priority since his election in April 2005.

One of Benedict’s first acts as pope was to send a message to Rome’s Jewish community vowing to continue John Paul II’s legacy of dialogue and respect.

The summer after his election, Benedict made his first visit to a synagogue in the German city of Cologne for World Youth Day.

Benedict made his second visit to a Jewish temple in April 2008 after accepting an invitation to New York’s historic Park East Synagogue. Photo: Pope Benedict XVI with members of Rome’s Jewish community

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Slovenia: Deal on Minimum Salary for Gorenje Workers

(ANSAmed) — LJUBLJANA, OCTOBER 6 — The new minimum salary for workers of Slovenian group, Gorenje, has been set at 540 euros per month after taxes. An agreement has been reached for workers in the largest Slovenian company in the home appliance sector. According to Slovenian daily, Delo, cited by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Ljubljana, the agreement is destined to mark a revolution in worker-company relations in Slovenia. Given the importance of Gorenje, it will push all workers in the industrial sector to ask for these new minimum wages to be applied, forcing other large companies to follow suit. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Terrorist Mastermind Who Was Granted Asylum in Britain for 10 Years is Jailed for Life for Paris Bombings

A terrorist mastermind who was harboured by the British government as an asylum seeker for more than ten years has finally been sent to prison for life.

Rachid Ramda, 39, pointed his fingers skyward and shouted ‘I’m innocent — praise Allah’ as a Paris appeal court confirmed his sentence for a series of attacks on the city’s underground system which left eight dead and hundreds injured.

He will now spend a minimum of 22 years behind bars, with France’s Advocate General Anne Vosgien saying he should ‘never be given the chance to reoffend again’.

Despite being a prime suspect for the 1995 bombing of the St Michel Metro station, Algerian-born Ramda was granted political asylum in Britain soon afterwards.

Although he was imprisoned while in the UK, his time there caused a diplomatic protest, with the French dubbing the capital ‘Londonistan’ because of its reputation for sheltering Muslim terrorists.

It was not until after the 7/7 attacks on the London Underground in 2005 that Ramda was finally sent back to France to face trial.

In 2007, French anti-terrorist judges ruled he was a leading member of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which carried out at least three attacks on the French capital’s Metro stations, including St Michel, Musee d’Orsay and Maison-Blanche.

During a two-day appeal hearing against his conviction, Paris’s Special Assizes Court heard how evidence against Ramda included a London bank payment slip bearing his signature and finger prints.

It had been used to fund the 1995 murders.

In 1993, Ramda was sentenced to death in absentia in Algiers following a bomb attack on the city’s airport in which nine people died.

He escaped to Britain, where he was kept under surveillance and was arrested in November 1995 before being granted asylum.

He said he was a refugee from what he described as political repression in Algeria.

As well as the airport bombing in his home country, which was in political turmoil at the time, he was wanted for numerous other attacks against what he viewed as oppressive forces.

This won Ramda a great deal of sympathy, prompting British lawyers to portray him as a dissident worthy of asylum.

His case actually strengthened when France tried to extradite him for the Paris bombings, as it was argued that the French would send him straight back to Algeria where he would face the death penalty.

His lawyers successfully prevented his extradition to France on the grounds that he might be unlawfully sent back to Algeria to face the death penalty, which the French authorities denied.

Ramda’s appeal ended with confirmation of his conviction and sentencing yesterday.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


The Bishop’s Ax Falls on Obama. And on the Vatican Curia

In a bombshell article published in Rome, the bishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, criticizes the American president and the churchmen who praise him, curia cardinal Cottier first among them. But the Vatican secretariat of state is also under fire

by Sandro Magister

ROME, October 8, 2009 — “I will always forcefully defend the right of the bishops to criticize me,” Barack Obama pledged just before his meeting with Benedict XVI last July 10.

Indeed. About 80 of the Catholic bishops of the United States are in open disagreement with him on crucial questions, in primis the defense of life. Among these is Cardinal Francis George, president of the bishops’ conference and archbishop of Chicago, Obama’s city.

And there’s also the bishop of Denver, Charles J. Chaput, 65, member of a Native American tribe and a Capuchin Franciscan. Last year, he published a book that starts getting its point across right from the title: “Render unto Caesar. Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life.” It is right to give Caesar that which belongs to him. But one serves the nation by living one’s own Catholic faith in political life.

Chaput does not like the fact that in Rome, at the Vatican, they turn a deaf ear to the criticisms of Obama made by the American Church. He especially didn’t like the effusive praise heaped on the American president last July — in conjunction with Obama’s meeting with the pope — by a venerated cardinal of the curia, Georges Cottier of Switzerland, theologian emeritus of the pontifical household, in an article published in the magazine “30 Days.”

“30 Days” is a magazine of ecclesiastical geopolitics that is widely read in the Roman curia. It is directed by the most “curial” of Italy’s veteran Catholic politicians, senator for life Giulio Andreotti. Published in six languages, it reaches all the dioceses of the world, and fully reflects the realist politics of Vatican diplomacy.

After reading Cardinal Cottier’s enthusiastic article — enthusiastic above all about Obama’s speech at the Catholic university of Notre Dame — and having read before this an editorial in “L’Osservatore Romano” that was also highly congratulatory of the first hundred days of the American president, even for his “support of childbirth,” Chaput felt compelled to reply.

He put pen to paper and responded point by point. To Obama, to Cardinal Cottier, and to the Vatican secretariat of state. And not in an American newspaper, but in a newspaper printed in Rome, so that the Vatican would see it.

His reply was published on October 6 in “il Foglio,” the opinion journal directed by Giuliano Ferrara. It is not Catholic, but is very attentive to the public role of religion, and has a definite “Ratzingerian” slant.

The article by the bishop of Denver filled the entire third page, beneath the title: “L’ascia del vescovo pellerossa — Charles J. Chaput contro Notre Dame e l’illustre cardinale sedotto dall’abortista Obama [The hatchet of the redskin cardinal — Charles J. Chaput against Notre Dame and the illustrious cardinal seduced by the pro-abortion Obama].”

The text is reproduced below, with its original title.

Also on October 6, on the front page, “il Foglio” published an interview with Cardinal George, who was in Rome at the time to present his new book entitled: “The Difference God Makes — A Catholic Vision of Faith, Communion, and Culture.”

In the interview, among other things the cardinal said:

“Today the greatest difficulty we have as a Church is that of communicating to society that there is a hierarchy of values. Let’s take the question of abortion and of life in general. The Church’s voice is listened to in the United States, but it also faces a lot of hostility. And the criticisms of the Church take place for one reason: because our society maintains that individualism and freedom of choice are the most important value to protect. Free will today is valued more highly than life.”

And again:

“The Church’s morality on certain issues has never changed. L’Osservatore Romano — it is true — may have written a dozen lines in favor of Obama, some cardinal may have spoken in enthusiastic terms of the current American administration, but beyond the journalistic hype one point remains: the Church cannot betray itself.”

__________

Politics, Morality and a President: An American View

by Charles J. Chaput

One of the strengths of the Church is her global perspective. In that light, Cardinal Georges Cottier’s recent essay on President Barack Obama (“Politics, morality and original sin,” 30 Days No. 5, 2009) made a valuable contribution to Catholic discussion of the new American president. Our faith connects us across borders. What happens in one nation may have an impact on many others. World opinion about America’s leaders is not only appropriate; it should be welcomed.

And yet, the world does not live and vote in the United States. Americans do. The pastoral realities of any country are best known by the local bishops who shepherd their people. Thus, on the subject of America’s leaders, the thoughts of an American bishop may have some value. They may augment the Cardinal’s good views by offering a different perspective.

Note that I speak here only for myself. I do not speak for the bishops of the United States as a body, nor for any other individual bishop. Nor will I address President Obama’s speech to the Islamic world, which Cardinal Cottier mentions in his own essay. That would require a separate discussion.

I will focus instead on the President’s graduation appearance at the University of Notre Dame, and Cardinal Cottier’s comments on the President’s thinking. I have two motives in doing so.

First, men and women from my own diocese belong to the national Notre Dame community as students, graduates and parents. Every bishop has a stake in the faith of the people in his care, and Notre Dame has never merely been a local Catholic university. It is an icon of the American Catholic experience.

Second, when Notre Dame’s local bishop vigorously disagrees with the appearance of any speaker, and some 80 other bishops and 300,000 laypeople around the country publicly support the local bishop, then reasonable people must infer that a real problem exists with the speaker — or at least with his appearance at the disputed event. Reasonable people might further choose to defer to the judgment of those Catholic pastors closest to the controversy.

Regrettably and unintentionally, Cardinal Cottier’s articulate essay undervalues the gravity of what happened at Notre Dame. It also overvalues the consonance of President Obama’s thinking with Catholic teaching.

There are several key points to remember here.

First, resistance to President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame had nothing to do with whether he is a good or bad man. He is obviously a gifted man. He has many good moral and political instincts, and an admirable devotion to his family. These things matter. But unfortunately, so does this: The President’s views on vital bioethical issues, including but not limited to abortion, differ sharply from Catholic teaching. This is why he has enjoyed the strong support of major “abortion rights” groups for many years. Much is made, in some religious circles, of the President’s sympathy for Catholic social teaching. But defense of the unborn child is a demand of social justice. There is no “social justice” if the youngest and weakest among us can be legally killed. Good programs for the poor are vital, but they can never excuse this fundamental violation of human rights.

Second, at a different moment and under different circumstances, the conflict at Notre Dame might have faded away if the university had simply asked the President to give a lecture or public address. But at a time when the American bishops as a body had already voiced strong concern about the new administration’s abortion policies, Notre Dame not only made the President the centerpiece of its graduation events, but also granted him an honorary doctorate of laws — this, despite his deeply troubling views on abortion law and related social issues.

The real source of Catholic frustration with President Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame was his overt, negative public voting and speaking record on abortion and other problematic issues. By its actions, Notre Dame ignored and violated the guidance of America’s bishops in their 2004 document, “Catholics in Political Life.” In that text, the bishops urged Catholic institutions to refrain from honoring public officials who disagreed with Church teaching on grave matters.

Thus, the fierce debate in American Catholic circles this spring over the Notre Dame honor for Mr. Obama was not finally about partisan politics. It was about serious issues of Catholic belief, identity and witness — triggered by Mr. Obama’s views — which Cardinal Cottier, writing from outside the American context, may have misunderstood.

Third, the Cardinal wisely notes points of contact between President Obama’s frequently stated search for political “common ground” and the Catholic emphasis on pursuing the “common good.” These goals — seeking common ground and pursuing the common good — can often coincide. But they are not the same thing. They can sharply diverge in practice. So-called “common ground” abortion policies may actually attack the common good because they imply a false unity; they create a ledge of shared public agreement too narrow and too weak to sustain the weight of a real moral consensus. The common good is never served by tolerance for killing the weak — beginning with the unborn.

Fourth, Cardinal Cottier rightly reminds his readers of the mutual respect and cooperative spirit required by citizenship in a pluralist democracy. But pluralism is never an end in itself. It is never an excuse for inaction. As President Obama himself acknowledged at Notre Dame, democracy depends for its health on people of conviction fighting hard in the public square for what they believe — peacefully, legally but vigorously and without apologies.

Unfortunately, the President also added the curious remark that “… the ultimate irony of faith is that it necessarily admits doubt… This doubt should not push us away from our faith. But it should humble us.” In a sense, of course, this is true: On this side of eternity, doubt is part of the human predicament. But doubt is the absence of something; it is not a positive value. Insofar as it inoculates believers from acting on the demands of faith, doubt is a fatal weakness.

The habit of doubt fits much too comfortably with a kind of “baptized unbelief;” a Christianity that is little more than a vague tribal loyalty and a convenient spiritual vocabulary. Too often in recent American experience, pluralism and doubt have become alibis for Catholic moral and political lethargy. Perhaps Europe is different. But I would suggest that our current historical moment — which both European and American Catholics share — is very far from the social circumstances facing the early Christian legislators mentioned by the Cardinal. They had faith, and they also had the zeal — tempered by patience and intelligence — to incarnate the moral content of their faith explicitly in culture. In other words, they were building a civilization shaped by Christian belief. Something very different is happening now…

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Abducted Sisters, 11 and 12, Trapped in Morocco Due to Custody Battle

Two schoolgirls are at the centre of an international custody battle after they were abducted and taken to Africa.

Sisters Carene and Shelby Crofts are in Morocco with a family they do not know.

They are 1,400 miles from their home in Lancashire after being taken from their legal guardian, grandmother Rita Astbury, by their natural mother.

Trudy Crofts, who lost custody of her children in 2002, is now being held in Spain — facing allegations of child abduction.

Meanwhile her daughters, aged 12 and 11, face an uncertain future.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Pledge to Help White Working Class and Stop Them Being Driven Into the Arms of Extremism

White working-class communities have been left behind in the race for housing and jobs, ministers have admitted.

They plan to pump millions into predominantly white areas to help improve education of young people, end benefit dependency and cut off support for far-right political groups.

The move is partly in response to growing evidence that white boys are doing worse than any other cultural group in the education system.

Communities Secretary John Denham is to announce his spending programme today in an attempt to appeal to disaffected voters.

He will insist they are wrong to believe that minority faith and ethnic groups have enjoyed favoured treatment by a Labour government keen to foster equality.

[…]

Evidence of the failure of white boys at school is also now overwhelming. One in five now finishes school without any real qualifications.

And according to official figures, foreign-born workers took 1.4million of 1.7million new jobs between 1997 and 2007 while in the four years after 2004, the year in which Eastern European workers flooded in, the number of British-born people in jobs dropped by 500,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Germany to Send Kosovar Refugees Home

Some 10 years after the Kosovo conflict, thousands of Kosovar refugees — most of them from the Roma community — are set to return home, daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported this week.

According to a parliamentary inquiry by the Left party into the matter, Berlin and Pristina plan to sign an agreement this autumn to send back the refugees, the paper said.

There are reportedly 14,000 Kosovar refugees in Germany, 10,000 of whom are Roma.

The agreement states that Kosovo must take all refugees back that can give proof they once lived in the disputed former Serbian territory. The Interior Ministry has apparently promised Kosovo to process 2,500 applications each year and maintain an “appropriate relationship to different ethnicities,” which implies they will not send only the persecuted Roma refugees home, the paper said.

Last year 900 Kosovar refugees returned to their homes from Germany.

The Left party’s Ulla Jelpke, who filed the inquiry, called the plans a “monstrous project,” adding that the Roma would face “daily alienation” in Kosovo, which has an ethnic Albanian majority.

Early this year the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported a serious threat of poverty and possible ethnic conflicts due to returning refugees and recommended only voluntary trips home.

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

North Africa

Libya: Gaddafi Asks for Official Role for Son Seif

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, OCTOBER 8 — An “official post” for his son Seif Al Islam was the request made by Libyan leader Muhammar Gaddafi for his son, who withdrew from politics last August. “I see for him a post of advisor for internal affairs of the country”, was the request put forward by the colonel in Sebha during the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the revolutionary movement that brought him to power, according to al Manara newspaper. The Libya Al Youm web site also reports on the worries expressed in Sebha by Muhammar Gaddafi on the fate of his son Seif who he defined as “a sincere man who loves Libya and only looks at the interest of his country”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Zoo to Receive ‘Authentic Zebras’ From Tel Aviv

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, OCTOBER 9 — The Safari zoological park of Ramat Gan (Tel Aviv) will dispatch, as soon as possible, two “authentic zebras” to the small Gaza zoo. The decision was made after learning from press yesterday that, due to lack of resources, Palestinian children have only been able to admire, so far, two “counterfeited” zebra: normal donkeys painted in black and white stripes by a local artist. According to newspaper Yediot Ahronot, the serious damages caused in Gaza by the Cast Lead operation did not spare the small zoo in the Zaitun district, where now most of the animals are simple cats and dogs and one of the main attractions are, in fact, the “striped donkeys”. The mayor of Ramat, Gan Zvi Bar ordered the Safari to donate two zebras, for the joy of the Gaza children. But the operation may not be all that simple because it will now have to be approved not only by the veterinary authorities but also by the Defense Minister, by the Israeli army and also by Gaza representative, the Hamas leaders. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gaza: New Hamas Ban, No Women on Motorbikes

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, OCTOBER 7 — From now on, in Gaza women will no longer be allowed to ride as passengers on motorbikes and scooters: the new ban was promulgated by the Interior Ministry’ of Hamas, the radical Islamic movement ruling over the Gaza strip since 2007. ‘Women are not used to riding on bikes,” said the spokesman for the movement, Ihab Alghusin, ‘they move in a frenzied manner and may cause accidents”. Not mentioning that, to sit firmly on the bike, the female passengers would have to hold on to the driver: this, according to the Hamas code of conduct, is unacceptable. The new ban is only last of a series of new restrictions, based on the Islamic sharia, adopted in the Strip over the last few months, even though they may cause some discontent amongst the Palestinian population, traditionally more ‘lay” compared to other communities within the Arab world. The ban, though, is also part of a wider set of laws on motorbike safety, issued following the high numbers of accidents that occurred over the last few years: since when motorbikes, introduced in the country illegally through underground tunnels (to circumvent Israel’s restrictions), have become a widespread means of transport in the Gaza strip. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Lieberman: Realism Needed, Far From End of Conflict

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 8 — The Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said today that he did not feel a peace agreement, resolving all the contestations, with the Palestinians in the near future would be possible and that there is the need for realism. Interviewed on Israeli public radio, Lieberman said: “Those who think that it will be possible to reach a general agreement in the coming years (with the Palestinians) to put an end to the conflict, do not understand the reality of the situation, disseminates illusions and pushes us towards conflict”. Lieberman, who today at noon will meet the US Special Envoy for the Middle East, George Mitchell, then affirmed: “it must be clearly stated that there are conflicts which cannot be resolved in a general solution, as in the case of Cyprus, with which people have learned to live”. Rather, according to the Foreign Minister, “long term temporary agreements must be sought after, pushing the more difficult questions to the future” like the permanent political status of Jerusalem, the right of Palestinian refugees to return and the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories. Lieberman then said that Israel “must learn to confront its numerous problems alone without having to ask the United States for help every time”, who have their own problems to deal with, however on a global level. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Dubai: Population Up 33% in 4 Years

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, OCTOBER 7 — The number of residents in Dubai has increased by almost 2 million in the past 4 years, increasing from just over 4 million to 6 million, said the results of two studies conducted by the government, carried out by counting visas and work permits. According to the two studies, the population increased from 4,104,695 in the last census in 2005 to the current 6 million. The largest foreign resident community comes from India (1.75 million) followed by Pakistan (1.25 million).In third place is Bangladesh, with about 500,000 residents. Western immigrants also number about 500,000. Another glimpse at the social fabric of Dubai will be available in April, when the 2010 census is expected to begin. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Iran: Petition Demands Freedom for 2 Christians

Organizer: ‘I’m entirely open to travel to Tehran to talk to somebody about this’

A new petition to the U.S. Senate seeks help to free Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh, two Iranian women who have been jailed for being Christian.

The petition cites the “clear violation of globally recognized principles of freedom of religion and conscience” and argues Iranian leaders have made “numerous public claims … that they represent a just government.”

It states:

We, the undersigned, whether conservative or liberal, right-wing or left-wing, Christian or Muslim, American, Iranian and righteous people from all across the world, all who agree that human rights, women’s rights, freedom of religion, conscience and a value for all human life are universal principles demand of the Iranian government to release Maryam Rustampoor and Marzieh Amirizadeh immediately without charges.

WND reported earlier when the women, in a display of raw courage, told an Iranian government prosecutor they not only are Christian, but it is up to God to whom He talks.

Rustampoor, 27, and Amirizadeh, 30, have been held in Iran’s prison system since March 5, when they were taken into custody because of their faith.

According to a report from the Christian ministry Elam, during a hearing, the women dramatically refused to deny their Christian faith.

They explained that God had convicted them through the Holy Spirit.

“It is impossible for God to speak with humans,” a prosecutor, identified only by the single name of Haddad, stated.

“Are you questioning whether God is almighty?” Amirizadeh asked him.

To which Haddad then replied. “You are not worthy for God to speak to you.”

“It is God, and not you, who determines if I am worthy,” she said.

Eventually Haddad instructed the women to go back to their prison cells and think about their options, and to return to court when they were ready to comply.

“We have already done our thinking,” the woman said, according to Elam, a ministry founded in 1988 by senior Iranian church leaders with a vision to serve the growing Iranian Christian community.

The ministry later reported that the women’s lawyer confirmed his clients “are not prepared to lie about their faith under any condition.”

The women, who have been increasingly ill in prison because they lack proper medical care, have been told by prosecutors they will be executed as “apostates,” solely because of their Christian faith, the petition states.

[Return to headlines]


Iranian Nuke Crisis Creates Giant Headache for NASA

The Kremlin’s relationship with Iran may seriously interfere with U.S.-Russian cooperation in space.

As if the Obama administration didn’t have enough foreign policy problems, a new one has cropped up in the past few days and it could affect its NASA headaches, as it has to make decisions about the future of the American government’s human spaceflight program, on the basis of the report of the Augustine panel, due to arrive this month.

The problem, of course, is much larger than human spaceflight, but this will only exacerbate the latter issue.

A few days ago, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid a visit to Vladimir Putin in Moscow, apparently with an interesting diplomatic gift: “Netanyahu has handed the Kremlin a list of Russian scientists believed by the Israelis to be helping Iran to develop a nuclear warhead. He is said to have delivered the list during a mysterious visit to Moscow.”

If true, think through the implications of this.

First, it means that Russia apparently has no problems with Iran developing a nuclear weapon and, in fact, is supportive of it. That means, in turn, that any hopes that the Obama administration had of getting their support for a sanctions regime with bite to prevent that are a chimera, despite the “smart diplomacy” and the “reset button.”

But it hints at much more profound things.

Israel, unlike almost any other nation in history (with the exception of our own) — and despite its unjustly sullied international reputation of being the equivalent of the Nazis, who brutally imprisoned many of its current residents (though fewer with every year as they die off) and slaughtered their relatives, over six decades ago — always takes great pains to not only minimize civilian casualties in its ongoing war with those who seek to wipe Israel from the map of the Middle East, but often risks and even sacrifices the lives of its own soldiers to do so.

For example, Israel, as the U.S. has done in its own history (for example in World War II Japan bombings), warns civilians of upcoming attacks against military targets, in the hope that they will leave.

Now, it’s unlikely that Prime Minister Netanyahu considers Russian nuclear engineers innocent civilians, but it’s not hard to imagine that if he’s going to attack Iranian nuclear facilities, he would prefer to avoid the additional diplomatic complication of killing them in the process and thus wanted to give the Russian regime fair warning. So it’s not unreasonable to suppose that the time is growing close to the moment that Israel considers critical, in an existential sense: the development of an Iranian bomb. This would, actually, be buttressed by the fact that they’re getting Russian help, if true, because most intelligence estimates of their time to do so are based on their native (i.e., crude) abilities. If the Russians have been helping, intelligence estimates of the time until having not only a weapon, but perhaps one that could be shrunk to put on a missile, could be reduced from years to perhaps months, rendering a need for a halt by the nation in Iran’s cross hairs all the more urgent.

If true, this would potentially not just blow up the current administration strategy of engaging the Russians in helping to rein in the apocalyptic regime of the mullahs, but present it with a real dilemma in how to deal with the Russians in general.

Hence the problem with NASA and its human spaceflight program.

Almost six years ago, the nation embarked on a new space policy of retiring the Space Shuttle in 2010 (next year, after the International Space Station is complete) and replacing it with a new (and presumably safer) means of getting crew to and from orbit. This vehicle’s primary mission was to carry astronauts to the moon and beyond, but most people assumed that it would also be capable of replacing the Shuttle for that purpose. It wasn’t planned to be ready until 2014 and in the half decade since, the schedule has slipped years beyond that, while its budget has ballooned. So now the original “gap” during which the U.S. would be incapable of launching its own crews into orbit to change out astronauts at the space station has grown from three years to five or more.

What does this have to do with the Iranian nukes problem and the Russians?

It has always been assumed that “the gap” would be filled by Russian Soyuz flights, as it was during the previous “gap” created when the Shuttle was shut down for almost three years after the loss of Columbia. But there was always a bug in that ointment, called the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA)…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Syria: No Narghile in Public Places, Decree Signed

(ANSAmed) — DAMASCUS, OCTOBER 12 — With the decree signed yesterday, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad took a stand against smoking — and therefore also ‘narghile’ (hookah or hubble-bubble) — in all public places in the country, reported the official Syrian news agency. The ban includes all cafe’s, bars and restaurants and applies also to one of the uses that attract the most tourists to Syria and other Arab countries: that of relaxing while smoking a ‘narghile’. Fines for those caught violating the decree are less than 50 dollars, but managers of the places in which the act occurs can even be subject to arrest. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


The Contempt of Iran for America

This is what Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at last Friday’s prayer meeting in Tehran about the Geneva talks between Iran and the UN Security council big five plus Germany:

‘The meeting was a great victory for the Islamic Republic of Iran to such an extent that even the Western and Zionist media had to admit defeat….Prior to the talks, they (Westerners) used to speak of suspension and sanctions against Iran, but after the talks, there has not been any word of suspension or sanctions, rather, Iran’s package of proposals was the axis.’

Ayatollah Khatami is correct. As a result of this grovelling, America and the west are now so weakened that the Ayatollah also felt emboldened to threaten Israel once again with extinction, this time with a ‘third intifada’ over the spurious claim that Israel has attacked the al Aqsa mosque (an incitement which so far has failed to ignite the Palestinians) — even as Iran moves serenely onwards towards finally checkmating America with its nuclear weapon.

This is the outcome of Obama’s hand of friendship. This is why Obama received the Nobel Appeasement Prize.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


Why Bin Laden Really Turned to Terrorism

From Phyllis Chesler:

…Osama never allowed Najwa (wife #1) out of the house except to visit relatives or to move to another house. She lived her life in purdah, in prison. She endured Osama’s marriage to three other women, one of whom she herself chose. She never complained.

Osama did not allow modern medicine for his children; refrigerators were forbidden, as were air conditioners, phones, toys, and televisions. Osama expected his sons to also become suicide killers and he subjected his young children to dangerous and frightening military maneouvers. According to Omar and Najwa, Osama also murdered his children’s pets in chilling ways—ways that characterize many other serial killers.

Once, Osama killed a pet monkey. He had one of his lackeys run it over with a car. Osama said “The monkey was not a monkey but was a Jewish person turned into a monkey by the hand of God.” He gassed a new litter of puppies, Nazi-style, trying to see how long it would take them to die.

But what was it that sent Osama totally over the edge? What compelled him to plan the mass murders of civilians on every continent? Omar tells us. When Osama saw American female troops on Middle Eastern Arab soil, he cried out. “ Women! Defending Saudi men!”

That was the ultimate shame, the only shame that mattered, greater than the shame of having no mother, no father, the shame of being known as the “son of the slave.” Instead of bonding with persecuted women and/or trying to protect them, Osama went the usual psychological route. He subjugated and imprisoned his wives and bonded with his absent father by becoming like him, only more so…

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: No More Italian Troops

Italy’s commitment firm, Defense Minister La Russa says

(ANSA) — Kabul, October 7 — Italy’s commitment to the Allied effort in Afghanistan remains firm but there are no plans to increase its troop strength there, Italian Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said on Wednesday.

During a visit to the Italian contingent in the Afghan capital, La Russa said: “I think that Italy’s commitment in Afghanistan is high, very high, and we don’t see increasing it”.

He added that the 500 additional troops Italy sent to bolster security during the Afghan recent elections “will certainly return home” by Christmas once an eventual run-off vote is held.

“After that we’ll see what decisions are made by the international organisations we are members of and where we play an important role in decision-making,” La Russa said. “I agree that more international troops are needed in Afghanistan, but this does not mean they necessarily need to be Italian soldiers,” he added.

“We do our part and are among the major contributors of forces. I believe that a greater effort could be made by those with a lesser commitment and that the involvement of other countries would be opportune,” the Italian defense minister said.

Aside from the 500 troops Italy deployed for the election, it maintains a contingent of some 2,800 troops in Afghanistan, the fifth-largest in the NATO-led ISAF mission.

Debate about Italy’s presence in Afghanistan heated up after six Italian soldiers were killed in an attack in Kabul in September.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Handsome Muslim Men Accused of Waging ‘Love Jihad’ In India

Muslim fundamentalists in India have been accused of waging a “love jihad”, using charming young men to lure girls into converting to Islam with promises of marriage.

Christian and Hindu groups, which have themselves clashed over the sensitive issue of religious conversions, have joined forces to combat the alleged campaign.

A Hindu helpline in southern India claims it has received more than 1,500 calls from parents who fear their daughters are being lured by the group into converting to Islam.

The high court in Kerala directed India’s interior ministry and police to investigate the phenomenon.

So far, little is known about the group behind the “love jihad”, but it is alleged to be linked to a fundamentalist Muslim group called the Popular Front of India and its student wing Campus Front — which they deny.

It emerged after two young Muslim men were arrested for luring two post-graduate students into marriage by “feigning love” to convert them to Islam.

They were arrested after the women told a court they had been “trapped” by the men and forced to convert. One of the girls said she had eloped with the older student at a college in Pathanamthitta who had taken her and her friend to a “conversion centre” in Malappuram where they were given extremist literature.

Now senior Christian leaders are launching their own campaign to counter the threat.

“It’s shocking but it is happening. Many Christian families are getting affected. We are careful as this is a sensitive issue and could even lead to a religious conflict. But now that the Kerala High Court too has interfered in the matter, we have decided to take a stand,” said Father Johny Kochuparambil, secretary of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council’s Commission for Social Harmony and Vigilance.

The Popular Front of India denied it was waging a “love jihad”.

“Religious conversion is not a crime; conversion takes place to Hinduism and Christianity also … One cannot paint all love affairs as cases of forced conversions meant for extremist activity,” said Naseerudheen Elamaram, the group’s spokesman.

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


West Java: Villages Against Burial of Two Islamic Terrorists

Syaifudin Zuhri and Muhammad Syahrir are “enemies of the nation” who “stained the reputation of the villages.” Tensions between village residents and Islamic fundamentalist groups flare up. The two brothers are buried in a Jakarta cemetery, where other extremists rest. Their father apologises and prays, “that such acts do not take place again.”

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Residents of the villages of Sampora, Perbutulan and Sampiran, in West Java, have refused to allow the bodies of two terrorists, Syaifudin Zuhri and Muhammad Syahrir, to be laid to rest in their villages. The two were killed in a police raid on Friday. Their families organised the burial ceremony at the Pondok Rangon Cemetery in East Jakarta, a place where other Indonesian extremists are buried.

Djaelani Irsyad, 67, father of the two brothers, said, “we apologise to all the people who fell victim to the acts of my two sons. We pray that such acts do not take place again.”

Suihani, 35, sister of the terrorists and widow of Ibrohim, the florist at the Ritz Carlton who carried out the hotel attacks, said that the family “accepted” the villagers’ decision.

Zuhri and Syahrir were born and raised in Jakarta.

They were considered top al-Qaeda executives in South-East Asia.

They died in a police raid against a terror cell In Ciputat, some 20 kilometres from Jakarta. Two other members of the cell were arrested.

Law enforcement caught the group at a small hotel near Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University, viewed as their usual hangout.

Residents in the villages of Perbutulan (where Zuhri’s wife was born), Sampora (where the two extremists lived for a long time) Sampiran (their father’s native village) refused to have Zuhri and Syahrir buried in their respective cemetery. For residents, the two “stained the reputation of the villages”.

“Both were terrorists” and have been “officially declared enemies of the nation. They are traitors.”

Dozens of people demonstrated in central Java against burying the two brothers in their cemetery. Their protest marches raised tensions with local extremist groups like the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) and Anshorut Tauhid, an organisation associated with Abu Bakar Baasyir.

Meanwhile police released some details about the activities of Zuhri and Syahrir. The first travelled several times to the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, between September and October 2008 with Muhammad Jibril, founder of Arrahmah.com, a pro-jihadist web portal.

Syahrir (pictured), an airline system expert for Indonesia’s national carrier Garruda Indonesia, provided technical expertise to help Jemaah Islamiyah leaders, including Baasyir, fly abroad.

However, Baasyir strongly denied the claim, saying he did not know the two brothers.

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

Far East

An Atomic Iran: Many Words, Few Results

Il Giornale, October 2, 2009

[…] Solana has announced that within three weeks, Iran is supposed to allow the IAEA to visit the Qom site, the one that had remained concealed so far.

Iran and the USA met for a direct talk late in the morning, after the so much awaited talks with the 5+1 group in Geneva on October 1. The head of the US delegation was William Burns, the Undersecretary of State for political affairs. This was a sign of courtesy on the part of the United States, that had not directly met the Iranians for thirty years. But also a risk. In fact, notwithstanding the ultimatum-like tone used by Obama in Pittsburgh, the State Department spokesman Crowley had already played it safe, explaining that the USA “would not immediately give its opinion on Thursday”. And he added: “We will see how the meeting evolves and we will assess Iran’s will to commit itself on the themes on the agenda”, assuming that the government needed some months to evaluate all the results of the talks.

But “months” is the very time swamp that Ahmadinejad needs to complete the bomb: by now it has at least 8000 centrifuges, in addition to unknown number of hidden ones. All the experts agree that the D-day is not very far away. With his proposals, Ahmadinejad is trying to buy time and not to reach an agreement: the day before he had declared that his Country was willing to speak about everything provided that this would be done in the framework of “global disarmament”. And he had proposed that a third country enrich the uranium needed by Teheran. Very good ideas only if we were not aware that tackling the issue of global disarmament would take much longer than the time necessary for Iran to finalize the enrichment of uranium; and that the level of enrichment could never be guaranteed by a third country if there are still hidden plants such as the one recently discovered in Qom, that can further enrich the already enriched uranium, a technique that can mislead even the strictest investigations by the IAEA.

The British Foreign Minister David Miliband warned Iran “not to take respect for weakness”, but the talks have already taken the “faster but not too much” pace; the pace Teheran likes. Both the USA and Europe, let alone the old friends Russia and China, seem completely bogged down in Iran’s chitchat. But the scenario is very alarming indeed. Robert Gates, the American Defense Secretary warned about this danger; and half of the world echoed his fear during the G20 Summit: by now there are no longer any doubts about Iran’s will to build the bomb.

On October 28, while Israel was celebrating the Yom Kippur, Iran provocatively launched its Shahab 3 missiles that have a range of 2500 kilometers and the ability to hit any Arab capital and most European cities. Again this showed the aggressiveness of this Country, which reiterated its mortal threats against Israel and the denial of the Shoah, thus challenging the Christian culture and reaffirming the ultimate predominance of Islam. Our good manners are for Iran only an invitation to complete its nuclear plan.

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


China Protests Extension of EU Footwear Tariff

The European Union has to decide whether to extent a 15-month tariff against Chinese and Vietnamese footwear for unfair competition. Chinese manufacturers and European buyers complain this will push prices up at the expense of consumers.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A European Union plan to extend tariffs on Chinese and Vietnamese footwear by 16.5 and 10 per cent respectively for at least 15 months has sparked an outcry from China’s shoemakers.

Led by the EU’s main shoe-producing members (Italy, Spain, France and Poland), the European Union has accused the governments of the two Asian nations of unfairly subsidising their low-cost shoemakers.

The EU first imposed duties in 2006 for two years claiming unfair competition. This was renewed in October of last year but, pending a review by the European Commission, tariffs should end on 3 January.

For Jerry Shum, investor relations director at Yue Yuen Industrial, the world’s largest producer of athletic and casual footwear and a supplier to brands such as Nike, Adidas and Puma, the extension would jack up costs. “For the sake of free-trade spirit, the anti-dumping duty should be removed,” he pleaded.

Analysts note that this is more than a question of costs; for them a trade war is underway between manufacturers, each seeking the support of their respective government at a time of tough times. For instance, the Federation of Hong Kong Industries estimated that 10 per cent of the 70,000 Hong Kong factories on the mainland had to shut down this year because of the troubled economy.

But Asian manufacturers are not alone; the European Footwear Alliance, which represents retailers such as Nike, Adidas and Timberland, have contested the EU move as well since much of their production has been moved to places like China and Vietnam.

According to the Alliance, it paid about € 800 million (US$ 1.18 billion) in anti-dumping duties in the past 3-1/2 years and has failed to see who has benefited.

“Prices have increased by on average at least 10 per cent since the imposition of the duties in 2006,” the Alliance said in a statement.

The issue is also much debated across the 27-nation EU because non-footwear producing members are favourable to cheap Chinese imports.

A decision must be made by November 20 at the latest.

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


China: Al-Qaeda Urges Holy War to Defend Muslims

Rome, 7 October (AKI) — A leading Al-Qaeda militant on Wednesday called on Muslims worldwide to defend Uighurs in China’s restive northwestern region of Xinjiang. He told Uighurs to prepare for a holy war or Jihad and urged a “vast media campaign” to raise awareness of their fate at the hands of “oppressive” China.

In the video posted to jihadist websites, Abu Yahya al-Libi appeared to launch a frontal assault against China.

“This massacre is not being carried out by criminal Crusaders or evil Jews who have committed crimes against our nation,” al-Libi stated.

“Today, a new massacre is being carried out by Buddhist nationalists and communists against the Muslim population in eastern Turkestan,” said al-Libi.

Islamists call Xinjiang East Turkestan. Uighurs are Muslims native to Xinjiang province, and have cultural ties to Turkic peoples in Central Asia.

“There is no way to remove injustice and oppression without a true return to their (Uighurs) religion and … serious preparation for Jihad in the path of God the Almighty and to carry weapons in the face of those (Chinese) invaders,” he said.

“It is a duty for Muslims today to stand by their wounded and oppressed brothers in East Turkestan … and support them with all they can,” al-Libi added.

Al-Libi claims terrible crimes are being perpetrated in Xinjiang “which nobody can see,” urging a media campaign to give these crimes the same visibility as those “carried out by westerners against Muslims.”

He also accused China of using “satanic ways” to oppress Muslims in the province and replace them with other ethnicities while “looting their wealth and undermining their culture and religion.”

“Tens of thousand of people have been silently killed to prevent a revolt. The communist Chinese government has tried to eliminate all links between eastern Turkestan and the Islamic nation by sending colonisers to constantly reduce the number of Muslims,” he stated.

Another tactic China is using to exterminate Muslims is calling the province Xinjiang instead of eastern Turkestan, just as Palestine’s name as been changed to Israel, al-Libi argued.

He described China’s presence in Xinjiang as an “occupation” and claimed the colonisation of the province has made the Muslim population a minority.

“The Chinese have closed all the Islamic schools, forbidding the study of the Muslim religion. They have arrested and killed all the Muslim leaders,” he said.

Xinjiang is also the province where China is carrying out the largest number of nuclear experiments, al-Libi alleged.

“Thousands of people have died from the radiation emitted by the many nuclear missiles that have been launched and the experiments carried out in the area,” al-Libi concluded.

Uighurs make up 8 million people out of Xinjiang’s population of 20 million. It covers one-sixth of the country and is relatively sparsely populated.

A total of 197 people were killed over several days of unrest in Xinjiang in July and rioting in the capital Urumqi. Most of those who died were from the Han Chinese majority.

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


China: Good News From Beijing, The Number of Billionaires is Rising, So is the Economy

What is rising for the population is the rate of inflation instead. Migrant workers, laid off in their tens of millions last year, are now being re-hired at lower salaries. By contrast, the government stimulus package has led to the doubling of the number of billionaires.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — In a world reeling under the weight of the economic crisis, China seems to have good news. This year’s data show that the number of billionaires is up and that the economy is expected to grow by 9 per cent next year; at least, if certain conditions obtain.

The Shanghai-based Hurun Report published the list of China’s top 1,000 richest people, and found that at least 260 of them are billionaires, twice as many as last year. Most of them made their money in real estate speculation and in the stock market.

Another report, this one by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), suggests that second quarter data show that growth this year could reach 8.3 per cent, 9.1 per cent next.

For CASS, a think-tank close to the government, inflation should not be a major factor.

After a year of suffering and lower global demand, the indicators of Chinese output, which is very much export-oriented, show that China’s economy is picking up again.

Just a few months ago, a number of institutions were predicting sluggish growth; now they are more upbeat.

For instance, the International Monetary Fund raised its growth forecast for China to 8.5 per cent, saying the economy was one of the drivers leading Asia’s economic recovery

Some economists warn however that the current robust recovery has been largely driven by Beijing’s stimulus package earlier this year when the government injected a lot of capital into the markets and made indiscriminate bank loans.

For people at street level, consumer prices are what is going up. What is more, even if some of the tens of millions of migrant workers who lost their jobs (because of lower exports) are being re-hired, they are getting lower salaries.

All this explains why China has more billionaires, benefitting from the government’s stimulus package and their traditional power to exploit cheap labour that has no rights.

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

Immigration

Berlusconi: Landings Reduced by 90%

(AGI) — Rome, 9 Oct. — Landings were “reduced by 90%” from 5 May to 30 September: “there were 19,000 in 2008 and there were only 1,900 in 2009. It is clearly a very positive result.” Silvio Berlusconi was speaking at the end of the Council of Ministers. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni explained in a press conference that “since 5 May, when the Italian-Libyan agreement was implemented, there has been a drop of 90% in landings. It is proof that it is an agreement that works, a success for diplomacy and of the relationship between our police force and that of the Maghreb. Yesterday the European Commission closed the infraction case against Italy requested by members of the Italian left: we have had the umpteenth confirmation that we are doing a good job.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


France: Illegal Immigrant Reported by Bank Clerk

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, OCTOBER 8 — A 41-year-old illegal immigrant in France from Mauritania, Yade S., went to the bank to withdraw some money but the bank clerk called the police and now he may be expelled from the country. The man, an assistant cook, in France since 2002, went to the Societé Generale bank in Boulogne, in Hauts-de-Seine on Saturday. He used a forged residence permit to identify himself. The bank clerk noticed this, called the police and sounded the alarm. The doors of the banks immediately closed and the man had no chance to escape. Yade had used the same documents to open the bank account. He will be heard by the administrative court of Melun on Monday. Cimade, an organisation that supports refugees and immigrants, has asked the court not to expel the man. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Germany: Policy of Avoidance

How Blunt Can One Be about Integration?

Bluntness and bitterness have long been elements of integration debates in Germany. But emotion often obscures an important question: Why do many ethnic groups integrate well into German society while others do not?

It took a while, but by last Thursday the controversy had finally reached a cafe on Hobrechtstrasse in Berlin’s Neukölln neighborhood, a place frequented by fans of the Turkish football club FC Phönix 56 Ayyildiz. A group of men with little else to do — because they are either retired or unemployed — usually meets there in the afternoon. The men sit in the sparsely furnished room under a ceiling fan, drinking tea from elegantly curved glasses and discussing politics over the electronic blubber of video games coming from the back room.

Servet Kulaksiz starts the conversation on Thursday. A 50-year-old early retiree, he taps his finger against a photo of Thilo Sarrazin on the cover of the Turkish daily newspaper Sabah and launches into a tirade. “The man is right. Many foreigners don’t even want to become integrated here. They collect their unemployment payments, but aside from that, they do nothing.”

IMAGE GALLERY

5 PhotosPhoto Gallery: Germany’s Endless Integration Debate

Could it really be that Sarrazin, Berlin’s former finance senator, is right, after all? The man who accuses Turks and Arabs in Berlin of being, for the most part, “neither willing to be integrated nor capable of doing so,” and claims that they have “no productive function, other than in the fruit and vegetable trade?”

Nevzat Çitlak grabs the newspaper from the table as he walks by. “You yourself don’t believe what you’re saying,” he says to Kulaksiz. Çitlak has been unemployed for six years. “There aren’t even any jobs for Germans in Berlin. How am I supposed to get one?” he asks. A carpenter by trade, Çitlak has been living in Berlin since the 1980s. He barely speaks German, and he is currently attending a language course. “But it won’t do me any good now,” he says. “It’s too late.” A man sitting in the back corner shouts: “What Sarrazin says is pure racism.”

‘Little Girls in Headscarves’

A rift runs through the home of FC Phönix 56 Ayyildiz fans, where patrons have been arguing about the same issues that have captured the attention of the rest of Germany since Lettre International, a Berlin publication targeted at intellectuals, published the controversial interview with Sarrazin, now a member of the board of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, two weeks ago.

Should Sarrazin be allowed to say what he said about the Turks — that they are taking control of Germany in precisely the same way the Kosovars took control of Kosovo, that is, with a higher birth rate? “I don’t have to acknowledge anyone who lives off the state, rejects this state, doesn’t properly attend to the education of his children and constantly produces little girls in headscarves.”

Are Sarrazin’s remarks truly that “unspeakable” (as the Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote) and “revolting” (Frankfurter Rundschau) that the Berlin district attorney’s office has to become involved? Should Sarrazin be thrown out of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), as SPD parliamentarian Eva Högl demands? Or should he at least resign from the board of the Bundesbank, as the Ver.di trade union has demanded?

Social Democrats in Berlin have become used to Sarrazin’s over-the-top utterances, rolling their eyes in exasperation whenever their prominent party ally lets loose yet another of his controversial remarks. He has berated civil servants (“pale and foul-smelling”), Berliners (“Nowhere does one see so many people shuffling around in public wearing track suits”), students (“assholes”) and the plans to rescue German automaker Opel (“No one needs an Opel”). His remarks, which have always sparked considerable outrage, were sometimes followed by a sheepish apology. Usually the matter was quickly forgotten.

Rude and Unfair

This time, though, Sarrazin has left behind the boundaries of good taste once and for all. His comments were more than provocative, they were offensive, excessive, rude and unfair. As a Bundesbank board member, he should have been more restrained — indeed, on Tuesday he was disciplined by the bank for his comments. Furthermore, the veracity of his cliché-ridden claims is doubtful.

But should he have held his tongue? “The social reality cannot be wiped away with outrage and silenced with the ‘please don’t take that tone’ approach,” writes sociologist and Islam critic Necla Kelek. “The whitewash peels off more quickly than it can be reapplied.”

No one is offended when TV comedian Oliver Pocher spends the better part of a Saturday evening program cracking jokes about antisocial Turks. But a politician who addresses one of the country’s must pressing problems with brutal openness is still violating a taboo.

But as offensive as they may sometimes be, controversial and sharply worded statements are part of democratic debate. Why not discuss integration policy? Why not ask why second-generation immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, Korea or Vietnam have managed to integrate whereas Turks continue to have difficulties.

Germany does not have a widespread problem with foreigners, but it does have recognizable difficulties with parts of its largest immigrant group, the Turks, some of whom refuse to become integrated. Stuck in their Anatolian roots, archaically organized family groups insist on the preservation of customs and traditions that are anachronistic, and not just in ambitious, up-and-coming, cosmopolitan Berlin.

Open Participation

The insistence on speaking their native language and on male-dominated family structures, the self-righteousness with which parents dominate and often destroy the lives of their daughters, and even the relatively harmless religious custom of covering a woman’s hair with the headscarf — these are all challenges to the liberal constitutional order of German society, an order based on open participation in communication and education, religious tolerance, including within the family, and, last but not least, the right of young people to pursue their own paths and freely select their life partners.

Financial expert Sarrazin isn’t the only one whose reaction is one of helplessness in response to those who would refuse to change. Other experts, who have been arguing for years over the integration of German Arabs and Turks, are divided. What should Germany do about this expanding subculture? Ignore it?

Can integration only succeed if it is mutual, as Dutch sociologist Paul Scheffer believes? Is it legitimate to force foreigners to integrate into German society? Or is such forced integration an intolerant intrusion into the freedom of others, as some politicians who support multiculturalism believe? Does it signify a lack of respect for foreign cultures?

The furious response of cosmopolitan Germans to Friedrich Merz’s year 2000 insistence that others should be subordinate to the German Leitkultur — or “dominant culture” — continues to set the tone of the debate. And a controversial speech given by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Cologne Arena in February 2008 has hardened the fronts even further. Assimilation, Erdogan told his fellow Turks in Germany, is “a crime against humanity.”

Photo Gallery: Integration Success Stories

DER SPIEGEL

Education and employment of immigrants in Germany.

DER SPIEGEL

People with Turkish backgrounds living in Berlin.

DER SPIEGEL

The immigrants of Berlin.

Part 2: ‘You Should Stop Whitewashing the World’

No one disputes that most of the problems are to be found among Turks and Germans of Turkish origin. According to a study by the Berlin Institute for Population and Development, only 14 percent of ethnic Turkish 20 to 39-year-olds have completed enough education to make them eligible to go to university — the lowest figure among all immigrant groups.

Of course, there are also examples that refute the trend, including the many Turkish business owners, the celebrated Hamburg director Fatih Akin, with his films about the world of immigrants, or about musicians like Bushido who have since become part of the mainstream. There are many who have become successful and are well-integrated, including politicians like Cem Özdemir and football player Mesut Özil. Nevertheless, there are still many for whom this is not the case.

IMAGE GALLERY

5 PhotosPhoto Gallery: Germany’s Endless Integration Debate

The problems are becoming particularly widespread in the German capital. About half of employable Berlin residents with a Turkish background are dependent on government assistance — a “dismal statistic,” according to the Berlin Institute.

Other immigrant groups have demonstrated that integration does work. For example, 48 percent of 20 to 39-year-old immigrants from the Far East have completed the educational requirements to enter university. In Berlin’s Lichtenberg and Marzahn districts, Vietnamese already account for up to 17 percent of students in the university-track high schools known as gymnasiums, even though they comprise only 2 percent of the population in those neighborhoods. The Vietnamese community, largely made up of former “contract workers” in East Germany, has managed to quickly ascend the social ladder. “Vietnamese parents,” says Christina Morgenstern, a teacher at the Johann Gottfried Herder Gymnasium in Lichtenberg, “are very conscious of education and put their children under great pressure to succeed.”

Blunt

Those hoping to understand the sharp differences among immigrant groups would be well advised to pay a visit to the Berlin district of Neukölln, Germany’s most vibrant immigrant community, with 117,000 inhabitants from around the world, and talk to Heinz Buschkowsky, the Social Democratic mayor of the district, who is blunt in his analysis of the situation there.

The stories of tension between immigrants and non-immigrants abound. Recently, an experienced social worker rang the doorbell at the house of an Arab family on Hermannstrasse in Neukölln. He had come to question the father about the constant beatings his daughter had been subjected to and explain the girl’s rights to the father. An argument quickly erupted, the father threatened the social worker, and because the social worker had a Biblical name, the father called him a “Jewish pig!” Then he said to his son: “Get him!”

The man ran for his life, running along Hermannstrasse with the son carrying a knife in hot pursuit. It wasn’t until he had reached a busier section of the street that the social worker felt safe again. He was so shocked by the incident that he promptly requested a reassignment to different duties.

“All I can say is that you should stop whitewashing the world,” says district Mayor Buschkowsky. His own experiences range from shootouts in broad daylight to a drama that unfolded at the local Rütli School, which made headlines nationwide in 2006 when frustrated teachers there asked the city government for help. They could no longer control their violent students.

Descent into Crime

Thirty-nine percent of Neukölln residents are first-generation or second-generation immigrants from one of 160 nations, and in the northern part of the district 80 percent of young people come from immigrant families. “Unfortunately, it isn’t rare to see illiteracy in both parents, so that the linguistic development of children is sometimes astonishingly weak when they enter school,” says Buschkowsky, noting that often things hardly improve after that. The conclusions he draws are bleak: “Unfortunately, the result is often a failed school career, followed by the inability to find a vocational training position, going on the dole, and all-too-often the descent into crime.”

Kirsten Heisig, 48, has a cheerful voice and an easy laugh. From her office, she has a nice view of an attractive park. As a judge on a juvenile court for 17 years, she respects the city’s Turkish middle class, which she considers largely well-integrated and an enrichment for society.

However, her courtroom in Berlin’s Tiergarten municipal court is a place where dreams of a successful integration policy disintegrate every time she pronounces a sentence against Arabs. Her verdicts bring to bear the severity of Germany law, particularly as it is so often absent on the streets of her district.

“There are large clans that don’t have the slightest interest in knowing how our constitutional state works. We cannot accept this,” says Heisig. At the beginning of a trial, for example, the injured party will often tell the judge that the parties have agreed to resolve their differences out of court. “Assault and battery, for example, is a crime that, by law, must be prosecuted,” says Heisig. “Our code of criminal procedure does not account for internal agreements — usually in the form of monetary payment.

‘Isn’t Pretty Either’

The judge sentences more than 400 criminals a year, 80 percent of them immigrants. Their crimes run the gamut, from assault to beatings to rapes. For Heisig, this points to a larger picture: “The obsession with masculinity is particularly strong in some Turks and Arabs, and honor and respect have developed so irrationally that violence quickly ensues. Unfortunately, beatings are commonplace in child-rearing.” When fathers suffer from a lack of respect, perhaps because they are unemployed, they establish respect with blows. Violence becomes the norm, and closed societies with their own rules develop. However, says Judge Heisig, “when the unemployed German living in a housing project smashes a vodka bottle over someone’s head, it isn’t pretty either.”

Nobel laureate and Harvard Professor Amartya Sen recently published a book about the “identity trap,” into which not only the unpopular Turks and Arabs, but also many well-meaning politicians who support integration have fallen. The upshot of Sen’s book is that all of these people shouldn’t take themselves so seriously.

Neither religion nor ethnic origin can claim exclusivity when it comes to suitably integrating a person into society. Every person, writes Sen, is made up of a bundle of changing identities, and the issue of origin and faith is only one many aspects. The identity cluster, according to Sen, also includes the question of sexual preferences, membership in clubs and even, in the case of moderate Muslims, whether one eats pork or not.

Overwrought Reactions

The conclusion, for German integration policy experts, is that interference in the isolated world of foreigners must not necessarily be viewed as an intrusion on individual freedom. The attempt to integrate is always legitimate when it is necessary to penetrate the self-chosen or imposed identity isolation of immigrant groups. Compulsion is necessary, provided it is compatible with the concept of freedom in German society shaped by Germany’s constitution.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, for example, enacted a law aimed primarily at forced marriages among young Turks. Since the law came into effect, spouses “imported” from ones home country must be at least 18 and speak some German. But even this cautious attempt to help Turkish youth escape from marriages arranged by their parents triggered overwrought reactions and accusations of “racism” among some groups.

Why, asks Indian economic philosopher Sen, should “a person’s relationship with his country be imparted by the culture of the family into which he was born?” German elements are increasingly becoming part of the identity of young Turks. In addition to inhibiting personality development, holding a person back by his roots, as in the case of Turks in Germany, is a key obstacle to integration.

But doesn’t the unlimited religious freedom guaranteed in Germany’s constitution force society to respect the Muslim precepts of Turkish communities, even when they are opposed to integration? Is tolerance more important than integration?

In the opinion of Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, a respected Christian constitutional scholar and a former constitutional judge, the limits of tolerance surround the “cultural pedestal” on which the constitutional state “rests.”

A Bathing Suit Acceptable to Allah

How much freedom can the state grant people who are suspected of seeking to destroy the underpinnings of the local culture with their maxims? People who hold as dim a view of the equal rights of women as they do of sending their children to school?

None, according to Christian scholar Böckenförde. Otherwise, the very basis of our country’s existence would be at risk.

But this seemingly radical response also shifts the boundaries of the reasonable in favor of immigrants. How much assimilation can we expect of them to ensure that society can continue to function? Only the minimum necessary.

Of course, says Böckenförde, Turkish girls must be required to attend physical education class and German class. But is it really necessary to insist that they remove their headscarves? And isn’t there a bathing suit that’s acceptable to Allah?

It would be a violation of religious freedom and constitutionally guaranteed tolerance to require immigrants to become, to believe and to look like Germans. It would be yet another restriction imposed on their identity.

By Stefan Berg, Thomas Darnstädt, Katrin Elger, Konstantin von Hammerstein, Frank Hornig and Peter Wensierski

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

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


Vatican: Bishop Berates Libya on Human Rights

Rome, 7 October (AKI) — The Vatican’s envoy to Libya, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli has sharply criticised Libya for its treatment of thousands of immigrants who enter the country each year from Sub-Saharan African countries. The immigrants risk prison, deportation and “worst of all” have no access to legal or health services, Martinelli told a synod of African bishops taking place in Rome.

“We know that on the African continent there are more than ten million displaced persons, migrants looking for a country, a land of peace,” Martinelli said.

This “exodus” highlights social and political injustice in Africa, he said, adding: “We in Libya have intense experience of this tragedy… people come to Libya to be rejected by Europe. “

Thousands of immigrants enter Libya every year from African countries lying south of the Sahara, most of whom are fleeing war and poverty in their home countries, Martinelli stated.

The migrants look for jobs in Libya to help their families or as a means to reach Europe in the hope of finding a better and more secure life, Martinelli said.

“For many, immigration is a tragedy, especially because they fall victim to trafficking and exploitation (in particular women), and their human rights are disregarded,” he said.

Italy has drawn criticism from the Vatican, the United Nations and rights groups for a controversial pact with Libya. Under the pact, thousands of migrants have since May been returned to the North African country aboard people smuggling boats intercepted in the Mediterranean by Italian and Libyan patrols.

The UN Hight Commissioner for Refugees has been especially critical of the new Italian policy. Libya is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and has no national asylum system. It also has a poor human rights record.

UNHCR is concerned that genuine refugees and asylum seekers in Libya risk mistreatment and being denied their right to apply for protection.

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

Culture Wars

Judge: Abortion Laws Protect Girl Who Sought Pregnancy-Ending Beating

A judge has released a 17-year-old Vernal girl from jail after ruling she did not commit a crime when she allegedly paid a man to beat her in an attempt to end her late-term pregnancy.

The release, which came after the girl’s mother obtained a second opinion on her daughter’s no contest plea, has incensed some lawmakers who argue the ruling skirts laws governing legal abortions in Utah.

“The judge is absolutely stretching,” said Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman. “There’s no way the judge believes the Utah Legislature left open this loophole. I guarantee it will be closed this next session.”

Eighth District Juvenile Court Judge Larry Steele sided with attorney Rich King, who argued under Utah law and around the country women are not held criminally liable for soliciting an abortion.

“Women may use any procedure or method of terminating pregnancy, by abortion or by miscarriage, and they cannot be charged with a crime,” King said.

Judge Steele called the girl’s actions to end her seven-month pregnancy “shocking and crude” in a four-page ruling Thursday, but said her actions “fit the definition for an abortion. As such, she cannot be held criminally liable for her actions pursuant to the Utah abortion statutes.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Playboy Targets Kids by Stripping Marge Simpson

“Marge Simpson has done something that Homer might not like but will make Bart the proudest kid in his school: She’s posed for Playboy magazine.”

“Bart,” for those who do not follow teen television is “10 years old” and a global youth icon. This is Playboy’s newest marketing device to seduce child consumers and future performers.

Wake up and smell the corruption. Playboy marketers have launched a global seduction of “tweens” by stripping Mother Simpson on its cover. Playboy cartoons traditionally brainwash users into laughing at sexual trafficking, kidnapping, prostitution, incest, rape of women and children, and of course sexual harassment.

One news report on “The Simpsons” says its audience is “especially attractive.” Why? He show has a “tween” demographic. Children “between 12 and 17, is an especially key viewing group for ‘The Simpsons,’“ and thus for Playboy. However, the typical definition of “tween” is younger, some marketers claiming between 10 and 15 years old.

[…]

Bringing the tween boys and girls into the print pornography format of course leads millions straight to Playboy’s “soft” Internet pornography and from there to their hard-core, incest and similar vile addictions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UN Commissioner Blasts Italy

Vote to scrap gay protection law ‘a step back for rights’

(ANSA) — Rome, October 14 — The Italian Senate’s vote to throw out a bill aimed at protecting gays from hate-crimes is a step backward for human rights, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Wednesday.

“Gays and lesbians deserve full protection under the law,” said Pillay, adding that governments should take extra measures “to protect them from violence and discrimination”.

The bill, which would have raised penalties against acts of violence motivated by homophobia, was torpedoed in the Senate on Tuesday on the grounds that it gave unequal protection to gays in violation of the constitution.

The head of gay-rights group Arcigay Aurelio Mancuso called the vote a “shameful display which humiliates the dignity of homosexuals”.

The vote unleashed a firestorm within the opposition Democratic Party (PD), which put the law forward, when one if its key senators, Paola Binetti, voted to scrap the bill.

The Catholic senator justified her vote Wednesday saying that “the bill was ambiguous” and that she had “voted in line with her conscience”.

Following Tuesday’s session, the bill’s author and gay rights advocate Paola Concia said she was “ashamed of the parliament”.

Concia also called on the PD “to choose between my position and Binetti’s”.

“The party has to tell me whose side it’s on,” demanded Concia during an Italian television interview, adding that the “state has to tell its citizens that homophobia is a crime”.

Interim party Secretary Dario Franceschini said that Binetti’s vote “made her presence in the PD a serious problem”.

A number of senators of the majority voted in favour of the bill, which has garnered support from more liberal-minded members of the centre-right including House Speaker Gianfranco Fini.

After the bill was thrown out, Welfare Minister Mariastella Carfagna said that she would present the cabinet with a new bill for harsher penalties on all crimes motivated by discrimination “including those against gays”.

Italy has seen a wave of anti-gay attacks this year, the most recent this weekend when a couple of men holding hands were attacked by a gang of young men in the center of Rome.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

General

Interpol and UN to Fight Crime Globally

Interpol and the United Nations are poised to become partners in fighting crime by jointly grooming a global police force that would be deployed as peacekeepers among rogue nations riven by war and organized crime, officials from both organizations say.

On Monday, justice and foreign ministers from more than 60 countries, including the United States and China, are gathering in Singapore for a meeting hosted by the two international organizations.

It is the first step toward creating what Interpol calls a “global policing doctrine” that would enable Interpol and the United Nations to improve the skills of police peacekeepers, largely by sharing a secure communications network and a vast electronic trove of criminal information, including DNA records, fingerprints, photographs and fugitive notices.

“We have a visionary model,” said Ronald K. Noble secretary general of Interpol and the first American to head the international police organization, which is based in Lyon. More than 187 member nations finance the organization.

“The police will be trained and equipped differently with resources,” Mr. Noble said. “When they stop someone, they will be consulting global databases to determine who they are stopping.”

Modern peacekeeping has evolved dramatically since the blue-helmeted U.N. military force won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. Since 2005, the number of police officers within the total force of 95,400 peacekeepers has more than doubled from about 6,000 to 12,200 in 17 countries…

Ronald K. Noble.Name ring a bell? He of Waco,Texas fame…

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Noble

[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

laine said...

If this is true, then it is long overdue and means that Al Quaeda and their leftist enablers are at a parting of the ways.

Al Quaeda is for once showing some consistency (should also denounce Putin and Russia for what they did in Chechnya) in defending Muslims, regardless of their claimed oppressors. (Mind you, there are limits, as the biggest killers of Muslims are other Muslims).

The Left is only interested in defending someone if blame can be attached to Israel and/or the United States while victims of communist or other leftist or autocratic governments are tossed to the wolves.

Three totalitarianisms finally conflicting, Communist Chinese, Islam and Western leftism. One has to hope it's possible for all three to lose.

Robert Marchenoir said...

"Two policemen from Tegelen municipality (Netherlands) travelled to the Spanish coast with Moroccan teenage criminals for a holiday to improve the atmosphere between them."

Yeah. We have this sort of b...t going on in France as well. Except it's not police, but social workers who take youths away for a holiday.

The news are full of stories describing the harrassment of locals, destruction of lodgings and general misbehaviour resulting from such "holidays".

Immigrant youths get free holidays when they break the law and raise hell. Ordinary citizens get heavy fines when driving 1 km/h above the speed limit, make "racist" remarks on the Internet or decline to hire veiled women.

All in the name of equality and justice, of course.