Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/29/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 10/29/2009The notorious radical British Muslim leader Anjem Choudary is calling for Buckingham Palace to be converted into Buckingham Mosque (Masjid). He contests the Queen’s historical right to live in the palace.

In other news, the majority of the Chinese are refusing to get the swine flu vaccination, because they doubt the quality of the vaccine, given their past experience with tainted food and medicine.

Thanks to Aeneas, C. Cantoni, CSP, Fjordman, Gaia, Insubria, JD, JP, Lurker from Tulsa, Sean O’Brian, The Observer, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Rolling Up the Tarp
USA: Economy Growing But Recovery Could be at Risk
 
USA
Frank Gaffney: The Last Conference on Shariah’s Threat to Free Speech?
Future Speakers to Include Bernie Madoff, Osama Bin Laden and Roman Polanski
Gardasil Researcher Drops a Bombshell
Gunman Wounds Two in Los Angeles Synagogue
How Hate-Crime Law Works
I’ll Pass on ‘Opting Out’
Indian Man Charged in NY With Supporting Hezbollah
Interview With Charles Krauthammer
Mainstream Media Ignores Juicy ACORN Nuggets
Monsanto’s Mutated World and the FDA’s Human Experiment
Monsters Among Us
‘Muslim Mafia’ Media Blackout
Obama’s Media Control Strategy
Open Season on Jews: Two Men Shot at Prayer in Los Angeles
Rush Limbaugh Livid: GOP Has Death Wish
Shot Fired Into Home of Lou Dobbs
The Intelligent Student’s Guide to the New World Order
U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War
What Happened to Liberalism?
 
Europe and the EU
Britain’s Secret Mission to Expose Scientology Leader as ‘Fraud’
Brussels ‘Home Office’ Plot to Snoop on All of Europe
EU and US Seal Extradition Pact
Europe’s Leaders to Create EU Foreign Ministry
First Electric Police Cars Roll Onto Britain’s Streets… But They’d Be No Good in a High-Speed Chase
Hard-Working: Ambitious and Confident, Typical Spanish Woman
Italian Gov’t OKs the Italian-French Alpi-Med
Italy: Hungry Son Spoils Jewel Cake Heist
Italy: Fine Confirmed on Pasta Makers
Italy: Other Politicians ‘May be Being Blackmailed Over Sex’
L’Europe, C’est Moi, At £900,000 a Day
Sarkozy Leads the Charge to Strong-Arm Klaus Into Signing Lisbon
Spain: Basque Countries, Debate on Ending Armed Struggle
Spain: 60% of Workers Have Mental Health Problems From Stress
Spain: ETA Bans Women Who Want to Have Children
Tingbjerg: One Neighborhood’s Nightmare
UK: Buckingham Mosque …What Fanatics Want to Call the Palace
UK: City Christmas Tree Chopped Down
UK: Councils Get ‘Al Capone’ Power to Seize Assets Over Minor Offences
UK: Classroom Apartheid: Teachers Who Were Afraid to Discipline Thuggish Minority of Asian Pupils for Fear of Being Branded Racist
UK: Lesbian Police Officer Sues Force Over ‘Homophobia’ After Being Banned From Working With Her Girlfriend
UK: Parents Banned From Watching Their Children in Playgrounds… In Case They Are Paedophiles
UK: Schools Report 40,000 Cases of Racism a Year
UK: Schoolgirl, 14, Goes Missing After ‘Converting’ To Islam
UK: Secret Plan for Euro Income Tax
UK: The BBC’s Censors Risk Killing Off Comedy
UK: Thousands of Nursery School Children Branded Racist by Teachers… Before They Know What the Word Means
Vatican: Talks Begin With Ultraconservative Breakaway Group
 
Balkans
Serbia-Turkey: Relations at Historic Peak, Presidents Say
 
North Africa
Erick Stakelbeck: Al Qaeda in North Africa Threatens the West
Muslims Kill Believer Over Photos of Girlfriend
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Goldstone Challenges US Over Gaza Crimes, China Sides With Israel
Jerusalem ‘Chastity Guardians’ Appear on Streets
Water to Palestinians: Israel Rejects Amnesty Report
West Bank: PNA Forces Arrest Islamic Jihad Leader
 
Middle East
Audio: Hero Marine Recalls ‘Chaotic’ Battle of Fallujah
Baghdad Tired of Violence After Politically Motivated Double Attack
Bahrain MPs Press for Israel Ban
Escalating Anti-Semitism as Turkey Embraces Iran
My Bizarre and Terrifying Childhood With My Father, Osama Bin Laden
Rocket From Lebanon on Upper Galilee
Turkey: An Ally No More
 
South Asia
Bangladesh: Pressure on Catholic Family to Rob Them of House and Property
Bullets Used by British Soldiers ‘Too Small to Defeat Taliban’
Defect Armour Risk to Australian Soldiers Fighting in Afghanistan
Extra Italian Troops to be Withdrawn After Elections Says Minister
Indonesia: Ulema and Feminists Against Polygamy Club
Pakistan: Political Crisis Looms as Militancy Intensifies
The Courage of the Church of Pakistan, Against the “Islamization” Of Society
The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An Overview)
U.S. Set to Pay Taliban Members to Switch Sides
 
Far East
Korean Lecturer ‘Spied for North’
Majority of Chinese Refuse Vaccine Against Swine Flu
 
Australia — Pacific
Australians Could be Banned From Living on the Coast
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Beijing Continues to Colonise Africa, Signs New Deals With Guinea
Somali Man, ‘112’, Weds Girl, 17
 
Latin America
Honduras Takes Brazil to UN Court
Nicole Ferrand in the Americas Report: Who’s Behind the Obama Honduras Policy?
 
Immigration
Australia: Senior Lib Questions Muslim Immigration
Australia: Outcry as MP Calls for Debate on Muslim Enclaves
 
Culture Wars
NYT Dubs Man-Woman Union: ‘Opposite-Sex Marriage’
Obamacare to Put Planned Parenthood in Charge?
Obama Signs ‘Hate-Crimes’ Bill Into Law
Porn Practitioners Promoted to Children?
Time Again for the Feminists’ Rant
 
General
Controlling Climate? More Like Controlling Humans
Genes Drive Behaviour, But Culture Can Select Genes: Study
Islamic States Pushing for ‘Global Blasphemy Law’

Financial Crisis

Rolling Up the Tarp

The Troubled Asset Relief Program will expire on December 31, unless Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner exercises his authority to extend it to next October. We hope he doesn’t. Historians will debate TARP’s role in ending the financial panic of 2008, but today there is little evidence that the government needs or can prudently manage what has evolved into a $700 billion all-purpose political bailout fund.

We supported TARP to deal with toxic bank assets and resolve failing banks as a resolution agency of the kind that worked with savings and loans in the 1980s. Some taxpayer money was needed beyond what the FDIC’s shrinking insurance fund had available. But TARP quickly became a Treasury tool to save failing institutions without imposing discipline (Citigroup) and even to force public capital onto banks that didn’t need it. This stigmatized all banks as taxpayer supplicants and is now evolving into an excuse for the Federal Reserve to micromanage compensation.

TARP was then redirected well beyond the financial system into $80 billion in “investments” for auto companies. These may never be repaid but served as a lever to abuse creditors and favor auto unions. TARP also bought preferred stock in struggling insurers Lincoln and Hartford, though insurance companies are not subject to bank runs and pose no “systemic risk.” They erode slowly as customers stop renewing policies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


USA: Economy Growing But Recovery Could be at Risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — Fueled by government stimulus, the economy grew last quarter for the first time in more than a year. The question now is, can the recovery last?

Federal support for spending on cars and homes drove the economy up 3.5 percent from July through September. But the government aid — from tax credits for home buyers to rebates for auto purchases — is only temporary. Consumer spending, which normally drives recoveries, is likely to weaken without it.

If shoppers retrench in the face of rising joblessness and tight credit, the fragile recovery could tip back into recession.

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

USA

Frank Gaffney: The Last Conference on Shariah’s Threat to Free Speech?

The Muslim Brotherhood Hopes So

The beautiful new auditorium in Washington’s Capitol Visitors Center was the site October 27-28 of an impressive two-day conference that sounded the alarm on our increasingly endangered liberties: freedom of speech and freedom of religion. If the Muslim Brotherhood and its associates like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have their way, however, there will be far less of such freedoms and no such conferences in the future. CAIR would have open discussions, of freedom of speech and of religion, prohibited and even criminalized.

Incredibly, that would appear to be the aspiration of the U.S. government, as well. After all, as participants of the International Legal Conference on Freedom of Speech and Religion discussed, the Obama administration recently joined the Organization of the Islamic Conference in sponsoring a resolution that would require UN member nations to act to bar and penalize speech that offends Muslims or can be claimed to encourage discrimination, hatred or violence against them. Worse yet, with yesterday’s signature by President Obama of so-called “hate crime” legislation, a vehicle has been established for just such sanctions to be imposed in the United States, the First Amendment’s guarantees to the contrary notwithstanding.

In two days of addresses by U.S. Congressmen, members of the European Parliament and the U.K. House of Lords, prominent First Amendment experts in academia and the legal profession, investigative journalists, best-selling authors and nationally-known talk radio hosts, a compelling record was amassed showing that foundational liberties in the West are indeed imperiled. Specifically, the speakers reported the cumulative effect of Islamist “lawfare” — by which Muslim Brotherhood and other adherents to the theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls “Shariah” seek preferential treatment for their co-religionists. Lawsuits and political lobbying by Shariah proponents promote a virulent ideology masquerading as a faith, and suppress the practice of Christianity, Judaism and other faiths, both abroad and increasingly in the United States.

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Future Speakers to Include Bernie Madoff, Osama Bin Laden and Roman Polanski

Washington and and Lee University, in Lexington, Va., holds its 48th Journalism Ethics Institute next week. The Rockbridge Weekly describes the event:

The W&L Journalism Ethics Institutes, held twice each year, bring to campus top media professional and academics for two days of seminars with students from the University’s capstone journalism ethics class. The sessions deal with case studies of ethical dilemmas that the practicing journalists present.

So which top media professional is on tap for next week? If you’re drinking anything, swallow now, lest you soak your keyboard.

Jayson Blair!

Seriously:

“Inviting Jayson Blair to keynote this institute was definitely a departure for us,” said Edward Wasserman, the Knight Professor of Journalism Ethics at W&L. “In the past, we’ve brought heroes to Lexington, people of great accomplishment and stature, such as Hodding Carter, Helen Thomas and Lowell Bergman, and people who stood up to pressure in the name of principled journalism, such as Matt Cooper and my W&L faculty colleague Toni Locy, both of whom faced jail time because they refused to give up the names of sources they had promised to protect.

“Jayson Blair, on the other hand, was at the center of one of the signature journalism scandals of this still-new century, and there’s no way to imagine that his role in it was heroic,” Wasserman continued. “When I approached him with the invitation, he said that although he has not spoken publicly about the affair that led to his dismissal from the New York Times, this might be the right time and right occasion. My expectation is that he’ll talk not just about his own susceptibilities, but about the pressures and temptations that might induce ambitious and talented young journalists elsewhere in the business to do the wrong thing.”

In case you’ve forgotten, Blair lost his job when his editors discovered that he had been making stuff up. If the W&L faculty think this involved any sort of “ethical dilemma,” no news organization should ever hire one of their students.

[Return to headlines]


Gardasil Researcher Drops a Bombshell

Dr. Diane Harper, lead researcher in the development of two human papilloma virus vaccines, Gardasil and Cervarix, said the controversial drugs will do little to reduce cervical cancer rates and, even though they’re being recommended for girls as young as nine, there have been no efficacy trials in children under the age of 15.

Dr. Harper, director of the Gynecologic Cancer Prevention Research Group at the University of Missouri, made these remarks during an address at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination which took place in Reston, Virginia on Oct. 2-4. Although her talk was intended to promote the vaccine, participants said they came away convinced the vaccine should not be received.

“I came away from the talk with the perception that the risk of adverse side effects is so much greater than the risk of cervical cancer, I couldn’t help but question why we need the vaccine at all,” said Joan Robinson, Assistant Editor at the Population Research Institute.

Dr. Harper began her remarks by explaining that 70 percent of all HPV infections resolve themselves without treatment within a year. Within two years, the number climbs to 90 percent. Of the remaining 10 percent of HPV infections, only half will develop into cervical cancer, which leaves little need for the vaccine.

She went on to surprise the audience by stating that the incidence of cervical cancer in the U.S. is already so low that “even if we get the vaccine and continue PAP screening, we will not lower the rate of cervical cancer in the US.”

[…]

However, at this point, Dr. Harper dropped an even bigger bombshell on the audience when she announced that, “There have been no efficacy trials in girls under 15 years.”

[…]

When asked why she was speaking out, she said: “I want to be able to sleep with myself when I go to bed at night.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Gunman Wounds Two in Los Angeles Synagogue

Los Angeles police say two Jewish men in their 30s were shot in the legs as they were about to enter a synagogue in the North Hollywood section of Los Angeles Thursday morning. A man described as an African-American with a handgun entered the Adat Yeshurun Valley Sephardic synagogue at about 6:20 a.m. Thursday and opened fire. The victims were taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Police are investigating the shooting as a hate crime. The Los Angeles Times says police arrested a man near the synagogue, but the sources say they don’t believe he was the gunman.

The newspaper adds that police officials have alerted other synagogues around Los Angeles about the shooting, and police have stepped up patrols at Jewish religious institutions. Detectives are trying to determine if the gunman acted alone or as part of a larger group.

According to the Associated Press, the wounded people had just pulled into the synagogue parking structure for morning services. Investigators said no words were exchanged between the shooter and his victims.

“Grave and shocking”

Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli Edelstein called the event “grave and shocking.”

The attack “reminds us that anti-Semitism is alive and kicking and has no hesitation in terrorizing the Jewish people’s holy of holies. We and the nations of the world must continue to fight anti-Semitism as it has already been proven that what starts with the Jews ends with other nations as well.”

The attack occurred about 16 km. away from a Jewish community center where, ten years ago, white supremacist Buford Furrow shot and wounded five people and later killed a letter carrier. Three children were among the wounded in that attack.

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


How Hate-Crime Law Works

The newly signed “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act” merely federalizes the unequal distribution of justice that has existed at the local level for years.

As such laws work, if your group lacks political and media influence, you can expect to be convicted of crimes you did not commit and receive longer sentences for those you did.

[Comments from JD: WARNING: Graphic content.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


I’ll Pass on ‘Opting Out’

The Democrats’ all-new “opt out” idea for health-care reform is the latest fig leaf for a total government takeover of the health-care system.

Democrats tell us they’ve been trying to nationalize health care for 65 years, but the first anyone heard of the “opt out” provision was about a week ago. They keep changing the language so people can’t figure out what’s going on.

The most important fact about the “opt out” scheme allegedly allowing states to decline government health insurance is that a state can’t “opt out” of paying for it. All 50 states will pay for it. A state legislature can only opt out of allowing its own citizens to receive the benefits of a federal program they’re paying for.

It’s like a movie theater offering a “money back guarantee” and then explaining, you don’t get your money back, but you don’t have to stay and watch the movie if you don’t like it. That’s not what most people are thinking when they hear the words “opt out.” The term more likely to come to mind is “scam.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Indian Man Charged in NY With Supporting Hezbollah

NEW YORK (Reuters) — An Indian man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to terrorism charges that include agreeing to sell guns and military equipment in a sting operation to Lebanese Shi’ite guerrilla group Hezbollah.

Patrick Nayyar, a 45-year-old Indian citizen is accused of meeting with an FBI informant posing as working for Hezbollah and agreeing to sell guns, ammunition, vehicles, bulletproof vests and night vision goggles, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Interview With Charles Krauthammer

‘Obama Is Average’

In a SPIEGEL interview, Charles Krauthammer, the leading voice of America’s conservative intellectuals, discusses Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize, the president’s failures and the state of the United Nations and the international community.

SPIEGEL: Do you really believe that Obama deliberately wants to weaken the US?

Krauthammer: The liberal vision of America is that it should be less arrogant, less unilateral, more internationalist. In Obama’s view, America would subsume itself under a fuzzy internationalism in which the international community, which I think is a fiction, governs itself through the UN.

SPIEGEL: A nightmare?

Krauthammer: Worse than that: an absurdity. I can’t even imagine serious people would believe it, but I think Obama does. There is a way America will decline — if we choose first to wreck our economy and then to constrain our freedom of action through subordinating ourselves to international institutions which are 90 percent worthless and 10 percent harmful.

SPIEGEL: And there is not even 1 percent that is constructive?

Krauthammer: No. The UN is worse than disaster. The UN creates conflicts. Look at the disgraceful UN Human Rights Council: It transmits norms which are harmful, anti-liberty, and anti-Semitic among other things. The world would be better off in its absence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mainstream Media Ignores Juicy ACORN Nuggets

The “Pimp and Pro” story, exposing ACORN’s willingness to advise a prostitute on tax evasion and child sex trafficking, hit America a few weeks ago. There were a myriad number of angles to report, yet the Mainstream Media’s favorite approach seems to be the method in which James O’Keefe and I orchestrated and gathered the information.

It’s like going fishing, but instead of taking a picture and raving about the 750lb Mako shark you caught, you blather on about the bait that was used.

What happens when people get bored? They stop paying attention. What happens when people stop paying attention to an already suffering press industry? We’re seeing that happen now.

Rather than simply complaining about the MSM’s negligence on the story, here are some loose ends the media ignored, from our footage alone, that warrant attention.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Monsanto’s Mutated World and the FDA’s Human Experiment

America’s sugar crop is under GMO assault and the FDA has begun a new era of human experimentation. America is in dire need of a new super hero — and he has arrived. It is Larry Leptin, defending your right to be healthy.

See Larry Leptin’s first episode: Halloween fun as he takes on the GMO mutated sugar beets.

Monsanto’s Toxic and Mutated World — Is Sugar Safe to Eat?

It should come as no surprise when a Monsanto product poisons the earth and our food. Our planet has never recovered from the forty-year Monsanto-led PCB contamination that was banned in the U.S. in 1977. To this day environmental PCBs continue to degrade into highly toxic furans and dioxins, wreaking all manner of human health problem. The new case in point involves several aspects: 1) the bizarre alteration of the nature of food itself by splicing viral, bacterial, and other life forms into the DNA of food (GMO seeds and crops), and 2) the massive increase in the use of glyphosate pesticide (Round Up), which is polluting the water, soil, and food across the globe. Both issues are extremely problematic to human health.

On September 21, 2009 a stunning shot was fired across the bow of Monsanto and its new legion of Frankenfood sugar beet growers. Judge Jeffrey S. White of Federal District Court in San Francisco said the Agriculture Department should have done an environmental impact statement as required by law. He said it should have assessed the consequences from the likely spread of the genetically engineered trait to other sugar beets or to the related crops of Swiss chard and red table beets. He said that the potential elimination of farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food constituted a significant effect on the environment that necessitated an environmental impact statement. The case is ongoing, with the next phase scheduled for October 30.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is attempting damage control during the second growing season of this genetic monstrosity masquerading as food. The judge hasn’t banned the current year’s crop or the sale of Halloween candy which is now full of GMO sugar. Of course, GMO sugar, like other GMO “foods,” doesn’t need to be labeled as such (because nobody in their right mind would buy it if it were). Half the refined sugar in the U.S. is from beets — and insiders say the industry has quickly converted to the GMO Frankenfood beets, estimating up to 95% of farmers are now using them.

[…]

The FDA’s Peramivir H1N1 Swine Flu Experiment

Like Tamiflu and Relenza, Peramivir is a neuraminidase inhibitor. Neuraminidase (the N part of H1N1) is a viral protein that must be active in order for new viruses to emerge from a virally infected cell. If it can be blocked, then viral spreading can be reduced.

Tamiflu and Relenza only bind to neuraminidase for a brief period of time, limiting their biological activity against a virus. In contrast, Peramivir binds very tightly to neuraminidase and is longer lasting — meaning it is a much more potent drug. The FDA has approved it for use in advanced Swine Flu cases that are not responding to Tamiflu or Relenza.

On the one hand, this sounds like a reasonable approach to helping people with extreme Swine Flu. What is likely to happen in actual practice is another matter entirely. Doctors will hear on the grapevine how well Peramivir seems to work and it will be used on more and more patients. And what’s wrong with that?

It is a human experiment. Human experiments are against the Nuremberg code, which has been agreed to by the world following the atrocities of Nazi Germany. Human experiments run counter to the basic decency and morality of any culture — except the culture of the FDA and its profit-driven pharmaceutical allies.

The problem with neuraminidase blocking is that there are four known human genes that utilize neuraminidase for normal and healthy cell function (NEU1, NEU2, NEU3, NEU4). The next problem is that these genes are not passive and secondary in cellular function. They regulate carbohydrate-related communication taking place on human cell membranes (glyconutrition and glycobiology). In other words, they are instrumentally involved in how cells talk to each other, as well as in many processes of a cell’s internal communication. Any neuraminidase blocking drug runs the risk of interfering with general communication needed for healthy cell function.

The adverse side effects of Tamiflu are in many cases rather extreme and include panic attacks, delusions, delirium, convulsions, depression, loss of consciousness, and even suicide. Oxford researchers have publicly warned that Tamiflu is not for children. Tamiflu is a relatively weak binder of neuraminidase.

What is going to happen when a strong binder of neuraminidase, Peramivir, latches on to the human cellular communication system based on neuraminidase genes? The FDA has no idea, but their unelected bureaucratic management team has decided in their infinite wisdom that the benefits outweigh the risks, even though they have no way of knowing. The era of sanctioned human experimentation is upon us.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Monsters Among Us

[Comments from JD: WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Her name is Somer Thompson. She was 7 years old. She’s dead.

In her last minutes of life, this beautiful little girl suffered inhuman acts of brutality. She was taken and murdered by one of the monsters who live and work among us — one of the pieces of human debris, the living mounds of filth, who are allowed to breathe the same air, live in the same apartment buildings and work the same jobs as genuine human beings. They look like us, but they’re not human at all; they’re animals who walk on two legs, with hearts full of black emptiness and minds full of perversion and violence.

Somer Thompson disappeared a week ago last Monday. She left school to walk home and was never seen alive again. By Wednesday of last week, ABC News was reporting that the density of registered sex offenders living within walking distance of Somer’s home is so great that “when their homes are represented by pins on a digital map they create a cluster so thick it overlaps in places.” On Thursday, searchers found Somer’s body in a Georgia landfill. By Friday, authorities had interrogated and ruled out as suspects all 161 sex offenders living in a five-mile radius of the house that will never again feel like a home to Somer Thompson’s parents.

Let me write that out: There are ONE HUNDRED SIXTY-ONE sex offenders living within five miles of this little girl’s house. What’s more, that density of legally registered perverts, child molesters, rapists, flashers and whatever else, is considered average. ABC quoted a Florida lawyer named Ron Book, a legal activist who fights for stricter sex-offense laws. “In spite of appearing … to be a lot, that’s about average. Some areas have hundreds of offenders.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Muslim Mafia’ Media Blackout

As a result of a daring undercover operation lasting six months, a Muslim Brotherhood front group — one already identified by the U.S. Justice Department as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator — has been revealed as an active front for jihadist activity.

This group, the Council on American Islamic Relations, still sports a 501(c)3 tax-exemption from the Internal Revenue Service. It still has broad access to the “mainstream” media. And it boasts about lobbying the Congress of the United States, though such activities are strictly limited by its tax-exempt status.

Despite the following well-documented findings of this undercover investigation in which thousands of incriminating internal documents were collected, not one major news agency besides WND has picked up the voluminous stories revealed in “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Media Control Strategy

You may not have noticed that the Obama Administration, in addition to trying to seize control of the health care and energy sectors, is implementing a national “broadband plan” to redefine the media and transform America’s system of government. It’s designed, they say, to provide “open government and civic engagement.” But it looks increasingly like an excuse for the federal government to control the Internet and access to information and even tell us what is truth.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute recently explained at a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “National Broadband Plan Workshop” that it is necessary to have “a common space with shared facts.” Armed with $7.2 billion of “stimulus” money, the federal government is going to provide this. It looks like various progressive groups are lining up at the public trough for their share of the loot. They have in mind what the George Soros-funded Free Press calls “an alternative media infrastructure.”

If you think we already have that, with public TV and radio, think again. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which has received $8 billion in federal tax dollars since it was created in 1967, is not considered radical enough by these folks. The Free Press favors an additional $50 billion “Public Media Trust fund” financed by a tax on home electronic devices. It also wants the federally-funded AmeriCorps to finance jobs for journalists.

[…]

While the Internet is apparently confusing people with too much information, Ornstein said that the Internet also offers “multiple opportunities” to “develop a public square.” He made these remarks at an event presided over by Obama’s FCC chairman Julius Genachowski. The assumption of the exercise was that the federal government, under the cover of a national broadband plan, should not only regulate the Internet but provide new media for the public.

Assisting Genachowski is Mark Lloyd, Associate General Counsel and chief diversity officer at the agency. Lloyd used to work at the Benton Foundation, which is assisting this effort and previously issued a report recommending that the Obama Administration “should adopt policies to ensure that all Americans” have the ability to:

* “Know when you need information to help resolve a problem; * “Know from whom, when, where, and how to seek that needed information; * “Know how to differentiate between authentic and unauthentic information; * “Know how to organize information and interpret it correctly once retrieved; and * “Know how to use the information to solve the problem or make the decision.”

The idea of the federal government telling people how to “differentiate between authentic and inauthentic information” is frightening. But this is part of Benton’s “Action Plan for America.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Open Season on Jews: Two Men Shot at Prayer in Los Angeles

by Phyllis Chesler

Early this morning, as Jewish men gathered for their morning prayers, a lone gunman entered the Adat Yeshurun Valley synagogue in North Hollywood (or entered it’s parking lot) and shot and wounded two men. The gunman, described as an African-American teenager wearing a hood, apparently fled. The police arrested an African-American man who may or may not have been the shooter. The police are calling this a “hate crime” since no other motive appears to have been involved. Thankfully, the wounded men were hospitalized and will recover.

Yesterday there was a shootout in Detroit at a mosque largely peopled by African-American converts to Islam and led by the former Black Panther H. Rap Brown, who converted to Islam in jail while serving a life sentence. If a convert to Islam was involved in the LA synagogue shooting (and it is totally unclear whether this is the case), I would view this shooting as one lone individual’s version of “political” payback. Recently, in 2009, four African-American prison converts to Islam plotted to blow up two Riverdale synagogues and an American military base.

Blame the Jews, target the Jews—even when they are not involved, especially when they aren’t. Even when the Jews are not Israelis and are not necessarily “Zionists.” Even when the Jews may themselves be Arabs of many skin-colors. (The Los Angeles synagogue is Sephardic and Orthodox). A true anti-Semite makes no distinction between Jews and Zionists, and between Jews of color, who may also be Arabs, and Jews of European extraction. Such fine distinctions are not made in the West or in the Arab world…

[Return to headlines]


Rush Limbaugh Livid: GOP Has Death Wish

Republicans ‘as dangerous to this country as the Democrat Party is’

Talk-radio icon Rush Limbaugh says the Republican Party has a death wish — and is as dangerous to the United States as the Democrat Party and its czars.

Limbaugh’s comments came today as he was discussing the race for Congress in New York’s 23rd district, where the GOP picked a liberal nominee to oppose a liberal Democrat, passing over a conservative candidate who wanted to represent the GOP, a candidate now pursuing the seat as a third-party candidate.

“They have a death wish. The Republican Party has a death wish. Gallup: 40 percent of Americans now say they are conservative, 20 percent say they’re liberal, 36 percent say they’re moderates. And of those three groups, which one is being ignored — not just ignored — which one is being attacked by the Republican Party? The conservatives! “ Limbaugh said today.

“It’s worse than I thought. I thought this was just based on elitism and northeast moderate liberalism, and embarrassment of the people that the social issues attract to the party. But now it’s just plain stupidity,” he continued.

“The Republican Party, as constituted is as dangerous to this country as the Democrat Party is. ‘But Rush, party loyalty is party loyalty, and the local Republican committee up there has endorsed Scozzafava .’ So? I’m saying the two parties are the same. I guess I need to amend it a little bit, but, man, when I saw that they were running ads, as I say, ruined two hours of my day,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Shot Fired Into Home of Lou Dobbs

Pro-Illegal alien Amnesty supporting groups have been spreading lies about Lou Dobbs of CNN, trying to get him fired to censor his free speech, and foment hatred towards him because he stands against illegal immigration and Amnesty. Now, those lies and hatred have manifested in gunfire into the home of Lou Dobbs near his Hispanic wife!

[Return to headlines]


The Intelligent Student’s Guide to the New World Order

What is the New World Order? How does it affect you?

The essence of the New World Order or WORld Management System (WORMS) is that it is management by social engineers, rather than government based on a written constitution. How you are affected by this management system, depends on what the social engineers decide the system should do for you and require of you. The social engineers and system managers think of themselves as scientists applying the scientific method to the control of group behavior. Your behavior and relationships are regarded as subjects of investigation and control by those who call themselves ‘social scientists.’ You are among their test animals, and you have no say in, and often no knowledge of experiments that involve you.

[…]

The planners of the New World Order know they must use, influence, and cater to all of these groups to accomplish the goals they are seeking, which are:

(1) Claim everything. (2) Classify everything. (3) Commercialize everything. (4) Consolidate everything. (5) Control everything.

We might call these goals the five C’s of the World Management System.

[…]

To quote Auguste Comte, one of the most significant early planners of the world management system,

“The only real life is the collective life of the race; individual life has no existence except as an abstraction.”[1]

He also wrote,

“When the system is fully regulated, the effect of this will be to secure greater unity, by diminishing the influence of personal character. “[2]

This means that to the WORld Management System planners you, as an individual, are considered to be without character or personality. Your personal life and personal goals are unimportant to them, unless those goals are consistent with the sociological and economic goals of the New World Order.

Public schools and The New World Order

To demonstrate how NWO sociological and economic goals are being brought about we can look first at the public schools.

[…]

An organization called the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) which is an offshoot of the National Education Association and a promoter of the New World Order, has CLAIMED power to determine what you should learn and what you should not learn in history, geography, government, economics, religion, psychology, etc. These subjects were CONSOLIDATED decades ago so they could be treated together under one agenda called, social studies. The leaders of NCSS CLAIM the right to decide what you should be taught, how you should be taught, and how your achievement will be evaluated.

In addition to the National Council for the Social Studies the various states have state councils for the social studies. What is passed down from the National Council can then be programmed into the states. Through the efforts of state members, bills are presented to legislators to make NCSS curriculum standards legal requirements in states. From then on your local school board and your parents have had little to say about what you should be expected to learn. NCSS CONTROLS what you should know, when you should know it. If you, your school or community have different standards and do not try to live up to NCSS standards for the New World Order, your schools can be closed or your community punished by depriving it of federal, foundation, and state money.

[…]

Goals 2000 — Control is the object

Most of the governors of the United States are members of the National Governor’s Association. They have national meetings to CONSOLIDATE their policy decisions. In 1990 a policy was declared to promote the adoption of national educational goals. The Republican Bush Administration had endorsed the idea in 1989. The U. S. Chamber of Commerce and multinational corporations supported it. Then in 1992 Congress (Democrats and Republicans) passed and funded the Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

Originally social studies were not included, but the NCSS saw to it that social studies were annexed to the national agenda. Then they appointed a task force to develop CONSOLIDATED curriculum standards. These were later adopted in most states as part of the Goals 2000: Educate America Act. Eight goals were chosen and publicized.

The eight educational goals of the Goals 2000 were not the important part of this operation. Any goals that sounded good, along with the money promised, could have enticed governors and state legislators to pass enabling legislation in their states. The real object was to CONSOLIDATE leadership in education, CLAIM jurisdiction over curriculum, and to further CONTROL what you and other students learn.

It is no surprise to find now that the eight goals have not been reached—and were not reached by the Year 2000. Does this mean that CONSOLIDATED goal setting and visioning will be discontinued? On the contrary! To the goal-setters it meant merely that the Goals 2000: Educate America should be renamed, ‘America’s Education Goals’, and should be extended beyond 2000 without a specific deadline. Even when failure is obvious and promises are not fulfilled, CONTROL, once gained, is never willingly relinquished by the WORMS promoters.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


U.S. Official Resigns Over Afghan War

Foreign Service officer and former Marine captain says he no longer knows why his nation is fighting

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


What Happened to Liberalism?

On Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2009, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., appeared opposite Ralph Nader on “The Ed Schultz Show.” When Nader questioned Frank’s far-left bona fides, Frank quickly responded, “We are trying on every front to increase the role of government.

This is what today’s liberal movement has become. Stripped to its essentials, modern liberalism is now a nakedly ambitious power grab by corrupt officials, their union allies and faux-victimized purloiners of the taxpayer till. Its underlying premises — the ultimate goodness of government, the ultimate evil of the American population — are plainly inconsistent with the foundations of constitutional philosophy.

It was not always thus. Over the weekend, I had a chance to re-read one of my favorite authors, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck was considered for decades the leading authorial spokesman for the blue-collar left. “The Grapes of Wrath,” his most famous work, is undoubtedly a liberal tract — it condemns the harshness of unbridled capitalism and asks (literally) for the milk of human kindness.

Whereas today’s liberal spokespeople have been infected by a virulent anti-Americanism that sees all businessmen as profiteers and all public workers as saints, Steinbeck was a patriot. He worried about the lack of kindness he saw in his fellow men, particularly the willingness to cut corners to make a buck — but at the same time, he saw the virtue of freedom.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain’s Secret Mission to Expose Scientology Leader as ‘Fraud’

British diplomats compiled evidence 30 years ago that the founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, was a “fraud”, according to National Archive papers.

Whitehall officials discovered the science-fiction writer, who invented a religion now followed by celebrities such as Tom Cruise, awarded himself a PhD from a sham college he had acquired in California.

The information was gathered in secret by workers at the British consulate in Los Angeles on behalf of the government, which feared a libel action following its 1968 decision to ban followers from entering Britain to visit the sect’s headquarters in East Grinstead, West Sussex.

The documents show Britain was not alone in probing Scientology. The dossier of evidence, gathered during the 1970s, included the extraordinary claim by an American official that the sect had sent bogus doctors to hypnotise a legal investigator and declare him ‘mentally ill’ to thwart his inquiries into their activities.

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


Brussels ‘Home Office’ Plot to Snoop on All of Europe

Brussels bureaucrats are plotting a massive expansion in the use of surveillance and controversial extradition powers, a report warned last night.

At the same time they will also increase their meddling in Britain’s justice system, it was claimed.

The EU wants to create its own version of the Home Office to oversee the policy changes, and even has plans to train a third of the police service to create a Blocwide ‘common culture of policing’.

There would be an increased sharing of British DNA, health and tax records with foreign governments and investigators, as well as the introduction of new Big Brother surveillance techniques.

Cash from the EU’s £1billion justice and home affairs budget is being used to look at whether CCTV cameras can be installed to predict whether somebody is about to commit a crime — not just to catch them if they do so.

The report, by the Open Europe think tank, details how the EU has already adopted swathes of surveillance powers. But it says once the Lisbon Treaty has been ratified this will increase dramatically.

Analyst Stephen Booth said: ‘How can citizens expect their fundamental rights to liberty and independence from the state to be protected by unaccountable institutions which have a vested interest in creating more laws?

‘We are fast approaching a situation where the EU will have the full coercive machinery of a state but without the proper democratic controls or robust checks on power that citizens should expect.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


EU and US Seal Extradition Pact

The EU and the US have signed a judicial co-operation agreement allowing European countries to refuse to extradite criminals who may be sentenced to the death penalty.

“We are establishing a joint ambition to continue our co-operation to fight gross international crime. But equally important is that we are agreed on strengthening the protection of the rights of the individual,” Swedish justice minister Beatrice Ask, on behalf of the EU presidency, said at a signing ceremony with US attorney general Eric Holder at the Swedish embassy in Washington on Wednesday (28 October).

A long-time critic of the death penalty in the US, the EU began negotiating the extradition agreement after the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on US soil.

This is the first agreement on extradition between the United States and the European Union. It will enter into force in February 2010, after EU justice ministers ratified the deal earlier this month.

Under the deal, existing bilateral extradition treaties between the US and each member state will be streamlined and modernised, clarifying for instance the kind of offences that are extraditable, rules surrounding the exchange of information and transmission of documents and transit rules.

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


Europe’s Leaders to Create EU Foreign Ministry

Europe’s leaders will on Thursday agree to create a ‘foreign ministry’ under Lisbon Treaty plans to make the European Union a world power to rival the United States and China.

Confidential plans to form the new European External Action Service (EEAS) by next spring will be agreed by Gordon Brown over dinner at the start of a two-day summit in Brussels.

But rather than a simple reorganisation of existing EU diplomatic activity, the new institution will take on the trappings of a fully fledged ministry such as the Foreign Office or America’s State Department.

The Conservatives have attacked the Prime Minister for signing up to the plan, which follow weeks of secret negotiations, without public scrutiny or any debate in the House of Commons.

According to a restricted document, seen by The Daily Telegraph, the new Brussels institution will take responsibility for the “strategic direction” of EU foreign policy and will have its own independent budget.

It will be headed by a “High Representative”, or EU foreign minister, who will take over key military, crisis planning and intelligence bodies previously controlled by national governments.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


First Electric Police Cars Roll Onto Britain’s Streets… But They’d Be No Good in a High-Speed Chase

West Midlands Police will be taking to the streets of Birmingham in Mitsubishi all-electric MiEV city cars from December.

The £30,000 car has a range of 100 miles from a full battery charge but a top speed of 81mph meaning high-speed chases are out of the question.

The new blues and twos can carry four adult passengers and equipment in comfort and best of all it will help to keep streets clean as it has zero emissions.

The force is running a new CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emission Demonstrator) scheme to trial the car for a year.

The initial cost of the Mitsubishi car is too high to be considered for any large scale switch-over but by paying a heavily -subsidised monthly rental during the trial, officers say it will more than pay its way.

Andy Kelly, head of the force’s Fleet Services, said: ‘We are keen to look at all aspects of our fleet’s carbon footprint whilst balancing any emerging products against our operational requirements.

‘The arrival of these type of vehicles by many manufacturers is something we will monitor very closely in the years ahead, because they are very much the future.’

Police will give the new car, which costs a fraction of the cost per mile to run compared to a petrol car, to a Community Support Officer to carry out work in his or her neighbourhood.

Two dozen of the vehicles will be distributed to other public sector partners in the West Midlands area following the Birmingham launch.

‘Clearly our priority is to ensure that the vehicle fits in neatly with the role our officers perform in the community, and it more than does that,’ said Mr Kelly.

The i MiEV in full police livery was showcased at the National Police Show in September, where it was an instant show stopper.

Since then, Mitsubishi Motors has been inundated with requests from UK Police Forces to trial the i MiEV but West Midlands Police are the first to make one fully operational in the fight against crime.

Mitsubishi’s Managing Director, Lance Bradley, said: ‘The i-MiEVs have been in the UK on trial for almost a year now and we are delighted that police forces in the UK are able to see that the future of zero emissions driving requires no compromise.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Hard-Working: Ambitious and Confident, Typical Spanish Woman

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 26 — Women workers, intellectually restless, ambitious and satisfied with herself, but above all critical of what she considers to be unjust: this is today’s Spanish women, according to an investigation carried out by the Cimop Institute for weekly magazine Mujer Hoy, in a survey of 25,000 women, asked 62 questions. A foretaste of the results, which will be published in Friday’s edition, shows the great steps made by Spanish women on the road to emancipation in the last decade: only 13.8% are solely housewives, and 18% of these at the request of their husbands. But a mass entrance into the world of work in the last decades has not freed women from domestic tasks, 62.35% maintain that work and family are difficult to reconcile and only 8% believe that the Equality laws passed by the Zapatero government help them in this. Many stereotypes of Spanish women are destroyed by the survey. Above all the stereotype that they are dedicated to the family to the point of always putting the family before work: over half of those interviewed said that they were ambitious, a percentage which rises to 68.2% in the case of women without children. The main problem for women is not so much the working hours, as the organisation of the daily routine. Love too, for the ‘passionate’ Spanish — as the cliche goes — is not a priority: in fact it is not the issue which women feel is most important in their lives, compared to money, work and health, 62.5%, 57.1% and 54.6% of interviewees respectively. Love is in fourth place. Spending time with family and friends during their free time is the choice of the majority of Spanish women, followed by reading books, magazines and newspapers. Spanish women are most sceptical about the institutions, with 80% of those interviewed confirming that they have no faith in the justice system or Parliament. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority say that they are happy with themselves on a personal level, especially older women. Some 53.6% prefer to increase their knowledge than their physical appearance with plastic surgery; and 85.3% says that they take care of themselves and make themselves beautiful for themselves, not for other people. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italian Gov’t OKs the Italian-French Alpi-Med

(ANSAmed) — TURIN, OCTOBER 26 — After lengthy and complicated talks, the Italian government has given its official authorisation for the Alpi-Med European region, which will include 17 million inhabitants from Italy and France and bring together five cross-border regions: the Italian ones Piemonte, Liguria and Valle d’Aosta, and the French ones Rhone Alpes and PACA (Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur). The announcement was made by the president of the Piemonte region Mercedes Bresso, who gathered together representatives from the five regions in Turin for the beginning of the 6-month Piemonte Alpi-Med presidency. The new public body is the first European group of territorial cooperation (GECT) authorised in Italy, and will speed up access to EU funds for all projects common to the five regions, since from now on the relationship will be managed by a sole legal entity and not by the five that constitute it. The headquarters of the EU region, which will follow French law, will be in Nice starting from 2010 for 3 years. Even given their different situations and powers, the Italian regions and their French counterparts have identified a number of issues on which they intend to work together, from initiatives in research to infrastructure development, from environmental protection to tourism. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Hungry Son Spoils Jewel Cake Heist

Carer put lady’s valuables in ‘homecoming’ confection

(ANSA) — Perugia, October 29 — A hungry son spoiled a Romanian carer’s plan to take an old lady’s jewels back home hidden in a cake.

The carer baked what she said was “a special cake” for her relatives in Romania but made the mistake of putting it in the fridge before she set off, Umbrian media reported Thursday.

The son arrived by chance, opened the fridge, spotted the cake and took a big slice to find “a rich filling” of bracelets, earrings, necklaces and other jewels.

The carer lost her job in the village of Sanfatucchio on Lake Trasimeno.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Fine Confirmed on Pasta Makers

Leading producers found to have created price cartel

(ANSA) — Rome, October 29 — The Lazio regional administrative court (TAR) on Thursday upheld fines totalling 12.5 million euros slapped on 26 pasta producers and the national producers’ union Unipi for creating a cartel with the aim of stifling competition and driving up prices.

The fines were imposed last February by Italy’s anti-trust authority which examined price trends from October 2006 through March 2008.

“Today is a great day for the anti-trust authority because we beat all the appeals lodged at the TAR,” the chairman of the market watchdog, Antonio Catricala’, said. The producers fined by the anti-trust authority accounted for some 90% of the domestic market.

Pasta prices soared by two-digit percentages in 2008 to the outrage of consumers and dismay of farmers, who have seen wheat prices at the farm fall while their production costs rocketed.

Also fined by the anti-trust authority were the national food market association Unionalimentari and the national union of small and medium-sized food businesses Unpmia, for issuing orders to their members to uniformly raise prices.

In reply to protests by consumer groups and farmers’ associations, Italy’s leading pasta makers in February admitted that prices on the farm for wheat had declined, but justified their price hikes on the grounds that while prices had been stalled for years, on the commodities market wheat prices had soared due to speculation on biofuels.

They also said that their costs had been driven up by higher fuel prices, which affected production and transport, and increased labor costs.

Unipi reiterated this position even after the anti-trust authority’s action and added that in the sector “there has never been any speculation nor tacit accord to damage the interest of consumers”.

The cause for the hike in pasta prices, Unipi explained, “is more linked to factors related to production costs than the cost of the raw material, durum wheat, even though in the first half of 2008 it was 220% higher than the average for all of 2005”.

Unipi said it was “bitter and concerned” over the decision by the anti-trust authority and would file an appeal against it in the proper seat.

CONSUME GROUPS AND FARMERS APPLAUD DECISION.

Consumer groups applauded the fines which they said sent “an important signal on the need for transparency on our market. It was inadmissible that pasta prices continued to climb while the cost of raw materials declined,” .

“It is only through free competition and combating speculation that we can guarantee real price controls for the consumer,” the Unione Consumatorigroup added.

The anti-trust action was also welcomed by farmers who said that, while it was impossible for them to be reimbursed, consumers should now be compensated by a slash in retail pasta prices.

“This whole affair has made it perfectly clear that greater transparency in pricing is urgently needed. We believe that our proposal of double prices, displaying both producer and retail prices, is extremely valid and we think it would be opportune for the government to adopt this,” the Confederation of Italian farmers said.

One of the repercussions of the surge in pasta prices was that Italians in 2008 for the first time began buying and eating less pasta and many turned away from the healthy, Mediterranean diet.

The 26 pasta makers fined were: Amato, Barilla, Colussi, De Cecco, Divella, Garofalo, Nestle’, Rummo, Zara, Berruto, Delverde, Granoro, Riscossa, Tandoi, Cellino, Chirico, De Matteis, Di Martino, Fabianelli, Ferrara, Liguori, Mennucci, Russo, La Molisana, Tamma and Valdigrano.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Other Politicians ‘May be Being Blackmailed Over Sex’

Rome, 27 October(AKI) — Lazio governor Piero Marrazzo may not be the only politician who is being blackmailed over his sex life, according to Rome prosecutors. They believe at least two other politicians who allegedly frequented transsexual prostitutes may have been victims of blackmail.

The prosecutors have already questioned dozens of transsexual prostitutes in Rome who claim Marrazzo was far from being their only ‘VIP’ customer, said Italian daily La Repubblica. These include politicians, lawyers, footballers, businessmen, and journalists, the prostitutes have said.

However, none of these alleged clients were named in news reports.

Marrazzo suspended himself from his post on Saturday after a video emerged that apparently showed him with a transsexual prostitute. The video was allegedly shot by four policemen arrested last week for trying to extort up to 80,000 euros from Marrazzo to keep the video secret.

Marrazzo has said he paid 5,000 euros to the transsexual prostitute, whom he in early August encountered in a Rome apartment. The fee Marrazzo paid is far above the average price of 200 euros per encounter, said La Repubblica.

Prosecutors suspect that Marrazzo also paid for cocaine, a line of which can allegedly be seen beside the bed in the video. Marrazzo claims police stole the 5,000 euros when they burst into the apartment and shot the video.

Marrazzo is also due to be questioned by prosecutors about his alleged use of government vehicles and drivers on his visits to the transsexual prostitutes, some of whom have claimed he left his driver waiting through the night during his encounters.

Doctors have certified that 51-year-old Marrazzo is suffering from acute “psycho-physical stress” and cannot resume his duties for 30 days.

Marrazzo, who is married with three children has admitted to “a weakness in my private life and said he made “a terrible, terrible mistake” in not reporting his blackmailers to police.

He was on Tuesday reported to have checked into a religious institute in the Rome area “for several days’ rest and reflection.”

The ruling centre-right has called for Marrazzo’s resignation and a snap regional polls, hoping to make electoral gains amid the turmoil into which the affair has thrown Italy’s centre-left opposition. Marrazzo was once tipped as a future leader of the centre-left Democratic Party.

Last Friday, he at first strongly denied the claims of the existence of a video, saying it was a smear campaign against him ahead of regional elections due to take place next year.

However, he was forced ‘suspend’ himself from his duties as president of the Lazio region after reports about another, longer video of him surfaced, involving the use of cocaine.

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


L’Europe, C’est Moi, At £900,000 a Day

It’s been pretty clear for some time — well, clear to me at least — that there is one overriding reason why President Sarkozy of France has been pushing for Tony Blair to be made the first President of the European Council, in effect, to be made the first head of state of this new country called the EU.

It is because Blair is the only European politician whose vanity Sarkozy can count on to aggrandise the office. I’m dead sure Sarkozy reckons that after he is through being president of a country which is second-rate in terms of international influence, he can become President of Europe. That would let him claim to be the equal to the American president and the Chinese dictator.

But he wants to make sure that no dull Dutch or Finnish technocrat takes the job first and shapes it into not much more than a five-year term as a conference-convener.

Sarko intends to inherit a presidency with grandeur, and he knows that among European politicians he has only one equal in the love of the gilded life: Tony Blair. If the French president can get Blair into the office first, he can be sure that Tony and Cherie between them will inject enough limousines, private jets, state banquets and ceremony to keep him happy when he arrives to take over.

What Sarko dreams of is being the 21st century Sun King. He knows Tony will lay out a path to euro-Versailles for him.

Just how much grandeur does Sarkozy imagine Europe owes him? Yesterday the EU Court of Auditors published their accounts of his spending during the six months France held the rotating EU presidency last year. The accounts show the French president was spending European taxpayers’ money at the rate of about £900,000 a day, making the total spend for the 26 weeks in which France held the presidency equal to £154m.

Among the most absurdly immoderate of the spending binges by Monsieur le Roi Soleil-Rotating President was his EU-Mediterranean summit, which cost £15m for two days’ frolics. Calculations for the cost per head of the big-event dinner was £4,500.

Imagine Sarkozy having the run of the European president’s entertainment budget for a full five years.

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


Sarkozy Leads the Charge to Strong-Arm Klaus Into Signing Lisbon

The FT reports that French President Nicolas Sarkozy has described Czech President Vaclav Klaus’ refusal to sign the Lisbon Treaty as “unacceptable”. “Decision time is coming for him and it will not be without consequence,” Mr Sarkozy said in an interview with Le Figaro. “And whatever happens, this issue will be resolved by the end of the year.”

The FT quotes a French official saying, “The Czech government has signed it, the Czech parliament has signed it. We don’t expect the Czechs’ president to put himself in a position where he breaks the word of the Czech Republic. The EU runs on people holding to their word. There would be serious consequences.”

The article notes that France regards Mr Klaus’s bid for an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights, over concerns about Sudeten German property rights in the Czech Republic, as “artificial” but that it would accept a political declaration if it led to speedy ratification of the Treaty.

In a press release from the French Foreign Office, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner is quoted saying, “Above all, it is President Vaclav Klaus’ attitude, a convinced and perseverant eurosceptic, [which is] the main problem.” He adds, “Some recommend not provoking President Klaus, hoping that he will find himself incapacitated of continuing with his project [delaying the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty until the British elections]. Personally, I believe we ought to keep a firm hand since everyone has already voted, including the Czech Republic. A single man will not know how to oppose the will of 500 million Europeans. The European Council that will take place at the end of the month will be the right occasion to test the determination of Europeans and to put pressure on the Czech President.”

A WSJ leader writes, “Having browbeaten Ireland into reversing its verdict on the Lisbon Treaty earlier this month, Brussels is now trying its Sopranos act on the Czech president, the last treaty hold-out…[Commission President Jose Manuel] Barroso does himself and the institution he represents no favors by trying to strong arm yet another small country.” In the Sun, Trevor Kavanagh argues, “The Czechs have a well-run economy. They cannot be bounced like recession hit Ireland.”

The BBC notes that former Czech President Vaclav Havel has called on Klaus to sign the Treaty and Czech paper Novinki reports that Alena Gajduskova, Vice-Chairwomen of the Czech Senate has said that she will try to deprive Klaus of the powers of the Head of State, which would transfer certain Presidential powers to the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament.

Meanwhile, PA reports that Irish President Mary McAleese has signed the Irish Bill of the Lisbon Treaty, making the Yes vote in the referendum legally binding.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Spain: Basque Countries, Debate on Ending Armed Struggle

(by Paola Del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — Madrid, OCTOBER 26 — A document drawn up by the historic leaders of the Basque radical left independence movement entitled Gakoa (Key), asks for a debate to be opened in the Basque countries on whether to continue the armed struggle and that ETA should disband. The document, reports El Pais, defines the armed organization as “an obstacle for politics” that impedes following the Irish strategy or Catalan independence. It is the first time an internal ETA debate has been considered which calls terrorism into question. “If we don’t plan the armed fight as theme for debate for the assembly, the debate will die stillborn”, reads the document. The reference is the initiative of the leader for the former Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi, and Rafael Diez Usabiaga, arrested ten days ago, for an independence party to be formed, the Bateragune (meeting point), to catalyze the Basque radical independence forces with the exception of the PNV. According to Judge Garzon, Bateragune is the organ designated by ETA to start a strategic political military and start an independence front in order to participate in the 2011 municipal elections, getting around the law, which prohibits illegal organizations, like Batasuna, to participate in political life. Despite the arrests, the pro-independence left is moving ahead with the project, which substantially re-proposes the so-called Anoeta proposal in 2005 which led to the opening of talks between ETA and the government. However, the main targets are no longer in agreement, the nationalist ELA union and the pro-independence parties Eusko Alkrtasuna (EA) and Aralal, refuse unless ETA withdraws from the scene first. Thursday ELA published a document that urges ETA to take “unilateral steps” to put an end to terrorism because “the state will not give anything in exchange”. The new document takes a further step, stigmatizing ETA terrorism and calling for the disbanding of the group. The example to follow, say left wing exponents, is the Irish road or Catalan independence. “The fact that other national liberation movements leave behind their military strategy; especially the IRA has strengthened the fight for the political approach”. And without having to pay “the social costs that arms struggle means”. Meanwhile ETA has drawn up new directives regarding access to the members of the organization, according to sources from the Interior ministry and cited today on Radio Cadena Ser. The new regulations are contained in a manual taken from ETA member Ekaitz Sirvent. Standing out among the instructions, is the prohibition for women intending to have children to belong to the organization because “currently it is impossible to give birth and take care of children in clandestine situations”. ETA allows its members in hiding to meet their families every five years for two weeks. Other rules have to do with the selection of affiliates, up to now recruited in prison from young people convicted for urban guerrilla warfare or acts of vandalism. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: 60% of Workers Have Mental Health Problems From Stress

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — 60% of Spanish workers suffer from mental health problems according to research carried out at the University of Leon, assuring that 28% of the working European population suffers from stress, “the new organisational epidemic of the XXI century”. Entitled “Psychological Health of Workers: Triggering mechanisms for deterioration and prevention strategies for mental illness”, the research highlights that, together with stress, work causes tiredness, anxiety, headaches and sleeping disorders. Workplace pathologies have come to a head in recent years, like the “burnt-out” syndrome, work dependency or “yuppie fever”, which is stress dependency. The latter, according to the research “does not only have serious repercussions for health of the working population, but also significant social and business costs”. Tiredness, anxiety, headaches, irritability and sleeping disorders are the most common among Spanish workers. The profile of the people who suffer from them are “very active, competitive, aggressive, hostile, fighter persistent and tenacious subjects, who attempt to reach the highest level and the largest number of objectives in the least amount of time possible”. According to the authors of the study, there is a series of emerging factors in the current workplace scenario which act as stress agents, like job stability, precarious contracts, feelings of job insecurity, long hours, high emotional demands and difficulty in reconciling personal and family life. According to the study, 30% of employees work over 10 hours at least one day per month and 14% work more than 45 hours per week, while 20% work on shifts. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: ETA Bans Women Who Want to Have Children

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 26 — The management of ETA, the armed separatist organisation of the Basque Country, allows its underground members to meet their families once every five years, whilst women who want to have children must leave the group, “because it is currently impossible to give birth to and look after children underground.” These are the new guidelines for entrance into the armed organisation, contained in a manual confiscated from Ekaitz Sirvent, considered to head of the forgery unit of the organisation, who was arrested in April. According to reports today on Radio Cadena Ser, there are also instructions regarding the selection process for new recruits. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tingbjerg: One Neighborhood’s Nightmare

By Bruce Bawer, HRS

Few people outside of Denmark have heard of Tingbjerg. It’s a residential neighborhood in northwestern Copenhagen. About 6500 people live there, down from about 10,000 in the 1970s. Today the great majority of those residents are Muslims. As the neighborhood has become increasingly Muslim, it’s also been increasingly plagued by gang violence, burglaries, car-burnings, vandalism, and other offenses. Over the years, the members of Tingbjerg’s non-Muslim minority have come to feel increasingly vulnerable and ill at ease in their community. Many have moved out.

Among the latter is Ulrich Vogel. He is German and gay — and until recently he also happened to be the pastor at Tingbjerg Church. But now, after seventeen years in that position, he’s fled — moved out of the church residence, gone underground, taken sick leave, and begun psychological treatment.

Why? Because in recent years Vogel has been the repeated target of crime and harassment by local Muslims. Vogel refused to discuss his situation with Uwe Max Jensen, who reported on the story for sappho.dk on October 6. But Jensen found police reports in local newspapers that describe acts of vandalism at the church on March 26 and August 5 of this year and a break-in at the church residence on August 16. The latter crime involved the destruction and robbery of much of Vogel’s personal property, including his computer. And this is apparently only the tip of the iceberg: a member of the church congregation told Jensen that the residence has been broken into “countless” times.

In any case, Vogel has given up. And so, apparently, has the church council: instead of opening up a search for a substitute pastor who’s willing to live in the church residence at Tingbjerg, they’ve decided to sell it…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


UK: Buckingham Mosque …What Fanatics Want to Call the Palace

A FANATICAL Muslim group campaigning to impose sharia law on Britain wants to turn Buckingham Palace into a mosque, it was revealed last night.

Days before a potentially incendiary rally in central London, the hardline Islam4UK group claims to have uncovered historical evidence which challenges the right of the Queen to live at the royal property.

Notorious hate preacher Anjem Choudary is calling for the palace to be renamed Buckingham Masjid, the Arabic word for mosque.

The Mall, which approaches the palace, would become Masjid Road.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: City Christmas Tree Chopped Down

A Christmas tree which was put up in Leeds city centre two weeks ago has been felled amid safety fears about a demonstration planned for the weekend.

The tree, which cost taxpayers £2,000, went up in City Square on 18 October.

However, the council and police agreed it could pose a risk to the public during a planned rally by the English Defence League on Saturday.

Surprised commuters looked on as workmen used a chainsaw to cut down the 30ft tree early on Thursday morning.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said the tree would be used elsewhere and a new one would be put up in the square before Christmas.

“We have agreed with the police to remove the tree due to an event taking place on the site at the weekend involving a mass gathering of people,” a council statement said.

“We… cut the tree down in such a way that it can be reused elsewhere in the city.

“We will replace the City Square tree as soon as we can after the event.”

A council employee, who did not wish to be named, sent an email to the BBC saying: “With the tree costing in excess of £2,000 I think it is, diabolically, to be replaced with another tree after the protest has finished at more cost to the taxpayer.”

           — Hat tip: Aeneas[Return to headlines]


UK: Councils Get ‘Al Capone’ Power to Seize Assets Over Minor Offences

Draconian police powers designed to deprive crime barons of luxury lifestyles are being extended to councils, quangos and agencies to use against the public, The Times has learnt.

The right to search homes, seize cash, freeze bank accounts and confiscate property will be given to town hall officials and civilian investigators employed by organisations as diverse as Royal Mail, the Rural Payments Agency and Transport for London.

The measure, being pushed through by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, comes into force next week and will deploy some of the most powerful tools available to detectives against fare dodgers, families in arrears with council tax and other minor offenders.

The radical extension of the Proceeds of Crime Act, through a Statutory Instrument which is not debated by parliament, has been condemned by the chairman of the Police Federation. Paul McKeever said that he was shocked to learn that the decision to hand over “intrusive powers” to people who were not police was made without consultation or debate.

“The Proceeds of Crime Act is a very powerful tool in the hands of police and police-related agencies and it shouldn’t be treated lightly,” Mr McKeever said. “There is a behind the scenes creep of powers occurring here and I think the public will be very surprised. They would want such very intrusive powers to be kept in the hands of warranted officers and other law enforcement bodies which are vetted to a very high standard rather than given to local councils.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Classroom Apartheid: Teachers Who Were Afraid to Discipline Thuggish Minority of Asian Pupils for Fear of Being Branded Racist

He gave his name as Henry Webster when he stepped into the witness box at the High Court in London last week. But he wasn’t the Henry Webster his family and friends remember.

The real Henry Webster was a strapping 6ft 2in rugby player, not someone who struggled to string sentences together and had to be given painkillers to complete his evidence.

Instead of preparing for college or university, he has been left with learning difficulties, short-term memory loss, and epilepsy. Henry will settle for that because the alternative would have meant not being here at all.

This is the only upside of being attacked with a claw hammer that left an inch-deep impression on his skull.

One claw hammer and 12 teenage thugs versus one young man. Those were the odds when a gang of Asian youths ambushed him.

More…

After their work was done, his attackers punched the air in triumph — ‘that’s what you call Paki bashing,’ they yelled.

The thugs have all been jailed. Not all the culprits, however, have been brought to book — not in the eyes of Henry’s family, anyway. They believe teachers at his school, near Swindon — where the assault took place in 2007 when Henry was just 15 — are as guilty as the actual perpetrators themselves.

Why? Because, they say, the school allowed ethnic minority pupils to get away with flagrant misbehaviour, and then handed them less severe punishments than their white classmates because staff feared they might otherwise be accused of racism.

In other words, a culture of ‘ educational apartheid’ prevailed in all but name at Ridgeway School.

Had this not been the case, Henry’s parents insist, their son would probably not have sustained brain damage outside the school tennis courts one day in January nearly three years ago.

They have now brought a civil action against Ridgeway and are seeking compensation of up to £1 million. The allegations amount to a devastating indictment not just of Ridgeway, but of policies that were supposed to lead to integration, not segregation, in our schools.

Our own investigation into the events which culminated in Henry Webster being left for dead within walking distance of his classroom does little to counter that view.

Remember, this is not some inner city hell hole. Swindon (population 200,000) is often used for market research purposes precisely because it is considered to be a typical British town; neither the best nor the worst place to live, just average.

Ridgeway School, too, is average. Only about 70 — 5 per cent — of the 1,400 or so pupils are from ethnic minorities.

Exam results are good, and the school continues to receive glowing government reports. Only last year, Ridgeway’s headmaster Steven Colledge, who took over in September 2006, was praised by Ofsted inspectors as ‘Outstanding’ for his ‘leadership and management’ skills.

But anyone who saw his performance on Channel 4 News the day after Henry Webster was attacked might beg to differ.

‘I think there is always a danger where there is a mixture of races and peoples which reflect the community we live in that any tension that might exist, any little scuffle or fight, can be twisted to be much more of a major thing than it really is,’ he told the cameras.

No, this is not a misquotation. He really did use the words ‘little scuffle’ to describe the attack in which Henry Webster was left brain damaged.

Furthermore, in the immediate aftermath, neither the ‘outstanding’ Mr Colledge nor any of his colleagues visited the Webster family or even sent a get well card. Mr Colledge later told a governors’ inquiry that gestures such as sending cards or flowers ‘were not in his nature’.

Parents and former staff say that multiculturalism at Ridgeway, under his leadership, meant pupils on both sides of the religious and cultural divide breathing the same air but sharing very little else.

Asian youngsters, we have been told, had their own officially designated meeting room which, to all intents and purposes, became the unofficial base for a 30-strong crew known as the ‘Asian Invasion’ and the ‘Broad Street Massive’.

Many, if not all 12, of those convicted of assaulting Henry belonged to the gang and lived mainly in the vicinity of Broad Street in Swindon. Four of them were still pupils at Ridgeway. They would often call older relatives and friends from outside school to settle disputes.

One such was Wasif Khan, then 18, who was the person who wielded the claw hammer. He was a ‘wannabe militant’, according to the police, and carried on his mobile phone a screensaver of the collapse of the World Trade Centre. A number of accomplices used social networking sites to communicate their message.

One said: ‘Play with a gun, play with a knife, play with a Bangli [Bangladeshi] and you’ll lose your life.’ A second posting featured a soundtrack with anti-Western lyrics.

There’s no suggestion that these poisonous views were shared by the majority of the Asian pupils at Ridgeway — in fact, bar the members of the gang who attacked Henry, there were generally very good relations between the Asian and white pupils.

Most have no interest whatsoever in violence. Equally, there are inevitably white children at the school who have been guilty of reprehensible behaviour.

But the disturbing, and disproportionate, influence the Broad Street Massive is said to have exercised over the life of Ridgeway School is revealed in statements summarised in court papers obtained by the Mail, from parents, pupils and former staff.

All are expected to give evidence for the Websters in the High Court over the next few weeks. Racial intimidation and violence, they say, was commonplace and escalated into a mass fight on the school tennis courts after Asian gang members threatened ‘warfare’ against white pupils.

Yet the school’s extreme sensitivity on ethnic issues allegedly allowed the thuggish minority to believe they were ‘untouchable’.

One parent, Donna Burnett, said that when her son Alistair got into a fight with a member of the ‘Asian Invasion’, Alistair received a longer suspension. When she reported her fears about the Asian gang causing racial tensions to teacher Dawn Blackler, her reaction, she claimed, was abrupt to the ‘point of being rude’.

Another parent, Gail Rich, tells in the court papers how her son Taylor was assaulted by Asian gang members — who filmed the attack. Those responsible, she claimed, were not disciplined, which meant they continued to pick on her son.

Taylor, on the other hand, was disciplined for wearing an England football shirt to school — because it contravened the rules on uniform — while pupils from ethnic minorities, she says, were not punished for wearing hoodies or listening to music on their mobile phones.

On one occasion, one youngster turned up for class wrapped in a Pakistani flag. When the head, Mr Colledge, was questioned by the school governors about this, he said it was no different from a Welsh governor wearing a daffodil.

Yet another parent, Ashley Thorne, tells in the court papers how he was on his way to collect his son David and his friend Sam Barrington when he realised they had been injured.

Both the boys, he was told, had been set upon by older Asian pupils wearing knuckledusters in front of the school, while two teachers stood and watched.

Mr Thorne claims he heard Mr Matthews say he could not intervene for insurance reasons because the incident had not occurred within the school grounds..

According to the court papers, Charlotte Benhalilou, a pupil at Ridgeway, was also threatened outside the school by a young Asian man. ‘I’m going to slash you up,’ he told her.

One of the mothers stepped in to help her and suggested that the police should be called. Instead, she said in the court papers, Christopher Walton, the acting head prior to Mr Colledge’s appointment, simply told Charlotte to get on her bus without even asking her if she was OK.

And so it goes on; more than 50 pages of what is, on the face of it, damning evidence. One of the parents who has already given evidence at the High Court is Neil Grabe.

Mr Grabe’s account cannot be easily dismissed; he’s a serving police officer. His son Charlie, who is now 18, only recently left Ridgeway.

‘There were racial tensions, and I felt I had to go to the school and express my concerns about it and the safety of my son. I told the teachers there’s a problem with the group of boys who called themselves the “Asian Invasion” and they’re picking on people like Charlie. I was so concerned with the way the school was handling the situation that I was prepared to take him out of school.

‘The teachers more or less tried to dismiss me. Mr Walton made me feel as if I was wasting his time.’

Some teachers, though, shared his concerns. One of them was Rachel Barker, who also gave evidence earlier this week.

Ms Barker, a trainee teacher at the school for three months in 2005, said that when she first heard a pupil had been attacked in Swindon she ‘knew instinctively’ that it had to be at Ridgeway. ‘

I think staff found it relatively easy to cope with the unruly white pupils, but the Asian pupils were in a league of their own. I think one of the reasons there were such problems with discipline was because the school did not promote a positive culture of cohesion and integration.

‘I felt the school was letting down its pupils; all that was needed was some education for the pupils in terms of respect and good discipline. The Asian pupils at the school were allowed to think of themselves as superior. This was partly the fault of the school because the Asian pupils would never be disciplined or, if they were, they would receive a lesser punishment than the white pupils.’

Again, it cannot be stressed too strongly that the majority of Asian pupils at Ridgeway are entirely guiltless in this affair, and should not be tarnished by the thuggery of a minority.

But Ms Barker said that even during her short period at the school she could feel the tensions increasing between white and Asian children, and that the school allowed male Asians to separate themselves from the mainstream.

‘In my opinion, the school did not deal with the problem effectively because they were fearful of being accused of racism,’ she said.

‘After the riot [when a mass fight broke out on the tennis courts], I remember the reluctance of the school to contact the police, and their insistence on playing down what was obviously a racial incident.’

Indeed, the nearfatal attack on Henry Webster on January 11, 2007, was not racially motivated in the eyes of either the school or the police.

It was triggered by a confrontation in a corridor with a 14-year-old Asian boy, which led to a challenge to a ‘one- on- one’ fight on the school tennis courts after classes had ended.

When Henry — who had no record of disciplinary problems — arrived, he was ambushed by three car loads of mostly older teenagers who had been mobilised by 59 mobile phone calls in the space of an hour.

Callers passed on the message that one of the ‘gora’ [whites] wanted a fight. The 14-year- old who had tangled with Henry earlier in the day then pointed him out.

In a video interview filmed six days after the attack, Henry said: ‘I heard screams, then I was punched in the back of the head. I was curled up on the floor, but they repeatedly kept hitting me. Then I felt the hammer hit the back of my head.’

Just to repeat — the scene of the attack was not outside a bar on a Saturday night, nor a sink estate, but by the school tennis courts.

Henry has now moved to another school, where he has fallen a year behind and is struggling to catch up. He and his younger brother Joseph, 14, live with their mother Elizabeth Walker, 46, who runs a nanny recruiting business, and stepfather Roger Durnford, 44, boss of a building company.

Ridgeway School disputes the allegations against it, and says blaming it for an attack outside school hours is ‘unprecedented and far-fetched’.

After all, it would no doubt argue, a recent Ofsted report concluded: ‘Students feel safe in school and they show respect and consideration for each other.’

Sadly, Henry Webster and his family would beg to differ.

[Return to headlines]


UK: Lesbian Police Officer Sues Force Over ‘Homophobia’ After Being Banned From Working With Her Girlfriend

A lesbian police officer accused her former bosses of homophobia yesterday after being banned from working on the same shift as her girlfriend.

Sergeant Jasmine Stewart is suing British Transport Police for sexual discrimination, claiming she was picked on by colleagues who called her a ‘poof’.

The 39-year-old mother of two, who has since been sacked from her job, told an employment tribunal yesterday that the force was riddled with homophobia.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Parents Banned From Watching Their Children in Playgrounds… In Case They Are Paedophiles

Parents are being banned from playing with their children in council recreation areas because they have not been vetted by police.

Mothers and fathers are being forced to watch their children from outside perimeter fences because of fears they could be paedophiles.

Watford Council was branded a ‘disgrace’ yesterday after excluding parents from two fenced-off adventure playgrounds unless they first undergo criminal record checks.

Children as young as five will instead be supervised by council ‘play rangers’ who have been cleared by the Criminal Records Bureau.

Councillors insist they are merely following Government regulations and cannot allow adults to walk around playgrounds ‘unchecked’.

But furious parents attacked the move and threatened to boycott the playgrounds.

Concerns were raised last night that other councils around the country are adopting similar policies amid confusion over Government rules and increasing hysteria over child protection.

It comes amid an escalating row over the Government’s new anti-paedophile database, which will contain the names of more than 11million adults cleared to work with children and vulnerable adults.

Mother-of-five Marcella Bergin, 35, from Watford, who has been visiting the play areas for many years, said: ‘It’s like they are branding all parents potential paedophiles, which is disgraceful.

‘Ninety-nine per cent of people are great parents and certainly not child abusers.’

Mother-of-eight Jenny Abbasi, 41, whose children also use the playgrounds, said the new rules were ‘a disgrace’.

Miss Abbasi, from Garston, Hertfordshire, said: ‘I have been using the playgrounds for 18 years and it’s a sad day when parents cannot be involved with the enjoyment of their children.’

The rules were imposed at Harwoods and Harebreaks adventure recreation grounds from this week.

Activities on the half-acre sites include a skateboard half-pipe, a zip line and rope swings.

Play rangers patrol both parks — which are for children aged five to 15 — and are fully qualified with CRB checks.

Parents already have to ‘register’ their child on arrival so staff have their contact details in the event of an accident. But now only those who have been selected for CRB vetting by the council can enter the sites.

Mayor Dorothy Thornhill argued the council was merely enforcing government policy at the play areas.

‘Sadly, in today’s climate, you can’t have adults walking around unchecked in a children’s playground and the adventure playground is not a meeting place for adults,’ she said.

But the Tories claimed the row showed the Government’s ‘ heavy- handed’ approach to safeguarding was ‘completely out of control’.

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


UK: Schools Report 40,000 Cases of Racism a Year

Primary school pupils and toddlers in nurseries are being punished for making racist insults, according to a report, even if they don’t understand the terms they use.

Teachers are being treated like counter staff in police stations as they have to fill in forms detailing name-calling and jokes.

Meanwhile diversity “missionaries” are said to be increasing the divide between white and black children by forcing them to see everything through the prism of race.

Adrian Hart, the author of the report published by the Manifesto Club, a civil liberties group, said: “The obligation on schools to report these incidents wastes teachers’ time, interferes in children’s space in the playground, and undermines teachers’ ability to deal with problems in their classrooms.

“Worse, such anti-racist policies can create divisions where none had existed, by turning everyday playground spats into ‘race issues’.

“There are a small number of cases of sustained targeted bullying, and schools certainly need to deal with those. But most of these ‘racist incidents’ are just kids falling out. They don’t need re-educating out of their prejudice — they and their teachers need to be left alone.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Schoolgirl, 14, Goes Missing After ‘Converting’ To Islam

A girl of 14 has gone missing after developing a ‘keen interest’ in Islam, police said yesterday.

Sarah Dunn — who had spoken of converting to the faith just days before her disappearance — vanished after a row with a friend.

The schoolgirl, who was last seen buying a prayer mat, had grown ‘ increasingly obsessed’ with reading the Koran, friends claim.

It is believed she could be staying with friends she has made in the Asian community.

A police spokesman said Sarah had disappeared after a row with a schoolfriend during a work experience-type placement at a business unit in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, on September 28.

She told a carer: ‘That’s it. I’ve had enough’, and then left, claiming she planned to visit an auntie.

Later that day, the schoolgirl was captured on CCTV in Wellington, Shropshire, buying a prayer mat — the last time she was seen.

It is believed she then travelled around 25 miles to Dudley, in the West Midlands, where she grew up, although it is unclear how she did so.

The town and surrounding area has a large Asian community.

Detective Inspector Jon Roberts, from West Mercia Police, said: ‘We are particularly appealing to the Asian community who may have a white female with them.

‘We know Sarah was looking at converting to Islam, was reading the Koran, had purchased a prayer mat and was praying.

‘But there is no evidence that she has come to harm and is under the influence of anything apart from her own free will.

‘Sarah is quite streetwise, but at 14 she should not be out there on her own. It is just a question of trying to find her and putting things right.’

Sarah had gone missing in the past and was discovered on each occasion in Dudley, he added.

Yesterday, a friend said: ‘No one has heard anything from her. She was really into Islam and was really interested in the Koran.

‘I think it became a bit of an obsession but whenever anyone tried to talk to her about it she would get very defensive. We’re really worried about her.’

Although Sarah was in foster care in Leintwardine, Herefordshire, she regularly visited her mother Christine at her home in Dudley.

At a press conference last week, Mrs Dunn, 40, said: ‘Just give me a ring or make contact in whatever way you can.

‘There are lots of people out there with your best interests at heart, looking for you to make sure that you are safe and well.’

A friend of Mrs Dunn said that the teenager had been placed in care because her mother found it difficult to cope, but that the pair remained ‘very close’.

The friend added Mrs Dunn was ‘concerned’ about her daughter’s interest in Islam.

Sarah is white, 5ft 2in tall, of slim build and with dark, medium-length hair.

Although she is 14, her family said she can pass for somebody older and often changes her hairstyle and colour.

She was last seen wearing white jeans, a white short-sleeved T-shirt with a thick black-and-white jacket, which had a dice motif on it, and black ballet shoes.

She did not have any cash or her mobile phone with her when she disappeared.

A spokesman for the Dudley Muslim Association said: ‘Muslims are peace loving and respect the importance of family values.

‘We urge anyone who has any information about the missing girl to cooperate with the police.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Secret Plan for Euro Income Tax

SECRET plans to seize more than £4billion a year from Britain and make its citizens pay taxes direct to Europe emerged last night.

The leaked proposals, seen by the Daily Express, state that Britain should lose the billions of pounds in rebate that was agreed by Margaret Thatcher 25 years ago.

The plans — with a foreword by European Union Commissioner Jose Manuel Barroso — would cost every British family at least £155 a year.

They would also mean Brussels being given the power to dip straight into taxpayers’ pockets.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: The BBC’s Censors Risk Killing Off Comedy

The BBC’s guardians of political correctness have taken the biscuit. To be specific, they’ve taken the biscuit off-air. Last Thursday, on This Week, Andrew Neil jokily referred to his co-hosts Diane Abbott and Michael Portillo as “the chocolate Hobnob and custard cream of late-night telly”. A few viewers decided that the word chocolate was a racist reference to Miss Abbott’s skin colour. Instantly, the BBC cancelled a repeat of the episode and erased it from its online iPlayer. Inviting the leader of the BNP on to Question Time was one thing, but the corporation was damned if it was going to have its good name besmirched by a bigoted comestible.

A year ago, the BBC’s course of action would have seemed startling. Now, though, it seems characteristic, because some people at the BBC apparently view humour in the way the rest of us view swine flu. This month, it decreed that comedy must not be “derogatory”. Last Tuesday, the BBC Trust criticised the panel show Mock the Week because one of its stars, Frankie Boyle, joked about the facial features of Rebecca Adlington, the Olympic swimmer.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Thousands of Nursery School Children Branded Racist by Teachers… Before They Know What the Word Means

As many as 40,000 youngsters a year are being wrongly branded racists as new rules force schools to investigate every playground spat, according to a new report.

Children in nurseries and primary schools are being disciplined over racist insults even before they know what the terms mean, it claimed.

A growing army of diversity ‘missionaries’ who scrutinise children’s relationships with each other may be fuelling tensions instead of easing them, warned the report from the Manifesto Club civil liberties group.

These race advisers and bureaucrats are said to be increasing the divide between white and black youngsters by forcing them to see the world through the filter of race.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Vatican: Talks Begin With Ultraconservative Breakaway Group

Vatican City, 26 October (AKI) — A joint panel of experts set up to study relations with the ultraconservative Roman Catholic Society of Pius X met in the Italian capital, Rome, on Monday, the Vatican said. The Holocaust-denying bishop Richard Williamson is a member of the Pius X society, which rejects key reforms passed by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

The “Ecclesia Dei” panel met “with the aim of examining the doctrinal differences still outstanding between the Society and the Apostolic See,” said the Vatican statement. It described the climate of the panel’s first meeting as as “cordial, respectful and constructive” and said it identified “the main doctrinal questions”.

Religious freedom, the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council reforms, in keeping with Catholic doctrinal tradition, the unity of the Church and ecumenism and the relationship between Christianity and non-Christian religions are among the issues to be studied by the joint panel in weekly or even twice-weekly meetings over the next few months, the panel said.

In January, Pope Benedict XVI provoked outrage from Jews and Catholics worldwide by lifting the earlier excommunication of the Saint Pius X society’s four bishops, including Williamson, who has denied the World War II Nazi Holocaust when six million Jews were exterminated.

The Vatican subsequently rejected the ordination of priests by the hardline Catholic fraternity and reiterated that it had no status within the Catholic church.

Benedict’s predecessor Pope John Paul II excommunicated Williamson and three other bishops. The move came after traditionalist leader and Fraternity of Saint Pius X founder Marcel Lefebvre ordained them as bishops of his separatist church in 1989.

The fraternity rejected reforms passed by the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s, including a declaration which ended a church doctrine under which the Jews were held responsible for killing Jesus Christ.

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

Balkans

Serbia-Turkey: Relations at Historic Peak, Presidents Say

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, OCTOBER 26 — In a joint statement from Belgrade today, the presidents of Turkey and of Serbia, Abdullah Gul and Boris Tadic, stated that their two countries now have the best relations ever, having attained the level of a strategic partnership. Following talks, the Turkish president said in a press conference that despite thr fact that the two countries “do not share a border, they count themselves neighbours”. Gul said that Turkey is greatly interested in investing in the Serb economy, especially in its infrastructure projects, adding that Ankara and Belgrade have a strategic position regarding the Balkans. “While relations between Serbia and Turkey remain so good, there is no need to be concerned about stability in the region,” the Turkish president said on the first of his two days in Serbia. For his part, President Boris Tadic said that although the two countries have no common line on Kosovo, (whose independence Turkey has recognised), this should present no obstacle to a strengthening of bilateral relations. Before the press conference, the two delegations signed five bilateral accords. The two presidents are also due to attend a commercial meeting. Gul has brought with him a 115-strong delegation of politicians and businesspeople. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Erick Stakelbeck: Al Qaeda in North Africa Threatens the West

Much like a corporation, al Qaeda maintains regional franchises around the world.

One of the terror group’s most active “branches” is based in the Maghreb region of North Africa — and Europe and America are in its crosshairs.

You can watch my new piece about Al-Qaeda’s growth in North Africa, and it implications for the West, at the link above.

[Return to headlines]


Muslims Kill Believer Over Photos of Girlfriend

‘Increasingly, Egypt is not a safe country to be a Christian’

Tensions and the threat of confrontation remain high in the central Egyptian village of Dairut after Muslims killed a Christian man whose son had taken photos of a Muslim girl he was dating, fomenting Muslim rioting against Christian targets.

Police say they have arrested four men in connection with the shooting death of Henry Atallah, who was attacked allegedly because his son took “illicit” photos of a Muslim girl he was dating and distributed them with his cell phone.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Goldstone Challenges US Over Gaza Crimes, China Sides With Israel

For South African jurist, “the overwhelmingly majority of critics have not read the report” and “the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report”. China reassures Israel that the report will not be discussed in the Security Council.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Richard Goldstone, the jurist who authored a UN report accusing Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity during its war on Gaza, has challenged the US. “I have yet to hear from the Obama administration what the flaws in the report that they have identified are. I would be happy to respond to them, if and when I know what they are,” Goldstone said.

In an interview with Al Jazeera, Goldstone lamented Washington’s ambiguous position, that on the one hand, an inquiry is important for Israel and Gaza, and that on the other the report is flawed.

Both sides have accused the South African jurist of bias. In his defence, Goldstone said, “many of the critics—the overwhelmingly majority of critics—have not read the report” and “the level of criticism does not go to the substance of the report”.

On 16 October, the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva approved by a majority of 25 votes out of 47 a resolution to send the Goldstone report to the UN Security Council. But the South African former judge is pessimistic about how his report will fare at the United Nations.

A US veto at the Security Council is all it would take to kill it. However, it might never get to that since China has refused to have the report even discussed in the Council.

After voting in favour of the resolution in Geneva, Beijing has in fact reassured Jerusalem that the vote in the Human Rights Commission is the last chapter in the Goldstone report story.

The Chinese statement came during a visit of members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee to Beijing last Thursday. Speaking about the issue, the Committee’s chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi said, “Right now, China, Russia, and other states that endorsed the report [in Geneva] understand that this must be the end of the road, because if the Security Council refers the matter to the International Criminal Court, it would have dire consequences for peace talks.”

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to set up a task force of legal experts to review evidence gathered by the Israel Defence Forces on operation ‘Cast Lead’. He did not heed however the request made in the Goldstone report to open an investigation.

In the meantime, Israel is trying to undermine the report by drumming up support among as many other countries as possible.

Israel’s strategy is designed to raise doubts about international laws on war, and justify its actions as necessary in the fight against terrorism.

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


Jerusalem ‘Chastity Guardians’ Appear on Streets

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, OCTOBER 26 — Squads of self-appointed “guardians of chastity” have started to patrol the streets of Beit Israel, the Jerusalem suburb mainly inhabited by Jews of Sephardi origins. They are on the prowl for sinners who they will proceed to lambast with varying degrees of severity. According to residents’ eye-witness reports on the online Ynet agency, patrols of improvised defenders “of modesty” have appeared of late among the growing numbers of adherents of the area’s ultra-Orthodox community, attacking people who in their view are guilty of immoral behaviour or lifestyles. One of their victims, a young divorcee, was scalded with boiling water and beaten in public some days ago. But there are also reports of raids on apartments belonging to US students, who were said to have been blinded by teargas and robbed of their computer, apparently used for downloading pornographic films. There have also been frequent instances of intimidation — with warnings written on walls and doors smeared with paint — actions against ‘reprobates’ who are suspected of scandalous living, or of in some way having shown a lack of respect for the more draconian strictures of orthodox morals. It is not known whether the young activist who recently patrolled the streets aggressively forcing men and women to walk separately belongs to the same group. Different sexes were ordered to walk on opposite sides of the street, or face punishment by being sprayed with irritant substances. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Water to Palestinians: Israel Rejects Amnesty Report

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — There have been indignant reactions to the new Amnesty International report in Israel today. According to the report, Israel is allowing Palestinians in the West Bank access to just a fraction of the water that comes from the mountain aquifer that the two parties share, mostly located in occupied Palestinian territory. According to the Israeli Authority for Water Resources, “Palestinians’ water consumption has constantly increased in recent years.” The difference between Israeli and Palestinian water consumption does exist, admits the Israeli Authority, “but certainly not to the extent described by the report.” According to the Israeli army, which has control in the West Bank, “it is a unilateral report, full of unfounded aspersions, drafted without giving Israel the opportunity to assess the accusations.” “Israel sees water as an fundamental resource and it does not spare itself efforts,” explained the army, “to give assistance to the Palestinian National Authority.” The reaction from the minister for Infrastructure, Uzi Landau (Israel Beitenu), was harsh. According to Landau, the Amnesty report can be put side by side with the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. “They’d made their conclusions before they even started researching,” said the minister controversially. In its report Amnesty International says “Israel uses more than 80% of the mountain water table which is the main source of underground water in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories while limiting Palestinian access to less than 20%”. According to Amnesty, the discrimination is more than evident considering “the illegal Israeli settlements (in the West Bank) receive unlimited water supplies. The already desperate situation in Gaza has gotten even worse”. The 450,000 Israeli settlers (including those living in East Jerusalem) consume an amount of drinking water equal to or greater than that available to the 2.3 million Palestinians. The daily pro capita consumption of an Israeli is 300 litres of water, while only 70 litres for a Palestinian. In some rural Palestinian communities pro capita consumption drops to 20 litres, the minimum estimate for domestic use in emergency situations. In the Gaza Strip, continues Amnesty, “90-95% comes from a coastal water table with contaminated water not suitable for human use”. Israel also has put restrictions in the last few years on material and equipment being brought into Gaza necessary to repair and develop infrastructure “. Amnesty asks that Israeli put an immediate stop “to its discriminatory practices and the restrictions imposed on Palestinians for access to water”. According to Amnesty researcher Donatella Rovera, “water is a fundamental necessity and a right but for many Palestinians even obtaining the basic amount needed to survive has become a luxury they can just barely afford”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


West Bank: PNA Forces Arrest Islamic Jihad Leader

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 27 — A top ranking official of the Islamic Jihad group, one of the major radical Palestinian factions, was arrested today in the West Bank by PNA security forces loyal to moderate president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). The man who was arrested, report the local press, is named Sharif Tahaina and was captured in Jenin, one of the towns in the Palestinian Territories traditionally suffering from tensions, among the stands of the city market. Considered to be one of the leaders of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Tahaina has been wanted by PNA security forces and Israeli police for some time. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Audio: Hero Marine Recalls ‘Chaotic’ Battle of Fallujah

‘Fanatical all-star team of insurgents came from all over the Middle East to fight us’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Baghdad Tired of Violence After Politically Motivated Double Attack

The provisional death toll now stands at more than 160 with more than 540 people wounded. The massacres are said to be linked to “disagreements” within the ruling political class, which are settled “outside” through violence.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) — Bagdadis are still under shock after yesterday’s attacks; and Iraqis as a whole “are tired for the endless series of violence” that hit the “tormented country,” a Christian source in Baghdad told AsiaNews. In his opinion, yesterday’s attacks are due to “disagreements within the political class” over issues like the “election law, oil and Kirkuk’s status.”

In the meantime, the provisional death toll from yesterday’s double attack against the Green Zone climbed to more than 160 dead and 540 wounded. The Green Zone houses the government quarters and foreign embassies.

A car bomb exploded at 10.30 am near an intersection, not far from the ministries of Justice and of Municipalities and Public Works. A second bomb went off shortly afterwards, near the Baghdad Provincial Council. The suicide bombers are said to have carried out the attacks using a car and a truck.

The government declared three days of national mourning.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the scene and blamed al-Qaeda and supporters of former president Saddam Hussein. “These cowardly terrorist attacks must not affect the determination of the Iraqi people to continue their struggle against the remnants of the dismantled regime and al-Qaeda terrorists,” he said.

The source, anonymous for security reasons, told AsiaNews that disagreements among Shia, Sunni and Kurdish factions “are settled on the outside,” with attacks and violence.

“Al-Qaeda is a criminal organisation, working for everyone. Someone pays; they act,” the source added.

One of the targets of the attack was the Justice Ministry, which is held by Kurds. In the North, they are involved in a tough fight with Sunnis for the control of Kirkuk and Mosul.

“This is the price people have to pay for the political battle,” he added. However, “people are tired of violence and attacks. Iraqis want peace, but are afraid of other massacres.”

US President Barack Obama condemned the attacks. But Iraqis are tired of Washington’s “senseless” policy.

“The United States began a war it now wants to leave behind. It is only thinking about pulling out; washing its hands of all responsibilities,” and “the population continues to pay for its consequences.”

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


Bahrain MPs Press for Israel Ban

Bahrain’s parliament has approved a bill banning its citizens from having relations with Israel.

The elected lower house passed the bill but it needs to be ratified before becoming law by the upper house, whose members are chosen by the king.

There has been popular criticism of the Bahraini government’s recent moves to establish ties with Israel, which are strongly backed by the US.

Analysts say the bill is likely to stall at the secondary approval stage.

Jalal Fairooz from the al-Wefaq bloc said the bill laid out a fine or up to five years in jail for Bahrainis found guilty of holding talks with Israelis.

Conservative lawmaker Nasser al-Fadhallah said it would be “embarrassing for the government” if the bill was postponed or blocked because it would be obstructing the will of the Bahraini people.

Bahrain does not have diplomatic relations with Israel but Bahraini officials visited Israel in July.

The country’s foreign minister caused a stir in 2008 when he suggested the creation of a regional organisation including Israel and Iran where the two could discuss their differences.

US President Obama’s administration has been encouraging Arab governments to make steps towards normalising ties with Israel to encourage it to agree to a peace deal with the Palestinians.

In 2005 the Bahrain government closed its office that oversaw compliance with an Arab League boycott of Israeli goods as part of a free trade agreement with the United States.

Bahrain is a majority Shia Muslim country, ruled by a Sunni Muslim executive government and has a very small Jewish population.

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


Escalating Anti-Semitism as Turkey Embraces Iran

For over 500 years, from the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492 to the horrific years of the Nazi Holocaust, Jews have found a safe haven among the Turkish people.

Tehran — October 27, 2009 — President Ahmadinejad said he “appreciates” Turkish PM Erdogan’s support for Iran’s nuclear program.

Now a series of developments have created fear among Turkey’s Jews and has led to a deterioration in relations between Jerusalem and Ankara, and a crisis within NATO.

•Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan publicly expressed support for Iran — “There is no doubt he [President Ahmadinejad] is our friend” even as he accused Israel’s Foreign Minister Lieberman of threatening to nuke Gaza.

•Turkey barred Israel from a planned NATO military exercise on Turkish soil over “sensitivity on Gaza, East Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque.”

•”Separation”, a miniseries about Palestinians (see below), broadcast on Turkish state-run TV and also seen throughout Europe, depicts young Israeli soldiers as Nazi-like murderers gunning down a Palestinian infant, and young children.

The SWC has protested directly to the Turkish Prime Minister.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


My Bizarre and Terrifying Childhood With My Father, Osama Bin Laden

He swapped their luxury home for a cave, killed his puppies to test his poison gas and tried to make him a suicide bomber. Here, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons tells of his bizarre and terrifying childhood.

Asleep in the guest room at his grandmother’s home in Jeddah, a 20-year-old man is woken from a deep sleep by a wailing from another room.

Seconds later, his door is thrown open and his uncle comes rushing in. ‘Come quickly!’ he cries.

‘See what your father has done! He has ruined all our lives! He has destroyed us!’

Not yet fully awake, the young man soon finds himself in front of a television screen where he can scarcely believe the images unfolding before his eyes.

[…]

‘We were at his feet, and my father said: “My Sons, there is a paper [a list of potential martyrs] on the wall of the mosque. This paper is for men who volunteer to be suicide bombers. Those who want to give their lives for Islam must add their names to the list.”

‘He looked at us with anticipation in his eyes. Certainly, he had the power to inspire young men to give up their lives,’ admits Omar. ‘But I was furious. I finally knew exactly where I stood. My father hated his enemies more than he loved his sons. That’s the moment I felt I would be a fool to waste another moment of my life.’

[…]

Omar’s life, meanwhile, has been in stark contrast to what went before. While still married to his first wife, with whom he has a son, he met a British grandmother, Jane Felix-Browne, from Cheshire, while travelling in Egypt — and they fell in love.

The story hit the headlines after they married in 2007 and Omar was refused entry to the UK. The couple moved to Qatar, but, according to the book, Omar is back in Saudi Arabia, where he campaigns for peace.

Omar also claims to have had no contact from relatives he left behind in Afghanistan and says he has no idea whether they are dead or alive.

[…]

‘I am nothing like my father. While he prays for war, I pray for peace. And now we go our separate ways, each believing that we are right. My father has made his choice, and I have made mine. I am, at last, my own man.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Rocket From Lebanon on Upper Galilee

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, OCTOBER 27 — A “katiusha” rocket shot from southern Lebanon fell this evening on an unspecified town in Upper Galilee. There is no news about any victims. This was reported by the Internet media Israel and pan-Arab TV station, al Jazeera. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Turkey: An Ally No More

by Daniel Pipes

“There is no doubt he is our friend,” Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, says of Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, even as he accuses Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman of threatening to use nuclear weapons against Gaza. These outrageous assertions point to the profound change of orientation by Turkey’s government, for six decades the West’s closest Muslim ally, since Erdogan’s AK party came to power in 2002.

Three events this past month reveal the extent of that change. The first came on October 11 with the news that the Turkish military — a long-time bastion of secularism and advocate of cooperation with Israel — abruptly asked Israeli forces not to participate in the annual “Anatolian Eagle” air force exercise.

Erdogan cited “diplomatic sensitivities” for the cancelation and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke of “sensitivity on Gaza, East Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque.” The Turks specifically rejected Israeli planes that may have attacked Hamas (an Islamist terrorist organization) during last winter’s Gaza Strip operation. While Damascus applauded the disinvitation, it prompted the U.S. and Italian governments to withdraw their forces from Anatolian Eagle, which in turn meant canceling the international exercise.

As for the Israelis, this “sudden and unexpected” shift shook to the core their military alignment with Turkey, in place since 1996…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Bangladesh: Pressure on Catholic Family to Rob Them of House and Property

Muslim groups have shot at the house and have built a wall to expropriate the land, while the police fails to intervene. “Allah Akbar” in place of the cross. Other Christian families have had to leave the area.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) — A Catholic family in the parish of St. Lawrence is receiving threats and being shot at to force it to abandon the area so the house and surrounding land can be taken.

On 22 October around 19.30, a group of local Muslims fired several gunshots at the house of the family of Sunil Gomes. Two weeks earlier, on October 8, 150 Muslims invaded the home of Gomes family and under the threat of violence annexed part of the garden building a dividing wall. Mrs. Rita Gomes, the eldest daughter of Sunil (pictured), who tried to stop them, was beaten. Everything happened in front of the detached gaze of the police, who did not intervene. The Muslim group has removed the plaque with the name of the Gomes family and a small cross and put in its place a plaque with the inscription “Allah Akbar” (God is great).

Ms Gomes said that the attacks were instigated by some Muslim neighbours, particularly the Kazi family, who along with other Muslims in the neighbourhood have been trying for over a year to expel the Catholics from their home.

Some time ago other Catholic families in the same neighbourhood have suffered the same fate and emigrated to India.

Mrs. Gomes told AsiaNews that the Muslim neighbours “have been pushing us to sell the house for a long time.” But the family includes very old and sick parents who could not endure a forced relocation.

“Because we are Christians — says Ms Gomes, — nobody comes to help us. Muslims have wealth and power from the political point of view. They have strong links with the ruling party, the Awami League”.

Rita Gomes is the eldest daughter of the family. She has a younger sister, Jhuma who will soon enter a convent.

Seizures of land and houses are very common in Bangladesh. The victims are usually members of ethnic religious and tribal minorities. The parish of St. Lawrence in Dhaka is home to over 1000 Catholic families.

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


Bullets Used by British Soldiers ‘Too Small to Defeat Taliban’

Bullets used by British soldiers are too small to defeat Taliban fighters, according to a report of a study of ammunition used on the front line.

A survey of more than 50 servicemen who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan concluded that the 5.56mm calibre rounds used by British soldiers ‘tailed off’ after 300 metres yet half of all Helmand firefights are fought between 300 and 900 metres.

It came as the wife of a British soldier who died in hospital weeks after being injured in a blast in Afghanistan paid tribute to her “best friend and wonderful husband”.

The study, co-written by Nicholas Drummond, a strategy consultant and ex-Welsh Guards officer, described British soldiers’ rifles as “not much more useful than a peashooter”.

Taliban marksmen use powerful 7.62mm ammo for their AK47 machine guns, according to a report of the study in The Sun.

Mr Drummond told the newspaper that a British soldier couldn’t attack the Taliban “with any certainty that if he hits the enemy he will kill or incapacitate him.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Defect Armour Risk to Australian Soldiers Fighting in Afghanistan

DEFENCE chiefs were told more than a year ago about serious safety concerns with combat body armour worn by Diggers in Afghanistan.

Federal Government documents obtained by The Daily Telegraph confirm troops were issued with armour with “known defects”.

The documents also show that top brass knew in April this year that troops were forced to use split pins and nails to prevent quick release catches on the armour from failing.

The military ordered 14,688 sets of the suspect armour under a $24 million project and by May this year more than 8400 had been delivered.

Despite two years of field testing by the army, the body armour, known as the modular combat armour system (MCBAS), will now be replaced by a lightweight system called American Eagle that is worn by special forces troops.

The documents show serious failures in the original armour were identified in September 2008 and in February and April this year.

Amid concerns about the impact of weight and a dodgy quick-release mechanism, the armour put soldiers at risk as they attempted to drag the body of Corporal Mathew Hopkins to safety during an ambush in Afghanistan in March this year.

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


Extra Italian Troops to be Withdrawn After Elections Says Minister

Rome, 27 October (AKI) — Italy’s defence minister Ignazio La Russa said on Tuesday that at least 400 Italian soldiers sent as reinforcements for the Afghan presidential election would return to Italy by Christmas. “Around 400 Italian soldiers sent to monitor the electoral process will return to Italy before Christmas,” said Italy’s defence minister Ignazio La Russa, quoted by Italian radio news CnrMedia.

Around 500 extra Italian soldiers were deployed to Afghanistan ahead of the presidential election on 20 August.

La Russa (photo) also underlined the importance of a free and democratic electoral process in Afghanistan.

“The purpose of the vote is just and fair. The purpose is to offer Afghans a government which is credible and capable of giving them answers. It must be a legitimate government chosen by the people. We cannot think of any other solution if they want to defeat the Taliban. The ballot box offers the opportunity of the stabilisation of the country,” said La Russa.

There are around 3,000 Italian troops serving in Afghanistan, mostly in the west of the country.

Last week, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission announced a presidential runoff election would be held on 7 November, saying no contender had won an outright majority in the fraud-tainted presidential vote.

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


Indonesia: Ulema and Feminists Against Polygamy Club

by Mathias Hariyadi

Many Muslim authorities calling for a fatwa to ban the spread of this practice. According to the promoters polygamy nears one to “love of God.” But according to women the practice humiliates wives and is a source of domestic violence and abuse. Suharto was anti-polygamy; Sukarno had many women.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Groups of Muslim leaders are furious with a club that promotes polygamy and has asked the National Council of Ulema (MUI) to issue a fatwa banning it. Even the Indonesian feminists are up in arms against the club because polygamy “is a violence against women”.

The Global Ikhwan polygamy Club was opened on 18 October in Bandung (West Java) in the Grand Aquila Hotel, with the participation of 150 guests. Among the guests was the founder of the club in Malaysia, Chodijah Binti Am. The purpose of the club is to promote and disseminate polygamy. The theme of the evening was in fact “Polygamy, a powerful solution to meet the love of God.” “By adhering to the philosophy of the club and practicing polygamy — explained Am — people experience the merciful love of God When the wives are not good, they will pray to ask God’s help. If a woman is married to a polygamist, the use of praying for God’s help will be continuous”.

Such affected religiosity is unconvincing for Muslim leaders. Kiai Hajj Bunyamin, Bandung Islamic leader, says that the club of Malaysian origin is “immoral” because its purpose is to “inflate carnal desire among males”. “I am totally opposed to the club,” he said. The Head of Ulema of West Java, Kiai Hajj Hafidz Usman asks “What is the benefit of this controversial club “; academic Jujun Junaedi, warns against instrumental use of Islam made by the club. “According to me — he says — the Ulema Council should block it”.

The polygamy club of in Bandung was founded by Mohammed Umar, of Malaysian nationality, according to whom the club just wants to “promote the moral value of the practice of polygamy.” To find new members, the club has opened an account on Facebook, with 302 new members so far, 32 other Indonesian families intend joining.

There are three directors of the club: Mohamad Safir, Latifah Abd Al Qohar and Andrew Fah Tan. They require only one condition from new members: the wives of polygamists should not be more than four.

Hedi Muhammad, head of Indonesia’s West Java Muslim called on the Ulema Council to ban the club to prevent possible conflicts between husbands and wives. The opening of the club has in fact caused a wave of resentment and outrage among the women of Bandung. The director of the Women’s Institute, Elin Rozana, in a press conference declared her categorical rejection of the club. “The presence of this group — she said — not only hurts women from Indonesia, but also produces moral violence against women.”

According to the Rozana, by promoting polygamy, the club violates the basic human rights of women. “Polygamy is one of the most widespread violences against women. It has always created conflicts between family members and produces domestic violence such as sexual abuse, physical attacks, psychological pressure, etc… “

She is echoed by Abdul Hamim Yauza, Head of Legal Division of the Institute of Indonesian Women for Justice: “the practice of polygamy — he says — will only result in a number of sad stories in the home: abuse and strained relations among members.” In his opinion, polygamy is against the spirit of Indonesian Law No. 7 / 1984, that ratifies the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Hegel Tarom, of the Woman Group Kalyanamitra, is fighting for the closure of the club. “Every marriage — she says — must be based on the philosophy of equal status between man and woman.”

According to traditional Islamic law, Muslims can have up to 4 wives. Some personalities from Indonesia, pro-polygamy and rich, say that they should have more than four wives.

Under President Suharto (1967-1998), Indonesia adopted an anti-polygamy stance. Each representative of the government and bureaucracy who practiced polygamy was immediately fired. To make things clearer, Suharto has also launched the Law no. 1 / 1974 which prohibits members of the government apparatus from practicing polygamy. According to Indonesians, Suharto’s strong stand was inspired by his wife, Tien Suharto, a woman from Java, very traditional, but who did not see anything positive in polygamy, only “family disputes and domestic abuse.”

The first Indonesian president, Sukarno, known as a megalomaniac and a womaniser, had practiced polygamy.

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


Pakistan: Political Crisis Looms as Militancy Intensifies

Islamabad, 27 October (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — A political crisis in Pakistan is looming as Taliban-led militants continue to step up their campaign of violence. Two suspected Taliban gunmen on a motorbike on Tuesday tried to kill an army brigadier in the capital, Islamabad when they opened fire on his vehicle before fleeing the scene.

The attack came a day after a meeting between Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday in Islamabad which failed to resolve the rift between their two parties.

The meeting between Zardari, who is co-chairman of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, and Sharif, who heads the largest opposition party, Pakistani-Muslim-League-N party, took place in Islamabad.

The Pakistani army helped arrange the meeting. It was brokered during a recent visit by American officials, who urged Zardari and Sharif to give the Pakistani armed forces their full backing in fighting the Taliban-led insurgency.

Zardari and Sharif did not discuss the National Reconciliation Ordinance, a decree issued by former president Pervez Musharraf in October 2007 to scrap pending corruption cases against civil servants and politicians.

A Pakistani court has urged the parliament to determine the fate of the controversial ordinance, which resulted from a political deal between Musharraf and slain former Pakistani prime minister and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto.

Under the deal, Musharraf agreed to pardon corruption cases against her and her husband, Zardari.

Scrapping the NRO is one of the main issues between Zardari and Sharif. It would amount to the revival of all corruption cases against Zardari and his possible disqualification from the post of the president of Pakistan.

It would also mean abolishing the 17 Amendment of the constitution, which makes the parliament subordinate to the parliament.

Although Zardari and Sharif did not agree on any major issue, they agreed on more meetings in the future to prevent a political deadlock in the country.

Tuesday’s attack was the latest in a wave of attacks on Pakistani cities that have killed over 180 people this month. The attack took place in Islamabad’s busy and densely populated sector 1-9 . No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

The brigadier survived the attack, while the gunmen managed to flee the scene. Last week, a Pakistani army brigadier and his driver died in a shooting incident in Islamabad.

The recent spate of terror attacks included last week’s deadly twin suicide bombings last week on the campus of an Islamic university in Islamabad that killed seven people, including three female students, and injured dozens.

In the northwest tribal areas, the Taliban led insurgency has taken on a new dynamic. While the Pakistani army offensive in the militant stronghold of South Waziristan is still far from capturing the militants’ headquarters in Makeen and Ladha, the Taliban have opened up a new front in Mohmand and Bajaur tribal areas.

Early this year, Pakistani armed forces on the Pakistan side and the US troops on the Afghan side of the border announced they had carried out successful military operations against the Taliban in Mohmand-Bajaur and in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.

They claimed to have eliminated all the Taliban sanctuaries in these areas. Yet the Taliban have once again regrouped in the region and appear to have shifted their bases from Waziristan to Kunar-Nuristan (Afghanistan) and Mohmand and Bajaur (Pakistan) situated near the Hindu Kush mountains.

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


The Courage of the Church of Pakistan, Against the “Islamization” Of Society

Vatican figures speaks to AsiaNews about their impressions from a recent trip to Pakistan. Christians are persecuted; the blasphemy law is used to target the faithful and their businesses. But signals of hope are also emerging: the Church is “young, vibrant and courageous.”

Delhi (AsiaNews) — In Pakistan there is an ongoing attempt to bring about the “complete Islamization of society” by a “fringe fanatics”; Christians are subjected to “humiliations” but the church, even though a “cultural and numerical minority” is while “young, vibrant and courageous.” This was the statement made to AsiaNews by Father Theodore Mascarenhas, of the Pontifical Council for Culture, delegate for Asia, Africa and Oceania, who returned recently from a trip to the Asian nation.

Fr. Mascarenhas says that the “minority of fanatics” does not represent “the average Pakistani society”, but still manages to force the hand of those in authority to impose a radical vision of Islam and religion. Among several examples, the priest mentions the “nationalization of Christian educational institutions” carried out by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the former president and prime minister, later repudiated by General Musharraf, who “returned the property to the Christians.” And yet he points to the “license to sell alcohol”, where it is unclear whether it was “a sign of tolerance” toward a different faith or another way to “consider people infidels” and, therefore, persecute them.

The main form of repression of minorities, however, remains the infamous blasphemy law, which according to the Pakistani penal code stipulates life imprisonment or the death penalty for those who desecrate the Koran or profane the name of Mohammed. “The dreaded blasphemy law — says the priest — is one of the most powerful weapons and is used not only for issues related to the religious sphere, but according to eyewitness accounts, is exploited by jealous people to target Christians who get rich” through the their hard work and trade. He adds that President Zardari, “promised the pope to repeal the law,” but “nobody believes that indeed he will”.

The representative of the Pontifical Council for Culture says: “The process of Islamization began in schools, where textbooks deleted the “moderate visions” of religion to “replace them” with elements fomenting “sectarian divisions”. The country has also “deviated from the secular vision enshrined by the founding father” Ali Jinnah and exerts pressure to “change the cultures of minorities.” Among many examples, the conversion from Christianity to Islam of cricket champion Tinu Yohannan and voice of the muezzin, from loudspeakers, five times a day calling the faithful to prayer, according to the dictates of the faith of Muhammad.

However there are also signs of hope emerging from Pakistan, however, launched by the very Church that the fundamentalists want to annihilate. “The most encouraging note — explains Fr. Mascarenhas — is that the Church, its leaders and the faithful are admirable. They live their faith with courage. They suffer the difficulties of every Pakistani citizen in a country burdened by corruption, violence, terrorism. Bishops and priests, he says, have “a heart full of God” and loving “zeal for the Church and the people.” “I also want —he added — to express a word of appreciation for the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Adolfo Tito Yllana, who has a vast knowledge of the country, people and the socio-economic and cultural situation”.

The survival of Christian culture in Pakistan — an originally multicultural nation, where Buddhist temples, Zoroastrian temples and churches lived side-by-side — is entrusted to institutions and schools, who are doing “outstanding work” for all students “regardless of their religious belief.” The Indian priest recounts the experience at the major seminary of philosophy, in Lahore, where “I had the opportunity to interact with 55 students and the rector, Fr Khalid Yusaf. They represent the future of the Church in Pakistan […] in the footsteps traced by the patron of the seminary, St. Francis Xavier”.

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


The Catholic Church in Pakistan (An Overview)

Catholics are less than 1% of a total of over 160 million inhabitants. There are two archdiocese in the country, four dioceses and an apostolic prefecture. A small minority but active and appreciated for efforts in education, helping the poor, health care and emergency interventions.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Pakistan has just over 160 million inhabitants and is the second largest Muslim country in the world, after Indonesia. About 95% of the population professes Islam, with 75% Sunni, and 20% Shiite, Christians are approximately 2% of the total (less than 1% Catholic), 1.8% are Hindus, the remaining 1.2% profess other religions, including Sikhs, Parsis, Ahmadis, Buddhists, Jews, bah’ai and animists.

The largest Catholic presence is in the diocese of Lahore, in Punjab, with 390 thousand faithful out of a total of 26 million people; 26 parishes. Following this, the diocese of Faisalabad, with 189 thousand faithful out of about 33 million people, distributed in 28 parishes. Third in the diocese of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, with 174 thousand faithful out of 32 million inhabitants for a total of 19 parishes. Then Karachi, with 145 thousand faithful and 15 parishes out of a total population of 15 million people. Pakistan has two archdiocese, four dioceses and one apostolic prefecture, all of the Latin rite.

In this country there are many Christian schools, institutes and hospitals, that are considered prestigious and are appreciated by local authorities for the quality of the work they carry out in favour of the local populations, regardless of their faith. However, religious freedom, as in other Muslim-majority nations, is not guaranteed and cases of harassment, death threats and assassinations are a constant companion.

The activities of the Church of Pakistan cover various sectors including: education and formation, aid to the poor (one third of the population is at risk from hunger), projects to support agriculture, health care and interventions in cases of emergency or natural disaster. Among the numerous works carried out by Caritas Pakistan, along with Christian-based NGOs of mention is their assistance to victims of the earthquake that struck the country in 2005, killing 75 thousand people and making at least 3.5 million homeless. The organization relies on the collaboration of 500 people and voluntary work of about a thousand volunteers, to assist approximately 500 thousand people across the nation.

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


U.S. Set to Pay Taliban Members to Switch Sides

(CNN) — There is a well-known saying in Afghanistan: “You can rent an Afghan, but you can’t buy him.”

Some experts on the region believe a U.S. program to pay Taliban fighters to quit the organization is buying temporary loyalty.

President Obama on Wednesday signed a $680 billion defense appropriations bill, which will pay for military operations in the 2010 fiscal year. The bill includes a Taliban reintegration provision under the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, which is now receiving $1.3 billion. CERP funding also is intended for humanitarian relief and reconstruction projects at commanders’ discretion.

The buyout idea, according to the Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is to separate local Taliban from their leaders, replicating a program used to neutralize the insurgency against Americans in Iraq.

“Afghan leaders and our military say that local Taliban fighters are motivated largely by the need for a job or loyalty to the local leader who pays them and not by ideology or religious zeal,” Levin said in a Senate floor speech on September 11. “They believe an effort to attract these fighters to the government’s side could succeed, if they are offered security for themselves and their families, and if there is no penalty for previous activity against us.”

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

Far East

Korean Lecturer ‘Spied for North’

A South Korean university lecturer has been charged with espionage after allegedly passing military information to the North.

The man, identified only by his surname Lee, is said to have been recruited by the North while studying in India.

Prosecutors says he used his post on the state-run unification council to access sensitive military data.

The 37-year-old man is also alleged to have made unauthorised visits to the communist North.

The authorities and National Intelligence Service in Seoul said Mr Lee began spying for the North in 1992, after being approached while studying at the University of Delhi.

They say he had “vast amounts of confidential military information” on computers and storage devices.

The information found included army manuals and the location of South Korean government and military buildings.

Mr Lee is alleged to have received $50,000 (£30,000) from the North to fund his activities and to have travelled over the border to join the communist party.

South Korean prosecutor Yoon Kap-geun told the Yonhap news agency the fact that an “opinion former” could be a spy “tells our country to check its security system”.

South Korea has reported several cases of espionage in recent years.

Among them was a woman posing as a defector from the North who was jailed in 2008 for obtaining secret information from South Korean military officers in exchange for sexual favours.

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


Majority of Chinese Refuse Vaccine Against Swine Flu

Parents do not trust the quality and effectiveness of the vaccine. Suspected because of past scandals over drugs and foods. But many can not even pay for the vaccination. China fourth last place for the distribution of medical resources.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) — More than half of Chinese people will not allow themselves to be vaccinated against the A/H1N1 influenza. Officially it is because they are not sure of the quality of this vaccine. The China Daily today published a survey of over 2 thousand people showed that 54% of respondents do not want to be vaccinated. Only two months ago in another poll the website sohu.com n showed that 74% wanted to be vaccinated.

On October 22 the city of Beijing launched the campaign for free vaccinations for students of primary and secondary schools, with the consent of parents. But some parents are refusing to subject their children to the injections. One of the survey respondents said: “The vaccine has been developed and distributed so quickly that I doubt its quality and effectiveness.”

Suspicions about medicines produced in China are due to the numerous scandals of recent years, linked to medications and foods (melamine milk, poisoned toothpaste, diluted medicines ;…).

The investigation of the China Daily did not say if among the respondents there are people who do not want to pay to receive the vaccine. So far the government has promised to inject children free of charge but not adults. Many people in China, particularly farmers, can not afford even ordinary medical care. According to government figures, between 40 and 60% of the farmers could never afford medical care, for the same reason between 60 and 80% of Chinese die without being able to go to hospital.

A joint study by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Chinese Center for Research and Development — shows that China is the fourth last place for the fair distribution of medical resources. Until now the country has registered 33 thousand cases of infection with A/H1N1 and 2 deaths. The WHO said that by 18 October there have been 5 thousand cases of death due to swine fever.

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

Australia — Pacific

Australians Could be Banned From Living on the Coast

Australians could be banned from living on the coast under a radical environmental plan to protect the population from rising sea levels.

The National Sea Change Taskforce, a parliamentary committee, spent 18 months examining the effect that changing climate could have on coastal Australia and concluded that urgent action was needed to safeguard the coast from seas that are expected to rise more than 31 inches this century.

Among the panel’s recommendations were forced evacuations from coastal areas and a ban on new homes in regions considered to be at risk from flooding and rising seas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Beijing Continues to Colonise Africa, Signs New Deals With Guinea

The Chinese government signs contracts worth US$ 7 billion to explore for mineral resources, and this despite protests by local residents who are against the coming of the Chinese. A month ago, the ruling junta killed 157 people protesting against the dictatorship.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — China’s march towards Africa’s economic “colonisation” continues. A US$ 7 billion mining deal between Guinea and little-known China International Fund (CIF) underscores Beijing’s rush into Africa. The deal, which includes both exploration and mining rights, was confirmed last week by the African country’s iron-fisted military junta.

Under the terms of the deal, the CFI will have unfettered access to bauxite and other minerals in exchange for major revenues to the government of military leader Dadis Moussa Camara (pictured).

According to various human rights groups, the contract was signed despite strong protests by the local population fearful that a Chinese invasion might affect local markets and reinforce the dictatorship.

Back in September, the army opened fire against peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators, killing 157 and wounding about 1,200.

Beijing refused to make any comments about the episode or the contract. The CIF also adopted the same posture.

Some analysts are concerned that China might even sell weapons to Guinea. Europe, the African Union and ECOWAS have imposed an embargo because of the massacre.

In many ways, the Guinea deal perfectly reflects established Chinese business practices in Africa, characterised by huge investments in a poor continent but also secrecy and scant regard for human rights.

Investors from the West, Japan, India and the United States are also major economic partners with less than democratic African governments. But China has given direct assistance to more than 17 African nations, among them violence-plagued Congo and the Sudan

“There’s obviously mixed emotions with regard to China-Africa relations,” said Kellie Jane Whitlock, from the magazine Corporate Africa. There are “Chinese companies that are still growing and looking into investing further into Africa”, she added.

Sino-African trade has risen ten times since 2001, passing the US$ 100 billion mark last year.

China wants oil, gas, and other key resources for its resource-hungry economy. In exchange Chinese companies (mostly private but with strong government involvement) build infrastructures.

The CIF is a case in point. Registered in Hong Kong, the company has done big deals with the government of Angola. Privately owned, its share structure is like Chinese boxes. In Angola, it is building housing, highways and the capital’s airport. In exchange, Angola’s government has pledged to ship 70 per cent of its oil production to China.

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


Somali Man, ‘112’, Weds Girl, 17

Hundreds of people have attended a wedding in central Somalia between a man who says he is 112 years old, and his teenage wife.

Ahmed Muhamed Dore — who already has 13 children by five wives — said he would like to have more with his new wife, Safia Abdulleh, who is 17 years old.

“Today God helped me realise my dream,” Mr Dore said, after the wedding in the region of Galguduud.

The bride’s family said she was “happy with her new husband”.

Mr Dore said he and his bride — who is young enough to be his great-great-grand-daughter — were from the same village in Somalia and that he had waited for her to grow up to propose.

“I didn’t force her, but used my experience to convince her of my love; and then we agreed to marry,” the groom said.

Goat-skin documents

The BBC’s Mohammed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu says the marriage, in the town of Guriceel, is being described by Somali historians as the first of its kind in the Horn of Africa nation for more than a century.

Our reporter says reaction to news of the marriage has been mixed.

Some people said while it was allowed under Islamic law, they were concerned about the age gap, but others were happy that age was not a barrier to love.

Mr Dore told the BBC he was born in Dhusamareeb in central Somalia in 1897 — and has a traditional birth certificate, written on goat skin by his father.

Our correspondent says he has an interesting history — in 1941 he joined the British colonial forces as a soldier for 10 years and then served as a police officer after Somalia won independence in 1960.

Altogether, Mr Dore has 114 children and grandchildren. His oldest son is 80 years old and three of his wives have died.

He says he hopes his new bride will give him more children.

“It is a blessing to have someone you love to take care of you,” he said.

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

Latin America

Honduras Takes Brazil to UN Court

The interim government of Honduras has taken Brazil to court for allowing ousted President Manuel Zelaya to remain in its embassy.

Mr Zelaya has been inside the embassy since he secretly returned from a three-month exile on 21 September.

At the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Honduran officials said Mr Zelaya had threatened the “peace and internal public order of Honduras”.

Brazil said the interim government had no authority to lodge such proceedings.

The interim government wants the court to order Brazil to stop providing refuge for Mr Zelaya.

‘Illegal activities’

Mr Zelaya was sent into exile on 28 June after trying to hold a non-binding vote on whether a constituent assembly should be set up to look at rewriting the constitution.

His opponents said his actions were in violation of the constitution and aimed at removing the current one-term limit on presidents — a charge Mr Zelaya has denied.

Brazil said the case had no basis as the current government, led by Roberto Micheletti, was illegitimate.

“The de facto Honduran government has no legitimacy to lodge a lawsuit at the International Court of Justice,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Brasilia said.

Proceedings at the UN court usually take years to settle, but “provisional measures” can be handed down much faster if requested, as Honduras is considering doing, according to Reuters news agency.

In its filing, Honduras requested the court declare that Brazil did not have the right to allow its Tegucigalpa embassy to be used to promote “manifestly illegal activities” by Honduran citizens.

Honduran elections are due on 29 November, with Mr Zelaya’s term of office due to end at the end of January.

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


Nicole Ferrand in the Americas Report: Who’s Behind the Obama Honduras Policy?

Why is this administration siding with Zelaya and his main supporter, Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez? Chavez is known to be hostile towards the U.S while working closely with Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is on the brink of obtaining a nuclear weapon and has established a bank in Venezuela with Chavez to avoid the sanctions already imposed against Iranian financial institutions responsible for transferring funds to Tehran’s nuclear program. Actually, the Obama Administration and the Chavez regime sponsored a UN resolution that condemned the government of Honduras for legally removing Chavez’s puppet “Mel” Zelaya.

What is even worse, the State Department has suspended $30 million in aid to Honduras for standing by their constitution and has stripped current President Roberto Micheletti and fourteen members of the Supreme Court who ruled against Zelaya of their U.S. visas.

Since people are often policy, who are the individuals on the Obama team responsible for shaping our Latin American policy and specifically for the misguided decisions made regarding Honduras…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Australia: Senior Lib Questions Muslim Immigration

FORMER Howard government immigration minister Kevin Andrews says Australia should have a serious discussion about the growth of its Muslim population.

“To have a concentration of one ethnic or one particular group that remains in an enclave for a long period of time is not good,” the federal Liberal MP said this morning.

Asked about the growth of Muslim population in Australia, he said it was a topic that had to be discussed.

“You should be able to talk about it … It’s ridiculous if you can’t talk about any subject,” he said.

“When a subject becomes politically incorrect to talk about, then it ends up with a backlash.

“I think part of the (Pauline) Hanson movement in the early 1990s was because some subjects were simply said to be off the table, they couldn’t be discussed and a lot of Australians wanted to discuss them.

“Whether they were right or wrong is not the point. In a democracy you should be able to discuss them.”

There was a 70 per cent increase in the number of Australians of Islamic faith between 1996 and 2006 — during the Howard government’s term in office — census data shows.

The 2006 Census showed about two in three Australians identified themselves as Christian.

The most popular non-Christian religion was Buddhism (2.1 per cent or 418,757), followed by Islam (1.7 per cent or 340,390), Hinduism (0.7 per cent or 148,127) and Judaism (0.4 per cent or 88,826).

Earlier, Outspoken Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey flagged the possibility of using the military to forcibly move 78 asylum seekers off an Australian Customs vessel moored off an Indonesia island.

The government has not ruled out using force to disembark the group of Sri Lankans who are refusing to leave the Oceanic Viking.

Some reportedly have threatened to kill themselves if forced ashore at Bintan island.

Mr Tuckey upped the ante on Thursday morning by suggesting the prime minister could send in the army.

“He can ask the army to go up there and take those people off,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“He can send that vessel back.”

Opposition immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said the stand-off was hurting Australia’s relations with Indonesia.

“It (is) going to very soon, if not now, seriously stress that relationship,” she told reporters.

“This is a serious regional issue in terms of co-operation and long-term collaboration.”

Senior Liberal senator Eric Abetz said the government would be embarrassed if it had to use force to end the stand-off.

“If you’re soft on border protection you then become hostage to situations like this,” he told reporters in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had to explain how it was humane (humane) that Australian officials would have to forcibly remove the group, Senator Abetz said.

“(He) now has to acknowledge his policy failures and put in proper measures that will ensure that we don’t continue to have this flood of arrivals.”

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]


Australia: Outcry as MP Calls for Debate on Muslim Enclaves

THE Australian Greens have described as “despicable” a suggestion that Australia needs to have a serious discussion about the growth of its Muslim population.

At least one Liberal frontbencher has distanced the party from the views Kevin Andrews, the last immigration minister in the previous Howard Government.

Mr Andrews said the issue of a growing Muslim population was a topic that had to be discussed.

“To have a concentration of one ethnic or one particular group that remains in an enclave for a long period of time is not good,” the Liberal backbencher told Macquarie Radio Network today.

“You should be able to talk about it … it’s ridiculous if you can’t talk about any subject.”

Greens leader Bob Brown said the comments reflected the racist political agenda of former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson.

“(It’s) a pretty despicable comment,” he said.

“We are seeing a far right, pretty disgusting point of view.”

Opposition frontbencher Greg Hunt distanced himself from Mr Andrews’ comments.

“Our approach should be colour-blind, ethnicity-blind, background-blind and simply focused on their ability to contribute,” he said.

“I believe in a diverse and multicultural Australia.”

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

Culture Wars

NYT Dubs Man-Woman Union: ‘Opposite-Sex Marriage’

‘Politicization of language is nothing new, but this is particularly disturbing’

“Is this the start of one more round of corrupting the English language?” Donohue asked in an editorial on the Catholic League website.

He said use of the term reveals a distressing pattern.

“Here’s how it will play out in the classroom: kindergartners will be told that some adults choose same-sex marriage and some choose opposite-sex marriage,” Donohue wrote. “There is no moral difference — it’s just a matter of different strokes for different folks. Not mentioned, of course, will be that some male-on-male sex practices are dangerous. Nor will it be pointed out that only so-called opposite-sex marriages are capable of reproducing the human race.

“In other words, the kids will be lied to about what nature ordains.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obamacare to Put Planned Parenthood in Charge?

Provision for ‘pregnancy resource centers’ appears to benefit abortion industry leader

The largest grassroots Catholic pro-life group in the nation is warning of a perfect storm of circumstances that could set up Planned Parenthood as a quasi-governmental entity with the power to establish as law its declaration of a universal right to tax-paid abortions and autonomous rights to sexual “pleasure” for children.

The warning is being issued by the American Life League, which has been trying to protect life from the moment of creation to natural death since its founding in 1979.

The organization now is warning about a new International Planned Parenthood Federation document called “Sexual Rights: An IPPF Declaration,” detailed by ALL’s Michael Hichborn as containing those rights, as well as provisions for child predators to conceal past criminal sexual histories.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Signs ‘Hate-Crimes’ Bill Into Law

‘It’s a very sad day for America and for religious liberties’

American Family Association President Tim Wildmon warned that the new law “creates a kind of caste system in law enforcement, where the perverse thing is that people who engage in non-normative sexual behavior will have more legal protection than heterosexuals. This kind of inequality before the law is simply un-American.”

Wildmon said the legislation creates possible situations where pastors may be arrested if their sermons on sexuality can be linked in even the remotest way to acts of violence.

“It threatens free speech and freedom of religion and is totally unacceptable,” he said.

[…]

The Alliance Defense Fund blasted the “hate-crimes” bill, calling it “another nail in the coffin of the First Amendment.”

“All violent crimes are hate crimes, and all crime victims deserve equal justice,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Erik Stanley said in a statement. “This law is a grave threat to the First Amendment because it provides special penalties based on what people think, feel, or believe. ADF will be on the front line to defend those whose free speech or free exercise of religion rights are violated by this unconstitutional law and to ultimately overturn this attack on freedom.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Porn Practitioners Promoted to Children?

Group set up by Obama’s safe schools chief recommends ‘Gay Pioneers’

An organization founded by Kevin Jennings, President Obama’s chief of the safe schools office in the Department of Education, has recommended a movie promoting several practitioners of pornography as part of its plans for teaching school children about homosexuality, according to a new report.

A report from Mass Resistance, a pro-family organization that has battled homosexual activists, says Jennings’ Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network has included in one of its “lesson plans” for school children a recommendation for the film “Gay Pioneers.”

[…]

Research from Linda Harvey of Mission America also has documented over the years GLSEN’s teaching lessons recommended for schools.

The lesson including the recommendation for “Gay Pioneers” is suggested by GLSEN for grades 7-12. It also includes “Out of the Past” which tells of a student’s campaign to have a homosexual club in her school.

The lesson “provides a fun and interactive way to increase students’ understanding of LGBT history and raise awareness of LGBT people and their contributions,” the promotion said.

Harvey’s research shows that a review of GLSEN recommendations as early as 2002 found there were instances where the group “implicitly condones criminal sexual contact between adults and minors.”

Harvey’s report said GLSEN “believes the early sexualization of children can be beneficial. This means that virtually any sexual activity as well as exposure to graphic sexual images and material is not just permissible but good for children, as part of the process of discovering their sexuality.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Time Again for the Feminists’ Rant

Women’s percentage in the labor force keeps rising because of who is going to college. Thirty years ago, the ratio of males to females on college campuses was 60 to 40; now it’s 40 to 60, and women receive the majority of college degrees.

But the feminists are griping because women students choose humanities majors that lead to lesser-paid jobs than male students, who in larger numbers choose math and science. The feminists want government to remedy this gender difference by bribing women with taxpayers’ money to make other choices.

Joanne Lipman, who has held several of the biggest jobs in publishing but still whines that “progress for women has stalled,” nevertheless makes a couple of sensible comments. She writes that feminists defined “progress for women too narrowly; we’ve focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes.”

She’s right about that. Attitude is the problem with feminists — as long as they believe they are victims of an oppressive patriarchy, they will never be successful.

Women won’t be happy as long as they believe the false slogan (repeated in most of these current articles) that women make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. The Equal Pay Law was passed in 1963, but it requires only equal pay for equal work, and women in the labor force don’t work nearly as many hours per week as men do.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Controlling Climate? More Like Controlling Humans

Gore and the U.N.’s call for “global governance” echoes former French President Jacques Chirac’s call in 2000. On Nov. 20, 2000, then-President Chirac said during a speech at The Hague that the U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol represented “the first component of an authentic global governance.”

Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom said, “Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide.” Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once dismissed U.N.’s Kyoto Protocol as a “socialist scheme.”

In addition, calls for a global carbon tax have been urged at recent U.N. global warming conferences. In December 2007, the U.N. climate conference in Bali urged the adoption of a global carbon tax that would represent “a global burden sharing system, fair, with solidarity, and legally binding to all nations.”

[…]

But even more chilling than a global regime set up to “solve” global warming is the personal freedoms that are under assault. In September, a top German climate adviser proposed the “creation of a CO2 budget for every person on planet.” Hans Joachim Schellnhuber told Der Spiegel that this internationally monitored “CO2 budget” would apply to “every person on the planet, regardless whether they live in Berlin or Beijing.”

Czech physicist Dr. Lubos Motl, formerly of Harvard University and a global-warming skeptic, reacted to Schellnhuber’s CO2 personal “budget” proposal by citing tyrannical movements of the past. “What Schellnhuber has just said is just breathtaking, and it helps me to understand how crazy political movements such as the Nazis or communists could have so easily taken over a nation that is as sensible as Germany,” Motl wrote on Sept. 6, 2009.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Genes Drive Behaviour, But Culture Can Select Genes: Study

Culture, not just genes, can drive evolutionary outcomes, according to a study released Wednesday that compares individualist and group-oriented societies across the globe. Bridging a rarely-crossed border between natural and social sciences, the study looks at the interplay across 29 countries of two sets of data, one genetic and the other cultural.

The researchers found that most people in countries widely described as collectivist have a specific mutation within a gene regulating the transport of serotonin, a neurochemical known to profoundly affect mood.

In China and other east Asian nations, for example, up to 80 percent of the population carry this so-called “short” allele, or variant, of a stretch of DNA known as 5-HTTLPR.

Earlier research has shown the S allele to be strongly linked with a range of negative emotions, including anxiety and depression.

Critically, it is also associated with the impulse to stay out of harm’s way.

By contrast, in countries of European origin that prize self-expression and the pursuit of individual over group goals, the long or “L” allele dominates, with only 40 percent of people carrying the “S” variant.

The study, published in Britain’s Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, offers a novel explanation as to how this divergence might have come about.

Setting aside discredited ideas linking genetics and race, the researchers suggest that culture and genes may have interacted over time to shape the process of natural selection, helping individuals — and the societies in which they lived — to survive and thrive.

Ancient cultures in Asia, Africa and Latin America highly exposed to deadly pathogens, they conjecture, may have tended toward collectivist norms in order to better combat disease.

That social transformation, in turn, could have favoured the gradual dominance of the risk-avoidance S allele.

“We demonstrate that evolution is operating at least two levels,” said Joan Chiao, a professor at Northwestern University in Chicago and lead author of the study.

“One is biological, which is well understood. But there is also a level where cultural traits may have been selected for themselves, emerging in congruence with the selection of different types of genes,” she explained by phone.

One well known example of so-called “culture-gene co-evolutionary theory” has to do with drinking cow’s milk, something humans are not intrinsically adapted to do.

Over time, milk consumption led to both the genetic selection of protein genes in cattle, and a gene in humans that encodes lactase, an enzyme that can break down the otherwise indigestible lactose in dairy.

In the case of collective cultures and the S allele, “we don’t make a strong claim on the chicken-or-egg problem” of which came first, said Chiao.

“What we are proposing is that cultural and genetic selection actually operate in tandem, and that you can view human behaviour as a product of culture-gene co-evolution,” she said.

The study also argues that collectivist cultures may help protect against the genetic risk of depression that comes with having the S allele.

“Such support seems to buffer vulnerable individuals from the environmental risks or stressors that serve as triggers to depressive episodes,” said Chiao. The fact that the United States and Europe have higher rates of anxiety and mood disorders despite having the L allele may come from the stress of living in highly individualistic cultures, she suggested.

“People have treated natural selection as a rationale for looking for universal traits, across populations and species.”

“But what really matters is the diversity across populations and species which may help us better understand how natural selection has operated at both individual levels and ecosystem levels,” she said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Islamic States Pushing for ‘Global Blasphemy Law’

Opponents say real goal is crackdown on Christians, members of other faiths

A resolution pending in the United Nations in one form or another since 1999 is being pushed again by the Islamic nations that originally proposed the plan they called “Defamation of Islam,” which would ban criticism of the beliefs of Muhammad worldwide.

The proposal, sought by the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, now has be renamed “Defamation of Religions,” but officials with Open Doors, an international Christian ministry operating in many of those Islamic states, is warning about its potential impact.

If fully implemented, the resolution would ban “criticism” of religions worldwide.

But Vessey told WND the real agenda was revealed by the original title of the resolution, “Defamation of Islam,” which would “criminalize people who criticize a religion.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

1 comments:

Robert Marchenoir said...

"She was taken and murdered by one of the monsters who live and work among us — one of the pieces of human debris, the living mounds of filth, who are allowed to breathe the same air, live in the same apartment buildings and work the same jobs as genuine human beings."

No, no, no. That's too easy. He's a man. An evil one if you will, but a man. You can't escape that.