Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/10/2010

Gates of Vienna News Feed 2/10/2010The euro crisis has become so alarming that the German government is actually breaking with longstanding policy and advocating a bail-out for Greece. The announced attempts by the EU to deal with the crisis have shored up the euro, at least for the time being.

Spain is cutting its bond issues by 34%, while the number of Spanish people living in poverty has risen to eight million. Recently released figures show that Spanish industrial output dropped by almost 16% last year.

Despite its financial woes, the EU managed to find €21 million to send to the Palestinian Authority to cover salaries.

In other news, Amnesty International has called on Egypt to release arrested Muslim Brotherhood leaders, referring to them as “prisoners of conscience”. Also, the anthrax-tainted heroin crisis has spread from Scotland to Blackpool, where at least one victim has died of the disease.

Thanks to 4symbols, Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Diana West, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, McR, TB, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
80% of Stimulus Dollars For Wind Power Goes to Foreign Companies- Including China (Video)
Blanco: Attack on Spain Manoeuvring Against Euro
Germany Backs Greek Bail-Out as EU Creates ‘Economic Government’
Italy: Fiat Accepts End to Incentives
Italy: Banker Endorsed for European Role
Salgado Criticises Almunia, Lack of Attention on Spain
Spain: Industrial Production -15.8% in 2009
 
USA
Arsonists on Rampage as 11 Churches Burn
Captain America Plans to Infiltrate “Racist” Tea Party Movement
CBS Figures Out Obama’s Hollow Calls for “Bipartisanship”
Extremists Gone Wild on ‘Green’ Energy Bill
Hillary’s Eligibility Challenged in Supreme Court
Obama’s Revisionist History of Terrorism
Oren Heckled at US College
 
Canada
Two Jewish Students Assaulted in York University
 
Europe and the EU
Ex-Guantánamo Man Thanks Ireland
‘Forza Italia Born From Mafia Talks’
In Spite of Numbers, Dutch Muslims Are Political Non-Entity
Italy: G8 Contracts Probed for Possible Corruption
Italy Moves Closer to Nuclear Power
Italy: Contents of the Decree
Italy: Cabinet to Approve Nuclear Site Criteria Wednesday
Netherlands: Newspaper Withdraws Interview Following Threat
Shame and Fear: Inside Germany’s Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal
Spain: Treasury to Reduce Bonds Issue by 34% in 2010
Spain: There Are 8 Million Poor in Country, Caritas
Spain: PP 3.8 Points Ahead of PSOE, Survey
UK: £80m Bill for Obesity: Benefit Claims by Those Too Fat to Work Have Soared Under Labour
UK: Anthrax Heroin Death in Blackpool Investigated
UK: Brown Refuses to Rule Out Hitting Middle Classes With Death Tax as His Elderly Care Plans Come Under Fire
UK: Now Labour Recruits Army of Child Spies to Report Anti-Social Neighbours
 
Balkans
EU-Croatia: Lopez Garrido, More Negotiations Next Week
Kosovo Top Source of Tension in Europe, Says US Intelligence
 
North Africa
Algeria-France: ‘Black List’, Algiers Cancels Meeting
Egyptian Veteran Has ‘No Desire’ To Coach Israeli Team
Egypt: Amnesty Supports Muslim Brotherhood, Free Them
Tunisia: New Strategies for Golf Tourism Examined
 
Israel and the Palestinians
Defining “Victory” And “Peace”: How the U.S. And Israel Reject General Sherman’s Solution and Get Blamed Anyway
EU Donates 21 Million Euros to PA Salaries
Gov’t Declares War on Furs
Israeli Soldier Stabbed in West Bank, Injured
Kibbutz Turns 100
Sex and Corruption, ‘Fatah-Gate’ For Abbas on TV
Vote for Israelis Abroad, Netanyahu-Livni Clash
 
Middle East
Ambassador Calls for Divorce After Veil-Wearing Muslim Bride Reveals a Beard and Crossed Eyes
Arab Diplomat Annuls Wedding With Hairy Bride
Defiant Iran Accelerates Nuclear Program
Dubai: Bearded Wife Under Niqab, Husband Annuls Marriage
Eight Turkish Planes Violate Greek Airspace and Are Chased Off by Greek Fighters
Iran: Attacks on Italian Embassy Prompts Outrage
Middle East — Iran: For Arabs, Ahmadinejad is Defying the West, And That Worries Them
Saudi Arabia — India: Brian O’Connor: Discrimination and Religious Intolerance the Evils of Saudi Arabia
 
Russia
New Stealth Jet Tipping Strategic Balance
 
South Asia
Diana West: Pakistani-Parliamentary Pincer
Freedom of Religion Update
Indonesia: Bekasi, Anti-Christian Persecution Continues. A Protestant Church Targeted
 
Sub-Saharan Africa
Ethiopian Airline Crash Off Beirut Was an Act of Al-Qaeda Terror
 
Immigration
How Labour Threw Open Doors to Mass Migration in Secret Plot to Make a Multicultural UK

Financial Crisis

80% of Stimulus Dollars For Wind Power Goes to Foreign Companies- Including China (Video)

US workers may be laid off but a Chinese company is helping build a massive wind farm in west Texas. The firm will receive $450 million in Stimulus cash. The project will save or create 300 jobs in Texas and 2,000 manufacturing jobs in China. That sounds like a good use of taxpayer dollars, huh?

[Return to headlines]


Blanco: Attack on Spain Manoeuvring Against Euro

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 8 — The Spanish government has attributed the campaign waged on international markets against Spain to a wider-ranging attack on the euro and “murkier manoeuvring” on the part of speculators”, according to Infrastructure Minister José Blanco. In an interview today on the radio station Cadena Ser, he said that now that Spain is about to exit the crisis, speculators are making a move to follow through on their strategies. Blanco said that “nothing that is happening, including editorials in some foreign media sources with their apocalyptic comments, is innocent or the result of sheer chance, but is instead due to specific interests”. The minister also stressed that the situation in the Spanish economy, while not normal due to effects of the real estate crisis, “is for the most part the same as that in other Eurozone countries”. Blanco’s statements have come alongside Deputy Premier and Economy Minister, Elena Slagado’s, and Undersecretary of State Manuel Campa’s visit to London today. In the City, government representatives under Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will be trying to convince investors, analysts and the media of the solid state of the Spanish economy and the effectiveness of measures adopted to contain public deficit. Salgado’s agenda includes meetings with opinion leaders of such economic dailies as the Financial Times, which for weeks has been leveling criticism at the economic policies of the Zapatero government, and which over the past few days has raised alarm over Spanish finances, writing that “in Spain a drama of potentially greater magnitude than that in Greece is shaping up”. Today Spain’s stock exchange began the day’s trading up for the first time since last Tuesday. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Germany Backs Greek Bail-Out as EU Creates ‘Economic Government’

Germany is preparing to drop its vehement opposition to a rescue package for Greece, fearing that a rapid escalation of the debt crisis in Southern Europe could endanger German banks and damage the euro.

Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister, has asked officials to prepare a plan in time for a summit of EU leaders on Thursday, according to reports in the German media. The options include either a loan from EU states or some sort of institutional EU response.

The news pushed the euro to $1.38 against the dollar, the strongest one-day rally since the single currency began its nose-dive late last year. Yields on Greek 10-year bonds plummeted 36 basis points to 6.39pc in a matter of hours as speculators scrambled to exit overstretched positions, with synchronised moves for Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian bonds.

Michael Meister, parliamentary chief for Germany’s Christian Democrats, said the crisis could not be allowed to drag on. “Our top priority is the stability of the euro,” he told FT Deutschland. “Should Greece receive help, it will only be under tough conditions and if the Greek government undertakes root-and-branch reforms.”

Germany’s apparent backing for a bail-out comes despite worries that it will lead to the breakdown of fiscal discipline across the Club Med region. It also raises troubling questions of fairness. Ireland has tackled its own crisis by slashing wages and going far beyond any measure so far offered by Greece, yet Dublin has not received help.

Germany’s dramatic shift in policy changes the character of the euro project. It follows weeks of soul-searching in Berlin, and after increasingly loud pleas from Brussels, Paris and southern capitals. The deciding factor was concern that letting Greece fail risked a “Lehman-style” run on Club Med debt, with systemic spill-over across Europe.

German exposure to the region amounts to €43bn in Greece, €47bn in Portugal, €193bn in Ireland, and €240bn in Spain, according to the Bank for International Settlements. German lenders are already vulnerable, with the world’s lowest risk-adjusted capital ratios bar Japan.

The breakthrough comes as this week’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels rapidly evolves from a policy workshop into an historic gathering that may catapult the EU across the Rubicon towards fiscal federalism and a de facto debt union. The EU’s top brass are seizing on the crisis to push for a radical extension of EU powers, saying Greece has exposed the deep flaws in the structure of monetary union.

Herman Van Rompuy, the EU’s new president, has submitted a text calling for the creation of an “economic government” that shifts responsibility for economic planning from national authorities to the “EU level”.

In a parallel move, Commission chief Jose Barroso said Brussels has treaty powers allowing it to take the reins of economic management. “

This is a time for boldness. I believe that our economic and social situation demands a radical shift from the status quo. And the new Lisbon Treaty allows this,” he said.

“Economic policy isn’t a national, but a European matter. No modern economy is an island. When a member state doesn’t make reforms, others suffer because of that.”

Rumours swept the markets all day on news that Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank, had cut short a trip to Australia to attend the summit.

It is unclear how long Tuesday’s reprieve will last, or whether any bail-out involving loans — as opposed to subsidy — can solve the deeper crisis of Club Med competitiveness. Wealthy Greek citizens have shifted €7bn from banks in Greece to foreign accounts, fearing that capital controls in Athens. The withdrawals have echoes of the Mexico’s Tequila Crisis in 1994 when Mexicans set off a spiral by shifting funds to the US.

The risk is that capital flight will erode the deposit base of Greek banks, forcing them to shrink loan books. Greek banks do not rely on the fickle funding of wholesale markets — the undoing of Northern Rock — but this does not shield them from a deposit run.

Goldman Sachs has downgraded the National Bank of Greece and GPSB. “Greece faces both a liquidity and, potentially, a solvency problem. While we believe that, individually, Greek banks tend to be well-run, the problems they face are outside their operational control,” it said.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Italy: Fiat Accepts End to Incentives

CEO Marchionne says he ‘understands’ govt decision

(ANSA) — Turin, February 10 — Fiat on Wednesday said it accepted and understood the government’s decision not to offer trade-in incentives for new car buyers this year.

Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said on Tuesday that initiatives to stimulate the economy in 2010 would go to sectors other than automobiles “which also need a push”.

Scajola made his remarks after a meeting of European Union industry ministers where there was a consensus on the need for an exit strategy from existing policies aimed at boosting the economy after the recent recession, including the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ initiatives for cars.

Speaking to the press here on Wednesday, Fiat’s chief executive officer, Sergio Marchionne, said “we understand the reasons behind this decision. We accept what the minister said and will adapt to it on the market both here and abroad. We have no other choice”.

Already last week Marchionne said Fiat would accept the government’s decision “ without making a fuss”. According to the Fiat CEO, without incentives some 350,000 fewer new cars will be sold in Italy this year, from two million sold in 2009.

The government had earlier indicated that it would consider new incentives for the automotive sector but that these would be reduced in terms of value and limited in regard to time compared to those granted in 2009.

The end of last year’s incentives has already resulted in an over 50% drop in orders for Fiat in January, compared to the last months of 2009.

This led to Fiat’s decision to shut down production at all its plants in Italy the last week in February and the first week in March.

Marchionne on Wednesday also spoke on Fiat’s reorganization plan in Italy, confirming a decision to close its plant in Termini Imerse, Sicily, but saying that “no other factory risks closing”.

In regard to Scajola’s claim to have “8-10” offers for the Sicilian plant, Marchionne said “we have closed no doors but we haven’t seen anything yet”.

The Sicilian regional government said recently that it was ready to invest 350 million euros for the reconversion of Termini Imerese.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Banker Endorsed for European Role

Rome, 10 Feb. (AKI) — Italy will nominate Bank of Italy governor Mario Draghi to head the European Central Bank when the term of the current president expires next year, according to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s spokesman.

“The government will strongly support Draghi’s candidacy to head the European Central Bank,” said Paolo Bonaiuti in a TV interview broadcast on state-run Rainews24 on Wednesday.

“We always support all the Italian candidates for top international jobs, even if they’re from the opposite political bloc, which is not the case for Draghi,” Bonaiuti said.

ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet’s term ends on 31 October, 2011.

Bonaiuti’s comments were made in response to a German media report that Germany would back Portugal’s central bank governor Vitor Constancio to become ECB vice president.

The German government said on 6 February it was too early to discuss Trichet’s succession after a German magazine reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel secured a “broad majority” for Constancio as the next vice president.

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


Salgado Criticises Almunia, Lack of Attention on Spain

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 4 — The Spanish economy is in nothing like the same state as Greece’s is: vice premier and minister for the Economy, Elena Salgado, was speaking in response to the European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Joaquin Almunia, who yesterday highlighted problems that are common to Spain, Greece and Portugal. In an interview on radio Cadena Cope, Salgado criticised Almunia’s statements, who she felt had shown a lack of care as he should have avoided the temptation to oversimplify. According to Salgado, the situation in Spain and Greece is not similar, neither in terms of debt or economic stability, given that the Spanish government has been doing everything it can for some time in order to exit the crisis. Salgado underlined that Spain’s official statistics reflect the reality of the economy, something that was put in question in the case of Greece. Yesterday in his blog on the New York Times website, the 2008 Nobel-prizewinning economist, Paul Krugman, warned that the principal problem for strength in the Eurozone is not Greece, but Spain, which had budget surpluses until some years ago and now has substantial deficits, due to the collapse of its economy. Before Krugman, the alarm had been sounded in Davos by economist Nouriel Roubini for whom Spain is a possible threat to the cohesion of the Eurozone, more so than Greece, Portugal and Ireland, due to its explosion of unemployment and high deficit. According to Salgado, it is a matter of criticism by observers who are outside the Eurozone and who use the sterling and the dollar. Salgado observed that there was probably a lack of understanding of what the euro means for our economy. The euro is a very strong currency, she added, and I dont see any risk for the Eurozone or for the future of the Spanish people. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: Industrial Production -15.8% in 2009

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 5 — Industrial production in Spain, adjusted for calendar effects, ended 2009 with a 15.8% decline compared to the previous year, which is its greatest decrease since 1993, when statistical data on industrial production began to be gathered. According to data issued today by the national statistics institute, in December industrial production declined by 1.4% year-on-year, with the decline, which at the beginning of 2009 exceeded 20%, substantially curbed. The industrial activities hardest hit by the recession in 2009 included furniture production (-30.4% year-on-year); mineral products (-29%); automobile production (-28%) and machinery production (-21%), due to a substantial decline in investments. The only industrial activity that did not decline was the pharmaceutical sector, which remained stable. A slight decrease was recorded for food production (-0.7%) and the chemical industry (-1.7%). The average decline in production in 2009 was 8.2% for consumer goods (-27% for durable goods and -5% for nondurable goods); -8.6% was the decline registered for energy production. Overall, industrial production has declined for 20 consecutive months, although in the final part of the year, trends in the sector seemed to reverse, with more moderate decline than in the first six months of 2009, when the decrease was greater than 20%. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

USA

Arsonists on Rampage as 11 Churches Burn

Police now offer $25,000 reward to catch blaze starters

Residents of eastern Texas are on edge, worried in the wake of what may be a serial arsonist on the loose with an appetite for burning churches to the ground.

At various intervals since New Year’s Day, 11 churches in the state have gone up in flames, and authorities have ruled nearly all of them arson. A $25,000 reward is offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the fire starter.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Captain America Plans to Infiltrate “Racist” Tea Party Movement

Marvel Comic’s Captain America is the mightiest soldier with the super powerful secret soldier formula that makes him a super man. Sadly, this muscle bound hero that took on the whole Nazi army during WWII seems to be afraid of those American people who’ve joined the Tea Party movement. Not only is Cappy quaking in his little red booties, but he’s sure that the Tea Party folks are dangerous racists, too.

Isn’t it wonderful that a decades old American comic book hero is now being used to turn readers against our very political system, being used to slander folks that are standing up for real American principles in real life — and one called “Captain America” at that?

In issue number 602 of Captain America, a new story line has begun called “Two Americas.” In it the current Captain (there have been a few of them, apparently) is on the trail of a faux Captain America that is mentally deranged and getting chummy with some white supremacist, anti-government, survivalists types going by the name of “the Watchdogs.” While investigating this subversive group, Captain America and his partner The Falcon — a black super hero — have decided to try and infiltrate the secretive organization.

In preparation for the infiltration, Marvel Comics depicts the two super heroes out of costume and observing from a rooftop a street filled with what can only be described as a Tea Party protest. The scene shows crowds of people in city streets carrying signs that say, “stop the socialists,” “tea bag libs before they tea bag you,” and “no to new taxes.” Naturally, the people in these crowds are depicted as being filled with nothing but white folks.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


CBS Figures Out Obama’s Hollow Calls for “Bipartisanship”

CBS veteran journalist Mark Knoller reports today at the Political Hot Sheet blog the real meaning behind President Obama’s calls for “bipartisanship” going forward (via Memeorandum):

Unannounced, President Obama took to the lectern in the White House briefing room today to give a personal readout of his meeting earlier with congressional leaders of both parties.

“Despite the political posturing that often paralyzes this town, there are many issues upon which we can and should agree, he said.

It was more a plaintive plea than a political observation. His top legislative priorities are going nowhere and he’s searching for a way to get them out of lockup.

In this 13th month of his presidency, he’s anxious to pass a jobs bill and be seen addressing an unemployment rate that only last week declined from double digits. And his efforts to enact bills on energy, financial regulatory reform and especially health care are stuck in Congress despite the solid majority his party holds in both chambers.

He’s appealing for a spirit of bipartisanship — urging Democrats and Republicans alike “to put aside matters of party for the good of the country.”

[…]

What these [past and present] presidential appeals for bipartisanship always mean is: do it my way.

[Return to headlines]


Extremists Gone Wild on ‘Green’ Energy Bill

Former domestic terrorist, communist, socialist-party founder all contribute

The Apollo Alliance, whose board members include a slew of radicals, was instrumental in helping draft a “clean technology” bill being pushed by U.S. senators, WND has learned.

The Investments for Manufacturing Progress and Clean Technology Act of 2009, or IMPACT, was sponsored by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and is also being promoted by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. The act seeks to establish a $30 billion revolving loan fund to help small and mid-sized manufacturers retool their factories to produce “clean technologies” and become more energy efficient.

[…]

The Apollo Alliance has been instrumental in helping draft key policies of the Obama administration. It was previously reported Apollo helped craft portions of the $787 billion “stimulus” bill signed into law by Obama.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in mid-2009: “The Apollo Alliance has been an important factor in helping us [the U.S. Senate] develop and execute a strategy that makes great progress on these goals and in motivating the public to support them.”

[…]

Among its board members are a grouping of radicals, including:

* Van Jones, President Obama’s controversial former “green jobs czar” who resigned in September after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush administration of possible involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Jones also called for “resistance” against the U.S.

Green For All, a group co-founded by Jones, is a formal backer of Brown’s IMPACT Act.

Jones himself decried the Apollo Alliance mission as “sort of a grand unified field theory for progressive left causes.”

* Joel Rogers, a founder of the socialist New Party. WND reported evidence indicating Obama was a New Party member. In an interview with WND, New Party co-founder and Marxist activist Carl Davidson previously recounted Obama’s participation with the New Party.

* Jeff Jones, a founder of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group who spent time on the run from law enforcement agencies while his group carried out a series of bombings of U.S. government buildings.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Hillary’s Eligibility Challenged in Supreme Court

Can political branch evade ‘clear and precise language’ of Constitution?

A brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by Judicial Watch, which investigates and prosecutes government corruption, questions whether members of the “political branches of the government” can “evade the clear and precise language of a provision of the Constitution through the use of a legislative ‘fix.’“

The dispute is over former Sen. Hillary Clinton’s eligibility to be secretary of state.

The U.S. Constitution, Article I, section 6, clause 2, provides: “No senator or representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been [increased] during such time.”

The case brought on behalf of a career government employee outlines how during Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, the salary for the secretary of state was raised to $186,600, then to $191,300, and then again to $196,700.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Obama’s Revisionist History of Terrorism

Since taking office, Obama’s key objective on terrorism has been to transform the public perception of it from an international military conflict, to a limited domestic criminal problem. Renaming terrorism to the bureaucratically euphonious term, “Man Caused Disasters” was straight out of the first rule in the textbook of organizational coverups, to phrase your sentences so that the identity of the perpetrators of the crisis remain as vague as possible. Focusing on everything but terrorism, while shutting down Gitmo and dispatching top Al Qaeda terrorists like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to civilian trials, was meant to restore the illusion of normalcy, while doing away with the terrorism focus of the Bush Administration.

There was a reason that once in office, Obama showed a very limited interest in pushing for the prosecutions of Bush Administration officials, as the left wing expected him to. Unlike them, Obama understood that the best way to shift the conversation was by avoiding the topic, not by confronting it head on… because while the American people may have turned on the Republicans, they were more likely to support a tough on terror approach, than not. Main Street America was a long way from ACLU headquarters, and so Obama decided that the best way to win the debate on terrorism… was not to have it all.

Seeing how fast Cheney’s numbers shot up by simply calling him out on terrorism, could have only stiffened Obama’s resolve to avoid the issue. But the issue refused to avoid him, whether it was demands that he come to a decision on Afghanistan, a renewed wave of terrorist attacks on American soil or a growing backlash from New York over holding the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trials in the city—Islamic “man caused disasters” just refused to go away.

By moving Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into the civilian legal system, Obama and Holder were undertaking to engineer a massive shift in how America dealt with terrorism. It was a shift that everyone from lawyers to liberal pundits to the nutroots had been pushing all along. It was the message on the earliest posters tacked up by left wing activists on the streets of Lower Manhattan, even as the ruins of the towers were still smoldering. The shift would transform terrorism from a conflict fought in defense of America, to an internal criminal matter for the legal system to deal with. The difference between the two lies in far more than just a matter of which judges get to sit on the bench and where the trial takes place, it cuts right to the issue of what is really happening here.

Treating Islamic terrorism as a criminal problem transforms it from an international threat, into something purely local, akin to an armed robbery or a murder or two. And as liberal doctrine would have it, crime is not really preventable except through social welfare policies. That is precisely the tack that European governments have taken on terrorism, working with Muslim communities to improve their economic and social status. That would have been the next stage for the Obama Administration, if a roadblock hadn’t risen up on the road to the New York trial.

[Return to headlines]


Oren Heckled at US College

Protester: “Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” [video]

Eleven people were arrested as Ambassador to the US Michael Oren was repeatedly interrupted while trying to deliver an address at the University of California, Irvine, on Monday night.

Oren was speaking about US-Israeli relations and was interrupted nearly a dozen times.

A young man began the outbursts, yelling, “Michael Oren! Propagating murder is not an expression of free speech!” The man’s yelling was followed by both heavy applause and objections.

His words echoed a statement released by the university’s Muslim Student Union prior to Oren’s appearance, which said, “As people of conscience, we oppose Michael Oren’s invitation to our campus. Propagating murder is not a responsible expression of free speech.”

It was not clear whether those disturbing the speech were members of the Muslim Student Union.

After the fourth protester began heckling him, Oren left the podium, surrounded by security personnel. He returned but was repeatedly harassed by students.

Oren took the stage again to complete his

address and eventually a large number of those in the audience stood and exited, disrupting him for a final time. They then demonstrated outside the arena, chanting, “Michael Oren, you will see, Palestine will be free.”

The Muslim Student Union said in its statement: “We strongly condemn the university for cosponsoring, and therefore, inadvertently supporting the ambassador of a state that is condemned by more UN Human Rights Council resolutions than all other countries in the world combined.”

The statement said Israel had “massacred” 1,400 people, including 700 women and children, in Gaza.

The Muslim Student Union further said that “Oren took part in a culture that has no qualms with terrorizing the innocent, killing civilians, demolishing their homes, and illegally occupying their land. Oren is an outspoken supporter of the recent war on Gaza and stands in the way of international law by refusing to cooperate with the United Nation’s Goldstone Report, a fact-finding mission endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council.”

Prof. Mark P. Petracca, chairman of the university’s Political Science department, chastised the protesters, telling them, “This is beyond embarrassing… This is no way for our undergraduate students to behave. We have an opportunity to hear from a policy-maker relevant to one of the most important issues facing this planet and you are preventing not only yourself from hearing him but hundreds of other people in this room and hundreds of other people in an overflow room. Shame on you! This is not an example of free speech.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Canada

Two Jewish Students Assaulted in York University

Two Jewish students at York University were assaulted on Monday during a pro-Israel program.

Tyler Golden, Co-President, Hasbara Fellowships at York University, who was on the scene when the incident occurred, described the happenings in a conversation with Shalom Life: “Hasbara was tabling for Gilad Shalit. We run a campaign called Free Palestinians from Hamas. It was a very peaceful day and we had permission from the university to table. At around 4 o’clock, several anti-Israel known faces on campus came to start questioning us and debate with us.”

Golden said that the debate that had sprung up between the Hasbara people and the anti-Israel individuals quickly escalated into an angry mob of around 50 students, who surrounded his group and chanted anti-Israel and anti-Semitic slurs. “Security has asked us, when we come across these types of things, to call them which we did, as well as videotape it so they can see the faces and hear the voices of the people that do it. A few students on the other side were upset that there were cameras in their faces, so they started yelling and screaming. As they were trying to push cameras out of the way, they actually hit two students.”

Two York Security officers arrived on the scene. “They took down stories and students were allowed time to file complaints. I heard from the president’s office this morning that an investigation is under way,” said Golden.

Following the incident, the Jewish Defence League of Canada offered a $500 reward to anyone who would provide information regarding the assailants. “Unfortunately there’s a lack of strong Jewish leadership on campuses, not just at York but at many campuses and that has to change,” said Meir Weinstein, Director of JDL.

Marlee Mozeson, Co-President of Hasbara Fellowships at York University, said: “The University’s steps to ensure a safe campus for all have been proven unsuccessful and ineffective. We call on the University to take immediate action to restore order and safety for all students on campus.”

Calls to York University’s Media Relations office for a comment were not returned.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Ex-Guantánamo Man Thanks Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT has acted as a “beacon of light” in Europe for taking in two inmates from Guantánamo Bay, a former inmate turned human rights activist has said.

Moazzam Begg, who was held in the US-run detention centre for about two years, told TDs on the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday that he would like to thank Ireland on behalf of Guantánamo inmates for opening its doors.

Speaking to The Irish Times before the informal meeting, Mr Begg said Ireland was a role model and it should persuade other EU states to take in inmates to enable the detention centre to close.

He said it was necessary to bring inmates into the country to “rehumanise them without great fanfare, without great publicity and help them pick up the pieces of their terrible shattered lives”.

He criticised the use of Shannon airport for enabling the US and third countries to transport people illegally to detention centres where they often faced torture.

“Whichever countries that have been involved in this process, they carry a burden, a share of the blame,” he said. “These countries need to be forthright and at the forefront of rectifying this.”

Mr Begg said he had been driven to the point of insanity in Guantánamo Bay.

“I spent almost two years in Guantánamo in solitary confinement — that meant no contact with other prisoners, no meaningful communication with my family, no visits, no phone calls and no ability to challenge the legality or illegality of my detention,” he said.

He said he had witnessed two people being beaten to death by US troops while he was confined in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan before being taken to Guantánamo. “That was a result of someone being kicked and punched repeatedly,” he said.

Mr Begg is one of nine British Muslims who were detained at Guantánamo. He admits to attending two military training camps on visits to Afghanistan in 1993 and 1998, although he says he did not train with combatants.

He later moved to Afghanistan with his family in 2001 shortly before the attacks on New York on September 11th, 2001. He was arrested in Islamabad in 2002 and later taken by the CIA to Guantánamo Bay.

Mr Begg denied he was a supporter of the Taliban or had engaged in terrorist activity, allegations made in some US news reports. “I’ve always called for a dialogue with the Taliban. I’ve always said the only way forward — and the British government knows very well because of its experience in Northern Ireland — is negotiation.

“Do I support terrorism? The answer is an unequivocal no,” Mr Begg added.

He is a director of a human rights group Cageprisoners, which raises awareness about the plight of Guantánamo inmates.

Amnesty International helped to organise Mr Begg’s trip to the Republic.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]


‘Forza Italia Born From Mafia Talks’

State’s witness claims ‘highly dubious’, says Cosa Nostra expert

(ANSA) — Palermo, February 8 — The party launched by Premier Silvio Berlusconi at the outset of his political career grew out of talks between Cosa Nostra and the state, a prosecutor’s witness claimed Monday in statements that a top Mafia expert later said were ‘higly dubious’.

Massimo Ciancimino, son of the late Palermo Mayor, is on the stand in the trial of former domestic intelligence chief Mario Mori, who is accused of letting super boss Bernardo Provenzano escape in 1995.

Ciancimino alleges that Mori and his father, Vito, were go-betweens in negotiations between the Mafia and the state in the 1990s to stop a bombing campaign by Provenzano’s co-boss Salvatore (Toto’) Riina that claimed the lives of anti-Mafia judges Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in 1992. On Monday, he claimed Berlusconi’s Forza Italia was a “product” of those negotiations, which also looked at where to invest the Mafia’s “political capital” after the Clean-Hands scandals toppled the powerful Christian Democrat and Italian Socialist parties in the early 1990s.

During the hearing, Ciancimino produced a note supposedly written by the Mafia superboss to Berlusconi’s long-time aide, Marcello Dell’Utri, containing a veiled threat directed at Berlusconi’s son meant as a warning not to renege on their agreement.

The note also supposedly showed the Mafia’s interest in Berlusconi’s Mediaset television network, saying the premier “ought to place it at our disposal”.

“My father told me that this note was an aspect of negotiations that had been going on for years,” Ciancimino claimed.

The letter was supposedly co-addressed to Berlusconi himself with an extra line suggesting that Provenzano was “running out of patience”.

Ciancimino later claimed he’d been confronted by a secret service agent in 2006, while under house arrest for money laundering charges, who told him not to talk about the state’s alleged negotiations with the Mafia.

He said that since he began collaborating with the police, he had received a number of death threats.

MAFIA EXPERT SAYS CIANCIMINO’S TESTIMONY ‘HIGHLY DUBIOUS’.

Following Ciancimino’s testimony on Monday, an MEP for the opposition Italy of Values Party (Idv) and co-founder of the Italian anti-mafia police, Pino Arlacchi, said he “didn’t believe a word of it”.

He said Ciancimino was an “interested and unreliable source” trying to bargain his way out of a four-year jail sentence on charges of money laundering.

A one-time friend and colleague of Falcone, Arlacchi said the witnesses’s sensational and unsubstantiated claims risked discrediting the testimony of other Mafia turncoats and “ought to be taken with a grain of salt”.

He went on to admonish his politically ally, former Clean-Hands prosecutor and IdV Secretary Antonio Di Pietro, for subscribing to the “paranoia about Forza Italia growing out of talks with the Mafia”.

Di Pietro is among Berlusconi’s most vocal critics and leading the charge to oust him from office, largely on the basis of accusations like the ones made by Ciancinimo.

“Forza Italia was an sophisticated marketing-politics operation that created a force we’ve had to contend with since 1994. But the Mafia had nothing to do with that,” he said.

Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party merged with the right-wing National Alliance last year to form the People of Freedom party, one of the two main parties currently in government.

Culture Minister Sandro Bondi said that Ciancimino’s allegations were political sabotage ahead of the regional elections this March.

“It never fails! Right before an election we always have to put up with this wave of libel and filth,” he said. Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo’ Ghedini on Monday again insisted Ciancimino’s statements were “groundless” and that he would eventually have to respond for them in a civil suit for defamation.

Ciancimino turned state’s evidence after his arrest in 2006 on charges of money laundering, for which he was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

In addition to the Mori trial, he has also testified in an appeal by Dell’Utri of a nine year sentence for allegedly acting as a mediator between the Mafia and politicians and businessmen in Milan.

His testimony includes the claim that Provenzano betrayed his co-boss Riina in 1993 and was in turn allowed to reign over a 13-year “pax mafiosa” with relative impunity.

His father, Vito Ciancimino served as Mayor of Palermo in the 1970s before criminal investigations into his mafia ties in the 1980s ended his political career.

The first major Italian politician to be arrested on Mafia charges, Ciancimino died in 2002 at the age of 88, 13 years after being sentenced to house arrest on a slew of charges including fraud, embezzlement and rigging public tenders.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


In Spite of Numbers, Dutch Muslims Are Political Non-Entity

Several Muslim parties will participate in Dutch municipal elections on March 3. But in spite of a sizable Muslim electorate, they have so far been unable to garner many votes.

By Brian van der Bol and Mark Hoogstad

The Islam Democrats (ID), represented by a single delegate in The Hague’s city council since 2006, wanted desperately to avoid a swift implosion, as has been the fate of some other young Dutch political parties in recent memory. They failed. The party fell prey to infighting and is now divided into two feuding camps. The party’s plans to participate in the upcoming municipal elections in Rotterdam, Utrecht, and other Dutch cities, have been put on hold.

Mohammed Rabbae, a former member of parliament for the Green party and currently chair of national organisation representing Moroccan interests, expressed his regrets over the schism. “More unity would be good,” he said. Two years ago, Rabbae still believed the ID would blossom into a stable, national political force representing Muslims. “These are people who operate within the limits of Dutch law, but are also able to give a voice to the Islamic community’s grievances. They have done well challenging the dominant stereotypes of Muslims,” Rabbae said.

The power struggle within the ID’s ranks came as no surprise to Rabbae however. “Sectarian and personal interests are often paramount in Islamic movements,” Rabbae said, citing the lack of a “uniting leader” and an established base as contributing factors.

The Netherlands is home to some 825,000 Muslims, according to government statistics, accounting for five percent of the population. In cities like The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, approximately one in ten residents adhere to the Muslim faith. This makes the electoral potential for Islamic parties significant. But while populist Geert Wilders gathers much of his support by scolding Muslims in the Netherlands, parties that want to unite them are yet to find their constituency.

Divided amongst themselves

Rabbae said the Dutch Muslim Party (NMP), led by Henny Kreeft, a former member of the assassinated Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn’s political party, suffered the same problems as the ID. The NMP will participate in seven municipal elections in March, including those in Rotterdam and The Hague. The party will try to appeal to the same narrow slice of the electorate the ID hopes to sway. Talks between the NMP and ID last year yielded no results however. Both parties cannot even agree on why the talks failed.

In The Hague, a city of almost 500,000, a grand total of three Muslim parties will now be participate in local elections. Still, NMP leader Kreeft denies his community is divided. The Netherlands is also home to a multitude of Christian parties, he pointed out. “Would you ask them the same question?” Kreeft wondered. In Rotterdam, with 600,000 people including approximately 30,000 Muslims who can vote, Kreeft’s NMP will be the only Muslim party to partake in the March 3 elections.

‘No Turk will vote for a Morrocan’

Theo Coskun, who leads the Socialist Party in the Rotterdam city council, thinks little of the electoral threat posed by the NMP. “No Turks will vote for a Moroccan. The opposite is even less likely,” he said. Coskun used to go by the typically Dutch surname of Cornelissen, until he married a Turkish-Dutch woman 14 months ago and adopted her last name. Coskun knows Rotterdam’s Muslim community well — a sizable one in a town where 48 percent of the population is of foreign descent. He thinks the NMP will meet the same fate as another Muslim party, the Islamic Party Netherlands, that participated in the last municipal elections and failed to gain even a single seat. In 2006, the IPN got a measly 626 votes, 0.2 percent of all ballots cast.

Coskun likes to put the potential voting figures into what he feels is proper perspective. “A lot of people who call themselves ‘Muslim’ are very secular,” he said. According to Rabbae, himself still a member of the Green party, most Muslims prefer established political parties.

Muslim reluctance to support Islamic parties is often explained by the poor track record Muslim parties have in their countries of origin. Rabbae understands fears that some Muslim immigrants may have, but also referred to the Turkish AK party “that operates well within the limits of established law” he said.

Even though Muslim parties have drawn little support so far, their members believe they can address legitimate political concerns. NMP-founder Henny Kreeft, for instance, feels that Muslim interests are not sufficiently spoken for within existing parties. Muslim politicians needed to “confirm to political profiles” within established parties, he Kreeft said.

Alaattin Erdal, who will lead the Christian democratic CDA in one of Rotterdam’s boroughs said Muslims voters like casting their ballots for established parties candidates. They do, however , prefer choosing candidates of shared ethnicity. “Their vote carries more weight that way. Muslims are not looking to be marginalised politically by voting for marginal parties,” Erdal said.

Disappointed by the establishment

Some politicians are on the fence. Abdelhafid Bouzidi, for instance, who led a national committee last year in support of the controversial Muslim philosopher Tariq Ramadan. Both the Green party and left-wing liberal D66 have offered him a prospective seat on their Rotterdam delegations since. Bouzidi (31) did not take them up on the offer. He is still uncertain what type of political party he should join. “In essence, I fit in well with existing parties. But I have been somewhat disappointed by them. And I am not the only one,” he said.

Bouzidi felt most offended by Ramadan’s dismissal. Ramadan served the local government in an advisory capacity but was fired after his involvement in an Iranian government-funded TV-programme became public. Parties across the political spectrum, including Labour, Greens and Christian democrats, came out in favour of Ramadan’s dismissal. “Still, my gut says the time is not yet ripe for a Muslim party,” Bouzidi said. Ironically, Ramadan has come out saying he doesn’t feel Muslim’s should isolate themselves in separate political parties.

Still, Rabbae feels a a political party based on Islam would do much to enrich the Dutch political landscape. “Muslims are still feared in the Netherlands, and these feelings are stoked by people like Wilders. It would not hurt if Muslims went on the offensive and demonstrated that it is possible to be both a democrat and a Muslim,” he said.

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


Italy: G8 Contracts Probed for Possible Corruption

Rome, 8 Feb.(AKI) — Investigators in Rome are looking into possible corruption associated with awarding contracts to transform a part of an island near Sardinia into a luxury vacation destination that was supposed to host last July’s Group of Eight summit.

The probe is targeting a government special commission that assigned building contracts on the island of Maddalena, daily la Repubblica reported on Monday. Investigators may widen the probe to include individuals.

La Repubblica reported last month that Italy spent 327 million euros in preparations for the G8 summit before it was abruptly transferred to the mainland last year. Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi announced the summit would be held in the central Italian city of L’Aquila following the powerful earthquake there last April.

The switch of venue to L’Aquila meant that several buildings including a former military base that was turned into a compound for leaders including US President Barack Obama were abandoned.

A 75 million-euro luxury hotel, one of the biggest projects inside the compound was close to completion before the move.

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


Italy Moves Closer to Nuclear Power

Cabinet approves guidelines for selection of sites

(ANSA) — Rome, February 10 — The Cabinet on Wednesday approved guidelines paving the way for the return of nuclear power to Italy, amid outcry from the opposition. The guidelines establish the criteria for selecting sites for nuclear power plants, outlawed in Italy over 20 years ago following a 1987 referendum in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster. The new guidelines are contained in a government decree under a law approved by parliament last summer clearing the return of nuclear power. “[Nuclear power] will ensure greater security in our energy supplies, reduce dependency on imports and bring prices in line with those in Europe,” commented Industry Minister Claudio Scajoloa in a statement released following the Cabinet decision.

According to Scajola, construction on new power plants should get under way in 2013, with energy production beginning in 2020.

The guidelines will eventually be used by private companies building and running the plants in order to select appropriate sites. However, the government must develop a national nuclear strategy and set up a Nuclear Safety Agency before companies will be allowed to start bidding for contracts. The 2009 law authorizing the return of nuclear power was passed amid fierce opposition centering on safety concerns but Scajola said the new system took such fears into account. “The decree is characterized by transparency and absolute respect for the security of people and the environment,” the minister said. “Local populations and institutions will be involved in all stages of decision-making”, while the new plants “will be obliged to respect the highest safety standards in regards to public health and environmental protection”, he said.

Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo also voiced her confidence in the measures. “The government’s nuclear decision will focus on the utmost security and the most careful safeguards for the environment,” she said. But the opposition, which boycotted the parliamentary vote last summer in an unsuccessful bid to prevent a quorum being reached, remained angry over the move. OPINION POLLS SHOW MOST ITALIANS ARE AGAINST NUCLEAR POWER.

As well as fears over safety, opposition politicians suggested the government had left the decision over the location of sites in private hands in order to avoid a public backlash, particularly ahead of upcoming regional elections. There was also criticism of the government’s decision last week to take three regional authorities to the Constitutional Court over recently enacted local laws prohibiting the construction of nuclear reactors. The environmental shadow minister of the largest opposition group, the Democratic Party, accused the government of trying to trick the public. “Let [Premier Silvio] Berlusconi tell the truth about nuclear power, starting with where these plants will actually be built,” said Ermete Realacci, describing the guidelines as a ploy to deflect public anger. “The state is committing to destroying the electricity market, with a pro-nuclear propaganda campaign, and depriving local authorities and regional government of their say on where sites should be located”.

The head of Italy’s Green party, Angelo Bonelli, called for a referendum, accusing the government of carrying out a “sensational fraud against the Italian public because nuclear power is not only dangerous for the environment and health but unsustainable from an economic point of view”. The environmental spokesman for the opposition Italy of Values party, Paolo Brutti, said the government decree “does away with the regional governments, transparency, the market, common sense and the safety of the Italian public”. “It places the decision on where to locate power plants in the hands of private bodies and replaces regional decision-making power with that of the Cabinet,” he said. The Italian Communist Party environmental representative, Claudio Saroufim, warned of the “health and environmental risks” and accused the government of approving guidelines rather than specific sites “out of fear of regional elections”.

The centre-right government has been a strong proponent of nuclear energy, which was entirely phased out by 1990, since taking power. A year ago, it struck an accord with France for the joint construction of four nuclear plants in Italy and five in France.

This was followed in September by a five-year agreement with Washington for the development of 12 nuclear power plants in Italy, with the option to extend the accord another five years.

Opinion polls indicate between 50% and 60% of Italians oppose nuclear power, rising to over 80% at the idea of a plant being built near where they live. The Constitutional Court will make a ruling in coming months over whether Southern Campania, Puglia and Basilicata were entitled to ban the construction of the nuclear plants in regional territory.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Contents of the Decree

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 10 — The decree with which the Italian Cabinet has given the go ahead to the procedure of the localisation of sites sets out the legal framework of reference for the subjects that intend to build new nuclear plants. A note from Minister Scajola reads that “with the upcoming setting up of the Agency for nuclear safety and the organisation of the nuclear strategy, operators will be able to propose sites for the building of plants and to present projects for the relevant authorisations.” These are the points of the decree: — SITES, CRITERIA FOR THE LOCALISATION OF PLANTS. The decree identifies the general criteria for the suitability of territories to host a plant. It is up to the firms interested to indicate the sites, which must respect the characteristics set out by the provisions. — AUTHORISATION PROCEDURES. The process is based on “unique authorisation”, explains the note from the Ministry for Economic Development, for the building and functioning of each individual plant, which provides for the involvement of the Regions involved. — TRANSPARENCY AND INVOLVEMENT OF THE POPULATION. “The decree provides for wide participation by the Regions, local bodies and populations, also through consultations, on authorisation procedures, on the building, on the functioning and on the deactivation of the nuclear plants, thus as with the measures to protect the health of workers and the population and the safeguarding of the environment,” said the minister. — BENEFITS, COMPENSATORY MEAUSURES. The decree establishes that economic benefits for the populations, the firms and the local bodies of the territories affected by the building of nuclear plants be recognised. These benefits are at the expense of subjects involved in the construction and functioning of the plants. In real terms, the benefits will allow the reduction of final consumers’ spending on energy in the territory involved, of the Solid Waste Management Tax (TARSU), additional Personal Income Tax (IRPEF), Corporate Income Tax (IRPEG) and Council Tax (ICI). — DISMANTLING OF PLANTS AND WASTE. The costs relating to the dismantling of plants at the end of functioning are charged to the operators that built the plants themselves, through a special fund. The dismantling is entrusted to Sogin. Furthermore, the decree provides for the creation of a national waste dump created in a wider Technological park which will also contain a centre for research on the treatment of nuclear waste. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Cabinet to Approve Nuclear Site Criteria Wednesday

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 8 — The cabinet on Wednesday will definitively approve the guidelines and criteria to be used in choosing sites for future nuclear power plants, Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said on Monday. Speaking on a morning TV news show, the minister added that “from that moment on the construction companies will be able to choose the most adequate sites and once this is done I think within two years the necessary authorisations should be granted. National electricity utility ENEL said late last year that it expected to have its first new nuclear power plant up and running by July 2020. ENEL explained that this target date was a “realistic objective” and that the other plants it planned to build with French partner EdF would open after intervals of 18 months from July 2020 for a total of four reactors in three plants. The utility said that if the guidelines were approved in the first half of 2010 this would allow ENEL to pick its first site by October 2010 with actual construction beginning in July 2015. Italy abandoned nuclear power in 1987 after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and is now the only leading western power without it. Last summer the Italian parliament gave its green light to a return to nuclear power through which Italy hopes to cover 25% of its energy needs in the future. A year ago Italy and France struck an accord to cooperate in the production of nuclear energy using the advanced third-generation European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) technology developed by EdF. The agreement calls for the building of at least four nuclear reactor plants in Italy, using French technology, and the participation of Italian electricity utility ENEL in the construction of another five plants in France. In September, Italy and the United States signed a five-year agreement for the development of 12 new-generation nuclear power plants in Italy and there is an option to extend the accord another five years. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Netherlands: Newspaper Withdraws Interview Following Threat

NIJMEGEN, 10/02/10 — Regional newspaper De Gelderlander has decided not to publish an interview with a Moroccan woman after the newspaper was threatened by her son. Nonetheless, the editors deny they gave in to intimidation.

Two Moroccan criminals ran over a 50 year old man with their scooter last month while fleeing from the police after robbing a hotel. The perpetrators then went to the hospital where doctors were trying to save the man’s life. He died because they made their work impossible.

De Gelderlander interviewed the mother and sister of one of the perpetrators, an 18 year old Moroccan youngster. The interview was however never published. The newspaper says that the women “withdrew their cooperation with the interview.”

The brother of one of the suspects visited the editorial staff of De Gelderlander last Friday and demanded that the newspaper drop publication. The youth also threatened an editor, according to the newspaper. “We would obviously have preferred to publish,” says chief editor Kees Pijnappels. “But we are morally obligated to the sister and mother. Because of their decision to withdraw their cooperation, we cannot publish.”

The mother likely distanced herself from the behaviour of her son in the unpublished interview. De Gelderlander earlier published a letter of apology from family members of the other suspect in the scooter accident.

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


Shame and Fear: Inside Germany’s Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal

The Catholic Church in Germany has been shaken in recent days by revelations of a series of sexual abuse cases. Close to 100 priests and members of the laity have been suspected of abuse in recent years. After years of suppression, the wall of silence appears to be crumbling. By SPIEGEL Staff.

This is what it looks like, the document of a conspiracy: 24 pages, with appendix, in Latin, published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican. A “norma interna,” or confidential set of guidelines for all bishops, who were required to keep it a secret for all eternity, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

The guidelines, issued in the year of our Lord 1962, address a sensitive subject: sex in the confessional. The Vatican doesn’t put it quite that directly, preferring to use more guarded terminology to describe what happens when a priest leads a member of his flock astray before, during or after the confession — in other words, when he provokes a penitent “toward impure and obscene matters” through “words or signs or nods of the head (or) by touch.”

According to the instructions from Rome, the bishops were to deal very firmly with each individual case — so firmly, in fact, that everything would remain within the confines of the Holy Church. After all, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — formerly known as the Inquisition — has centuries of experience in conducting internal investigations. The Vatican has always filled all the positions in such investigations — prosecutors, defendants, judges — from within its own ranks, while the investigation files have been kept in the secret archives of the Roman Curia.

Claim to Moral Authority

On the surface, the Vatican’s objective is to protect the sacrament of the confession. In reality, however, it is trying to uphold the Catholic Church’s claim to being a superior moral authority.

Nothing can be allowed to besmirch this authority: not the sexual abuse of children and adolescents, committed by thousands of Catholic priests worldwide; not the secret relationships between pastor and their housekeepers; not the covering-up of priests’ children; and not the love affairs between gay clerics. They are all cases of a double standard that arose because it is difficult for people — even priests — to subordinate their human desires to a papal encyclical.

This code of silence has been upheld for decades, in some cases informally and in some cases by virtue of Vatican directives like the 1962 guideline.

But now the wall of silence is coming down here in Germany. It started when Berlin’s Canisius College, an elite Jesuit high school, recently disclosed the sordid past of a number of members of the order, who had abused students at the school in the 1970s and 1980s. After that, new victims began coming forward on a daily basis. By last Friday, at least 40 of them had accused three Jesuit priests of molesting children and adolescents, first in Berlin and later at the St. Ansgar School in Hamburg, the St. Blasien College in the Black Forest and in several parishes in the northern German state of Lower Saxony.

Tip of the Iceberg

As shocking as the revelations were, they are merely “the tip of the iceberg,” says the current director of Canisius College, Father Klaus Mertes, who made public the sexual abuse of students.

For decades, German bishops tried to look the other way when their pastors engaged in sexual abuse, as well as to downplay the problem by characterizing it as isolated incidents. Now they are finally revealing their own figures, though hesitantly. According to a SPIEGEL survey of Germany’s 27 dioceses conducted last week, at least 94 priests and members of the laity in Germany are suspected or have been suspected of abusing countless children and adolescents since 1995. A total of 24 of the 27 dioceses responded to SPIEGEL’s questions.

A group called the Round Table for Care in Children’s Homes recently published an interim report which contains dramatic findings. The report deals with the wrongs committed since the 1950s against children and adolescents living in homes, almost half of which were run by the Catholic Church.

According to the report, more than 150 victims of sexual abuse have come forward with their stories in recent months. One of them is a woman who, as a 15-year-old girl, had to sit in the confessional and watch a priest masturbate. When she tried to get away from him, she was beaten by the nuns who ran the home. There has never been a systematic investigation into how many Catholic schools, homes and rectories were the scenes of abuse, even when there was evidence in the files. The Round Table group plans to present its final report at the end of the year.

Protecting Offenders, Ignoring Victims

A tremor is currently passing through the Catholic Church in Germany. It could be merely the beginning of an earthquake of proportions which have so far only been seen in the American and Irish Church. Tens of thousands of abuse cases were brought to light in both countries. Could Germany be next?

The scandal is just beginning, and yet it has already made a deep impression: on parents, who expect Catholic schools to provide their children with moral guidance; on the victims, who are now confronting their dark past after living with it half their lives; and on the faithful, who now regard their church with dismay. Their shock stems not only from the fact that there are pedophiles in the church, as there are elsewhere in society. It also comes from the fact that the church systematically protected the perpetrators and ignored the victims, and that it repressed and covered up sexual abuse in its own ranks for decades — and in doing so enabled pedophile priests to leave behind a trail of emotional devastation throughout Germany.

To this day, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, has not offered any convincing words of apology or emphatic gestures of redress to the victims of the church’s double standard. After vacillating for days, he finally decided not to grant SPIEGEL an interview. The official Church prefers not to allow the suffering of its victims to become a major issue, because it doesn’t fit into the Church’s hypocritical worldview.

The Bishops’ Conference will not even address the sex scandals until Feb. 22. “The revelations show a dark side of the church that scares me,” says the Jesuit Hans Langendörfer, secretary of the Bishops’ Conference. “We expressly want an investigation.”

Repressed Morality

Nevertheless, the clerics are still a long way from any sort of true self-criticism or far-reaching analysis, because it would require them to examine the Church’s repressed sexual morality that is dictated from above. It would require an honest discussion about celibacy and its consequences, particularly when it comes to the Church’s recruitment practices. In a church that is having trouble attracting men to the priesthood, particularly as a result of the ban on marriage, the number of good candidates has become so small that too many inappropriate candidates get admitted.

Does this mean that the church will continue to pursue its policy of hemming and hawing, and of avoiding the important questions, as it has already done so often? It will be difficult to carry on like that, now that the Jesuits’ offensive has put the entire clergy under pressure. The order intends to systematically investigate abuse in its own ranks, as painful as that effort will be and even if the growing number of revelations by former students plunge it into what is likely to be the deepest crisis in Jesuit history. Father Stefan Dartmann, the head of the Jesuit order of Germany, says that an “immense tragedy is now becoming apparent.”

His fears are justified, as more and more former students come forward. In addition to the Canisius College and the schools in St. Ansgar and St. Blasien, there have now been revelations of abuse at the Jesuits’ Aloisius College in Bonn’s Bad Godesberg neighborhood, where entire generations of children of politicians and diplomats went to school.

Part 2: ‘It Was Difficult for Us to Endure the Priests’ Sexual Advances’

One of the students who experienced the brotherly love of a Jesuit priest firsthand is Robert K. Speaking of his time at the Bad Godesberg school, he says: “It was difficult for us, as young boys, to endure the priests’ sexual advances. They ranged from extremely embarrassing questions about the minute details of ‘shameful acts’ during confession, to asking for kisses and caresses and, finally, to concrete sadistic sexual assaults.” One prefect, Father S., “had small boys come to his room, strip naked from the waist down and then lie down on the father’s bed. The father would beat them violently on the behind with a clothes hanger, and then follow up with displays of affection.”…

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


Spain: Treasury to Reduce Bonds Issue by 34% in 2010

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 8 — In order to progressively reduce its State deficit, Spain’s public Treasury will reduce its issue of bonds by 34% in 2010, to 76.8 billion euros, said the Ministry for the Economy today in a statement. The measure will mean that Spain’s public deficit will remain almost 20 points below the European average. In any case, according to the stability programme sent by the Executive to Brussels, the percentage will rise to 74.3% of GDP in 2012. The new issue will mean that the deficit in circulation will reach 553.5 billion euros, equivalent to 55% of GDP. The sum rises to 65.9% if the total for the public administration is taken into account. Along with the issue of bonds the Treasury has decided to launch an issue of bonds, debentures and other long-term deeds worth a total of 97 billion euros onto the market. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: There Are 8 Million Poor in Country, Caritas

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 4 — The crisis is impoverishing Europe and Spain, where over one and a half million people are in conditions of extreme poverty and high social exclusion, and eight million are poor, according to the latest data released by the secretary general of Spanish Caritas, Sebastian Mora, during the 64th assembly of the organisation, commemorated over recent days in Madrid. The reduction of poverty and the complete elimination of extreme poverty is the main aim which Caritas has set itself for 2010, together with the creation of a network of social protection for some 600,000 families who do not even have minimum income at present. Another aim is the creation of employment for immigrants, who, according to Caritas, are the social group that has been made most vulnerable by the crisis. Altogether 80 million people in Europe are currently under the poverty line. On the occasion of Spain’s six-month presidency of the EU, Caritas has called a European Congress on Poverty and Exclusion for June 4-5 in Madrid, which will be preceded by the Assembly of European Caritas summoned for June 1-3 in the Spanish capital. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Spain: PP 3.8 Points Ahead of PSOE, Survey

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, FEBRUARY 4 — The People’s Party has strengthened its advantage over the PSOS for the third consecutive quarter, with 3.8 points over the socialists, according to the Barometer of the Centre of Sociological Studies (CIS) relating to the month of January, released today. The crisis moves more and more against the PSOE, which in voting intentions records 36.2% of consensus, the worst figure since Premier José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero came to power, compared to the 40% taken by the PP. The latter is expanding distances, even though it did not manage to capitalise on the discontent over the difficult economic situation, having recorded a point and a half less than in the preferences received from the Barometer three months ago. For the first time, Zapatero lost first place in the leaders table, with 3.98 points, overtaken in the table by the spokeswoman of the Union, Progress and Democracy (UpyD), former socialist Rosa Diez (4.08 points); but the leader of the opposition Peoples Party, Mariano Rajoy, is however far off (3.5 points). Unemployment continues to be the main concern for 82.7% of Spaniards, followed in second place by economic problems. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: £80m Bill for Obesity: Benefit Claims by Those Too Fat to Work Have Soared Under Labour

Obese benefit claimants who are officially too fat to work have cost the taxpayer £80million under Labour.

The number of people claiming incapacity benefit because they are obese has doubled since 1997 as ministers moved people off the dole queue and on to sickness benefit.

The obese are £25 a week better off if they claim incapacity benefit rather than jobseeker’s allowance.

Official figures show it cost more than £9.5million just to keep 2,040 obese claimants on a weekly incapacity benefit of £89.80 a week last year.

In 1997, just half the current number — 1,100 — claimed incapacity benefit because of their obesity.

The Tories’ analysis of the Department of Work and Pensions’ figures estimated that the true cost of keeping the obese on state handouts was more than £100million over 12 years, a figure disputed by the Government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Anthrax Heroin Death in Blackpool Investigated

Health officials have confirmed a heroin user, who tested positive for anthrax, has died.

Shane Brown, 24 and from Blackpool, was taken to the town’s Victoria Hospital on 28 January and died on 1 February.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA), NHS Blackpool and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death and the source or supply of the drugs.

A 36-year-old Blackpool woman, arrested on suspicion of supplying or offering drugs, has been bailed until 2 April.

A 35-year-old man, from Liverpool, arrested on suspicion of possession with intent to supply Class A drugs and a 21-year-old woman from Blackpool, arrested on suspicion of production or being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs, were released without charge.

‘Alert to risks’

This is the second case of anthrax seen in an injecting drug user in England, the first announced in London on 5 February.

Similar cases have been seen in Scotland since December 2009.

Professor Qutub Syed, from the HPA, said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general population, including close family members of the deceased, is negligible.

“It is extremely rare for anthrax to be spread from person to person and there has been no evidence of a significant risk of infection being passed on in the current situation in Scotland.”

In a statement from NHS Blackpool, it said while public health investigations were ongoing, “it must be assumed that all heroin in the north west carries the risk of anthrax contamination.”

Heroin users were warned to be alert to the risks and to seek urgent medical advice if they experience signs of infection, as early antibiotic treatment can be lifesaving.

Bacterial infection

Signs of infection include redness or excessive swelling, at or near an injection site, a high temperature, chills or a severe headache or breathing difficulties.

It urged them “to cease taking heroin by any route, if at all possible”.

Anthrax is a very rare but serious bacterial infection caused by the organism Bacillus anthracis.

The disease occurs most often in wild and domestic animals in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe; humans are rarely infected.

Dependent on the dose and route of exposure, the symptoms may develop within a week of taking heroin.

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]


UK: Brown Refuses to Rule Out Hitting Middle Classes With Death Tax as His Elderly Care Plans Come Under Fire

Gordon Brown today refused to rule out hitting middle class families with a new death tax to fund his pledge to provide social care for the elderly.

The Prime Minister was accused of using the proposal to generate ‘cheap dividing lines’ ahead of the next election but keeping quiet on how it would be funded.

David Cameron claimed he was trying to reap the ‘benefits’ of the policy before going to the country and repeatedly asked him to rule out imposing a death duty.

His attack in Prime Minister’s Questions came after council leaders warned Mr Brown’s plans have ‘major weaknesses’, are unfunded and will force cuts elsewhere.

The Personal Care at Home Bill, which is now at the committee stage in the House of Lords, will give 400,000 vulnerable elderly people free personal care at home.

But it will cost £670million every year and yesterday Health Secretary Andy Burnham signalled the Government was planning a new ‘inheritance levy’ to cover the costs.

Mr Burnham dismissed claims grieving families would be hit with a flat rate of £20,000 death duty on their estates.

But that opens the door to a means-tested levy which could hit middle earners — and has sparked a bitter row between Labour and the Tories.

Last night, the Conservatives launched a new poster campaign declaring ‘Now Gordon wants £20,000 when you die’.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


UK: Now Labour Recruits Army of Child Spies to Report Anti-Social Neighbours

Child spies will be encouraged to report their neighbours as part of the latest drive to cut thuggery and anti-social behaviour on estates.

As part of a campaign launched yesterday, youngsters will look for residents with untidy or litter-strewn surroundings and then try to persuade them to clean up their homes.

Children involved should also write to authorities to demand action against those whose houses are labelled anti-social, ministers recommended.

Using young people to target residents identified as letting the neighbourhood down ‘teaches the children a sense of pride’ and shows them they have the power to get things done, the Department of Communities and Local Government said.

But critics warned that anti-social behaviour on estates is routinely committed by children and recruiting school-age youngsters to report their neighbours is a recipe for intimidation.

‘A plan like this can easily be milked by young people,’ criminologist Dr David Green of the Civitas think-tank said. ‘I worry that it would become a licence for children to harass people.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Balkans

EU-Croatia: Lopez Garrido, More Negotiations Next Week

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 10 — Next week Croatia will set another step in the direction of the European Union, with the first conference on accession negotiations in 2010. “Next week we want to hold the first intergovernmental conference to discuss the questions of fisheries and the environment, which are very important and for which much work must be done,” said Spanish Secretary of State for the European Union Diego Lopez Garrido today in the Strasburg Parliament. “There is agreement on the need to open new negotiation chapters as soon as possible. So far 28 out of 35 have been opened, of which 17 have already been closed provisionally”, Lopez Garrido continued. “The Spanish presidency will try to make more progress ahead of the European Council, to reach the final stage”. Zagreb wants to close the accession negotiations in 2010. “The accession schedule should end this year” Lopez Garrido concluded. “We hope we will meet this deadline”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Top Source of Tension in Europe, Says US Intelligence

(ANSAmed) — PRISTINA, FEBRUARY 8 — Along with Bosnia Herzegovina, Kosovo is the main threat to stability within Europe, the US head of national intelligence Dennis Blair was quoted as saying by the Pristina daily Koha Ditore. In the annual report presented by Blair in the US Senate, quoted by the Kosovo newspaper, it is said that “the fragile situation of various ethnic communities in Bosnia and the issue of the Serb minority in Kosovo, especially in the northern part of the country, are still a source of tension which continue to require the active participation of Western diplomacy.” On the subject of Kosovo, Blair noted that despite the fact that 60 countries (22 in the EU) had recognised the independence of Kosovo, over the next few years Pristina would continue to depend on the international community for economic and development aid and in order to ensure the territorial integrity of Kosovo. The US intelligence report added that most of the Serb population continued to look to Belgrade and put up resistance to integration within Kosovo’s institutions, with the Kosovo’s government having little influence in the north, where Serbs are the majority of inhabitants. Dennis Blair noted that for this reason, “Nato’s presence — albeit with a reduction — is still necessary to prevent an outbreak of violence.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria-France: ‘Black List’, Algiers Cancels Meeting

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, FEBRUARY 8 — Algiers has ‘frozen’ a meeting regarding the creation of a “large-scale Algeria-France mixed parliamentary commission”, in response to its entry into the “black list” of countries whose citizens will undergo severe inspection measures in French airports. This was announced on national radio by the President of Algerian National Council (APN, Parliament), Abdelaziz Ziari, who specified that “the meeting has been frozen following this provocation”. How can Algeria, added Ziari, quoted by APS, “be among the countries that fight against terrorism and at the same time be on the list of countries whose citizens must undergo targeted inspections?” “These actions do not encourage a strengthening of relations,” insisted the APN president. The meeting between MPs from the two countries to create this “large-scale mixed commission” was decided upon during a visit to Algiers by Axel Poniatowski, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the French National Assembly. Algiers has already issued a formal protest also against the United States and called the measures decided upon after the failed Christmas Day attack ‘discriminatory’. If the new regulations are confirmed, Algiers also said that it is ready to “reciprocally” apply the regulations to those countries that have put them on the ‘black list’. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Egyptian Veteran Has ‘No Desire’ To Coach Israeli Team

Cairo, 9 Feb. (AKI) — Egypt’s national football coach Hassan Shehata on Tuesday ended speculation that he would consider training Israel. “I’d rather die of hunger than entertain the possibility of coaching Israel,” he told the Egyptian daily al-Masry al-Youm.

Shehata nearly lost his job when Egypt failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

But the 60-year-old manager in January regained hero status among Egyptians when his side defeated Ghana to bring home the African Cup of Nations for a record third consecutive year.

“I can understand Israel’s jealousy of the Egyptian team and its successes,” Shehata was quoted as saying.

“But it would be impossible from my perspective to visit Israel or train its team even if Israel were the only country in the world that wanted to hire me.”

“How can these Zionists think that I would take on the task of coaching a side that includes murderers of children and the elderly? How could I work to help a team that represents a nation of occupiers?”

The veteran coach, labelled by the Egyptian media as “The Teacher”, now looks set to lead his side’s campaign to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

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


Egypt: Amnesty Supports Muslim Brotherhood, Free Them

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, FEBRUARY 10 — Amnesty International stood up today to criticise the arrest of 16 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition force in Egypt, defining them as “prisoners of conscience” and calling for “their immediate and unconditional liberation” because they are people who “exercise peaceful political activity”. Amnesty pointed the finger at Egyptian officials who “continue to resort to emergency law to repress the opposition” and expressed fears of “even more severe measures against the movement before the coming elections (parliamentary elections in the fall, then presidential elections, editor’s note) to obstruct the Muslim Brotherhood from participating”. The operation that led to the arrest of 16 members of the movement comes just a few weeks after the election of a new Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, conservative Mohamed Badie. Two accusations were made, according to Al Masri El Yom: wanting to spread the theories of the former ideologist of the movement, Sayeb Qotb, who accused the regime and society of apostasy, and trying to organise camps to train terrorists. However, independent observers and representatives say that the arrests are associated with the coming elections, according to a consolidated practice at this point against the Muslim Brotherhood, banned as a political party although in reality they are tolerated. Despite all this, Monday’s raid took everyone by surprise, since the new supreme leader, immediately after the election sent reassuring messages to the regime, also expressing support for the political career of Gamal Mubarak and a will to work to strengthen the movement while keeping political activity at a distance. “These arrests are surprising. It is the first time under Mubarak’s regime that four officials in the leader’s office have been arrested,” said Amr El Shobaki, a researcher at the Al Ahram centre for political research and strategy and author of the book “Muslim Brotherhood, from the origins to our times”. According to Shobaki, statements by one of the men arrested, Essam El Erian, on the intentions of the movement to coordinate with secular opposition parties to create a political front before the elections, “seriously provoked the regime”. In 2005, 3,000 Muslim Brotherhood members were arrested before the vote that confirmed the success of the movement and the conquering of one-fifth of the seats in Parliament. Within the movement, however, some say that “these aggressive actions by the regime will only strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood, which is still present on the streets and in the institutions,” while pessimists fear that the men who were arrested will stand trial in a military tribunal, and that they may be held in prison until the end of 2011, which means after the presidential elections.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Tunisia: New Strategies for Golf Tourism Examined

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 8- Golf tourism in Tunisia must be encouraged and supported with a special market strategy. First and foremost, it must be kept in mind that statistically, foreign tourists who come to Tunisia to play golf spend an average of 1,000 dinars (about 500 euros) per-capita on a weekly basis. By 2020, the number of golf enthusiasts in Europe will increase from the current three million to eight million. A round table discussion organised in Tunis by “Tourisme info” magazine for businesses in the tourism sector, experts and the director general of the Tunisian national tourism office (ONTT), Mohamed Maali, focused on the future of golf tourism in the country. During the event, reports news agency Tap, “the economic difficulties encountered by the golf tourism sector in Tunisia were discussed, including the high costs to build and work on golf courses (at least 10 million dinar- about 5 million euros- for each course), the difficulty in obtaining credit to finance these types of projects, and the insufficiency of regular flights connecting Tunisia with countries where golf tourists come from (England, Scandinavian countries…)”. Besides these problems, there is also what has been defined as “insufficient promotional activity”. Currently, of the 10 Tunisian golf courses, only four are well maintained, while the others are in need of work. It was underscored that in order to support this type of tourism, the need to organise tournaments and to reach agreements with golf clubs in other countries in Europe and elsewhere. The director general of the ONTT said that “a plan has been implemented to reorganise and restructure golf courses in Tunisia and to build new courses.” He added that the “open skies” policy, which will become effective in November 2011, will result in advantages for Tunisia in this sector. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Defining “Victory” And “Peace”: How the U.S. And Israel Reject General Sherman’s Solution and Get Blamed Anyway

by Barry Rubin

“War,” said General William Tecumseh Sherman, “is Hell.” He knew what he was talking about. Sherman’s march through Georgia and into South Carolina at the end of the Civil War helped end the Civil War while destroying a lot of civilian homes, farms, and towns.

His strategy was to inflict such terrible punishment on the South that it would surrender faster, thus saving lives. His men did things shocking to Americans even after such a bloody conflict, burning plantations and destroying everything in their wake. Ironically, though, even Sherman’s deeds have been exaggerated.

But Sherman was no mere brute. He was so depressed by the prospect of the Civil War-being among the few who understood how long and bloody it would be-that he had a nervous breakdown at its onset and tried to escape the responsibility of service that he ultimately knew would be impossible for him to avoid. Like other Western generals of his time, and almost up to the present day—but no longer—he simply believed, in his words, “I will ever conduct war with a view to perfect and early [that is, complete and quick] success.”

After the war, Sherman became commander of the U.S. army and about 1870, regarding the Franco-Prussian War but it applies generally:

How are wars won? The preferred way is for one side to see that its own victory is impossible and that it will face much heavier costs by continuing than by surrendering or making peace. By making a deal sooner, the side that’s losing often reasons that it can get better terms.

What do you do, though, if the other side isn’t going to give up? Here’s what Sherman said about the French-German conflict but which also applies to America’s Civil War and many other conflicts as well:

“The proper strategy consists in inflicting as telling blows as possible on the enemy’s army, and then in using the inhabitants so much suffering that they must long for peace, and force the government to demand it. The people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war.”

That’s pretty terrible. Remember, though, that Sherman did say war was Hell. When it became clear that Japan was not going to surrender in World War Two, requiring a full-scale U.S. invasion of that country’s homeland that would have left millions dead, President Harry Truman dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. He was right to do so. The results were horrendous, heart-breaking. Yet if Truman had not taken that tough decision far more Japanese and Americans would be dead. The damage to Japan would have been so great that the country would not have recovered, if at all, until many decades passed.

Consider Sherman’s analysis in a contemporary context. Western democracies, including the United States and Israel, have no desire to pursue such a strategy. If the governments did, the democratic institutions and public opinion would never stand for it. This creates a paradox: if the other side doesn’t surrender, victory is impossible because that other side will not be crushed or so credibly threatened with destruction that its leaders will give in.

This is one side-the other is the nature and ideology of the enemies themselves-of asymmetric warfare…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]


EU Donates 21 Million Euros to PA Salaries

(ANSAmed) CAIRO, FEBRUARY — The European Union (EU) is providing a contribution of 21 million euros to help the Palestinian Authority (PA) pay the January salaries and pensions of 80,551 Palestinian public service providers and pensioners. This contribution was channeled through PEGASE, the European mechanism for support to the Palestinians, according to a statement released Tuesday by the European Union Commission in Cairo. “At the request of Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad, the contribution made available by the EU this month toward the regular payment of Palestinian civil servants and pensioners is higher than in previous months,” said Christian Berger, the European Union Representative in Al-Quds. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Gov’t Declares War on Furs

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, FEBRUARY 8 — Israel has declared war on the production, importation and exportation of furs, in order to respect animals and prevent useless cruelty. The decision was taken in Jerusalem by an inter-ministerial commission chaired by Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon (Labour). “Israel would like to set an example for other countries to follow,” Simhon told the press. A bill on the matter — on an initiative by the centrist party Kadima — had previous been debated months ago in the Knesset, with a proposed ban on cat and dog furs, while Simhon proposed extending the ban to imports on all kinds of furs. Simhon noted that within Israel, on the other hand, the processing of sheep, cow and camel skins would be allowed. The government initiatives, which will now be brought before the Knesset, does however make allowance for a noteworthy exception on the request of Orthodox parties over concerns that the shtreimel (the cylindrical, fur-lined cap worn by Zealots on holidays) would be outlawed. The Israeli government will therefore allow even in the future the import of this type of fur, “so long as it is necessary for religious purposes”. If it had not done so, it noted, such a law would have hurt the feelings of a wide swath of worshipers. Within Ashkenazi ultraorthodox communities (those from Eastern Europe), the shtreimel is an important status symbol. The outside is covered foxtail, while on the inside there is leather and velvet. Religious zones claim that a good shtreimel can cost thousands of dollars. Very delicate, in rainy days in Jerusalem Orthodox Jews are frequently seen wearing their shtreimels carefully wrapped in plastic sacks. The initial reaction from environmentalists is positive. In their eyes, the fur trade is especially reprehensible in Israel, where winters are mild and therefore there is no real need to kill animals to ward off the cold. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Israeli Soldier Stabbed in West Bank, Injured

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 10 — An Israeli soldier was seriously injured today by a Palestinian man, while driving a Hummer near the Tapuach settlement (Nablus, West Bank). Local sources reported that the soldier has tried to escape from his attacker by accelerating, but the car overturned. The Palestinian attacker tried to get away after his attack, but was hit by an Israeli car. He was injured as well, but not seriously. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Kibbutz Turns 100

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV — On the 100th birthday of the foundation of the first farming commune in Degania (on Lake Tiberias), the Israeli kibbutzim movement has announced that over the next few months it will be celebrating the historical anniversary with a series of initiatives. “One of our objectives is to restore pride to the movement,” said Zeev Shor, secretary general of the kibbutzim movement. Following “many years of crisis,” said Shor in a meeting of the movement in Tel Aviv, “most of our kibbutzim have managed to get back on their feet and pay off their debts. Over the past few years we have seen development, and have brought in an additional 2,5900 new members.” Among the events planned Shor mentioned: official events in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and the Head of State’s residence, a series of television documentaries, guided tours in the kibbutzim and meetings with the elderly, conferences on culture and art, and a cycling tour through the numerous farming settlements from the north to the south of Israel. The events share a common aim: that of showing Israelis that the egalitarian model of the kibbutz does not belong solely to the past, but is instead a dynamic social model able to deal with constantly changing situations and that it will therefore be able to regain its leading role in the future. It was in 1910 that the first group of revolutionaries (ten men and two women) set up camp on the southern shore of Lake Tiberias (Galilee), on the edge of the Haifa-Damascus railway line. “We want to build a settlement of Jewish workers on the nation’s lands,” was their announcement to the world, “a collective settlement without exploiters or the exploited, a Commune!”. They would later call it Degania, the village of grain. Subsequently, the kibbutzim movement was to go through a period in which it thrived, followed by a bitter decline over the last few decades of the twentieth century. “A few years ago there was the general feeling that the experiment was drawing to a close,” said director Igal Peer (67), a member of Gan Shmuel and responsible for documentaries on the Far East. “Now, however, we are recovering.” Peeri said that three quarters of kibbutzim had agreed to this compromise in order to survive, while a fourth (including Gan Shmuel) was still trying to keep the ideals of collectivism high. “Privatised kibbutzim can now be seen,” he complained, “where there is no longer any solidarity, where everyone is left to his own resources.” Gan Shmuel (which has greater resources) still tries to support the weakest, and especially the elderly. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Sex and Corruption, ‘Fatah-Gate’ For Abbas on TV

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 10 — An explicit ultimatum has been leveled at the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, with consequences to occur if the latter does not order several of those working under him to stand trial for corruption and offence to public morality within the next two weeks. The ultimatum was launched by a head of Palestinian security services in an interview yesterday evening, on the Israeli commercial television station Channel 10. The broadcaster reported that the incident is tantamount to a full-fledged ‘Fatah-Gate’ for Abbas, and that it may destabilise the entire government. The matter centres on Palestinian security services commander Fahmi Shabane Tamimi, who for six years conducted an investigation into the behaviour of Palestinian leaders, collecting copious documentation on illicit actions. Tamimi claims to have collected documents which would prove that Mahmoud Abbas’s collaborators (as well as some of his relatives) had embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from Palestinian Authority funds from donations provided by Western and Arab countries. Tamimi has sent Channel 10 only a part of the documents in his possession. If within the next two weeks Mahmoud Abbas does not set in motion the necessary ‘clean-up’ operation, he will pass on the most serious and detailed material to the broadcaster as well. Tamimi has also sent Channel 10 a short except of footage showing Abbas’s Cabinet speaker Rafiq al-Husseini while the latter withdraws into a different room with a woman requesting state employment. The entire footage will be shown by the Israeli television channel today. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Vote for Israelis Abroad, Netanyahu-Livni Clash

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, FEBRUARY 9 — Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu’s (Likud) initiative to extend the right to vote for Knesset (Parliament) members to Israelis who live abroad has already led to criticism from the main opposition party, Kadima. Within the government, objections have also been made by Ehud Barak’s Labour Party and orthodox party Shas. Yesterday Netanyahu asked his collaborators to prepare an amendment to the law on Israelis abroad, whose total number is between 750 thousand and one million, over one-tenth of the number residing in Israel. These votes could be translated into about 10 seats out of a total of 120 in Knesset. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni’s negative reaction was immediate, saying that Netanyahu has moved forward with the project to assure cooperation from radical right-wing party Israel Beitenu, led by Avigdor Lieberman. “Knesset,” said Livni, “is sometimes called upon to express itself on issues ‘of life and death’ for Israelis. It is not fair that these decisions be influenced by individuals living abroad, and who do not pay the price for their consequences.” According to political experts, the vote of Israelis abroad would not revolutionise the composition of Knesset, but it would change its features. Israel Beitenu hopes to obtain additional votes from Jews who immigrated to Israel from Russia in the 1990s, and then returned to their country of birth. Presumably, the influence of the Arab parties would decline as would that of Sephardi orthodox party Shas, which like Kadima, is opposed to any change in the law. Also, Labour Minister, Shalom Simhon, specified that his party is against an amendment to the law. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ambassador Calls for Divorce After Veil-Wearing Muslim Bride Reveals a Beard and Crossed Eyes

An Arab ambassador called for an instant divorce after discovering his veil-wearing fiancée had a beard and was cross-eyed, it emerged today.

The would-be bride had hidden her face behind a Muslim niqab throughout their short courtship, meaning the diplomat had no idea what she looked like.

But as soon as the marriage was contract was signed in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, he tried to kiss her, before coming face-to-face with her hairy face and strange squint.

‘He was absolutely horrified,’ said a wedding guest.

‘The bride had a nice personality, but there was a good reason why she was hiding her looks behind a veil.

‘A divorce was inevitable, and the groom went straight to court leaving his new bride in floods of tears.’

The unnamed ambassador, who is in his 40s and has worked all over the world, including in Paris, told an Islamic Sharia court that he was tricked into the arranged marriage, Dubai’s official government newspaper reported.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Arab Diplomat Annuls Wedding With Hairy Bride

An Arab ambassador annulled his wedding after discovering that his bride, who wore the niqab, had a beard and squinted, UAE media reported on Wednesday.

The marriage had been arranged through pictures given by the bride’s family that were later proven to be those of the sister of the bride-to-be.

During the brief meetings with his fiancé the ambassador was unable to see her face as she was fully veiled. Once the marriage contract had been signed, he tried to kiss his wife, a doctor, and discovered “she had a beard and squinted.”

According to press reports, the ambassador then logged a court complaint claiming he had been “tricked” by his in-laws and a divorce was granted.

The nationalities of the parties involved were not revealed.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


Defiant Iran Accelerates Nuclear Program

Iran began enriching uranium to a higher level on Tuesday, an acceleration of its nuclear program that was followed by a U.S. threat of a “significant regime of sanctions.”

Speaking in Washington, President Barack Obama said the process of developing an additional set of sanctions on Iran was moving along quickly, but he gave no specific timeline.

Iran, he said, was still pursuing a nuclear program that would lead to nuclear weapons.

Iran’s announcement Tuesday that it has begun enriching uranium to a higher level raised fears that the process could eventually be used to give the Islamic republic nuclear weapons. Iran denies that its program is geared toward acquiring a nuclear weapon.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dubai: Bearded Wife Under Niqab, Husband Annuls Marriage

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, FEBRUARY 10 — A wedding cancelled because, under her niqab (the Islamic veil which covers the face), the bride turned out to be cross-eyed and bearded. The incident took place in Dubai where an Arab ambassador has gone to court to obtain the annulment of the marriage and compensation for moral damage. The incident was reported by daily newspaper Gulf News. The diplomat, whose name and details have not been reaveled, said that he had been duped by the bride’s mother who had supplied his own mother with photographs of another daughter. In the traditional Arab wedding, the first approaches and agreements are done by the mothers of the potential spouses. The man had met his betrothed at sporadic occasions during which she was always hidden under her niqab, moving it away from her face only partially. On the day of her wedding however she had to lift it up, showing her imperfections. The judge who examined the case granted the annulment of the marriage but not the return of the presents and jewellery (with a value of around 100,000 euros) given to the woman during the engagement. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Eight Turkish Planes Violate Greek Airspace and Are Chased Off by Greek Fighters

Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space on February 9 2010, Greek daily Kathimeriny reported on February 10.

Reportedly, this was the first such trespassing of sovereign air space at the Aegean Sea perpetrated by the Turks since the turn of the new year, the report said quoting Greek defence officials.

The violation, as on previous occasions, was conducted by four F-16s and four Phantoms F-4s which penetrated Greek airspace at the south-eastern island of Samos, a touching distance from mainland Turkey.

Kathimerini said that the Phantoms peeled off from the initial formation and conducted a low flight over the islet of Farmakonisi. Greek fighter jets chased off the Turkish planes, the report said.

The Greek embassy in Ankara lodged an official complaint.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Iran: Attacks on Italian Embassy Prompts Outrage

Rome, 9 Feb.(AKI) — Dozens of demonstrators including pro-government militias called for the death of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi when they attacked the Italian and other foreign embassies in Tehran on Tuesday. Foreign minister Franco Frattini said the Italian embassy was besieged by protesters in an attack only a week after Berlusconi called for tougher sanctions against the country.

Frattini told an Italian Senate committee hearing that the French and Dutch embassies also came under attack.

The protests provoked immediate condemnation from three Italian members of the European Parliament aligned with Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party.

“About 100 Basiji militiamen, who are the main instigators behind the attacks on civilians, tried to attack the embassy with stones, while shouting ‘Death to Italy and to Berlusconi’, and the same is happening to the embassies of France and the Netherlands,” Frattini said.

He said Italy’s ambassador to Tehran would not participate in this week’s celebrations to mark the anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

The Italian MEPs who are members of a delegation that deals with Iran called for a formal condemnation of the country.

The assault on the embassy is “an unacceptable and cowardly act meant to intimidate our country and prime minister,” said MEPs Potito Salatto, Marco Scurria and Salvatore Tatarella, in a written statement.

“We must express our condemnation of this act with action and concrete sanctions.”

Berlusconi last week travelled to Jerusalem for an official visit where he met Israeli leaders including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In an address to the Israeli parliament, Berlusconi reaffirmed his opposition to the potential development of nuclear weapons in Iran and any aggression towards Israel.

Berlusconi said his country would cut investment in Iran and announced Italian oil giant Eni would pull out of a contract to help develop a natural gas field there.

Tensions have been high in Tehran since the disputed re-election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s last year.

There is speculation that there will be renewed opposition protests this week to coincide with the 11 February anniversary.

Officials at the Iranian embassy in Rome were unavailable for comment.

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


Middle East — Iran: For Arabs, Ahmadinejad is Defying the West, And That Worries Them

Papers stress the president’s shift with regards to an earlier statement he made just a few days ago. This is setting off alarm bells, especially after Iran announced that it successfully tested a radar-evading aircraft. Opinions differ as to the reasons, domestic or foreign, that might be behind the Iranian president’s statements.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — Most Arab papers today described Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s order to Iran’s National Atomic Energy Organisation to produce 20 per cent enriched uranium, as an act of defiance, a way of de facto breaking off negotiations with the 5+1 group (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and France, plus Germany) over plans to have uranium destined for scientific and civilian purposes enriched outside of Iran.

“Defiant Ahmadinejad” titles Turkey’s Hurryet. “Iran’s ambivalence over the enrichment issue comes at a time when the United States and its Western allies have been pushing for a fourth round of U.N. sanctions to be slapped on Iran over its disputed nuclear program.”

Similarly, for Lebanon’s L’Orient Le Jour, “Iran crosses another threshold in its escalation against the West.”

For The Peninsula, which closely monitors regional issues, Iran is “Adding fuel to the row”. In an editorial, the Qatari paper suggests a connection between Ahmadinejad’s announcement and Iran’s successful test of a radar-evading aircraft. “These technological advances, along with the fiery statements being made by Iranian leaders against Israel, are adding fuel to the current dispute.”

Every paper highlighted the inconsistency between what the Iranian president said a few days ago about his country’s availability for negotiations and what he announced yesterday. Arab online noted, “The near daily shifts in the Iranian position over the fuel deal has consistently raised scepticism among world powers, who want to halt Tehran’s galloping nuclear drive.”

For Saudi Arabia’s Arab News, Iran’s shifting position appears “to justify the scepticism with which his Tuesday’s comments were met”. Even though “the 20 per cent threshold is substantially below the 90 per cent plus needed to make fissile warhead material, any move by Iran to enrich to 20 per cent would ring international alarm bells because it would bring Iran substantially closer to weapons capacity.

Comments differ as to why Iran’s is changing its tune. Kuwait Times cites experts who believe that Ahmadinejad’s comments are an “attempt to pressure Washington and drive a wedge between the six world powers, some of whom are still hesitant to back fresh sanctions against Tehran.”

For Al Jazeera, “President Ahmadinejad is sending a message to his critics inside the country and within the conservative camp [to] those who thought he was moving far ahead of the Supreme Leader” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. “This is obviously not going to have a very positive effect” for those involved in the talks.

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


Saudi Arabia — India: Brian O’Connor: Discrimination and Religious Intolerance the Evils of Saudi Arabia

SAUDI ARABIA — INDIA : Brian O’Connor: discrimination and religious intolerance the evils of Saudi Arabia

A Christian of Indian origin, O’Connor spent seven months in the prisons of the Kingdom on the false accusations of proselytism. He stresses that the “unlimited powers” of the religious police perpetrate crimes and violence. He prays every day for the country, the rulers and administrators.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — In Saudi society, “discrimination and intolerance” are an “evident” matter of fact, exacerbated by the “unlimited powers” enjoyed by the muttawa — the kingdom’s religious police — who perpetrate crimes, violence and promote a system of widespread corruption. This is the statement of Brian Savio O’Connor, a Christian of Indian origin, for 7 months and 7 days a prisoner, chained and tortured in a Saudi jail on charges of proselytizing.

For his release AsiaNews had launched an international campaign. We asked the 41-year Christian in Karnataka — who has launched a centre for orphaned children, open to any religious faith — to comment on the results of an investigation into the political and social situation in Saudi Arabia, carried out with a poll conducted in November 2009 by Pechter Middle East Polls, a private polling institute based in Princeton (United States).

Below the AsiaNews interview with Brian O’Connor (pictured with family):

Mr O’Connor, where does the problem with corruption begin?

Unless the Saudi kingdom, permit Religious Freedom and respect the Spirit of Reciprocity, corruption will continue to plague the Saudi Kingdom and have disastrous social consequences. The ‘muttawas’ have unquestionable powers and yield their powers to harras people of other faiths, evidence is planted, prayers in the privacy of the homes are cause for arrests and jail terms, While these are also the ways and avenues for corruption of these ‘police.

What was your experience of corruption in jail?

[Prison] is a haven for corruption, any favours could be ‘bought for a price’ from the jailors, and for the non- muslims, it was even worse, they would be attempts by the jail authorities to subtly get us to renounce my faith and embrace Islam, and this was the case with most who were thrown into jail on fabricated(faith based) cases. The corruption had even stooped to a level that even a change of name to a Mohammedan one sufficed to some fringe benefits inside the jail. It is significant that arbitrary powers of the Muttawas, have spurred the rise of religious fundamentalism which has implications for social development, for social justice and human rights.

Can you describe to readers your days in the Saudi Kingdom?

In Saudi society, discrimination and in tolerance toward non-Muslims is evident and it is worrisome, that all this lacks transparency, to there can be cases of indiscriminate harassment of non- Muslims leading to human rights abuses. In my humble opinion, it is the rigidity of the Saudi society, and denial of religious freedom that, engenders fundamentalisms. However, from recent account, in Riyadh (where I lived), the muttawahs have lessened their vigilance and harassment/intimidation of private worship and this is encouraging.

What according to you can help Saudi emerge from this corruption and extremism?

It is known that in the Saudi Kingdom Freedom of religion is legally not recognized and this opens avenues for legal sanction for corruption. In order to weed out the source of corruption, it is urgent that by Law, the Saudi authorities ensure protection for private worship for all religious groups, curb harassment of religious groups, and promote tolerance toward all religions.

What about Muslims, are things easy for them?

For our Muslims brothers and sisters, the issue of Religion does not arise; however, such strict and rigid laws on Religious Freedom are bound to impact society as well- even for our Muslim brethren. From my experience, on the one hand the clerics attempt to impose a dogmatic world view, and dogmatic ways of interpreting truth, religious texts and the world with intent to control the individual and/or society as a whole. While on the other, they discourage those who challenge their world vision and staunchly oppose any democratic values and, pluralism.

How has life been for you after your jail term in Saudi?

I am married, my wife Liza and I have two children. Here in Hubli, Karnataka, we have stated a “Disciple Training Centre’, transmitting faith to pastors and the lay people. Everyday I pray for the Saudi Kingdom, for the rulers and administrators that Freedom of Religious may be permitted for the good of the Saudi kingdom and for its people.

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

Russia

New Stealth Jet Tipping Strategic Balance

Key to be ‘if the Russians are able to build enough of them’

A new fighter jet has completed a 45-minute test flight, giving Russia a boost in its effort to obtain a fifth-generation craft that can avoid radar detection with stealth technology and still perform at high levels.

The test of the Sukhot-manufactured T-50 fighter plane just days ago raises new questions for Russia’s neighbors who may be worried about strategic advantages.

[…]

The plane is a joint venture with India, and defense analysts say it will be ready for mass production in India and Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia, by 2015.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Diana West: Pakistani-Parliamentary Pincer

Just another day in Pakistan, where jihadi symps last week expressed their opinion of the US conviction of “Lady Al Qaeda,” Aafia Siddiqui, who was found guilty in a Manhattan court of trying to kill US personnel in Afghanistan.

Now for something completely new and different:

Headline: “British parliamentarians for public inquiry into Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s conviction”

Lead: Describing the conviction of Pakistani neuroscientist Dr.Aafia Siddiqui as “miscarriage of justice”, British Parliamentarians have called for withdrawal of case against her and repatriation to Pakistan.

British parliamentarians?

Muslim members of British Parliament is more to the point. The story from the Associated Press of Pakistan continues:

“At a function organised at the House of Lords on Tuesday evening to raise support for the incarcerated Dr. Siddiqui, Lord Nazir Ahmed together with other speakers said her trial in New York was full of flaws and not based on facts.”

Good ol’ Lord Ahmed…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]


Freedom of Religion Update

A judge in Pakistan demonstrates how Christians are treated in his country, where they have no First Amendment:

Christian sentenced to life in prison for blaspheming Islam

Sentenced to life in prison for blasphemy.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

by Spero News

A court in Faisalabad, Pakistan, sentenced to life imprisonment Imran Masih, a young Christian, for having insulted and desecrated the Koran, according to the Minorities Concern newsletter.

On July 1, 2009 Masih, a shopkeeper by profession, was brutally tortured by a group of Muslims, then arrested by police on charges — allegedly fabricated- that he had burned pages of the Koran.

On January 11, 2010 the judge sentenced him to prison for life, which he will serve in the federal prison in Faisalabad where he is currently confined.

The court also imposed an additional penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment and payment of 100 thousand rupees (just over 800 euros), under provisions of the law prohibiting blasphemy against Islam.

[…]

[Return to headlines]


Indonesia: Bekasi, Anti-Christian Persecution Continues. A Protestant Church Targeted

A crowd of 200 Muslims launches intimidating messages at the faithful and prohibits the use of a local church for Sunday services. The attackers claim to be residents of the area. Protestant pastor denies this: “definitely strangers”. From 2009 to now at least 17 Christian churches targeted.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — “It will no longer be possible to use this church for the weekend functions.” This is the threatening message launched by a crowd of 200 angry Muslims, who last week attacked a domestic church in Pondok Indah Timur, in Bekasi regency, some 30 km east of the capital Jakarta.

Local witnesses tell AsiaNews that the attackers gathered around the place of worship from the early hours of Sunday morning. According to a woman, Muslims disguised as “locals” expressed their firm opposition to the “construction plan” of a standing church in Pondok Indah Timur.

Reverend Luspida Simanjutak denies the claims of the fundamentalist group, stressing that they are “definitely strangers” because “I do not know any of their names.” The desire to erect a Christian place of worship, he said, goes back 19 years, the issue is not simple, because “they have always opposed the birth” of a church in the area. “The worst incident — he recalls — happened in 2004: we had just finished building a church. The next day we found it completely destroyed. “

The protestant pastor explains that “the building will be erected within our property,” but authorities have not yet released — despite repeated requests — the building permit (IMB), which is essential for building any structure in the country. He adds that “200 signatures of people support the building of a church have been collected.”

Theopilus Bela, executive secretary of the Indonesian Committee of Religions for Peace, recalls that from 2009 until today have at least 17 churches been brutally targeted — for various reasons — by Muslim fundamentalists or local authorities. On 21 July 2009, the authorities in Bogor — for reasons that have never been clarified — levelled the Protestant Church of Parung Panjan. Since 2008 the Catholic Church of St. John the Baptist in Parung, also in Bogor regency, has been the victim of provocative actions and attacks by Islamic extremists. In 2008, the faithful of the area were unable to attend the Christmas mass.

On 17 December 2009 it was the turn of the Catholic Church of St. Albert, stormed by a crowd of at least 1,000 Muslim extremists. Then there is the church set on fire near Tlogorejo, in the sub-district of Temanggung. 23 January 2010 anther 1000 Muslims attacked and set fire to the Protestant Church in Sibuhuan in the province of North Sumatra. The same day Padanglawas Pentecostal Church was also set on fire.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopian Airline Crash Off Beirut Was an Act of Al-Qaeda Terror

Evidence has reached debkafile that the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing which crashed after takeoff from Beirut on January 25, killing all 92 aboard, was blown up in mid-air in an al Qaeda attack, exactly one month after its failed attempt to destroy an American Northwest airliner bound for Detroit. French and Hizballah passengers were also targeted. The bodies were found strapped to their seats with their heads and limbs blown off, typical sign of an explosion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration

How Labour Threw Open Doors to Mass Migration in Secret Plot to Make a Multicultural UK

Labour threw open the doors to mass migration in a deliberate policy to change the social make-up of the UK, secret papers suggest.

A draft report from the Cabinet Office shows that ministers wanted to ‘maximise the contribution’ of migrants to their ‘social objectives’.

The number of foreigners allowed in the UK increased by as much as 50 per cent in the wake of the report, written in 2000.

Labour has always justified immigration on economic grounds and denied it was using it to foster multiculturalism.

But suspicions of a secret agenda rose when Andrew Neather, a former government adviser and speech writer for Tony Blair, Jack Straw and David Blunkett, said the aim of Labour’s immigration strategy was to ‘rub the Right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.

Mr Neather said he helped to write the 2000 report which outlined a strategy to ‘open up the UK to mass migration’.

The document was not published in its original format over fears of an adverse public reaction. Instead it was released a year later as a research document on the economic benefits of migration.

Mr Neather’s claims last October were denied by ministers, including Justice Secretary Jack Straw, who said they were nonsense.

A draft of the original Cabinet Office report has now been published following a freedom of information request by Migrationwatch.

It contains six references to social policy, all of which were removed from the later, published version.

One deleted paragraph said a framework was needed to ‘maximise the contribution of migration to the Government’s social and economic objectives’.

Another says that migration pressures will intensify because of demographic changes across Europe but that this ‘should not be viewed as a negative’.

It states: ‘The entry control system is not closely related to the stated policy objectives.

‘This is particularly true in the social area, where in the past the implicit assumption has largely been that keeping people out promotes stability.’

Also cut out was a statement that ‘in practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion’.

Damian Green, Tory immigration spokesman, said: ‘This is a very significant finding because it would mean that Labour’s biggest long term effect on British society was based on a completely secret policy.

‘This shows Labour’s open-door immigration policy was deliberate and ministers should apologise.’

Mr Neather’s claims were made in a column for the London Evening Standard. He said Labour’s relaxation of immigration controls was a deliberate attempt to engineer a ‘truly multicultural’ country and plug gaps in the jobs market.

He remembered ‘coming away from some discussions with the clear sense that the policy was intended — even if this wasn’t its main purpose — to rub the Right’s nose in diversity’.

Whitehall research shows that the number of foreigners arriving in the UK rose from 370,000 in 2001 to 510,000 in 2006.

The figures for net foreign immigration— the number of non-British citizens arriving, less the number leaving — are even more dramatic.

In 2001, this figure stood at 221,000 but by 2007 it had risen as high as 333,000 — up 50 per cent.

The number fell to 250,000 in 2008 mainly because of a decline in arrivals from Eastern Europe.

It had already emerged that the Cabinet Office report was censored to remove details of possible links between immigration and organised crime, street fights and begging.

One of the sections missing from the final report said: ‘There is emerging evidence that the circumstances in which asylum seekers are living is leading to criminal offences, including fights and begging.’

A second section warned: ‘Migration has opened up new opportunities for organised crime.’

Last night, immigration minister Phil Woolas said there was ‘no open door policy on migration’.

He said the draft report made clear that migration was ‘not a substitute for Government policies on skills, education and training of British citizens — which the Government has invested in over the past decade’.

THE UNEDITED DOCUMENT

The highlighted text below was contained in the original draft of the document drawn up in 2000 for a discussion on immigration policy — but deleted from the version published in 2001.

1) The emerging consensus, in both the UK and the rest of the EU, is that we need a new analytical framework for thinking about migration policy if we are to maximise the contribution of migration to the Government’s economic and social objectives.

2) Indeed, over the medium to longer term, migration pressures will intensify in Europe as a result of demographic changes. But this should not be viewed as a negative — to the extent that migration is driven by market forces, it is likely to be economically beneficial. On the other hand, trying to halt of reverse market-driven migration will be very difficult (perhaps impossible) and economically damaging.

3) Chapter 4, focusing on the Government’s aim to regulate migration to the UK in the interests of social stability and economic growth, argues that it is clearly correct that the Government has both economic and social objectives for migration policy.

4) The more general social impact of migration is very difficult to assess. Benefits include a widening of consumer choice and significant cultural contributions. These in turn feed into wider economic benefits.

5) In practice, entry controls can contribute to social exclusion, and there are a number of areas where policy could further enhance migrants’ economic and social contribution in line with the Government’s overall objectives.

6) It is clear that migration policy has both social and economic impacts and should be designed to contribute to the government’s overall objectives on both counts. The current position is a considerable advance on the previously existing situation, when the aim of immigration policy was, or appeared to be, to reduce primary immigration to the ‘irreducible minimum’ — an objective with no economic or social justification.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Amnesty International is insane. The Brotherhood would imprison them if they could.

Robin Shadowes said...

The Muslim Brotherhood would execute them if they could. And maybe soon they will....