Friday, January 22, 2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/22/2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 1/22/2010President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran reportedly has $100 million in personal assets stashed in various places abroad. It’s not really all that much by the standards of Third World dictators — Hugo Chavez spends that much every week on bath salts and hair pomade. Mad Jad and his fellow theocrats are alleged to have $16 billion stowed overseas, but some of it is tied up in assets that have been frozen by foreign governments.

In other news, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma seems perilously close to bankruptcy. The city fathers still have time to turn the situation around, but they can’t keep ignoring the problem as they have in the past, according to Tulsa’s fire chief.

Thanks to 4symbols, AC, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Diana West, ESW, Fjordman, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, Steen, TB, TV, Zenster, Zonka, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
How Close is the City of Tulsa to Declaring Bankruptcy?
Italy-Egypt: Trade at 7 Bln Dollars Despite Crisis
Ron Paul Warns of Coming “Social and Political Chaos”
UK: 20% VAT ‘Looming’ As Ministers Face Mounting Debt Crisis
 
USA
All Eyes on Yemen
CAIR Concedes it Doesn’t Legally Exist
Do Not Mistake an Independent for a Moderate
Fort Hood Report Says Nothing; Wilders Says it All
France’s Proposed Burqa Ban: Why Americans Might Want to Consider it Too
It Was No Joke at Security Gate
Michael Steele Must Go!
Obama’s on His Own Planet
Progressives and Their Fallacies
‘Reconciliation’ To be Used to Pass Health Care
Suspect in Recruit Shooting Claims Al Qaeda Ties
 
Europe and the EU
“Britain Will Become Like Bosnia”
Head of German Muslim Brotherhood Replaced; Possibly Facing Criminal Charges
Italy: Religion: Rome Hosts Eucharistic Celebrations in Arabic
Italy: Nuclear Energy: Choice for Italian Sites to be Made Next Year
Italy: Appeal Against Crucifix Ban ‘Ready’
Italy: German Shepherd Treks 700 Km Home
Italy: Copts and Muslims to Meet After Egyptian Killings
Italy: Senate Approves Short Trials Amid Protests
Radical Muslim Poet Forms Anti-Zionist Party in Sweden
UK Terror Threat Raised to ‘Severe’
UK: Export Ban for Useless ‘Bomb Detector’
UK: Labour is Dreaming Up 33 New Crimes a Month… Including Barring You From Swimming Into the Titanic
UK: Mother ‘Not Clever Enough to Raise Child’ Has Baby Snatched by Social Workers After Running Away to Ireland to Give Birth
UK: Muslim Community to Raise Concerns Over Growing Anti-Muslim Violence
UK: Obese Patients Being Made to Eat More to Get Weight-Loss Surgery on the NHS
UK: Obesity Drug Used by 86,000 Patients is Banned Over Heart Attack Fears
 
Balkans
Montenegro — Council of Europe: Romany Still Not Official
 
Mediterranean Union
EU-Morocco: Signing Agriculture-Fisheries Deal Postponed
 
North Africa
Airlines: Blue Panorama; Low Cost Doing Well, Leader in Egypt
Egypt: Oil Reserves Hit 18.2 Billion Barrels, Minister
Egypt: Ban on Niqab in Universities Defeated in Appeals Court
Tourism: Egypt: More Italian Visitors Expected in 2010
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Hamas ‘ Still Committed to Israel’s Destruction’
Muslim Brotherhood Cleric Versus Palestinian “President”: A Case Study of Islamism Versus Nationalism
Premier: Clandestine Immigration is a Threat
 
Middle East
Exposed: Saudi Arabia’s Secret Nuke Stash
Iran: Ahmadinejad’s Fortune Worth Over €100m
Iranian Police: ‘Ssomething Will Happen to You’
Jordan-Spain: Nuclear Cooperation Deal Signed
Lackawanna, NY “Good Boy” In Custody in Yemen
 
South Asia
LeT Acquires 50 Para-Gliding Equipment
NZ Army to Remove Bible Citations From Armaments
UN Climate Body Admits ‘Mistake’ On Himalayan Glaciers
 
Far East
China Teen Seen as Hero for Killing Local Official
 
Immigration
Spain: Vic Repeals Ban on Illegal Immigrants Registering
 
Culture Wars
‘Gays’ Seek $1m to Recruit Private-School Teachers
 
General
Islamophobia: Bad for the Jews
Lawrence Auster: Western Government Have Surrendered to Islam
What’s Wrong With Muslims?

Financial Crisis

How Close is the City of Tulsa to Declaring Bankruptcy?

TULSA, OK — Tensions and frustrations are riding high leading to a pretty dire prediction on Thursday from a City of Tulsa official.

The Tulsa fire chief claimed if the city doesn’t take action on its budget problems, it could face bankruptcy.

Is the city’s situation that bad? Is bankruptcy even a possibility?

A frustrated Tulsa fire chief Allen LaCroix gave new urgency to the city’s financial quagmire.

“The layoffs have to occur by February 15th, or the city’s in the position it may have to file bankruptcy. That’s how serious this situation is,” Allen LaCroix said.

When pressed on the issue, LaCroix clarified the city is far from filing papers.

“It’s just a term — the mayor can’t ignore what’s happening. You just can’t continue on and negotiate and negotiate. And come July there’s $10 million and we can’t pay bills,” LaCroix said.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the reality is the city is “not in the throes of bankruptcy.”

The News On 6 caught up with the mayor just before he flew to Dallas to participate a business recruiting trip.

“If we don’t take action today, tomorrow, soon, in several months, six months, 12 months from now, we could be, serious financial problems,” said Dewey Bartlett.

But is bankruptcy even an option for the city of Tulsa?

The city’s legal department says there is a rarely used section of bankruptcy law, called Chapter 9, which does allow a city to file for bankruptcy protection with state approval.

Famously, Orange County, California filed for bankruptcy in 1994 after a series of bad investments.

New York City came very close, back in 1975, but thanks to NYC’s unions, that never happened.

That’s the kind of cooperation Chief Allen LaCroix and Mayor Dewey Bartlett are hoping for from Tulsa’s police and fire unions.

To underline just how serious the situation is, the city has seen its income, which is driven mostly by sales taxes, dropped significantly for nine straight months. The city finance experts call that trend unprecedented.

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


Italy-Egypt: Trade at 7 Bln Dollars Despite Crisis

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 20 — Despite the crisis, Egypt is one of the few countries whose trade with Italy has held up well, given that projections for the first six months of 2009 indicate that it should reach at least 7 billion dollars, Italian Ambassador in Cairo, Claudio Pacifico, told speaking with journalists. This figure, he added, far exceeds that of other countries such as France, which was three billion. “Italian tourism held up better than our best expectations,” he pointed out. “The only sector which suffered, on the Egyptian side, was energy, with Italy importing gas and oil and exporting back treated and refined products”. The Ambassador also mentioned the vitality of cooperation between the two countries. Cooperation confirmed in recent days in Cairo by Director General of Italian Cooperation, Elisabetta Belloni, which is achieved through four instruments: donations, the conversion of debt, credit to SMEs, and commodity aid. “We have continued to give priority to projects with a high social content,” said Pacifico, “and to professional and technical training for young Egyptians”. Lastly, Pacifico mentioned the third Italy-Egypt summit, scheduled to take place in May in Rome, which was announced in recent days by Italian Foreign Affairs Minister Franco Frattini. The summit is part of a framework of initiatives such as the Italy-Egypt Year of Science and Technology which has just ended, and which gave rise to new initiatives and projects, in particular in defending the environment and renewable energy, with significant economic implications, he concluded. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Ron Paul Warns of Coming “Social and Political Chaos”

Texas Congressman Ron Paul has delivered a riveting “State of The Republic” address on his Campaign for Liberty website, orating his thoughts on where the U.S. stands as a nation and what the future holds.

Paul warns that if the country continues along the course it is on, we will witness a three stage slide into social and political chaos, beginning with the current financial crisis, a coming dollar crisis, and culminating in mass unrest.

“Reality is setting in,” the Congressman urges, adding that the only way to prevent social breakdown is to embrace liberty and self reliance and reject the nanny state and government dependency.

“We are rapidly moving toward a dangerous time in our history. Society as we know it is vulnerable to political and social unrest. This impending crisis comes as a consequence of our flawed foreign and domestic economic policies, a silly notion of money, ignorance about central banking, ignoring the onerous power and mischief of out of control intelligence agencies, our unsustainable welfare state and a willingness to sacrifice privacy and civil liberties in an attempt to achieve safety and security from an inept government.”

“Dangerous times indeed.” The Congressman states, stressing that a street fight to restore liberty is not a good option.

“The only way that we can prevent blood from running in the streets is to offer a better idea of the proper role of government in a society that desires, first and foremost, liberty.”

“The social unrest will illicit cries for the government to exert unusual force to head off a complete breakdown of law and order. The ultimate trap will be set for a system of government claiming to protect a free society.” Paul states.

“If more power and police authority are not given to the Federal government, it will be argued that only anarchy will result. If more government policing power is given, it will mean a lethal threat to civil liberties.”

The Congressman also warns that it is naive to assume that the American people will not be the eventual target of draconian laws and restrictions already introduced in the wake of 9/11.

“Our civil leaders will not be hesitant to use these powers to maintain order, tragically, the people may even demand it.” he says.

The Congressman elegantly lays out the intricacies of the financial crisis and its history, specifically pointing the finger of blame at the Fed and in particular Ben Bernanke, referring to the crisis as Bernanke’s “very risky experiment with the health of our country and the wealth of our economy.”

“The worldwide financial system built on a foundation of paper has received the shockwaves of an impending collapse. The wild speculation in the derivatives market, the stock market bubble, the insurmountable debt, public and private, and the massive malinvestments have been shattered.”

Paul points out that doubling the money supply can hardly be a solution to a problem stemming from the creation of excess credit.

“It wouldn’t make much sense for a doctor taking care of a very sick patient from severe infection, to deliberately give the patient another infection — yet that is what the PhD doctors are doing to our very sick economy.”

“The only solution so far offered has been to print more money faster, keep interest rates low, at practically 0%, and remove all stops for controlling deficits. These are the very policies that caused the disequalibrium, and doing more of the same, but only faster, can hardly help our economy.” Paul comments.

“When it is revealed that the insider friends of the Fed and Congress get billions of dollars in bailout at the expense of the middle class, it’s no wonder the people are taking to the streets and directing their hostilities towards both Republicans and Democrats in Washington.”

[Return to headlines]


UK: 20% VAT ‘Looming’ As Ministers Face Mounting Debt Crisis

A hike in VAT is ‘inevitable’ after the election as the government grapples with a mounting debt crisis, experts warned yesterday.

The Treasury will have to lift the tax from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent to raise an extra £12 billion of revenue a year, according to analysts at consultancy Oxford Economics.

The next Government may also have to delay the state retirement age to 68 in order to cope with the biggest debt crisis since the Second World War, the report said.

The warning came as official figures revealed the UK government has borrowed almost £330 million a day so far in the current financial year — the most on record.

Figures from the International Monetary Fund show the UK has seen the sharpest increase in its debt burden of any Group of Seven nation since the start of the financial crisis.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

USA

All Eyes on Yemen

In a recent 48 hr period 6 people on the no fly list tried to board flights to US.Not good considering UK recently raising their threat level to red.

UPDATE: Blotter: Female Suicide Bombers May Be Heading Here From Yemen

U.S. Agents Told Women Believed Connected to al Qaeda May Have Western Appearance and Passports

Again, this sucketh…

[Return to headlines]


CAIR Concedes it Doesn’t Legally Exist

Defense lawyer says ‘Muslim Mafia’ effectively admits its case meritless

The Council on American-Islamic Relations’ latest legal brief in its “Muslim Mafia” lawsuit provides no evidence it suffered damages and effectively concedes it filed the complaint under a false name, concludes a lawyer defending a father-and-son team that conducted an undercover probe to document the Muslim group’s ties to terrorism.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Do Not Mistake an Independent for a Moderate

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. In the days leading up to Scott Brown’s amazing victory in Massachusetts, Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of their misbegotten ilk were publicly stating how they would ram socialized healthcare through Congress regardless of the election’s outcome. In the immediate hours following Brown’s sweep, they persisted in their tirades, following the arrogant path they have walked since January 20, 2010.

And then, it all changed. Acting as if the veil had been lifted from their eyes, leading liberals suddenly claimed an epiphany. Those folks who attended the tea parties and town meetings last summer — the ones the leftists labeled as radicals, terrorists, and Nazis — were no longer just a bunch of hick malcontents. They were visionaries. The wishes of the electorate, which Obama and company had ignored as simply the drooling grunts of a bunch of stupid citizens, were transformed into the font of all wisdom.

Don’t believe a word of this. Liberal politicians change their strategy and alleged “convictions” more often than Howard Hughes changed socks. They are like guys who beat their girlfriends, get dumped, and then show up later claiming they have seen the light, that they have changed, that they are an entirely different person. Do not get sucked in by such idiocy. The liberal elite still see conservatives as hicks and yokels, still wish they could lock them in a gulag and throw away the key. They hate (and no, it’s not too strong a word) all and any who would disagree with their warped, Utopian dream of a Stalinist state.

[Return to headlines]


Fort Hood Report Says Nothing; Wilders Says it All

by Diana West

“Do you believe in ‘radical Islam’?” the famous Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders once asked me.

The occasion was a banquet last summer at the Reagan Library outside of Los Angeles where later that evening Wilders would receive a Hero of Conscience award from the American Freedom Alliance. I would have the honor of introducing him. “What did you say?” I could barely hear him over the speaker at the podium elaborating on the perils of, yes, “radical Islam.”

“‘Radical Islam,’“ he repeated. “Do you think there is ‘radical Islam,’ or only ‘Islam’“?

Me, I’m an “only Islam” kind of gal, as I told him. Who am I to argue with Muslims ranging from terror-cleric Abu Qatada to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan? Erdogan is particularly interesting as a democratically elected Islamic leader who eschews all word-modifiers of Islam including “moderate,” the adjective the media often applies to his AKP political party. “These descriptions are very ugly,” Erdogan said in 2007. “It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.” Erdogan has also bluntly rejected descriptions of Turkey itself as an example of “moderate Islam,” saying last April: “It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not.”

I mention this now because after the fireworks over Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate victory in Massachusetts have died down, we will have to return to the same, old, equal parts humdrum and deadly wrangle over how to think, talk about and grapple with Islam in what remains a post-9/11 world.

Two related events took place just as the Massachusetts miracle sucked the oxygen from non-election news excepting Haiti coverage. First, the Pentagon report on the Fort Hood massacre came out. It is 86 pages long and doesn’t mention the words “Muslim,” “Islam,” “jihad,” “Sharia” (Islamic law), “Koran” — despite the fact that we know, among other things, that the killer, who initiated his massacre with a cry of “Allahu Akbar,” was a Muslim inspired by Islam to perform an act of jihad as sanctioned by Sharia derived from the Koran.

These facts, however, rate official silence. So what else is new? From the Bush years to the present, see-no-Islam denial has turned U.S. government attempts to assess and discuss national security issues into Kabuki gibberish, a perpetual exercise in make-believe that the core doctrines and traditional institutions of Islam — not “radical Islam,” not “Islamism,” not other aliases — pose no threat to the core doctrines and traditional institutions of the non-Islamic Free World. Naturally, mum’s the Pentagon word over jihad at Fort Hood. Or, rather, “self-radicalization” is the word. It is mentioned more than a dozen times in the report.

I can’t imagine a greater dereliction of duty than this failure of U.S. government leaders to recognize, articulate and defend against what in military parlance is known as the “enemy threat doctrine.” But this dereliction, this failure will trigger no investigations or court proceedings on how and why our leaders consistently mask, soft-soap and otherwise fail to assess and repel the existential threat posed by the imposition or accommodation of these same Islamic doctrines.

Talk about irony: Within days of the report’s release, one of the few politicians in the world who understands, articulates and fights the imposition and accommodation of these same Islamic doctrines went on trial in the Netherlands for doing exactly that.

I refer again to Geert Wilders, now enmeshed in a Kafkaesque court trial in which the Dutch government is subverting its own democratic institutions…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]


France’s Proposed Burqa Ban: Why Americans Might Want to Consider it Too

Ban the burqa?

The French Parliament just completed six months of hearings promoted by a member of Parliament on the so-called burqa controversy. French President Nicolas Sarkozy has made no secret of his dislike for the Afghan-style garb and full-face veils, calling them “a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement.”

At first, Sarkozy wanted burqas banned in all instances, but he has now stepped back to a more moderate position, seeking to have Parliament pass a law banning the full-body veil in public places and on public transportation. France, we should all remember, passed a law in 2004 banning young girls from wearing headscarves in public schools.

The burqa discussion has roiled this nation of 64 million — some one-tenth of whom are Muslims. Sarkozy has declared that in a country where women enjoy equal rights, he does not want to see those rights debased. Only several thousand French women wear the garment, most coming from communities made up of Muslims who emigrated from former French protectorates.

But the issue of the burqa, what it symbolizes and how it resonates with immigration policies here in the U.S., raises some serious questions. Is it a sign of repression, even when the wearers aver they have “chosen” to don it? What is the impact of a woman’s wearing of a burqa or a headscarf on other women in that society? These are deeply personal questions to which every woman (and man) will have a very different answer.

I have been to the Middle East more than a dozen times and have studied this issue both here and abroad. I must say that when visiting countries such as Egypt and Morocco, where native women cover all but their faces, I am not likely to go out in public in shorts and a T-shirt, as I do here at home. Some culturally tone deaf Western tourists do dress as if they’re touring Disneyland, but most have the presence of mind to cover up somewhat, out of respect for another country’s culture, beliefs and tradition.

I often wish Muslim immigrant women would repay the courtesy here in the U.S. Whenever I see a woman in full body garment or head scarf — and there are plenty of them in my community, where there are many immigrants — I take it as an affront.

I say this knowing it is highly controversial to do so, but it feels to me as if they are holding American women back. The women in my neighborhood do not cover their faces, but many go outside — even in the stifling Washington, D.C., summers — in full-body coverings. I wish they would adopt a “When in Rome . . .” approach and make full use of the freedoms granted to women in this great nation.

In fact, I wish the U.S. would pre-screen for women who want to take full advantage of the freedoms they gain by moving from a society that represses women to one that does not. Immigration is a privilege and not a right.

I remember speaking to a group of Westernized Iranian women years ago, not long after the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s. One told me, “We loved our shah and do not want to see women pushed back into ancient times and dress codes under the Ayatollah.”

Much more recently, an Iranian feminist told me that Iranian émigre’s wearing full-body garb in this country are making an anti-Western statement by so doing. Indeed, the French inquiry into the burqa controversy supports that view, as reported by the Washington Post…

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]


It Was No Joke at Security Gate

What happened to her lasted only 20 seconds, but she says they were the longest 20 seconds of her life.

After pulling her laptop out of her carry-on bag, sliding the items through the scanning machines, and walking through a detector, she went to collect her things.

A TSA worker was staring at her. He motioned her toward him.

Then he pulled a small, clear plastic bag from her carry-on — the sort of baggie that a pair of earrings might come in. Inside the bag was fine, white powder.

She remembers his words: “Where did you get it?”

Two thoughts came to her in a jumble: A terrorist was using her to sneak bomb-detonating materials on the plane. Or a drug dealer had made her an unwitting mule, planting coke or some other trouble in her bag while she wasn’t looking.

She’d left her carry-on by her feet as she handed her license and boarding pass to a security agent at the beginning of the line.

Answer truthfully, the TSA worker informed her, and everything will be OK.

Solomon, 5-foot-3 and traveling alone, looked up at the man in the black shirt and fought back tears.

Put yourself in her place and count out 20 seconds. Her heart pounded. She started to sweat. She panicked at having to explain something she couldn’t.

Now picture her expression as the TSA employee started to smile.

Just kidding, he said. He waved the baggie. It was his.

And so she collected her things, stunned, and the tears began to fall.

Another passenger, a woman traveling to Colorado, consoled her as others who had witnessed the confrontation went about their business. Solomon and the woman walked to their gates, where each called for security and reported what had happened.

A joke? You’re not serious. Was he hitting on her? Was he flexing his muscle? Who at a time of heightened security and rattled nerves would play so cavalierly with a passenger’s emotions?

When someone is trying to blow planes out of the sky, what is a TSA employee doing with his eyes off the ball?

When she complained to airport security, Solomon said, she was told the TSA worker had been training the staff to detect contraband. She was shocked that no one took him off the floor, she said.

“It was such a violation,” the Wynnewood native told me by phone. “I’d come early. I’d done everything right. And they were kidding about it.”

I ran her story past Ann Davis, regional TSA spokeswoman, who said she knew nothing to contradict the young traveler’s account.

Davis said privacy law prevents her from identifying the TSA employee. The law prevents her from disclosing what sort of discipline he might have received.

“The TSA views this employee’s behavior to be highly inappropriate and unprofessional,” she wrote. “We can assure travelers this employee has been disciplined by TSA management at Philadelphia International Airport, and he has expressed remorse for his actions.”

[Return to headlines]


Michael Steele Must Go!

Despite the optimism and hope many Republicans see in Scott Brown’s victory, the Republican Party has a serious problem — namely Michael Steele, the head of the Republican National Committee.

In the short time since Steele was elected to lead the RNC — an organization whose purpose is to activate the grass roots and raise campaign funds for Republicans — he’s acted less like a friend and more of a foe to conservatives.

On election eve, anticipating a Brown victory in Massachusetts, Steele claimed that the RNC “has been working very diligently behind the scenes” (prematurely taking credit for the victory).

Whatever effort Steele and the RNC put into Brown’s campaign, it’s too little too late for Steele.

Michael Steele has allowed his ego and need to be liked by liberals get in the way of being an effective party chairman; therefore, I am calling on Steele to do us all a favor and resign from his post immediately.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s on His Own Planet

Reading excerpts of President Barack Obama’s interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos underscores how tone-deaf and self-absorbed Obama is — and that his tone-deafness is a function of his self-absorption and rigid ideology.

Obama said: “One thing that I regret this year is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. And that I do think is a mistake of mine. I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on this provision or that law or are we making a good, rational decision here … people will get it.”

Let’s unpack that mouthful. It’s all about him; in almost every line, he is bragging or excusing himself. No wonder he can’t see any farther than his navel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Progressives and Their Fallacies

By Chuck Rogér

Ideology knows no cultural, political, or economic boundaries. Adherents to doctrinaire belief systems — left, right, religious, anti-religious — brush aside evidence that might tempt them to question their beliefs. Yet one critter inhabits a class unto itself: the “progressive,” a creature who drags muddled thought to unexplored depths.

An Adam Smith Institute blog by Tim Worstall addresses the left’s persistent denial of the Laffer Curve, which shows how government gains no revenues by implementing either zero- or one-hundred-percent tax rates, but maximizes revenues by keeping rates just below levels intolerable to taxpayers. Despite the Laffer Curve’s reflection of reality, progressives reject the established fact that revenues dwindle when rates climb too high. One response to Worstall’s blog is especially thought-provoking.

It’s bad enough having to accept that the collectivists and assorted liberals and lefties are just plain stupid, but at least if this were true they might be open to enlightenment. That they are merely disingenuous, knowing full well the implications of their actions but pressing on regardless, suggests that any dialogue or debate with them is pointless.

Refusal to acknowledge fact tends to kill off productive dialogue.

If Christian, Jewish, or Buddhist zealotry were to jeopardize our way of life, then Americans would be justified in resisting with all the force we could muster. Islamism fails to make this list because there is no “if” to Islamism — radical Muslims threaten our freedom, period. The totalitarian brand of progressivism practiced with religious zeal by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Reid, and Representative Barney Frank also threatens our freedom and therefore must be defeated.

Heartland Institute’s Paul Chesser finds a stunning case of progressive denial. Well after it came to light that “scientists” fabricated human-caused global warming and suppressed studies that expose the hoax, the Burlington Free Press still touts a scientific “consensus” on human causation. Chesser points out that on the same day that BFP whined about its imaginary consensus, it also acknowledged a frigid weekend deluge as “easily the largest snowstorm ever witnessed in Burlington in more than 120 years of record keeping.”

Two-thirds of America gripped by arctic cold and vast swaths covered in snow following the coldest summer in a century for parts of the country — these are reasonable bases for challenging the Burlington Free Press. But first we’d have to pry them away from using organic detergent to wash their Priuses, which run on freeze-dried, free-range rat droppings. Warmists will push the lie that humankind is baking the planet even as glaciers ring the warmists’ doorbells.

In the social arena, progressives in government, media, and academia continue to feed Americans the myth that income inequality and “social injustice” cause crime. Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald observes…

           — Hat tip: Zonka[Return to headlines]


‘Reconciliation’ To be Used to Pass Health Care

Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.), the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, tells National Review Online that House Democrats are planning to use the budget-reconciliation process in order to pass Obamacare. “They’re meeting with each other this weekend to pursue it,” says Ryan. “I’ve spoken with many Democrats and the message is this: They’re not ready to give up. They’ve waited their entire adult lives for this moment, and they aren’t ready to let 100,000 pesky votes in Massachusetts get in the way of fulfilling their destiny. They’ll look at every option and spend the next four or five days figuring it out.”

If the Democrats pass a health-care bill through reconciliation, it means they would need only 51 votes in the Senate for final passage.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Suspect in Recruit Shooting Claims Al Qaeda Ties

The man accused of killing one soldier and wounding another outside an Arkansas military recruiting center has asked a judge to change his plea to guilty, claiming ties to Al Qaeda.

Abdulhakim Muhammad’s attorney, Claiborne Ferguson, said Thursday night that his client sent a letter earlier this month to the judge in his case asking to change his plea to capital murder and attempted capital murder charges.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“Britain Will Become Like Bosnia”

Islam4UK was banned by Home Secretary Alan Johnson after uproar over Choudary’s plans to hold a protest march in the Wiltshire village of Wootton Bassett where the public salute the bodies of soldiers brought back from Afghanistan. But ex-lawyer Choudary was unrepentant, claiming that white Britons do not understand the strength of feeling of the Muslim population.

He said: “In some cities, one in six of the young people are Muslim. People don’t realise that there are actually four to five million Muslims in the UK. Many of them do not register to vote so the Government’s figures do not reflect the true size of the Muslim population.” “The Government says there are around one million Muslims in the UK but that is nowhere near accurate. Of course, most will remain silent and not complain but a few could be driven to take the law into their own hands. “It’s a very dangerous situation. You have to consider how, if there is another 7/7, the country would cope. More and more disaffected whites would be driven towards far-right extremist groups such as the British National Party and the English Defence League if there was another attack.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Head of German Muslim Brotherhood Replaced; Possibly Facing Criminal Charges

[1]The Islamischen Gemeinschaft in Deutschland e.V (Islamic Society of Germany) has announced that it has elected a new President to replace European Muslim Brotherhood leader Ibrahim El-Zayat. According to the announcement [2]:

The General Assembly has elected Samir Falah as the new President of the Islamic Community in Germany. He follows Ibrahim El-Zayat who was elected for the first time on 13 January 2002 and after serving two terms was not available for re-election. Samir Falah has a degree in computer science from Karlsruhe and has already belonged tin the past to the IGD board, most recently with the job of youth and student work. The father of four children has set himself the goal over the next four years of working in the Mosque communities and bringing professionalism to the forefront of their efforts. The members thanked El-Zayat, and the old board for the leadership of the community in a very difficult time. The IGD, the Islamic Community in Germany eV, was founded in 1958 and is one of the oldest Islamic institutions in Germany….Khallad Swaid has been chosen as Deputy head of the IGD.

Thee Islamische Gemeinschaft Deutschland (IGD) is considered [3] by the German government to be the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in Germany. Mr. El-Zayat is also a leader in many other European Muslim Brotherhood organizations including the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), the umbrella group [4] for the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe. He is married to the sister of Mehmet Sabri Erbakan who is in turn the nephew of Necmettin Erbakan, the leader of Turkish Milli Görüs. Mr. El-Zayat is highly active in managing Milli Gorus properties in Germany and in Holland where a mosque project [5] he was involved with has become embroiled in controversy. He was also formerly the Western European head [6] of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), a Saudi youth organization that U.S. government agencies and officials have said [7] has helped spread Islamic extremism around the world as well as sponsoring terrorism in places such as Bosnia, Israel, and India. A German newspaper has reported [8] on Mr. El-Zayat’s real-estate business, discussing his role as the signatory authority for an entity called European Mosque Construction and Support. In this capacity, he advises more than 600 mosques in Europe, providing project development, insurance, and other services. The report states that he is currently involved with over 50 new and renovated mosque projects. Zayat also provides investment services for wealth Arab investors in the MIddle East who wish to invest “Islamically” in Europe.

A possible reason for Mr. El-Zayat’s decision not to run for re-election as IGD President may be the on-going German law enforcement investigation [9], in which he is one of a group of individuals tied to the IGD suspected of forming a criminal association and intending to commit a crime by obtaining funds for its “politico-religious and ultimately Islamist goals.” Charges pending may include…

           — Hat tip: AC[Return to headlines]


Italy: Religion: Rome Hosts Eucharistic Celebrations in Arabic

(ANSAmed) — ROME — Starting tomorrow, one of the most beautiful Paleochristian churches in Rome, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, will host Eucharistic celebrations in Arabic, which will become a weekly religious appointment for Middle Eastern worshippers. There are many Arabic-speaking Christians — especially Palestinians, Syrians, and Lebanese — who live and work in Rome, even on Sunday, Christian news agency MISNA explains. “For them,” said Archimandrite Mtanius Hadad — rector of the basilica, which for centuries has been entrusted to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church -, “we decided to set one day a week, Thursday, to take part in a mass in their native language, but we are extending an invitation to all Romans to come and listen to the celebration with the Byzantine liturgy in Arabic.” “Eastern Catholic Churches, with their liturgical and linguistic heritage passed down through the centuries, remind everyone that Christianity arrived from the Middle East, and they can offer a richness both in ecumenical, cultural and inter-religious dialogue,” Monsignor Hadad added. This eastern community has run the church for years, with one of the most famous symbols in Rome, the ‘Bocca della Verita”, kept in the church’s portico. The world famous face also inspired the name of the new cultural centre set up recently by religious and secular Melkites at the church, with courses in Arabic, iconography Byzantine choral singing. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Nuclear Energy: Choice for Italian Sites to be Made Next Year

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 20 — It will take at least a year to chose the sites where Italy will build its nuclear plants, and the decision will have to be made together with the Regions, according to Economic Development Undersecretary Stefano Saglia. At this moment the macro-areas have been selected, the selection of the actual sites will take more time, Saglia explained. The Undersecretary added that the choice for the location of a nuclear plant must be taken together with the interested Regions, who must be fully involved in the decision. Italy has planned to build at least 8 reactors in 20 years. The long-term goal is to generate 20% of domestic power demand. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Appeal Against Crucifix Ban ‘Ready’

Rome, 22 Jan.(AKI) — Italy is preparing to appeal against a recent European court ban on crucifixes in schools, according to a top aide to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The crucifix ban has sparked a strong reaction in the overwhelmingly Catholic country.

“It is the right of parents to educate their children according to their personal convictions and in keeping with the religion of students,” said Gianni Letta, late on Thursday.

“We are confident that the Court of Human Rights will repair what we consider a big violation against culture, rights and religious sentiment,” Letta added.

He was speaking during a conference at the Italian embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

The European Court of Human Rights in November ruled in favour of an Italian mother who filed a complaint that the display of crucifixes in classrooms prevents her children from getting a secular education.

The Strasbourg court found that: “The compulsory display of a symbol of a given confession in premises used by the public authorities… restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions.”

The Vatican called the ruling “wrong and myopic” while members of the conservative government said crucifixes are part of Italy’s national identity.

The head of the Conference of Italian bishops, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said the appeal is “an initiative to appreciate…because the sentence goes against the reality in Europe where history was born with the Gospel” .

A law requiring crucifixes to be hung in schools dates back to the 1920s in accordance with an agreement that Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini struck with the Vatican.

Although a revised accord between the Vatican and the Italian government ruled that Catholicism was no longer the state religion in 1984, the crucifix law has never been repealed.

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


Italy: German Shepherd Treks 700 Km Home

Dog returns to owner three years after being stolen on holiday

(ANSA) — Pisa, January 22 — A dog named Rocky tugged on the nation’s heartstrings on Friday after trekking halfway up Italy to find the man he was stolen from three years ago.

The German shepherd travelled 700 km in two months on his long trip home.

Ibrahim Fwal, a Syrian national who lives in the Tuscany town of Carrara, said he adopted Rocky from the pound five years ago when he was just a puppy.

Fwal said he and the dog were inseparable and partial to long rides on his scooter, which the two took on a summer vacation to Salerno in southern Italy.

It was after just such a ride that Rocky was abducted while Fwal and his children were having a splash in the sea.

Rocky presumably found a way to escape his captors and was later taken in by a family from Salerno.

But his new owners said he never stopped trying to run away and eventually succeeded last November.

Two months later, they were contacted by a man in Pisa some 600 km away who had found their dog heading north along the roadway.

The long journey had taken its toll on Rocky who was gaunt, dirty and limping on blistered paws.

His condition prompted a visit to the veterinarian who discovered a tattoo pointing to his original owner.

Fwal said that he’d never given up hope his dog would come home one day and rushed to Pisa to recover his long-lost friend.

After trekking halfway up the Italian peninsula, Rocky travelled the last 100 km home on the seat of Fwal’s scooter.

Rocky’s adventured grabbed national headlines on Friday, putting him in league with another dog hero who came to fame in recent months, a German shepherd named Black who saved his owner in Turin from an attempted rapist.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Copts and Muslims to Meet After Egyptian Killings

Milan, 22 Jan.(AKI) — Muslim and Christian immigrants from the Egyptian community in the northern city of Milan were to hold cultural events on Sunday in a bid to build solidarity after six Coptic Christians were killed in Egypt recently. Violence broke out between hundreds of Christian Copts and police in southern Egypt earlier this month after the six churchgoers and a security guard were shot dead outside a church in Naj Hammadi in southern Qena province on 6 January.

The killings were the latest in a series of attacks against Copts by Muslim hardliners in Egypt in recent years.

Sunday’s programme of events in Milan was to include a screening of the Egyptian movie, Hassan and Marcos, starring Adel Imam and Omar Sharif.

In the comedy, a Muslim preacher and Coptic Christian priest are forced to change their religious identities and go into hiding after both come under fire from fanatics within their respective communities for being too moderate.

“In Milan there is no tension between Copts and Muslims. All the same, it is important to invest positive energy into bringing together the communities and prevent religious identities from leading to isolation,” read a note by the Ital-Egyptian Association and Vita Magazine, joint organisers of the event.

Immigrants in Italy are mostly concentrated in the country’s industrial north. Muslims make up 2 to 3 percent of Italy’s population of 58.1 million.

Copts make up nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s 80 million people and have complained of being marginalised in favour of the country’s Muslim majority.

Sixteen people were killed in attacks against Copts in Egypt during May and June in 2008 and 40 people were arrested following violent clashes in the southern town of al-Tayba in November that year.

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


Italy: Senate Approves Short Trials Amid Protests

Schifani says: “That’s enough”. Bersani calls measure “worst possible”. Magistrates deplore “destruction of justice”

In the end, the People of Freedom (PDL) senator Domenico Gramazio, known as “The Penguin” since his days as a right-wing activist with the MSI party, hurled the bulky folder of amendments to the Gasparri-Quagliarello bill in the face of his Italy of Values (IDV) colleague, Elio Lannutti. The IDV contingent had been waving placards in the Palazzo Madama debating chamber: “Go to Trial, Berlusconi”, “This is the End of the Mediaset Trial” and “Short Trial, Dead Justice”. The Senate leader, Renato Schifani, appealed: “Enough. That’s enough now”. But later on, two leading lawyers, Luigi Ligotti (IDV) and the PDL’s Piero Longo, were raising their voices in the chamber again: “Jackasses”, shouted Ligotti. “You’re braying, not shouting”, responded Longo, bringing to an end the short trial’s longest day. Motion approved with 163 votes in favour, 130 against and two abstentions after a stormy session and a total rift between majority and opposition.

The PDL-inspired law will spell the end of hundreds of thousands of trials currently under way. Inevitably, however, debate focused on the Mills and Mediaset trials which involve the prime minister and will come to a halt when bill 1880 is approved in the Chamber of Deputies. The Democratic Party (PD) secretary, Pierluigi Bersani, was unequivocal: “They have done the worst thing possible, wiping out thousands of other trials to salvage just one”. For once, Antonio Di Pietro said he “put his trust in Giorgio Napolitano because the bill has aspects that are evidently unconstitutional”. Meanwhile, the Christian Democrat UDC insisted that the short trial was the death knell of dialogue.

None of this, however, prevented the PDL from pressing ahead and including in the “mega-amendment” short trials both for tax evasion (Court of Auditors) and for corporate criminal responsibility. When it was time for him to present to the Senate his report on the state of the law, justice minister Angelino Alfano was equally unambiguous: “Although it is a initiative by parliament, the government supports the short trial bill because by slimming down criminal trials, it will produce further savings, removing the risks associated with the Pinto law [fair compensation for time overruns — Ed.]”. But group leader Maurizio Gasparri, referring to the trials in which Mr Berlusconi is involved, claimed: “There aren’t any personalised laws. There’s a person-targeted legal system”.

While criminal divisions were calling the bill a “poisoned chalice” devoid of any real reform, the intermagistracy committee issued a polemical statement: “Hundreds of thousands of trials — including Calciopoli, Parmalat, Cirio, Thyssen and the Naples waste case — will be shelved, introducing impunity for white-collar crime”. The matter is now in the hands of the Chamber of Deputies, where the provision which excludes members of the government from trials has been green-lighted in committee. “I’m saying nothing for the moment”, said the justice committee’s chair, Giulia Bongiorno (PDL).

Dino Martirano

21 gennaio 2010

English translation by Giles Watson

www.watson.it

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Radical Muslim Poet Forms Anti-Zionist Party in Sweden

Mohamed Omar, a 34-year-old Swedish poet and commentator, has announced the foundation of a new political party whose main aim is to combat Zionism. Omar said he was prepared to welcome people from all political strands in Sweden into his new party as long as they subscribe to the its core principles.

“Everyone is welcome, even neo-Nazis, but no one is going to be able to push us in a certain direction. We’re not going to focus on Islamic questions, but only on anti-Zionism in order to reach out to as many as possible,” Omar told the Swedish radio program ‘Kaliber’. His website features interviews with known Holocaust deniers and others who hold anti-Semitic views.

Omar once edited one of Sweden’s most respected Islamic publications, the magazine ‘Minaret’. Israeli incursions into the Gaza strip in the second half of 2008 played a key role in his radicalization. Since then he repeatedly said that he now supports Hamas and Hezbollah and declared himself to be “a radical Muslim — and I say that with pride.” His self-declared role model is the late leader of the Islamic revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomenei, and on his website he calls himself a “Swedish Islamist”.

Soon thereafter he began arguing that Zionism was to blame for a number of Sweden’s problems, including the disturbances which plagued a neighborhood of the city of Malmö, the third-largest in Sweden. “Besides, the big threat today is the Zionists. Today, there are Zionists collecting money for the Israeli murder machine which used the money to burn children,” Omar said last year on Swedish television.

A number of former allies have distanced themselves from Omar following his radicalization, including the current editor of Minaret, Abd al Haqq Kielan. “He’s basically become a full blown extremist, seasoned with a bit if Islamic spice, but he doesn’t represent Islam in any way,” Kielan told ‘Kaliber’.

Omar’s plan to form an anti-Zionist party is modeled on French comedian Dieudonné, whose group unsuccessfully contested the European Parliament elections in June 2009.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


UK Terror Threat Raised to ‘Severe’

The UK’s terror threat level was tonight raised from substantial to severe, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’.

There is only one higher threat level: critical, which means an attack is expected ‘imminently’.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said the public needs to be vigilant, but stressed there was ‘no intelligence to suggest an attack is imminent’.

He said: ‘The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has today raised the threat to the UK from international terrorism from substantial to severe.

‘This means that a terrorist attack is highly likely, but I should stress that there is no intelligence to suggest than an attack is imminent.

‘JTAC keeps the threat level under constant review and makes its judgments based on a broad range of factors, including the intent and capabilities of international terrorist groups in the UK and overseas.’

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


UK: Export Ban for Useless ‘Bomb Detector’

The UK government has announced a ban on the export to Iraq and Afghanistan of some so-called “bomb detectors”.

It follows an investigation by the BBC’s Newsnight programme which found that one type of “detector” made by a British company cannot work.

The Iraqi government has spent $85m on the ADE-651 and there are concerns that they have failed to stop bomb attacks that have killed hundreds of people.

The ban on the ADE-651 and other similar devices starts next week.

Sidney Alford, a leading explosives expert who advises all branches of the military, told Newsnight the sale of the ADE-651 was “absolutely immoral”.

“It could result in people being killed in the dozens, if not hundreds,” he said.

Questions were raised over the ADE-651, following three recent co-ordinated waves of bombings in Baghdad.

Thirty-nine-year-old Aqeel Yousif Yaqoub was caught in a bomb at Iraq’s Justice Ministry last October.

The blast left him with injuries to his face and limbs, and damaged his take-away falafel store.

“If they were effective,” he asked, “how did the suicide car bomb reach this area?”

And an attack in December killed over 120 people, prompting Iraqis to ask how the bombs could have got through the city’s security.

Attention is increasingly focusing on the ADE-651, the hand-held detector now used at most checkpoints in Baghdad.

‘Glorified dowsing rod’

Iraq has bought thousands of the detectors for a total of $85m (£52m).

The device is sold by Jim McCormick, based at offices in rural Somerset, UK.

The ADE-651 detector has never been shown to work in a scientific test.

There are no batteries and it consists of a swivelling aerial mounted to a hinge on a hand-grip. Critics have likened it to a glorified dowsing rod.

Mr McCormick told the BBC in a previous interview that “the theory behind dowsing and the theory behind how we actually detect explosives is very similar”.

He says that the key to it is the black box connected to the aerial into which you put “programmed substance detection cards”, each “designed to tune into” the frequency of a particular explosive or other substance named on the card.

He claims that in ideal conditions you can detect explosives from a range of up to 1km.

The training manual for the device says it can even, with the right card, detect elephants, humans and 100 dollar bills.

Anti-theft tag inside

Claims of such almost magical technical abilities would almost be comic, if the potential consequences were not so serious.

Newsnight obtained a set of cards for the ADE-651 and took them to Cambridge University’s Computer Laboratory where Dr Markus Kuhn dissected a card supposed to detect TNT.

It contained nothing but the type of anti-theft tag used to prevent stealing in high street stores.

Dr Kuhn said it was “impossible” that it could detect anything at all and that the card had “absolutely nothing to do with the detection of TNT”.

“There is nothing to program in these cards. There is no memory. There is no microcontroller. There is no way any form of information can be stored,” he added.

High price

The tags which are supposed to be the heart of such an expensive system cost around two to three pence.

“These are the cheapest bit of electronics that you can get that look vaguely electronic and are sufficiently flat to fit inside a card,” Dr Kuhn told Newsnight.

The ADE-651 has been sold to a range of Middle Eastern countries and as far afield as Bangkok for eye-watering prices.

Iraq paid around $40,000 for each device.

No Western government uses them.

The promotional material for the ADE-651 claims it is powered only by the user’s static electricity.

Iraqis themselves are sceptical about the device.

“They don’t work properly,” Umm Muhammad, a retired schoolteacher said. “Sometimes when I drive through checkpoints, the device moves simply because I have medications in my handbag. Sometimes it doesn’t — even when I have the same handbag.”

The BBC has learned that following the December bombings, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered an investigation into the bomb detectors, expected to report any day now.

FBI warnings

Concern over the use of dowsing rods to detect bombs was first raised by American sceptic, James Randi.

Mr Randi has confirmed to the BBC that he is still offering Mr McCormick $1m if he can prove that the ADE-651 works.

In 1995, the Sandia national labs and the FBI raised the alarm over a dowsing rod device called the Quadro Tracker which they described as “a fraud” and the FBI warned: “All agencies should immediately cease using the device.”

In 1999, the FBI put out another alert: “Warning. Do not use bogus explosives detection devices.”

In 2002, a test by Sandia labs in the US found that a similar dowsing rod device, called the Mole detector, did not work and performed “no better than a random selection process”.

They concluded that it did not work and that it looked “nearly identical” to the Quadro Tracker.

Last month, a senior Iraqi officer involved in bomb-prevention defended the ADE-651.

Major General Jehad al-Jabiri, who appeared at a press conference with Mr McCormick following the December explosions, said he did not “care about Sandia” and knew more about bombs than the Americans:

“Whether it’s magic or scientific, what I care about is it detects bombs,” he said.

And policemen manning checkpoints in Baghdad have told the BBC that you need to be relaxed to use the ADE-651 and that it does not work properly if the user is stressed or has a high heart rate.

In other words, the message which has got through to the frontlines is — if it does not work, blame the operator not the device.

Mr McCormick declined our request to interview him for this report, but late last year he told the BBC that he has been selling products like the ADE-651 for over a decade and that he has sold 6,000 of them to around 20 countries.

They are in use everywhere from Thailand to Pakistan and Lebanon.

“For a British company to be selling a piece of technology that is useless when it’s meant to be saving lives is abhorrent,” Lou McGrath, chief executive of the charity, Mines Advisory Group, told Newsnight.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]


UK: Labour is Dreaming Up 33 New Crimes a Month… Including Barring You From Swimming Into the Titanic

Labour has created 4,300 new crimes since taking power — including a ban on swimming in the wreck of the Titanic and on the sale of game birds shot on a Sunday.

Gordon Brown has been the worst offender in this unprecedented ‘legislative splurge’, with his Government creating new offences at the rate of 33 a month.

Under Tony Blair, Labour invented 27 new ways of criminalising the public every month.

The ‘crimes’ range from swimming in the hull of the Titanic without the permission of a Cabinet Minister to ‘disturbing a pack of eggs’ when instructed not to by an authorised officer.

In total, between 1997 and 2009, 4,289 new criminal offences were created — approximately one for every day ministers have been in office. It is twice the rate at which new crimes were created under the last Tory administration.

They include offences — such as carrying out a nuclear explosion — which could easily be covered by existing laws.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Mother ‘Not Clever Enough to Raise Child’ Has Baby Snatched by Social Workers After Running Away to Ireland to Give Birth

A couple who fled to Ireland after social workers threatened to remove their baby at birth have had the newborn snatched after all.

Kerry Robertson, 17, who has mild learning difficulties, and Mark McDougall, 25, went on the run after British social services said she was not clever enough to raise a child.

But just four days after Ben was born, Irish social workers marched into the maternity ward and forced them to hand him over.

They were told they were acting at the behest of their British counterparts.

The couple, from Fife, Scotland, have been on the run for three months.

In September, their wedding was halted just 48 hours before the service when social workers claimed Miss Robertson was not bright enough to understand the marriage declaration.

Then in November they were told that her ‘disability’ meant their baby would be taken away at birth.

With Miss Robertson 29 weeks pregnant, they fled their house in the middle of the night and travelled to Ireland.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Muslim Community to Raise Concerns Over Growing Anti-Muslim Violence

LONDON, Jan 22 (APP)- Imams and religious scholars from hundreds of Muslim organisations will gather in Birmingham on Saturday to discuss the rise in Islam phobia and anti-Muslim attacks in the UK and across Europe.Convened by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), the meeting will note with deep regret and concerns that Islam phobia is becoming largely acceptable and tolerable due to the silence from the political leaders and by some sections of the media.

In a statement, the MCB Secretary-General Dr.Muhammad Abdul Bari said this further enhances the legitimacy to ignore the concerns of the British Muslim community and increases the possibility of more anti-Muslim violence. Due to the lack of any clear policy or directive by the British government, it has emboldened the far right groups, who are now increasingly targeting Muslims and their places of worship with virtual impunity.

Urging the government for a clear policy, he said the MCB is expressing the concerns of the British Muslim community that should anti-Muslim hatred remain unchecked and unchallenged by the politicians, media and the police, it has the real potential to lead and recreate civil unrest like those events of Oldham and Bradford in 2001.

“By not confronting these issues, it will inevitably lead to a breakdown in community relations at a time when there should be direct partnership to combat the rise of the far right with long term consequences on community cohesion,” he observed.

Dr. Bari further said: “The soaring anti-Muslim violence makes it more than ever necessary for the MCB and its affiliates to work harder to continue raising awareness and educating people about religious diversity that they share and benefit from in the UK .

“It also demonstrates a pressing need for Muslims to be fully engaged in political and civic action and to build strong alliances with other faith groups to fight for a tolerant Britain and Europe where every faith and none thrives without intimidation, threat and slander”.

He urged grassroots organisations, Mosques, Imams and community workers to work more closely with groups of faith and civil liberty bodies to strengthen the fabric of the society and challenge all kinds of bigotry.

The special meeting will reiterate the need of the MCB and its affiliates to demand an official enquiry into the rise of Islam phobia and to challenge all threats to the security from any extremist group at the expense of the law abiding Muslim community.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]


UK: Obese Patients Being Made to Eat More to Get Weight-Loss Surgery on the NHS

Obese patients are being encouraged to get fatter so they qualify for a weight loss operation, surgeons claim.

They say GPs are telling dangerously heavy people to eat more because NHS trusts are refusing to fund surgery for all but the most severely overweight.

Patients with a Body Mass Index of 40 or more — around twice the recommended weight to height ratio — have a right to be assessed for surgery after diets and drugs have failed.

But only extremely ill patients with a BMI of 50 or 60 and an obesity-related illness such as diabetes can be referred for surgery in some primary care trusts, the Royal College of Surgeons said.

Consultant surgeon Simon Toh added: ‘I think from the start the Government thought “we can’t afford this” so patients have to be a lot bigger and eat themselves bigger.

‘GPs are saying that they tell patients to eat more to get bigger to qualify for surgery. It’s tragic.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Obesity Drug Used by 86,000 Patients is Banned Over Heart Attack Fears

Tens of thousands of patients have been ordered to stop taking a popular fat-busting drug suspected of raising the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

The European Medicines Agency last night suspended the licence of the drug Reductil, which was taken by 86,000 Britons last year.

The safety watchdog fears it could threaten the health of the overweight and obese — although it says any side-effects should not be fatal.

However, some 17 deaths have been linked to the drug in Britain since 2001 — six of which were caused by heart attacks and strokes.

Some 1,105 suspected adverse reactions have been reported, a third of them serious.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

Montenegro — Council of Europe: Romany Still Not Official

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 22 — The Rom population of Montenegro normally lives in isolation and therefore its language is still largely invisible in public life. This is the finding of a Council of Europe report on the implementation of the European Charter on regional and minority languages, to which Montenegro is a signatory regarding its Albanian and Roma minorities. The report characterises the general situation of minority languages as one of good will and tolerance. But there is nonetheless an urgent need to recruit and train teachers as well as to develop teaching materials in the Romany language spoken by the Roma. The Cabinet of the Council of Europe has invited the Montenegrin government to promote the written form of the Romany language, which is not in official use in any of the country’s municipalities. Another chapter affects the Albanian minority, which is able to use its own idiom when dealing with the authorities in all those areas with an Albanian majority. The Cabinet of the Council of Europe has therefore recommended that the Montenegrin government introduce the Romany language in schools and builds up teacher training programmes for Albanian native speakers. The country has yet to define which are the areas where the Albanian and Romany languages should come into official use and where the European Charter for minority languages is to be enforced.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Morocco: Signing Agriculture-Fisheries Deal Postponed

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, JANUARY 20 — “It is unlikely that the EU and Morocco will sign the agreement on the bilateral trade in food and fish products in the coming six months”, of which the transcripts were signed by EU and Moroccan negotiators on December 17. The statement was made by the President of the council of EU Agriculture Ministers, Spanish Minister Elena Espinosa. Answering a question of reporters in Brussels, Espinosa explained: “The situation may change, but at the moment the official signing (necessary for the agreement to become effective, editor’s note) is not on the agenda of the EU Council of Ministers. The European Parliament still has to take a decision on the issue”. The signing of the written understanding raised serious doubts, particularly from the side of Spanish producers. Tomatoes and strawberries are the harvests the most influenced by the agreement. Regarding tomatoes, the deal includes a progressive increase of the tariff quota of Moroccan imports, currently 52,000 tonnes, starting in the 2010-2011 season until the 2014-2015 season. Over four seasons, imports would be increased from 253,000 to 285,000 tonnes. Regarding strawberries, the period in which the European market will be open for Moroccan imports will remain as it is, from November 1 to March 31. The agreement includes an import quota of 3,600 tonnes over which no customs duties have to be paid from April 1 to April 30. Moreover, the customs duties that have to be paid for 1,000 tonnes of strawberries are halved between May 1 and May 31. The agreement that is currently in force includes a tariff quota of 100 tonnes for the month of April, apart from the 7.7% customs tariff. The EU exports agricultural products, processed food and fish products to Morocco for a total of 944 million euros, and imports mainly agricultural products for around 2 billion euros. The EU’s global trade balance shows a surplus however, exporting for over 14 billion euros and importing products for around 8 billion. France and Spain are Morocco’s main trade partners. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Airlines: Blue Panorama; Low Cost Doing Well, Leader in Egypt

(ANSAmed) — MARSA ALAM (EGYPT), JANUARY 21 — Turnover up by 104% to 70 million euros and a total of 750,000 passengers transported were the figures seen for 2009 by Blu-express.com, the low-cost section of Blue Panorama, which has confirmed the success of low-cost airlines on a market paying a high price for the world economic crisis. For 2010, the president and sole owner of the airline group, Franco Pecci, aims to board a million passengers on planes of the company running both national and international flights. Over a million and a half passengers used the Blue Panorama (which was created 11 years ago) airlines last year (1,250,000 in 2008), though revenues dropped by 3-4% to 270 million euros (due to the drop in fuel prices and, as a consequence, due to ticket prices). Overall the year’s results were satisfactory, Pecci noted in meeting with journalists in Port Ghalib, an area under development near Marsa Alam, though he also said that at the moment the group is “simply surviving”. Pecci was in Egypt for a convention with travel agents and tour operators on air transport and tourism. Egypt — where every year 1.3 million Italians fly to — was chosen since Blue Panorama, with 1,600 flights per year to the country’s major destinations, 350,000 passengers transported and 70 million in turnover, is a leader in the transport of passengers from Italy. As concerns Marsa Alam, the company holds the top European position. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Oil Reserves Hit 18.2 Billion Barrels, Minister

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, JANUARY 20 — Egyptian minister of Oil Sameh Fahmi said today that Egypt’s oil reserves reached 18.2 billion barrels, MENA news agency reported. In TV statements, the minister said the oil sector took interest in assessing the reserves which he considered a deposit, adding the status of oil in Egypt is reassuring. Minister Fahmi said that 110 oil companies were able to provide numerous job opportunities. Enppi and Petrojet companies are working now in 16 countries and have achieved revenues amounting to 4 billion dollars, said the minister. He said the petroleum sector started to enter the local industrialization process, pointing out that Egypt’s oil sector is now manufacturing oil pumps and land rigs and is about to manufacture maritime rigs. The minister said the Egyptian offshore platforms are working now in some Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egypt: Ban on Niqab in Universities Defeated in Appeals Court

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — The ban on wearing a niqab in Egyptian universities, supported by Minister for Higher Education Hani Helal, has been defeated in appeals court. The Egyptian High Administrative Court sided with female students wanting to wearing a veil leaving only their eyes uncovered, who had made an appeal against the government-imposed ban. Over the past few weeks sentences in first degree courts had been at variance with each other, with the Cairo administrative court siding with the minister twice and the Mansoura Court in the Nile Delta instead ruling against. According to the High Court judges, the freedom to wear a ‘niqab’ is a human, constitutionally-guaranteed right, noted Reuters news agency: an argument which had also been put forward by the judges in other cases in which the ban had been defeated. In the Mansoura case, the court had also brought up Article 2 of the Constitution, which names Islam as the state religion and which states that Sharia principles are the legal basis for the country’s laws, in this way giving weight to the principle that the niqab is a religious value. Denying that the niqab had anything to do with religion was instead the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Tantawi, who had it banned in the institutes of the highest Sunni authority — or at least in the presence of exclusively other women — since it was nothing more than a tradition. The Minister for Higher Education, on the other hand, had banned it due to potential security issues, as well to allow professors to recognise candidates during exams. In reaction to the ban, some female students had gone to classrooms wearing medical masks.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tourism: Egypt: More Italian Visitors Expected in 2010

(ANSAmed) — MARSA ALAM, JANUARY 21 — Egypt’s tourism director in Rome Mohamed Abdel-Gabbar expected more Italian tourists visiting Egypt this year. In statements to MENA news agency today, Abdel-Gabbar said Egypt had various destinations suiting the taste of the Italians, adding that the “Italian people are almost similar to the Egyptians”. Italian tourists are considered the best in terms of spending money and staying for longer periods, he said. Around 1,073,000 Italian tourists visited Egypt in 2008, he said, adding that the Italian market is stable despite the global economic crisis. “The tourism office launched a project in Italy three years ago whose results were obvious last year,” he said. The programme focuses on the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh being the main tourist destination for Italy, he said, referring to between 75 and 80% of Italian tourists preferring to go there. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Hamas ‘ Still Committed to Israel’s Destruction’

Damascus, 21 Jan. (AKI) — Palestinian Islamist group Hamas was committed to the destruction of Israel and has no intention of rewriting its charter, a leading Hamas spokesman has told Adnkronos International (AKI). Speaking in the Syrian capital Damascus, Osama Abu Khaled, said: “It is impossible to recognise Israel on any terms and in any circumstances.”

Khaled denied reports in the Israeli daily, The Jerusalem Post, on Thursday that Hamas had accepted Israel’s right to exist and would be prepared to nullify its 20-year-old charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel.

“There has been no change in Hamas’ position towards Israel. Our strategy is clear and unwavering,” Khaled told AKI.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is currently seeking to win recognition from the international community.

Khaled said comments recognising Israel’s right to exist, which The Jerusalem Post had attributed to Hamas’ most senior representative in the West Bank, Aziz Dwaik, were “false” and had been manipulated.

“Hamas wants a Palestinian state with the pre-1967 borders in exchange for a permanent ceasefire,” he stressed.

Dwaik said during a recent meeting in the West Bank that other Hamas leaders, including Damascus-based leader Khaled Mashaal and Gaza prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, had supported establishing an independent Palestinian state within the boundaries before the 1967 Six-Day War.

Dwaik reportedly made the remarks during a meeting he held in the West Bank town of Hebron with British millionaire David Martin Abrahams.

The Jerusalem Post quoted Abrahams saying he would urge British foreign minister David Milliband to “consider the implications of Hamas’s positive overtures.”

Abrahams maintains close ties with senior Israeli and British government officials. He is scheduled to brief Milliband later this week on the outcome of his meeting with Dwaik and other top Hamas officials in the West Bank.

“Dwaik’s comments were intentionally manipulated. From what we know, they were off-the-cuff remarks made with a wealthy Briton,” said Khaled.

Dwaik is the elected speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council. He was released a few months ago after spending nearly three years in an Israeli prison.

He was among dozens of Hamas officials and members who were rounded up by Israel following the abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit near the Gaza Strip in June 2006.

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


Muslim Brotherhood Cleric Versus Palestinian “President”: A Case Study of Islamism Versus Nationalism

by Barry Rubin

Forget about the moderate mythology fed the Western public by its media. Forget the comforting nonsense about reasonable masses held back from being humanitarian democrats only by manipulative dictatorships. Here’s a glimpse of what the region is really like.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of the world’s most prestigious Muslim clerics and certainly the most internationally popular Islamist cleric. Some in the West like to think of him as some kind of pragmatic, modernizing moderate. As such he was welcomed in visiting Britain. But Qaradawi is a very hardline fellow indeed.

Siding with Hamas, Qaradawi, an Egyptian who lives in Qatar, gave a sermon urging Muslims to stone-in other words kill as a heretic-Palestinian Authority (PA) leader (often referred to as “president”) Mahmoud Abbas. Angered by this statement, PA officials ordered West Bank imams to denounce Qaradawi for this action. One of those who did so was Raed al-Mahdawi of Ramallah who took a traditional conservative Muslim position, asking Qaradawi to apologize to Abbas and adding, “Muslim scholars should not use the podiums at their disposal to incite against any ruler or offend the feelings of any people.”

But those who followed PA instructions were interrupted and forced to stop by angry worshippers; congregations walked out or chased the clerics out of the mosques altogether. In response, PA police beat up and arrested those protesting.

Thus, the PA was helpless, faced with this Islamist challenge, to keep its own people in line. And so what was their second line of defense?…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


Premier: Clandestine Immigration is a Threat

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JANUARY 21 — Israeli premier Benyamin Netanyahu today repeated that illegal immigration in Israel of tens of thousands of people, mostly from Africa, threatens the Jewish and democratic character of the Israeli State. Speaking to the association of industrialists, Netanyahu Stated that “we are almost the only State of the First World that can be reached on foot by the Third World. We are looking at a flood of refugees which threatens to cancel out our successes and our existence as a Jewish and democratic State. We are the victims of a problem which derives from Israels economic prosperity”. The premier believes that the presence of thousands of immigrants which are illegally residing in the Country is causing socio-economic and cultural damage and risks to return us to the level of Third World Countries”. Netanyahu made these statements while confirming the governments intention to build a physical barrier between Israel and Egypt to prevent a flood of illegal aliens. At the same time the premier guaranteed that Israel “will open its doors to people escaping wars’. According to Treasury minister Yuval Steinitz in Israel there are 100,000 illegal workers. That is the reason why they are preparing a harshening of sanctions for those exploiting illegal work.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Exposed: Saudi Arabia’s Secret Nuke Stash

Riyadh ‘confident’ it has an atomic option

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project was partially financed by Saudi Arabia, with the two countries sharing nuclear technology, a senior Egyptian security official told WND.

“The Saudis are confident they have a nuclear option via Pakistan,” said the security official. “The Pakistani nukes are also Saudi nukes.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Iran: Ahmadinejad’s Fortune Worth Over €100m

Kuwaiti newspaper publishes list of 66 senior Iranian officials holding total of $16 billion abroad

The fortune is comprised of US dollars (about $9 billion), euros (about €4.3 billion) and pound sterling (about £1.15 billion).

The Iranian officials appear to be aware of the monitoring of their personal wealth, and have decided to scatter the risk and deposit their funds in Arab banks, in Asia and in Europe. Some of the sums are frozen as part of the international sanctions.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Iranian Police: ‘Ssomething Will Happen to You’

Police force the president of the Danish European Movement to leave the Islamic Republic of Iran

Erik Boel, the president of the Danish chapter of the European Movement, has returned to Denmark after police questioned then asked him to leave Iran.

A week ago, Boel went to Iran on a tourist visa, checked into a hotel and contacted several students who have been active in demonstrations in Tehran recently.

The reform movement in Iran has been gathering steam since the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June, with numerous protests against the election result taking place in the streets of the capital. Some demonstrators have been killed and hundreds arrested.

Boel had been meeting activists in cafes and restaurants with the purpose of disseminating their messages in Denmark and Europe through his organisation, which is dedicated to examining political, economic, social and cultural trends in civil society.

On Wednesday morning, the receptionist at his hotel rang and said the police had confiscated his passport and demanded his presence at the station.

‘They knew a lot of things about me. They kept asking if I was a politician and why I had travelled so much in my life,’ said Boel, who used to be the international secretary for the Social Democrat Party.

Boel said he was interrogated for an hour and a half before the police concluded he had an ‘unhealthy interest’ in Iranian politics and asked him to leave the country within 24 hours.

‘Or else, something will happen to you,’ the interrogator reportedly told Boel.

He went directly to his hotel, immediately packed his things and contacted the Danish Embassy, which helped get him on a flight home.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Jordan-Spain: Nuclear Cooperation Deal Signed

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JANUARY 21 — Jordan signed with Spain an agreement on nuclear cooperation which could see Spanish companies get involved in building the country’s first nuclear power plant, an official said today. The agreement will allow the two sides established expertise exchange, development of human resources, spent nuclear fuel disposal and management, nuclear safety, the drafting of legislation and regulatory frameworks, and public information and awareness, said Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) Chairman Khaled Toukan. The signing ceremony was attended by Spanish Ambassador in Amman Javier Sangro de Liniers and Spanish Secretary of State for Trade Sylvia Iranzo Gutierrez, said the official news agency, Petra. Jordan is planning to build its first nuclear reactor in the Red Sea city of Aqaba, a vital project for the kingdom, which has little natural resources and relies on imported fuel. Jordan has inked deals on nuclear cooperation with France, South Korea, China, Canada, Russia, the UK and Argentina and prepares for similar deals with Romania and the Czech Republic by the end of the year, Toukan said. Officials expressed confidence that the cash-striped kingdom remains in course to construct two 1,000-megawatt Generation III reactors in the next 15 years, with the intention of building four reactors with the potential to produce over half of the Kingdom’s electricity needs. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Lackawanna, NY “Good Boy” In Custody in Yemen

Jaber A. ELBANEH, 43 year-old former resident of the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna, NY and one of the leaders of the “Lackawanna Six” group of young Yemeni terrorists is reportedly in custody again in Yemen, according to officials. In the spirit of cooperation with the Holder Justice Department and the Obama administration, he now wants to “lawyer up,” perhaps taking cues from 23-year-old Nigerian native Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Muslim terrorist who attempted to blow Northwest Airlines Flight 253 from the sky on Christmas Day. Abdulmutallab, who was reportedly trained in Yemen by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was read his rights and granted access to a lawyer.

ELABNEH was indicted in absentia in a federal criminal complaint in the United States District Court for the Western District of New York, Buffalo, New York, charged with providing material support to a terrorist organization and conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaeda. He was added to the “FBI Most Wanted Terrorist” list with a $5 million reward offered for his arrest and conviction. Yemeni authorities have had ELBANEH in custody several times in the past seven years, but Yemen’s government has refused requests from the U.S. government to extradite him.

A desire by the government of Yemen to collect on the reward, extensive government corruption in Yemen, along with the absence of any extradition treaty with the U.S., all seemed to have been factors in the twisted saga of ELBANAH. In a surreal court setting in 2008, ELBANEH managed to walk freely in and out of a Yemeni courtroom despite being a wanted terrorist.

The government of Yemen convicted ELBANEH in 2002 for his participation with the 2002 Limburg oil tanker bombing that killed one person and injured at least a dozen others. He was also convicted in Yemen for other terror plots to attack oil installations inside that country.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

LeT Acquires 50 Para-Gliding Equipment

NEW DELHI: Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba may be attempting to send its terrorists to glide into India. Security agencies have expressed this fear after it has come to light that the Pakistan-based terrorist outfit has acquired more than 50 para-gliding equipment from Europe.

Intelligence alert on the sale, setting off alarm bells on a possible air-borne suicide attack, after the sea route adopted in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, comes in just days before the Republic Day. The intelligence input has prompted authorities to ensure a tight air security around all vital installations.

According to news agency reports, the input about movement of overground workers, owing allegiance to LeT, in Europe led sleuths to find out that they were on a shopping spree for para-gliding equipment, the sources said. Security agencies have carried out mock drills in different areas in the country as part of the exercise to prevent any air-borne suicide attack by LeT terrorists.

The input bears significance in view of the fact that government has already put all Air India planes operating in the country’s neighbourhood on high security alert following intelligence reports from Western agencies that LeT and other terror groups were planning to hijack a flight. The government has alerted its airports and national airline after intelligence reports said hijackers may attempt to seize a plane flying in South Asia.

The civil aviation ministry ordered extra searches of passengers right before they board and the “deployment of sky marshals on certain flights,” a government press statement said.

Militants linked to Al Qaeda or LeT’s guerrilla group plan in the near future to seize an Air India plane flying between any of eight South Asian countries, a national newspaper said, quoting unnamed intelligence sources had reported on Friday.

Meanwhile, ahead of the London conference on Afghanistan, Britain has said that Pakistan needed to do more against the terror infrastructure, including LeT and the Afghan Taliban.

Saying Pakistani authorities had made “significant progress” last year in tackling insurgency in the Swat valley and South Waziristan, British High Commissioner to India Richard Stagg said that Pakistan still needs to do more against ‘‘other sources of instability and violence.’’

‘‘The government of Pakistan needs to take effective action against terror groups. We believe there has been significant activity in the last few months And we believe Pakistani authorities are taking situation very seriously. We still think they need to do more to dismantle the terror infrastructure,’’ Mr Stagg said. He further noted that the LeT now has ‘‘global aspirations.’’

Speaking about the London conference which is taking place on January 28, the high commissioner said that the aim of the conference was to give clear international support to the effort in Afghanistan. ‘‘We are hoping to offer a clear measure of success to Afghan people,’’ Mr Stagg said.

The British high commissioner further said that the conference would also be an opportunity for India to publicise the work it was doing in Afghanistan. ‘‘It’s an opportunity for Mr Krishna to give a clear message on what India is doing in Afghanistan and give perspective on India role,’’ he said.

There have been reports that the UK has proposed that India should look at training the Afghan police. Saying he was not aware of the proposal, Mr Stagg said, ‘‘There is a broad view that India training support for Afghanistan is very important,’’ he said.

Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner also said that Britain was satisfied with the security arrangements for the Commonwealth Games. He said that he expected the UK to send a substantial team for the Games and that a team of experts who had come to India had gone back reassured with the security preparations.

[Return to headlines]


NZ Army to Remove Bible Citations From Armaments

New Zealand said Thursday that biblical citations inscribed on U.S.-manufactured weapon sights used by New Zealand’s troops in Afghanistan will be removed, saying they are inappropriate and could stoke religious tensions.

[…]

Trijicon said it has had such inscriptions on its products for three decades and has never received complaints about them before. The inscriptions, which don’t include actual text from the Bible, refer numerically to passages from the book.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UN Climate Body Admits ‘Mistake’ On Himalayan Glaciers

The vice-chairman of the UN’s climate science panel has admitted it made a mistake in asserting that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) included the date in its 2007 assessment of climate impacts.

A number of scientists have recently disputed the 2035 figure, and Jean-Pascal van Ypersele told BBC News that it was an error and would be reviewed.

But he said it did not change the broad picture of man-made climate change.

The issue, which BBC News first reported on 05 December, has reverberated around climate websites in recent days.

Some commentators maintain that taken together with the contents of e-mails stolen last year from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, it undermines the credibility of climate science.

Dr van Ypersele said this was not the case.

“I don’t see how one mistake in a 3,000-page report can damage the credibility of the overall report,” he said.

“Some people will attempt to use it to damage the credibility of the IPCC; but if we can uncover it, and explain it and change it, it should strengthen the IPCC’s credibility, showing that we are ready to learn from our mistakes.”

Grey area

The claim that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035 appears to have originated in a 1999 interview with Indian glaciologist Syed Hasnain, published in New Scientist magazine.

The figure then surfaced in a 2005 report by environmental group WWF — a report that is cited in the IPCC’s 2007 assessment, known as AR4.

An alternative genesis lies in the misreading of a 1996 study that gave the date as 2350.

AR 4 asserted: “Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world… the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high.”

Dr van Ypersele said the episode meant that the panel’s reviewing procedures would have to be tightened.

Slow reaction?

The row erupted in India late last year in the run-up to the Copenhagen climate summit, with opposing factions in the government giving radically different narratives of what was happening to Himalayan ice.

In December, it emerged that four leading glaciologists had prepared a letter for publication in the journal Science arguing that a complete melt by 2035 was physically impossible.

“You just can’t accomplish it,” Jeffrey Kargel from the University of Arizona told BBC News at the time.

“If you think about the thicknesses of the ice — 200-300m thicknesses, in some cases up to 400m thick — and if you’re losing ice at the rate of a metre a year, or let’s say double it to two metres a year, you’re not going to get rid of 200m of ice in a quarter of a century.”

The row continues in India, with Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh calling this week for the IPCC to explain “how it reached the 2035 figure, which created such a scare”.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the news agency AFP, Georg Kaser from the University of Innsbruck in Austria — who led a different portion of the AR4 process — said he had warned that the 2035 figure was wrong in 2006, before AR4’s publication.

“It is so wrong that it is not even worth discussing,” he told AFP in an interview.

He said that people working on the Asia chapter “did not react”.

He suggested that some of the IPCC’s working practices should be revised by the time work begins on its next landmark report, due in 2013.

But its overall conclusion that global warming is “unequivocal” remains beyond reproach, he said.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Teen Seen as Hero for Killing Local Official

BEIJING — When Li Shiming was stabbed through the heart by a hired assassin, few of his fellow villagers mourned the local Communist Party official many say made their lives hell by seizing land, extorting money and bullying people for years.

Instead, villagers in the northern town of Xiashuixi have made Li’s teenage killer something of a local hero. More than 20,000 people from the coal-mining area petitioned a court for a lenient sentence.

“I didn’t feel surprised at all when I heard Li Shiming was killed, because people wanted to kill him a long time ago,” said villager Xin Xiaomei, who says her husband was harassed for years by Li after the two men had a personal dispute. “I wanted to kill Li myself, but I was too weak.”

The murder trial has again cast a harsh light on abuses of power by communist cadres and the frustration many ordinary Chinese feel with a one-party system that sometimes allows officials to run their districts like personal fiefdoms.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

Spain: Vic Repeals Ban on Illegal Immigrants Registering

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 21 — The Catalan City Council of Vic (Barcelona) has decided to repeal the ban on immigrants without visas from registering on the city’s register, and has upheld the opinion expressed by the State Bar that the initiative is contrary to what is laid down in the Law for Foreigners which was passed in 2009 by the Spanish Parliament, announced the Mayor of the city, Josep Maria Vila d’Abadal, in a statement quoted by the Efe agency. Announcing the about-turn, the Mayor said that Vic is not xenophobic, it is at the forefront of social integration models for immigrants and will continue to be so. The Mayor also called on the State to observe and enforce the Law for Foreigners, to the benefit of immigration, by providing economic assistance to the municipal councils to deal with the needs of immigrants in irregular circumstances. The decision by the Mayor comes after Socialist councillors, who sit on the Vic council board together with colleagues from Convergencia i Union and Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, declared that they would respect the ruling of the State Bar, withdrawing their right to veto.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

‘Gays’ Seek $1m to Recruit Private-School Teachers

Bailout bank’s prize coveted to hype homosexual proms, co-ed bathrooms

Homosexual advocacy groups have pooled resources and are vying for a $1 million prize to promote homosexuality to American children online and in public and private schools across the nation.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the Trevor Project — three homosexual advocacy organizations geared toward youth — are competing in a contest hosted by Chase Community Giving on Facebook.

JPMorgan Chase is inviting social networkers to cast their votes for their choice of charities to win a share of $5 million in prizes from the bank whose home-mortgage arm was allocated more than $5 billion in mortgage-industry bailouts last year.

[…]

[GLSEN’s kit] also encourages teachers to do the following:

  • “work to improve the school climate”
  • support creation of homosexual clubs
  • wear rainbow buttons and wristbands
  • include positive representations of homosexuals in curriculums
  • post quotes from famous homosexual icons and information about LGBT History Month in classrooms
  • distribute the GLSEN guide to school staff at meetings, post the guide in teacher lounges and put it in the mailboxes of all staff members
  • work with the school principal to obtain training for staff on “the school experiences of LGBT students and anti-LGBT bullying and harassment”
  • conduct surveys of students, staff and parents on their experiences with biased language, harassment and assault
  • implement a gender-neutral dress code
  • encourage gender-neutral and/or private bathrooms and changing areas
  • conduct proms, homecoming and athletic events that “allow for gender-neutral alternatives to “King” and “Queen”
  • plan Valentine’s Day celebrations “inclusive of LGBT and non-coupled students’
  • push for library resources and displays that are “inclusive of LGBT people, history and issues”
  • work with school officials to ensure Internet filters aren’t blocking access to websites with “LGBT-related information, such as research, historical facts or supportive services for LGBT youth”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

General

Islamophobia: Bad for the Jews

My colleague Eli Clifton wrote recently about prominent neoconservative Daniel Pipes’s recent embrace of Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch politician who has made a name for himself by campaigning against Muslim immigration and calling for the Koran to be banned. Pipes’s support for Wilders is just one instance of the burgeoning alliance between right-wing supporters of Israel and the European far right; for this reason, it might be useful to address the subject in more depth. The importance of this topic was driven home by the publication of a new Gallup poll on Americans’ attitudes towards various religions. The poll, which found that over half of Americans view Islam unfavorably, also found that “the strongest predictor of prejudice against Muslims is whether a person holds similar feelings about Jews.”

While the poll deals with the American rather than the European context, it is a reminder that Islamophobia and anti-Semitism have typically gone hand in hand. This is worth remembering when looking at the rise of European far-right leaders like Jean-Marie Le Pen of France and the late Jorg Haider of Austria. Hostility to Muslim immigrants forms the centerpiece of their political stance, but their parties have also tended to espouse anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial — a reminder of their neo-fascist roots.

But this anti-Semitism has quite naturally prevented them from making common cause with neoconservatives and other right-wing Zionists in America, whose militant stance towards “Islamism” (very broadly defined) would otherwise make them natural allies of the European far right. Hence we have seen in recent years that the savvier of the European far right leaders — such as Filip Dewinter of the Flemish separatist party Vlaams Belang (VB) — have dropped the explicitly anti-Semitic elements of their platforms and doubled down on Islamophobia. They realize that by portraying themselves as staunch supporters of Israel and allies in the war against Islamofascism, they can acquire a new set of influential and well-connected supporters in America — the likes of Daniel Pipes, Mark Steyn, Frank Gaffney, etc. (Eli Clifton and I wrote about the connections between Wilders, his U.S. supporters, and the VB this past February.)

While focusing on Islamophobia rather than anti-Semitism is certainly a savvy move, whether it is sincere is another question. The VB, for example, is a successor to the Vlaams Blok, which disbanded in 2004 after being convicted of “repeated incitement to discrimination”; its fall was precipated by top VB official Roeland Raes’s widely-publicized Holocaust denial on Dutch television. Despite the VB’s claims to have cleaned up its act since the Raes scandal, the Belgian Jewish community isn’t buying it. They maintain that, regardless of whatever philo-Semitic noises the top leadership makes in public, the group has a clear pattern of associating with anti-Semitic and neo-fascist elements. (Right-wing apostate Charles Johnson has in recent years provided the most thorough coverage of the devil’s bargain that the American Islamophobic right has made with the European far right.) Similarly, although Wilders himself does not come from the neo-fascist milieu, there can be little doubt that his base of popular support contains many of the same elements as Le Pen’s and Haider’s.

All this is to say that Daniel Pipes and his compatriots are playing with fire when they embrace Wilders and other European Islamophobes. While the European far right has proven increasingly willing to say the right things about Jews for tactical reasons, all indications are that hatred of Muslims frequently goes hand-in-hand with hatred of Jews.

— Daniel Luban

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]


Lawrence Auster: Western Government Have Surrendered to Islam

Diana West informs us that the Pentagon’s 86-page report on the Fort Hood Massacre, released this week,

doesn’t mention the words “Muslim,” “Islam,” “jihad,” “Sharia” (Islamic law), “Koran”—despite the fact that we know, among other things, that the killer, who initiated his massacre with a cry of “Allahu Akbar,” was a Muslim inspired by Islam to perform an act of jihad as sanctioned by Sharia derived from the Koran.

Let us be clear: this is not just “pre-September 11,” since in the 1990s, and at least as far back as the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the American government at least verbally acknowledged the reality of, even if it didn’t do much to oppose, Islamic fundamentalism and Islamic terrorism. So this Fort Hood report is beyond a mere “September 10” state of mind—it is off the planet. We of the West have an enemy, an enemy who is both waging war against us and who has a clearly expressed doctrine of war that he is following; yet the governments of the West refuse as a matter of policy to recognize the existence of this enemy and his openly expressed war doctrine.

Furthermore, Diana West continues, when a person in the West does speak plainly about the enemy and the enemy’s doctrine of war, that person is indicted for the crime of hate speech. Thus the Dutch politician Geert Wilders’s trial for “inciting hatred and discrimination against Islam” has begun this week—the same week that the Islam-free report on the Fort Hood jihadist massacre was published.

Forget about my usual explanation that this is all about liberalism and its prohibition on discriminating against nonwhites and non-Westerners. There is a much simpler explanation: the governments of the West and its main organs of opinion have already surrendered to Islam. Under Islamic law, criticism of Islam is prohibited.(e.g. the report on Fort Hood) and punished (e.g., the trial of Wilders). It is as simple as that. Western governments are now obeying and enforcing Islamic law—exactly as Barack Obama pledged to do in his Cairo speech last June, when he declared:

I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.

Law professor Afshin Ellian, a witness for the defense in the Wilders trial, gets to the real meaning of the anti-hate speech laws in general and of Obama’s pledge in particular:

If you cannot say that Islam is a backward religion and that Muhammad is a criminal, then you are living in an Islamic country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


What’s Wrong With Muslims?

Being Muslim is unlike being anything else in today’s world

Being a Muslim in today’s world is unlike being anything else. It’s an all-encompassing, all-consuming identity.

Within a single society, like the United States, white college professors, say, usually have much more in common — in their values, preferences, lifestyles, and opinions — with black college professors than they do with, say, white garbage collectors. Conversely, black garbage collectors usually have much more in common with white garbage collectors than they do with black college professors. There may be exceptions in some cases, but usually their acquired traits of occupation and profession — what they do every day — is more important in determining who they are and what they believe than their race and ethnicity.

Across societies, however, French electricians, say, usually identify more strongly with French plumbers or even with French accountants than they do with, say, Chinese electricians. Conversely, Chinese electricians usually identify more strongly with Chinese plumbers and accountants than they do with French electricians. Once again, I’m sure there are some exceptions, but usually, in modern society, nationality and culture strongly shape people’s identity and unite them despite their different occupations and professions.

These generalizations appear to hold for most societies, cultures, races, ethnicities, religions, and languages, except for Muslims. For them, being a Muslim appears to be an all-encompassing, all-consuming identity that overrides and trumps everything else. For them, nothing else — their race, their nationality, their occupation, their language — matters except for being Muslim, which unites all Muslims in the world. (True, most Muslims speak the same language — Arabic — but not all; neither Indonesians nor Chechens speak Arabic. Nor do Iranians.)

Major Nidal Malik Hasan is a native-born American citizen, trained military officer, and educated MD and psychiatrist. Yet none of these things matters for him; first and foremost, he is a Muslim. He’s not at all like other native-born American citizens; he’s not at all like other military officers; he’s not at all like other medical doctors or psychiatrists. Anwar al-Awlaki is a native-born and educated American citizen. Three of the four perpetrators of the 7/7 bombings in London were native-born British citizens, and the fourth was Jamaican-born. Of the five US citizens currently under detention in Pakistan for terrorism charges, one has been reported to be native-born American, two originally from Yemen, one from Egypt, and one from Sweden. Yet, once again, none of their varied national and cultural backgrounds matters to them. They are all united in their values and goals by their singular identity of being Muslims.

It’s tempting to dismiss these observations by saying that they are all “extremists” or “Jihadists.” That would be politically correct and comforting, but factually inaccurate. According to Thomas L. Friedman, who knows more about the world affairs, especially the Middle Eastern affairs, than anybody in the world, the only person that I know of who actually predicted 9/11 two years earlier, 50% of Muslims throughout the world applaud the actions of their fellow Muslims on 9/11, and presumably other murderous acts against westerners, while the other 50% actively condemn them. Yes, 50% is only half, not a majority, but it nonetheless represents 800 million Muslims worldwide. If we assume that 50% of them are male, and about 30% of them are young (between the ages of 15-30), then we are talking about 120 million ready suicide bombers worldwide. It took only 19 of them to kill 3,000 of us.

And this is not limited to faraway places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. According to the 2007 report by the Pew Research Center, 81% of Muslims in the United Kingdom consider themselves Muslim first, British second. 81%! For four out of every five Muslims in the UK, being Muslim is more important than being British. The comparable figure in the US is 47%, and it’s 46% in France, 66% in Germany, and 69% in Spain. I cannot think of any ethnic or religious group in the United States (with the possible exception of recent Mexican immigrants in the Southwest) of which half of the members consider their ethnic or religious identity to be more important than being American. Would half of black Americans consider themselves to be “black first, American second”? (I can think of one who would — Jeremiah Wright — but would anyone else?) Would half of Catholic Americans consider themselves to be “Catholic first, American second”?

Of course, it is technically impossible to know for sure without actual survey data on other comparable groups within the United States. But that’s precisely my point. Nobody would dream of asking black Americans “Do you consider yourself to be black first or American first?” Nobody would dream of asking Catholic Americans “Do you consider yourself to be Catholic first or American first?” That would be absurd, to the point of nonsensical. Yet it is not an absurd question to ask of Muslims, and indeed half of American Muslims (and four-fifths of British Muslims) do consider themselves to be Muslim first.

Why is being Muslim so completely different from being anything else in the modern world today? Why is being Muslim such an all-encompassing, all-consuming identity?

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

4 comments:

4Symbols said...

In orchestrating a ban and manipulating the politicians to breach their i4uk pact is choudary intention posturing.

Robert Marchenoir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Marchenoir said...

The homosexual lobby wants "gender-neutral and/or private bathrooms and changing areas".

What on earth is this ? I mean, practically speaking ?

Men-only changing areas, where homosexual men might freely ogle other men, including, of course, heterosexuals, who probably are not desperate for the attention ?

Mixed changing areas for men and women, where unwanted sexual attention might occur in even more ways ?

Men-only changing areas reserved for homosexuals ?

Should we then have four different changing areas, according to sex (I refuse to use the obscene term "gender") and inclination ?

Is this the suggestion coming from a lobby constantly protesting against "discrimination" ?

And what about bisexuals and transsexuals ?

Or are they insisting on private cubicles for homosexuals, as opposed to common rooms for the heterosexual hoi polloi ? -- Good evening Sir, are you a homosexual by any chance ? -- Well, obviously my good man, why are you asking ? -- Glad for you, Sir, may I have the privilege of showing you to your own private changing room, then ?

Or imagine the situation in offices across the country : one door for "Gents", another for "Ladies", and a third for "Others".

As far as I know, heterosexual men have not protested -- yet -- about being forced to share public toilets with homosexuals. Although it might happen if these, ahem, gentlemen insist on sexualising every second of their lives -- and other people's.

Could we stop with this unealthy obsession now ?

John Byrnes said...

Profiling has failed us; we don’t need profiling to identify Individuals like the Christmas-Day Bomber or the Fort Hood Shooter! There is a better solution!

Virtually all media outlets are discussing whether we should be profiling all Arab Muslims; I will in the one-page explain why we don’t need profiling. Over 15 years ago, we at the Center for Aggression Management developed an easily-applied, measurable and culturally-neutral body language and behavior indicators exhibited by people who intend to perpetrate a terrorist act. This unique methodology utilizes proven research from the fields of psychology, medicine and law enforcement which, when joined together, identify clear, easily-used physiologically-based characteristics of individuals who are about to engage in terrorist activities in time to prevent their Moment of Commitment.

The Problem
Since the foiled terrorist attack by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian national on Northwest Flight 253 to Detroit, the President has repeatedly stated that there has been a systemic failure as he reiterates his commitment to fill this gap in our security. This incident, like the Fort Hood shooting, exemplifies why our government must apply every valid preventative approach to identify a potential terrorist.

The myriad methods to identify a terrorist, whether “no-fly list,” “explosive and weapons detection,” mental illness based approaches, “profiling” or “deception detection” - all continue to fail us. Furthermore, the development of deception detection training at Boston Logan Airport demonstrated that the Israeli methods of interrogation will not work in the United States.

All media outlets are discussing the need for profiling of Muslim Arabs, but profiling does not work for the following three reasons:

1. In practice, ethnic profiling tells us that within a certain group of people there is a higher probability for a terrorist; it does not tell us who the next terrorist is!

2. Ethnic profiling is contrary to the value our society places on diversity and freedom from discrimination based on racial, ethnic, religious, age and/or gender based criteria. If we use profiling it will diminish our position among the majority of affected citizens who support us as a beacon of freedom and liberty.

3. By narrowing our field of vision, profiling can lead to the consequence of letting terrorists go undetected, because the terrorist may not be part of any known “profile worthy” group – e.g., the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh

The Solution
Our unique methodology for screening passengers can easily discern (independently of race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, age, and gender) the defining characteristics of human beings who are about to engage in terrorist acts.

The question is when will our government use true “hostile intent” through the “continuum of aggressive behavior” to identify potential terrorists? Only when observers focus specifically on “aggressive behavior” do the objective and culturally neutral signs of “aggression” clearly stand out, providing the opportunity to prevent these violent encounters. This method will not only make all citizens safer, but will also pass the inevitable test of legal defensibility given probable action by the ACLU.

As our Government analyzes what went wrong regarding Abdulmatallab’s entrance into the United States, you can be assured that Al Qaeda is also analyzing how their plans went wrong. Who do you think will figure it out first . . . ?

Visit our blog at http://blog.AggressionManagement.com where we discuss the shooting at Fort Hood and the attempted terrorist act on Flight 253.