Monday, November 16, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/16/2009Violence over the Algeria-Egypt soccer match wasn’t confined to Marseille. Prior to the match, violence flared in Egypt when a stone-throwing mob attacked the Algerian team bus.

In other news, an alarming report has emerged from Ukraine concerning a mutated “pneumonic plague, which it is believed may be far more dangerous than swine flu”. But Pundita reports that the sudden emergence of the new disease (which is reported to have killed 189 people) has more to do with Ukrainian presidential politics than it does with epidemiology.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Esther, Gaia, Insubria, JD, JP, Pundita, Thrasymachus, TV, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Belly Up: 10 States Face Imminent Bankruptcy
Dollar Falls, Sending Gold to Record High
Fallacy of Recovery
 
USA
A Nation in Fear of Being Seen as Anti-Muslim
America’s Foreign Wars May Explain Homeland Slaughter
Arson in Mosque (1)
Arson in Mosque (2): Federal Papers Burned (2)
Carter Defends His Handling of Iran Hostage Crisis
Chuck Norris: Visiting Maj. Nidal Hasan’s Hospital
‘Fear of Islamophobia Stopped Hasan’s Superiors From Disciplining Him for His Jihadist Outpourings’
Obama Intel Pick Accused Jews of Assassination
Our Precious Youth
So We’re Tea Bag Extremists, Eh?
Source: CNN Wanted Lou Out
The Empire State and Eminent Domain
Trial in New York is Triumph for Al-Qaida
 
Canada
Windsor Police Regret Patdown of Muslim Woman
 
Europe and the EU
“Very Friendly” Meeting Between Fini and Cardinal Bertone
Favourite to be EU President Backs European National Anthem
Germany: ‘Veil Martyr’ Family Pursues Court Officials
Hungary: Roma and Jobbik in Mass Brawl
Italy: Opposition Party Urges Mafia-Linked Minister to Resign
Italy: Minister Suspected of Mafia Links ‘To Run in Election’
Italy: ‘Give Me 500 Beautiful Italian Girls’: Colonel Gaddafi Hires Escort Agency Women During Rome Summit and Then Tries to Convert Them to Islam
Italy: Over 3 Million People Live Under ‘Food Poverty’ Line Says Report
Qaddafi Preaches Islam in Rome
Scotland: Clashes After Rival City Marches
Spain: 3.5-HR High-Speed Train Between Bilbao and Valencia
Swine Flu! Plague! Ukraine Presidential Politics!
Swiss Bank Enters Islamic Financing
UK: ‘I’m in a Spot of Bother…’: What Lorry Driver Rang to Tell Boss After Being Impaled by 8ft Pole in Freak Accident
UK: Boy, 4, Fighting for Life After Being Hit by Military Flare in ‘Deliberate’ Street Attack
UK: Chemicals Used in Plastics Feminise the Brains of Little Boys ‘So That They Avoid Rough and Tumble Games’
UK: Dundee to Celebrate Christmas With No Reference to Christianity
UK: Denham’s Misplaced ‘Faith Group’ Faith
UK: Four Men Arrested in Terror Raids
UK: Five Arrested in Manchester Anti-Terrorism Raid
UK: Faith Groups to be Key Policy Advisers
UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Secretly Gives Lectures on Islam… Through the Water Pipes of His Prison Cell
UK: Human Well-Being and Economic Decision-Making
UK: Health and Safety Snoops to Enter Family Homes
UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Gets New £650 Taps Fitted in His Prison Cell… So He Can Operate Them With His Hook
UK: John Denham Interview: Let’s Talk to the Muslim Council But Not
UK: My Moderate-Muslim Test
UK: Renouncing Islamism: To the Brink and Back Again
UK: Religious Leader Arrested in Terror Raid
UK: Terror Suspects Paid £600,000 for ‘Living Costs’
UK: We Need to Talk About Islam, Now
 
Balkans
Energy: Italy and Serbia Sign Two Accords
EU: EP: Schengen Opening for 3 Balkan Countries December 19
Eurochambres: Corruption Main Investment Obstacle
Medfilm: Love-Hate the Focus of First Croat-Serb Production
Serbia-Lybia: Cooperation in Field of Medicine
 
North Africa
Football: World Cup; Egypt, Match Interpreted Politically
Football: Egypt-Algeria, Algerian Bus Attacked in Cairo
Tunisia: Italian Film at Punic Studies Congress
 
Israel and the Palestinians
IDF Chief Rabbi: Troops Who Show Mercy to Enemy Will be ‘Damned’
Jerusalem: Intel Works on Saturdays, Rabbis Protest
Obama Green-Lights Arab Land Grab
PNA Steps Back: January Elections Postponed
Survey Says 57% of Israelis for Dialogue With Hamas
 
Middle East
Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Drive-by Shooting
Mosul Armed Group Kills 16 Year Old Christian on Doorstep of Home
Transport: Turkish Airlines to Fly to Bologna
US Camp in Iraq Was Qaeda Breeding Ground
 
South Asia
Afghanistan: U.S. Troops Battle Both Taliban and Their Own Rules
 
Far East
Japanese Official Puts Down Christianity, U.S. And Europe
 
Immigration
Illegals Could be Legal as Quickly as Next Year
 
Culture Wars
UK: People Must be Free to Hold Intolerant Views About Homosexuality
 
General
UN and Islamic Bank Make $1 Billion Farming Deal

Financial Crisis

Belly Up: 10 States Face Imminent Bankruptcy

Personal insolvency also surges as tax revenues decline

Ten states are facing imminent bankruptcy, confounding any possibility of economic recovery as tax revenues continue to decline and unemployment increases nationwide, Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports.

Those states in fiscal peril include California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois and Wisconsin.

The surge in looming bankruptcies among state governments is accompanied by a surge in the number of Americans filing for personal bankruptcy — further indicators the economy has a long way to go before an economic recovery is a reality in Middle America, Corsi explained.

[…]

Corsi wrote that most states, unlike the federal government, are constrained by state laws to balance their budgets, meaning revenue shortfalls must result in reductions in state government-financed programs

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dollar Falls, Sending Gold to Record High

LONDON (AFP) — The dollar fell on Monday as China accused the United States of increasing protectionism and following unexpectedly strong Japanese economic growth figures, pushing gold prices to a record high point.

US President Barack Obama is in China for a three-day mission aimed at convincing Beijing that Washington is its partner, not its rival.

As the dollar dropped against the euro and yen, gold struck an all-time peak of 1,133.20 dollars an ounce.

In late morning trading here, the euro climbed to 1.4969 dollars from 1.4918 dollars late in New York on Friday.

Against the Japanese currency, the dollar fell to 89.42 yen from 89.66 yen late on Friday.

“Far better than expected Japanese third-quarter GDP data…spurred risk appetite,” said Jane Foley, an analyst for online trading firm Forex.com.

“This pushed the euro close to 1.50 dollars in early European hours.”

Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew 1.2 percent in the third quarter of 2009 from the previous quarter — the fastest pace in two-and-a-half years and much better than expected, the government reported.

The euro also gained as higher commodity prices, driven by hopes of a global economic recovery, spurred investor risk appetite, market watchers said.

“Gains in gold prices lifted demand for currencies of commodities-exporting nations like the Aussie against the US dollar,” Osao Iizuka, chief foreign exchange trader at the Sumitomo Trust and Banking Co, told Dow Jones Newswires.

“Then the selling of the US dollar spread across other currencies, causing the euro to gain ground,” he said.

Comments from a Chinese commerce ministry spokesman accusing the US of protectionism earned a quick rebuttal from senior US officials speaking in Beijing, who said a trade war was in neither country’s best interests.

“We used to see that the United States was an innovation-driven US. But what we are seeing now is an increasingly protective US,” commerce ministry spokesman Yao Jian told reporters at a regular monthly briefing.

“It is necessary to create for enterprises a stable and predictable environment, including (stable) economic and foreign exchange policies, to help the global economy grow steadily and China’s exports recover,” he said.

Yao added that the United States had “continued” to let the dollar drop “to improve its competitiveness” while pressing for the yuan’s appreciation.

“It is detrimental to the global recovery and is unfair for (the US) to require other (currencies) to rise while allowing the dollar to keep slumping,” Yao told reporters.

But US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said Washington was not at fault.

“The United States is not engaged in increased protectionism,” Locke told a luncheon in Beijing.

Obama is expected to raise trade tensions with his counterpart Hu Jintao and also urge China to reconsider the value of the yuan, which has been effectively pegged to the dollar since July 2008 and is deemed by Washington as being kept artificially low to boost Chinese exports.

In London on Monday, the euro was changing hands at 1.4969 dollars against 1.4918 dollars late on Friday, at 133.85 yen (133.57), 0.8966 pounds (0.8937) and 1.5096 Swiss francs (1.5093).

The dollar stood at 89.42 yen (89.66) and 1.0085 Swiss francs (1.0117).

The pound was at 1.6695 dollars (1.6693).

On the London Bullion Market, the price of gold jumped to 1,131.70 dollars an ounce from 1,104 dollars an ounce late on Friday.

[Return to headlines]


Fallacy of Recovery

The mainstream media is full of reports of economic recovery and an end to the recession of 2008, even though the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research has not yet spoken its official word on the matter. The significant rise in the stock markets and a single advance GDP report has been enough to convince nearly every economist and financial analyst that the worst is past, that 10.2 percent unemployment is a lagging indicator, and that the primary concern at hand is now too much monetary and fiscal stimulus leading to inflation.

And yet, the actions of the monetary and fiscal authorities clearly belie their cheerful words. If the global economy is recovering, then why is Germany, whose 0.7 percent growth in the third quarter was widely cited last week as another proof of recovery, planning to embark on a third round of fiscal stimulus two quarters after the recovery arrived? Why is Paul Krugman declaring the need for the U.S. government to provide what he calls “a second stimulus,” especially when those who can both recollect ancient history and count to two will recall that this would actually be the third U.S. stimulus package after George Bush’s $168 billion stimulus plan of 2008 and Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan of 2009. And why is the Federal Reserve still targeting an interest rate below 1 percent?

If the economy has recovered, then no further stimulus would be needed. Since further stimulus is required, it is therefore clear that the economy has not recovered.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

A Nation in Fear of Being Seen as Anti-Muslim

Plenty of people could have stopped Malik Hasan but they were too scared to do so, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

THERE’S a climate of fear in the US among the military, law-enforcers, policy-makers, the media, opinion-formers and many ordinary citizens. A major cause is the intimidating Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which is dedicated to Muslim empowerment, receives substantial funding from Arab governments and has been accused by federal prosecutors of funnelling money to Hamas.

So effective and ruthless is CAIR that anyone in authority worries before doing anything that can be misrepresented as anti-Muslim and lead to lawsuits citing religious or racial discrimination.

There were plenty of people who might have prevented the psychiatrist Major Nidal Malik Hasan from murdering 12 soldiers and a policeman, but were too scared to do so. FBI operatives, for instance, knew he was exchanging chummy emails with the al Qaeda supporter Anwar al Awlaki, who had been an imam at a Virginia mosque which Hasan attended and who fled to the Yemen after 9/11 because the FBI were investigating his close links with two of the hijackers.

There were the fellow-worshippers at the Muslim Community Centre in Maryland who were perturbed by Hasan’s hatred of his country, his rigid Islamic fundamentalism and his insistence that jihad was not about inner spiritual struggle but the killing of those who were a threat to Islam.

Then there were the senior army doctors who 18 months ago sat through a long PowerPoint presentation from Hasan called The Koranic world view as it relates to Muslims in the US Military, in which he called for Muslims to be released from the army as conscientious objectors rather than fight against their co-religionists; he explained that “fighting to establish an Islamic state to please Allah, even by force, is condoned by Islam”. After worried discussions, nothing happened. Army psychiatrists concerned about Hasan’s increasing preoccupation with religion and war sent him to a university lecture series on Islam and the Middle East .

And how has the army responded to the massacre?

“As horrific as this tragedy was,” said the Chief of Staff General George Casey, “if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Well, I don’t think the relatives of the dead are likely to agree. Worship of diversity, fundamentalist political correctness and terror of being accused of Islamphobia has obscured the simple truth that the US army is no place for anyone who believes the Koran should be interpreted literally.

Commentators sought PC reasons for Hasan’s homicidal spree. He had had a breakdown because of the dreadful stories his work required him to listen to: this was probably, said one, a “seemingly disproportionate response” to anti-Muslim comments from colleagues and tales of bad things that had happened to Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. That he was being sent to Afghanistan, was scared and just wanted to get out of the army was a common view..

Sadly, despite President Obama’s claim that what happened at Fort Hood was “incomprehensible”, it’s easy to understand: the accumulated evidence is that Hasan was an Islamist fruitcake who swallowed the whole, unexpurgated and unmodernised Koran, right down to the paradise that awaits those who kill and are killed for Allah, which is why he was shouting Allahu Akbar (‘God is great’) as he shot his comrades.

There have been other dodgy Muslim fundamentalists in the United States army, including Sergeant Hasan Karim Akbar, who in 2003 murdered two soldiers and wounded 14, but — with CAIR in mind — the army continues to run from anything that can be described as religious profiling.

A good example of how CAIR has put the fear of Allah into American society is the case of the flying imams. Three years ago, at Minneapolis airport, some passengers and crew on US Airways Flight 300 were alarmed by six imams whose suspicious behaviour included praying loudly, changing seats and two of them demanding seatbelt extensions which they did not use; an Arabic-speaker on the flight heard two of them mention Osama bin Laden and condemn America for “killing Saddam”. They were removed from the flight by airport police, detained, questioned and released.

CAIR backed the imams’ claim that they had suffered from religious discrimination and underwrote their lawsuits against the airline, the law-enforcers and unnamed passengers who had reported them to the crew. Congress banned the suing of airline passengers who report on suspicious activity, but after a bizarre judicial ruling that no competent law enforcer could have thought their treatment reasonable, the airline and the law-enforcers settled out of court last month. The consequences for airline security are terrifying.

Rather surprisingly, a few days ago the American government had the guts to seize mosques and property owned by a group it claims are a front for the Iranian government. This, said CAIR ominously, “may send a negative message to Muslims worldwide.”

The hope is that it may send the positive message that enough is enough.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


America’s Foreign Wars May Explain Homeland Slaughter

This year, the Pentagon committed US$50 million ($67 million) to a study investigating why the suicide rate in the military is rising. It used to be below the suicide rate in comparable civilian groups, but now it’s four times higher.

Thirteen American soldiers were killed by a gunman at Fort Hood in Texas last week, but 75 others have died by their own hand at the same army base since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Why? To most people, the answer is obvious. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been frustrating, exhausting and seemingly endless, and some people just can’t take it any more. But the Pentagon is spending that money to search for other possible causes, because it doesn’t like that answer.

The US military budget tops half a trillion dollars, so the military can splash out on diversionary studies that draw attention away from the main problems, which are combat fatigue and loss of faith in the mission. And we are seeing exactly the same pattern in the response to the killings in Fort Hood, although in this case the military are also getting the free services of the US media.

Let’s see, now. A devout Muslim officer serving in the US Army, born in the United States but of Palestinian ancestry, is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the near future. He opens fire on his fellow soldiers, shouting: “Allahu Akbar” (Arabic for “God is great”). What can his motive have been?

Hard to guess, isn’t it? Was he unhappy about his promotion prospects?

There is something comic in the contortions that the US media engage in to avoid the obvious fact that if the United States invades Muslim countries, some Muslim Americans are bound to think that America has declared war on Islam. It has not, but from Pakistan to Somalia the US is killing Muslims in the name of a “war on terror”.

Some of them are enemies of the US government, and some of them are innocent civilians. Some of them are even “friendly-fire casualties”, like the Afghan soldiers killed recently in a US air strike.

But every single day since 2003, US soldiers have killed Muslims, and every day those deaths have been reported in the media.

So is it possible that the shooter in Fort Hood, Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who was waiting to ship out to Afghanistan, did not want to take a personal part in that enterprise? Might he belong to that large majority of Muslims (though probably a minority among American Muslims) who, unable to discover any rational basis for US strategy since 9/11, have drifted towards the conclusion that the United States is indeed waging a war on Islam?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Arson in Mosque (1)

Investigators said are looking for an arsonist who set a fire outside a Sacramento area mosque.

The federal government has moved to seize Islamic Center. Meanwhile, worshippers said they are being unfairly attacked.

Kept out for three days, worshippers were anxious to return to the Carmichael Islamic Center to pray, but instead they were greeted by ashes.

“It could be an act of hate or racism it is possible,” said Yusub Ali Muhammad, with the Carmichael Islamic Center.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Arson in Mosque (2): Federal Papers Burned (2)

A letter from the Department of Justice was set on fire at a mosque that is at the center of a federal investigation.

A church member discovered the scorched yellow envelope when he arrived for Sunday services at about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

“I came around the outside of the gate, and on the outside of the envelope it said United States Department of Justice and there was a pile of ashes underneath,” said Yusuf Ali Muhammad.

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Sacramento Metro Fire Department came out to the scene to investigate.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Carter Defends His Handling of Iran Hostage Crisis

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Monday he was pressed by his advisers to attack Iran during the hostage crisis there more than 30 years ago but resisted because he feared 20,000 Iranians could have died.

Islamist militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on Nov. 4, 1979, and seized its occupants. Fifty-two Americans were held hostage for 444 days.

Carter said one proposed option was a military strike on Iran, but he chose to stick with negotiations to prevent bloodshed and bring the hostages home safely.

“My main advisers insisted that I should attack Iran,” he told reporters in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, where he was helping build houses for Habitat for Humanity. “I could have destroyed Iran with my weaponry. But I felt in the process it was likely the hostages’ lives would be lost, and I didn’t want to kill 20,000 Iranians. So I didn’t attack.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Chuck Norris: Visiting Maj. Nidal Hasan’s Hospital

While the military is still reeling and recovering from the massacre at Fort Hood, my wife, Gena, and I decided to boost the morale of military personnel by visiting the cadets at West Point and the wounded warriors at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. Little did I know that Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the shooter at Ft. Hood, was hospitalized there.

The day before Veterans Day, we visited West Point. We were amazed by its pristine and picturesque setting, 50 miles north of New York on the Hudson River. It was also fascinating to learn more about the academy’s history. From the day of its founding on March 16, 1802, West Point has produced some of our country’s greatest leaders, including Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Petraeus, etc.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


‘Fear of Islamophobia Stopped Hasan’s Superiors From Disciplining Him for His Jihadist Outpourings’

[Note from JP: A must-read article, containing these quotes: “Such universal belligerence has no universal cause, other than in the universality of Islam, which seems so often to respond lethally to local conditions, whatever they are.” and “My God, what have we done?”]

I imagine a lot of American Muslims over the weekend will have felt like the Irish once did in London after an IRA bombing there: let this massacre not be by one of ours, dear God. But it was. Fort Hood was the work of Nidal Malik Hassan, an American Muslim. Not an immigrant, not a September 11 kamikaze intruder, but the home-grown product: the all-American boy who turned on his own people and his own army for politico-religious reasons.

Obviously, most American Muslims want to live in peace with their fellow Americans. But within, it seems, all “moderate” Muslim communities are some fundamentalists who hold the local franchise for the global grievance of Islam. And no one really knows what such Islamic fundamentalists want, because the demands change according to whatever market the local Islamic franchisee is operating in.

But at bottom, jihad — the holy struggle — is the key liberator which enables the Muslim fundamentalist to depart from the rules of the society in which he is living.

Jihad can be formed as a result of the teachings of an imam, but it boils down to a personal contract between Allah and the believer, based on an extreme interpretation of Islam. This effectively declares: “If you feel very strongly that the rules in the Holy Koran about never injuring the innocent, and always respecting women and children, and respecting the rights of the kaffirs to remain non-believers, are subordinate to jihad, then these rules do not apply to you. Moreover, if you feel specifically enjoined to break these rules in pursuit of jihad and martyrdom, the reward shall be paradise and all the blissful wherewithal of the heavenly hereafter.”

This notion of a personal contract with Allah, that authorises a believer to break even the most civilised and civilising laws of the Koran, is a sure-fire recipe for murderous irrationality and social anarchy. And these have become the defining feature of almost every Muslim society in the world. So where there are no Muslims, the problem of jihadist terrorism does not exist either. It is the most obvious statement imaginable, yet it is worth making. Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile, Iceland, Japan, Mozambique, Taiwan: they do not have Muslim immigrants, and so do not have the problem of Islamic terrorism.

Here, then, is the San Andreas fault within Islam, on which tectonic disjuncture just about all 20th and 21st century Islamic societies have fallen apart. No matter how much the majority Muslim population seeks to live in peace and friendship with their neighbours, if enough fundamentalist mavericks feel they have received their heavenly mandate, then the result is the same, and even within outwardly benign communities.

Hence Fort Hood Texas, September 11 New York, July 7 London, Holland, Denmark, Belgium, France, Norway, Bali, Kenya, Tanzania, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Iran, Anatolia, Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bali, Bombay, Australia.

Such universal belligerence has no universal cause, other than in the universality of Islam, which seems so often to respond lethally to local conditions, whatever they are. To be sure, there is no such thing as a single, typical, Islamic society. The barren and barbaric Hindu Kush is not the same as the perfumed court of the Ottomans. But somewhere inside the greater Islamic mind is an absurd sense of victimhood: and where there is no local grievance, why then there is always “Palestine”, as if those few disputed acres in the vast Islamic landmass of Afro-Asia merited the unanimous and indignant global furies of all Muslims, from Delhi to Dearborn.

This same querulous organ of self pity also resents Muslims becoming the subject of intelligence operations after an Islamic atrocity, as if it were reasonable and wise to subject Mexican laptop-dancers and Lapland reindeer-herders to equal levels of scrutiny and suspicion.

India has been the home of Islamic moral-secessionists for longer than anywhere else. And the Indian intelligence services are often almost paralysed in their hunt for Islamic-terrorists by the political power of Muslim “community leaders” who unfailingly denounce terrorism — but then equally denounce any action by Indian intelligence against members of the Muslim communities: for such actions, it is argued, are clear proof of the fundamentally Islamophobic nature of the Indian state, and the reason for the fundamentalists’ actions in the first place.

This is a sealed moral system, an internal autonomy that is immune to penetration or logic. Fear of such accusations of Islamophobia — phobophobia — almost certainly prevented Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s superior officers from disciplining him for his public jihadist outpourings. Pre-emptive action would certainly have been portrayed by the liberal media as Islamophobic discrimination against a patriotic Muslim, and would have enraged that reliable stock-character of media portrayal, “moderate Muslims”.

Thirteen genuine patriots are now dead as the price of such phobophobic appeasement.

More importantly, the US must now wake up to the consequences of its open-door immigration policy, just as Britain did four years ago after July 7. The subsequent pattern will presumably be similar. Watch now, as “victimised” American Muslims close ranks, the burka and the hijab become commonplace amongst their womenfolk, and the rest of the US asks in tones of awestruck horror: My God, what have we done?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Obama Intel Pick Accused Jews of Assassination

Lauded Iranian nuclear program as ‘deterrent’ against Israel, Bush

TEL AVIV — The Obama administration’s withdrawn nominee for a top intelligence post delivered a speech to a pro-Arab U.S. group in which he claimed that Israel has long assassinated peace-loving Palestinian leaders.

He also falsely accused the Jewish state — which doesn’t publicly comment on its alleged nuclear weapons program — of threatening to nuke Iran.

Charles “Chas” Freeman, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, used the speech to suggest that America was attacked on 9/11 largely due to its support for Israel.

He further stated that if the White House attempts to pressure Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “American lobby” will arrange for Congress to punish President Obama.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Our Precious Youth

When a generation is not taught the principles that drove our founding fathers to revolt in a conservative revolution to bring about a Constitution of Liberty, it is ill-equipped to appreciate how precious that liberty really is, how it is always under attack, how it is never secure. Such a generation is liable to take liberty for granted and to presume it worth exchanging for the promise of material gain from governors quick to make promises. That generation is most vulnerable to the clever sales pitch that promises government largesse to solve problems that are in truth unsolvable by state action and only solvable through private initiative. That generation is fit more for servitude brought about by naive resignation of individual rights than for freedom brought about by self-sacrifice to ensure protection for those rights.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


So We’re Tea Bag Extremists, Eh?

In order to persuade some House Democrats who were undecided about voting for the health-care deform legislation, or H.R. 3962, last week, President Obama resorted to name-calling of those opposed to the legislation.

As the New York Times reported on Nov. 7:

According to Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who supports the health care bill, the president asked, “Does anybody think that the teabag, anti-government people are going to support them if they bring down health care? All it will do is confuse and dispirit” Democratic voters “and it will encourage the extremists.”

I was personally insulted, but even more disappointed that the president would label those of us who oppose a government takeover of our health-care system as teabag, anti-government and extremists. We are accustomed to name-calling by Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Barney Frank, but it lessens the office of the president when he engages in typical liberal tactics.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Source: CNN Wanted Lou Out

CNN was so sick of Lou Dobbs, it gave him an $8 million severance package to leave, The Post has learned.

“They wanted him out,” according to a source.

Dobbs, who a source said had a year and a half to go on his $12 million contract, shocked viewers last Wednesday by announcing he was quitting.

[…]

Originally, plans had been for Dobbs to announce his decision to leave during last Friday night’s broadcast.

“But when his assistant asked, ‘Lou, do you really want to leave on Friday the 13th?’ he decided to make it Wednesday instead,” Dilenschneider said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The Empire State and Eminent Domain

A neighborhood with $600,000 apartments is declared ‘blighted.’

In September, Dan Goldstein received a letter from New York State informing him and his wife that the government was about to seize their Brooklyn apartment “In furtherance of the Atlantic Yards Arena and Redevelopment Project.” The building would be razed as part of a 22-acre, $4.9 billion sports-complex project.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and developer Bruce C. Ratner have promised that the project will bring jobs, affordable apartments and the Nets basketball team. Lost amid these promises is the story of Mr. Goldstein, his wife Shabnam Merchant, and a few others who have spent years resisting efforts to dislodge them. The state’s highest court—the New York Court of Appeals—is expected to issue its ruling in Goldstein et al. v. Empire State Development Corporation any day. The case is a pivotal one in the struggle to prevent abuse of the power of eminent domain.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Trial in New York is Triumph for Al-Qaida

Andrew McCarthy, as a New York federal prosecutor in the ‘90s, led the prosecution of the “Blind Sheik” in the case of the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. On my radio program last week, Mr. McCarthy used the phrase “show trial” to describe the Obama/Holder plan for the Gitmo detainees. He pointed out that the defendants had ample due process in the military trial at Gitmo, were clearly guilty and interested in using further proceedings only as a propaganda platform for jihad.

But McCarthy’s startling analysis went deeper to answer the question of why would Obama order this “show trial.”

He pointed out that defense attorneys would also press for revelations of methods and practices of the CIA and the U.S. military and would seek detail on the rendition of detainees to third countries (for “torture” that the evil and cowardly Bush would not do directly).

In other words, the civilian trial would reveal to the jihadi enemy all the secrets of the U.S. in fighting this war. Or, if the court denied revealing these secrets, this denial would form the basis for acquittal of the defendants and “proof” that the attacks of 9/11 were a Bush lie all along.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Canada

Windsor Police Regret Patdown of Muslim Woman

Windsor Police Chief Gary Smith publicly apologized to the Muslim community this week after one of his officers allegedly patted down the wife of a suspect during a raid tied to a case in metro Detroit that ended in the shooting death of an Islamic leader.

“The actions taken did cause embarrassment and did offend their religious beliefs,” Smith said in a statement. “I sincerely apologize to the families and the Islamic community.”

Windsor police assisted other Canadian law enforcement in an Oct. 31 raid to apprehend Windsor residents Mohammad Al-Sahli, 33, and Yassir Ali Khan, 30. Federal authorities said they were part of a radical Muslim group based in Detroit that was led by Luqman Ameen Abdullah, killed by FBI agents in a shootout during an Oct. 28 raid in Dearborn.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“Very Friendly” Meeting Between Fini and Cardinal Bertone

(AGI) — Rome, 12 Nov. — The almost half-an-hour meeting between the president of the Chamber, Gianfranco Fini, and the secretary of the Vatican State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was “very friendly”. Fini and Bertone had a frank and open exchange of views in the president’s office. (AGI) .

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


Favourite to be EU President Backs European National Anthem

The new front-runner to be the first EU President is committed to a European national anthem and the replacement of a range of nationalistic symbols.

Herman Van Rompuy, 62, the Prime Minister of Belgium for 11 months, is expected to be installed as President of the European Council at a dinner in Brussels on Thursday of the 27 EU leaders.

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the Flemish Christian Democrat was an architect of his party’s federalist manifesto which calls for a massive extension of the presence of the EU in town halls, schools and sporting events.

The manifesto says: “Apart from the euro, also other national symbols need to be replaced by European symbols (licence plates, identity cards, presence of more EU flags, one time EU sports events, …).”

Mr Van Rompuy suggested a compromise to placate any anger at the perceived dilution of national pride. The manifesto continued: “In order to preserve unity in diversity a national reference can be preserved (as on the national side of euro coins).”

The revelation of the extent of Mr Van Rompuy’s federalist agenda will increase the pressure on Gordon Brown to try to block his elevation on Thursday.

The government had claimed victory after references to Beethoven’s Ode To Joy adopted as the EU’s anthem in 1985 were removed from the revised European ‘constitution’ which was voted down in the Dutch and Irish referendums in 2005.

Mr Van Rompuy, in a speech to the Belgian Parliament after the No votes, said: “We go on with the ratification of the European Constitution in all our parliaments, but we need to admit that for the moment the project is over. However, this doesn’t mean that we cannot continue to work in a creative way in the direction which the Constitution points in.

“I don’t object if we break up the Constitution into smaller parts, as long as we continue to work in the same direction: in the direction of more Europe.”

Mr Van Rompuy, barely known outside Belgium, is the favoured candidate of Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor.

They want a figure who will not overshadow them on the world stage who will act a chairman rather than a Presidential figure with the stature of a world leader which was why Tony Blair’s chances faded.

He also backs proposals for the EU to be directly funded from a ring-fenced swathe of green taxes such as fuel duty or aviation levies. It could mean all shopping and petrol station receipts in Britain could in future include the amount of VAT or fuel duty that goes directly to Brussels as an “EU tax”. The idea, championed by the federalists, is fiercely resisted by Britain.

William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, said: “Any attempt to move the EU further towards a federal state would be unacceptable. The British people never had a chance to give their view on whether the job of president of the Council should exist at all.”

Pieter Van Clippe, of Open Europe think tank, said: “Van Rompuy is your typical EU federalist — he isn’t going to step on anyone’s toes or try to dominate the world like Tony Blair or President Sarkozy might have — but he can be relied upon to quietly make sure that the EU gets more and more powers, with less and less say for voters.”

The Taxpayers Alliance is setting up the “Great EU debate” at http://www.greateudebate.com/ where people are invited to register and express their view of Britain’s EU membership. The TPA is funding cinema adverts and publishing a book “Ten Years On: Britain without the European Union”, which paints a positive picture of Britain in 2020 outside the EU.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Germany: ‘Veil Martyr’ Family Pursues Court Officials

The family of the “veil martyr” — an Egyptian woman stabbed to death in a Dresden court room in July — is suing a judge and court president for failing to protect her, a public prosecutor confirmed on Saturday.

Senior Dresden public prosecutor Christian Avenarius said that a lawyer for the dead woman’s husband had begun legal action six weeks ago.

Last week, Alex Wiens, 28, was sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing to death Marwa El-Sherbini in a Dresden court room.

On July 1, Wiens plunged an 18-centimetre kitchen knife at least 16 times into Sherbini, 31 and three-months pregnant at the time. Her son, three-year-old Mustafa, watched her bleed to death at the scene. Sherbini had taken Wiens to court after he racially abused her in a children’s playground.

Sherbini’s husband, Egyptian geneticist Elwy Okaz, rushed to her aid but was also stabbed repeatedly and then shot in the leg by a guard who apparently mistook him for the attacker.

According to a Cairo newspaper report, Sherbini’s family is accusing the judge who was presiding over the court, and the court’s president, of failing to arrange proper security, thereby making them accessories to her death.

Despite knowledge of Wiens’ “criminal intent” there had been no special security arranged, one of the family’s lawyers said.

The family is also in discussion with the state of Saxony over compensation, the lawyer said.

Sherbini became known as the “veiled martyr” after her death provoked outrage in the Muslim world.

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


Hungary: Roma and Jobbik in Mass Brawl

A mass brawl broke out in north-east Hungary Sunday as local Roma attempted to disrupt a gathering of the far-right party Jobbik. Fighting broke out among 40-50 people in Sajóbábony and cars were smashed.

Trouble began brewing on Saturday when the owner of a local store hosted a rally for Jobbik and members of the banned Magyar Gárda. Local Roma were outraged but no clashes occurred on Saturday. However a group of Roma slapped the store owner in the face. He [sic: She] then led Magyar Gárda and the local Jobbik supporters to the local Roma ghetto.

A large number of Roma went home after Roma Civil Rights Foundation leader Aladár Horváth tried to calm the mood by telephone.

Mayor Imre Nagy said outsiders attended a Jobbik rally on Saturday, which irked local Roma, who threatened the head of the party’s local chapter.

Jobbik said “regrettable and tragic Gypsy terror” has shown that the parliamentary parties have undermined police and law enforcement bodies to the extent that they are unable to defend the Hungarian population. Party chairman Gábor Vona and Róbert Kiss, national commander of the Új Gárda Movement will visit the village on Tuesday to gather information. Jobbik MEP Csanád Szegedi said gendarmes of the Új Magyar Gárda [New Hungarian Guard] are prepared to restore law and order in Hungary.

A group of angry Roma smashed a parked car with shovels and several of them shouted “by morning we shall kill all Hungarians,” according to reports.

[Hír TV news video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gqqUfCQiSY]

           — Hat tip: Thrasymachus[Return to headlines]


Italy: Opposition Party Urges Mafia-Linked Minister to Resign

Rome, 12 Nov. (AKI) — The Italy of Values opposition party has written to all opposition whips urging a no-confidence motion if the Italian parliament next week fails to authorise the arrest of Nicola Cosentino, a junior government minister suspected of longstanding collusion with the mafia.

Italy’s lower house of parliament is expected next Wednesday to consider the arrest warrant authorised by Naples prosecutor Raffaele Piccirillo for Cosentino’s arrest.

Cosentino is the deputy secretary for economy and finance, and regional coordinator of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling People of Freedom party (PdL).

“Nicola Cosentino cannot stay in his post,” said Italy of Values chief whip in the lower house of parliament, Massimo Donadi.

“He is accused of very serious crimes, of mafia collusion with the Casalesi crime family and prosecutors have demanded his arrest.”

“He should have the dignity to resign and the government should have the dignity to remove him,” Donadi stated.

The accusations against Cosentino have been made by several Camorra turncoats and family members.

Cosentino intends to run for president of the Campania region surrounding Naples in next year’s elections.

In an interview on Thursday with conservative Italian daily Il Giornale, he said only Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi could decide his future.

“The only person who can decide my future within the government and regarding the Campania region is the premier,” he told Il Giornale.

Cosentino is being investigated for his alleged contacts with the Naples mafia or Camorra’s ruthless Casalesi clan.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi’s lawyer and People of Freedom MP Niccolo Ghedini defended Cosentino, reportedly a favourite of the premier.

“Nicola Cosentino has always carried out his political career with honesty and passion,” he said on Tuesday.

“The accusations seem to be incredible and inconsistent, as many investigations had been announced through the media a long time ago, with the aim of discrediting him so he would not be considered a good candidate to head the region of Campania,” said Ghedini on Tuesday.

People of Freedom party spokesman said Daniele Capezzone said the action regarding Cosentino would be remembered because it “marks another step in the degeneration of the civil and political life of the country.”

Berlusconi claims he has spent hundreds of millions of euros on legal bills defending himself against what he calls “Communist magistrates” in Italy’s judiciary.

The Italy of Values party is lead by former prosecutor and Berlusconi critic Antonio di Pietro.

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


Italy: Minister Suspected of Mafia Links ‘To Run in Election’

Rome, 13 Nov. (AKI) — Nicola Cosentino, a junior government minister and parliamentarian suspected of longstanding collusion with the mafia said he would go on with his candidacy for the presidency of the southern Campania region, after holding talks with Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“I am the expression of the entire region of Campania and thus my candidacy remains, which is now even stronger after everything that has happened,” Cosentino told reporters late on Thursday after holding talks with Berlusconi at his residence in Palazzo Grazioli in the Italian capital Rome.

Cosentino said Berlusconi “took note” of Cosentino’s wish and did not ask him “to take a step back”.

“I’ll keep my candidacy, I told Berlusconi. He took note and he did not ask me to take a step back. It is not possible that prosecutors can decide the democratic process. There is wide consensus in regard to my candidacy and thus I will not take a step back,” said Cosentino who is accused of having links with the infamous Casalesi clan of the Neapolitan mafia or Camorra.

The accusations against Cosentino have been made by several Camorra turncoats and family members.

Cosentino is accused of deals with organised crime relating to illegal rubbish disposal in Naples, Italian media said.

Italy’s lower house of parliament is expected next Wednesday to consider the arrest warrant authorised by Naples prosecutor Raffaele Piccirillo for Cosentino’s arrest.

Cosentino is the deputy secretary for economy and finance, and regional coordinator of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s ruling People of Freedom party (PdL).

The Campania region surrounding Naples is due to hold elections next year.

Berlusconi’s lawyer and People of Freedom MP Niccolo Ghedini defended Cosentino, reportedly a favourite of the premier.

Earlier this week, Il Giornale, the newspaper owned by the Berlusconi family, called the Cosentino arrest warrant “an attack by magistrates.”

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


Italy: ‘Give Me 500 Beautiful Italian Girls’: Colonel Gaddafi Hires Escort Agency Women During Rome Summit and Then Tries to Convert Them to Islam

Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi asked an escort agency to supply 500 ‘beautiful Italian girls’ for a gala evening at which he tried to convert them to Islam, it emerged today.

The 67-year-old leader also requested that they ‘were aged between 18 and 35 years old, did not wear mini skirts or have plunging necklines but high heels were OK.’

The women, all glamorously dressed, were told to meet at a hotel in the centre of Rome, where Gaddafi is attending a summit on world food security, before being taken to the Libyan ambassador’s residence in the city.

The girls, a mixture of blondes and brunettes dressed in heels, stockings and three-quarter length coats, were seen queuing up to go through security checks.

Several of them were turned away after being told they were inappropriately dressed or they were too short.

Once inside — and after an hour’s delay — Gaddafi arrived in a white limousine to lecture the girls on the superiority of Islam.

He also gave a talk on the Muslim Koran and gave all the girls a copy as a gift as well as a signed version of his Green Book on democracy and political philosophy, written in 1975.

The all-female event took place at the same time as other leaders’ wives were attending a forum to discuss food poverty, led by Suzanne Mubarak, wife of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The event in Rome has attracted several world leaders.

But Britain, the United States, Russia and other economic powerhouses are absent from the three-day summit being held by the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Gaddafi has a habit of making bizarre requests when travelling abroad — usually it is for a Bedouin tent to be pitched in the grounds of a park.

And on an earlier visit to Rome this year he asked to speak to an audience of businesswomen.

However, this time, his lecture did not go down well with many of the girls, who were also given a €50 cash tip.

Many of them complained they ‘felt offended as women and for their religion’.

One blonde woman who did not give her name said: ‘I was particularly offended when he said we believed that Christ had been crucified but he hadn’t, instead it was someone who looked like him and that God had saved Christ.’

While another girl said: ‘I thought we were going to a party — we didn’t even get a glass of water or some salty snacks.’

But Alessandro Londero, of Rome-based Hostessweb, who claims his agency is ‘one of the biggest in Europe with more than 65,000 girls’ on its books, insisted: ‘It was a very enjoyable experience and the girls were captivated by the evening.

‘Some of them have already been in touch with me to express an interest in going to Libya and seeing the place for themselves and speaking further with Gaddafi about converting to Islam.

‘He gave the girls Italian translations of the Koran and of his Green Book and he said he would be in touch with them to test them and make sure they had read them.

‘One thing I do want to stress is that none of the girls spent the night there — I counted them all in and I counted them all out. There was nothing untoward it was simply an interesting evening of discussion.’

Mr Londero said that a similar event had been organised for tonight and tomorrow night.

He added: ‘I don’t know where or what will happen. All I know is that we have to be outside the office and coaches will pick the girls up.’

Before the summit today Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has been involved in a sleaze scandal after escorts were invited to parties at his official residences, embraced Gaddafi.

Gaddafi described Berlusconi as his ‘close friend’. In return he told the Libyan dictator, who is famous for his long speeches: ‘Just five minutes please, although we live in hope.’

Surprisingly, Gaddafi did manage to keep his speech to just ten minutes.

He said that ‘all promises at previous summits had been in vain’ but he praised Italy for ‘playing a significant role in fighting food security’.

Haffed Gadur, Libya’s ambassador to Italy, said: ‘The colonel wanted to meet the Italian girls to simply tell them that Islam was not against women.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Italy: Over 3 Million People Live Under ‘Food Poverty’ Line Says Report

Rome, 8 October (AKI) — Three and a half million people — 4.4 percent of the Italian population — are living below the ‘food poverty’ line, a report by two non-governmental organisations said in a report presented at Rome’s town hall on Thursday.

The report considers a family of two in Italy to be living in “food poverty” if their monthly expenditure on food and drink items is under 222.29 euros per month.

The report was prepared by Fondazione Banco Alimentare Onlus, a non-profit food bank, and the Foundation for Subsidiarity. The report surveyed more than 1.5 million people that use the food bank.

Over 80 percent of the poor is made up of blue-collar workers, most of them unemployed. Well off families spend 370 euros more per month in food and drink expenditure than poor ones, the report found.

A well-off family will spend 525 euros per month, compared to 155 euros for poor ones.

Italy’s typical pauper is unemployed, with a diploma, a large family and from the south of the country, according to the report. It said at least 10.3 percent of couples with three or more children live under the food poverty line.

Low-income groups who find it difficult to achieve a balanced healthy diet, are often referred to as experiencing ‘food poverty’ or ‘food insecurity’.

“Our data show that food poverty in Italy is not a media invention, but an imposing phenomenon, a bitter reality that thousands of families experience daily,” said Giancarlo Rovati, a sociologist at Milan’s Catholic University, quoted by Italian daily La Repubblica.

“At least 2.3 million people in this country receive some sort of food aid, above all, by private corporations, but this does not solve the problem,” Rovati added.

The biggest cause of poverty and thus food poverty is unemployment, with 59 percent. Health and disability accounts for 30 percent of paupers and the death of a family member, for 15 percent, the report said.

The problem is bound to get worse, especially given Italy’s the rising unemployment rate. This is predicted to reach 9.1 percent this year and 10.5 percent in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Qaddafi Preaches Islam in Rome

From Italian: Gheddafi preached Islam to 200 girls, who thought they were coming to a party. Among other things he told them Jesus was not crucified, and that the Jews wanted to kill him because he wanted the Jews to return to the religion of Moses.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Scotland: Clashes After Rival City Marches

Two rival marches have led to a number of minor skirmishes in Glasgow.

About 1,500 anti-racism protesters marched through the city under the banner Scotland United, in opposition to the Scottish Defence League (SDL).

The SDL — an offshoot of the English Defence League — had been attempting to hold an “anti-Islamist” demonstration.

There were clashes outside Central Station and at several points around the city centre. Police said they had made five arrests.

The Scotland United rally, backed by trade unions, politicians and faith groups, gathered at Glasgow Green and marched to George Square.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those who attended the rally, organised to oppose the views of those involved with the SDL.

Police said about 80 SDL protesters gathered in Cambridge Street, north of the city centre, and there were clashes.

The SDL protesters, some with their faces partly covered with scarves, sang songs and chanted “SDL” as they held their demonstration.

Supporters of the controversial group, some waving flags or holding SDL banners, were surrounded by police officers who kept them apart from a group of counter-protesters who had congregated in the area.

Shouts of “scum” were hurled in the direction of the SDL by some onlookers, while the group responded by clapping and waving at those who objected to their presence.

Hundreds of police officers had gathered in Cambridge Street in a bid to prevent disruption during the static protest.

Dozens of police cars and vans lined the streets in the Cowcaddens area and police motorcyclists circled around the area while a police helicopter kept watch from above.

The SDL demonstration ended when its protesters boarded buses to take them away from the area.

The SDL were dispersed to other parts of the city, police said. There was later a heavy police presence in the Paisley Road area to the south of the city centre.

Strathclyde Police estimated about 80 people took part in the SDL protest and said some 1,500 attended the Scotland United rally at George Square.

Five men had been arrested — one in connection with an alleged racial breach of the peace in the Ibrox area.

The other four were arrested in connection with alleged breaches of the peace in the city centre and in the Central Station area.

Assistant Chief Constable Fiona Taylor said: “This has been a successful operation for Strathclyde Police and our partners. Having two high profile demonstrations taking place in the city at the same time was always going to be a challenge. I am pleased to say that we met that challenge and that the day passed off with only minor incidents reported.

“When planning for a day like today, we always have to strike a balance between protecting people’s right to peaceful protest and ensuring that the city continues to operate with the minimum of disruption to the people who live and work here. I believe we achieved just that.”

“I would like to thank the public for their patience and co-operation both in the run up to and during today’s events. The fact that they passed off without any major incident is a tribute to Glasgow and its people.”

The English Defence League has held several demonstrations, including events in London, Manchester and Leeds, in recent months.

The group describes accusations of racism or fascism as “flat-out untrue”.

The SDL was formed in protest against Muslim “extremists” and “jihadists”, the group has said. It has accused the UK government of not taking significant action against the “Islamist assault” which the group claims is threatening British culture.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Spain: 3.5-HR High-Speed Train Between Bilbao and Valencia

(ANSAmed) — MADRID — Starting in 2020, a high-speed train link will make it possible to go from the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean, from Bilbao to Valencia, in three and a half hours. The project is part of the Strategic Infrastructure Plan for 2005-2020, but the minister Jose’ Blanco has said that the works with be announced before the end of the year. Media sources quote Blanco as saying that the works would be finished in line with the schedule, as he announced in meeting the leaders of the autonomous communities interested in the new high-speed train link in Zaragoza. The train journey between Bilbao and Valencia currently takes 9 hours and 25 minutes. The new rail corridor will connect, with a high-speed line and mixed traffic, the Mediterranean corridor and that of the Bay of Biscay by way of Teruel, Zaragoza and the Ebro axis. In the Basque Country, the connection will be built with two corridors, one for Logroo and the other for Pamplona, and will be lengthened from Bilbao to Santander. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Swine Flu! Plague! Ukraine Presidential Politics!

A colleague sent me this November 15 news item from Britain’s Daily Express headlined MILLION HIT BY “PLAGUE WORSE THAN SWINE FLU”; she commented, “Always watch the other hand.” So naturally I opened the link and read with interest:

A deadly plague could sweep across Europe, doctors fear, after an outbreak of a virus in Ukraine plunged the country and its neighbours into a state of panic.

A cocktail of three flu viruses are reported to have mutated into a single pneumonic plague, which it is believed may be far more dangerous than swine flu. The death toll has reached 189 and more than 1 million people have been infected, most of them in the nine regions of Western Ukraine.

President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko has called in the World Health Organisation and a team of nine specialists are carrying out tests in Kiev and Lviv to identify the virus. Samples have been sent to London for analysis.

President Yushchenko said: “People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely inconceivable in the 21st Century.”

In a TV interview, the President added: “Unlike similar epidemics in other countries, three causes of serious viral infections came together simultaneously in Ukraine — two seasonal flus and the Californian flu.

“Virologists conclude that this combination of infections may produce an even more aggressive new virus as a result of mutation.”

Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has been touring hospitals where victims are being treated and presidential elections in January could be cancelled.[…]

At that point I could not continue reading due to paroxysms of laughter.

In the effort to get a grip I busied myself with finding recent reports on Ukraine’s politics and rooting around in the Pundita archives for an old Anti-war.com article about the dynamic, co-dependent, and oft-warring duo of Yulia Tymoshenko and Viktor Yushchenko.

These I planned to send to the colleague with the following note before I decided to turn it into a post:

Thank you very much for sending the article. However, be careful, be very careful, whenever Viktor Yushchenko is involved. Watch not only the other hand but also behind the back…

           — Hat tip: Pundita[Return to headlines]


Swiss Bank Enters Islamic Financing

DOHA: Bank Sarasin has become one of the first Swiss private banks to enter the world of Islamic finance with the global launch here yesterday at the Museum of Islamic Art of its wealth management offering that encompass the full range of Shariah-compliant private banking products and services.

Sarasin’s Islamic wealth management offering creates a new benchmark by incorporating estate and succession planning, financing and asset management with such money market and structured products as Wakala, Murabaha and Maraya.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


UK: ‘I’m in a Spot of Bother…’: What Lorry Driver Rang to Tell Boss After Being Impaled by 8ft Pole in Freak Accident

A lorry driver was speared by an 8ft pole and calmly called his boss to say: ‘I’m in a spot of bother.’

Jason Ripley was pierced through the chest — just inches from his heart — by the metal shaft after an accident in his delivery truck in Darlington, north east England.

The 39-year-old drove into a horizontal barrier, which was hidden by a bush, and as it struck the side of his vehicle, it bounced on the bonnet and smashed through the windscreen.

But as he lay impaled he realised nobody had seen the freak accident and he risked dying.

So he grabbed his mobile and phoned work to say: ‘I’ve had a bit of an accident — I’m in a spot of bother.’

Speaking of the moment he was skeward, he said today: ‘It went straight through my chest and out the back. There were seven or eight feet of pole sticking out.

‘It was only two or three inches from my heart. I was just staring at the sky, thinking, “That’s it, I’m going to die”.’

He was lifted out of the seat by the impact and his vehicle came to a stop after 20 yards with the skewered driver left pinned against the back of the cab.

‘My boss raced around to see me. He was gob-smacked. It was just out of this world,’ he added.

Mr Ripley said his thoughts then turned to his family — his partner Helen Todd, 38, and sons Joshua, 19, and Jay, 11 — as he was being cut out of the vehicle by firefighters.

‘That was the worst bit, when they clamped the jaws of the cutters on the pole and it started turning inside me,’ he said.

The incident happened on August, 19 last year, but Great North Air Ambulance has just released the pictures to help raise cash.

‘It was strange when I saw it turning, but by that stage I just wanted to get it out of there.

‘Even when they put me in the helicopter there was still about four feet of pole going through me.

‘It was when I heard the Air Ambulance, that’s when I thought, I’m nearly there’ The minutes left in Jason’s ‘critical hour’ were running low.

Forklift truck drivers at the scene of the accident moved parked cars so the helicopter could get close and airlift him to James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

Within minutes he was in the safe hands of the waiting surgeons.

He said: ‘Someone told me, “Don’t worry, your going to be ok and when I woke up the pole was gone.’ The pole meant he would not fit into a scanner.

He was induced into a 24-hour coma while skilled surgeons cut into his ribs and slid the barrier out from the side, under his arm.

He has suffered lasting injuries from the trauma, but was back at work within months and counts himself lucky to be alive.

Mr Ripley released the photographs over a year after the crash to try and help raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance.

He said: ‘It makes you appreciate what you”ve got.

‘It’s clear to me without the Great North Air Ambulance I would have died.

‘If they aren’t there people will die. I will be indebted to them forever. It took more than an hour to get me out of the truck.

‘Without the helicopter I don’t think It’s have survived the trip to hospital.

‘I can’t thank the GNAA, the doctors and the rescue team enough. They are all truly amazing.’

The accident happened on an industrial estate in Darlington when a loose pole, which was part of a gateway, bounced onto the bonnet of his truck and through the windscreen.

Mr Ripley still has a shoulder injury and had one rib removed following the accident.

He said: ‘I was driving through a gateway from one part of the industrial estate to another when it happened.

‘The pole was the gateway and was hanging loose but had been almost covered by overgrown bushes.

‘As I drove through the gateway the pole caught the truck, bounced onto the cab and went through the windscreen.

‘My colleagues were only a few hundred yards away so I phoned them first because it was easier to explain where I was than it would have been to the emergency services.

‘It was strange because I didn’t feel much pain at all.

‘I had a rib removed and two others tied together and I’ve also got a shoulder injury which I will probably have for life.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Boy, 4, Fighting for Life After Being Hit by Military Flare in ‘Deliberate’ Street Attack

A boy of four was fighting for his life last night after being shot with a maritime distress flare.

The child was walking hand-in-hand with his parents just yards from their home on an inland council estate.

The flare, normally used by ships, coastguards and the military, was fired horizontally into the street from some distance away.

It narrowly missed the boy’s two-year-old sister, who was in a pushchair, before hitting him in the back, causing severe internal injuries.

A woman driving past the incident in Romford, Essex, stopped to administer first aid before paramedics arrived.

Last night the boy was in a medically-induced coma on life support in hospital, with his condition described as critical but stable.

Police said they believed the family, who were on their way to a children’s birthday party, were deliberately targeted.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Chemicals Used in Plastics Feminise the Brains of Little Boys ‘So That They Avoid Rough and Tumble Games’

Chemicals used in plastics are ‘feminising’ the brains of baby boys, a disturbing study shows.

Those exposed to high doses in the womb are less likely to play with ‘male’ toys such as cars. They are also less willing to join ‘rough and tumble’ games. The research adds to growing evidence that hormone-disrupting chemicals in thousands of household-products are interfering with the development of children.

Environmental campaigners called the study ‘extremely worrying’ and called for a crackdown. The study looked at phthalates, chemicals which can mimic the female sex hormone oestrogen. Some experts believe they are partly to blame for the increase in genital defects in boys and lower sperm counts in men over recent decades. But the new research is the first to link hormone-mimicking chemicals to behaviour. There are fears of further effects as the young children in the study grow up.

Although the plastics industry insists phthalates are safe, the EU has banned many of them from cosmetics, teething rings and children’s toys. But pregnant women are still exposed to phthalates, which are used to soften plastics in household items such as plastic furniture, shoes, PVC flooring and shower curtains. They can also be transferred to food and drink from plastic packaging.

The new study, published in the International Journal of Andrology, was led by Dr Shanna Swan, professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University of Rochester in New York State.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Dundee to Celebrate Christmas With No Reference to Christianity

IT IS a story that could have come straight out of the pages of Dr Seuss’s The Grinch that Stole Christmas. City leaders in Dundee are planning a spectacular festive celebration — but with no references to Christianity.

Hailed as a celebration of Dundee’s contemporary culture and innovative past, festive season revellers are being promised a visual feast of projections and lights later this month. It will be a “Winter Light Night” of festive season illuminations, audiovisual displays, music, street art performances and a children’s torchlight procession.

But yesterday the city council and the event’s organisers were under attack from church leaders, who accused them of eroding the religious significance of Christmas by removing all references to Christianity from the annual switch on of the city’s Christmas lights.

And, instead of the traditional nativity story, the festival will feature a solar-powered disco, a continental market, a circus and a fairy on stilts.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Denham’s Misplaced ‘Faith Group’ Faith

uk:John Denham pours scorn on secularists with his plans for an advisory body which represents less than 10% of the population

John Denham, our government’s minister for communities, is going to have an advisory body made up of representatives of “faith” groups, further eroding the de facto secularism that has kept our society relatively stable and collegial, at least until recently. He pours scorn on secularists, which means the majority of the population who, whatever their faith or lack of it, are secularist in the sense that they do not wish religion, still less any one particular religion, to be in the driving seat of policymaking in this country.

Apart from the fact that the “faith groups” represent less than 10% of the population — namely, the less-than-10% who go to church, mosque, temple or synagogue regularly each week, and therefore represent no one but themselves and a tiny minority — what does Denham think he is going to learn from them? Are their points of view not extremely well-known and entirely predictable?

Evidently, Denham does not know enough about this. Let us therefore ask him a few questions about what he expects to hear from the faith groups on such matters as community cohesion, discrimination, the rule of law, the treatment of gay people, the rights of women — on all of which, of course, the faith groups have spectacularly marvellous attitudes calculated to maximise peace and inclusion across society.

So, Mr Denham, on community cohesion: do you take into account the fact that the major faiths officially blaspheme one another? For Christians, Muslims are followers of false prophets, and for Muslims, Christians repudiate the teachings of the Prophet. They once went to war with one another repeatedly and bloodily for centuries over these differences. Now — for the time being — they sit at the government’s table side by side, their hands eagerly stretched out for our tax money for their faith-based schools and their “community initiatives”.

And on the question of faith schools, Mr Denham, this oh-so-intelligent policy of government funding for division and ghettoisation of children into more entrenched versions of their communities, following the glowing example of Northern Ireland where this exact-same policy fostered mutual hostility and even murder. Is community cohesion to be achieved by separating children and teaching them fundamentally different outlooks on the world, in which all other communities are wrong and misguided in their metaphysical and ethical outlooks, needing conversion at least — or something worse if they refuse?

And what, Mr Denham, of the rule of law as this will be viewed by your faith advisers? Is each citizen of this country equal before the same law for all, or will injustice and discrimination thrive behind the closed doors of faith-based courts? Are each of the faiths to be allowed exceptions and exemptions — for example, so that any faith school can exclude well-qualified teachers because they do not share the ancient superstition with which a particular school seeks to brainwash small children’s minds?

Also Mr Denham, why is your policy so discriminatory in itself? What of the Buddhists, the Zoroastrians, the Mother Goddess worshippers? What of the Druids, the White Witches, the Pagans, the astrologers, the Satanists? Are these not “faith groups” whose outlooks have precisely as much credibility and evidence-base as the Christians and Muslims? Are you going to include them and give them some of our tax money too? Can I start an “I Believe in Fairies” church and can I come to your meetings and get some government hand-outs too? If not, why not?

What is the difference, in your mature, rational, evidence-based and carefully thought-out view, between utterly spurious claims about the existence of supernatural entities requiring their votaries to indulge in irrational, discriminatory, divisive and sometimes violent behaviour, and those that putatively are not? Have you got an answer?

Somehow, Mr Denham, I doubt that you have an answer, because if you did, your actions would not be prompting these questions.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Four Men Arrested in Terror Raids

Four men have been arrested under the Terrorism Act.

Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the men at addresses in Manchester and Bolton in a co-ordinated operation starting at 4am, Greater Manchester Police said.

Three properties in Manchester and one in Bolton are being searched, a force spokesman said.

The spokesman said: “People living in nearby communities will see a high profile police presence during the day and will be able to discuss issues with local officers.

“This was a low-key operation and no armed officers were involved.

“There is no further information available at this time.”

Police sources said there was no imminent terrorist danger to the Greater Manchester area and the arrests were related to an alleged overseas threat.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


UK: Five Arrested in Manchester Anti-Terrorism Raid

Five men have been arrested in the north west under the Terrorism Act.

Officers from the North West Counter Terrorism Unit arrested the five men at addresses the north west in a co-ordinated operation starting at 4am, Greater Manchester Police said. Three properties in Manchester and one in Bolton were being searched, a force spokesman said. The addresses searched were in Stockport Road, Levenshulme; Victoria Road, Longsight; Bowdon Avenue, Fallowfield, and Willows Lane, Deane, Bolton.

The spokesman said: “People living in nearby communities will see a high profile police presence during the day and will be able to discuss issues with local officers. “This was a low-key operation and no armed officers were involved. “There is no further information available at this time.”

Police sources said there was no imminent terrorist danger to the Greater Manchester area and the arrests were related to an alleged overseas threat.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Faith Groups to be Key Policy Advisers

Faith groups are to be given a central role in shaping government policies, a senior minister has vowed.

John Denham, the communities secretary, said the values of Christians, Muslims and other religions were essential in building a “progressive society”. He attacked secularists who have called for religion to be kept out of public life.

Mr Denham revealed that a new panel of religious experts has been set up to advise the Government on making public policy decisions. The move has been criticised by secularists who warned that it represented a worrying development. However, Mr Denham argued that Christians and Muslims can contribute significant insights on key issues, such as the economy, parenting and tackling climate change.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, he admitted that the Government had failed to listen to these voices in the past, but is now determined to include them in the decision-making process. “Anyone wanting to build a more progressive society would ignore the powerful role of faith at their peril,” he said. “We should continually seek ways of encouraging and enhancing the contribution faith communities make on the central issues of our time. Faith is a strong and powerful source of honesty, solidarity, generosity — the very values which are essential to politics, to our economy and our society.” The minister said that the Government needed to be educated by faith groups on “how to inform the rest of society about these issues”.

Last year, the Church of England was highly critical of Labour, with bishops questioning the morality of its policies and accusing it of giving preferential treatment to the Muslim community. Mr Denham said it was wrong to give special status to minority faiths, such as Islam, and stressed that faiths should not be free from criticism. “I don’t think you should have special treatment or special favours for any particular faith. I think the treatment, in terms of the ability to have robust debate or criticism of it, should be equal.” He added that he was sympathetic with religious leaders, such as Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, who had complained of the rise of aggressive secularism in Britain. “I don’t like the strand of secularism that says that faith is inherently a bad thing to have and should be kept out of public life,” Mr Denham said.

The religious panel is being launched this week to coincide with a series of interfaith initiatives designed to increase social cohesion. It is being headed up by Francis Davis, a fellow of Blackfriars Hall, Oxford University, who is a prominent figure in the Catholic Church. Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, criticised the Government’s move. “It’s totally wrong to have faith groups as consultants,” he said.. “It’s not right that they should have this privileged position to promote their dogmas, many of which are unacceptable. We shouldn’t have unelected people influencing decision making.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Secretly Gives Lectures on Islam… Through the Water Pipes of His Prison Cell

Radical hate preacher Abu Hamza is delivering sermons to prisoners through the water pipes of his cell.

The jailed Muslim extremist, 51, has already been banned from preaching by prison bosses.

But now the hook-handed cleric is secretly delivering lectures on Islam in a bid to radicalise inmates by speaking into the water pipes which connect to neighbouring cells at Belmarsh Prison.

A report on growing prison radicalisation by the counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation, has called for the dangerous offender to be removed from the mainstream prison population.

James Brandon, the report’s author and a senior research fellow, said of Hamza’s preaching: ‘This is from a friend of his who is in communication with him.

‘He says the prison services have tried to stop him giving sermons openly. But Abu Hamza instead uses the pipes between neighbouring cells to preach sermons — talking through the pipes.

‘This illustrates how these guys, once they are in prison there is a perception that they are being dealt with.

‘In fact in many cases the problem is beginning. These are extremely determined and motivated people who are not going to stop preaching their message just because they are in prison.’

He told the BBC Today programme: ‘We think one of the key things that needs to be done is to take leading extremists out of the mainstream prison population and basically make sure they never radicalise other people.

‘Once they are isolated, all the extremists together, you can begin trying to challenge their ideology and make them rethink their extremist views.’

The news comes as it was revealed that prison bosses spent £650 on new sink taps in his prison cell at Hamza’s demand.

At taxpayer’s expense, plumbers spent two days replacing the standard twist taps which Hamza has been happy to use for five years with new chrome lever ones.

As high-risk inmates like Hamza are moved every month for security reasons, two cells had to be fitted with the new taps which are designed to be easier to use with a prosthetic arm and hook than standard twist-turn taps.

Handrails were also placed by the toilets in both cells to aid the preacher who has worn a prosthetic arm since losing both arms and an eye in a blast in Afghanistan.

The costly upgrade to his cell has angered critics who point out Hamza has never complained about the taps since he was sent to the top-security jail in South East London in 2004.

Hamza is only being held at the Category A prison pending extradition having served his sentence.

He was jailed for seven years in February 2006 for preaching hate and inciting murder at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London.

With his sentence being automatically cut in half and taking the 21 months he spent on remand into account, the prisoner would now normally be eligible for release.

But American prosecutors want him to stand trial on terrorism charges, including plotting an outrage in the Yemen and setting up al Qaeda training camps.

Hamza is now appealing to the Court of Human Rights in a bid to avoid a long stretch in a U.S. jail.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance estimates Egyptian-born dad-of-eight Hamza has so far cost Britain £2.75million in welfare payments, council housing, NHS and prison bills, trials and legal appeals.

It is feared his fight against deportation could take five years and cost another £250,000.

Mark Wallace, Campaign Director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘This is absolutely shocking that Abu Hamza has been allowed to spread his hateful bile in prison.

‘The man was put away because of his hatred of Britain and everything it stands for and he should be removed from the country, not be released back into society.

‘At best, Abu Hamza, by remaining in the UK, will cost us an awful lost of money. At worst he will ensure real physical harm to the nation through his preaching.

‘It’s in no one’s interest to have him here for a day longer.’

The former imam at Finsbury Park Mosque in North London came to England as a student, and obtained citizenship after marrying a British woman whom he has since divorced.

He lived off state benefits and allowances — worth up to £350 a week — for at least a decade.

In August 2005, Hamza’s five-bedroom council house in Shepherd’s Bush, West London got a £25,000 makeover while the radical Islamic cleric was in custody awaiting trial.

Not only did he get new taps, but a new bathroom was fitted in the two-storey house at an estimated cost of £8,500 as part of a Government council homes modernisation programme.

His wife and several of their eight children remain in the Shepherd’s Bush home, where they receive an estimated £1,000 a week in handouts.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: ‘Two cells have been fitted with hospital-style taps to enable disabled prisoners to use them. The cost is approximately £650, which will offset the cost of prison staff providing physical assistance to prisoners.

He added: ‘It is unfortunate that the Quilliam Foundation did not see fit to share their report with us, and that they did not apply to visit any prisons or speak to those who run them, in doing their research.

‘However, we remain willing to consider practical ideas for dealing with the issues faced by the prison service.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Human Well-Being and Economic Decision-Making

A Keynote Address from the Archbishop at TUC Economics Conference, Congress House, London

I said earlier that the British labour movement had an honourable record in its commitment to humane values, to humane relationships and intelligence and imagination. It still has today an immense capacity to bring these considerations back into public and political visibility — and the fact that this conference is addressing the question of a ‘progressive future’ is significant. I would urge you, then, to pick up what is still alive in that legacy, to revive the passion for humane social existence; to reflect on what human character is needed for stability and justice to prevail; and to resist the barbarising and dehumanising of economic life which jeopardises natural and human capital alike. Sermons are meant to have three points: there are mine. Revive, reflect, resist. Your history suggests it can be done; so do it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Health and Safety Snoops to Enter Family Homes

Health and safety inspectors are to be given unprecedented access to family homes to ensure that parents are protecting their children from household accidents.

New guidance drawn up at the request of the Department of Health urges councils and other public sector bodies to “collect data” on properties where children are thought to be at “greatest risk of unintentional injury”.

Council staff will then be tasked with overseeing the installation of safety devices in homes, including smoke alarms, stair gates, hot water temperature restrictors, oven guards and window and door locks.

The draft guidance by a committee at the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) has been criticised as intrusive and further evidence of the “creeping nanny state”.

[…]

Nice also recommends the creation of a new government database to allow GPs, midwives and other officials who visit homes to log health and safety concerns they spot.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Gets New £650 Taps Fitted in His Prison Cell… So He Can Operate Them With His Hook

The jail cells used by extremist Muslim preacher Abu Hamza have been specially-adapted to accommodate his hook — prompting angry claims that prison officials are ‘bowing down’ to him.

The cells used by the 51-year-old — who is serving a seven-year sentence for inciting murder and preaching hate — have been fitted with lever taps costing £650, despite claims he is prefectly capable of using the standard twist ones.

Handrails were also put in the lavatories used by Hamza, who is allowed to wear a prosthetic arm and hook inside the high-security Belmarsh prison.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: John Denham Interview: Let’s Talk to the Muslim Council But Not

Few politicians are as well-mannered and gracious as Communities Secretary John Denham. He is popular with the Labour Party faithful because he is has no airs and is prepared to discuss his ideas openly. In the past decade he has navigated the Blair-Brown sectarian divide with great skill and made an astonishing comeback after resigning from the government over Iraq. But he is not without enemies.

His historic association with Palestinian issues and a perceived soft stance on radical Islam have made him deeply unpopular in certain sections of his own party. Some elements within the Jewish community are also deeply suspicious. When I told the leader of one major Jewish organisation this week that I was interviewing John Denham, I was informed that the general view was that he was “a total git” who was hostile to Israel and didn’t understand the seriousness of the threat of Islamic extremism.

One offence (among many) is that he is said to have lobbied hard within Cabinet for a restoration of relations with the Muslim Council of Britain. The government suspended links in March after the MCB deputy secretary general, Daud Abdullah, was found to have signed the Istanbul Declaration, which called for attacks on Israel and British troops.

Mr Denham is eager to clarify his views on the matter. “The position with the Muslim Council of Britain is that relations were suspended because Daud Abdullah signed up to remarks which the government finds unacceptable and which caused a real problem. But I think we do recognise that the Muslim Council of Britain does represent and includes a lot of voices the government would like to engage with.” He said the matter was under discussion between his officials and the MCB.

I ask if his personal position is that Mr Abdullah’s actions were unacceptable. “There isn’t too much room for doubt about its interpretation in terms of support for violence, including against British troops. So I’ve been very clear about that,” he says.

But he has also been clear that, in an ideal world, the MCB would be in regular dialogue with his department. “This is an organisation with over a thousand affiliates from many different walks of life, many of whom, in the normal course of events the government would want to engage with.”

For the present at least, the situation is that the MCB is suspended. But does he have a strategy for engagement in general. Does he, like his predecessors, Ruth Kelly and Hazel Blears, place conditions on dialogue? Where were his lines in the sand? For instance, was recognition of Israel’s right to exist a precondition for organisations funded by his department? Or would they be allowed to take a hard-line position as long as they did not advocate violence?

I suggest this is a key issue not only for Jews, but for Muslims too. “I’m not going to play down the importance of the issue,” he says. “But I’m not aware of this ever having been raised. As a matter of principle I sometimes think getting drawn into the ‘what would you do if this happens?’ argument can set up its own debate and have its own consequences. I think that’s better to avoid.”

Asked if there is anything he can say to the Jewish community to reassure them that he has their interests at heart, Mr Denham points to his exemplary record of opposing racism. During his time as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee he raised the issue of antisemitic attacks in France and Holland on the floor of the House of Commons. “There was a simple physical fear of being visibly Jewish on the streets…I warned that it should never happen here. I would say look at my record on anti-racism and look at my record on the importance of tackling antisemitism.”

He knows he is suspected in some quarters as being an Arabist anti-Zionist. “It is certainly a matter of record that I have been critical of some of the things suffered by the Palestinians, but I’m equally on the record as committed to the right of Israel to have security and to the two-state solution being the only lasting settlement.”

His stance on the Iraq war demonstrates that he has always been his own man.. His more conciliatory stance on radical Islam has already ruffled a few feathers, but he denies he has taken government policy on community cohesion on a 180 degree journey from that taken by Ms Blears and Ms Kelly. He says the new policy with its emphasis on other forms of extremism, such as the activities of the neo-Fascist right, is based on evidence and consultation. “I think that’s not a sharp change from one secretary of state to another,” he says. “I think it’s another year of experience of the programme and seeing how it works at the local level. And having the willingness, which politicians should have, to change if it’s going to make you more effective.”

At the end of our interview, Mr Denham enters still more controversial territory. Did the government get it fundamentally wrong in its response to the 7/7 terror attacks in 2005, as some have suggested, including Nick Clegg in last week’s JC?

“I think you could draw some analogies with the broader history of Labour in power,” he concedes. “When we came in with underfunded public services with very poor measures of performance and little idea if we were getting value for money, you had to make things change by getting a grip on them centrally. But everyone knows the peak of that has passed,” he says, before making the link to policy on radicalism.

“I think the same is true in community policy and the response to terrorism. You had to move quickly, you had to make changes, you had to put things in place. But you also had to learn from what works and what doesn’t work. Much of the innovation and the best practice happens in the front line rather than in central government.”

Mr Denham’s next move is to establish a group of trusted religious advisers to talk to on faith issues. He has advertised for panel members and those selected will be announced shortly. He is also hoping to host a series of dinners, including one with the Jewish community. I wish him luck persuading them that he is not a “total git”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: My Moderate-Muslim Test

An absence of hostility towards Israel and Jews is the key

As I understand it, auto-immune diseases are caused when the immune system which protects the body turns upon itself, mistaking friendly organisms for foes and vice versa. One might say that just such an affliction now assails the British and American intelligentsia — with some British Jews themselves amongst the worst affected.

The latest example of this general disorder was the reaction to the jihadi attack in Fort Hood, Texas, last week when a Muslim army psychiatrist screaming “Allahu akhbar” gunned down and murdered at least 13 people, leaving dozens more injured.

Despite evidence over many months that this man had been consumed by Islamist fanaticism, the US and British media (not to mention President Obama) spent several days playing down or seeking to deny that this was an Islamist religious atrocity.

There are several reasons for this near pathological state of denial: multicultural ideology, extreme ignorance, funk. But another is the anxiety not to tar all Muslims with the same extremist brush.

This is a very proper instinct. Many Muslims in Britain and America have fully signed up to democracy and human rights; indeed, they are themselves potential victims of the Islamists and the sharia law they aim to impose upon the “infidel” world.

So it is very important to separate moderate Muslims from Islamists. But how can you tell a genuine moderate from the dissimulators?

I myself have stumbled in this area. Having believed that the government-funded “anti-Islamist” campaigner Ed Husain was as advertised, I and many others were rudely disabused of that notion recently when he sprang to the defence of the Muslim Council of Britain’s spokesman Inayat Bunglawala, who openly declares he wants Britain to become an Islamic state and who has refused to condemn the Islamic practice of stoning to death. Among the many jibes Ed Husain threw my way when I criticised Bunglawala was that I supposedly deemed any Muslim who did not support Israeli Likud policy to be an Islamist.

Interestingly, this absurd caricature was not dissimilar to a charge once made to my face by the Hamas-promoting Dr Azzam Tamimi, who declared disgustedly that I would only consider a Muslim to be a moderate if he supported Israel. While Ed Husain was wrong, for once Tamimi was spot on. I do indeed think that the issue that defines true Muslim moderation is the absence of hostility towards Israel and, by extension, the Jewish people. There are some Muslims who have zero prejudice towards Israel and the Jews. I have met a few of them — and there are indeed only a very few. They are excessively brave people.

They have to be — because even among Muslims who would never have any truck with sharia law or Islamist violence, theologically-based prejudice against Israel and the Jews runs very deep indeed. Those who are free of such bigotry have the integrity to reject that theology. They are true moderates because, in supporting Israel’s defence against those who want to extinguish it as a Jewish state, they are on the side of truth against lies, justice against injustice and freedom against murderous tyranny.

Those who don’t support Israel’s self-defence — such as Ed Husain — are on the wrong side of the fight to defend civilisation. No-one — whether Muslim, Christian, atheist or anything else — can be considered to be a “moderate” person if he or she is bigoted towards Israel or the Jewish people. You cannot be a moderate bigot. Jewish community leaders who are engaged in outreach to the Muslim community are making a heroic attempt to build bridges. But unless they make their friendship conditional upon rationality towards Israel and the Jews, such initiatives are likely to be as conducive to communal health as an auto-immune deficiency to the body’s natural defences.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Renouncing Islamism: To the Brink and Back Again

A generation of British Islamists have been trained in Afghanistan to fight a global jihad. But now some of those would-be extremists have had a change of heart. Johann Hari finds out what made them give up the fight

IV. Not Strawberry Season

When I read him statements by ex-Islamists, he spits: “This is heresy … The Muslim must submit to the sharia in all of his life. If I start to say things like, ‘I don’t believe the sharia needs to be implemented,’ then that’s tantamount to denying the message of Mohamed … To say that any part of the Koran is not relevant nowadays is a clear statement of apostasy.”

Taking any part of the Koran as metaphor will, he warns, cause the text to turn to dust in their hands. “I can’t pick and choose what I like from the scripture. This is not strawberry season, where you can pick your own strawberries. You abide by whatever Allah brought in the final revelation with the example of the Prophet. And if there’s something that you don’t like, then you need to correct your own emotions and desires to make sure they’re in line with the sharia.”

He describes what is going to happen to them with a grin: “After they’ve been burnt, their skin will be recreated, and they will suffer the same punishment again and again and again.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: Religious Leader Arrested in Terror Raid

A RELIGIOUS leader is among five men arrested on suspicion of terrorism.

The Muslim preacher and three others were arrested in raids across Greater Manchester this morning.

The man, who has not been named, teaches the Koran at a number of mosques across the region.

The 62-year-old was arrested at his home on Willows Lane, Deane, Bolton.

“I’m surprised. He carries out spiritual sessions twice-a-week. He is very spiritual,” said one source within the Muslim community.

Investigation

It is understood this morning’s raids were part of an investigation into terror training camps in Afghanistan which may have led to a terror plot overseas.

Police sources have stressed the threat was not ‘imminent’ nor aimed at the UK.

The Counter Terrorism Unit of Greater Manchester Police swooped on the addresses from around 4am.

The raids were culmination of a year-long investigation into the recruitment here of would-be terrorists for training in Afghanistan.

The five men have been arrested on suspicion of terrorism and also inciting an act of terrorism overseas.

First, police swooped on three addresses in Manchester and one in Bolton at around 4am.

Another man, 27, was arrested in a later raid in Rydal Walk, Stalybridge.

Police have said more arrests could follow.

Around 40 unarmed officers were involved in the raids and they are now searching the properties.

The raids took place at a mobile phone shop and the flat above on Stockport Road, Levenshulme. No-one was arrested at these properties.

Police arrested a 52-year-old man at a house on Victoria Terrace, Longsight, and a 21-year-old man at a property on Bowdon Avenue, Fallowfield.

Later police arrested a 26-year-old man at a hotel near Heathrow Airport.

Scene of crime officers were today continuing to search the Greater Manchester properties.

Police are looking for computers, laptops and computers.

A neighbour on Bowdon Avenue, Fallowfield, said: “The family have been here for about 20 years. There are eight children.

Hectic

“I got up at up at six o’clock this morning, looked out of my window and saw about 12 to 16 police officers coming out of the house. The scene was hectic. I shouted at my husband to come and look because something was going on. I thought it must have been serious because the amount of police that were there. “

This is a quiet street. It’s probably one of the most quiet in Fallowfield so it’s really shocking that something like this would happen here.

“They are a quiet family. They keep themselves to themselves.”

A neighbour in Victoria Terrace, Longsight, said a man lived in the neat terraced house which was raided with his wife, two daughters and a son.

He said: “They have lived there for about five years and seemed okay to me. They were always quiet and nice so this has come as a big surprise. I am absolutely gob smacked.”

Solicitor Shabnam Yunis, 26, from Mustafa Solicitors, works a few doors away from Efones, on Stockport Road, Longsight, which was raided along with the flat above, said: “The two lads who own the shop are really decent friendly lads. I am really shocked. You just don’t expect anything like this going on. It is normally a quiet and respectable area.”

Concern

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Thompson said: “Protecting people both at home and abroad is our primary concern which is why we take such steps.

“This is a complex and ongoing investigation, which has now reached the point where it was necessary to make arrests and speak to a number of people.

“There was no direct threat against Greater Manchester and the arrests are the latest stage of a thorough investigation. We have been liaising with local people to provide reassurance about what has happened and will continue to keep a high profile presence in affected areas.

“Officers will also be distributing letters around the areas concerned and speaking to residents to let people know what has happened and to ask them to continue to work with us in the coming days.

“The community will be concerned that these arrests caused disruption and distress to people living there. There is no suggestion that those other people were involved in any offences and our priority is to look after these people.”

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


UK: Terror Suspects Paid £600,000 for ‘Living Costs’

Terrorist suspects under control orders have received more than £600,000 in taxpayers’ money for items including household bills and telephone costs.

[Note from JP: These terror suspects probably have a better standard of living than some of the families of soldiers fighting in Afghanistan]

Home Office figures published in Parliament show that since April 2007, the department has spent £611,470 on “living costs” for people put under effective house arrest on the advice of MI5. The money has been spent on accommodation, council tax, utility bills, telephone line rental, prepaid telephone cards, phone bills and “other subsistence,” the Home Office said.

As well as living expenses, the Government is also paying some of the terror suspects undisclosed sums in benefits. There are currently 13 people under control orders, controversial legal restraints on their movements and actions that are imposed because the security services say they pose a terrorist threat. Since the orders were introduced in 2005, a total of 44 people have had orders imposed on them.

Of those, 24 have received money for their living expenses. That suggests that each has received an average of more than £25,000 although details of payments to each individual have not been disclosed. Separate figures released under the Freedom of Information Act show that the total cost to the Home Office of the control orders regime since April 2006 is £9.4 million.

Since 2007, £180,000 has been paid to private security companies contracted to carry out “electronic monitoring” of the suspects.

The figures were uncovered by the Conservatives, who said they strengthened the case for scrapping control orders and putting suspects on trial. People subject to control orders cannot be legally identified, but are alleged by the security services to be terrorists who would pose a direct threat to national security if they were allowed to remain at large.

However, the Government says they cannot be put on trial because the security services say the information that would be used to prosecute them is too sensitive to disclose in court. Control orders date back to 2005, when the Law Lords rules that ministers could not legally hold terror suspects without trial in Belmarsh prison in London.

The control order regime has been frequently criticised, and Baroness Neville-Jones, the Conservative shadow homeland security secretary said the costs associated with the orders were another reason to abolish them. She said: ‘Control orders deny due process to the defendant, do not provide a reliable remedy to the security problem posed by terrorist suspects, and on top of all that cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. A Conservative government would review the morally objectionable and costly control order regime with a view, consistent with the security situation, to replacing it by the trial of suspects through the normal court system.’

Patrick Mercer, the chairman of the Commons subcommittee on counter-terrorism, criticised the sums paid to the controlees. “It wouldn’t surprise me to learn we had been renting DVDs for them as well,” he said. Calling for a fundamental change in the treatment of terrorist suspects, he added: “The control order regime is not only impractical, it is also very expensive. We need measures to get these people into court — intercept evidence, plea bargaining, questioning after charge. That would allow us to divest ourselves of these detainees and the huge cost of detaining them.”

As well as criticism about the civil liberties implications of control orders, the regime has faced charges of being ineffective at controlling suspects. Since the orders were created, 44 suspects have been made subjects of control orders. Despite being under regular surveillance by the security forces, at least seven of them have absconded. Some are though to have fled the country.

Control orders can put subjects under curfew for up to 13 hours a day and face restrictions on their use of telephones and the internet. Their movements and social contacts may also be restricted.

The fact that the Home Office is paying for telephones and phone cards for some controlees may raise concerns about their ability to communicate with others. Some people who have been subject to orders are said to be extremist preachers who do not directly participate in terrorism but encourage others to do so. One man previously put under a control order is Abu Qatada, a Muslim cleric whose sermons said to have inspired Mohammed Atta, one of the ringleaders of the September 11 hijackers

Earlier this year, Lord Carlile of Berriew QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, warned terror suspects under control orders are able to stay in contact with each other and could become active again. However, Government sources said that telephones are provided for controlees at home when they are forbidden by their orders to use any other telephones. Subjects’ home telephones are routinely monitored by the security services.

The Home Office figures do not include welfare payments to controlees. The Department of Work and Pensions said earlier this year that nine were receiving some sort of welfare payments. Seven were receiving Job Seeker’s Allowance.

The Conservative threat to scrap control orders come amid widespread doubts about the future of the control regime. The House of Lords earlier this year ruled that suspects on control orders must be shown secret evidence used against them, a ruling that ministers have said could lead to some orders being dropped.

The Home Office defended the continued use of control orders and the associated costs. A spokesman said: “When dealing with suspected terrorists, prosecution is, and will continue to be, our preferred approach. Where we cannot prosecute, and the individual concerned is a foreign national, we look to detain and then deport them. For those we cannot either prosecute or deport, control orders are the best available disruptive tool for managing the risk they pose.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


UK: We Need to Talk About Islam, Now

Our concern for the rights of others may be eroding the foundations on which our democracy is based, writes Carol Hunt

[Note from JP: Surprising to see a positive interpretation of Oriana Fallaci in a mainstream newspaper.]

ALL the documentaries in recent weeks celebrating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall have given us a reason to celebrate the fact that, regardless of our present travails, we live in the free West where the rights of the individual will always triumph over the ideology of the group. Ding, dong, the Witch is dead.

Also, 20 years ago, Professor Francis Fukuyama, in a fit of optimism, sensationally declared that the fall of communism signified the Hegelian idea of “The End of History and the Last Man”. He believed that the ideological conflicts of the world had been largely resolved and yes, folks, we had a winner — Western-style liberal democracy.

‘History’, however, didn’t read Fukuyama’s book and continued to trundle along, “one damn thing after another”, and Fukuyama has since changed his opinions. It was inevitable really, because the same year which saw the fall of communism was the year in which the Ayatollah Khomeini issued his Fatwa against Salman Rushdie.

Certainly, the controversy over the publication of the Satanic Verses was a pivotal moment in the forging of British — and European — Muslim identity and its increasingly extreme political agenda. We in the liberal West don’t like to admit this.

Actually we don’t like to concede that’s there’s any sort of war going on, cultural, religious or otherwise — leave that to the Americans and their oil-fuelled jingoism, their wars against terror and their need to feel that they are still ‘policing’ the world.

We Europeans are far too sophisticated to indulge in arguments over religious or cultural matters. We believe in free speech — except when righteous people complain that is, then we bring in blasphemy laws to soothe those who are so easily offended by the peacefully expressed opinions of others.

The problem is that our concern for the rights of others seems to be eroding our own rights and the very basis of European democracy.

In 2006, Ali Selim, the secretary general of the Irish Council of Imams, said that if there were ever a Muslim majority in Ireland, Sharia law — the strict Muslim code that governs every area of life, from prayers to style of dress, to the minimal rights of women — should be introduced. We all laughed and thought the man was daft. As he himself admitted, a Muslim majority in Ireland was hardly likely. But minorities have rights too, you know, so nobody made much of a fuss.

Then, in 2007, the British Policy Exchange published findings of a survey which suggested that 37 per cent of Muslims aged 16-25 would prefer to live under Sharia law. And in 2008, Dr Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, said that the adoption of some aspects of Sharia law in Britain seemed “unavoidable”. He added: “As a matter of fact, certain conditions of Sharia law are already recognised in our society and under our law, so it’s not as if we are bringing in an alien and rival system.”

Is this taking the rights of the community, of ‘minorities’ a little too far? What about the rights of the individuals who live in Britain and elsewhere in Europe but are forced to abide by a legal system that actively discriminates against them (women and gay people) and against the law of the land?

During an inter-faith meeting in Turkey some years ago, a Catholic bishop recounted how an Islamic cleric told the crowd: “Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our Islamic laws, we will conquer you.” Reaction? Zilch. Just imagine the outcry if the Pope came out with something like that.

It’s not politically correct to admit — or even discuss — the fact that the West is facing one of the greatest challenges to its traditions of plurality, democracy, freedom of speech and expression. Instead we call it “multiculturalism” or “cultural relativism” and applaud it, as if tolerating unfair, inequitable and in some cases downright barbaric ‘traditions’ is somehow a noble, righteous cause. It’s not. It’s a deliberate and cowardly attempt to ignore what is going on right under our noses in case we may be branded racist, sectarian or worse.

Immigration can be a very good thing. Religious diversity can greatly enhance a nation. But only if cultural and religious practices are kept within the private sphere. And only if these practices do not go against the law of the land. This would seem to be self-evident, but in Europe ‘multiculturalism’ seems to have developed into a blind tolerance toward any culture and faith — depriving many people, specifically women, of their human rights.

In 2004, Italian author Oriana Fallaci wrote “The Rage and the Pride,” in which she criticised both Muslims (bent, according to her, on conquering the West and annihilating its culture) and Europeans (described as spoiled, hypocritical and blind to the moral threat represented by Islamic expansion). A few years later she wrote a follow-up, The Force of Reason. It’s a wonder she had the courage to do this as, in the introduction, she recounts the intellectual lynching she was subjected to following the publication of her first book.

According to Fallaci, the politically correct establishment, or “modern inquisition”, keeps individuals in fear of expressing what they believe. “If you are a Westerner and you say that your civilisation is superior, the most developed that this planet has ever seen, you go to the stake. But if you are a son of Allah, or one of their collaborationists, and you say that Islam has always been a superior civilisation, a ray of light .. . . nobody touches you. Nobody sues you. Nobody condemns you.” Here Fallaci hit the nail on the head, but she was vilified for saying what people refuse to listen to.

America has never been pro-assimilation when it comes to cultural traditions, but Europe, perhaps in part because of her colonial history, has. Consequently we have a problem where the ‘rights’ of cultural groups are upheld to the disadvantage of individuals within those groups. So what we’ve ended up with is a Europe where polygamy is illegal, but some men, because of their cultural heritage, still manage to keep house with a variety of ‘wives’.

We have a Europe that espouses universalist ideals of human dignity, yet there are areas where women can be ‘legally’ subjected to violence within marriage. A Europe where people who write books, draw pictures or make films that ‘cause offence’ can be justifiable targets of abuse, violence, and worse. Is this what Archbishop Rowan had in mind when he spoke of the inevitability of accepting certain parts of Sharia law? I hope not.

But such namby-pamby PC fear dressed up as rational- minded ‘tolerance’ might be the reason that that’s what we’ve ended up with. We can sit smugly in front of our TV sets and congratulate ourselves on ‘the opening up of the East in 1989’, when what we really need to do is open up our minds to the real threat of misguided multi-culturalism.

We should have started the discussion about assimilation of minorities years ago, before the winds of radical Islam began to blow.

We didn’t. Let’s hope it’s not too late now.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Energy: Italy and Serbia Sign Two Accords

Roma, 13 Nov. (AKI) — Italy and Serbia signed two energy accords on Friday during a visit to the Italian capital Rome by Serbian president Boris Tadic. Italy is one of Serbia’s biggest trading partners and the accords follow an agreement by the two countries earlier this year to launch a strategic partnership in the energy sector, particularly to promote renewable energy.

The first of the two accords signed on Friday allows Italy to import electricity from Serbia and increases industrial cooperation between Italy’s energy operator Terna and Serbian power grid operator EMS.

The accord will boost the Serbian power grid’s capacity and strengthen energy infrastructure with neighbouring countries such as Montenegro via which energy is imported to Italy.

Under the second accord, Italy and Serbia recognise each other’s renewable energy certification systems. The accord creates a joint government-private sector ‘Task Force’ to monitor the implementation of projects.

“Italy and Serbia have built exemplary relations for the whole region,” said Tadic speaking at a joint press conference with Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

“The summit provided an opportunity to invest in Serbia, which has free trade agreements with countries populated by 800 million consumers.

“We want to attract small and medium sized firms to our country, as well as large companies,” he added.

Berlusconi said Italy wanted to increase business with Serbia and could even become Serbia’s largest trading partner.

“We are currently in third place after Russia and Germany, but we want be at least second…we could even become the biggest trading partner given our historical proximity,” Berlusconi stated.

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


EU: EP: Schengen Opening for 3 Balkan Countries December 19

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 12 — There has been a turnaround for the citizens of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, who will be able to travel freely in the Schengen Area (all of the EU member countries except for the UK and Ireland, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland) beginning from December 19. This was the commitment assumed by the European parliament and the council in a shared policy declaration voted on today during a plenary meeting of European representatives in Brussels. It will now be up to the Justice Council on November 30 to give the final go-ahead for December 19. Another chapter is that of Bosnia Herzegovina and Albania for which the European institutions make an appeal “that all efforts to respect all of the criteria mentioned in the roadmap for adhesion appear”. The hope is that Tirana and Sarajevo will be able to obtain the same regime of waivers from July 2010, but “it is up to the politicians of Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina to focus on the requisites” explained Tania Fajon, the European representative and relater of the report on the liberalisation of visas for the Western Balkans. Once the necessary steps have been taken, the shared declaration provides that the modification is recognised with “urgency” by the European parliament and the council so that the procedure “will be rapid” Fajon said. Regarding Kosovo, the relater stressed the importance that the parliament begins dialogues on visas so that there will not be “a black hole in the Balkans”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Eurochambres: Corruption Main Investment Obstacle

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — Corruption and unpredictability regarding regulations are the main obstacles to investments in the Western Balkans both for EU-based businesses and for those located in the same region, according to a study presented today by Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. “We reiterate the great potential of the Western Balkans,” said Dirk Vantyghem, the director International Affairs for Eurochambres, who said that political leaders in the EU area “must intensify their cooperation in order to combat the absence of transparency and uncertainty in a legal and regulatory context in the Western Balkans benefitting the economies in both regions.” Which countries are making the greatest strides to attract investments? “Those where reforms are most necessary, such as Albania and Montenegro,” explained Ventyghem, “which at the same time are the countries with the longest battle to fight in terms of combating corruption and implementing the rule of law.” In any case, “it is very important to stimulate investments in the region and among the same countries in the region,” concluded the head of Eurochambres, who sees the upcoming liberalisation as “an important element on both a psychological and practical level”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Medfilm: Love-Hate the Focus of First Croat-Serb Production

Rome, 13 Nov. (AKI) — The first film co-produced by Croatia and Serbia, ‘Nije Kraj’ or Will Not Stop There by director Vinko Bresan focuses on the themes of love, hatred, tragedy and comedy. The movie is currently competing for the New Europe Award at the 15th annual Medfilm festival being held in the Italian capital Rome.

“This is the first Croatian-Serbian co-production. It is a film with comedy and drama which tries to find a way out of hatred,” said Bresan in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Bresan also said that the film industry in the Balkans is reinventing itself, as people are no longer interested in films about the recent war in the former Yugoslavia.

The most pressing problem facing the industry is the issue of funding, he said.

“Mainly because the war is over, the whole Croatian-Serbian rivalry is no longer part of reality. Four or five years ago, people were interested in that kind of film, but not anymore. Also, in order to produce more films, we need more funding and this is a problem because of the recession,” he said.

Bresan has won many awards at international film festivals and Will Not Stop There is his fifth film.

The film — a dark satire featuring an unconventional romance — tells the story of a private detective and Croatian war veteran Martin who spies on a woman named Desa who stars in a porn film about Little Red Riding Hood. The movie explores the devastation and heartbreak left in the wake of war.

Creativity and innovation are the focus of this year’s MedFilm Festival which opened in Rome on 7 November. A total of 150 films will be featured at the 15th annual festival.

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


Serbia-Lybia: Cooperation in Field of Medicine

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 11 — Head of the Military Medical Academy (VMA) Major General Miodrag Jevtic and Libyan Minister of Health and Environment Mohamed al-Hijazi conferred in Belgrade on cooperation in the domain of medicine, it was published at the VMA website, reports Tanjug news agency. Jeftic pointed out that the relations between the two nations and states were always characterized by profound understanding and sincere cooperation in all areas, adding that an important aspect of the cooperation was medicine. During the visit to the VMA, al-Hijazi expressed great interest for cooperation with the VMA in all areas of medical treatment, specialization, education and exchange of professional experience.(ANSAmed)

2009-11-11 17:23

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Football: World Cup; Egypt, Match Interpreted Politically

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 13 — With emotions boiling over after the aggression against the Algerian team yesterday, presented as a hoax by the Egyptian press, a “pacifying” concert by the King of Rai, Cheb Khaled and Egyptian pop singer, Mohammed Mounir last night in the capital seems to have had little effect. Neither of the two artists made any reference to the incident or to tomorrow’s match, but only a call for Arab unity: “Long live Egypt, Arab nation, and long live Algeria, Arab nation!”, shouted Algerian Khaled according to reports by AFP. “Not matter what you do,” responded an individual on the internet, “the people are not ready to be tolerant.” Just before the concert, Khaled reportedly said that he would not go to the match, but music is able to unite different Arab people due to politics and sports. The topic was covered today by independent newspaper, Al Dostour, with lead writer Ibrahim Issa saying that “football is not far from politics. If an Egyptian team wins the championship it is due to the president and his son, if they lose, it is due to the coach and the goalie.” The lead writer of another independent newspaper, Al Shourok, said that extremism in sports allows people to exit from their hardships and sense of oppression making the situation outside of any control. Conditions, observed Salama Ahmad Salama, “that are widely present in Egypt and Algeria. Football in these countries has become the only source of joy in victory and pain in defeat.” Pro-government daily, Al Akhbar, wisely suggested to its readers, pointing out advice from medical professionals, to take sedatives and warned that those with heart conditions could be at risk due to the excitement.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Football: Egypt-Algeria, Algerian Bus Attacked in Cairo

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 13 — Tension runs high in Cairo due to tomorrow’s much-awaited match, when Egypt and Algeria will face off in the World Cup qualifying match, and a worrisome incident has occurred in the Egyptian capital. Yesterday on their arrival in Cairo, riding a bus from the airport to their hotel, the Algerian national football team was attacked by stone throwing from a large group of Egyptian fans and some of the players sustained minor injuries. Three players were reported injured by the Algerian Sport Minister Hachemi Djiar, two according to what was reported by Egyptian sources to ANSA, but in any case one of them was the star player Khalid Lemmouchia. In addition to the latter, who was hit in the head by a stone, the internet site of Le Figaro said that also Rafik Saiki had suffered a minor injury to his hand, as well as Rafik Hallike. “A group of young people,” said the minister Dijar, “jumped out along the highway and began throwing stones at the bus.” Some FIFA members have been to the hotel near the airport where the team are staying to verify what happened. Algerian foreign minister Mourad Medelci “strongly condemned” the attack, which occurred after “a warm welcome at the airport”. Algeria has made a complaint to FIFA against Egypt and the request to set in motion an inquiry into the local fan base. In addition, “following the serious incident”, reported an Algerian foreign ministry statement, “the Egyptian ambassador to Algiers was immediately summoned”. Madjd Bouguerra, secretary general of the ministry, “expressed deep concern and insisted that Egyptian authorities take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the Algerian delegation and fans who are in Cairo to watch the match”. Special security measures have also been requested for this afternoon, when the national team will go to a training session in the stadium. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: Italian Film at Punic Studies Congress

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, NOVEMBER 12 — “Annibale al Trasimeno”, an Italian documentary on the historic battle of Hannibal in Trasimeno, has been presented at the seventh international conference on Phoenician and Punic studies underway in Hammamet until Saturday 14. Made by Professor Giovanni Brizzi, researcher and historian specialising in Ancient Roman History at the Bologna University, with the assistance of Luca Palma, Ernesto Vigneri and the film’s director Ermanno Gambini, the documentary gave rise to a debate which drew attention to the genius of the Carthaginian soldier. Brizzi also announced his intention to create a museum in Italy in memory of the historical figure Hannibal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

IDF Chief Rabbi: Troops Who Show Mercy to Enemy Will be ‘Damned’

The Israel Defense Forces’ chief rabbi told students in a pre-army yeshiva program last week that soldiers who “show mercy” toward the enemy in wartime will be “damned.”

Brig. Gen. Avichai Rontzki also told the yeshiva students that religious individuals made better combat troops.

Speaking Thursday at the Hesder yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Karnei Shomron , Rontzki referred to Maimonides’ discourse on the laws of war. That text quotes a passage from the Book of Jeremiah stating: “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord with a slack hand, and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood.”

In Rontzki’s words, “In times of war, whoever doesn’t fight with all his heart and soul is damned — if he keeps his sword from bloodshed, if he shows mercy toward his enemy when no mercy should be shown.”

Rontzki’s remarks came during a ceremony to celebrate a new Torah scroll at the yeshiva. The service was held in commemoration of Yosef Fink, one of two yeshiva students kidnapped by Hezbollah in 1986.

Their bodies were returned 10 years later in a prisoner exchange.

Rontzki also referred specifically to the Israel Defense Forces’ conduct during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza. “Apropos all that we’ve heard in the media of late, thank God that the people of Israel has united recently around the simple understanding of how it must fight. One of the major innovations of that offensive was the conduct of war — not as some kind of mission or detention.”

“We all remember the beginning of the war, with a major attack of 80 planes bombing various places, and then artillery, mortar and tank fire and so forth, as in war,” he said. “Everyone fought with all their heart and soul, and that includes bravery of course, but also fighting with all the resources one has — to fight as if to truly determine the mission.”

Rontzki also referred to the qualities of the ideal combat soldier.

“In Israel’s wars, warriors are God-fearing people, righteous people, people who don’t have sins on their hands,” he said. “One needs to fight with an understanding of what one is fighting for.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Jerusalem: Intel Works on Saturdays, Rabbis Protest

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 13 — Demonstrations in protest were organised by leaders of the orthodox community against Intel after discovering that one of its facilities in Jerusalem will operate on Saturdays, the traditional Jewish day of rest. The facility is located in Har Hotzvim, a high tech zone of Jerusalem positioned near Orthodox Jewish communities for whom seeing Jews at work on Saturday is impossible to put up with. The instruction of Rabbi Elyashiv, one of the most influential of orthodox Jews in Israel, has been to demonstrate in protest. Intel for its part has placed barbed wire around the facility as a precaution and has offered to move its facilities elsewhere. In the attempt to avoid a crisis a mediation has been organised between the ex-mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupoliansky, he himself an orthodox believer. Also the Premier Benyamin Natanyahu and the president of the Knesset (parliament) Reuven Rivlin are taking interest in the issue. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Obama Green-Lights Arab Land Grab

But Israel threatens retaliation if U.N. approves Palestinian state

TEL AVIV — A top Palestinian Authority negotiator told WND that the Obama administration won’t stand in the way of a Palestinian threat to unilaterally ask the United Nations to recognize a Palestinian state outside of negotiations with Israel.

Despite widespread assumptions the U.S. would veto any such U.N. Security Council resolution, the PA negotiator said that in initial discussions, the Obama administration did not threaten to veto their conceptual unilateral resolution.

“The U.S. told us that they prefer a negotiated settlement with Israel, but if we (Palestinians) insist on a resolution, the Americans will not necessarily reject it,” the PA negotiator said.

“The U.S. has a history of never before vetoing any U.N. move to create a new state,” the negotiator pointed out.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


PNA Steps Back: January Elections Postponed

(by Alessandro Logroscino) (ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — Few believed that they really could be held, but from today the issue is certain: the Palestinian legislative and presidential elections, called for January 24 2010 will not take place. Announced a couple of weeks ago by president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) as more of an idea than a real prospect, they were postponed by the commission in charge of doing the preliminary work after recommending that they be pushed back to the leader due to the impossibility of guaranteeing the right to vote to at least 1.5 million people: those resident in the Gaza Strip controlled by the Islamist group Hamas. The postponement, widely expected, shelves the possible abandoning of Abbas for now as well. Who, disappointed by the state of progress in the peace process with Israel and the hesitations over the initiative of the Obama administration in the US after initial hopes, declared recently the intention not to run for the office again, at most remaining at the helm for another few months for a definitive decision. According to the electoral commission of the Palestinian National Authority, the voting conditions for the election are not present. The opening of the polls would not be a problem in the West Bank, where Abbas and the laymen of Fatah (the party of the president) hold power. But the same cannot be said for East Jerusalem, the part of the city that is Arab majority, due to opposition from the Israeli government. It would be even more difficult in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas, in power since 2007, made known from the first that it considers the unilateral elections called by Abbas illegitimate and has therefore decided to boycott them. “It seems evident that elections would not have taken place in the Gaza Strip”, the president of the electoral commission, Hanna Nasser, admitted today, announcing the postponement during a press conference in Ramallah. For this reason, he added, “we decided to say to the president that they would not be able to proceed on the date he chose”. A “recommendation”, according to law, which leaves the final word to Abbas. But the president is ready to heed the advice, his entourage reported, reserving the choice to fix another date. Taken for granted, the step back on the January election already seems like a success for Hamas. “The postponement highlights the credibility of our position”, said a spokesman in Gaza. “Impeding the electoral commission even of coming into Gaza shows that Hamas is not interested in the unity of the cause or national reconciliation”, stressed Nabil Abu Rudeinah, a PNA spokesman in Ramallah. This exchange highlights the differences which divide the Palestinians internally between the West Bank and Gaza, Fatah and the factions close to Hamas that sit under the banner of radical Islam. It is a divide that Abbas had tried to challenge by calling the vote immediately after the Islamists refused yet another draft compromise put on the table by Egyptian intermediaries. And vice-versa, which should be revised to give credit to possible elections which at this point could be pushed back as far as June, but only in the case of agreement. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Survey Says 57% of Israelis for Dialogue With Hamas

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 13 — The majority of Israelis are in favour of political dialogue with Hamas if the latter were to recognise Israel as a state and cease its acts of terrorism against it, reports a public opinion survey carried out by Haaretz. In reference to the peace plan outlined this week by Shaul Mofaz (second-in-command of Kadima, main party in the opposition), 57% of those surveyed were in favour and 39% against. The plan calls for the establishment in the near future of an independent and demilitarised Palestinian state in Gaza and in 60% of the West Bank. Mofaz believes that if Hamas were to win the next Palestinian Authority elections, then Israel would be willing to recognise it as negotiating partner on a reciprocal basis. The Haaretz survey gave credence to the progressive decline in support for Ehud Barack’s Labour Party, which in the last elections got hold of 13 seats (out of 100), whereas today it would receive only 6. The popularity of Barack himself, however, remains high, with 50% of those surveyed supporting him, as was also the case with Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, leader of Likud.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Drive-by Shooting

Gunmen killed a Christian teenager in a drive-by shooting outside his family home on Friday in the restive northern Iraqi city of Mosul, police said.

“Unidentified gunmen opened fire from a speeding black car on the adolescent before fleeing the scene in Tahrir,” a police officer said, referring to a Christian neighbourhood in eastern Mosul.

A neighbour said 16-year-old Rami Katchik, a member of the minority Armenian community, had been hosing down the entrance to his family home when the shooting occurred.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]


Mosul Armed Group Kills 16 Year Old Christian on Doorstep of Home

Rami Katchik belongs to the Armenian community. The murder occurred in the neighbourhood of Tahrir. The police say motive is not yet clear. Fr. Hazem Girgis, a local priest: It is one of the many crimes committed to eradicate Christians from the area and force them to leave.

Mosul (AsiaNews) — A 16 year old Christian was killed on the doorstep of his home in Mosul, in the neighborhood of Tahrir. The boy, Rami Katchik, belongs to the Armenian community.

Police said that on 13 November, at about 17.30, “Unidentified gunmen opened fire from a black car that arrived at speed”. Local sources report that the boy was washing the front door with his father when he was shot.

Girgis Paulos, neighbour of the Katchik family says that at the moment of the attack “the father had just entered the house to get a shovel. When he heard the gun shots he ran out and saw three men in the car”.

Police agents say it is not yet clear whether there are religious reasons behind the assassination, but Fr. Hazem Girgis, a local priest, sees the murder as “one of the many crimes committed to eradicate Christians from the area and force them to leave”.

For some time members of the Christian community of Mosul are victims of attacks from 2008 to now these violent episodes have caused 40 deaths. Thousands fled the city in northern Iraq last year. A report published November 10 by Human Rights Watch says that Christians and minorities who inhabit the northern regions of Iraq are victims of a conflict between Arabs and Kurds for control of the province.

Since the fall of Saddam to today the numbers of Christians in Mosul have been decimated. During the dictatorship the largest parish in the city had a greater number of believers than there are today throughout the entire diocese.

Yesterday the new archbishop of the city was announced, over a year after the murder of Mgr. Rahho (see AsiaNews, 13/11/2009, “Mosul is celebrating the appointment of the new archbishop, after the death of Msgr. Rahho). The news has brought hope to the local community, but the murder of the young Katchik falls on the celebrations reawakening fear.

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


Transport: Turkish Airlines to Fly to Bologna

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 12 — Turkish Airlines (THY) will begin to fly from Istanbul to Bologna (Italy) on March 1, 2010, Anatolia news agency reports adding that mutual Istanbul-Bologna flights would be held seven days a week. With this flight, the number of THY’s foreign destinations would reach 120, added THY. Prices of round-trip ticket will start from 179 Euro without taxes and expenses. THY is the fourth biggest airline company in Association of European Airlines (AEA). The number of passengers THY carried between 2003 and 2008 rose 116%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


US Camp in Iraq Was Qaeda Breeding Ground

Iraq’s Camp Bucca, the US-run jail where around 100,000 prisoners were kept over six years, was a breeding ground for the Al-Qaeda terror network, according to police and former inmates.

Bucca, located in an isolated desert north of the border with Kuwait, was a school for scores of Takfiris, or Sunni extremists who usually ended up in Al-Qaeda, said Abu Mohammed, freed in 2008 after 26 months behind its bars.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: U.S. Troops Battle Both Taliban and Their Own Rules

“We can’t do anything if we don’t have the ANA or [the Afghan National Police],” said a frustrated Capt. Thoreen.

“We have to follow the Karzai 12 rules. But the Taliban has no rules,” he said. “Our soldiers have to juggle all these rules and regulations and they do it without hesitation despite everything. It’s not easy for anyone out here.”

“Karzai 12” refers to Afghanistan’s newly re-elected president, Hamid Karzai, and a dozen rules set down by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, to try to keep Afghan civilian casualties to a minimum.

“It’s a framework to ensure cultural sensitivity in planning and executing operations,” said Capt. Thoreen. “It’s a set of rules and could be characterized as part of the ROE,” he said, referring to the rules of engagement.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japanese Official Puts Down Christianity, U.S. And Europe

Talk about awkward timing.

As President Barack Obama prepares to visit Japan later this week, a top official in Japan’s new ruling party said Christianity was “exclusive and self-righteous” and that U.S. and European societies with a Christian background are “stuck at an impasse.”

Ichiro Ozawa, secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and one of the country’s most powerful political figures, talked about religion after meeting with the head of the Japan Buddhist Federation. “U.S. and European societies, civilizations with an exclusive Christian background, are now stuck at an impasse,” the Asahi Shimbun newspaper quoted him as saying. Other newspapers also quoted him as saying to reporters that Christianity was “extremely exclusive and a self-righteous religion.”

Ozawa, who is credited with devising a campaign strategy that helped the DPJ sweep to power and unseat the Liberal Democratic Party for the first time in nearly six decades, also said that Islam was “exclusive too, but less so than Christianity.” Christians are a small minority in Japan, and the country has few Muslims.

A White House spokesman didn’t respond to requests for comment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Illegals Could be Legal as Quickly as Next Year

‘They have to pay a fine and a penalty and have to meet certain requirements’

Axelrod added, “If we can get a group together to give it the momentum to pass in Congress, then we’re going to push forward with it.”

But while some attempt at addressing immigration law is widely anticipated, Axelrod went further, tipping the White House’s hand on the more contentious question surrounding immigration reform: if and how the estimated millions of illegal aliens in the U.S. today can become American citizens.

“We have to hold accountable and responsible the 12 million people who are here illegally,” Axelrod explained. “And they have to pay a fine and a penalty and have to meet certain requirements in order to get in the line to earn citizenship. And if they don’t want to do that, they need to leave.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: People Must be Free to Hold Intolerant Views About Homosexuality

Ministers seem set on eroding yet another safeguard to our liberty, says Philip Johnston.

An important blow for free speech was struck in the dying hours of the last parliamentary session, despite a desperate rearguard action by the Government to quash it. Ministers wanted to remove a protection inserted into a law, passed only last year, which made it an offence to express hatred of homosexuals. But they were twice beaten back in the Lords and eventually ran out of time.

They may try again in the coming session that starts on Wednesday, the last before the general election.

This story encapsulates much that has been so pernicious about the 12 years of misrule to which the country has been subjected. No one can remember a government returning in the very next session to try to undo something to which it had agreed (albeit reluctantly) in the preceding parliamentary term.. The free speech protection was proposed by Lord Waddington, a former Home Secretary. It stated: “For the avoidance of doubt, the discussion or criticism of sexual conduct or practices or the urging of persons to refrain from or modify such conduct or practices, shall not be taken of itself to be threatening or intended to stir up hatred.”

This was done for a purpose. There are too many instances of people being questioned by the police under existing public order legislation for holding views that may be considered offensive or intolerant for yet another measure to be passed without setting out the circumstances in which it is meant to be used. These instances include a grandmother, Pauline Howe, who was visited by two constables because she wrote to her local council to complain about a gay rights march and what she considered a “public display of indecency”. She was told she might have committed a “hate crime”.

A similar experience befell Joe and Helen Roberts, a Christian couple lectured by Lancashire police on the evils of “homophobia” after criticising gay rights in a letter to Wyre Borough Council. A few years ago, Lynette Burrows, a family campaigner, was the target of a police inquiry after saying on the radio that she did not believe homosexuals should be allowed to adopt. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, the former head of the Muslim Council, had his collar felt, as did the Bishop of Chester for making remarks in a religious context that no sane person could have taken as stirring up hatred against homosexuals. The most preposterous example was the Oxford student who was arrested and threatened with prosecution for calling a police horse gay.

Given these examples, it was outrageous for the Government to try to remove the additional protection for people who are not seeking to foment hatred of homosexuals or violence against them, but simply expressing an opinion. In a free society, people should be at liberty to hold intolerant views if they wish. Our public order laws are meant to mark the boundary between free speech and a deliberate attempt to whip up violence; yet since they are already misused, it was essential to add “for the avoidance of doubt” to the new law. As Lord Waddington said: “Police officers, pressurised by diversity training, seem to feel duty bound to come down like a ton of bricks on people who express disagreement with the behaviour of some gay rights activists, and members of the public are left feeling harassed and frightened.”

The venom with which members of the Government attacked this basic restatement of freedom of expression makes you wonder whether they have taken leave of their senses. Claire Ward, a minister in the Justice department, called it “ill judged, ill conceived and ill advised”. She added: “We believe we have got the balance right without the so-called freedom of expression saving provision.”

It was that “so-called” that gave the game away, a sneering reference to a principle that it is supposedly Parliament’s duty to uphold. This Government has never understood that it cannot legislate away bigotry and intolerance; nor should it seek to stifle strongly held religious views. It can set a framework for ensuring that rabble-rousers are properly dealt with under the law. But we are not talking about that. This is about suppressing thoughts or opinions because a particular party or pressure group does not like them. Well, they have to live with them in a free society; and ours has become progressively less free as people are told what to think, what to do, what to eat, where to smoke, how much to drink, who to like and who not to.

Why did the Government fight tooth and nail to try to remove from the Statute Book a measure intended to protect the innocent and guide the police away from making so many absurd judgments because they think that is what the law requires?

A “for the avoidance of doubt” clause should have been included in many other new laws over the past 12 years that have had what ministers insist were unintended consequences. Labour may have been beaten back this time; but it will try again to chip away at our liberties. So, “for the avoidance of doubt”, when the time comes, it would be better to kick them out of office before they cause any more damage.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

General

UN and Islamic Bank Make $1 Billion Farming Deal

A U.N. agency says a deal has been reached with the Islamic Development Bank for $1 billion in funding to help develop agriculture in poor countries.

The announcement comes on the eve of a U.N. summit in Rome to fight hunger worldwide.

The three-day summit starting Monday promotes an approach that U.N. officials say is vital to slashing the number of hungry people. The strategy envisions helping farmers in poor countries to grow enough food to feed their own people and reduce developing countries’ reliance on food aid.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

3 comments:

filthykafir said...

"And, instead of the traditional nativity story, the festival will feature... a circus and a fairy on stilts."

That disgusts me, and I'm not even a Christian. I'm not sure I've ever read a better precis of what is wrong with Western civilization.

frogman22246 said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ8MXYOcEhs

black serial rapist acught. police photo says he white?

4Symbols said...

Dundee to Celebrate Christmas With No Reference to Christianity.

Dundee sold to Dubai read on -

"Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic & Islamic Studies is a new and exciting development in teaching and research in the study of Islam & Muslims. Indeed, the Institute is a distinctive and unique development at the academic and community levels, and the first of its kind in Scotland. Following the historic and successful visit of His Highness Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum to officially open Al-Maktoum Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies in Dundee on 6 May 2002, the relationship between Dubai and Dundee has been enhanced greatly by the Institute’s presence in the City."