In other news, anti-Christian violence continues in Indonesia. A Muslim mob has burned down two Protestant churches in North Sumatra.
Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, KGS, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Obama Checks on Bernanke Prospects, Senators Say Secure
U.S. President Barack Obama called lawmakers on Saturday to check that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had enough support for a second term and two key senators said the nomination was on track.
In a sign of how worried the White House is about a sudden recent surge in opposition to Bernanke’s renomination, Obama contacted the Democratic Senate leadership to make sure it had enough votes.
“(The) president made … calls to a few senators this afternoon including leadership to make sure everything on track and he has been assured that Bernanke is on track for confirmation,” a senior administration official said.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Prepare Now to Escape Obama’s Retirement Trap
The largest source of liquid private wealth remaining in the United States are the $15 trillion in private retirement funds and the ultimate ownership, control and future of these funds have already been compromised and exchanged for the favorable tax treatment of private retirement plans. Congress writes the laws, so they can tax, penalize, hold your funds hostage and although they’d never use the word, “confiscate” your assets at their discretion.
The retirement trap I’m writing about is only a proposal at the present time and since it may well begin in the latter years of the Obama Administration assuming the Democrats can somehow maintain their majorities in Congress, I’m calling it the “Obama Retirement Trap”. But make no mistake, the government need for current revenue and their frenzied search for a short-term fix to fund a backstop of liquidity to buy future government debt obligations when no credible investors will buy them is an unspoken quest of both political parties. The establishments of both political parties will do anything to stay in power and this will include raiding and pillaging your retirement funds.
Washington Proposals for a Mandatory Guaranteed Retirement Annuity
The government is getting ready to use that power and in a remarkably cunning way.
The latest leftist plan first appeared in 2007 at the Economic Policy Institute: Agenda for Shared Prosperity. In 2008, she became the new Director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at the New School for Social Research. In her book, “When I’m 64: The Plot Against Pensions and the Plan to Save Them”, she hypes her retirement solution for millions who do not have adequate retirement savings and her solution is to confiscate most of the retirement assets of successful Americans.
Here’s her plan…
Each year, the government will put $600 into a Guaranteed Retirement Account for you and every other working person in America. If $600 amounts to more than 5% of your annual compensation (if you earn more than $12,000) you will be required to contribute 5% of your total annual compensation to the GRA. The Feds will promise to pay a 3% “inflation adjusted return” on each GRA, based on the government’s Consumer Price Index. When you retire, you receive a portion of the account each month. Then — get this — when you die, your heirs receive only 50% of what’s in your GRA. The rest goes to Uncle Sam. Remember, this is the good news!
Following the introduction of Guaranteed Retirement Accounts, the next step will be to cap the tax deduction for annual contributions to existing private retirement plans at 5,000. (Many Americans will support this, given the hostility to the well-publicized Wall Street mega-bonuses and retirement plans.) Next will be a tax on every retirement plan’s income, to provide an immediate flow of revenue to the Feds. Finally, there would be a prohibition on buying any non-U.S. investment for any retirement plan.
What Would Spark This Nationalization?
A plan this radical can’t just be slipped through Congress. It can only ride into law on a first-class national crisis. Have you noticed that somehow the politicians are always able to find one when they need one.
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Dems Reportedly Eyeing Companion Health Care Legislation to Win Approval
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reportedly are considering a new list of changes to the Senate health care reform bill that could be passed separately as a way to advance the suddenly stalled overhaul of the health care system.
If such changes are passed in a separate piece of legislation, it could make the current Senate health care bill acceptable to enough liberal House members to pass it, allowing Democrats to achieve their goal of sweeping health care reform, Politico reported.
But the move also could spark resentment toward the party for pushing through the same health plan that some have argued voters in Massachusetts rejected in the closely watched election of Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown, who had pledged to block the Senate bill.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Islamic Groups Lose Case — May Go to Supreme Court
The Texas Supreme Court dealt another blow to Islamic organizations which use lawsuits as a form of “legal jihad” to silence public discussion of Islamic terrorist threats. On Friday, January 15, 2010, the Texas Supreme Court denied a petition for review of a Second District Court of Appeals opinion which dismissed the defamation lawsuit brought by seven Dallas-area Islamic organizations against internet journalist Joe Kaufman.
On his radio show, Mahdi Bray, head of the Muslim American Freedom Foundation, the political arm of Muslim American Society —Dallas, exhorted his radio audience of the need of Muslims to lawyer up and fund additional lawsuits. The case against Kaufman was used as the example. In fact, for the last several years, Muslim groups in the U.S. have engaged in the tactic referred to as Islamist Lawfare which uses our American laws and legal system to silence critics and promote the Islamic agenda in America.
As a full-time investigative reporter, Kaufman has written extensively on Radical Islamic terrorism in America. He was sued because of his September 28, 2007 article titled “Fanatic Muslim Family Day” published by Front Page Magazine, a major online news website. Kaufman’s article exposed the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and the Islamic Association of Northern Texas (IANT) ties to the radical terrorist group Hamas.
Kaufman’s article called ICNA a radical Muslim organization with ties to Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood. According to Kaufman, ICNA is an umbrella organization for South Asian-oriented mosques and Islamic centers in the United States created as an American arm of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) of Pakistan.
Significantly, neither ICNA nor IANT, which were mentioned in Kaufman’s article, sued Kaufman. It is speculated they were afraid of being subjected to pretrial discovery depositions. On the other hand, none of the seven plaintiffs that sued Kaufman were even mentioned in his article.
The seven Islamic organizations that sued Kaufman are the Islamic Society of Arlington, Texas, Islamic Center of Irving, DFW Islamic Educational Center, Inc., Dar Elsalam Islamic Center, Al Hedayah Islamic Center, Islamic Association of Tarrant County, and Muslim American Society of Dallas. All are affiliated with CAIR, one of the unindicted co-conspirators in the successful federal prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation.
This is the third straight loss for the Islamic groups in this case. After the ruling in favor of Kaufman on June 25, 2009, they asked for a reconsideration of the decision through what is known as an en banc opinion (appeal to the whole court, not just a panel of the court). The court denied that request. Last week the Texas Supreme Court also denied their request for review. However, plaintiffs can still file a petition for review with the U.S. Supreme Court.
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Mississippi Delta Earthquake: America’s Haiti Waiting to Happen?
Scientists Predict Haiti-Magnitude Quake Along Fault Under Miss. Delta
One of the strongest series of earthquakes ever to hit the United States happened not in Alaska or along California’s San Andreas fault, but in southeast Missouri along the Mississippi River.
In 1811 and 1812, the New Madrid fault zone that zig zags through five states shook so violently that it shifted furniture in Washington, D.C., and rang church bells in Boston. The series of temblors changed the course of the Mississippi River near Memphis, and historical accounts claim the river even flowed backward briefly.
Geologists consider the New Madrid fault line a major seismic zone and predict that an earthquake roughly the magnitude of the Haiti earthquake (7.0 on the Richter scale) could occur in the area during the next 50 years.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
The Toronto Star and CBC Betray the Canadian Public
The Problem of a predominant Liberal-oriented Media
For decades our political debate has been stilted with the same liberal-oriented pundits appearing again and again, year after year. Nothing can be debated fully unless it is very carefully maneuvered to avoid subjects that infringe on Liberal policy. It is absolutely necessary to halt this mass media propaganda machine. Notice how we are manipulated.
Notice that the media always tells us what the principle concerns of Canadians are as elections near. Notice that their polls always announce our answers to their prepared lists of questions. Notice that such polls never mention vital concerns such as immigration, citizenship rules and special laws for minorities. Do we ever hear of our concerns about the funding of thousands of racial, ethnic and national linguistic groups? When did you last hear of a poll asking about our views on costly enforced language laws that affect the job opportunities of the vast majority of Canadians, or Quebec’s anti-English activities?
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Asharq Al-Awsat Talks to Finnish FM Alexander Stubb
By Salah Jameel
Helsinki, Asharq Al-Awsat- Alexander Stubb has been in charge of the foreign portfolio in the Finnish Coalition Government since April 2008.
In the European Parliament (2004-2008) the main concern of the young minister, age 42, was the internal institutions and markets in the European Union. Also he is a staunch supporter of European integration, strongly supports the consolidation and expansion of the European Union, and believes in a more active EU role in solving the thorny international issues, especially the peace process in the Middle East.
The minister also is well-known for his extensive travels within the framework of his work (120 days every year). Today Minister Stubb arrives in Saudi Arabia, the first stop in his first tour of the region, which also will include Oman and Qatar.
Asharq Al-Awsat met Minister Stubb in his office at the Finnish Foreign Ministry in Helsinki, and conducted with him an interview; the following is its text:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What are the main aims of your tour of the region?
[Stubb] My tour has two aims. One of them is to improve the bilateral relations between Finland and Saudi Arabia, Finland and the Sultanate of Oman, and Finland and Qatar. The second aim is to get a clearer picture of the situation in the region. Here, I also mean the peace process in the Middle East, the situation in Yemen, and also Iran. We in the European Union need to understand better what is taking place in the region, and we believe that the only way to do so is to visit the region, especially Riyadh.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] No doubt you are aware of the Saudi stances toward the Middle East issues. What is your assessment of these stances? Do you think that these stances will help in achieving stability in the region?
[Stubb] The answer in a nutshell is yes. The Arab initiative is written by Saudi Arabia, and we strongly support this initiative. We also believe that Saudi Arabia has a very important role as a mediator in the region because of its good relations with the United States, and with the European Union, and also because of its good relations with many of the countries of the region.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your assessment of the Saudi-Finnish relations?
[Stubb] They are good, and have not witnessed any problems. Our president visited Saudi Arabia in 2007, and so did the former development minister. Our relations are very strong. Naturally they can be improved at the economic level. Everybody knows the Saudi economic strength, and also everybody knows our economic strength, which is based on information technology, Nokia, and so on. The stronger the relations are, the better it is for both countries.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Then, the relations are good, but you would like to strengthen them economically?
[Stubb] We hope to consolidate the economic side of the relations. Naturally, this side is the responsibility of other colleagues in the government; as for me, I will focus to a great extent on the regional issues. As far as I am concerned, the visit is a fact-finding one; at the same time, I will try to give a clear picture of the EU vision of the regional issues, because I consider myself to be one of 27 foreign ministers in the European Union.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] I understand that a draft agreement on double taxation and protection of investment between the two countries has been prepared. Will you sign this agreement during your visit?
[Stubb] I think that the draft agreement is still being prepared, and it will not be signed during this visit. It will be signed at a later date, but I do not know it exactly. Naturally it is an important agreement.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Then, you rely to a great extent on this agreement to consolidate the economic relations?
[Stubb] This is correct.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Has Finland been affected greatly by the current world financial and economic crisis?
[Stubb] Yes, we have been affected the same as all the other countries. Finland has been harmed as a country, and as a part of the largest world economy, i.e. the European Union. Our economy will shrink, and indeed it shrunk by 5 to 6 percent last year. We hope to come closer to the positive figures this year. We are an economy that is based on exports as more than 50 percent of our domestic product is for export; therefore, it is clear that if there is a world economic recession, Finland will be affected greatly. In a nutshell, Finland is affected by everything that takes place in the world market. Our answer is simple; it is: No protectionism, and more free trade.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In reply to a previous question, you said that the regional issues would be at the forefront of your talks. Could you specify to us these issues?
[Stubb] With regard to Yemen, my mission is a fact-finding one. With regard to the Middle East peace process, I will present some opinions, by also I will listen. These are the three main issues I will discuss during my tour.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your opinion, what is the way out of the current crisis with Iran, and how grave is the Iranian nuclear dossier?
[Stubb] It is very grave. In the European Union, we are very frustrated. We are happy that the framework of the negotiations is the European Union 3+3. But the results so far have been feeble. Iran does not adhere to the UN Security Council resolutions, or to the rules of the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]. We hope for more commitment from Iran. Our stance is clear, we are following a two-track approach; if there is no progress in the nuclear talks, there will be sanctions. The first batch of sanctions will be from the United Nations, and the second batch from the European Union. I believe that the time is short, and we hope to reach a diplomatic settlement. I believe that ultimately we will reach this solution, but Iran has to respond, and so far it has not.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Under what circumstances will it be possible for Finland to support resorting to the military option with Iran?
[Stubb] We do not support the military option under any circumstances.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that there is the possibility of a military action?
[Stubb] I am always optimistic; otherwise I will not be in this profession. Therefore, I do not think that we will find ourselves on that track.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Finland has always been active in the field of peace initiatives. What qualifies Finland, the small country in its population in that part of the world, to play such a vital role?
[Stubb] I believe that the basic philosophy is that when you are geographically on the margin, you ought to try to be in the heart institutionally. The only way to be in the heart institutionally is to make yourself known in the world circles. Therefore, we attach great importance to the international and multi-national institutions, such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the World Trade Organization. Our weak voice will be better heard if we are a party to a bigger game. Naturally we have excellent negotiators, including some who have been awarded Nobel Prize for Peace, such as Martti Ahtisaari.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Let us go back to the Middle East peace process. You have referred to the initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, which has become the Arab initiative. Do you think that if Israel accepts it, it will lead to a permanent peace in the Middle East?
[Stubb] Certainly. I believe that the initiative is the best thing on offer. Many of its elements call for a comprehensive peace. My stance is that we cannot achieve peace in one place without achieving it in another; we have to pursue a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, between Israel and Lebanon, and between Israel and Syria. It is also imperative to establish better coordination among the Palestinians themselves, between Fatah and Hamas. Also we have to take into consideration members of Hezbollah. Therefore, we ought to look for a comprehensive peace.
The peace process in the Middle East sometimes seems very frustrating, like someone hitting his head against a wall, and hence he does not achieve anything. However, sometimes there is a ray of hope. The United States has taken a leading role in the process, and I welcome this; the European Union also ought to be more active.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Do you think that under the presidency of Barack Obama there will be more activity, and perhaps more pressure on Israel?
[Stubb] I hope, if I may quote Obama, that there will be more activity. I believe that this is happening already. We have to remember that the first think that Obama did was to appoint George Mitchell as envoy to the Middle East. Also the Obama Administration deals with the Binyamin Netanyahu Government in this field. We all know that the peace process in the Middle East is a long and slow process, but I am still optimistic as there is no other option.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Let us go back to Iran. You said that you will not support a military action under any circumstances?
[Stubb] The only case is when the military action is according to a resolution by the UN Security Council.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Then, if there is international authorization, you will support the military action?
[Stubb] Yes, but how can such authorization be obtained? I rule out this possibility.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] But the danger is that Israel might attack. What do you think of such a scenario?
[Stubb] Naturally, this is an assumption; therefore, it is not appropriate for a foreign minister to express a stance toward an assumption. We hope that this will not happen. We always believe in diplomatic means and discussions. Therefore, we hope to find a peaceful solution for the crisis with Iran. Also I believe that Iran’s reputation has been harmed greatly in the world, despite the fact that the Iranians are peace-loving people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] With regard to the European Union, there is a great deal of controversy about its direction. Do you support a United States of Europe?
[Stubb] The United States of Europe is an exaggerated expression. This is because the European Union will always be more than and international league, but less than a state. However, we, and I especially, support a very strong European Union, and support more political and economic integration. I believe that we ought to establish a strong institutional structure in order to achieve a stronger Europe. I believe that the recent Lisbon Treaty is a good step in this direction, because now we have a tool that enables us to undertake an international role, not only in the field of foreign trade and aid, but also in the field of foreign relations and security. I believe that we have to grab the opportunity to undertake such a role.
|— Hat tip: KGS||[Return to headlines]|
Indian Hijack Plot Caused New UK Terror Alert
FEARS that Islamist terrorists plan to hijack an Indian passenger jet and crash it into a British city helped to prompt this weekend’s heightened terror alert.
MI5 was told by the Indian authorities early last week about a suspected plot by militants linked to Al-Qaeda in Pakistan to hijack an Air India or Indian Airlines flight from Mumbai or Delhi.
The warning, which came after the capture of a suspected Islamic leader, was contained in a detailed “threat assessment” sent to MI5 by the Indian Intelligence Bureau. It did not state that Britain was a specific target. But police security sources said it had raised fears in London that a British city might be attacked.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Netherlands: Nurses Union Says Muslims Might Not be Suitable for Nursing
If Muslim nurses have objections to washing the buttocks of male patients, they should ask themselves whether they’re suitable for the job, says the Dutch Nurses’ Association (V&VN). The organization recently wrote guidelines for conscientious Objections.
Francis Bolle of V&VN says that in general there are relatively few nurses of Muslim background working in hospitals. Bolle says that the reason might be that Muslims, and in practice it’s mostly Muslim women, have difficulty with physical contact with patients, for example, during washing.
Source: AD (Dutch)
|— Hat tip: heroyalwhyness||[Return to headlines]|
Pharmamedia to Squelch EU Council’s Secret Investigation Into H1N1 Vaccine Fraud and Global Genocide
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) will hold a secret hearing next week into the apparent manipulation by BigPharma of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global H1N1 flu campaign. Experts predict the secrecy will be maintained by the PharmaMedia that controls mainstream news.
The PACE hearing currently advancing was prompted by Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, chief of health in the Council of Europe representing 47 countries. This inquiry will address the drug cartel’s “false flag” pandemic, and the WHO’s scandalous promotions of swine flu vaccinations that were “fast tracked,” inadequately tested, and now causing more harm than good.
The sanctioned vaccines and drugs, such as Tamiflu, are burdening governments financially and poisoning people globally, experts say.
Dr. Horowitz was also among the first to raise concerns that new H1N1 vaccine adjuvants containing Nonoxynol-9 spermicide might cause abortions. This neglected warning has resulted in possibly a thousand H1N1-induced miscarriages to date.
“We are up to about 200 women who have had H1N1 vaccine-triggered spontaneous abortions according to records we are mailing to American legislators,” said Eileen Dannemann, Director of the National Coalition of Organized Women (NCOW). NCOW is calling for an official American investigation in step with the European Parliament’s Council.
Spontaneous abortions are being reported to NCOW daily, Ms. Dannemann reported, “And this is only by word-of-mouth, without word getting out in the media. We’ve asked grieving moms to contact us to file their reports.”
CDC officials admit they collect only about 10% of vaccine injuries. They call these “adverse events.” Spontaneous abortions are included. So if our current count is nearly 200, and this represents only about 10%, the actual miscarriages to date number, very conservatively, approximately a thousand.”
During my interview of Dr. Wodarg on January 14th, he mentioned he wasnot re-elected by the German people last September. Studying his previous investigations into criminal drug industry operations and cover-ups, it is likely his defeat was rigged.
“As head of the subcommittee for health,” Dr. Wodarg reported from his home in Germany, “I made the motion. and there will be investigations. . . .
“Many countries in Europe are very angry about what the WHO did and how they decided to have a pandemic when there was just a mild flu; and this whole thing was in favor of those companies who had prepared the pandemic plans, and who only needed the judgment of the WHO to have them set in power, and to earn them money,” Dr. Wodarg explained.
The Council is expected to consider the sudden inexplicable proclamations of H1N1 vaccine shortages instigated by BigPharma’s advertising gurus paid to respond to widespread distrust of the manufactured flu fright and vaccine sales hype.
Global pandemic promoters used frightful messages to convince scientists, doctors, and global populations that pandemic H1N1 threatened to kill millions. Instead, the virus caused only a tiny fraction of deaths reported during a normal flu season.
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UK: David Kelly Post Mortem to be Kept Secret for 70 Years as Doctors Accuse Lord Hutton of Concealing Vital Information
Vital evidence which could solve the mystery of the death of Government weapons inspector Dr David Kelly will be kept under wraps for up to 70 years.
In a draconian — and highly unusual — order, Lord Hutton, the peer who chaired the controversial inquiry into the Dr Kelly scandal, has secretly barred the release of all medical records, including the results of the post mortem, and unpublished evidence.
The move, which will stoke fresh speculation about the true circumstances of Dr Kelly’s death, comes just days before Tony Blair appears before the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq War.
It is also bound to revive claims of an establishment cover-up and fresh questions about the verdict that Dr Kelly killed himself.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Ex-Boyfriend Faces Court Over Laura Ashley Girl Murder
The former boyfriend of stabbed shop assistant Asha Muneer was remanded in custody yesterday, charged with her murder.
The part-time Laura Ashley worker was killed as she walked home along an isolated riverside path in Reading, Berkshire, on Monday night.
Gulamyr Akhter, also from Reading, was flanked by three security guards when he appeared at East Berkshire Magistrates Court in Slough yesterday.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Gaffe-Prone Ainsworth Infuriates Downing Street by Letting Slip Date of Election (It’s May 6)
The General Election will be held on May 6, the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth declared today — in a slip which infuriated Downing Street.
The gaffe-prone Mr Ainsworth did little to improve his strained relations with Gordon Brown by lifting the lid on Westminster’s worst-kept secret during a live television interview.
Bookmakers reacted by immediately suspending betting on the date of the Election.
The hapless Defence Secretary appeared to be unaware of the significance of his words as, unprompted, he warned the public against sleepwalking into the introduction of a Tory government on May 6.
In an interview with Sky News, he said: ‘We have a General Election to fight, we are behind in the polls but that election is far, far from decided yet.
‘I think people are beginning to have some doubts about whether or not David Cameron is the right man. So we haven’t lost our election, we need to fight it, we need to fight it together with all of our strengths and ability and put that choice to the British public because I think they will wake up and rue the day if they wind up with a Conservative government in charge of this country after May 6.’
Traditionally the date of the General Election is jealously guarded by the prime minister of the day who hopes to wrong-foot his opponents and keep his own party on its toes by maintaining an element of surprise.
Mr Ainsworth’s slip caused irritation in Downing Street yesterday, with one source dismissing the defence secretary’s words as ‘highly speculative’.
In fact, the scheduling of the Election for May 6 has been an open secret at Westminster for months. Two other ministers have dropped similar hints this month.
By law, Mr Brown has to hold an Election by June 3, but the option of combining it with local elections the previous month has long looked more likely.
Some Labour sources had talked up the possibility of an election on March 25. But with the damaging political fallout from the Iraq inquiry set to dominate the headlines for weeks this has now been abandoned and Mr Brown is effectively boxed in to holding a May election.
The bookmaker Coral suspended betting on the Election date in the wake of Mr Ainsworth’s comments. A spokesman said: ‘His mention of May 6 was enough for us to close the book.’
Yesterday it emerged that publication of a new ‘warts and all’ biography of Mr Brown has been delayed until after the election. The book, called Gordon Brown: A Portrait Of A Man, is said to feature intimate details about his character and reveal the impact his mother’s bouts of serious illness affected his upbringing.
Mr Ainsworth’s slip will do little to boost his image in Whitehall where he is best known for blurting out the word ‘b****cks’ during a parliamentary debate.
Mr Ainsworth has also caused discomfort in government by suggesting that he would not have voted for the Iraq war if he had known that Saddam Hussein’s regime did not have any weapons of mass destruction.
The defence secretary was one of three Cabinet ministers yesterday forced to deny involvement in this month’s plot to unseat the Prime Minister, which was led by trade secretary Patricia Hewitt and Mr Ainsworth’s close friend, former defence secretary Geoff Hoon. He said he ‘fully’ supported Mr Brown.
Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman, who was also suspected of involvement in the plot, denied it and said she was a ‘loyal and supportive deputy leader to Gordon Brown’
Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who took seven hours to issue a lukewarm endorsement of Mr Brown in the wake of the plot, yesterday sidestepped questions about how much he knew.
He said he had been aware of ‘rumours’ of a coup, but added: ‘No one knew the letter was going to be put in the way that it was.’
|— Hat tip: Gaia||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Police Arrest 17 in English Defence League Demonstration Clashes
Some 300 members of the right-wing group gathered in Stoke before yesterday’s march, the latest in a series of protests by the organisation against Islamic extremism.
There were scuffles with police as EDL members tried to break a cordon preventing them from clashing with members of anti-fascist groups.
Staffordshire Police said the people arrested were aged between 17 and 49 and all ‘linked’ to the EDL demonstration.
They were held on suspicion of committing a series of public order offences, violent disorder as well as assaulting a police officer.
One officer had to be taken to hospital with an arm wound, while another was assaulted and needed to be checked over by doctors. The other two returned to duty immediately.
A member of the public was treated by paramedics after being injured during the demonstration. A number of vehicles were also damaged in the melee.
Police said last night the city was back to normal, but officers were still out and about to reassure members of the public.
Superintendent Dave Mellor said: ‘The vast majority of demonstrators expressed their views peacefully.
‘However, the actions and behaviour of a small minority of protesters have been totally unacceptable and deplorable.
‘Our officers will now be reviewing CCTV, video and other evidence gathered to pursue those identified committing offences to put them before the courts.’
The EDL has previously held marches in places like Birmingham and Leeds, also resulting in disorder and arrests.
During the protest outside The Reginald Mitchell pub in Stoke city centre, the group was surrounded by about 100 officers.
Its members waved placards proclaiming ‘Patriotism is not racism’ and ‘Terrorists off our streets’.
They also sang the National Anthem and Rule Britannia. Others waved St George and Union flags while shouting abusive chants against Muslims.
Ben Richardson, 21, a bouncer from Wolverhampton, said: ‘I want the Government to change certain things.
‘Recently I saw a story about soldiers who came back from Afghanistan and they had to take their uniforms off before they could go in the airport.
‘We couldn’t tell a Muslim person or a Christian not to wear their burka or cross. We should respect everybody.’
After gathering outside the pub, the protesters walked 200 yards round the corner to Stoke Town Hall.
Ian Dalziel, 53, a joiner from Stoke, was not part of the march but decided to show his support for the EDL at the protest.
He said: ‘These demonstrations are helpful because at some stage the Government has got to turn around and listen.’
But other shoppers in Stoke were unimpressed by the EDL’s chanting.
Adrian Sanders, 45, was visiting his family in the city.
He said: ‘It’s a poor working-class area and these right-wing groups always target these types of places.
‘People are losing their jobs and their homes and the easy target are the immigrants. It has been the same since time immemorial.’
A 40-year-old Muslim man originally from Stoke, who did not want to named, said the EDL had a right to protest.
He added: ‘I don’t think they are any different from Muslim extremists. If they were in an Arab country they would be called extremists.
‘They talk about wanting their country back but it is the rich who have control of it. This is about dividing the working classes.’
Stoke has a history as being a hot-bed for the far right. The city’s local authority has eight British National Party councillors.
|— Hat tip: Gaia||[Return to headlines]|
Egypt: Arab World: Meet the New Head of the Muslim Brotherhood
Last Saturday in Cairo, the Muslim Brotherhood announced that it had elected Muhammad Badee as its new supreme leader, a succession which comes at a critical time. A few months ago, Muhammad Mahdi Akef — who had ruled the organization for the past six years — stated that he would not seek another mandate, thus sparking a crisis of major proportions.
THE BROTHERHOOD is far from a democratic movement open to pluralistic views. It has remained faithful to the extremist religious doctrine of the man who founded it in Egypt in 1928, Hassan el-Banna, and of its greatest theologian, Sayed Qotob.
Badee, 67, is a professor of veterinary medicine. He is not only a staunch conservative, but he is also a devoted disciple of Qotob. The two were imprisoned together in the mid-1960s during one of former president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s periodic attempts to clamp down on the organization. It should therefore come as no surprise that Badee belongs to the hard-core, extremist element of the movement.
|— Hat tip: JD||[Return to headlines]|
Tunisia: Great Rabbi, Religious Dialogue is a Reality
(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, JANUARY 22 — “Inter-religious dialogue is a reality in Tunisia and a coalition of monotheistic religions permits understanding our times better, particularly with regard to young people”. The statement was made by the Great Rabbi of Tunisia, Haim Bittan, in an interview given with Jeune Afrique and in which he underlines, among other things that, after the uncertain period during the Bourguiba presidency, “things are completely different” for the Jewish community in Tunisia. “We are Tunisian citizens and in that we have a normal existence”. The Great Rabbi also stressed that “we perform different professional activities and are not subject to any segregation. Our children go to public school, our practices are respected and we even receive well-wishing from the President of the Republic during important holidays”. The position taken on the Palestinian issue is clear: “At the beginning of the problems in Gaza”, Bittan said, “we were uneasy, but our position is clear. We are in total agreement with the Tunisian government in defence of international legality. This identity in terms of points of view, due to our citizenship, gives us more security here than in Israel or the United States”, so much so that “Tunisian Jews recognise their bond to Tunisia first and prefer to celebrate important holidays in an Arab country rather than in Israel”. It must be remembered that Tunisia has hosted the Ghriba, the oldest synagogue on the African continent, for the last 2,500 years on the island of Djerba. (ANSAmed).
|— Hat tip: Insubria||[Return to headlines]|
The Point of No Return: Clearly the Obama Administration Won’t Ever Do Anything Serious Against Iran’s Nuclear Program
by Barry Rubin
We must now face an extremely unpleasant truth: Even giving the Obama administration every possible break regarding its Iran policy, it is now clear that the U.S. government isn’t going to take strong action on the nuclear weapons issue.
Note that I didn’t even say “effective” action, that is, measures that would force Iran to back down. I’m neither advocating nor do I think there was ever any possibility that the United States, even under Obama’s predecessor, might take military action.
I’m saying that they aren’t even going to make a good show of trying seriously to do anything at all.
Some say that the administration has secretly or implicitly accepted the idea that Iran will get nuclear weapons and is now seeking some longer-term containment policy. I doubt that has happened. They are just not even this close to reality.
From their behavior they still seem to expect, incredibly, that some kind of deal is possible with Tehran despite everything that has happened. Then, too, they may hope that the opposition—unaided by America—will overthrow the Iranian government and thus solve the problem for them. And they are too fixated on short-term games about seeking consensus among other powers, two of which—China and Russia—are clearly not going to agree to anything serious. This fact was clear many months ago but the administration still doesn’t recognize it.
Not only is the Obama administration failing the test, but it is doing so in a way that seems to maximize the loss of U.S. credibility in the region and the world. A lot of this comes from the administration’s philosophy—almost unprecedented concepts of guilt, apology, defeatism, and refusal to take leadership never seen before among past liberal Democratic governments from Franklin Roosevelt through Bill Clinton.
Yet the British, French, and Germans are ready to get tough on Iran, yearning for leadership, and not getting it.
All of this is watered down in media coverage, focused on day-to-day developments; swallowing many of the administration’s excuses plus its endlessly repeated rhetoric that action is on the way. When the history of this absurdly failed effort is written, the story will be a shocking one, the absurdity of policy obvious.
It was totally predictable that the Iranian government would not make a deal. It was totally predictable that Russia and China weren’t going to go along with higher sanctions. It was totally predictable that a failure by the United States to take leadership and instead depend on consensus would lead to paralysis. And it is totally predictable that a bungled diplomatic effort will produce an even more aggressive Iranian policy along with crisis and violence…
|— Hat tip: Barry Rubin||[Return to headlines]|
Indonesia: North Sumatra, Two Protestant Churches Burnt: “Too Many Faithful and Too Many Prayers”
At least 1,000 people set fire to the Pentecostal community places of worship. According to local Muslims, the two buildings did not have the legal permits as “churches.” The Nahdlatul Ulama admits the violence of radical Islamists against Christians. In 2009 in Indonesia, 35 cases of violation of religious freedom, 28 against Christians.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) — A crowd of at least 1000 people burned down two Protestant churches last night in Sibuhuan (district of Padang Lawas, North Sumatra). The blaze was the culmination of tension between the faithful and the local Islamic community, tired of seeing “ too many faithful and too many prayers “ in a place not registered as a church.
The district chief of Padang Lawas, Basrah Lubis, said that “the attackers arrived in a flash. Their number was enormous, more or less a thousand. They were angry because the administration of the church had not responded to their demands: to change the use of buildings from ‘places of prayer’ to ‘neutral buildings’. “
Both burned churches — two adjoining buildings — belong to the Synod of the Protestant Batak Church (Huria Kristen Batak Protestant, Hkbp), and are Pentecostal churches, whose faithful belong predominantly to the ethnic Batak group. Even their liturgies, with dances and songs are in Batak language.
According to police, neither of the two buildings had a building permit and had to be considered “places of prayer” and not “churches”. In Indonesia, to build a church a special legal permit (Izin Mendirikan Bangunan, IMB) is necessary. The process to get the permit is almost always hard and the Islamic community has boycotted the emergence of new churches. This lack of legal permits has become the main source of Muslims violence against Christians.
According to local witnesses, the first skirmishes took place last Christmas, when a large group of Sibuhuan residents held a sit-in protest against the existence of two churches, which has “too many members and disturbs the neighbours.”
In fact, the services of the Pentecostal community are full of songs and musical instruments and it is possible that the religious holiday services were a nuisance to local members of another religion.
Conflicting with previous statements, the locals also argue against the community’s attempts to turn these “places of prayer” in “real churches”. “The legal basis for declaring a church is that the number of believers is at least 60 members. But this community has only 23 members”, claims Basrah Lubis.
The Hkbp community of Sibuhuan is in existence since 1982 and still can not get permission to convert buildings into real recognized churches. Lubis Basrah admits that non Christian local hinder recognition.
Now that the two buildings have been reduced to ashes, Hkbp communities have to travel to Sosa, 28 kilometres from Sibuhuan, where there are three permanent churches.
The Rev. Gomar Gultom, executive secretary of the Synod of Christian Churches in Indonesia (PGI), points out that all this anti-Christian violence occurs because some radical Islamic groups are deeply opposed to the construction of Christian places of worship and seek to restrain the public practise of other faiths. “In Indonesia, Christianity is legal — he says — but often, Christians are threatened.”
Only yesterday in Jakarta, Prof. Said Agil Siradj of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the largest (moderate) Muslim organization in the country, submitted a report by the Wahid Institute to promote pluralism in Indonesia. The report shows that in 2009, out of about 35 cases of violation of religious freedom, 28 are against Christians. Prof. Sirad says that the violence against Christians is caused by small groups of Islamic extremists, whose knowledge of “true Islam is very poor.”
He also encouraged Christians to keep good relations with Muslims, showing sensitivity towards them. Trying to build a church, all right — he said — but “it is better and wiser to discuss the plan with the local population to minimize misunderstandings.”
Meanwhile tension remains high in Sibuhuan. The Pastor of the Pentecostal church has fled for fear of violence.
The Pastor of Sosa, the Rev. Rickson Nainggolan is defending his community. The fire, he says, serves to scare the Christians and stop their activities. He also points his finger at police who knew of the tensions since last Christmas and have done nothing to secure the situation.
The pastor also disputes the charge that the church did not have regular permits: “The Sibuhuan Hkbp has existed since 1982 and has its IMB. What the community has done is to” extend the existing building to accommodate the growing number of faithful. But the locals accuse us of not having the permission and have forced us to shut down our activities”.
Subandriya, the local police chief, says however that the building burned yesterday “is not a church, but only a ‘place of prayer’“.
|— Hat tip: C. Cantoni||[Return to headlines]|
Al-Shabab Threatens Central Somalia and Somaliland
Al-Shabab threatens Central Somalia and Somaliland In a move with grave implications, Somalia’s extremist Islam group al-Shabab has threatened the semi-autonomous province of Puntland (central Somalia) and the breakaway region of Somaliland. Now that it has consolidated its hold in the South, it is ready to move north.
Both these regions have actual functioning governments as opposed toare better governed that the rest of Somalia and are relatively peaceful. if they fall to al-Shabab, the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea region will become highly vulnerable to terror attacks and the expansion of piracy. When you consider that Yemen is already under threat, we are seeing a nasty situation where terrorists are operating on both sides of a critical shipping choke point.
Long War Journal notes that the way to Puntland and Somaliland is not exactly open. Puntland has a large, anti-fundamentalist tribe that al-Shabab has to defeat; Somaliland has regular armed forces — albeit operating on a shoestring budget even by third world standards.
Please note that if Puntland and Somaliland fall, Djibouti will come under intolerable pressure, and Ethiopia will be in danger.
America’s strategic failure Nonetheless, this news is frustrating in the extreme because it’s now evident that as the GWOT enters its ninth year, the global extremist threat is expanding faster than the US’s ability to react. And reaction is in itself a losing strategy.
To us, the GWOT is starting to look like Second Indochina.
First, In that war the US won every single battle of company-size or larger. Yet the US lost the war. In the current war, you have armed forces that spend more on defense (all US security related budgets together, which is somewhere around 750-800 billion dollars) that the rest of the world put together. The US armed forces are the best equipped and have the most rigorous training/combat experience possible. The competency of the US armed forces is unmatched.
Second, in both cases the enemy knew/knows it cannot possibly defeat the US military. In both cases the enemy has subordinated military action to political action, whereas the US has focus on the military aspect. Islamic fundamentalists have shown us that they have diligently worked to expand the war at a cost which is unlikely to exceed $100-million. That is less than a day worth of US spending for fuel. ammunition, and construction without counting pay/allowances, long-term medical care and equipment costs. The US is simply incompetent at long duration CI, and there is just no way to sugar-coat this reality.
Third, Americans are terrified of appearing unpatriotic — which makes one wonder how patriotic they really are — and so scrutiny of the first war was non-existent. But Nixon at least got the US out of Indochina. In the case of GWOT, President Obama is so scared of being accused of softness, he is actually upping the stakes in Afghanistan. To be sure there is dissent on Afghanistan strategy. But first, in the main, its muted because everyone assumes — reasonably — that the US will be getting out soon and this is not an endless war. There is no debate as to why extremism is expanding in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa as the obvious examples.
Last, as in Vietnam the Americans are fighting what they called limited war. They are not prepared to fully mobilize because they don’t want to hurt their comfortable peacetime lives. But more insidiously, Americans are no longer prepared to sacrifice their lives. In Vietnam there at least was a draft. Learning from that experience — in a negative way — American generals are determined to fight wars with a small corps of professional soldiers and determined to put force protection as their first priority. There is no outcry about casualties because casualties have been absurdly low due to the timidity of the field commanders; moreover, we can fall back on “oh well, they’re volunteers, they know what they’re getting into, and we are trying our best to bring them home alive.” If the other guy is willing to give up his life for his faith, and you are not, how can we win? By using UAVs? What a joke.
The net result of all this is we don’t have a strategy, our military tactics are defective, and despite the huge amount of money we are spending on defense, we cant produce more than 50 under strength brigades plus 10 real brigades of Marines, including reservist brigades mobilized for specific periods, for military commitments that extend around the world. we messed up in Iraq for lack of troops, we messed up in Afghanistan for lack of troops, and you know what? Editor at least is unprepared to bet a dime that we will not mess up the new fronts for lack of troops.
The United States has about 120,000 actual fighting troops available, Army and Marines. Sure, all those transport units and artillery etc are required, but in CI you need the ground thumpers. The 50 army brigades each have the equivalent of 2 1/2 battalions of troops, approximately 125 battalions. Add 30 Marine battalions. Take away the mechanized forces and global commitments exclusive of the GWOT you have what — 100 battalions? Ideally you should not deploy more than a third of your force on long-war operations, but by flogging its troops half to death the US deploys 50 battalions with perhaps 25,000 direct fighters.
The above analysis is quickly done, it is not precise. But — hate to point this out to you, oh wealthiest and greatest of nations, the Indian Army has 45,000+ men in rifle companies available for deployment from just one single force, the Rashtriya Rifles. (66 battalions, likely to expand to 75.) And the RR is just one of many forces available without touching the regular army which has 125 infantry/mountain brigades exclusive of mechanized forces. These brigades each have between 12 and 16, often more, rifle companies available to them.
Please notice we are not talking total manpower: the US is an expeditionary force, obviously it will require twice, likely thrice as many troops for a given unit, say an infantry battalion, than India. We are talking net deployable forces.
Someone please explain to us how the US plans to win the GWOT with 25,000 fighters available. As one grows older, and options and hopes fade, one has to believe in miracles. The Divine is omnipotent, but we doubt if even S/He can get the United States to see sense here. We’d be idiots to hope for a miracle that will get the US to fight the GWOT properly.
|— Hat tip: C. Cantoni||[Return to headlines]|
UK: Iraqi Immigrant Who Killed Two British Doctors Can’t be Deported Because It’s a Breach of His Human Rights
A crazed Iraqi immigrant, who stabbed two doctors to death, has won the right to stay in Britain because he would be a threat to the public if deported to his homeland.
A judge has ruled that sending Laith Alani back to Iraq would also be a breach of his human rights.
Alani has spent the past 19 years in a secure hospital after he killed two NHS consultants in a frenzied attack because he believed he had received a ‘command from Allah.’
The Home Office wanted him deported on his release, but ministers now accept they will have to abide by the ruling of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal giving him the right to stay.
The tribunal panel, led by senior immigration judge Lance Waumsley, made the controversial decision because he would inevitably be taken off the medication he requires to control his behaviour if sent home.
The tribunal judgement stated:’If his present treatment…were to be discontinued, as would most likely be the case if he were to be removed to Iraq, the potential consequences would be extremely serious for (Alani) himself, and potentially life-threatening for innocent third parties around him in the event of his likely, indeed almost inevitable, relapse into a state of paranoid schizophrenia.’
Alani, now 41, has been receiving the drug clozapine on the NHS for 10 years and the tribunal was told it was the only medication found suitable to treat his mental condition. He is likely to be released in the near future.
The judgement also states that deportation would breach the killer’s right to a private and family life because he moved to the UK with his parents as a child.
Alani killed Michael Masser and Kenneth Paton, both consultant cosmetic surgeons he had come into contact with after being referred to them for the removal of a tattoo from his arm.
He became concerned about treatment delays and tried to remove the tattoo himself by scraping his arm with a knife.
The doctors died in a frenzied attack at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in November 1990 after Alani was told he would have to wait to have the work done on the NHS.
Mr Paton’s widow Dorothy still lives in Wakefield and said:’I think he should be deported. I argued that at the time of the trial. I think he is going to be a danger to people in Britain. He is a dangerous man.’
The second widow Dr Jasmina Masser, who is also a plastic surgeon, said she was ‘very shocked by this news.’
Mr Masser, 42, was stabbed six times in the throat and chest. His wife gave birth to their son six weeks before his trial and they already had a seven-year-old daughter. Mr Paton, who had three children, suffered 24 stab wounds in his chest and abdomen. Alani later told detectives:’It was a command from Allah. I have had visions from Allah and you can’t be more right than Allah.’
He told police he believed one of the doctors was Satan and the other Lucifer.
Alani, who was jobless and living in Wakefield, admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Leeds Crown Court in 1991. He was sent to Rampton maximum security hospital for an indefinite term.
The tribunal heard that in 2008 as part of a ‘staged preparation for his intended release into normal society’ he was moved to a 12-bed residental care home for people with mental health problems.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said yesterday: ‘The UK Border Agency vigorously opposes any appeal against deportation, but when the courts insist an individual cannot be removed we have to accept their judgment.
‘In 2008 we deported a record 5,400 foreign criminals. All foreign national prisoners are now considered for deportation before release, and over the last three years around a quarter have gone before the end of their sentence.’
|— Hat tip: Gaia||[Return to headlines]|
Science: Stem Cells to Cure Corneal Blindness
(by Paola del Vecchio) (ANSAmed) — MADRID, JANUARY 21 — Several Spanish scientists defined a new method to cure corneal blindness. This disease, caused by vascular leucoma, trachoma or keratitis, will be able to be cured through the transplant of stem cells, taken from the corneal epithelium, which has an almost limitless regenerative potential, and which can be explanted from the healthy eye of the patient or compatible donor from the patients family, without requiring hospitalisation. This new therapy promises to also revolutionise the treatment of limbal deficiency syndrome, which arises when an illness or trauma alters the presence of corneal stem cells which are found in the limbus (a part of the cornea). This disease affects 2 people in every 1,000. The new treatment was defined by the University Institute of Applied Ophthalmobiology (IOBA) at the University of Valladolid and the Institute of Biology and Molecular Genetics at the same seat of learning. Disabling and painful, limbal deficiency causes corneal blindness which has until now had no definitive cure, except cornea transplant, which however represents a solution only in the short term, in that the mother cells of the new membrane continue to deteriorate due to the syndrome. In presenting the new technique to the media, the head of the IOBA, Margarita Calonge Cano, explained that it consists of extracting the stem cells from the healthy eye of the patient or donor (even if the latter is deceased), which are subsequently harvested in a cell processing unit and implanted into the diseased cornea. “In this way, it is possible to cut health costs brought about by the surgical operation,” explained the researcher. Until now the new method has been used in clinical trials on 12 patients and has shown to be effective in 8 cases. “We can say that the success rate is 89%,” stated Margarita Calonge Cano. The IOBA researchers in Valaldolid underline that with the new treatment, most transplants will not be necessary or a transplant can be postponed until later in life, thus reducing the need to carry out a second or third operation, improving the patient’s quality of life. “If a transplant is necessary,” observed the researcher, “the chances of success increase.” The aim of the IOBA scientists is to succeed in obtaining, in the future, stem cells from other body tissues to use them in the reconstruction of the cornea, thus avoiding recourse to explanted eyes from cadavers in cases in which patients are suffering from limbal deficiency in both eyes and who do not have any compatible living donors. (ANSAmed).
|— Hat tip: Insubria||[Return to headlines]|