Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/15/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/15/2009An Irish mujahid (having the surname Kelly, yet) who now lives in Pakistan’s Swat Valley has trained for jihad against infidels in Afghanistan. His most fervent desire is to kill a British soldier, although he will settle for an American if he has to.

It looks like the global climate change deal will have to be postponed for a while longer. The failure of the U.S. Congress to pass Cap-n-Trade has made a comprehensive deal for the Copenhagen Summit unworkable. Leaders met in Singapore to hammer out a boilerplate agreement on climate so that they can save face in Copenhagen.

Thanks to Aeneas, Barry Rubin, Esther, Gaia, Insubria, JD, JP, Sean O’Brian, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
Financial Crisis
Airlines: Iberia Merger With British Airways,182mln in Losses
‘Tea Party’ Set vs. Illegal Immigration
 
USA
Blinded Prison Guard: Don’t House Terror Suspects in NYC
Constitutional Strategy We Can Use
Obama Will be on Trial With the 9/11 Accused
Obama Revives Talk of U.N. Gun Control
Obama Cover Up of Fort Hood Massacre Information Suspected
Shooting Fish in a Barrel
Spiegel Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Sweden Returns Skulls to Hawaii
Why I Murdered 13 American Soldiers at Fort Hood: Nidal Hassan Explains it All to You
 
Europe and the EU
Czech Top Brass Face Sacking After Nazi Insignia Scandal
Italy: Trial Cap Presented in Senate
Italy: Berlusconi in Photo Op Fun
Spain: Navarra Passes Law to Protect Transsexuals
Spain: Highest Cocaine Use, Italy Highest Use of Cannabis
Sweden Democrats at Record High: Poll
UK: Anger as Students, Not Soldiers, Will Guard Stars From Terror
UK: Is Andrew Roberts Really an Inadequate Historian?
UK: Islamists ‘Promote Jihad in Jail’
UK: Rotten Laws That Strangle Free Speech
UK: Tories Investigate Their Own Muslim Website
UK: The Case for Leaving the EU
UK: This Grotesque Bribe Sums Up 38 Years of Folly
 
Balkans
Italy-Serbia: Tadic; Not Only Fiat, Also SMEs, Infrastructure
Italy-Serbia — Tadic: Thank You Frattini, For Support in EU
 
North Africa
Football: Algeria Dreams of World Cup Between Songs and Fears
Terrorism: 49 Sentenced to Death for Attack in Algiers
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Alleged Jewish Terrorist Charged
Arab League: USA Don’t Give in to Israeli Pressure
Combat Volunteers Up in Israel After Gaza: Report
 
Middle East
British Soldiers Accused of Iraq Abuse
Reports: Iran Ex-Deputy Minister Jailed in Israel
Saudi Arabia: Justice Reform to Pave Way for Women Lawyers
Wilders to Turkey
 
Russia
‘Body Sold’ To Russia Kebab Shop
 
South Asia
Chicago Terrorist Posed as Jew, Mapped Out Mumbai Targets
Irishman Wants to Kill for Islam
Karzai Claims Mystery Helicopters Ferrying Taliban to North Afghanistan
US Demands Afghan ‘Bribery Court’
Why We Will Lose in Afghanistan
 
Far East
How Japan’s Mafia Helped US Find the Man We Believe Killed Our Daughter, By Lindsay Hawker’s Parents
How Low Will He Go? Obama Gives Japan’s Emperor Akihito a Wow Bow
 
Australia — Pacific
NZ: Move From Halal Brings Manna for Meat Firm
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Ethiopia Rebels ‘Capture Towns’
Millions of Muslims Converting to Christianity
 
Latin America
Hackers Fail to Crack Brazilian Voting Machines
 
Immigration
Empowering the Slave Class
Janet Napolitano’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform
Schengen Committee Visits Cyprus to Look at Illegal Immigration Problems
Sweden: Roma Refused Asylum
UK: Labour’s Heartland Won’t be Fooled on Immigration Again
UK: Welcome to Heaven, How About a Cup of Tea?
 
Culture Wars
UK: Lesbians Make ‘Better Parents’, Says Senior Parenting Official
 
General
Alarmist’s Warming Predictions Wrong, Again.
World Leaders Deal Major Blow to Copenhagen Climate Change Deal

Financial Crisis

Airlines: Iberia Merger With British Airways,182mln in Losses

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 13 — With losses of 181.9 million euros in the first nine months of the year, Iberia’s merger with British Airways announced yesterday is inevitable at this point according to a statement by the company to the National Market Commission. In the third quarter, Iberia posted net losses of 16.4 million euros compared to profits posted a year ago. In the same period, turnover declined by about 20% to 1.17 billion euros. A result attributed by the company to the fact that the airline sector in Spain “faces exceptionally difficult circumstances” with domestic traffic affected by the economic recession and new competition from high-speed trains, mainly from connections between Madrid and Barcelona. These circumstances, according to data published by the carrier, led to a reduction between January and October in the percentage of passengers by 0.6% compared to the same period in 2008, with flights occupied at 80.1%. On long range flights, the decreases was 2.4%, with flight occupancy at 83.3%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


‘Tea Party’ Set vs. Illegal Immigration

First it was bank bailouts. Then health-care reform. Now people are organizing “tea parties” to rally against illegal immigration.

A series of anti-illegal immigration tea parties will be held today in cities across the country, including one at the state Capitol in Phoenix.

The rallies are aimed at drumming up opposition to the comprehensive immigration-reform bill Democrats in Congress plan to introduce, possibly by the end of this month.

With so many Americans out of work because of the recession, it doesn’t make sense to legalize illegal immigrants, said Paul Yoder, a spokesman for American Citizens United, a Phoenix group that is organizing today’s tea party at the Capitol.

“I think we have to give Americans priority to these jobs,” Yoder said.

Some state lawmakers and political candidates who favor laws aimed at driving illegal immigrants out of Arizona will speak at the tea party, he said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of labor groups, business groups, immigrant advocates, church organizations and law-enforcement officials has launched another campaign. Called Reform Immigration for America, its aim is to pressure Congress to pass a broad immigration-reform bill that includes a legalization program for illegal immigrants.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, a pro-immigration group in Washington, D.C., said given the state of the economy, a legalization program will continue to be the most contentious part of immigration reform.

Critics labeled the idea amnesty in 2006 and 2007, when attempts to pass a bill failed in Congress.

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

USA

Blinded Prison Guard: Don’t House Terror Suspects in NYC

The high-security prison in New York City where 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is expected to be sent to await his trial has a supermax wing to keep even the most notorious criminals quiet — but it isn’t perfect. Just ask Louis Pepe.

Ten months before Al Qaeda in 2001 struck a deathblow in the heart lower Manhattan, one of the terrorist group’s founding members plunged a sharpened comb through Pepe’s left eye and into his brain, blinding the 42-year-old prison guard and causing severe brain injuries that plague him to this day.

Pepe told FoxNews.com he worries that sending Mohammed and four of his alleged fellow 9/11 conspirators to New York could compromise the safety of the guards at the MCC prison. Keeping the prisoners in one location, he said, was especially dangerous.

“Could you imagine over there what they’re gonna do, God forbid?” asked Pepe, now 52, who lost feeling in the right side of his body and most of his ability to speak. “After all these years, you’d think they should know.”

On Nov. 1, 2000, Pepe was ambushed in the cell of Mamdouh Mahmud Salim — an alleged top aide to Usama bin Laden. Salim’s cellmate, another Al Qaeda suspect, joined in the attack, which prosecutors say was an attempt to steal Pepe’s keys to the cell block to free other prisoners and take hostages.

The two had been granted permission by a federal judge to purchase hot sauce, says Pepe’s sister, which they then stored in a honey jar and used to create a blinding mace. Teaming up against Pepe, they beat and blinded him, covering the floor in his spattered blood. They then tried to rape him as he waited an entire hour for fellow guards to come to his aid, his sister said.

“They wanted to discredit the badge and what he stood for,” Eileen Trotta told FoxNews.com. “After they plunged him in the eye with that makeshift knife, they did the sign of the cross on his chest.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Constitutional Strategy We Can Use

We have seen Alinsky’s strategies at work for many decades now in the community organizers like ACORN. Quite obviously, the state controlled media has for years fed the people propaganda, using brainwashing techniques and discontentment and made them open to a desire for “change.” One can do a small amount of research on the web or get Alinsky’s book from the library and understand his entire strategy for revolutionary change. I’d suggest it, as it’s wise to know your enemy.

My friend JB says it quite clearly, “The Marxist strategy is simple… attack on every front at once. Constantly probe for soft spots where they can advance unchallenged. When they meet resistance on one front, they simply advance on another front and return to that issue when the people are looking the other way.

It’s brilliant and VERY affective!

Meanwhile, the right is divided across a thousand second tier issues, unable to defend itself on any front, so fractured that they can’t even agree on the fundamentals today.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Will be on Trial With the 9/11 Accused

The timing of the trial is not clear, but it may be in full swing by the time of the mid-term Congressional elections, now less than a year away. If things get bogged down — or, worst of all, if the case against a defendant were thrown out on technical grounds — a political disaster for Obama’s Democrats could be in the making. Republicans who are already lambasting the decision to try the five in a civilian court will make hay with charges that Obama is both naive and unpatriotic.

So much, in that case, for good intentions. In the depths of the Second World War, Churchill used to tell colleagues that when the Nazi leaders were caught, they should be put up against a wall and shot. War crimes trials, he claimed, would be a farce. In fact, Nuremberg, for all the complaints of “victors’ justice”, was a cathartic exercise, showing that the law could cope with such gigantic crimes. New York could yet be another Nuremberg. If not, however, even Barack Obama will have to admit that Churchill had a point.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Obama Revives Talk of U.N. Gun Control

NRA guests warn international treaty would strip 2nd Amendment rights

Gun rights supporters are up in arms over a pair of moves the White House made last month to reverse longstanding U.S. policy and begin negotiating a gun control treaty with the United Nations.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first announced on Oct. 14 that the U.S. had changed its stance and would support negotiations of an Arms Trade Treaty to regulate international gun trafficking, a measure the Bush administration and, notably, former Permanent U.S. Representative to the United Nations John Bolton opposed for years.

Two weeks ago, in another reversal of policy, the U.S. joined a nearly unanimous 153-1 U.N. vote to adopt a resolution setting out a timetable on the proposed Arms Trade Treaty, including a U.N. conference to produce a final accord in 2012.

[…]

Bolton, for example, told Ginny Simone, managing editor of the National Rifle Association’s NRA News and host of the NRA’s Daily News program, “The administration is trying to act as though this is really just a treaty about international arms trade between nation states, but there’s no doubt — as was the case back over a decade ago — that the real agenda here is domestic firearms control.”

He continued, “There’s never been any doubt when these groups talk about saying they only want to prohibit illicit international trafficking in small arms and light weapons, it begs the whole question of what’s legal and what’s not legal. And many of the implications of these treaty negotiations are very much in their domestic application. So, whatever the appearance on the surface, there’s no doubt that domestic firearm control is right at the top of their agenda.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama Cover Up of Fort Hood Massacre Information Suspected

U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI), the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, claims that the Obama administration may be restricting the dissemination of information and limited information provided so far to the so-called “Gang of Eight.”

Congressman Hoekstra, following up on multiple conversations with the Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, requested that Blair and the heads of the FBI, the NSA and the CIA direct their agencies to preserve all documents and materials relevant to the Fort Hood attack and any related investigations or intelligence collection activities.

[…]

A former New York City Detective and Marine put Rep. Hoekstra’s message more bluntly: “This is another example of the US government being asleep at the wheel. Our President and his minions are doing more to take attention away from the terrorism aspect of this mass-murder than they are to identify the kinks in our armor in this war on terrorism.”

“I wouldn’t put it past those leaders to ‘lose’ or ‘misplace’ evidence of terrorism in this Fort Hood tragedy,” he said. “This is a White House that’s returned us to the days of Bill Clinton when the President repeatedly ignored the culprits involved in multiple terrorist attacks.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Shooting Fish in a Barrel

While people were jubilant over the New York Yankees win in the world series and Congress was busily trying to get Blue Dog Democrats to vote for this ridiculous health care bill that the majority of people don’t want, what happened at Ft. Hood, Texas was like shooting fish in a barrel at the medical facility and then spilled over outside. One of the injured soldiers who miraculously survived told in a TV interview how the assailant was seated at his desk in the front of the room filled with some 300 unarmed soldiers lined up on November 5th for vaccines and eye tests when he suddenly began shooting randomly.

Who disarmed our military? A caller to the Michael Savage show said he served in the U.S. Navy from 1978-1982. He indicated it was under Democrat President Jimmy Carter that the military saw fundamental changes occurring concerning the enforcement of disarmament of military personnel. On November 10th a former U.S. Navy “submariner” working at our home as I was writing this article confirmed this. He said the military had turned security over to “rent a cop” (private contractors.) It was Col. Rossi, Deputy Commander General for the 3rd Corp in a new conference that said it was a 39-year old American-born Muslim by the name of Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who the military (taxpayers) had trained to be an Army psychiatrist. Some fatuous sycophants were claiming he may have suffered from traumatic stress disorder; however, we later learned he wasn’t due to be deployed to the Middle East until later in November.

An A-P article said soldiers reported the gunman shouted “Allahu Akbar!” — an Arabic phrase for “God is Great” before firing more than 100 rounds with his privately owned

FN 5.7 pistol that he purchased a few days earlier at the local “Guns Galore” store in Killeen, Texas. According to reports, the gun could only fire 20 rounds requiring the assailant to reload more than five times. He also had a second revolver.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Spiegel Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

‘Our Goal Is to Defeat Al-Qaida and Its Extremist Allies’

SPIEGEL: … and on top of that Pakistan gives shelter to terrorists, and possibly they are protected by elements within the government in Islamabad. During your recent visit to the country you were quoted as saying: “It is hard to believe that members of the Pakistani government did not know the hiding places of al-Qaida and could not get at them if they really wanted to.” What exactly did you mean by that?

Clinton : The safe haven that al-Qaida has found in Pakistan is very troubling. These terrorists are still actively engaged with the elements of the Pakistani Taliban that are threatening the state of Pakistan. And it was only recently that Pakistan, through its civilian leadership and its military leadership, actually made the decision that this was a threat to them. They are committed to going after those who have attacked their army headquarters, administration buildings, universities, mosques — so many targets that really exemplify the authority of the state and the culture of society.. My point really was to say: It is a very high priority for my government to capture or kill the al-Qaida leadership. And we need more help from you in order to be able to achieve that.

SPIEGEL: It is well known that Mullah Omar, the top-terrorist and leader of the Afghan Taliban, has his headquarters near the Pakistani town Quetta close to the border. Do you believe that leading members of the Pakistani secret service are still helping the extremists?

Clinton : Not at the highest levels. I am convinced that at the highest levels, we have a good working relationship. But we have tens of thousands of people in our government in sensitive positions. Every so often, we uncover somebody who is a traitor giving away classified information. So I know that it takes constant vigilance to try to root out those who might not share the values of a society. I would like to see a real effort made on the part of the top leadership to make sure that no one down the ranks is giving any kind of support to the Qaida leadership.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Sweden Returns Skulls to Hawaii

Sweden has returned 22 skulls taken from indigenous cemeteries in Hawaii in the 19th Century, in a solemn ceremony at Stockholm’s antiquities museum.

Museum director Lars Amreus said he hoped it would “fulfil the spiritual circle” of those whose graves had been violated by Swedish scientists.

Hawaiian delegates said the bones of their ancestors would now be re-buried “in the soil of their birth”.

The Swedish government ordered the return of looted human remains in 2005.

Bones have already been repatriated to Aborigines in Australia and a totem pole returned to a tribe in Canada.

Going home

The Hawaiian skulls were returned privately early on Saturday so that delegates could perform traditional rites.

At the public ceremony that followed in Sweden’s Museum of National Antiquities, Hawaiian delegation head William Aila thanked the Nordic country.

“I cannot adequately express the thankfulness… for a very, very worthy endeavour, and that is to greet our ancestors and accompany them home,” Mr Aila said.

Most of the skulls had been taken from burial sites in the Pacific islands by Swedish scientists in the 1880s.

The museum received five skulls through a donation in 1997, while the other 17 were found at Stockholm’s medical university Karolinska Institutet.

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


Why I Murdered 13 American Soldiers at Fort Hood: Nidal Hassan Explains it All to You

by Barry Rubin

How do we know that the attack at Fort Hood was an act of Islamist terrorism? Simple, Major Nidal Hassan told us so. You’ve seen reports of a long list of things he did and said along these lines. But what’s most amazing of all is this:

Hassan is the first terrorist in history to give an academic lecture explaining why he was about to attack. Yet that still isn’t enough for too many people—including the president of the United States—to understand that the murderous assault at Fort Hood was a Jihad attack.

It was reported that the audience was shocked and frightened by his lecture. He was supposed to speak on some medical topic yet instead talked on the topic: “The Koranic World View as it Relates to Muslims in the U.S. Military.” All you have to do is look at the 50 Power Point slides and they tell you everything you need to know.

It is quite a good talk. He’s logical and presents his evidence. This is clearly not the work of a mad man or a fool, though there’s still a note of ambiguity in it. He’s still working out what to do in his own mind and is trying to figure out if he has a way out other than in effect deserting the U.S. army and becoming a Jihad warrior. Ultimately, he concluded that he could not be a proper Muslim without killing American soldiers. Obviously, other Muslims could reach different conclusions but Hassan strongly grounds himself in Islamic texts.

In a sense, Hassan’s lecture was a cry for help: Can anyone show me another way out? Can anyone refute my interpretation of Islam? One Muslim in the audience reportedly tried to do so. But unless these issues are openly discussed and debated—rather than swept under the rug—more people will die.

In fact, I’d recommend that teachers use this lecture in teaching classes on both Islam and Islamist politics. .

Follow along with me and you’ll understand everything…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Czech Top Brass Face Sacking After Nazi Insignia Scandal

The Communist Party of the Czech Republic is demanding that the Defense Minister Martin Bartak overhauls the army after a number of scandals involving soldiers with neo-Nazi leanings.

This week two soldiers have been sacked for wearing Nazi symbols while serving in Afghanistan.

If Martin Bartak fails to present his vision of an effective army reform by December, the Communist faction in the Czech Parliament will push for his dismissal, announced faction leader Pavel Kovacik on Tuesday.

“This is no individual failure in the difficult conditions of the soldiers’ operation in the Afghan mission, but rather a managerial failure in the system of directing the military and the defense sector,” he said

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Italy: Trial Cap Presented in Senate

Critics say bill intended to block cases against Berlusconi

(ANSA) — Rome, November 12 — A justice reform package to shorten the length of Italian trials was presented to the Senate on Thursday by members of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party. The draft law agreed upon Tuesday by Berlusconi and House Minister Gianfranco Fini, would limit first trials and later appeals to two years each for a maximum of six years.

According to Fini, the law is intended to speed up the snail’s pace of Italian justice.

But opposition critics have slammed the bill as a ploy to block two pending trials against the premier, both of which are due to start this month.

The trials were reactivated in early October after the Constitutional Court threw out a law granting Berlusconi immunity from prosecution.

The premier has been charged with bribing English lawyer David Mills to perjure himself in two other trials and for tax fraud in the sale of film rights by his TV group Mediaset.

Berlusconi’s cabinet members have said that even if the bill does affect trials involving the premier, it is a much needed reform to a legal system too slow to protect the rights of Italians.

The magistrates guild say the law will annul over 100,000 trials and leave as many victims without justice.

In addition, the magistrates say the judicial system doesn’t have the resources to cope with the planned reform, though Fini and Berlusconi have promised millions of euros in new funding if the reform is passed.

Serious crimes like rape and murder are not included in the reform, which only applies to people with a clean criminal record.

The European Union has repeatedly criticised Italy for the sluggishness of its judicial system.

In the World Bank’s latest rankings, Italy ranks 156 out of 181 countries for judicial efficiency.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Berlusconi in Photo Op Fun

Italian PM moves tall Serb minister to end of row

(ANSA) — Rome, November 13 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi showed his playful side again when he moved a tall Serbian minister away from him in a photo op on Friday.

Berlusconi, who is among the world’s shorter leaders, looked in a tight spot when he realised Serbia’s towering Defence Minister Dragan Sutanovic was looming over him.

Amid general amusement, he quickly moved the giant minister to the end of the row and replaced him with a shorter official, Interior Minister Ivica Dacic.

The fun-loving Italian premier is known for taking the stuffiness out of formal occasions with jokes and quips.

Last November he spotted German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving for a bilateral summit, sneaked behind a lamp-post and popped out as she passed by, saying ‘peekaboo’.

The chancellor spread her arms wide in amusement, saying “Oh, Silvio,”.

photo: Berlusconi with Serbian President Boris Tadic

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Navarra Passes Law to Protect Transsexuals

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 12 — The Navarra parliament has approved the law forbidding gender identity discrimination and the recognition of the rights of transsexuals, thanks to the vote of the Peoples Union. This is the first law of its kind to be passed in Spain, and its aim is to guarantee treatment which is integrated and adapted to their medical, psychological and legal needs, as well equality with the rest of the population. Apart from measures to assist transsexuals in matters of employment, social and educational issues, the law recognises their right to surgical and health treatment within the public health system. The law includes the constitution of a committee of experts to create the regulation, within the national health system, of a benchmark unit in transsexual issues. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Highest Cocaine Use, Italy Highest Use of Cannabis

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 5 — Spain continues to be the European Union country with the highest consumption of cocaine, even if, in terms of cannabis use, there has been a slight drop and Spain has been overtaken by Italy according to the annual report presented today by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction(EMCDDA) reported by the EFE agency. According to the report Spain continues to have the lead in cocaine use given that 3.1% of those surveyed admitted to having used the drug in the last year, and 1.1% in the last month: percentages not much different from one year ago. While Spain leads in cocaine use in the population older than 15, in the younger category (between 15 and 24 years old) it dropped to second place with 5.4%; overtaken by Denmark with 5.6%, and followed by the United Kingdom with 2.5%. In the case of cannabis, consumption dropped moderately, 10.1% of Spaniards between 14 and 64 years old said they had used the drug in the last year, compared to 11.2% the previous year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sweden Democrats at Record High: Poll

The far-right Sweden Democrats enjoy a good margin of support above the four percent threshold required for parliamentary seats and are now bigger than both the Christian Democrat and Centre parties, according to Sifo’s November poll.

The anti-immigrant Sweden Democrats claimed a record 5.8 percent of voter sympathies in the Sifo poll published in the Svenska Dagbladet and Göteborgs-Posten newspapers on Sunday.

The new poll represents an increase of 1.1 percent on Sifo’s October survey. While the climb is not deemed statistically significant, the party is clearly above the four percent threshold.

The only statistically significant change on the October poll is the Green party’s rise of 2.1 percent to 9.7 percent.

Neither of the political blocs gained a majority of voter support in the poll, which would thus grant the Sweden Democrats the balance of power if it were an election result.

The Alliance government parties polled a total of 44 percent of voter support, while the red-green opposition enjoy the support of 48.9 percent.

The overall Sifo poll results are as follows, with the change from the previous poll in parentheses:

Social Democrats: 33.3 (-2.4); Green Party: 9.7 ( +2.1); Left Party: 5.7 percent (0 percent); Moderates: 28.5 (-0.7); Centre Party: 4.5 (-0.1); Liberal Party (Folkpartiet): 7.0 (+0.7); ; Christian Democrats: 4.0 (-0.3); Sweden Democrats 5.8 (+1.1); other parties 1.4 (-0.4).

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


UK: Anger as Students, Not Soldiers, Will Guard Stars From Terror

[Note from JP: Echoes of Obama’s Civil Guard?]

Olympic security chiefs have ruled out using the Army to protect competitors and spectators at the 2012 Games — and instead they will rely on thousands of teenagers taking a 30-hour events safety course. The move has provoked anger among military figures, who believe Army expertise is needed to ensure the London Olympics are safe from a potential terrorist outrage. It also comes after Army Chief of Staff, General Sir David Richards, said worry over Olympic security ‘kept him awake at night’.

Whitehall sources have revealed that the military will be called upon only to carry out ‘niche roles’. The task of protecting the Olympic Park will rely on private security staff and 6,000 16 to 19-year-olds taking a specially developed BTEC qualification.

The military would be required only in ‘extreme situations’ where Special Forces troops might be needed. Sources said they might also be used to supplement police and civilian services or ‘to aid the civilian community’ in a similar way to their use during the 2007 floods.

General Richards has privately told commanding officers to expect an increase in their security role in Britain. In a private briefing paper, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, he wrote: ‘I believe that this role will increase in importance as the 2012 Olympics approaches.’

But last week Sir Ian Johnston, the Director of Security for the Olympic Organising Committee, said policing the event would require thousands of private security guards. The former Chief Constable of British Transport Police said to provide the extra staff needed, 50 colleges were being encouraged to set up courses that would supply 6,000 students to patrol Olympic sites. The Level 2 BTEC diploma would give young people 30 hours of training in ‘keeping people safe at events’, ‘communicating’ and ‘dealing with large numbers of people’.

Official documents say: ‘The Home Office, the police and public will be given confidence that a secure, vetted, licensed and trained supply line of labour will be available to the appointed private security contractors to support stewarding and carry out other important tasks at the Games.’ Speaking at a conference on Olympic Security last week, Security Minister Lord West said the Olympics presented the ‘greatest security challenge’ since the Second World War.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Is Andrew Roberts Really an Inadequate Historian?

A savage review of Andrew Roberts’s ‘The Storm of War’ puzzles Simon Heffer.

We perhaps get to the point of Prof Evans’s dislike of Mr Roberts’s views in the second paragraph of his review. Having said that Mr Roberts’s books are always “fluently written and readable”, he then points out that he dined at the White House with George W Bush and Dick Cheney, that he dined with the president in Downing Street on one of his visits to England, and that he has expressed “fervent support” for the Iraq war.

We then get closer to the potential root of the problem: Mr Roberts has written a novel based on the anti-democratic nature of the European Union, which the professor ridicules. He is also “an unapologetically Conservative historian with a capital C, patriotic, even jingoistic”. We should not assume that the professor uses these adjectives in a complimentary sense.

After that, there is the sort of things professors do, namely rubbishing the author’s use of archives and books published years ago, with the additional observation that (and this is really shocking) “the perspective from which the book is written is heavily British”. I ask you: how could he?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Islamists ‘Promote Jihad in Jail’

Radical Muslims are spreading extremist propaganda and promoting jihad from inside UK jails, a report has claimed.

Counter-extremism think tank the Quilliam Foundation said radicals were also being allowed to lead prayers.

And its report said extremist cleric Abu Qatada had issued fatwas from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire where he is awaiting deportation.

The Ministry of Justice said it had a dedicated unit to tackle the risk of extremism and radicalisation in prison.

Messages released

The Quilliam Foundation said the study, to be published on Monday, was based largely on accounts sneaked out of prisons by high-profile extremists.

The report said: “Prominent pro al-Qaeda ideologues such as Abu Qatada have been able to smuggle messages out of prison to their supporters.

“Other convicted extremists have issued pro-jihadist statements from prison while others have appeared on Islamic TV stations from within prison.

“In 2008 and 2009, two of the most prominent Arab jihadists imprisoned in the UK released pro-jihadist propaganda and fatwas from within Long Lartin prison.

“Adel Abdel Bary, a leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, produced written pro-jihadist tracts from within prison aiming to refute criticism of al-Qaeda, while Abu Qatada issued fatwas from within prison which legitimised jihadist attacks worldwide.”

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


UK: Rotten Laws That Strangle Free Speech

Imagine a country in which citizens are barred from reading American newspapers and books and from accessing international websites. Scientists and writers are hauled before the courts and threatened with massive damages even if their supposed crime was committed elsewhere and even if they were expressing legitimate views. It sounds like a repressive totalitarian regime but it is modern-day Britain. And it is all because of our absurd libel laws and the way they are being interpreted by the courts.

The High Court in London is where the world comes to seek redress for libel. Cases are being brought here when the original defamation occurred thousands of miles away. That is why foreign publishers such as The New York Times and The Washington Post are considering suspending publication in Britain and blocking access to their websites. If there has been no publication in Britain, there can have been no libel and the publishers will not be exposed to huge damages.

Even that may not stop it. Rachel Ehrenfeld, an American academic, published her book, Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It, in America. Only 23 copies were sold in Britain, over the internet. In no rational meaning of the word could the book be said to have been published in Britain. Yet on that flimsy basis a wealthy Saudi businessman sued in London and was awarded £130,000 in damages and costs.

In response, the New York state governor has signed legislation giving New Yorkers “greater protection against libel judgments in countries whose laws are inconsistent with the freedom of speech granted by the US constitution”. Several US states enable victims of this “libel tourism” to counter-sue for harassment. It is shaming for this country that Congress is considering a bill to protect Americans from the iniquities of British libel law.

This is not the only type of libel tourism. Peter Wilmshurst, a consultant cardiologist, is being sued in Britain by NMT Medical, an American medical technology company, for remarks he made in the United States that were reported by an American specialist publication. The case against him would have been thrown out in America.

Britain’s restrictions on freedom of speech are gaining notoriety. The United Nations human rights committee has said our libel laws discourage serious reporting on matters of legitimate public interest and prevent scholars and journalists from publishing. Sir Ken Macdonald, the former director of public prosecutions, said that “our law should be nurturing the free exchange of ideas. It should be protecting research and science … Unhappily, the government’s obvious reluctance to act has to be seen within a growing tendency to undermine free speech in recent years”.

This is not just a newspaper whingeing about libel. We accept that contentious stories must be justified and people have the right to defend their reputations. It is about inhibition of freedom of speech that nullifies debate and impoverishes the intellectual life of a country.

Nor is it that difficult to rectify. One means is arbitration to avoid prohibitive costs; another is shifting the burden of proof from defendant to claimant or putting a cap on damages (although legal costs are often a bigger problem). Courts could reject cases in which less than 10% of a publication’s circulation or website’s traffic is in this country and introduce a robust public-interest defence into libel law. The High Court is turning into a giant cash machine for libel claimants and unscrupulous lawyers, and it is time it was stopped.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Tories Investigate Their Own Muslim Website

Although keen to win the Muslim vote, the Conservatives were distancing themselves from one of their own internet ventures yesterday after Mandrake informed them it included material apparently lifted from a website founded by a “hate preacher” banned from Britain.

Officials were trying to contact the man they had employed to create the Conservative Muslim Forum’s website to ask why it features chunks of text from IslamOnline, which was established by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who was described as “dangerous and divisive” by David Cameron.

“That particular piece you mention, about charity, was, indeed, lifted from a website, but they can’t tell for sure which one,” says a spokesman for the Tories. “It is reasonable to assume that it is from the website [IslamOnline]. It should have been attributed.”

The spokesman points out that the passage was “in line with mainstream Muslim thought”.

Al-Qaradawi, who helped set up IslamOnline in 1997, has been banned from America since 1999 and from Britain since 2008 because of his extremist views.

In 2003, he expressed his support for suicide attacks against Israeli civilians, which he called a “necessary Jihad”. He is held to be the unofficial leader of the Muslim Brotherhood by a number of informed authorities.

The Conservative Muslim Forum was established in 2005 to increase the Tories’ understanding of Muslim issues and encourage Muslim involvement in the party.

           — Hat tip: Aeneas[Return to headlines]


UK: The Case for Leaving the EU

Felicitations, as we Old Brussels Hands say, to the TaxPayers’ Alliance, for launching The Great EU Debate. Politicians of all parties perfunctorily demand such a debate, with little intention of conducting one. Well, let’s have the arguments. Let’s have the case for EU membership and the case against. Let’s look at the trade figures, the budget contributions, the compliance costs, the constitutional and democratic implications. To kick things off, the TPA is offering free copies of a new book, Ten Years On, by my old friend Lee Rotherham, which envisages a Britain outside the EU a decade from now.

Outside the EU, we can diffuse, disperse and democratise decision-making

The TPA is also posting a series of video contributions, by figures on both sides of the argument. You can watch mine above. It cannot be repeated too often that recovering our independence from Brussels ought to be a means to an end — the end being a freer, more democratic, more decentralised Britain.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: This Grotesque Bribe Sums Up 38 Years of Folly

What an unhinged world we live in, where actions that would normally seem ridiculous are the only sensible solution to a problem.

The British Government has ‘bribed’ a particularly nasty convicted child-killer to forgo her legal right to appeal against her immediate expulsion from the country.

Many would say that the use of taxpayers’ hard-earned money for such a cynical purpose is wrong and that the killer should be bundled straight from prison to the nearest international airport and frogmarched on to the cheapest flight home that can be found. That would be justice, as many of us understand it and would like to see it done. But such justice is not available in modern Britain.

The Ministers and officials involved in this scheme plead that they must choose between two unpleasant possibilities. We can house and feed this felon while she drags out a lengthy series of appeals. Or we can pay her a lump sum to go away and never come back. In this case, the apparently ludicrous decision to offer her money for ‘reintegration’ makes a rather strange sort of sense.

Our resentment should be directed against the many parliaments and governments that have passed the ten or more Acts of Parliament, going back to 1971, that created these circumstances in the first place. These are the laws under which people who should not be here manage to delay or prevent their lawful removal.

Some were introduced for reasons of short-term expediency. Some originate in a deep desire to turn this country into a multicultural society. Some arise from a Utopian desire for ‘freedom of movement’. Most reflect the modern obsession with recently invented Human Rights. Thanks to these influences, successive governments have forgotten their duty to guard the national borders.

Now we see, in this grotesque handout, the indefensible but inevitable result of this folly. Every successful human society has flourished behind well-defended borders. In an unequal world, you cannot have liberty, prosperity, a compassionate welfare state and the rule of law, unless you restrict access to them. Those who have repeatedly made this simple point have for years been disdained and ignored by the new Establishment, who have claimed to be the ‘civilised’ side of the debate.

Now we see where their ‘civilisation’ has got us.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Italy-Serbia: Tadic; Not Only Fiat, Also SMEs, Infrastructure

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — “We are not only counting on Fiat. In Serbia there are 200 Italian SMEs and we are interested in working together to build motorways towards Romania and Montenegro, from Belgrade to Bar,” said Serbian President Boris Tadic at the end of an intergovernmental summit with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi at Chigi Palace. “Today was a chance to accelerate investment also because Serbia has advantageous free trade agreements with neighbouring countries, which opens up a market of about 800 million consumers,” added the Serbian leader, explaining that the same market will be open to foreign countries ready to create local joint ventures. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy-Serbia — Tadic: Thank You Frattini, For Support in EU

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — “Thank you to Minister Franco Frattini, who gave his support to Serbia’s rapprochement with the EU. Frattini was the first to push for visa liberalisation, which we will be celebrating together in a matter of days”. Serb president Boris Tadic was speaking at the closing press conference for the inter-governmental summit which has been taking place at the Palazzo Chigi offices of Italy’s prime minister. “Italy and Serbia are building relations which stand as a paragon for the whole region”. (ANSA).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Football: Algeria Dreams of World Cup Between Songs and Fears

(by Laura De Santi) (ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 12 — Two days before the match that could open the doors to the World Cup for the Algerian football team after 24 years, the entire country seems euphoric: everybody is waiting for the moment that the ‘green shirts’ will enter the field for their match in Cairo against Egypt. People in bars, on markets, from the most densely populated districts to the oases deep inside the Sahara, are making preparations for the celebration. Football is all people are talking about. For a moment they forget about their low salary, if they have any at all, about the violent riots in the past weeks in the country’s shantytowns, the demonstrations of teachers, the ‘harraga’ who try to reach the European Eldorado overseas and about the endless violence of terrorism that continues to stain the country with blood. Everybody is dreaming of the World Championship but there are some who foresee serious problems if the Algerian team is defeated. Quai d’Orsay, the French Foreign Ministry, for example, “invites the French to stay in a safe place” on November 14. And despite the fact that Algeria seems certain to qualify (13 points, leader of Group C), all the team has to do is not loosing with a difference of more than two goals, the supporters fear “a hostile stadium and the dirty tricks” of the Egyptian team (11 points). “The last time we played in Cairo we have lost 5-0! It won’t be that easy” said Ahmed, while trying to attach a huge flag on the faade of the white buildings of Bab El Qued, together with other young men. “But the Italian team will bring us luck!” the man went on, referring to the training camp of the Algerian team in Coverciano last week. “Our players are young and strong, but I’m sure that the Egyptians will be violent on the field. They are insulting us, they have burned our flag. Of course we will win!”, another supporter added, asking for Allah’s protection. Tensions between the two countries are reaching a climax and the FIFA is trying to calm things down, reminding the Egyptian football federation of its duty to protect Algerian players and supporters. The Al Azhar mosque of Cairo will dedicate its traditional Friday prayer to the match, urging the faithful “for the unity of the Arab nation and solidarity between fellow people”, writes the Algerian press, which has been writing pages and pages on the event for days. Meanwhile in Algiers and any other city in the country, all people have on their mind is the event, a million dollar business. All kinds of products with the emblem of the national team are being sold on the markets. Flags and shirts, shoes and caps made in China are sold everywhere, while songs dedicated to the ‘Greens’ are heard from many cars. Songs written for the occasion, with texts that often incite to violence or include words with sexual overtones, taboo in a country like Algeria. If Algeria qualifies for the World Championship in South Africa, it will be the country’s third world championship after ‘82 and ‘86. If the team ends at the same level as Egypt, the play-off will be in Sudan on November 18. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Terrorism: 49 Sentenced to Death for Attack in Algiers

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 13 — The Penal Court of Algiers handed out an in absentia death sentence to 49 individuals accused of being responsible for the attacks carried out on April 11 2007 against a police station in the Algerian capital. According to a statement issued by APS, one of the 49 sentenced to death is the national emir of Al Qaida for the Islamic Maghreb, Abdelmalek Droukdal. Four of the accused present in court were given life sentences in prison. Ouzendja Khaled, Slimane Adléne, Bachar Hacene and Laaboudi Sid Ahmed admitted to being members of the “Salafite Group for Preaching and Combat, today called Al Qaeda for the Islamic Maghreb, and of having planned and carried out the attack against Dar El Beida Criminal Investigation Department headquarters,” in the eastern part of Algiers. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Alleged Jewish Terrorist Charged

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 12 — Yaacov Jake Teitel, an alleged Jewish-American terrorist, has today been formally indicted before the district court of Jerusalem for the pre-meditated murder of two Palestinians, for three attempted homicides, for the manufacture and possession of firearms and for incitement to violence. Teital told the magistrate that “it was a pleasure and an honour to serve my God. God is proud of what I have done and I will not repent.” Teitel, 37 and father of four, allegedly committed the crimes of which he is accused over a twelve-year time span for ideological reasons. He also targeted over Palestinians, especially homosexuals, members of left-wing parties and Christian organisations. The prosecution believes he is responsible for the murder of two Palestinians in the West Bank and of having laid explosive devices which injured Professor Zeev Sternhall, member of the extreme right movement, and his 15-year-old son, part of a family of Messianic Jews. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Arab League: USA Don’t Give in to Israeli Pressure

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 12 — Strengthen support to the Palestinians with respect to the American retreat on the issues of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories and the Goldstone report on the military operation in Gaza. These are the recommendations made in a report drafted by the Arab Peace Initiative Committee presented during today’s meeting of the Arab League’s foreign ministers in Cairo. According to the report, which is expected to be approved today, the recent American retreat goes against the country’s will to reach peace in the Middle East and to create a Palestinian State, as US President Obama has announced in his speech in Cairo. The US administration is reminded in the report of the commitments it has made on the halt to settlements, the opening of the borders and the end of the blockade of Gaza. The USA is asked not to give in to Israeli pressure, and not to approve the project of a Palestinian State with provisional borders (as recently proposed by Kadima’s number two, Shaul Mofaz, editor’s note). The committee has given the task of communicating the Arab viewpoint to the US administration to Qatar, which currently holds its presidency. Members of the committee, apart from Qatar and the secretary-general of the Arab League, are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Jordan, PNA and Lebanon. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Combat Volunteers Up in Israel After Gaza: Report

AFP — The number of conscripts volunteering to serve in Israeli combat units has risen to a 10-year-high partly as a result of what the army sees as its success in Gaza, Yediot Aharonot said on Friday.

A total of 73 percent of conscripts called up in the second quarter wanted to join combat units, compared with 67.2 percent last year, the newspaper said.

The low was 66.3 percent in 1997.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Middle East

British Soldiers Accused of Iraq Abuse

The British Ministry of Defence announced on Saturday that it is investigating allegations of abuse against prisoners of war in Iraq.

The allegations arose after British daily newspaper, The Independent, published an article in which a lawyer acting for detainees cataloged more than 30 new cases of abuse, inlcuding rape and torture.

Female soldiers were accused in the article of aiding in the physical and sexual abuse of prisoners.

The claims were being taken seriously, according to Minister for the Armed Forces William Rammell.

In a statement Rammell said formal investigations needed to take place “without judgements being made prematurely.”

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Reports: Iran Ex-Deputy Minister Jailed in Israel

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian former deputy defense minister who has been missing for nearly three years was abducted by Israeli agents and is now being held in Israel, several Iranian news Web sites reported Sunday.

Ali Reza Asgari, a retired general who served in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, disappeared while on a private trip to Turkey in December 2006. In March of this year, a former German Defense Ministry official said Asgari had defected and was providing considerable information to the West on Iran’s nuclear program.

Iranian officials and Asgari’s family have claimed that he was abducted.

One of Sunday’s Web reports, on a site called Alef, said German and British intelligence services assisted Israeli agents in abducting Asgari and taking him to Israel. The site, http://www.alef.ir, is close to a conservative Iranian lawmaker.

“On the basis of a two-year investigation carried out by concerned bodies, Asgari was abducted by foreign intelligence services and is being held in a Zionist prison,” the site reported, apparently referring to an Iranian intelligence probe into the matter.

“Asgari was abducted with the cooperation of Mossad as well as German and British intelligence services and was finally taken to Israel,” the news report said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry refused to comment.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Saudi Arabia: Justice Reform to Pave Way for Women Lawyers

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 13 — A reform of the justice system in Saudi Arabia authorising Saudi women to become practicing lawyers, so long as they only have other women as clients, is the proposal launched by the Saudi Minister of Justice, Muhammad Al-Eisa, quoted by the online paper Arab News as saying that the government was studying a reform of the justice system. Speaking at a meeting of notaries public, the minister said that the reform aims to modernise the system and streamline cases. In addition to the limited extension to women, permits for foreign lawyers would be introduced so long as they had previously earned a degree in Islamic law (Sharia).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Wilders to Turkey

From Dutch: Wilders will visit Turkey to explain why the country is not welcome in the EU. This would be the first time Wilders will visit an Islamic country since Fitna.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Russia

‘Body Sold’ To Russia Kebab Shop

Police in Russia have arrested three homeless men suspected of killing a man, eating part of the body and selling other parts to a kebab shop.

The men were held in the city of Perm, some 1,400km (870 miles) east of Moscow, local investigators said.

Their statement said that the suspects had targeted the 25-year-old victim out of “personal hostility”.

It was not clear when the incident occurred. The men — who have not been named — have been charged with murder.

The investigators said on Friday that the body of the man had been found in a forested area near a public transport stop in Perm.

They said the three men attacked their victim with knives and a hammer.

“After carrying out the attack, the corpse was dismembered. Part of it was eaten and part was also sold to a kebab and pie kiosk,” their statement said.

It was not immediately clear if any customers had been served.

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

South Asia

Chicago Terrorist Posed as Jew, Mapped Out Mumbai Targets

David Coleman Headley personally visited every target site of the 26/11 terror strikes last year, carrying out a recce on behalf of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a police source said today.

Posing as a Jew, he even visited Nariman House, the Jewish Chabad centre, in July 2008.

The Mumbai police today carried out raids in Bandra, its adjoining suburb Khar and BPO hub Goregaon in search of Headley’s local acquaintances and contacts.

“He (Headley) mapped the Chhatrapati Shivaji terminus, Taj and Trident hotels and Nariman House. We are interrogating (filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt’s son) Rahul to find out when he went to Leopold Café. That he did is certain — when he did that is what we need to know,” a top officer said.

Headley had visited the Mumbai home of Rahul, who contacted police after learning of the terror suspect’s arrest by America’s Federal Burau of Investigation (FBI) last month.

The source said Headley, a Pakistani-born US national, and his associate Tahawwur Hussain Rana stayed in Hotel Outram, a seedy motel in Mumbai’s Fort area, for about a fortnight in July 2008.

Born Daood Gilani, Headley, who changed his name and passport in 2006, posed as a Jewish American during his Mumbai stay. A source close to Rahul too confirmed that Headley had claimed to be a Jew.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Irishman Wants to Kill for Islam

An Irish jihadist living in Pakistan’s Swat valley says he is preparing to wage war against British and allied troops in Afghanistan.

Khalid Kelly, a former altar boy from the Liberties area of Dublin who used to be known as Terry, told The Sunday Times he is undergoing weapons training in Pakistan’s mountainous tribal region in order to fight jihad against the enemies of Islam. His dream is to face a British soldier in combat, although he would “settle” for an American, he said.

“I’m already on the path to jihad. I’ve already picked up a gun and done target practice to make myself familiar with weapons. The other day I learnt how to use an M-16 [rifle] in five hours,” he said. “Next week, inshallah, I could be in Afghanistan fighting a British soldier.”

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


Karzai Claims Mystery Helicopters Ferrying Taliban to North Afghanistan

While the Western press has been occupied recently with accounts of fraudulent elections in Afghanistan and the alleged role of President Hamid Karzai’s brother as a paid CIA agent, a stranger but perhaps more instructive story was playing out in Afghanistan that reveals the rather shallow penetration NATO and Coalition efforts have made in building trust and confidence in that country, as well as giving some indication of what can be expected from a Karzai administration that does not sense full support from its former backers in the West as it begins a second term. In addition the controversy demonstrates the very different perceptions of the counterterrorism struggle in the West and in Afghanistan.

For several weeks now, Afghanistan has been consumed by stories of mysterious “foreign helicopters” ferrying Taliban fighters to a new front in northern Afghanistan. These helicopters are alleged by no less than President Karzai to belong to “foreign powers” such as the United States and its allies. The helicopters are said to land in remote regions, but their activity has supposedly been noted by nomads who travel through the deserts of Baghlan and Kunduz province (Hasht-e Sobh, October 13).

Without mentioning guilty parties or offering evidence, President Karzai suggested the reports of helicopters delivering terrorists to north Afghanistan were true, saying, “We have received reliable reports from our intelligence service. We have received reliable reports from our people, and today I received a report that these efforts [to transfer Taliban fighters] are also being made mysteriously in the northwest. The issue of helicopters has also been proved. We do not make any more comments now and investigations are under way to see to whom and to which foreign country these helicopters belong” (Tolo TV, October 11). According to Karzai, the “unknown” helicopters had been taking Taliban fighters to Baghlan, Kunduz and Samangan provinces in northern Afghanistan.

[…]

Nevertheless, one Afghan daily reported widespread belief in the “mystery helicopter” phenomenon. “The people strongly believe that these helicopters belong to the British and U.S. forces. They also believe that these helicopters have transferred some armed residents of the neighboring provinces to northern provinces and the killing of several armed men from these areas in the north seem to confirm this issue” (Arman-e Melli [Kabul], October 13).

It was not long before the “mystery helicopters” were seen in Pakistan, where the “foreign allies” of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were alleged to be rescuing Taliban militants from the government offensive in South Waziristan. An Islamabad daily reported the belief of “some experts” that the airlift was part of a deal between the Western nations and the so-called “good Taliban” (Pakistan Observer [Islamabad], October 19).

Existing rumors of a Western airlift of Taliban fighters were no doubt adopted and exploited by the Karzai administration to express its displeasure with the West’s refusal to rubber stamp his election victory, but they mask a more serious problem — how has the Taliban managed to expand its operations in the north and what can be done to stop it before the Taliban is in a position to interfere with vital NATO supply lines that cross the region? By endorsing such rumors, President Karzai appears ready to endanger years of Western civil and military efforts in Afghanistan if he feels it necessary to ensure his domestic political survival.

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


US Demands Afghan ‘Bribery Court’

The Afghan president must set up a “major crimes tribunal” and an anti-corruption commission, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.

She told ABC television that Hamid Karzai “can do better”.

The Afghan leader — recently re-elected in a poll marred by fraud allegations — has come under growing Western pressure to deal with corruption.

One of Mr Karzai’s spokesmen insisted the Afghan leader’s administration was “serious” about tackling corruption.

The American ambassador in Kabul has warned against a US troop surge unless Mr Karzai takes action against corruption.

His views are at odds with US generals recommending a major troop deployment.

Afghanistan’s chief prosecutor has said he has a list of senior officials and ministers suspected of taking bribes, but refused to publish their names.

Chief prosecutor Ishaq Aluko told the BBC last week that he had asked the president and Supreme Court to set up a special court to deal with the cases.

The presidential election in August was tainted with accusations of fraud and vote-rigging. Mr Karzai’s main rival pulled out of a run-off vote.

No aid

Mrs Clinton, in an interview on ABC, said Washington expects “a major crimes tribunal” to be set up and “an anti-corruption commission established and functioning”.

She said the Afghan government needed to take action against people who have “taken advantage of the money that has poured into Afghanistan” in the past eight years.

She said she had made it clear that civilian aid would not be given unless the US could track it if it went to government ministries.

Mrs Clinton said the goal of the US was to defeat al-Qaeda, and help Afghans defend themselves against the Taliban.

“Now we believe that President Karzai and his government can do better,” she said.

“We’ve delivered that message. Now that the election is finally over, we’re looking to see tangible evidence that the government, led by the president but going all the way down to the local level, will be more responsive to the needs of the people.”

Corruption in Afghanistan — which is the world’s largest producer of opium — is linked mainly to illegal drugs, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

It has also said the unprecedentedly large amount of international assistance, and pressure to spend resources quickly, also contribute to corruption.

Afghanistan is regularly listed as among the worst five countries — out of 180 — for corruption by watchdog groups.

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


Why We Will Lose in Afghanistan

What we are hardly ever told about the country is that it has been for 300 years the scene of a bitter civil war, says Christopher Booker

As both Britain and America are plunged into an orgy of tortured introspection over what we are doing in Afghanistan, a further very important factor needs to be fed into the discussion, because it helps to explain not only why we have got into such a tragic mess but also why our armed intervention in that unhappy country is doomed.

What we are hardly ever told about Afghanistan is that it has been for 300 years the scene of a bitter civil war, between two tribal groups of Pashtuns (formerly known as Pathans). On one side are the Durranis — most of the settled population, farmers, traders, the professional middle class. On the other are the Ghilzai, traditionally nomadic, fiercely fundamentalist in religion, whose tribal homelands stretch across into Pakistan as far as Kashmir.

Ever since Afghanistan emerged as an independent nation in 1709, when the Ghilzai kicked out the Persians, its history has been written in the ancient hatred between these two groups. During most of that time, the country has been ruled by Durrani, who in 1775 moved its capital from the Ghilzai stronghold of Kandahar up to Kabul in the north. Nothing has more fired Ghilzai enmity than the many occasions when the Durrani have attempted to impose their rule from Kabul with the aid of “foreigners”, either Tajiks from the north or outsiders such as the British, who invaded Afghanistan three times between 1838 and 1919 in a bid to secure the North-west Frontier of their Indian empire against the rebellious Ghilzai.

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, after years of Durrani rule, it was to support a revolutionary Ghilzai government. But this new foreign presence inspired general Afghan resistance which was why, by the late 1980s, the Americans were supporting the almost entirely Ghilzai-run Taleban and their ally Osama bin Laden. In 1996 the Taleban-Ghilzai got their revenge, imposing their theocratic rule over almost the whole country. In 2001, we invaded to topple the Taleban, again imposing Durrani rule, now under the Durrani President Karzai.

As so often before, the Ghilzai have seen their country hijacked by a Durrani regime, supported by a largely Tajik army and by hated outsiders from the West. One reason why we find it so hard to win “hearts and minds” in Helmand is that we are up against a sullenly resentful population, fired by a timeless hatred and able to call on unlimited support, in men and materiel, from their Ghilzai brothers across the border in Pakistan.

Only in towns such as Sanguin and Garmsir are there islands of Durrani, willing to support the Durrani government in distant Kabul. No sooner have our forces “secured” a village from the Taleban, than their fighters re-emerge from the surrounding countryside to reclaim it for the Ghilzai cause. Without recognising this, and that what the Ghilzai really want is an independent “Pashtunistan” stretching across the border, we shall never properly understand why, like so many foreigners who have become embroiled in Afghanistan before, we have stumbled into a war we can never hope to win..

My colleague Dr Richard North’s blog (defenceoftherealm.blogspot..com) sets out this history in much greater detail

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Far East

How Japan’s Mafia Helped US Find the Man We Believe Killed Our Daughter, By Lindsay Hawker’s Parents

They printed more than 10,000 posters and distributed the same number of leaflets throughout the streets of Tokyo.

They set up hotlines, negotiated a generous reward and wrote countless letters and emails to Ministers, police chiefs and Foreign Office officials. When this failed, Bill and Julia Hawker made endless media appeals.

They even enlisted the help of the Japanese mafia, the notorious Yakuza.

As always, the message was the same: please help us find the man who we believe murdered our daughter.

Last Tuesday, after two years, seven months and three weeks, those desperate pleas were finally answered as 30-year-old Tatsuya Ichihashi was arrested in connection with the brutal killing of Lindsay Hawker.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


How Low Will He Go? Obama Gives Japan’s Emperor Akihito a Wow Bow

[Comments from JD: Video of bow. Contrast with pic of Cheney greeting Akihito.]

How low will the new American president go for the world’s royalty?

This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in iRepublican vice president Dick Cheney is received by Emperor Akihito in 2007ts downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference to a superior.

To some in the United States, however, an upright handshake might have looked better. (See Cheney-Akihito photo, right).

Remember Michelle Obama casually patting Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on the back during their Buckingham Palace visit? America’s royalty tends to make movies and get bad reviews and lots of money as a sign of respect.

Obama could receive some frowns back home as he did for his not-quite-this-low-or-maybe-about-the-same-bow to the Saudi king not so long ago. (See photo here)

How times change under Democratic presidents.

Back in 1994 when President Bill Clinton appeared to maybe perhaps almost start to bow to Akihito at a White House encounter, U.S. officials rushed to deny it was any such a thing. And the N.Y. Times chronicled the comedic drama here.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

NZ: Move From Halal Brings Manna for Meat Firm

A Southland meat company’s move away from halal killings for commercial reasons led to a surprising economic benefit — new business from Christian farmers.

Blue Sky Meats operates a processing plant at Morton Mains, for lamb, sheep, bobby calves and goats.

Chairman Graham Cooney said when it was set up in 1987 the plant had the potential to carry out halal killings and did so for a short time.

But related costs, including the hiring of halal slaughtermen, made it uneconomical and the practice stopped in the late 1980s, he said.

While the decision might have closed off potential markets, it brought in new business with several Christian farmers from the province choosing to supply them.

“A number of farmers decided they would support Blue Sky for that reason. It is a group, it’s not massive, but it is noticeable.”

Most farmers were not concerned about how their stock was killed and processed, or where the meat was exported.

But there was a “small minority of farmers” with strong Christian views who did not want meat killed according to Islamic Sharia law.

He stressed the company did not stop halal killings because of demand from Christian farmers, but because it was uneconomical.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopia Rebels ‘Capture Towns’

Ethnic-Somali rebels in the south-east of Ethiopia say they have launched an offensive against government forces and captured several towns.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) said it began attacking on several fronts on Tuesday.

The separatists said a “significant number” of Ethiopian troops had been killed and their equipment captured.

The reports could not be verified and Ethiopia has in the past dismissed rebel accounts of military gains.

“The operation involved thousands of ONLF troops and resulted in two days of heavy fighting,” an ONLF statement said.

The group added that its forces had been “warmly welcomed” in the towns it claimed to have captured — Obolka, Hamaro, Higlaaley, Yucub, Galadiid, Boodhaano and Gunogabo.

The ONLF, formed in 1984, is fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in the oil-rich Ogaden region.

It says the Somali-speaking population has been marginalised by Addis Ababa.

Fighting has escalated over the past two years following an ONLF attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field.

More than 70 people died in the attack, including Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers.

Addis Ababa calls the rebels “terrorists” and has cut off all access to the region.

However, watchdogs have accused the Ethiopian government of human rights violations.

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


Millions of Muslims Converting to Christianity

From Dutch: According to an article in Katholiek Nieuwsblad Muslim leaders are very concerned about a wave of conversions. In Sudan, 800,000 Muslims supposedly converted.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Hackers Fail to Crack Brazilian Voting Machines

From Nov 10th to Nov 13th the Brazilian Government hosted a public hacking contest to test the robustness of its voting machines. 38 participants from private and public IT companies (including the Brazilian Federal Police) were divided into 9 teams, which tried several different approaches to try to tamper with the software installed on the machines, and even to physically interfere in other stages of the process. All attempts (aside from a minor one which would not compromise the overall results) failed, and observations from the participants and neutral observers will be taken into account to improve the process even further. Here is the official announcement for the contest (Google translation; Portuguese original). A summary of the results is available in the Brazilian press (original). Brazilian voting machines use Linux.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Empowering the Slave Class

From the L. A. Times

1. 40% of all workers in L. A. County ( L. A. County has 10.2 million people) are working for cash and not paying taxes. This is because they are predominantly illegal immigrants working without a green card.

2. 95% of warrants for murder in Los Angeles are for illegal aliens.

3. 75% of people on the most wanted list in Los Angeles are illegal aliens.

4. Over 2/3 of all births in Los Angeles County are to illegal alien Mexicans on Medi-Cal, whose births were paid for by taxpayers.

5. Nearly 35% of all inmates in California detention centers are Mexican nationals here illegally.

6. Over 300,000 illegal aliens in Los Angeles County are living in garages.

7. The FBI reports half of all gang members in Los Angeles are most likely illegal aliens from south of the border.

8 Nearly 60% of all occupants of HUD properties are illegal.

9. 21 radio stations in L. A. are Spanish speaking.

10. In L. A. County 5.1 million people speak English, 3..9 million speak Spanish.

(There are 10.2 million people in L. A. County .)

Less than 2% of illegal aliens are picking our crops, but 29% are on welfare. Over 70% of the United States annual population growth (and over 90% of California, Florida, and New York) results from immigration. 29% of inmates in federal prisons are illegal aliens.

[Return to headlines]


Janet Napolitano’s Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is now the goal of the administration as clearly articulated by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano!

Two years ago when I wrote a commentary for the Washington Times in an Op-Ed piece entitled, Immigration Bill a ‘No Go’ I stated that a truly descriptive name for that piece of legislative rubbish would not be “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” but should be the “Terrorist Assistance and Facilitation Act!”

[…]

I have many reasons for opposing Comprehensive Immigration Reform but let me start out with my number one reason:

When you are dealing with illegal aliens there is no way of easily knowing who they are. There is no verifiable way of knowing their true names or even their true nationalities. Therefore there is no readily available means for determining if these aliens have criminal histories in other countries or if they are fugitives wanted for serious crimes in other countries. This means that we also have no reliable way of knowing who they are affiliated with or what their true intentions are in coming to our country. Finally, is this is also extremely important to realize, if we are dealing with aliens who ran our nation’s borders, not only are their fingerprints not on file which relates back to the problems I noted above, there would also not be any way of knowing how long these illegal aliens have been in the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Schengen Committee Visits Cyprus to Look at Illegal Immigration Problems

CYPRUS may host the new European Asylum office to counter illegal immigration, according to an Italian Parliamentary committee that visited Cyprus this week

The committee, set up to monitor the Schengen agreement, yesterday concluded a two-day visit to learn more about illegal immigration in Cyprus.

The visit was conducted as part of an agreement between Cyprus, Italy, Greece and Malta to develop an integrated strategy to counter illegal immigration. During the visit, the delegation met with House President Marios Garoyian, Interior Minister Neoclis Sylikiotis and members of the foreign ministry.

Margherita Boniver, committee President, highlighted recent developments in the EU’s illegal immigration strategy.

“The EU has now started to listen to what our problems are, and is taking the matter of illegal immigration seriously. It realises southernmost frontiers cannot just be a matter for individual southern states. It has begun to provide more directives, for example on resettlement and burden sharing.”

Boniver added that the EU has established the EU asylum office and the Frontex agency, which coordinates the operational cooperation between Member States in the field of border security.

Reporting on her findings, Boniver said “We have completed bilateral visits with Spain, Greece and Malta, and based on a steady stream of intelligence, the problem seems particularly acute for Cyprus.”

Asked about the problem of people illegally entering from the north Cyprus, Boniver said, “The pursuit of criminal organisations is the most important issue.

This is firstly an issue for EUROPOL and FRONTEX. After that it is a matter of applying political and diplomatic pressure, and oblige Turkey to do its duty to prevent illegal border crossing.”

Regarding the possible entry of Cyprus into Shengen, Committee Vice President Ivano Strizzolo said “At the end of our visit, we understood that the first priority is the resolution of the Cyprus Problem.”

“It is also in the interests of Italy to solve the problem, because even though Cyprus is small, its geography makes it important. The EU must now help further resolution of the Cyprus problem through further integration. It cannot leave southern countries to deal with this alone”

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


Sweden: Roma Refused Asylum

The United Nations agency for refugees, the UNHCR, says most of the asylum seekers should have been allowed to stay in this country.

“It’s a shame for the whole of the EU” (3:15)

But during the first half of this year less than one in ten refugees from Kosovo was given asylum here. According to estimates at least 80 percent of the refugees were Roma.

The critics are also asking why they are being sent to Serbia, as Sweden has recognized Kosovo’s independence as a separate country.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


UK: Labour’s Heartland Won’t be Fooled on Immigration Again

by Rod Liddle

There is something a little pitiful watching Gordon Brown tell the country how worried he is about immigration, and how it must not be a taboo issue. Like watching a paralytic drunk explaining in slurred tones how he will never touch another drop, and all the while you can smell the paint-stripper on his breath.

There is no issue — with the possible exception of Iraq — on which Labour has been more deceitful to the public at large, or has more egregiously betrayed its core working-class support. The only reason Brown is addressing the issue now is that we are six months away from an election and he fears that the troglodyte BNP thickoes will chew away great big gobfuls of angry working-class voters across a diagonal swathe of supposedly Labour country, from the white-flight satellite towns of Essex to the old mill towns of east Lancashire.

It is little more than lip service from the prime minister and, worse, unaccompanied by even the vaguest admission that his government has let its people down.

We know from the Labour backbencher Chris Mullin’s diaries that ministers would not address the issue of immigration because they were terrified of being called racist: so they did nothing. More recently, the former home office adviser Andrew Neather suggested that the Labour government threw open the doors to vast numbers of immigrants precisely in order to create a truly multicultural Britain, whether or not the British public wanted such a thing (every opinion poll suggests that they did not).

Labour ministers insist that the previous Conservative government was lax on immigration, too — but that is a specious argument. In 2006 nearly 600,000 immigrants entered Britain, more than 10 times the number who arrived in the last year of John Major’s government; the scale of difference has been beyond reasonable comparison. We should be clear: immigration is primarily Labour’s mess, and it was a deliberate policy.

Even now the argument will be queered by the usual platitudinous drivel; that while addressing this important issue we must all nonetheless embrace the vibrancy of multicultural diversity. The people who always preface their answers with this sort of statement tend not to have lost their jobs to cut-price plumbers, electricians, fruit pickers and so on.

You cannot have it both ways: Brown wishes to capture the votes of the white working class by talking about immigration but not actually doing anything about it. They in turn resent, rightly or wrongly, the fact that their communities have been changed beyond recognition; that street crime figures are up exponentially; that it’s harder to acquire social housing; and that they are priced out of jobs. This is unpalatable to many, but it is how a lot of people feel.

It would be far more honest of the government if it said: tough luck, Labour voters — we want a cheaper unskilled and semi-skilled workforce and we have no moral or intellectual objection to your towns and cities being transformed by huge numbers of people who may not share your cultural values. That, after all, has been the policy of the government for the past 12 years, even if it is one it has not dared to articulate but has instead pursued by a sort of cack-handed stealth.

Nor, aside from the carefully nuanced rhetoric, is there very much in the prime minister’s speech which offers a solution to the problem. For example, he wishes councils to look more kindly on social housing applications from long-term local residents — but of course the councils are statutorily required to offer housing first to the homeless and an awful lot of immigrants are, de facto, homeless when they arrive.

None of this is the fault of the recent immigrants themselves, of course, who are behaving much as we would all behave in similar circumstances; and in the main, I don’t believe those working-class voters blame the immigrants either.

They know who to blame — and crocodile tears shed a few months before polling day tend to confirm, rather than dissipate, that blame.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Welcome to Heaven, How About a Cup of Tea?

Mail on Sunday special investigation into why asylum seekers head to Britain

An elegant man in his 50s with a passing resemblance to the actor David Suchet enters the room at the Refugee Council in Leeds. With his urbane manner and air of authority, he could easily be mistaken for the boss.

Instead, Said has come to tell me the story of how he once was a lecturer in educational psychology at Kabul University and a happy family man, but became an asylum seeker forced to pay a human trafficker to take him to safety.

One day, he returned from a trip to Herat to his home in Kabul and found his family had disappeared. None of the neighbours could say what had happened. It was in 2001, when Afghanistan was in the iron grip of the Taliban.

Said had already been forced to send his 14-year-old son out of the country in 1996, fearing he would end up as a Taliban recruit. Now he didn’t know if his wife, remaining son and two daughters were alive. He decided to flee to a place of safety and find out the truth about his family.

He was advised by friends to sell up and get out of Kabul fast. In early 2002, Said crossed the lawless border into Peshawar in Pakistan and, after initial enquiries, walked into the Pakistani headquarters of an international human trafficker.

To his customers he was known as ‘the agent’, but the trafficker’s business was taking the life savings of individuals and smuggling them to a foreign country to seek asylum.

Said explained: ‘I spoke to the agent and he said, “Listen. I will take you to a country that is like Heaven.”‘

The price of Heaven was $12,500. Said paid with cash raised from selling his house. His journey took him from Pakistan into Iran, from Iran to Turkey, from Turkey into Italy and eventually from France to Britain, smuggled through the Channel Tunnel in the back of a beaten-up truck.

Every detail, every mile, every bribe, was planned. The journey was made sometimes at night, sometimes in daylight; on foot, on horseback, in the back of lorries and in containers on ships.

Along the way Said heard advice from other migrants. The inside knowledge on the asylum trail was that Greece and Italy were bad places to go because they were ruthless and had no proper system in place. Asylum seekers often ended up on the streets.

Countries such as Britain — wealthy, organised, multicultural, known for its human-rights record — offered the best chance.

Said’s first sight of Britain came when they reached Dover. ‘We looked through a small hole in the side of the truck to the country outside, miles of hills and trees. My friend said, “It’s clean, it’s nice. Very green.”‘

When the lorry was stopped by police, Said was terrified they would be beaten, tortured and sent home. This was how the police in Afghanistan would have behaved.

‘As we stepped off the truck, they shook our hands and said, “Welcome to England.” I was given 13 cups of tea as I was so thirsty. I was happy.’

Subsequent inquiries revealed that Said’s family had fled Kabul and sought temporary refuge in Pakistan. The family was reunited in Britain, where they all live legally.

Said’s journey took months and involved great hardship. But it was civilised compared with the scenes witnessed at France’s makeshift asylum-seeker camp in Calais, known as The Jungle before it was razed to the ground in September. It was home to 1,500 migrants, most of whom were hoping to cross the Channel.

Both Said and the camp residents show the desperate measures refugees will take to reach Britain.

The latest figures from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) show asylum applications in industrialised nations rose by ten per cent in the first half of 2009 to 185,000, compared with the same period last year.

Europe received 75 per cent of all asylum applications, although the United States remained the largest individual recipient with 13 per cent of the total number of applications filed in rich nations.

France ranks as the second largest with 19,400 claims, followed by Canada (18,700), the United Kingdom (17,700) and Germany, ranked fifth (12,000).

Over the whole of last year, Britain received 30,500 claims, including dependants. That figure has fallen from a peak of more than 80,000 eight years ago.

Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis make up the biggest groups of claimants. Those heading to Europe are drawn by different factors ranging from personal to economic to which country offers the best chance of approval.

But this is not just a personal trail of desperation and misery: the plight of people — there was a total of almost 250,000 last year — heading for Europe’s back door is the business of criminal gangs operating as traffickers.

Those who can afford it and cannot easily fly to Britain and claim asylum will often turn to traffickers. They operate a land route that runs through the Middle East, central Asia and into Europe. It is like a Silk Route for the new millennium, trading in people.

The more the asylum seekers pay, the further down the line they go. Britain is known as ‘The Last Stop’. It commands one of the highest prices because it offers one of the best chances of asylum.

Between 24 and 30 per cent of people claiming asylum in Britain win their case — and this includes their dependants. Greece, by contrast, has a one per cent approval rate for cases. Many of those whose applications are refused in Britain end up staying anyway, according to the UK Border Agency.

Abdul Samad Samadi, chairman of the Afghan Association of London, says the traffickers are keenly aware of the commercial value of a one-way ticket to Britain. He estimates there are now 75,000 Afghans living here. He says 80 per cent of them used a trafficker.

‘The asylum seekers are big business for the traffickers. People are paying $10,000 to $20,000 per person to come to Britain,’ he says.

And who are the traffickers? ‘Organised crime. They help people with fake documents. Many are based in Pakistan and they’ve got contacts in countries across the world. Everyone pays a trafficker, even myself.’

The lure of Britain is complex and there are many factors involved. But one commonly cited reason for it being a popular destination is that this country is a ‘soft touch’. How true is this?

Groups such as Migrationwatch UK, which lobbies for controls on immigration, argue that, under European Union law, asylum seekers are meant to lodge their claim in the first EU country they land in.

In reality, many hold out for Britain where they believe they will get a better deal. Europe does not have a standard asylum procedure.

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, says that in theory, an asylum seeker’s first country of arrival is where their case should be decided. ‘But that doesn’t happen. Traffickers tell their clients not to allow themselves to be identified in any other country but the UK. They say, “Don’t be fingerprinted until you get to the UK, until you arrive in El Dorado.”‘

Juliet Singer, chief executive of Stop (Trafficking UK), which works against the trafficking of people, agrees certain countries are seen as better bets than others. Greece offers little protection to those seeking asylum, Italy has some safe houses and government helplines but is overwhelmed by numbers, and France is seeking to get tough, as events in Calais show.

Britain is seen as offering a fair deal, she says, echoing Sir Andrew.

‘We’re viewed overseas as a place of fairness, of being a tolerant society, but also a place that’s easier to slip into,’ says Singer. ‘But lately we’ve hardened our hearts and tightened the system.’

While Britain’s asylum system has been slammed for its state of confusion and chaos by critics at home — notably the loss of 450,000 asylum cases in a warehouse for several years — international bodies such as the UNHCR say it is probably the best in Europe.

Peter Kessler of the UNHCR says: ‘There are failings, but the system [in Britain] works well compared with, say, France, where it can be months before people are processed.’

The UN figures show Greece approved just one per cent of cases in 2008, with Britain, France and Italy approving close to a third of cases and Germany almost half.

Kessler explains: ‘Word gets out in countries such as Greece, “Don’t bother staying.” Asylum procedures in the EU are all different. It’s like picking through a Macedonian salad.’

On arrival, an asylum seeker in Britain is entitled to accommodation and a weekly allowance of between £35.13 and £42.16 for a single person and £69.57 for a couple. Their asylum claims are then logged and processed, and this can take from six months to several years.

The cost to the British taxpayer in the last financial year was £478million, down slightly from £485million the previous year.

Accommodation is basic and can include Government-run detention centres, which have been criticised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers for their brutal conditions.

But the demand for these spaces far outstrips supply. There are currently 3,000 places in detention centres for asylum seekers — the rest of the claimants are placed in private accommodation paid for by the State.

Allowances are issued in the form of a pre-paid card that can be used only in designated shops. In return, the asylum seeker must report regularly to the UK Border Agency or a police station.

If status is refused, they have the right to appeal while receiving benefits. They are not permitted to work during this time.

Yet Sir Andrew believes the ease of getting work in the black market in Britain is one of the draws for asylum-seekers.

‘These are people who often pay £10,000 to £20,000 to get here. Once here, they get certain entitlements and often end up working in the black market, especially those whose applications have failed and haven’t been removed,’ he says.

Pro-asylum seeker lobby groups such as the Refugee Council reject the suggestion that these people had a strategy to end up in Britain.

‘The idea that someone is sitting in a war zone comparing the asylum systems and deciding on Britain — it’s stupid,’ says Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council.

Other reasons for coming to Britain include Britain’s legacy of empire, its foreign policy reach and its multicultural reputation.

The UN makes the point that there is a direct correlation between international conflicts and disasters and the category of asylum seeker that Britain receives. Kessler says that when international crises recede, so does the number of asylum seekers.

His analysis is borne out by figures from Eurotunnel, which runs the Channel Tunnel and outsources the patrolling of the port of entry to the border police.

Millions of pounds have been spent on surveillance equipment, including sheds containing X-ray machines that can scan whole trucks, special wands that can pick up the minute changes in carbon-dioxide emissions that indicate human life and a device capable of picking up the sound of a human heartbeat in a truck container.

John Keefe, head of communications at Eurotunnel, says: ‘Ten years ago we were getting tens of thousands a year. Now, since France closed down some of the camps in Calais, it is much lower.

‘Today, the Afghans are the biggest group trying to get in. There is a direct connection between world conflict and the type of people we see.’

Last year, the UK Border Agency stopped 28,000 individual attempts to cross the Channel illegally. One million freight vehicles were searched and the number of so-called ‘clandestines’ detected in Kent fell by 90 per cent to 1,800 in 2008, according to Government figures.

But Britain is still struggling with how to deal with those asylum seekers whose claims have been rejected.

Of the 30,000-plus cases a year, one third of claimants and their dependants are approved, one third go home either voluntarily or through enforced removals and one third remain here illegally. These ‘failed asylum seekers’ are a massive political headache.

Under the British system, once an appeal for asylum is rejected, it is the end of the road. The cost of sending someone home, with flight and resettlement package, can range from £7,900 to £25,600 per person.

Not everyone takes up this offer. Some will not go because there are genuine obstacles to their safety, such as human-rights threats in their home country. These people stay and claim so-called Section Four benefits.

In June 2009, 11,390 people were eligible for Section Four benefits. They remain in the UK with no official status and no way of going home.

But there is another group: those failed asylum seekers whose reasons for refusing to return home are deemed as simply ‘personal’. They do not qualify for support.

There could be hundreds of thousands of these people. They are often destitute or must live for ever with illegal status. These are the invisible people of Britain. Officially, they are no longer part of the asylum statistics. Unofficially, they are now part of Britain and here to stay.

John, a nomadic herdsman originally from southern Sudan, is one of these invisible people. I met him at a refugee day centre in Brixton, South London.

He grew up as the son of a tribal chief and has the fineboned features of the Sudanese. Civil war drove him from his home.

‘Before the problems began, my life in Sudan was perfect. We had 400 cattle, we had our own house, we had our tribe,’ he says.

His hands shake slightly as we speak. He could be any age between 25 and 45, such is the strain in his face.

John says his escape from Sudan was triggered by the death of his father and other family members during the civil war. The cattle were destroyed by northern Sudanese allied troops, his house was burned down.

His journey across North Africa into Europe took years and eventually he was smuggled into Britain in a lorry. He made the journey on his own and paid the trucker with the only valuable possession he had: an old Ericsson mobile phone.

Today his claim and appeal for asylum have been rejected because it is clear he passed through other countries for many years before ending up here. He suffers periodically from depression. Before his health deteriorated, he used to earn money washing cars. Now he cannot do that and is destitute.

‘In my country, I was the fearless one,’ he says. ‘Since I came here, I’ve become weak. The immigration people told me I must go. I told them there’s nothing to go back to.

‘But now I think if they tell me to go, I’ll say to them, “Do what you think is right.” I have no power any more.’

John’s case is extreme but not untypical. He is part of an underclass that has emerged as the British system of asylum has failed to find a way of dealing with people who cannot or feel unable to return home after failing to win sanctuary.

There are more than 140,000 failed asylum seekers still in Britain, says Migrationwatch UK’s Sir Andrew. Each year, thousands more will join them.

‘The effectiveness of our removal system lies at the heart of the credibility of our system,’ he says.

The Government recently admitted that once people have remained in Britain for between six and eight years, it is almost impossible to return them home.

The Refugee Council argues that a humane response is needed: hundreds of thousands of people cannot continue to live in limbo for ever.

Often portrayed as scroungers, asylum seekers have been caught up in the wider debate about immigration. Yet, unlike migrants generally, the number of asylum seekers has fallen sharply over the past ten years.

‘If you want to really tackle asylum seekers,’ says the UNHCR’s Kessler, ‘forget about closing camps in Calais. It’s about focusing foreign policy and development aid to stop people needing to leave home in the first place. Asylum seekers are often a sign of failed Western foreign policy.’

Juliet Singer agrees that the ‘tide of human misery’ will not be stemmed without tackling the root causes in the countries of origin.

All players are in agreement on one point: in a time of economic downturn, resentment against immigrants is rising as Britons fear losing their jobs and homes.

The rise of the British National Party is a dangerous sign of this. The BNP’s increase in popularity is the fault of the political mainstream which has failed to tackle immigration and asylum effectively. Schools, hospitals and housing provision have been stretched to breaking point in some areas by a rise in overall immigration.

Asylum seekers are a distinct group, resourced by the Home Office, yet they have become a lightning rod for wider immigration fears. But even Migrationwatch UK stresses that asylum seekers account for just ten per cent of overall immigration.

What is needed is a clearer public distinction in the immigration debate between economic migrants and asylum seekers. What is also needed is a clear policy on how failed asylum seekers are dealt with.

Until this happens, asylum seekers will be used to whip up public anger about immigration, and Britain’s underclass of ‘invisible people’ will continue to grow every year — people with no legal status, no country, no job and sometimes no home.

It’s a long way from the Heaven described in Peshawar.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Lesbians Make ‘Better Parents’, Says Senior Parenting Official

Stephen Scott, director of research at the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners, has said his research shows children from lesbian couples do better in life than the offspring of heterosexual couples.

“Lesbians make better parents than a man and a women,” Mr Scott told a meeting for the launch of think tank Demos.

His controversial position draws backing from research that suggests children with two female parents are more aspirational than those with opposite-sex parents. Some studies also also shows children with lesbian parents are no more or less likely to have tendencies towards homosexuality.

Research at Birkbeck College, part of London University, and Clark University in Massachusetts suggests that same-sex couples make good parents because children cannot be conceived accidentally — parents must make an active decision to adopt or find a sperm donor.

However, campaigners counter that fathers play an important part in family life and children have a right to get to know both of their biological parents.

Jon Davies, chief executive of the Families Need Fathers organisation, said: “Since all children will have a biological father the child has a right to know who that is. In most families where there will be a mother and a father, a father is needed to support them. But it is the quality of parenting that counts in the end regardless of the parents.”

According to the annual British Social Attitudes Report, more than a third of people now believe same-sex parents are as good as heterosexual couples.

Ann Widdecombe, MP for Maidstone and the Weald, said: “This contradicts every other government study that has ever been done. These studies, which are quoted so often by the Government and the opposition, clearly show that children do better when they have both a mother and a father figure.”

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

General

Alarmist’s Warming Predictions Wrong, Again.

You may remember newspaper headlines and TV news stories last spring that the Arctic Ice Cap would likely disappear in 2008 for the first time in recorded history. The entire global warming community was abuzz with excitement and waited with bated breath for the certain event to occur. They were salivating in the blogosphere at the prospect of having another bombshell to drop on the world when the ice would disappear in the Arctic. However, like an increasing number of their doom and gloom prophecies, they were wrong. It never happened.

The Arctic Ice Cap has been gradually retreating every year since 1979 when satellite technology could finally measure it accurately. By the winters of 2005 and 2006, the Arctic Ice Cap had retreated by almost 23 percent from 1979. Then, in 2007, the bottom fell out. The Arctic Ice Cap retreated by over 50 percent (down to 2.85 million square miles) from 1979. This led to the wild predictions that 2008 would see the Arctic Ice Cap disappear altogether.

Unquestionably, the retreating ice cap did not follow the alarmists’ predictions for 2008. It retreated to 4.52 million square miles, which is 9.5 percent less than the record retreat of 2007. That is not great improvement, and one year does not make a trend. Yet the ice started reforming in early September 2008, weeks before it did in 2007, and reformed at a much faster rate during September and October than even the 1979-2000 average. The same is occurring in 2009. By the end of September 2009, the re-growth of the polar ice greatly exceeded that of 2008. If you recall, during October-November 2008, snow piled up to 8 feet deep in the Midwest and snow fell on London for the first time in decades. This was followed by approximately 8 inches of snow falling on December 11 in Southern Louisiana and Mississippi — the earliest and the most snow on record. Blizzards unheard of for decades swept across the northern plains in December, and Europe had record snowfalls.

The Arctic is not the only place that was showing signs of intensifying cold. While the Arctic Ice Cap showed record retreat in 2007, the Antarctic showed record growth of sea ice, called extent, surrounding the continent the same year. Even the volcanically active Antarctic Peninsula was nearly completely ice-bound. The 2008 ice extent was nearly the same as the 2007 record. 2009 is heading for another record ice extent. The ice also lasted longer than usual into the spring of 2007, which starts in September. That year, the cruise ship Explorer struck submerged ice just off the northwest tip of the Antarctic Peninsula on November 23, long after the point in the year when the larger icebergs have typically melted. While none of the 156 passengers and crew were injured, it represented yet another sign of a cooling earth.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


World Leaders Deal Major Blow to Copenhagen Climate Change Deal

President Obama and other world leaders at a trade summit in Singapore have accepted that next month’s Copenhagen summit is now unlikely to produce a legally binding deal on emissions, with agreement on climate change set to be deferred until the middle of 2010.

A meeting of 19 leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum, which included Mr Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao, agreed that the forthcoming United Nations summit in Copenhagen should merely aim to make progress on cutting emissions.

Instead they backed a face-saving proposal from Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who jetted in at short notice after climate change was belatedly inserted into the agenda for Singapore, aimed at forging a political statement of intent at the December meeting.

Complex negotiations towards a legally enforceable successor to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, which expires in 2012, would then continue to work out differences between rich nations and developing countries including China, with agreement delayed until a meeting in either Germany or Mexico in mid 2010.

John Key, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, said after today’s meeting ended that it had become apparent that it was “highly unlikely” the Copenhagen talks would reach a legally binding agreement on emissions next month.

Others expressed similar disappointment. “I don’t think the negotiations have proceeded in such a way that many of the leaders thought it was likely that we were going to achieve a final agreement in Copenhagen,” said Michael Froman, a senior climate change negotiator for the United States.

In another setback for environmental campaigners, the same world leaders — who between them represent nearly two-thirds of world economic output — significantly watered down their public commitment on greenhouse gases. What had previously been a numerical statement of climate change goals for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum became a bland expression of hope for an “ambitious outcome” from Copenhagen.

Several officials privately pointed the finger of blame towards China for causing the communique to become so diluted, an outcome they described as “disappointing”. The Apec leaders were joined yesterday in Singapore by Mr Obama, who flew in from Tokyo just hours after agreeing with the Japanese prime minister that the two countries would aim to reduce emissions by 80 percent by the middle of the century.

In one early draft version of today’s official communique from the Apec forum in Singapore, the 21-nation group said that “global emissions will need to be reduced to 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.” But the subsequent, much weaker version of the communique was deliberately non-committal on the issue, stating only that “we believe that global emissions will need to peak over the next few years, and be substantially reduced by 2050, recognising that the timeframe for peaking will be longer in developing economies”.

Diane McFadzien, spokes person of the WWF Global Climate Initiative, said: “Heads of States must go beyond simply discussing the problems, they have to start solving them. Deleting rather than strengthening emission reduction targets in their Leaders Declarations — like they did here in Singapore — is certainly not a solution.”

Although the decision to remove the numerical targets was supposedly a collective one, Chinese officials made it clear that they viewed the original Apec draft communique as “controversial”.

“If we put it in this (final) statement, I think it would disrupt the negotiation process,” said, Yi Xianliang, a Chinese foreign ministry official involved with the country’s impending climate change negotiations in Copenhangen.

Officials from other Apec member states suspect that the softened language is likely to remain in place when the final communique from the week-long forum is released later today. Part of the disappointment may arise from what the Apec bloc represents — 60 per cent of world greenhouse emissions, and, in China and the United States, the two largest producers of greenhouse gasses.

The Apec meeting is also the last major leadership gathering ahead of the Copenhagen summit in early December, and it previously seemed possible that the forum would set a positive tone for that meeting.

In the event, one of the strongest commitments came on Friday from Brazil, which vowed to reduce emissions to 1990 levels in 10 years. Although Brazil is not part of Apec, its South American neighbours Mexico, Peru and Chile are and may be pressured to follow the lead of the region’s largest economy.

Hopes that the Copenhagen summit might produce a clear commitment to fighting climate change have been battered by persistent disagreement between developed and developing economies over precisely the issue of numerical emissions targets. Some have suggested that a two-tier system may provide the only viable solution.

Ed Miliband, the UK’s Climate Change Secretary, today urged Mr Obama to change his mind and commit to attending the two-week Copenhagen conference.

“I think as many leaders as possible — including President Obama — do need to come there because that will make a difference in the end to the kind of deal we want,” said Mr Miliband.

“His diary is a matter for him, but I hope he does go. I think it’s important that this is done in the end by leaders.”

Mr Miliband acknowledged that the legally-binding agreement which Britain had initially hoped for from the summit may not happen at Copenhagen.

But he added: “It’s a bit like when you buy a house. Exchange may happen at Copenhagen and completion some months afterwards.

“What is most important, as far as I am concerned, is to get a really ambitious set of commitments from all world leaders.

“If we can get a very clear set of commitments from the world leaders in Copenhagen on how they are going to cut their emissions — not just Europe, not just the US, but India, China and other countries — then that will be a very major step forward.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Graham Dawson (Archonix) said...

Hah, there's another way Islam spreads. Using existing enmities to recruit people. That Irish bloke just wants to kill the English and he's taken to Islam as a way to justify it now the IRA is neutralised.

It's always a terrible exchange. It's like blacks converting in jail, they exchange imagined oppression for real thing under the belief that it'll give them a way to seek vengeance. It'd be a comedy if it wasn't so tragic.

bmagnusen said...

There HAS to be a limerick in this. How about a limerick contest?

A foreign mujahadeen named Kelly
Put a suicide belt 'round his belly
But the wires did corrode
And it failed to explode
Because he drank all the petroleum jelly