Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100415

Financial Crisis
»Asia — Vatican: Winds of War and Economic Crisis Behind the Attacks on the Pope
»BofA Exec Delivers Bleak Mortgage Stats to Congress
»Cyprus: Union Calls on Public to Protest New Tax Hikes
»Greece: Opera Risks Closure, Tours Cancelled
»Greece: Yield Premium on Bond Back Over 4 Points
»Italy: Greece: ECB Approves of EU, Harsher Deficit Procedure
»Redistributing Our Earnings to Freeloaders
»Former N.S.A. Official is Charged in Leaks Case
»More and More Blacks Tea Partying
»Obama’s Space Plan ‘Devastating, ‘ Says Neil Armstrong and Other Moon Visitors
»Obama’s Google Deleting Me?
»Photos: Tea-Party Crashers: ‘Infiltrator’ Signs Declare, ‘I’m a Bigot, I’m a Racist, I’m a Teabagger’
»Stevens: ‘I Never Left Sanity. Sanity Left Me’
»The Descent of Liberalism
»The Revolt of the States
»Unilateral Disarmament — Telegraphing Our Punches to America’s Enemies?
Europe and the EU
»‘Catholics in Sweden Must Challenge Rome’
»CFR, Trilateral Commission Member to Replace Poland’s Kaczynski?
»EU: Greece in Court Over Aid to Hellenic Shipyards
»Finland: Cabinet Ponders Support for Renewable Energy
»France, Italy Call for Carbon Tax
»Germany: Bishop Mixa Attacked From Within Church for Dismissing Victims
»Italy: Lega Nord Leader Heralds Banking Spoils Surge
»Italy: Third Berlusconi Trial Sought in Milan
»Pope Calls for ‘Penitence’
»Ports: Entrepreneurs Drowning Under Red Tape in Italy
»Portugal: Aviculture Sector in Crisis
»Portugal: Exports to Brazil Up 10.6% in January
»Spain: Garzon Before Supreme Court on Corruption Charges
»Sweden: Bishop Begs Forgiveness for Catholic Priest Abuse
»Swedish School Scolded for Prayer Readings
»Ten Thousand Swiss Bank Accounts Under Scrutiny
»Top Prelate’s Pedophilia-Gay Link ‘One Gaffe Too Many’
»UK: Caravanner, 61, Prosecuted for Having Swiss Army Knife in His Glove Box… To Cut Up Fruit on Picnics
»UK: England’s Cricket Bat Industry Under Threat as EU Bans Vital Chemical Used to Treat Willow
»UK: Now Single Mother Who Couldn’t Sort Out Childcare Demands £1.1m — Seven Times More Than Army Offered Hero Who Lost Legs
»Vatican: Holy See, Not Accountable for Medical Assessments
»Volcanic Ash Disrupts Flights Worldwide
»Croatian Teenager Wakes From Coma Speaking Fluent German
»Serbia: Karadzic ‘A Victim of International Conspiracy’
»Serbia-Slovenia: JAT Launches Belgrade-Portoroz Flight
North Africa
»Libya-USA: Today Gaddafi to Speak 24 Years After US Attack
Israel and the Palestinians
»A Shocking Secret in Plain Sight: U.S. Policy Sabotages U.S. Policy
»Barack Hussein Obama vs. Israel
»Gaza: 2 Shot for Having Collaborated With Israel
»Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East
»WJC President Urges Obama to Change Stance on Israel
Middle East
»Crisis With Israel on the Way… Through the Sea Lines
»Iran: Four Hanged, Thief’s Hand and Leg Amputated
»Israel: Syria Gave Missiles to Hezbollah
»Italy-Turkey: Minister Kavaf Challenged at Meeting on Women
»Italy: Frattini Praises Palestinian Aid Commissioner
»Jordan: 37.2 Mln for Samra Plant From Saudi Fund
»Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World
»Violence Against Women: Collaboration Italy-Turkey
»World Council of Churches: The KGB Connection
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Aid Workers ‘Cut Off’
»Afghan Woman Murdered as She Leaves Work
»Aid Workers Moved to Kabul
»Guttenberg Boosts Firepower in Afghanistan
»Indonesia: Bogor: Islamic Extremists Stronger Than the Supreme Court, Protestant Church Closed
Far East
»China to Send Iran Gasoline
Sub-Saharan Africa
»African Aviation Ministers Agree to Body Scanners
»Immigration: America in a World of Hurt in 2010
»Italy: 170 Illegals Arrived in 2010 (-96%)
»Netherlands: One Third of Deportations Fail
»Swedish Population to Top 10 Million in 2021
»UK: Up to 3,400 NHS Workers Are Unmasked as Illegal Immigrants
»Climate Bureaucracies Are the Choice Because They Perpetuate Problems
»What Drives Islam to be the Religion of War

Financial Crisis

Asia — Vatican: Winds of War and Economic Crisis Behind the Attacks on the Pope

Led by the New York Times, the violence campaign against Benedict XVI is meant to undermine his moral authority and that of the Catholic Church ahead of a possible war against Iran and the bankruptcy of the US Treasury.

Milan (AsiaNews) — Paedophilia is a great scandal. The fact that it involves Catholic priests is an even greater scandal. Especially for a devout Catholic, this pain is like few others. It is good thing that it is coming to light. It would be worse if we allowed such a cancer to slowly consume souls and let it pollute and destroy the structure of relations of the Church from within. No one could find a better pretext to attack the Catholic Church than this. We saw this recently in the wanton attacks against the Pope that culminated in the obviously ones-sidedness of an article by Laurie Goodstein published in the New York Times.1 Paradoxically, the Pope, who recently called for zero tolerance in cases of paedophilia, was targeted more than ever and more than others. Various Vatican media outlets have already described who did what, refuting charges against the Pope. But even the Wall Street Journal in an editorial challenged the defamation of the Pope by the New York Times article.

Notwithstanding the lies, there are some disturbing coincidences. Why so many accusations (some going back 40 years) appeared all at once in various countries around the world? This is a peculiar coincidence, but there are others, far more complex, that lead to a somewhat more disquieting picture.

New York Times’ anti-Catholicism

Laurie Goodstein is the Times’ national religion writer. She is known for her specifically anti-Catholic acrimony, as Mgr Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, pointed out in an article that appeared on the diocese’s website with a telling title “Anti-Catholicism,”2 which the NYT refused to publish.

The Times (but also other US newspapers) likes to focus on scandals in the Catholic world, whilst refusing to cover other paedophilia scandals, like that involving Yehuda Kolko, a teacher at the Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Brooklyn.3 Similarly, the paper refused to cover Dov Hikind, a rightwing Zionist, who refused to testify about thousands of complaints collected following the broadcast of a radio programme about paedophilia and incest among Jewish communities in New York, especially Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox Jews). There was a story there, and a lawyer, Dowd, well known for class action suits that bankrupted many Catholic religious communities and dioceses, had called for him to testify.

It is another coincidence that whilst some stories involving Catholic priests go back 40 years, other, more recent and more serious cases of paedophilia were not4 (one case that is particularly noteworthy goes back to 2003 and involves a Scottish girl, Hollie Greig, former NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson and Chancellor of the Exchequer and current British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a story that Tony Blair sealed away for 100 year as a state secret).

Preparing an attack on Iran

The fact that that the Times applies a double standard is not a problem since few people view the paper as a good authority anymore. British hypocrisy over its own dirty secrets is also unimportant because it is expected. What is more worrisome is the fact that on the day Laurie Goodstein’s article was published, Reuters ran a story out of Jerusalem, reprinted on 26 March 2010 by the Washington Post,5 a story that eventually disappeared from the “independent” Anglo-American press and that of almost all of the rest of the world, namely the possibility that Israel might use tactical nuclear weapons in a preventive attack against Iran.

This is linked to other news that appeared two weeks earlier, which also disappeared from the “independent” press, namely that US President Obama had special “bunker-buster” bombs, originally destined for Israel, diverted to the US base in Diego Garcia, in the Indian Ocean, for possible use in an attack on Iran.6 Located about a thousand miles south of India, between Mauritius and the Persian Gulf, the island is ideally placed to launch an air strike against Iran. According to an expert, US bombers are already capable of hitting 10,000 objectives in Iran in just a few hours, and totally destroy the country.7 Once the weapons are deployed (presumably in one or two months), the disposition for attack will be in place and a military operation could be ordered at any time. In other words, the United States wants to have all options available, whilst Israel wants to press the accelerator and threatens to use tactical nuclear weapons if the US decides not to do what Israel wants.

On 9 April 2010, Russia and the United States signed an agreement in which the two parties agree not to use atomic weapons against countries that have signed the non-proliferation treaty (leaving out Iran and North Korea as well as Israel, although this is not said). Recently, Obama and Sarkozy have worked together to get an international consensus on new sanctions against Iran. This might be achieved in a few weeks, or even a few days. It is thus clear that sanctions could be followed by a catastrophic attack against Iran.

Iran is not the only country that might have violated non-proliferation agreements. Israel for example, in violation of all treaties, has built 200 to 400 nuclear warheads. It has even threatened to use them (albeit “tactical” nuclear weapons, as if that was less disquieting). As it is well known, Iran might (perhaps) build some, a few, nuclear bombs. We must stress “might” given the value of the information some secret services have provided the world. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was said to have weapons of mass destruction. After the country was invaded and 1.3 million Iraqis died, no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. Given such claims, doubts are understandable, which does not mean that that either Saddam Hussein or the Iranian regime are in the clear. Yet those who voice such doubts are often dismissed as providing support for Islamist terrorism or even of anti-Semitism (when it is used against those who criticises the policies of the Government of Israel).

The reality is that sanctions are a prelude to an attack against Iran. Some may not realise that the destruction of Iran, perhaps using tactical nuclear weapons, could set off World War Three. Some 10,000 Russians are working near Iran’s electricity-generating nuclear power plants, and China has good relations with Iran. Undoubtedly, the Iranian regime is a cause for concern, but it is hard to believe that one would risk triggering a worldwide conflict with unimaginable consequences only to stop the possible development of a few nuclear bombs.

The great economic failure

Perhaps, there is more to this, namely the use of war to hide a great economic failure. A new wave of insolvent loans and “toxic” securities might be on the way. A fraud with at the centre HSBC, Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan-Chase is expected to come to light soon, involving physical bullion markets and other raw materials, one that is so big that the Madoff affair would appear as kids’ stuff. By the way, when the scandal in Britain’s top echelons was hushed up, Gordon Brown sold (sold off) gold from the UK’s reserves.8 More importantly, public debts in many countries have reached such proportions that they have not only become unmanageable but they can no longer be concealed or their repayment put off much longer, for the future is upon us, now.

According to the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), not AsiaNews or some extremist or daft blogger, the US debt/GDP ratio is expected to reach 400 per cent. This means that the huge fraud involving selling precious metals short in London and New York, that no one can now meet, must be covered up. The power system that controls big media must especially find ways to justify the inevitable and certain insolvency of the Federal Reserve and US Treasury.

History teaches us that rulers use war to swamp everything with hyperinflation. The Falklands War is one example (led by Argentina’s bankrupt military junta); Yugoslavia’s civil war is another. It is a simple and ingenious way, tested over the millennia.

What more can be said? The Catholic Church and the Pope had to be targeted; their moral authority attacked at any cost. But perhaps this is just a coincidence.

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

BofA Exec Delivers Bleak Mortgage Stats to Congress

Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans, testified on Capitol Hill Tuesday about the housing crisis and the steps BofA is taking to modify troubled mortgages. And she painted a bleak picture, according to her prepared testimony.

Some numbers from her remarks:

• 1.4 million borrowers, or 10 percent of the entire BofA residential mortgage portfolio, are more than 60 days delinquent.

• More than 16,000 BofA employees are dedicated to helping troubled borrowers work out a solution.

• BofA has taken $10.4 billion in write-downs tied to mortgages over the past two years.

“We’re now at a critical point,” Desoer says in prepared testimony. “Many customers are still struggling to make ends meet due to prolonged unemployment, depressed home values, and other economic realities.”

Desoer’s testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee is designed to help lawmakers decipher how to improve loan modification programs.

The bank has $15.76 billion in deposits with 156 offices in Tampa Bay, and its 19.5 percent market share ranks No. 1 in the region, according to the latest FDIC numbers in June 2009.

BofA has implemented trial loan modifications for about 297,000 home owners so far. About twice that many are eligible under current standards. And Desoer is asking Congress for some improvements to the program to encourage more participation.

“There has not been adequate success in getting enough customers to accept the offers and complete the documentation and trial period required to obtain a permanent modification,” she says.

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]

Cyprus: Union Calls on Public to Protest New Tax Hikes

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, APRIL 15 — The Cyprus Democratic Labour Federation (DEOK) yesterday urged the public to take to the streets and protest any new taxes the government decides to impose, “whether this involves fuel, food, pharmaceuticals or any other product of basic need”. The union’s General Secretary, Diomidis Diomidous, said DEOK was determined to strongly protest new tax increases, after it was announced on Tuesday that there would be almost a 10% increase in fuel tax. Diomidous, as Famagusta Gazette reports, called on President Demetris Christofias’ government to bring all such plans to an immediate halt, “as the Cypriot civilian’s pocket cannot take any more taxes”. This hike, along with similar increases on foodstuff, water and pharmaceuticals, has been attributed to Cyprus’ obligations to the EU. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Opera Risks Closure, Tours Cancelled

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 15 — The Greek National Opera has cancelled a number of tours, including one in Germany, in order to avoid the closure mooted by the Culture Minister Pavlos Ieroulanos in the wake of the crisis. Sources close to the Opera, founded in 1940, explained to ANSA that the cancellations include the tour scheduled to coincide with the Wiesbaden festival in May. This is the fourth cancellation of plans both in Greece and abroad, which has allowed the Opera’s new management, led by Nicos Mourkogiannis, to save one million euros. The Opera’s debts, however, stand at 14 million euros, and in recent statements to the press, Ieroulanos had confirmed that “in light of the crisis we must decide whether or not to keep it running”. Ieroulanos added that “we are trying to save the Opera, we want to avoid its closure, but the budget has escaped control to such an extent that it will be difficult to secure new funds”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Yield Premium on Bond Back Over 4 Points

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 15 — Interest rates Greece has to pay investors to convince them to buy its government bonds are once again rising, with the yield premium compared with the German bund back over four full points for the first time since when the Eurogroup approved aid to Athens over the weekend. Yields paid on Greek ten-year bonds have today risen 30 cents to 7.36%, with a differential compared to the bund (the European benchmark) up by 424 cents. Also rising sharply were rates offered by short-term bonds, proof that investors are feeling a high risk even concerning the short term and not only on ten-year and thirty-year Greek debt: the rate offered by the two-year bond is today at 7.102%, a sharp rise compared with the 6.661% seen yesterday. As concerns the Athens stock exchange, at the beginning of trading this morning there was a drop of 0.8% on the General Index. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Greece: ECB Approves of EU, Harsher Deficit Procedure

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 15 — The European Central Bank board “approves of the statement on Greece released on March 25 by Eurozone heads of state and government,” according to the Frankfurt institute’s monthly bulletin. The board “fully supports the intention to strengthen surveillance on economic and balance sheet risks as well instruments for preventive measures, including the procedure for excessive deficit.” In the eyes of the EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, there is no risk of insolvency for Greek debt. “The risk of default is not even a possibility,” he said in speaking today in a debate organised by the European Policy Center think tank. Rehn believes that there is not even the risk that Germany may reject aid mechanisms, since it must submit them to voting in Parliament: “As in all Eurozone countries, Germany has made a commitment and I have no doubt that it will do its part,” he said. The same position was taken by European Central Bank board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, who said that the possibility of default or an exit from the Eurozone, brought up concerning Greece, is “simply absurd”. In the eyes of Bini Smaghi, who spoke at a seminar in Kyoto (Japan), the agreement reached last week by Eurozone countries on the aid mechanism for Greece is a “turning point in the crisis”, and will make it possible for Athens “to carry out its programme for fiscal adjustment without losing access to markets and to ensure debt sustainability”. Meanwhile, in Greece strikes continue against the measures decided on by the government and against the new fiscal reform, approved in yesterday’s general reading in Parliament with only the votes of the Socialist majority. Along with taxi, bus and tram drivers, also lawyers are on strike today, as are teachers, while yesterday farmers demonstrated in front of the Finance Ministry, as did part-time town council workers. The Communist union Pame declared a national 48-hour strike against the austerity plan for April 21-22, a day on which there will also be a strike by public sector employees from the Adedy union, which will bring air transport to a halt after air traffic controllers decided to take part. The private sector confederation Gsee has yet to decide whether to transform April 22 into another general strike after a previous one on March 11. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Redistributing Our Earnings to Freeloaders

Income tax day, April 15, now divides Americans into two almost equal classes: those who pay for the services provided by government and the freeloaders. The percentage of Americans who will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009 has risen to 47%.

That isn’t the worst of it. The bottom 40% not only pay no income tax, but also the government sends them cash or benefits financed by the taxes dutifully paid by those who do pay income tax.

The outright cash handouts include the earned income tax credit (EITC), which can amount to $5,657 a year to low-income families. Other financial benefits can include child tax credits, welfare, food stamps, WIC (women, infants, children), housing subsidies, unemployment benefits, Medicaid, S-CHIP and other programs.

This is a massive transfer of wealth and a soak-the-rich racket. The top 10% pay 73% of the income taxes collected by the federal government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Former N.S.A. Official is Charged in Leaks Case

WASHINGTON — In a rare legal action against a government employee accused of leaking secrets, a grand jury has indicted a former senior National Security Agency official on charges of providing classified information to a newspaper reporter in hundreds of e-mail messages in 2006 and 2007.

The official, Thomas A. Drake, 52, was also accused of obstructing justice by shredding documents, deleting computer records and lying to investigators who were looking into the reporter’s sources.

“Our national security demands that the sort of conduct alleged here — violating the government’s trust by illegally retaining and disclosing classified information — be prosecuted and prosecuted vigorously,” Lanny A. Breuer, the assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in a statement.

The indictment, approved Wednesday by a grand jury in Baltimore and made public on Thursday, does not name either the reporter or the newspaper that received the information.

But the description applies to articles written by Siobhan Gorman, then a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, that examined in detail the failings of several major N.S.A. programs, costing billions of dollars, using computers to collect and sort electronic intelligence. The efforts were plagued with technical flaws and cost overruns.

Only a small number of prosecutions have been brought against government officials in recent decades for improperly disclosing information. Such cases often provoke a public debate over the tradeoff between protecting government secrets and covering up government wrongdoing or incompetence.

The indictment suggests the Obama administration may be no less aggressive than the Bush administration in pursuing whistleblowers and reporters’ sources who disclose government secrets. In a little-noticed case last December, a former contract linguist for the F.B.I., Shamai Kedem Leibowitz, pleaded guilty to leaking five classified documents to a blogger…

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

More and More Blacks Tea Partying

Lloyd Marcus checking in from the Tea Party Express III tour bus headed to Detroit. We did six electric atmosphere rallies in one day in Michigan. Everyone was excited because our efforts forced Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak to retire. Score one for We The People.

In Michigan, I was excited because a larger number of blacks attended our six tea parties. Several were fans of my music, columns and have read my book, “Confessions of a Black Conservative.” They thanked and called me courageous for speaking out. Folks, I am not courageous. My strength comes from my Faith and knowing I am on the right side.

At each tea party, I asked the blacks who approached me for autographs and to pose for pictures how they earned a living. Interestingly, they were entrepreneurs or ex-military who experienced socialism abroad. They are not looking for a handout, nor do they view themselves as victims.

The shallow minded liberal mainstream media believes the tea parties are racist because the crowds are mostly white. And yet, the liberal mainstream media never labels the all black audience rallies hosted by Minister Farrakhan where he touts the evils of whitey as racist. The liberal mainstream media would never consider the possibility that “black racism” keeps many blacks from attending the tea parties.

Meanwhile, as I am a prominent black face in the tea party movement (singer/songwriter of the American Tea Party Anthem), the media runs to me demanding to know why the movement is not reaching out to blacks. I retort, “We do not need to reach out to any group in any special way. We simply need to continue telling the truth and promoting common sense conservative principles. Right thinking people will be drawn to the light of our message like moths to a flame.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Space Plan ‘Devastating, ‘ Says Neil Armstrong and Other Moon Visitors

CAPE CANAVERAL — President Barack Obama’s plans for NASA could be “devastating” to the U.S. human space flight program and “destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature,” three American astronaut heroes said Tuesday.

Neil Armstrong, who rarely makes public comments, was the first human to set foot on the moon. Jim Lovell commanded the famous Apollo 13 flight — an aborted moon mission. And Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan remains the last human to walk on the lunar surface.

In a statement e-mailed to longtime NBC space correspondent Jay Barbree of Merritt Island, all three took exception with Obama’s plan to cancel NASA’s return-to-the-moon program, dubbed Project Constellation.

They said Obama’s plan to shift the responsibility for launching U.S. astronauts from NASA to commercial companies would be a mistake and likely would take “substantially longer and be more expensive than we would hope.”

“To be without carriage to low Earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond Earth orbit for an indeterminate time into the future, destines our nation to become one of second- or even third-rate stature,” the three said.

The statement came just two days before Obama is scheduled to visit Kennedy Space Center to explain his vision for NASA.

Not all former astronauts have come out against the plan. Armstrong’s crewmate Buzz Aldrin, the second man to stand on the moon, has endorsed the proposal, saying it will “allow us to again be pushing the boundaries to achieve new and challenging things beyond Earth.”

Obama’s plan would extend International Space Station operations through 2020 and direct NASA to invest $6 billion in the development of commercial space taxi services for astronauts traveling to and from the outpost.

But it would kill Project Constellation and the Ares rockets and Orion spacecraft NASA has been developing for six years at a cost of more than $9 billion.

“It appears that we will have wasted our current $10 -plus billion investment in Constellation and, equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we have discarded,” the former astronauts said.

Armstrong, Lovell and Cernan all said the Ares I and Ares V rockets were patterned after the modular concept Werner von Braun employed for developing the Saturn 1B and Saturn V rockets that took American astronauts to the moon.

The three raised serious concerns about the idea of shifting the responsibility for designing, developing and operating the rockets and spacecraft flown by U.S. astronauts from NASA to the private sector.

“The availability of a commercial transport to orbit as envisioned by the president’s proposal cannot be predicted with any certainty, but is likely to take substantially longer and be more expensive that we would hope,” the astronauts said.

“Without the skill and experience that actual spacecraft operation provides, the USA is far too likely to be on a long downward slide to mediocrity,” they said.

“America must decide if it wishes to remain a leader in space. If it does, we should institute a program which will give us the very best chance of achieving that goal.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Google Deleting Me?

After Obama was selected by Marxists, Islamic terrorists and the New World Order folks (those who see We-the-People as the soon to be “unwashed masses” who need to have everything they own confiscated by the Government Power Elites) worldwide to be the new — if ineligible — leader of the USA, as soon as he set foot in the White House The Obama began the dismantling (towards its total destruction) of the former United States of America. We have watched and listened to it happen see and hear new evid3nce of it each and every day.

However, The Obama does not want light — or the truth — to illuminate any portion of his dark reign and the even darker and, perhaps, even more perverse members of his regime. Evil and its methods must operate — and continue to operate — in the darkness, in order to continue to be successful.


And although my column output continues to be even greater than in has been in the past, within about a year and a half I have gone from between 1-2 millions of Google entries to a few thousand after last week. Note: Google knocked off 60,000 entries after I wrote and had published my article “Barack Hussein Obama: Marxist Ideologue or Evolving Madman?” Guess it struck a rather large nerve. Retribution and retaliation against my continuing to tell the truth? You betcha’! In fact, it now appears that I have joined the ranks of the most dangerous-to-the-tyrant-Obama in the USA. I suspect that other columnists in opposition to the despot may have experienced the same issue and I would love to hear from them. But, for myself I wish to say: Thanks, Mr. Dictator, for bestowing upon me my personal badge of honor. You have made my decade!

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Photos: Tea-Party Crashers: ‘Infiltrator’ Signs Declare, ‘I’m a Bigot, I’m a Racist, I’m a Teabagger’

As tea partiers flocked to hear former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speak at a tea-party rally on the Boston Common, apparent crashers or agents provocateurs appeared at the event today carrying signs with racial slogans and messages attacking Palin and the tea-party movement.

The following are photos of purported crashers at the event posted on

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Stevens: ‘I Never Left Sanity. Sanity Left Me’

Two observations about retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens are about to become established fact by sheer repetition. The first — that Stevens is the last Protestant on the court — is not true in any meaningful sense. The second — that Stevens didn’t move left, the court moved right — is madness.

While it’s true that there are no other Protestants on the court — now composed of six Catholics and two Jews, making the Supreme Court only slightly less diverse than cable news hosts, 75 percent of whom are Catholic or Jewish, but also include a Scientologist, a Mormon and a gay — it’s difficult to believe Stevens is any kind of Protestant.

Stevens is more like a pre-road to Damascus Saul. Or maybe the late Justice William Brennan.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Descent of Liberalism

In his 1950 book The Liberal Imagination, Lionel Trilling said that “in the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.” Liberalism was no less the dominant political tradition; a coherent conservative opposition had yet to emerge. Over the next 60 years, however, the liberal imagination lost its hold on the American mind. In October 2009 Gallup found that just 20 percent of Americans described themselves as liberals; twice as many called themselves conservatives.

What happened? Part of the answer lies in liberalism’s loss of an element that was essential both to its intellectual vitality and to its popular appeal. Liberalism in the middle of the 20th century maintained an equilibrium between the antagonistic principles within it. The classical liberalism that descended from Jefferson and Jackson survived in the movement; the social liberalism that derived from the theories of 19th-century social philosophers, though it was steadily gaining ground, had not yet obtained a complete ascendancy. Liberalism today has lost this equipoise; the progress of the social imagination, with its faith in the power of social science to improve people’s lives, has forced liberals to relinquish the principles and even the language of the classical conception of liberty.

The two philosophies that animated liberalism in its prime were widely different in both origin and aspiration. Classical liberty is founded on the belief that all men are created equal; that they should be treated equally under the law; and that they should be permitted the widest liberty of action consistent with public tranquility and the safety of the state. The classical vision traces its pedigree to Protestant dissenters who in the 17th century struggled to obtain freedom of conscience. Their critique of religious favoritism was later expanded into a critique of state-sponsored privilege in general.


Unlike classical liberty, social liberty is formed on the conviction that if a truly equitable society is to emerge, the state must treat certain groups of people differently from other groups. Only through a more or less comprehensive adjustment of the interests of various classes will a really democratic polity emerge. The social vision traces its origins to thinkers who in the 19th century argued that the close study of social facts would reveal the laws that govern human behavior, much as physics and biology reveal the laws that govern nature. Auguste Comte, for example, believed it possible to elaborate a “social physics” (physique sociale); Karl Marx purported to discover the dialectical laws of human history.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Revolt of the States

President Obama, his weird circle of advisors (czars), and the ideologues within the Democrat Party led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid only have a few months left to completely destroy the separation of powers between the States and the federal government.

A major battle is looming over the Tenth Amendment which declares that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Almost everywhere one looks today, the States are in rebellion to the overreaching of the federal government. The process involved is called nullification, a legal theory that a U.S. State has the right to nullify, i.e., invalidate, any federal law deemed unconstitutional. Since the Supreme Court moves at a glacial pace, the States through their legislatures have taken the lead in many cases.

Nullification is not secession as in the case of the Civil War, but there is a history of nullification that includes the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions against the Alien and Sedition Acts. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison both argued that the States are the ultimate interpreters of the Constitution, arguing that the States could “interpose” themselves to protect their citizens from unconstitutional national laws.

Much of the discord in the nation today has its roots in the vital difference between a conservative attachment to traditional values and a liberal ideology that would impose a One World Government on our sovereign nation.

The great philosopher of American conservatism, Russell Kirk, wrote “True conservatism is the antithesis of ideology. It is the negation of ideology. For conservative is grounded in the past. Its principles are derived from the Constitution, experience, history, tradition, custom, and the wisdom of those who have gone before us—’the best that has been thought and said.’ It does not purport to know the future. It is about preserving the true, the good, the beautiful. Conservatism views all ideologies with skepticism, and the more zealous and fanatic with hostility.”

[Return to headlines]

Unilateral Disarmament — Telegraphing Our Punches to America’s Enemies?

Mr. Obama has enunciated a major shift in U.S. nuclear security policy. There are problems with both his new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) and with the related arms control treaty that he signed with Russia in Prague just hours after the Posture was announced. What leaves one speechless is that the United States policy slams the door on using nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states, even if they attack this country with chemical or biological weaponry.

What does it take to recall the lesson — learned many times over the years the hard way? You don’t tell the enemy what you’re not going to do if you are attacked (by whatever means). The prudent strategy is to leave all options on the table.

Our nuclear protection — on the way out?

America’s much-maligned nuclear weaponry is the primary reason the Cold War remained (for the most part) cold — World War III was fought by other (tense but mostly peaceful) means. In the absence of that protection, the U.S. and the Soviet Union would have clashed militarily many years ago. The Obama administration seems prepared to roll the dice and toss that protection in the trash bin. We now know that the Korean War ended when it did because Ike made it plain he was prepared to use the ultimate weapon against the Communists fighting us.

Now in 2010 under this new policy, the U.S. renounces the development of any new nuclear weapons. That would raise alarm bells for any normal people picked at random who are knowledgeable about Russia’s history as a treaty partner, let alone Iran leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s threats, lies, and nuclear ambitions. Even the most casually informed person would not actually believe that Iran will stand down on its nuclear ambitions just because Mr. Obama won’t build any new nukes for us. Can anyone — especially the President of the United States — be that naïve?

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Europe and the EU

‘Catholics in Sweden Must Challenge Rome’

The Catholic Church in Sweden must demand that the Vatican abolish celibacy for priests, allow women to be ordained, stop oppressing homosexuals and reverse its ban on contraception, argues Swedish Catholic and poet Marcus Birro.

I am a Catholic and still proud of it. I love the hearty moralism of which Catholicism is a part. I love clear guiding principles.

I love liberal Catholicism, the strand of the church that borders on revolution, that carries incredible strength in its furrowed hands, that can venture and risk everything, even if does not always do so.

I am a man of words but my verbal capacity is stretched to its absolute limit when I try to formulate the disappointment I feel when reading about bishops and priests in the Catholic Church in Ireland, the United States, Norway, Denmark, and Italy, which is my second home. Their systematic, hellish, unrestrained abuses and violations have dragged my faith, my God, and my belief in humanity into the dirt.

The crimes committed by the Catholic Church are at the extremes of what may be forgiven. And as forgiveness lies at the very core of the Catholic faith, the church is currently being shaken to its very foundations.

These days are heavy with grief. What’s happening now could be enough to kill off the Catholic Church. But at the same time the Catholic Church now has an opportunity to tip its perversions overboard by means of a complete, and I mean COMPLETE, rethink.

Unlike other scandals that have emerged over the millennia, we now live in a time where information travels at lightning speed. People are refusing to submit to the mist of religion. As a believer, I think this is a good thing. We who believe in God must learn to be rebels. We must learn to laugh at a caricature. We must stand up for justice and solidarity and we must come to the unfortunate realisation that church and superstition, belief and double standards, are closely allied with clammy hands.

We who believe in God as a forgiving brother or sister in the pelting rain of life must raise our voices against oppression, desperation and terror in the realm of the church. We must unanimously, consistently and unreservedly condemn the systematic terror perpetrated in the name of our faith by bishops and others in the church.

Their shame is unparalleled.

I grew up in an atheist home. My dad should by rights have been a Catholic since he was born and raised in Italy, but the priests in his church said that communists ate their own young — anything to keep the oppressive feudal landlord system intact. So he moved to Sweden, fell in love, and stayed.

My faith has resembled groundwater: silent, low-key, alone.

My faith sidled up very close to me at an early stage. I pray to and speak to my God as I would to my best friend, who, like me, is always on the substitutes’ bench while the bigger, stronger boys get to start every match. We stand on the sidelines and watch our team lose, my God and me. It feels safe.

To me, God is part of life.

I travel to Rome and am taken completely by surprise by the power of churches, artworks, silence, holiness. I am struck by the sight of ordinary people falling to their knees before a cross; it makes my heart beat more calmly. When I arise, two hours have passed. I want to stay there. I light a candle, take communion, walk around in my suit in a city that has always lived close to God. It takes some time but after a while I realise I am praying again, and it is happening almost against my will. It’s not at all a conscious act; it’s more like a dream, like a caring spiritual caress, almost like sex, or like kissing maybe, a quick glance while boarding a train, a silent glance that says, “I like you, you’re beautiful, I am taken and faithful but here’s a simple calling card, and save this glance for times when all seems harsh, when the whole world is locked in reverse, save this glance until you really need it.”

The fire is burning now. The Catholic Church risks burning down. Sometimes I almost wish it would. Is the Catholic Church in Sweden enraged? Does it have a programme for how we can flush out these demons once and for all? No. All we hear is talk of how bishops and others in the church should not be left alone with children in tight spaces.

The shame!

The time has come for action from the Catholic Church in Sweden.

Hard, consistent, dignified and clear action.

I am so incredibly furious at all the disgusting creatures who have systematically violated children in God’s name all over the world.

This will be the end of the road for my faith within the Catholic Church unless there is a serious realisation from the church that the God we believe in has actually been sitting among us here on earth in 2010, and we have to view the world around us, and ourselves, in a completely new way.

Here are some points that I believe the Catholic Church must take immediate steps to incorporate:

1. Abolish compulsory celibacy for priests. It is inhumane. It is hostile and loveless.

2. Women should be treated in the same way as men and should be afforded the possibility to become deacons and priests.

3. Stop the oppression of homosexuals.

4. Repeal the ban on contraception. It’s from the stone age and it’s inhumane.

These four points are not a recipe for a healthy church; they are measures that must be implemented immediately if our church is even to survive.

Sweden is a role model in many areas. Now the domestic Catholic Church has the opportunity to bear the flag for change. Speak out against Rome. There’s no guarantee that Rome will listen but that’s not our responsibility. It is however our duty to take decisive action in line with our conscience and ideals. We are a proud church, deep down. The Catholic Church in Sweden needs to display strength and unity by sitting down and composing a message to the Pope in Rome. Where are you? Why are you so quiet?

Despite its bad sides, my Catholic Church is a forgiving, revolutionary, candid, dignified, beautiful, and tolerant church. Within it lies a quotidian spirituality that enriches my life, that makes me a better person.

To me it is clear as day: God is in art, in literature, in mystery, in small everyday miracles. We choose different names for this unnameable entity that gives us strength when living life seems impossible, when we bury our parents or baptise our children, when we become free from alcohol or drugs, when we get married or attend a Christmas morning service merry on mulled wine. He is with us when we sit on a clifftop by the sea or lie on our backs in the open countryside that Ulf Lundell rendered as God in his song from 1982 that has almost become our national anthem.

To me, God is a mentor: a radical, principled, old-school Social Democrat. The way the Left used to be. Before all the radical forces bought houses and dozed off in plastic chairs under the apple tree.

Shame is digging trenches around my belief.

— Marcus Birro, Catholic, poet, author

Marcus Birro’s article was originally published in Swedish by DN Debatt on April 10th, days before allegations of child abuse reached the Catholic Church in Sweden.

Translation: The Local

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

CFR, Trilateral Commission Member to Replace Poland’s Kaczynski?

BusinessWeek reported yesterday that Andrzej Olechowski will enter a presidential race in Poland to replace Lech Kaczynski.

“The Polish Peasants’ Party, the junior partner in the governing coalition, will probably nominate its leader, Economy Minister Waldemar Pawlak, and Andrzej Olechowski, a former foreign minister and finance minister, will run as an independent,” it is reported.

Odds on Andrzej Olechowski. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission. He was also an economist for the World Bank.

He also appears to work closely with the banksters: Olechowski sat on the supervisory boards of a number of European banks and corporations. Most notably he was on the advisory board of Goldman Sachs (see this biography on Olechowski’s personal home page; in Polish).

I am not saying Lech Kaczynski was killed in order for a one-worlder to take his place. I am saying that it is an opportunity for another bankster minion to rule a country that seemed to be at odds with the European Union and the one-world project.

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EU: Greece in Court Over Aid to Hellenic Shipyards

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, APRIL 15 — The European Commission has decided to call up Greece to the European Court of Justice, after the country failed to retrieve illegal state aids given to Hellenic Shipyards (HSY). The decision follows that made in 2008, when Brussels said that the subsidies given by the Athens government to the company were incompatible with the common market, because they distorted the competition. “The Commission allows member states to supply large sums of money to businesses every year in the form of state subsidies. But in cases in which aid packages are revealed to be illegal, these packages must be retrieved quickly in order to restore conditions of competition and preserve the credibility of the regulations,” said Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner responsible for Competition. Brussels says that Hellenic Shipyards owes around 230 million euros plus interest from its civil activities. Interest is calculated according to the date on which the aid packages were given out. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Finland: Cabinet Ponders Support for Renewable Energy

published yesterday 08:23 PM, updated today 10:15 AM

The governmet is preparing a support package for renewable energy which could pour up to a billion euros into environmentally friendly sources of power. At the moment, the proposal sets aside 170 million euros a year for wind power, bio fuels and wood chips.

Although differences persist within government ranks on the details, an announcement on energy policy is expected within the coming weeks.

Minister for Economic Affairs, Mauri Pekkarinen wants to separate support for renewable energy from the issue of granting new licenses for additional nuclear reactors. He wants agreement on renewable energy before discussing how many new reactors are needed.

His view supports granting a license for one reactor while his cabinet colleagues from the National Coalition want all three pending applications to be granted. The Greens are opposed to any expansion of Finland’s nuclear power generating capacity.

The National Coalition says both issues walk hand in hand. They want assurances from Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen that a majority within the cabinet support additional nuclear capacity before any energy policy decisions are taken.

Finland has signed up to an EU commitment to raise the use of renewable energy to 38 percent of its overall energy production by the year 2020. In 2005, the share was under 30 percent.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

France, Italy Call for Carbon Tax

EU imports tax urged to avoid ‘carbon leakage’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — The European Union should consider imposing a carbon tax on countries that fail to fight climate change, Italy and France said in a joint letter to the European Commission on Thursday.

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and French President Nicolas Sarkozy said EU companies subject to strict internal rules aimed at curbing emissions were at a competitive disadvantage compared to importers from outside the bloc. The leaders proposed a tax on goods imported from states without emissions controls equivalent to the cost of measures imposed on EU companies. They warned that EU businesses could otherwise be forced to move outside the bloc in order to remain competitive.

As a result, the EU’s climate measures could have the unintended consequence of simply increasing carbon dioxide emissions elsewhere, a process known as ‘carbon leakage’. “It would be unacceptable if the ambitious efforts we have made within the EU to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions were compromised by carbon leakage caused by the lack or inadequacy of action in certain third countries,” said the letter, addressed to Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso. The leaders asked Barroso to include the carbon tax proposal in a Commission report due this June looking at ways to cut emissions.

They also said the tax could have the effect of encouraging states to sign up to a global deal on climate change, given the lack of progress in current negotiations to agree on a successor to the Kyoto protocol. “As underlined by heads of state and government at the last European Council, the international negotiating process needs a new boost,” they said. “The EU must strengthen its tactical approach by adopting new negotiating tools in order to make its actions more effective”. In 2008, the EU agreed in theory that it might make importers buy emissions permits if climate negotiations failed. The letter also recalled that EU law “provides for the possibility of including importers in the European system for trading emission quotas”.

Berlusconi and Sarkozy urged the Commission to “decide on the conditions under which such an adjustment mechanism should be applied to EU borders” in its June report. A number of European member states, including Sweden and Germany, have criticized similar proposals in the past, while developing countries have described the concept as protectionist, warning it would block imports. Berlusconi and Sarkozy underscored that care would have to be taken to avoid any such EU mechanism falling foul of World Trade Organization rules.

But they said a joint report by the UN Environment Programme and the WTO, as well as France and Italy’s own analyses “indicate that these conditions could be satisfied”. The EU’s own targets require the bloc’s member states to achieve a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 on 1990 levels.

The EU has said it will increase this to 30% if other industrialized states make equal efforts.

The EU also requires member states to meet 20% of their energy needs from renewable sources by that date.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Germany: Bishop Mixa Attacked From Within Church for Dismissing Victims

The Catholic school headmaster who first raised concerns about sex abuse in the Church in January has attacked the embattled Bishop Walter Mixa, accusing him of being too dismissive of his alleged victim’s claims.

In comments previewed Wednesday, Klaus Mertes, head of Berlin’s Canisius College, told this week’s edition of Die Zeit that Mixa, who is facing allegations that he hit and beat school students, was “discrediting” the victims.

Prompted by fears there had been systematic abuse in the 1970s and 1980s at the elite Canisius school, Mertes wrote in January to more than 600 former students asking them to come forward if they had been abused.

The resulting flood of allegations spread to other Catholic schools and parishes across the country, sparking a scandal that went on to engulf the Church.

“We must not discredit victims, as he did,” Mertes said of Mixa.

Mixa has been accused of hitting children at the St. Josef children’s home in Schrobenhausen, north of Munich, in the 1970s and 1980s — accusations he has strongly denied. He went on to say he could not remember the alleged victims and doubted they could remember him.

Mertes also criticised the Curia — the central administrative body of the Church — and said abuse of children and adolescents by priests was a greater betrayal than by a sports teacher, for example.

“The fall is greater than with a sporting instructor, because the priest acts on behalf of Christ in the mind of Catholics,” he told Die Zeit.

He went on to say that those church officials “who portrayed themselves as victims, discredit the whole Church.”

He described the Curia as a “spaceship … that is in danger of losing contact with the ground.”

Mertes said he had “great respect” for Pope Benedict, who he believed had not shied away from the truth in the abuse affair.

“I hope that amid the criticism, he can recover even more love for the Church,” he said.

But Mertes added that the Pope was subjected to modern criticism and he sometimes acted as if he was being wounded by the world.

“That makes him deaf to the fact that God also speaks to the Church through the secular world,” he said.

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

Italy: Lega Nord Leader Heralds Banking Spoils Surge

(AGI) — Rome, 14 Apr — Answering press questions concerning the prospect of the Lega Nord placing party loyalists inside the board of trustees of northern Italy’s banking foundations, party leader Umberto Bossi today submitted “our people are going to feature at every level inside northern Italy’s biggest banks. It’s what the people are asking us to do and we will do it.” Italy’s foundations are special, publicly funded banking entities.

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

Italy: Third Berlusconi Trial Sought in Milan

Milan, 9 April (AKI) — Milan prosecutors on Friday filed a request for Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to stand trial on tax fraud and embezzlement charges involving his Mediaset media company’s Mediatrade unit. It is the second film rights case involving Berlusconi, who is already being tried for tax fraud and bribery in two separate trials in Milan.

The premier’s eldest son Pier Silvio Berlusconi, who is vice-chairman of Mediaset, its chairman Fedele Confalonieri and nine other people are under investigation for suspected tax fraud.

Prosecutors accused Berlusconi of failing to pay 8 million euros worth of taxes between 2005 and September 2009 and the embezzlement of 25.4 million euros between February and November, 2005.

“We’re not surprised about this. It was inevitable after the closure of the probe,” commented one of Berlusconi’s lawyers, Piero Longo.

Defence lawyers for the 73-year-old billionaire have denied all charges against him.

The Mediatrade charges are not covered by Italy’s statute of limitations.

But Berlusconi’s lawyers are expected to cite a newly passed ‘legitimate impediment’ law allowing him to postpone court hearings for 18 months if he decides his prime ministerial duties prevent him from attending court hearings.

Despite bitter protests from magistrates, judges and the centre-left opposition, the two trials against Berlusconi may now be “timed out” by Italy’s statute of limitations.

Milan prosecutors are expected to take the new law to Italy’s Constitutional Court and the leader of the centre-left opposition Italy of Values party, former prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro has threatened to force a referendum on the issue.

Berlusconi is currently on trial in a related case in which he is charged with tax fraud and false accounting related to Mediaset’s purchase of television rights in the United States.

The trial last month was adjourned until 12 April after no witnesses appeared in court.

In a second trial, he is charged with paying a 600,000 dollar bribe to his British former tax lawyer, David Mills to give false court testimonies during two trials in the mid-1990s.

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

Pope Calls for ‘Penitence’

‘We must recognise what is wrong in our lives,’ Benedict says

(ANSA) — Vatican City, April 15 — Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday called for penitence in the face of attacks on the Catholic Church’s “sins”.

The pope said at a Vatican mass: “Now, under the attacks from the world that speak of our sins, we see that…it is necessary to make penitence, to recognise what is wrong in our lives”.

The pope’s words at the ceremony attended by the Pontifical Biblical Commission appeared set to be seen as his first public apology for the latest string of abuse scandals to hit the Church. The pope made a written apology for clerical sex abuse in an Easter letter to Irish Catholics but has not spoken out publicly about the growing scandals in Ireland, Austria, Netherlands, Norway, Germany and Italy which have shaken trust in the Church.

Vatican officials for weeks accused the media of trying to smear Benedict for allegedly trying to cover up cases while Munich archbishop and as the Vatican’s doctrinal enforcer from 1981 to his election as pope in 2005.

But the Vatican tried to change strategy this week by publishing the tough guidelines that have been in place since 2003 and saying Benedict will henceforth be able to defrock priests directly.

The new stance was thrown into disarray when Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone claimed a link between paedophilia and homosexuality, forcing the Vatican to make a swift ‘clarification” that he was “only talking about abuse within the Church”.

On visits to Australia and the United States in 2008, Benedict voiced regret over abuse and spoke with victims.

He is expected to meet discreetly with victims on a visit to Malta this weekend.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ports: Entrepreneurs Drowning Under Red Tape in Italy

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 14 — Italian ports are drowning under bureaucracy and risk losing competitiveness with other international airports. Raising the alarm in an interview with was Riccardo Martini, the founder of Tra.Ma.Co., a Ravenna-based company working in the maritime transport sector and that of logistical services for fresh products. The Ravenna-based company has requested that a “single counter” be brought in soon, which has already been adopted in other European countries and which consists in concentrating in a single port office the files and checks which are currently carried out by three different bodies: Fitosanitario, Sanità Marittima and Agecontrol. The procedure now consists in getting necessary certificates, then one needs to go from customs through four different steps in different offices which each have different procedures and work hours. “Unfortunately,” stressed Martini, “the road ahead seems long, since it is a matter of unification of competences of three different ministries and putting them all around the same table. It is a vast undertaking, knowing Italy.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Portugal: Aviculture Sector in Crisis

(ANSAmed) — LISBON, APRIL 15 — The Portuguese aviculture sector is suffering from a crisis, say those in the sector themselves — many of whom have had to give up their activities. Despite the fact that Portugal is the EU country with the highest level of bird meat consumption, according to the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE) in Lisbon, the rise in food prices for the animals and new regulations in the sector (which prohibit high concentrations in raising facilities, with greater space obligatory) have led to a full-blown crisis in the production chain. The first signs of alarm — continued the statement — were seen in Caramulo, where most of the domestic production is concentrated. According to data from the Portuguese Agriculture Ministry, Portuguese citizens consume an approximate 30 kilos of chicken meat and 180 eggs each per year. National chicken production is around 230,000 tonnes per year. The sector is concentrated mainly in the Beira Alta and Ribatejo regions (83% of the national production, corresponding to 39% of Portuguese raising facilities). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Portugal: Exports to Brazil Up 10.6% in January

(ANSAmed) — LISBON, APRIL 15 — Portuguese exports to Brazil are rising. In January, Brazil sold 10.6% of its goods to the South American country, for a total value of 23 million euros. However, according to the Italian Trade Commission in Lisbon, Brazilian exports to Portugal were down 3.9%, totaling 38.1 million euros. Portugal’s most exported product in January was olive oil, with a rise in sales of 31% compared to the corresponding period of 2009. Fresh fruit also did well, (with pears accounting for 9% of export), as did salt cod (10% of export), while wine, one of the most widely sold Portuguese products in Brazil, reached just over 3%. As for Brazilian exports to Portugal, the Italian Trade Commission says, there was a huge rise in sugar cane with sales worth 9.8 million euros, a 25.8% share of total export for January (compared to 3.5 million euros, 8.96% of sales, in 2009). In second place came turbojet engine aircraft (6.5% of sales) while soybean oil, with 4.9%, was the third most widely sold product. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Garzon Before Supreme Court on Corruption Charges

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 15 — Audiencia Nacional magistrate Baltazar Garzon has appeared before the Supreme Court in Madrid on charges of alleged fraud, corruption and abuse of position in relation to a series of courses organised between March 2005 and June 2006 at New York University. Witnesses for the prosecution will be appearing in court on April 21. The case, undertaken on a lawsuit brought forward by the lawyers Arturo Panea and José Luis Mazon, alleges that corruption was committed due to Garzon’s alleged acceptance of funds for holding a series of courses during leave from the Audiencia Nacional, sponsored by Banca Santander, and that the prosecution claims to be related to the judge’s subsequent dismissal of a lawsuit against Emilio Botin, president of the financial institute. Garzon’s defence holds that the magistrate neither managed not administered the funds sponsored by the Santander group, nor received any compensation (as confirmed by New York University, which has sent detailed accounting records on the matter). The prosecution had requested dismissal of the lawsuit. Garzon’s appearance as defendant is occurring at a time of high tension over the magistrate’s committal to trial for the alleged crime of abuse of position in the lawsuit over Franco-era crimes. Concerning the latter legal proceedings, which were opened due to a lawsuit by the Spanish Falange and the extreme right-wing association Manos Limpias, Garzon appeared person under investigation on September 9 before the Supreme Court judge Luciano Varela, and risks up to a 20-year disqualification. The third legal proceedings against the magistrate concerns alleged wiretaps of conversations between defendants and their defence lawyers in the Gurtel case, the corruption network for which about a hundred representatives of the People’s Party have been placed under investigation. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Bishop Begs Forgiveness for Catholic Priest Abuse

The Catholic Church in Sweden has confirmed the receipt of two reports of child sexual abuse perpetrated by priests as Bishop Anders Aborelius asked for forgiveness on Tuesday.

The alleged victims, a man and a woman, both contacted the bishop on Tuesday by email to report incidents of child sex abuse that took place decades ago.

The man told media he had not dared say no when he was sexually molested in a Catholic-run foster home in 1943.

“I was forced to masturbate him in his room on the second floor. A foster child doesn’t dare to say no in such a situation,” the man, whose name was not given, told daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

“Afterwards he washed himself with soap. I can still smell it today,” said the man, who was a teenager at the time of the abuse.

“These things have to be brought out into the open keeping in mind everything that took place all over the world for years and years,” he insisted.

The man told DN he had only been abused that one time, but had finally decided to come forward “to make it known that these types of things happened even in Sweden.”

Bishop Arborelius said he welcomed the fact that the reports had come to light and confirmed that he had replied to the two people filing the reports and asked for their forgiveness.

“It is important that the victims dare to step forward with their stories, enabling us to get to the bottom of these terrible crimes once and for all.”

“We know it is incredibly difficult for victims to dare to talk about this but if there are more people who have been exposed to this by priests here in Sweden, I hope and pray that they have the strength to contact me. We can then look into what happened and they can get redress, while the guilty priests — if they are still alive — can receive just punishment for the crimes they have committed,” the bishop wrote in a statement published on Tuesday afternoon.

Arborelius said neither of the two priests involved remained in service, and one was now dead. He confirmed that if the alleged victims so wish then the reports of the incidents will be handed over to the police for investigation.

Only one previous case of child sexual abuse has emerged in Sweden. Three years ago the victim requested, and received, an apology, for abuses perpetrated by a priest 50 years ago.

In a recent interview with news agency TT, Bishop Arborelius refused to ruled out the possibility that further victims would feel the urge to come forward in the wake of similar scandals in other countries.

The embattled Catholic Church has been slammed for doing too little to prevent abuses in a string of countries, with the recent Murphy report commissioned by the Irish government concluding that the church systematically covered up cases of abuse until the mid-1990s.

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

Swedish School Scolded for Prayer Readings

A school in Karesuando in northern Sweden has been criticised by the National Agency for Education (Skolverket) for holding prayer and psalm readings during classes after children from a conservative Lutheran offshoot joined the school.

The agency has criticised the municipal school for breaching requirements to conduct non-confessional teaching after a report from a parent of one of the children at the school.

“It is stressed that all parents should […] be able send their children to school, safe in the knowledge that their children will not be affected unilaterally in favor of one or other particular viewpoint,” the agency wrote in its report.

According to the parent, the situation arose after the closure of Kuttainen school in the summer of 2009. The pupils, many of whom belong to the small conservative Lutheran revival movement Laestadianism, were then moved to Karesuando.

The parent told the agency that the pupils in her child’s class have since been holding half-hour prayer and psalm-reading meetings during class time, and in the company of a teacher. The school has not informed parents of these activities, the woman claims in her report.

Kiruna municipality confirmed that psalm readings and prayer had occurred, varying from daily, to twice weekly, to weekly depending on the class. Karesuando school claims that the activities were part of statutory religious studies education but has agreed to cease the practice.

Swedish education legislation dictates that the various religions are taught equally as part of the curriculum, although Christianity has traditionally taken greater priority over the other world religions.

“Activities in public schools may not be designed so that students are exposed to influences, such as to get them to embrace a particular religious belief. It is therefore important that the school is diligent when it comes to the teaching of subjects where objectivity is of the utmost importance,” the agency writes.

Laestadianism is a conservative Lutheran revival movement which was started in the middle of the 19th century and is named after the Swedish-Sami botanist and preacher Lars Levi Laestadius.

The deeply conservative faith broke into three branches — The Firstborn Laestadianism, Reawakening, and Conservative Laestadianism — in the beginning of the 20th century and is characterised by Pietistic and Moravian influences.

Laestadians are taught to refrain from rhythmic music, hair dye, alcohol, make-up, wearing ties, TV, birth control, and pre-marital sex, and are the largest revival movement in the Nordic countries. In Sweden they are thought to number 10,000 — mostly found in the north of the country around the Torne Valley.

The group has long been a part of the Church of Sweden but have come into conflict in recent years after the church gave its blessing to same-sex marriage.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Ten Thousand Swiss Bank Accounts Under Scrutiny

Turin public prosecutor’s office to receive list of Italian account holders Tax evasion task force visits embassies

ROME — Ten thousand more suspected evaders are in the taxman’s sights. The Turin public prosecutor’s office is due to receive the list of around 10,000 Italian current account holders at the Geneva branch of Britain’s HSBC, which was handed over to French magistrates by a former bank employee. Eric de Montgolfier, the Nice prosecutor general, said yesterday that he had received a letter rogatory from colleagues in Italy, hinting that there would be no difficulty in releasing the list. The document could be in Turin within three weeks and financial police inspections will begin as soon as it arrives.

Suspicions focus on about 1,000 of the names. Many of the accounts with HSBC’s Geneva branch indicated as held by Italians are believed to have been closed but we will have to wait for the results of the inspections. The 1,000 names now join 1,700 that have already emerged from the various lists circulating around Europe. These have already triggered investigations by the financial police. There are 300 on what is known as the “UBS list”, also from Switzerland, 576 on the “Pessina list”, which was found at Chiasso in the car of lawyer Fabrizio Pessina, and 700 individuals and companies registered as domiciled at the San Marino consulate in Rimini.

Also on the trail of major tax evaders is the tax agency, which is sifting through the list of Italian citizens resident in San Marino and the 5,000 or so questionnaires compiled by “high-risk” taxpayers identified by the agency. Investigations will start with lists received through letters rogatory or seized by the Italian authorities. Tax agency sources explain that other lists must be treated with circumspection. For example, it is an offence to use lists that have been stolen. The only body that is able to act in relative freedom in this context is the intelligence service but the problem of how to use information acquired in a less than transparent manner would still obtain. The information, no matter how reliable it is, could not be used in legal proceedings, nor could it be used as evidence in court, but it might trigger further investigations by the authorities. Information could, however, be forwarded as reports to public prosecutor’s offices and could still lead to targeted inspections of taxpayers under suspicion. Tax agency sources point out that “if they are evading tax, they will be winkled out anyway”.

Mario Sensini

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Top Prelate’s Pedophilia-Gay Link ‘One Gaffe Too Many’

Remarks by a top Vatican prelate linking clerical paedophilia to homosexuality deepened the public relations crisis facing the Roman Catholic Church, commentators said Wednesday.

The Belgian daily La Libre Belgique — generally friendly to the Church — called the remarks “one gaffe too many,” adding: “To stigmatize the homosexual community with groundless talking points is not the way to calm the waters between Rome and public opinion.”

Bertone said during a visit to Chile on Monday: “Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated there exists no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have demonstrated… that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia.”

The remarks by the Vatican secretary of state — Pope Benedict XVI’s right-hand man — drew official ire from France on Wednesday. “This is an unacceptable linkage and we condemn this,” said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero. The Church is reeling from runaway pedophile priest scandals in Europe and the United States and allegations that the Church hierarchy worked to cover up for predator priests.

Vatican officials “are in a crisis situation and realise perfectly well that this scandal is very dangerous for the Church,” said analyst Bruno Bartoloni. As a result, “they are a bit panicked and are going too far,” the veteran Vatican watcher said.

An Italian group Tuesday led gay fury over the remarks. “The truth is that Bertone is clumsily trying to shift attention to homosexuality and away from the focus on new crimes against children that emerge every day,” said Aurelio Mancuso, former president of gay rights association Arcigay.

The fallout built further Wednesday, with editorialists and more gay rights groups joining the chorus of condemnation. “This faux pas by the Vatican demonstrates one thing only: great desperation and great impotence,” said a Spanish gay rights group, COLEGAS. A Catholic gay association in Portugal, Novos Rumos, said remarks such as Bertone’s “deepen the gulf between the Church as a community of believers and a certain hierarchy.”

The German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung charged in an editorial: “The Church does not want to accept full responsibility.” Bartoloni said Vatican officials were “piling up the gaffes without realizing their impact.” Several Vatican officials have suggested that the Church is unfairly singled out for paedophilia, noting that it is a widespread social phenomenon.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said last month, for example: “All objective and informed people know that the issue is much wider, and to focus accusations only on the Church leads to a skewed perspective.”

A gaffe that infuriated Jews followed early this month when the pope’s personal preacher, speaking at a Good Friday observance, evoked a parallel between criticism of the Church over its handling of the paedophilia scandals and anti-Semitism.

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

UK: Caravanner, 61, Prosecuted for Having Swiss Army Knife in His Glove Box… To Cut Up Fruit on Picnics

A disabled caravanner who kept a penknife in his glove compartment to use on picnics has blasted the authorities after being dragged through court for possessing an offensive weapon.

Rodney Knowles, 61, walks with the aid of a stick and had used the Swiss Army knife to cut up fruit on picnics with his wife.

Knowles yesterday admitted possessing an offensive weapon at Torquay Magistrates Court. He was given a conditional discharge.

But speaking after the hearing, he said: ‘It’s a stupid law. Now I have a criminal record.’

Prosecutor Philip Sewell told the court that Knowles was stopped by police when he left a pub on February 24.

He was arrested for suspected drink-driving but a breath test showed he was under the legal limit, the court was told.

But Knowles was charged with possession of the knife, which was found in its pouch in the car glove compartment.

Mr Sewell told the court: ‘He told officers that he had the knife for caravanning. He is not working and had no malicious reason for carrying the blade’

Defence solicitor Jolyon Tuck said Knowles, who is a carer for his wife, had used the knife to cut up fruit on picnics with his wife.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: England’s Cricket Bat Industry Under Threat as EU Bans Vital Chemical Used to Treat Willow

The English cricket bat industry is under threat from the EU, suppliers have warned.

A Europe-wide directive banning the use of a vital insecticide, methyl bromide, for treating willow before export could cripple the industry in three months say bosses.

The Essex-based industry, which is worth £3million a year, said the total ban, which came into force last month has left them with no viable alternative.

Geoff Watling, of Anglian Willow Services in Norton Heath, claimed his company was promised that an alternative to methyl bromide would be introduced before the ban, but this has not happened.

He said: ‘They say a form of heat treatment can be used but that actually splits willow, so we are basically left with nothing.

‘In recent years all the willow has had to be exported to India for affordable bats to be made, apart from a small specialist and very residual industry here.

‘Unfortunately the Indian government cannot allow our willow to be imported without a treatment certificate. On that basis I give our industry 12 weeks to survive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Now Single Mother Who Couldn’t Sort Out Childcare Demands £1.1m — Seven Times More Than Army Offered Hero Who Lost Legs

One is a soldier who suffered 37 separate injuries in a landmine blast and was offered a paltry £152,000.

The other is a woman who won a controversial sex discrimination claim over Army childcare and now wants an extraordinary £1.14million in compensation.

Last night there was a storm of protest over the iniquity of the very different handling of their two cases. The amount being demanded by Tilern DeBique is seven times that originally offered to severely-wounded paratrooper Ben Parkinson.

He lost both his legs and suffered severe brain injuries.

The full extent of Miss DeBique’s claim emerged at an employment tribunal — after the single mother successfully argued she was forced to choose between a military career and caring for her four-year-old daughter.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Holy See, Not Accountable for Medical Assessments

(AGI) — Vatican City, 14 Apr. — “Ecclesiastic authorities do not feel accountable for general medical or psychological statements, and refer to specialized studies and research,”says Holy See spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi. This statement was released after the discussions triggered by Vatican Secretary of State, T. Bertone’s declarations from Chile, where he pointed out to a correlation between pedophilia and homosexuality. “It is within the range of ecclesiastic authorities being an abuse, yet statistical data undoubtedly referred to priests’ abuse and not to the community in general.” .

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

Volcanic Ash Disrupts Flights Worldwide

Iceland’s Volcanic Ash Disrupts Air Travel Across Europe

LONDON (AP) ? Ash clouds from Iceland’s spewing volcano disrupted air traffic across Northern Europe on Thursday as authorities closed British and Nordic air space, shut down Europe’s busiest airport at Heathrow and canceled hundreds of flights.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said non-emergency flights would be banned until at least 6 p.m. (1700 GMT, 1 p.m. EDT). Irish authorities also closed their air space for eight hours.

London Heathrow, Europe’s business airport, handles upwards of 1,200 flights and 180,000 passengers per day. The closure also affected London’s second- and third-largest airports, Gatwick and Stansted. It was not immediately clear when flights would resume.

With the major trans-Atlantic hub at Heathrow closed, dozens of flights to the United States were on hold, and cancelations spread across the continent to major hubs at Brussels, Amsterdam, Geneva and Paris, where flights heading north were canceled until midnight.

In Iceland, hundreds of people have fled rising floodwaters since the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier erupted Wednesday for the second time in less than a month. As water gushed down the mountainside, rivers rose up to 10 feet (3 meters) by Wednesday night.

The ash cloud has not disrupted operations at Iceland’s Keflavik airport or caused problems in the capital of Reykjavik, but has affected the southeastern part of the island, said meteorologist Thorsteinn Jonsson. In one area, visibility was reduced to 150 yards (meters) this morning, he said, and farmers were advised to keep livestock indoors to protect them from eating ash particles as sharp as glass.

The volcano was sending up smoke and ash that posed “a significant safety threat to aircraft,” Britain’s National Air Traffic Service said, as visibility is compromised and debris can get sucked into airplane engines.

Emirates airline canceled 10 roundtrip flights between Dubai and Britain on Thursday because of the ash cloud.

“I think I might cry,” said Ann Cochrane, 58, of Toronto, one of the passengers stranded in Glasgow. “I just wish I was on a beach in Mexico.”

In northern Sweden all air traffic was suspended, affecting the cities of Skelleftea, Lulea, Kiruna and Hemavan, the national aviation authority said.

Air traffic in northern Finland was also halted.

Norway’s King Harald V and Queen Sonja — who had planned to fly Thursday to Copenhagen for the Danish queen’s 70th birthday — were looking to take a “car, boat or train.” A canceled trans-Atlantic flight left Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg grounded in New York.

The U.S. Geological Survey said about 100 encounters of aircraft with volcanic ash were documented from 1983 to 2000; in some cases engines shut down briefly after sucking in volcanic debris, but there have been no fatal incidents.

In 1989, a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 747 flew into an ash cloud from Alaska’s Redoubt volcano and lost all power, dropping from 25,000 feet to 12,000 feet (7,500 meters to 3,600) before the crew could get the engines restarted. The plane landed safely.

In another incident in the 1980s, a British Airways 747 flew into a dust cloud and the grit sandblasted the windscreen. The pilot had to look out a side window to land safely.

Volcanic ash is formed from explosive eruptions. Particles as hard as a knife blade range in size from as small as 0.001 millimeters (1/25,000 inch) to 2 millimeters (1/12 inch), the Geological Survey says.

Ash can melt in the heat of an aircraft engine and then solidify again, disrupting the mechanics, the agency says.

[Return to headlines]


Croatian Teenager Wakes From Coma Speaking Fluent German

A 13-year-old Croatian girl who fell into a coma woke up speaking fluent German.

The girl, from the southern town of Knin, had only just started studying German at school and had been reading German books and watching German TV to become better, but was by no means fluent, according to her parents.

Since waking up from her 24 hour coma however, she has been unable to speak Croatian, but is able to communicate perfectly in German.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Karadzic ‘A Victim of International Conspiracy’

Belgrade, 14 April (AKI) — The brother of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, on trial for charges of genocide and war crimes, says he is an innocent victim of an international conspiracy. Luka Karadzic, Radovan’s younger brother, told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an exclusive interview that his brother had simply defended his own people against Muslim domination.

“He’s a victim of an international conspiracy and there isn’t one single document that could prove his guilt,” Karadzic (photo) told AKI.

“There is nothing that Radovan, our family or the Serbian people have to be ashamed of in the war. We just defended ourselves to avoid a repetition of the genocide committed against Serbs in World War II.”

However, Luka Karadzic later acknowledged that crimes had been committed at Srebrenica, the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

“Yes, crimes have been committed, but there was no genocide, nor genocidal intentions,” Luka Karadzic said.

Radovan Karadzic has rejected 11 charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during the 1992-95 Bosnian war and is conducting his own defence before the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

Luka Karadzic said at the very outset of the war, in which about 100,000 people were killed, that his brother issued clear orders that international conventions be strictly respected in relation to the conduct of the war.

“We have the documents to prove it, while The Hague tribunal has nothing and is relying on false witnesses to put the blame on my brother and the entire Serbian people for the war which was imposed on us,” Karadzic said.

Luka Karadzic was asked why Radovan Karadzic spent 13 years as a fugitive living under the assumed name of Dragan Dabic before he was arrested in Belgrade in 2008 if he was innocent.

“Because it was clear from the very beginning that the Hague tribunal was a political instrument, devised to try and convict only Serbs, not a court of law,” Luka Karadzic said.

“If it were truly a court of law, he would have nothing to fear and would have turned himself in without hesitation.”

Fifty-nine year-old Luka Karadzic is a stocky man who bears little resemblance to his older brother. He operates a small restaurant and butcher shop in the centre of Belgrade.

A father of three, Luka has not been to see his brother in The Hague but speaks to him daily by telephone. Radovan’s wife and children visited him during Easter and said he was in good spirits.

Luka Karadzic played no active role himself in military operations during the war, but firmly shares his brother’s convictions.

“Radovan is not defending himself, but the Serbian people from false accusations,” he said.

He recalled Karadzic’s opening defence statement before the war crimes tribunal in The Hague in March when he gave his interpretation of the genesis of the Bosnian war, blaming it on Muslim leaders and the international community.

“Whoever listened carefully to his statement, knows what the truth is, but I’m afraid the tribunal is not interested in the truth,” Luka Karadzic said.

“Radovan has already been sentenced by the western media and the tribunal’s task is just to confirm it.”

“With some honourable exceptions, the western media are following the instructions of their political leaders who broke up Yugoslavia, caused the war and reserved the role of culprits for Serbs alone,” he said.

On Tuesday the first of 410 prosecution witnesses, Ahmet Zulic faced Karadzic in the war crimes tribunal in The Hague.

A Bosnian Muslim, he said his father-in-law had been burned alive by Serbian forces and testified that prisoners were beaten, tortured and killed in the Manjaca detention camp, operated by Bosnian Serb forces in northwest Bosnia.

Zulic has testified in three other cases, including the trial of former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, who died of a heart attack in 2006 before his trial concluded.

“What kind of a court it is in which one man testifies in four different cases,” Karadzic asks.

“Besides, the court allows evidence from other cases to be used against my brother, as verified facts.”

Karadzic criticised the Hague tribunal for inconsistency in acquitting Bosnian Muslim commander Naser Oric and a wartime leader of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo, Ramus Haradinaj, who was accused of crimes against Serbs.

Oric was charged with “chain of command responsibility” for killing over 3,000 Serbs in the Srebrenica area, before the July 1995 massacre of up to 8,000 Muslims by Serb forces.

But the tribunal ruled Oric could not have known what his forces were doing in the field.

“And how could Radovan have known what his forces were doing, when he spent most of his time travelling, negotiating and attending conferences with Muslim and Croat leaders and international officials,” Luka Karadzic said.

He said Muslims, Serbs and Croats suffered similar casualties in the Bosnian war in proportion to the population.

“How come only Muslims are being portrayed as ‘sacrificial lambs’ and the Serbs as culprits and aggressors?” Karadzic said.

“Crimes have been committed on all sides and the culprits should be individually punished. But in The Hague we have seen only Serbs being handed drastic sentences,” Karadzic said.

“Radovan’s only goal is to tell the truth for the sake of history and future generations. Of course, history is primarily for historians, but perhaps some politicians will ask themselves what place it reserved for them.”

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

Serbia-Slovenia: JAT Launches Belgrade-Portoroz Flight

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, APRIL 15 — The Serbian national airline Jat Airways in cooperation with the Tourist Organization Portoroz launched the regular air line between Belgrade and the coastal municipality of Portoroz, Slovenia, by the Thursday promotion flight, reports Tanjug news agency. The Jat Airways aircrafts will transport passengers to the Slovenian cost and back every Thursday and Sunday, and the lowest price of the return ticket will be EUR59 no tax included, Jat stated. The first flight to Portoroz was taken by representatives of Belgrade media and a few public figures, while the Jat news that are aired on a daily basis on several Serbian TV and radio stations will be broadcasted directly from Portoroz for two days.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya-USA: Today Gaddafi to Speak 24 Years After US Attack

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, APRIL 15 — Today, 24 years after America’s missile attack on Libya, Libyan leader Muhammar Gaddafi will deliver a public speech in his birth city Sirte, in the presence of press and diplomatic representatives. The speech will regard “relations between the Libyan and American people and Arab-American ties”, as announced by the local Information Authority. On April 14 1986, the night before the Libyan missile attack on Lampedusa, the United States of America carried out three air raids on Libya, hitting the country’s capital, Tripoli, and six more targets. Gaddafi’s residence was destroyed in the attack. The colonel escaped unharmed, but one of his adopted daughters, Hanna Gaddafi, and tens of civilians lost their lives. In December 2009 Libya resumed full diplomatic relations with the US, with the accreditation of the first US ambassador in the past 30 years, Gene Cretz, and the opening of a new consular section. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A Shocking Secret in Plain Sight: U.S. Policy Sabotages U.S. Policy

by Barry Rubin

We depend on your tax-free contributions. To make one, please send a check to: American Friends of IDC 116 East 16th Street 11th Floor New York, NY 10003. The check should be made out to IDC and on the lower left you write: For GLORIA Center.

U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the UN Alejandro Wolff made a fairly good speech in the Security Council. But it contained the following remarkable section:

“The Palestinian Authority is, in effect, a lifeline to more than half a million people in Gaza, making sure that PA salaries are paid and social welfare payments are made on time. The PA plans to devote roughly half of its $3.9 billion budget to Gaza in 2010.”

Now it isn’t my job to correct factual mistakes made by U.S. government officials in their speeches. Is half the money the Palestinian Authority (PA) spends, which largely comes from Western donors, going to Gaza where-whatever humanitarian intentions exist-it shores up the Hamas regime? No, that would be around $2 billion. The correct figure in total PA aid for the last year is $500 million.

Still, doing this is the equivalent of sending massive economic assistance to the Taliban government in Afghanistan on the rationale that it is helping poor Afghans. And that this were done while the Taliban was making possible the September 11 attacks on the United States. Essentially, the United States and Europe are (indirectly) subsidizing an Iranian client state.

Oh yes, and it also means that in per capita terms the Hamas domain is one of the largest recipients of Western aid on a per capita basis in the world. Even when corrected to a half-billion dollars that means that Gaza Strip residents get more Western aid per capita than Israel. Israel’s aid all comes from the United States. Most of the money is tied to buying weapons from U.S. companies. In comparison, the money going into Gaza has no strings attached. Of course, it goes to individuals but bolsters the local economy and a lot of it ends up in the pockets of Hamas and its institutions…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Barack Hussein Obama vs. Israel

A full six months before Barack Hussein Obama’s Cairo speech, I reported on an interview I had with a high ranking member of the intelligence community who stated that the Obama administration would turn against Israel. That retiring member of the intelligence community laid it all out during our interview, stating that not only would the Obama administration abandon Israel, but the U.S., at the direction of Obama, would turn against the very nation with which we have long shared the core values of western democracy.

Judging from the extremely high number of e-mails I received about this article, only a very small percentage actually believed my intelligence source. Interestingly, the majority of those e-mails that described the intelligence as hyperbolic if not outright false were from self-described Jews living in America. Perhaps those who questioned the authenticity of my source and veracity of his message will reassess their position in light of Barack Hussein Obama’s latest remarks referenced yesterday in The New York Times article titled Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gaza: 2 Shot for Having Collaborated With Israel

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, APRIL 15 — The two Palestinians executed today had been accused of collaborating with Israel. According to Palestinian sources, the two were Mohammed Ismail and Nasser Abu Farej, who were both shot before a firing squad. Eight other Palestinians condemned to death for the same reason are now awaiting execution. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama Speech Signals a U.S. Shift on Middle East

WASHINGTON — It was just a phrase at the end of President Obama’s news conference on Tuesday, but it was a stark reminder of a far-reaching shift in how the United States views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how aggressively it might push for a peace agreement.

When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.

This shift, described by administration officials who did not want to be quoted by name when discussing internal discussions, is driving the White House’s urgency to help broker a Middle East peace deal. It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.

Mr. Obama said conflicts like the one in the Middle East ended up “costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure” — drawing an explicit link between the Israeli-Palestinian strife and the safety of American soldiers as they battle Islamic extremism and terrorism in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Mr. Obama’s words reverberated through diplomatic circles in large part because they echoed those of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the military commander overseeing America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent Congressional testimony, the general said that the lack of progress in the Middle East created a hostile environment for the United States. He has denied reports that he was suggesting that soldiers were being put in harm’s way by American support for Israel.

But the impasse in negotiations “does create an environment,” he said Tuesday in a speech in Washington. “It does contribute, if you will, to the overall environment within which we operate.”

The glimmers of daylight between United States and Israeli interests began during President George W.. Bush’s administration, when the United States became mired in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Three years ago, Condoleezza Rice, then secretary of state, declared during a speech in Jerusalem that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians was a “strategic interest” of the United States. In comments that drew little notice at the time, she said, “The prolonged experience of deprivation and humiliation can radicalize even normal people.”

But President Bush shied away from challenging Israeli governments.

The Obama administration’s new thinking, and the tougher policies toward Israel that could flow from it, has alarmed American Jewish leaders accustomed to the Bush administration’s steadfast support. They are not used to seeing issues like Jewish housing in the West Bank or East Jerusalem linked, even by implication, to the security of American soldiers. Some fret that it raises questions about the centrality of the American alliance with Israel, which the administration flatly denies.

“In the past, the problem of who drinks out of whose well in Nablus has not been a strategic interest of the United States,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former United States ambassador to Israel and the vice president and the director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. He said there was an interest now because of the tens of thousands of troops fighting Islamist insurgencies abroad at the same time that the United States was trying to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Will resolving the Palestinian issue solve everything?” Mr. Indyk said.. “No. But will it help us get there? Yes.”

The administration’s immediate priority, officials said, is jump-starting indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians. There is still a vigorous debate inside the administration about what to do if such talks were to go nowhere, which experts said is the likeliest result, given the history of such negotiations. Some officials, like Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, advocate putting forward an American peace plan, while others, like the longtime Middle East peace negotiator Dennis B. Ross, who now works in the National Security Council, favor a more incremental approach.

Last week, National Security Council officials met with outside Middle East experts to discuss the Arab Israeli conflict. Two weeks before, General Jones and Mr. Obama met with several national security advisers from previous administrations and discussed putting forward an American proposal, even though it would put pressure on both Israel and the Palestinians.

Several officials point out that Mr. Obama has now seized control of Middle East policy himself, particularly since the controversy several weeks ago when Israeli authorities announced new Jewish housing units in Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Obama, incensed by that snub, has given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a list of demands, and relations between the United States and Israel have fallen into a chilly standoff.

“The president is re-evaluating the tactics his administration is employing toward Israel and the entire Middle East,” said Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman who resigned in January to lead the Center for Middle East Peace, a Washington-based nonprofit institution that is working for a peace agreement.

“I don’t think that anybody believes American lives are endangered or materially affected by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said Mr. Wexler, who has close ties to administration officials. “That’s an oversimplification. However, you’d have to have blinders on not to recognize that there are issues in one arena that affect other arenas.”

For their part, administration officials insist that their support for Israel is unwavering. They point to intensive cooperation between the American and Israeli militaries, which they say has allowed Israel to retain a military edge over its neighbors.

The sense of urgency in Washington comes just as many Israelis have become disillusioned with the whole idea of resolving the conflict. Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition government has long been skeptical about the benefits of a peace deal with the Palestinians. But skepticism has taken root in the Israeli public as well, particularly after Israel saw little benefit from its traumatic withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.

Among American Jewish groups, there is less skepticism than alarm about the administration’s new direction. On Tuesday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful pro-Israel lobbying group, publicized letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, signed by 76 senators and 333 House members, that implored the administration to defuse tensions.

In an open letter to Mr. Obama from the World Jewish Congress, the organization’s president, Ronald S. Lauder, asked, “Why does the thrust of this administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks?”

Mr. Lauder, who said the letter was scheduled to be published Thursday as an advertisement in The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, said he discussed the letter with Mr. Netanyahu and received his support before taking out the ad.

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]

WJC President Urges Obama to Change Stance on Israel

In an open letter to US President Barack Obama, Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), today writes that Jews around the world are concerned about “the dramatic deterioration of diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel” in recent months. Lauder emphasizes that Israel has made unprecedented concessions, including the most far-reaching settlement moratorium in its history, and declared its support for a two-state solution. The WJC president asks: “Why does the thrust of this Administration’s Middle East rhetoric seem to blame Israel for the lack of movement on peace talks? After all, it is the Palestinians, not Israel, who refuse to negotiate.”

Lauder also queries President Obama on America’s wider strategy for the Middle East: “The Administration’s desire to improve relations with the Muslim world is well known. But is friction with Israel part of this new strategy? Is it assumed worsening relations with Israel can improve relations with Muslims? History is clear on the matter: appeasement does not work. It can achieve the opposite of what is intended.”

He asks: “What is the Administration’s position on Israel’s borders in any final status agreement? Ambiguity on this matter has provoked a wave of rumors and anxiety. Can it be true that America is no longer committed to a final status agreement that provides defensible borders for Israel? Is a new course being charted that would leave Israel with the indefensible borders that invited invasion prior to 1967?”

In his letter, Ronald S. Lauder also urges the US president to stay focused on Iran, which he calls “the single biggest threat that confronts the world today.” Lauder goes on to write: “Israel is not only America’s closest ally in the Middle East, it is the one most committed to this Administration’s declared aim of ensuring Iran does not get nuclear weapons.” Ending his letter, the WJC president stresses: “Our great country and the tiny State of Israel have long shared the core values of western democracy. It is a bond much treasured by the Jewish people…It is time to end our public feud with Israel and to confront the real challenges that we face together.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Crisis With Israel on the Way… Through the Sea Lines

The popularity of the Turkish series in the Middle East is not a myth. After having spent four years in Paris, my sister settled in Beirut. One day she got a knock on her door. It was her Arab-Christian neighbor.

“I keep hearing about börek in Turkish series. Neighbors tell each other ‘come over I have a warm börek.’ What is this börek?” she asked my sister. A very able cook, my sister made the börek, a Turkish pastry, and offered it to her neighbor. They immediately replied by insisting to take her to their village.

Unable to exchange a few words with her neighbors in Paris, Lebanon was like therapy for my sister. I am not that surprised. I had heard from some Turkish diplomats how living in Damascus healed their soul after living in Germany, or how Tunisia was like heaven compared to Austria.

The warm welcome Turkish diplomats receive from Arab societies cannot obviously be compared to the general feeling toward Turks prevailing in European public opinion.

Prime Minister Recep Tayip Erdogan has dealt a heavy blow to the negative image part of the Turkish society has on Arab nations. The revolt of the Arabs, who joined the ranks of the British and the French against the Ottomans during World War One, has left a deep mark in the Turkish society. Arabs have “betrayed us” and “have stabbed us in the back.”

I always thought this was a double standard from our part. While it is ok for Turkey to fight its own war of “liberation,” against the occupying forces of Britain and France, the same is not valid when it comes to Arabs who were uprising against a foreign occupier. The fact that they were tricked by the Western powers and at the end of the day, they ended up being colonies of them while seeking independence, does not justify our lack of confidence in the Arabs. It was their mistake; too bad for them. At any rate, not all Arabs revolted against the Ottomans. Some Arab tribes sided with the Ottomans.

It is obvious that the prime minister’s approach to Arab nations is not identical to some judgments that are dominant among certain Turks. Yet I find his statement, “Arabs and Turks are like the finger of one hand,” for the inauguration of TRT’s broadcasting in Arabic exaggerated.

I always felt that there is a kind of “love and hate” feeling in the Arabs view of Turks. Some Arabs will proudly say one of their distant relative is Turk. Yet another would complain about the oppression of the Ottomans when they can put aside their political correctness

No one can deny the cultural affinity between Turks and Arabs coming from history geography and religion. Yet it is questionable if we are like the finger of the same hand. In fact when it comes to democracy, pluralism, women rights culture of doing business, we have got more in common with the Jewish state. There is also cultural affinity between Turkish and Jewish nation. Israeli nation do like the Turks and the fact that Turkey has been the first Muslim nation to recognize the state of Israel has no doubt played a role in Israeli people’s sympathy towards the Turks. It is not just from people to people. It is from state to state. Turkey had a very privileged relationship with the Israel. Unfortunately, Turkey’s special relationship with Israel is being eroded.

Turkey does not have to ignore Israel’s mistaken policies. It does not have to remain silent. It can fiercely criticize Israel. Yet joining hands with Arab countries to target Israel, will dealt a serious blow to Turkey’s relationship with Israel. The fact that Israel’s prime minister cancelled his attendance to the Washington summit after learning that Turkey, Egypt and a number of countries will challenge Israel’s nuclear policies can be seen as a success at first sight. Yet the government’s latest move eroded further Turkey’s uniqueness in the Middle East. What really makes Turkey unique and a real player in the region is the fact that it is seen as a trustable, unbiased actor. This is becoming no longer valid and it has now become impossible for the government to assume their beloved mission of mediation.

Now, an even worse problem is looming. There are only few in Israel who believe Turkey is genuine in its criticism. Most of the opinion leaders believe turkey has entered electoral process and anti — Israeli rhetoric has now become so routine that some are not even taken seriously.

Yet rhetoric is one thing, action is another. The fact that a humanitarian aid organization that is known to be close to the government will send a cargo ship to Gaza, which is under Israeli naval blockade, is an open invitation to crisis. Letting this ship sail to Gaza, without a prior understanding with Israel will make Turkey’s policies more and more questionable. Is the aim really to help Palestinians or is it to challenge Israel to get more votes.

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

Iran: Four Hanged, Thief’s Hand and Leg Amputated

Rome, 14 April (AKI) — Three convicted sex offenders were hanged in public in the northern Iranian city of Babolsar on Wednesday, the state run Iranian news agency Fars reported. A convicted robber had his hand and leg amputated and his accomplice was hanged in the southwest city of Mahsharhr on Tuesday, according to unnamed sources quoted by the Iran Human Rights website.

Seventeen people have been hanged in Iran over the past week. Six of these executions have been carried out in public.

The charges for which the men were tried and convicted have not been confirmed by independent legal sources, according to Iran Human Rights.

Three of the public hangings took place in southwest Khuzestan province, where three other people were hanged in public in the city of Ahvaz (capital of the province) in March.

“ Public hanging is a barbaric act and a crime against the victim as well as the public,” said Iran Human Rights spokesman Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam.

“By these acts, the Iranian authorities want to spread fear among the people.

“We are expecting an increasing number of executions as we get closer to the anniversary of the June uprising,” he said.

He was referring to the bloody unrest in Iran last year after the disputed re-election of hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which the opposition claims was rigged.

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

Israel: Syria Gave Missiles to Hezbollah

Israeli officials say that Syria has delivered accurate long-distance Scud missiles to the Lebanese group Hezbollah, placing cities deep in Israel’s heartland, including Tel Aviv, within range.

The officials added that the delivery of the missiles — strongly denied by Syria and yet to be confirmed by sources outside of Israel — would change the strategic balance in the area and increase the risk of war.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy-Turkey: Minister Kavaf Challenged at Meeting on Women

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 15 — Selma Aliye Kavaf, Turkish Minister for Women and Family Affairs, has today been spoken out against in public by a few people in the audience immediately after having begun her speech at a conference held in a well-known hotel in Ankara, organised by the Italian embassy in Turkey and the Italian Institute of Culture, reported an ANSA correspondent present. Kavaf, already at the centre of recent polemics over her controversial statements on Turkish values and morals, is being targeted by local organisations for homosexual rights after her statement on March 8 that “homosexuals are sick and must be treated”. This morning, following the opening remarks by Italian Equal Rights Minister Maria Rosaria Carfagna, Kavaf went on stage and about a dozen young people — both males and females — in the audience immediately raised placards with such writings as “Apologise to the families of homosexuals or resign”, “The system is sick, not us, and you are its latest spokesperson: resign” and “Hatred kills, resign”. Thereafter, a number of rowdy youths began to yell and were taken out of the room by security guards while Kavaf, imperturbable, went on with her speech. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Frattini Praises Palestinian Aid Commissioner

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 15 — Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini received yesterday Filippo Grandi, General Commissioner of the UN agency (UNRWA) providing assistance to the over four million Palestinian refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Reports were from Foreign Ministry sources. Frattini praised the general commissioner for UNRWA efforts to provide support and improve the living conditions for millions of Palestinian refugees in various host countries, and encouraged him to direct the agency’s efforts for the promotion of regional stability. Frattini and Grandi exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East and especially the Gaza Strip. The head of Italian diplomacy reiterated that Italy, in line with budget considerations, will continue to reserve priority status for UNRWA as part of state funding for cooperation aid. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jordan: 37.2 Mln for Samra Plant From Saudi Fund

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 15 — The loan for which Jordan and the Saudi Development Fund (SDF) have signed a convention for the completion of an extension for the Samra power plant totals 37.2 million euros. The loan, announced the site, will be granted at a fixed rate of 2% and a 5-year grace period, with repayment over 15 years. The extension of the power plant includes the installation of two natural gas-fed units, each with a 142-MW capacity, for a total cost of 132.3 million euros. Econostrum noted that the works would create 1,000 jobs. According to the Jordan Minister of Finance, Mohammad Abou Hammour, between 1978 and 2010 the SDF granted at least 18 loans to the Hashemite kingdom to fund development projects, for a total value of about 254.3 million euros. According to sources quoted by the daily Jordan Times, concluded Econostrum, the Kuwaiti Fund for Arab Economic Development may lend Jordan about 11.7 millon euros to cover the entire cost of the project. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World

by Jeffrey Herf

Yale University Press, 2009, 352 pages

The impact of National Socialism in the Middle East used to appear brief and superficial. Unlike with Communism, whose local parties and outside influence through the Soviet bloc lasted over many decades, the Nazis’ moment lasted about six years, 1939-45, and they had little regional presence beyond Rommel’s armies in North Africa and a fleeting pro-Nazi regime in Iraq.

But two powerful, important books have set the record straight. Djihad und Judenhass (2002) by Matthias Küntzel, translated into English in 2007 as Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11, shows the continuing influence of Nazi ideas on Islamists. Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World by Jeffrey Herf focuses on an earlier time, the 1930s-40s, and the major effort by Hitler and his minions to transmit their ideas to the Middle East. After reading Küntzel and Herf, I realize that my education about the modern Middle East was lacking a vital ingredient, the Nazi one.

A specialist in modern German history at the University of Maryland, Herf brings a new corpus of information to light: summary accounts of Nazi shortwave radio broadcasts in the Arabic language that were generated over three years by the U.S. embassy in Cairo. This cache reveals fully, for the first time, what Berlin told the Arabs (and to a lesser extent, the Iranians). As page after page of Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World establishes in mind-numbing but necessary detail, the Germans above all pursued two themes: stopping Zionism and promoting Islamism. Each deserves close consideration.

Nazi propaganda in Arabic portrayed World War II, history’s largest and most destructive war, as focused primarily on the sliver of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. This interpretation both flattered Arabs and extended Hitler’s grand theory that Jews wanted to take over the Arab countries and eventually the whole world, that the Allied powers were but pawns in this Zionist conspiracy, and that Germany was leading the resistance to them.

Palestine was the key, according to these broadcasts. If Zionists took it over, they would “control the three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Thus they will be able to rule the whole world and spread Jewish capitalism.” Such an eventuality would lead to Arabs oppressed and Islam defunct. “Should Bolshevism and Democracy be victorious,” announced Nazi radio, “the Arabs will be dominated forever and all traces of Islam will be wiped out.” To avoid this fate, Arabs had to join with the Axis.

As the war progressed, Berlin’s incitement became ever more furious. “You must kill the Jews before they open fire on you. Kill the Jews” went a July 1942 broadcast. Herf notes the bitter irony: “At this moment of complete Jewish powerlessness, the Arabic broadcasts from Berlin skillfully adapted the general Nazi propaganda line about Jewish domination of the anti-Hitler coalition to a radical Arab and Islamic view.”

At the same time, the Nazi regime developed an approach to Muslims that largely ignored the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Mein Kampf, and other European sources in favor of selected passages from the Koran.

Hitler’s propagandists assured Muslims, first, that Axis countries “respect the Koran, sanctify the mosques, and glorify the prophet of Islam.” It cited the respectful work of German Orientalists as an important sign of goodwill. Second, it argued for what Heinrich Himmler called the “shared goals and shared ideals” of Islam and National Socialism. These included monotheism, piety, obedience, discipline, self-sacrifice, courage, honor, generosity, community, unity, anti-capitalism, and a celebration of labor and warfare.

In addition, Muslims were told that they and the Nazis were purportedly both fighting a “great struggle for freedom” against the British, the most important colonial power in the Middle East. The regime drew a parallel between Muhammad and Hitler and presented the umma as roughly analogous to its own notion of a totalitarian Volksgemeinschaft (“people’s community”).

Nazis portrayed Islam as an ally and, accordingly, called for its revival while urging Muslims to act piously and emulate Muhammad. Radio Berlin in Arabic went so far as to declare “Allahu akbar! Glory to the Arabs, Glory to Islam.” The Germans held that Muslims who were not righteous enough (i.e., not following the Nazi ideological model) were causing the umma to languish: “Muslims, you are now backward because you have not shown God the proper piety and do not fear him.” And not just backward, but also “invaded by merciless tyrants.” Specifically for Shi’ites, the Nazis hinted at Hitler being the awaited Twelfth Imam or the Muslim eschatological figure of Jesus, who will fight the anti-Christ (namely, the Jews) and bring on the end of days.

The Nazis noted the parallel between sayings from the Koran (Sura 5:82, “You will meet no greater enemy of the believers than the Jews”) and the words of Hitler (“By resisting the Jews everywhere, I am fighting for the Lord’s work”) and turned the Koran into an anti-Semitic tract whose primary purpose was to call for eternal hatred of Jews. They even falsely claimed that Muhammad ordered Muslims to fight the Jews “until they are extinct.”

In the Nazi telling, Jewish-Muslim enmity dated back to the 7th century. “Since the days of Mohamed, the Jews have been hostile to Islam” went one broadcast. “Every Moslem knows that Jewish animosity to the Arabs dates back to the dawn of Islam” declared another. “Enmity has always existed between Arab and Jew since ancient times” insisted a third. The Nazis built on this premise to establish the basis for a Final Solution in the Middle East, instructing Arabs to “make every effort possible so that not a single Jew … remains in Arab countries.”

Herf emphasizes the remarkable symbiosis of German and Middle Eastern elements: “As a result of their shared passions and interests, they produced texts and broadcasts that each group could not have produced on its own.” Specifically, Arabs learned “the finer points of anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking,” while Nazis learned the value of focusing on Palestine. He describes the coming together of Nazi and Islamic themes in Berlin as “one of the most important cultural exchanges of the twentieth century.”

Having detailed Nazi propaganda in Arabic, Herf then traces its impact. He begins by documenting the great energy and expense devoted to these messages—the quality of the personnel devoted to it, their high-level Nazi patronage, the thousands of hours of radio transmissions, and the millions of pamphlets.

He then rounds up assessments of the Axis impact, all pointing to its success. Allied estimates from 1942, for example, found that “the people were saturated with Axis talk,” that “upwards of three-fourths of the Moslem world are in favor of the Axis” and that “90% of the Egyptians, including their government, believe that the Jews are mainly responsible for shortages and high prices of essentials.” A report from 1944 found that “practically all Arabs who have radios … listen to Berlin.”

Allied reluctance to contradict Nazi propaganda also points to Axis success. Fearful of alienating Middle Easterners, the Allies stayed humiliatingly silent about the genocide taking place against the Jews; failed to refute allegations about Jews dominating London, Washington, and Moscow; did not dispute the distorted Koranic interpretations; and shied away from endorsing Zionism. Merely to dispute Nazi accusations, the Allies worried, would only confirm Nazi claims about Britain, America, and Russia being stooges of Jewish power. An internal U.S. directive in late 1942 acknowledged that “the subject of Zionist aspirations cannot be mentioned, inasmuch as … [this] would jeopardize our strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Thus, when two leading U.S. senators, Robert Taft of Ohio and Robert Wagner of New York, proposed a resolution in 1944 endorsing a Jewish national home in Palestine, Berlin radio in Arabic called this an attempt “to erase Islamic civilization” and “to eradicate the Koran.” Panicked, the entire weight of the Executive Branch came down on the senators, who felt compelled to withdraw their resolution. Clearly, Nazi offerings resonated deeply in the Middle East.

They continued to do well after the Nazi collapse and the war’s conclusion. The defeat of Nazi General Erwin Rommel’s aggressive push into North Africa meant that Nazi ambitions in the Middle East, in particular the Final Solution to annihilate its million or so Jews, were never implemented. But years of hate from radio and pamphlets and the repetitive, grotesque, ambitious, anti-Semitic, and Islam-based message detailed by Herf had taken root. Not only did the Middle East’s Nazis emerge nearly invulnerable to prosecution, but they also prospered and were feted. An example: in 1946, Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brethren, lavished praise on Hitler’s favorite Arab, Haj Amin el-Husseini, calling him “a hero … a miracle of a man.” Banna added for good measure: “Germany and Hitler are gone, but Amin el-Husseini will continue the struggle.” Acknowledging el-Husseini’s exalted status, a British officer in 1948 described him as “the one hero in the Arab world.”

Ideas the Nazis spread in the Middle East have had an enduring twofold legacy. First, as in Europe, they built on existing prejudices against Jews to transform that prejudice into something far more paranoid, aggressive, and murderous. One U.S. intelligence report from 1944 estimated that anti-Jewish materials constituted fully half of German propaganda directed to the Middle East. The Nazis saw virtually all developments in the region through the Jewish prism and exported this obsession.

The fruits of this effort are seen not only in decades of furious Muslim anti-Zionism, personified by Arafat and Ahmadinejad, but also in the persecution of ancient Jewish communities in countries like Egypt and Iraq, which have now shriveled to near-extinction, plus the employment of Nazis such as Johann van Leers and Aloïs Brunner in important government positions. Thus did the Nazi legacy oppress Jewry in the Middle East post-1945.

Second, Islamism took on a Nazi quality. As someone who has criticized the term Islamofascism on the grounds that it gratuitously conflates two distinct phenomena, I have to report that Herf’s evidence now leads me to acknowledge deep fascist influences on Islamism. This includes the Islamist hatred of democracy and liberalism and its contempt for multiple political parties, preference for unity over division, cult of youth and militarism, authoritarian moralism, cultural repression, and illiberal economics.

Beyond specifics, that influence extends to what Herf calls an “ability to introduce a radical message in ways that resonated with, yet deepened and radicalized, already existing sentiments.” Although a scholar of Europe by training, Herf’s detective work in the U.S. archives has opened a new vista on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Islamism, as well as made a landmark contribution more broadly to an understanding of the modern Middle East.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Violence Against Women: Collaboration Italy-Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 15 — As of today Italy and Turkey are allies in the fight for equal rights and against violence against women. This is the result of the conference on “Equal opportunities and equality of the sexes. Experiences in Italy and Turkey” which was held today in Ankara. The event was organised by the Italian embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute. Italian Minister for Equal Opportunities Mara Carfagna, her Turkish counterpart, State Minister in charge of women and family Selma Aliye Kavaf, Italian ambassador to Ankara Carlo Marsili and several Italian and Turkish experts participated in the conference. “Very positive” said Minister Carfagna about the results of the conference, because, as she told ANSA, “as I have said various times, I believe that the fight to stop violence against women and the battle for equality of the sexes must be fought on global level through the cohesion of young people and agreements between the Ministers in charge of the issue. For that reason I wanted to organise the international conference to stop violence against women last September in Rome, under Italian G8 presidency, and for that reason I was pleased to accept the invitation of Turkish Minister, Mrs Kavaf, to participate in this initiative. I have given my activities a more international dimension because I believe it is crucial to listen to the experiences of other countries to learn how to improve and to fill the gaps in our country. But, most of all, to fight this battle together to improve the position of women worldwide”. “Italy and Turkey”, added Minister Carfagna, “have been friends for a long time, but have never cooperated in this field until today. I hope it will help us defeat the sad and dramatic phenomenon of violence against women in all its forms, to increase the number of women in politics, particularly on a high level, to have more women working and to give them a more leading role in our society”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


World Council of Churches: The KGB Connection

During the 1970’s and 1980’s the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC), to which hundreds of Protestant and Orthodox communions belonged, routinely espoused pro-Soviet and anti-Western stances. It even funded Marxist guerrilla groups. Critics assumed that the WCC was simply naively captive to Liberation Theology, which tried to exchange salvation for class warfare and revolution.

But a new book by a Bulgarian author reveals that the KGB and its Bulgarian intelligence affiliate exploited the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for direct influence on the WCC and the Conference of European Churches. In “Between Faith and Compromise,” Bulgarian historian Momchil Metodiev chronicles how the Soviets and their Bulgarian proxies employed the Bulgarian Orthodox and WCC to promote Soviet strategic goals globally.

“Participation of the Bulgarian church in ecumenical organizations was not inspired by the idea of interdenominational dialogue and co-operation,” Metodiev reported amid his book’s release this month. “If, in popular perceptions, state security is classified as a state within the state, then the ecumenical activity [conducted by Soviet bloc representatives] could be classified as a church within the Church,” wrote Metodiev, who has researched Bulgarian communist archives for the Cold War International History Project of the Woodrow Wilson Institute in Washington, D.C.

According to Metodiev, Bulgarian intelligence had already identified the WCC as an “object of penetration” even before the Bulgarian and other East Bloc churches joined the WCC in 1961. He also explains in his book how East bloc intelligence services and communist committees on church affairs collaborated to influence ecumenical groups like the WCC. Metodiev writes that during the 1970’s, Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Nikodim of Leningrad, at the KGB’s behest, led this collaboration, while Bulgarian Metropolitan Pankratii of Stara Zagora did his part in Bulgaria. Nikodim, who unsurprisingly worked closely with the Soviet-front, Prague-based Christian Peace Conference, became a WCC president in 1975 after browbeating Third World delegates with threats of a Soviet-aid cut-off to their countries if they did not cooperate.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Aid Workers ‘Cut Off’

But foreign ministry says Strada’s claims unhelpful

(ANSA) — Milan, April 15 — Three Italian aid workers arrested in Afghanistan Saturday have been cut off from the outside world, the head of their charity said Thursday.

Gino Strada, head of the war-zone medical NGO Emergency, said the three had not even been able to speak to their lawyers.

“They are, effectively, desaparecidos,” he said, “even though no one has yet laid formal charges against them”.

The three — surgeon Marco Garatti, 40, nurse Matteo Dell’Aira, 30, and logistical technician Matteo Pagani Bonaiuti, 28 — were moved to Kabul Thursday from the war-torn southern Helmand province.

They are suspected of involvement in a plot to assassinate provincial governor Goulab Mangal.

The three were detained after explosives were found in Emergency’s hospital in Helmand capital Lashkar Gah.

Strada said no one had seen the three since Sunday noon when Italy’s ambassador to Kabul, Claudio Glaentzer, found them in good health but “emotionally drained”.

The Italian government has urged Kabul to clear up the case swiftly, saying everything possible is being done for the aid workers, while Emergency has organised a rally in support of the three in Rome Saturday.

Emergency’s hospital closed because of the incident.

Strada claims the explosives were planted to force the NGO out because of its reporting of the civilian toll in Helmand, the scene of fierce fighting since the launch of a huge NATO offensive in February.

Ministry Criticises Strada

The Italian foreign ministry on Thursday criticised Strada for his claims, saying they were not helpful.

“Remarks like those attributed to Gino Strada are to be avoided in the interests of our co-nationals,” the ministry said, confirming that the three would be visited in Kabul Friday by Italian Ambassador Claudio Glaentzer and Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Attilio Massimo Iannucci.

The ministry said the Italian government was continuing its “intense” work on the case, backed by the United Nations, the European Union and Italy’s partners in the NATO-led ISAF mission, to ensure that the three workers’ rights are “fully guaranteed”.

But in Kabul, Emergency executive Rossella Miccio upheld Strada’s assertion that the three had been denied access to a lawyer.

“We are not calling into question the right of the Afghan government and police to investigate but we ask that our staff’s rights be respected,” she said, stressing that access to legal assistance was guaranteed by the Afghan Constitution.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Afghan Woman Murdered as She Leaves Work

An 18-year-old Afghan woman was murdered in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as she left work Tuesday. The woman, whose first name was Hossai, worked at Development Alternatives, Inc., a United States-based development consulting company. Though the Taliban have not taken responsibility for her death, the Associated Press reports that Taliban extremists particularly target women who work for foreign organizations or attend school in Kandahar.

The current violence comes at the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Sitara Achakzai, a Kandahar provincial council member and women’s rights activist, who was murdered by gunmen outside her home. Taliban claimed responsibility for Achakzai’s death.

In Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, violence against schools that educate girls has also been part of campaigns against the education of women. In Pakistan’s Swat Valley, more than 130 primarily all girl schools have been destroyed, allegedly by the Taliban. In total, hundreds of schools have been destroyed in Pakistan’s northwest region over the past several years. During the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, which lasted until 2001, Afghan girls were forbidden to attend school. To date, more than 1,000 girls’ or co-educational schools have been bombed or burned in Afghanistan.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Aid Workers Moved to Kabul

Afghanistan has ‘debt’ with Italy, defence minister says

(ANSA) — Rome, April 15 — Three Italian aid workers accused of involvement in a plot to kill a southern Afghan governor were moved to Kabul Thursday, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan told the foreign ministry here.

The envoy, Attilio Massimo Iannucci, said he and the Italian ambassador to Kabul, Claudio Gaentzer, would be able to visit the three members of the medical charity Emergency on Friday.

Iannucci will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai later Thursday to deliver a message from Frattini and a letter from Premier Silvio Berlusconi voicing dissatisfaction with the way the case has been handled.

Reporting to the House Wednesday, Frattini said Italy wanted “urgent and concrete” details of the case.

“Premier Berlusconi and I made it clear to Afghan authorities that as a friendly nation Italy expects all rights to be respected, including that of presumed innocence,” he said.

According to Frattini, Italy “has the right to answers, above all in regard to determining the truth” and will move according to two basic principles; “safeguarding our co-nationals and helping a nation to which we are linked through friendship and are trying to help stabilise”.

“We have proposed the creation of a joint Italo-Afghan panel to ascertain the facts and this proposal has been accepted by the Afghan foreign ministry,” Frattini told MPs.

The three members of war-zone medical NGO Emergency were arrested Saturday after bombs were found in their hospital in Helmand province, the scene of fierce fighting since NATO launched a massive offensive against the Taliban in February. Afghan authorities say the three and six Afghans at the hospital were part of a plot to blow up Helmand Governor Goulab Mangal.

In his report to the House, Frattini confirmed that the three stand accused of weapons possession and of drawing up a “two-phase” plan which involved “inviting the Helmand governor to the hospital, where a suicide bomber would have killed him”.

According to the foreign minister, the three — surgeon Marco Garatti, 40, nurse Matteo Dell’Aira, 30, and logistical technician Matteo Pagani Bonaiuti, 28 — were “in good condition albeit emotionally drained” when Ambassador Glaentzer visited them on Sunday. Frattini added that one of the three “could be released soon, if no other evidence surfaces” and five other Emergency staff at the Lashkar Gah hospital, who have already been moved to Kabul, “may soon be able to leave Afghanistan.

In his appearance before the House, Frattini denied press report that British forces took part in the raid on the Lashkar Gah hospital.

Emergency chief Gino Strada claims the three were framed to stop the NGO revealing the scale of the civilian toll in the Afghan war.

He also argues that Emergency is unwelcome because it treats the Taliban, a claim Western sources have denied.

On Friday Strada told Italian radio that the way his men had been treated showed that “Italy counts for nothing in Afghanistan”.

But Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said that Italy expected “respect” because Afghanistan was “indebted” to it.

He noted that Italy had asked for the probe to be sped up and an Italian embassy delegate to be able to visit the three every day.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Guttenberg Boosts Firepower in Afghanistan

Defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg used a surprise trip to Afghanistan Wednesday to announce he was stepping up the firepower of the German troops in the wake of the Good Friday ambush that claimed the lives of three soldiers.

Visiting troops at their headquarters in northern Afghanistan, Guttenberg said he would have two Panzerhaubitze 2000 armoured vehicles, which fire heavy artillery, sent to the German troops “as soon as possible.”

On his snap visit, Guttenberg also called on the German public to remember the sacrifices of their soldiers and sought to assure troops on the ground their political leaders were behind them.

“To me, it’s important to make clear to soldiers on the ground that the political leadership stands behind them,” Guttenberg said.

It was also vital to highlight the importance of the Afghanistan mission to the German public and ensure “we don’t forget soldiers on the ground, but rather give them support,” he added.

Guttenberg’s visit came as Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected a call by opposition Social Democrats leader Sigmar Gabriel for a new parliamentary mandate reflecting the fact the government had finally started referring to the Afghan campaign as a “war.”

Through spokeswoman Sabine Heimbach, Merkel said the existing mandate approved by the lower house of parliament, or Bundestag, provided the “right basis” for the presence of German troops. After the bloodshed of Good Friday, when three German soldiers were killed by Taliban insurgents during an ambush, Guttenberg broke a political taboo by finally calling the situation a “war.”

During a memorial service for the fallen soldiers Merkel herself subsequently said: “Many call the mission in Afghanistan a war. And I understand that well.”

Guttenberg also joined Merkel in rejecting Gabriel’s call for a new mandate.

“The mandate is geared to reality. The leadership of the SPD knows that,” he said.

Backing for the Afghanistan war has deteriorated since Good Friday. In a poll published Wednesday by Stern magazine, 62 percent of respondents supported a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. This was the highest proportion calling for a pull-out since the Forsa polling firm began asking the question.

In September last year, after the controversial Kunduz airstrike on two hijacked petrol tankers that killed dozens of civilians, 55 percent of respondents wanted a withdrawal. In September 2005, when the situation was relatively calm for German troops, just 43 percent called for a withdrawal.

On his visit to the Bundeswehr’s headquarters in northern Afghanistan, which for security reasons was not announced, Guttenberg said he wanted to learn about conditions on the ground and see how the troops’ equipment could be improved.

“One has to learn about that on the ground,” he said.

The Good Friday ambush had sparked a heated debate about the equipping of German troops. Guttenberg previously said it was something that needed to be constantly monitored, though he rejected a proposal by incoming parliamentary commissioner for the Bundeswehr Hellmut Königshaus that troops specifically need “Leopard 2” vehicles.

At a memorial remembering the Good Friday attack, Guttenberg unveiled a plaque bearing the names of the three fallen soldiers and thanked the troops for their efforts.

“We rely on your power and your strength,” he said.

Guttenberg also said he had no problem with a US plan to send up to 4,500 extra ISAF soldiers to the northern region for which Germany has operational responsibility.

“We are in an alliance, and it is altogether normal that in an alliance different partners take responsibility … We are pleased that we have the Americans on our side,” he said.

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

Indonesia: Bogor: Islamic Extremists Stronger Than the Supreme Court, Protestant Church Closed

Two judgments of the Administrative Court of Bandung and the Supreme Court had ruled that the place of worship had necessary construction permits. The authorities ordered the closure, because of fundamentalist protests. From January 10 Protestant churches and one Catholic have halted celebrations.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The authorities of the regency of Bogor, West Java, have imposed a blockade on religious services — with no advance notice — on the faithful of the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI). A member of the community, also known by the nickname Yasmin Church, said the decision “was taken by the [district] head of Bogor. However, the closure of the place of Christian worship violates two recent judgments of the Administrative Court of Bandung (PTUN) and the Indonesian Supreme Court.

On 10 April Bogor authorities ordered the closure of the church, accepting the claims of Muslim extremists and pro-Islamic parties. To justify the measure, the “complaint” of a fringe fundamentalist that speaks of fraud in collecting signatures needed to obtain a building permit. An escalation of protests by the Islamic extremist wing, the leaders of the administration have sealed the building.

The decision of authorities in Bogor regency, however, not only violates the religious freedom of Christians. It, in fact, ignores two recent judgments of the Administrative Court of Bandung (PTUN) and the Indonesian Supreme Court. The two bodies of Justice, addressed the faithful of the GKI, have determined that the petition was made according to law in July 2006, the church obtained by lawful means the IMB and the faithful have the right to use it.

The process for building a church in Indonesia — Catholic or Protestant — as for all buildings is regulated by the Izin Mendirikan Bangunan (IMB), a sort of written resolution of the local authorities that allows the opening of a construction. The story gets more complicated if it is a place of Christian worship: besides taking years, it must be cleared by at least 60 local residents in the area where the building is to be constructed and the local Group for interfaith dialogue. Even with permission, often the construction is stopped, and the permit is revoked under pressure from the Islamic fundamentalist wing of the local governments, an expression of religious fanaticism.

The decision of authorities in Bogor regency, however, not only violates the religious freedom of Christians. It, in fact, ignores two recent judgments of the Administrative Court of Bandung (PTUN) and the Indonesian Supreme Court. The two bodies of Justice, addressing the concerns of the faithful of the GKI, determined that the petition was made according to law, in July 2006, the church obtained by lawful means the IMB and the faithful have the right to use it.

From January 10 last at least 10 Protestant and one Catholic church were forced to halt services because of protests by Islamic extremists. The last case occurred on the occasion of Good Friday, in the sub-district Parung when a mob blocked the rites of the vigil. The faithful had to move to three different places, finally coming together in a “restaurant” to pray in safety.

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

Far East

China to Send Iran Gasoline

As UN mulls sanctions, Beijing fills void left by European firms.

A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.

Beijing has growing commercial and political ties with Iran and has resisted US pressure for sanctions to press Teheran to abandon its nuclear program. Chinese officials say the country is entitled to energy trade.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

African Aviation Ministers Agree to Body Scanners

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 15 — African Aviation Ministers have approved the use of body scanners and other technology in airports on the continent, after a meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja called by the Organisation of International Civil Aviation (OICA). According to African Manager, ministers recommended that states “implemented the procedures, mechanisms and cooperation strategies, in order to strengthen the ability to evaluate risks and threats to the safety of civil aviation and to counter them”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Immigration: America in a World of Hurt in 2010

Let’s us examine a man on the forefront of the immigration crisis facing the United States of America. His seminal work at and continues as the single most compelling catalyst for discussion on what America faces in the 21st century.

“In 1975, Dr. John Tanton’s essay entitled “International Migration” placed third in the Mitchell Prize competition. The award was given during the “Limits to Growth Conference” in Woodlands, Texas. The conference was sponsored by the Club of Rome, the University of Houston and Mitchell Energy & Development Corporation. The paper became the cover story for The Ecologist in July 1976. It planted the seed from which immigration reform germinated. While Tanton’s subsequent writings reveal a deeper insight, none is more prescient or pivotal,” said John Rohe, publisher.

While most Americans docilely accept 1.2 million legal immigrants into the USA annually, they don’t quite understand the long term ramifications facing their progeny as water, energy and resources exhaust themselves from sheer over-use and over-extension.

That same 1.2 million annual immigration pattern added 100 million in the past 40 years. Continuing that mass immigration guarantees an added 100 million people to the USA by 2035. For all U.S. citizens, it portends a crisis-filled future, i.e., water shortages, energy, accelerating pollution, species extinction, quality of life and many other issues.

“The spatial distribution of human populations is importantly related to such phenomena as urban areas insufficiently dense for mass transit and loss of prime agricultural land to development,” Tanton said. “Conspicuous by its absence from the environmental literature, however, is the role of international migration plays in the demographic and other problems facing mankind.”


In 2010, a brilliantly inept U.S. Congress, led by myopic Senator Harry Reid and indolent House Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi expect to ram an immigration amnesty that will not only allow 20 to 30 million illegal alien migrants instant citizenship, but they also expect to continue ‘chain migration’ and double legal immigration from its current 1.2 million to 2.4 million per year. That action will add 100 million people to the USA within 30 years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: 170 Illegals Arrived in 2010 (-96%)

(ANSAmed) — ROME, APRIL 14 — 170 illegal immigrants arrived in Italy between January 1 and April 4 this year, compared to 4,573 during the same period of 2009; a fall of over 96%. The figure was announced by the Interior Minister Roberto Maroni during a Schengen Committee meeting. For the most part, Maroni explained, “they were found already on national soil, having arrived in boats and fishing vessels. The overwhelming majority left not from Libya, but from Tunisia and other countries”. The Minister again criticised Europe, who he says is not doing enough to support the efforts of the countries, like Italy, that are most exposed to the movements of illegal immigrants arriving from Africa. “The EU has not accepted the subdivision of responsibilities regarding asylum seekers,” Maroni said. “Effectively they are saying, ‘they arrive in Italy, so you must deal with them’. But if the Union is really such a thing, it is only right that all members take a bit of the weight of the issue, not just the border countries”. “After our agreement with Libya,” he continued, “there was a change in the routes. Now streams head east towards Greece and West towards Spain. This resolves the problem for Italy, but not for Europe”. Maroni also said that he hoped for a strengthening of Frontex, the European border agency. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: One Third of Deportations Fail

Around one third of the 5,500 planned deportations of failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants failed last year, the NRC reported on Thursday, quoting monitoring committee figures.

In around half of cases, the asylum seeker made a new, last-minute request to be allowed to stay, the committee said. Government plans to reduce the right of appeal agreed in 2008 have not yet been put into practice, the paper says.

Around 20% of deportations fail because of procedural errors by officials in charge of the service, such as failing to inform the border police or failing to get the deportee to the airport on time.

And a further 25% of cases collapse because the would-be refugee does not have the proper paperwork, the paper says.

Violent resistance led to 200 deportations being delayed.

Justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin told MPs that this year officials are to experiment with fitting violent deportees with a special mask which stops them biting and spitting.

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

Swedish Population to Top 10 Million in 2021

Sweden’s population increased by 84,000 people in 2009 and is set to grow by 600,000 over the next ten years, passing the 10 million mark in 2021, according to a new forecast from Statistics Sweden (SCB).

The Swedish population has been boosted by record levels of immigration since 2006 and 2010 is expected to be another record year, with 103,000 immigrants making Sweden their home.

The birthrate remained high despite the economic crisis with the fertility rate for 2010 estimated at 1.97 children per woman, the highest level since 1993. Sweden has long shown a strong correlation between childbearing and the economic cycle as the parental insurance system tracks income.

115,000 children per annum are forecast to be added to the population in the coming few years, up slightly on the 112,000 new citizens arriving in 2009, according to the SCB report.

The trend of a rise in life expectancy is set to continue with women expected to live 3.5 years longer in 2060, to 86.9 years, in comparison with 83.4 in 2010. Men are expected to live slightly more than five years longer in 2060, from 79.5 years in 2010 to 84.7 years then.

Sweden’s population passed the nine million mark in 2004 and is expected to top 10 million in 2021.

The number of elderly people (over 65s) is forecast to increase by 362,000 by 2021, the number of those of working age (20-64) by 151,000 and young people (aged 0-19) by slightly more than 96,000.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: Up to 3,400 NHS Workers Are Unmasked as Illegal Immigrants

Up to 3,400 hospital workers employed by one of the country’s largest medical contractors are illegal immigrants, an official inquiry suggests.

Eight per cent of the cleaners, security guards and cooks supplied to the NHS by ISS Mediclean had no right to be here, the UK Border Agency discovered.

Immigration officers audited five NHS contracts with the company after it was revealed last November that a number of illegal immigrants were being exploited at Kingston Hospital in Surrey.

The investigation involving a snapshot of 1,500 staff in the south-east of England found that 8 per cent were illegal imigrants.

However, ISS is the health service’s largest supplier of support services and employs more than 43,000 people at dozens of NHS and private hospitals around Britain.

The audit results, obtained by Channel 4 News, suggest that as many as 3,400 of those could be illegal immigrants.

The findings raise further questions about the scale of the illegal immigrant workforce in the UK.

The London School of Economics reports that anywhere between 400,000 and 600,000 illegal immigrants may be working in the country — mostly in small businesses which escape official regulation such as takeaways and corner shops.

Hundreds of companies have faced fines of thousands of pounds for failing to check properly that staff are here legally.

But ISS Mediclean has escaped censure — because the UK Border Agency accepted its claim of due diligence.

This means the company has carried out all the required checks such as passports and National Insurance numbers.

ISS Mediclean told Channel 4 News: ‘We have been working with the UKBA to define best practice in avoiding the hiring of workers without the required genuine paperwork.

‘We have looked at a number of areas and enhanced our processes accordingly and have made recommendations on how to further improve cooperation with UKBA, at local and regional levels.’

The company said the real fault lay with UKBA, which it claimed did little to ensure illegal workers are expelled.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: ‘This just proves that there is nowhere near enough enforcement on employers who are exploiting illegal immigrants.

‘Only 114 employees have been prosecuted and convicted since 1997, which is a bad joke. If public confidence is to be restored, we need to get tough on businesses employing illegal immigrants.’

Conservative home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling pointed out that it had recently emerged that 2,500 illegal immigrants were working in government security — and one even guarded the Prime Minister’s car.

‘The Government hasn’t got to grips with this at all,’ he said.

Immigration minister Phil Woollas said accusations that Labour wasn’t doing enough to tackle immigration were ‘a load of tosh’ — and claimed 64,000 people were being deported every year.

Last week, the attorney general’s former housekeeper, Loloahi Tapui, was found guilty of fraud after staying in the country four years after her visa ran out.

She was on the books of ISS until the end of 2007 — but her student visa ran out two years earlier. It means she was illegally working for the company for two years.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]


Climate Bureaucracies Are the Choice Because They Perpetuate Problems

The power behind Obama doesn’t care if he is a one term President. He would prefer it otherwise and an interesting battle looms as the Democratic Party rejects the incumbent African American President. Total government control is a far more important agenda than any individual political career. Many think it’s good that Obama is showing his left wing agenda too quickly and too openly. They argue it will arouse reaction and this will cause a dramatic shift to the right in the November elections and beyond. It will, but it doesn’t matter. While the pundits are distracted by political battles, Obama and the gang are bypassing elected officials and thereby the people by putting all the power in bureaucracies. They will guarantee the agenda and prevent any future politicians rescinding or reversing the major pattern.


Maurice Strong knew what he was doing when he bypassed politics to achieve his goal of causing the collapse of the industrialized nations. He knew bureaucracies were the answer because they remain as politicians’ come and go. Within the bureaucracies of the United Nations he had the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that gave direct access to the climate bureaucracies of every nation. It was these people who controlled the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) supporting and promoting those scientists such as the ones from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) who provided the science required for the objective.


Who then determines the appropriateness of the behavior and ethics of James Hansen, Phil Jones or Rajendra Pauchari? The answer is nobody and that is the advantage of bureaucracies. They are not accountable to anyone and if they get in trouble it’s easy to set up whitewash investigations. Individuals, including Obama, will come and go but the totally unaccountable bureaucracy will persist. They will mindlessly pursue and expand the agenda they were ostensibly established to resolve: they are the cancer of the body politic.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What Drives Islam to be the Religion of War

“He it is who has sent His Messenger (Mohammed) with guidance and the religion of truth (Islam) to make it victorious over all religions even though the infidels may resist.” Koran 61:9

Why is Islam constantly a source of war, violence and discord?

The problem, simply enough, is theological because to its followers the validity of Islam is directly connected to its physical supremacy. As followers of the purported “final revelation” to mankind, Muslims not only have the obligation to conquer and subjugate the rest of the world, their religion is only meaningful to the extent that they can carry on the work begun by Mohammed. Since Islam derives meaning primarily from physical supremacy, war becomes an act of faith

To believe in Islam, is to have faith that it must and will conquer and subjugate the entire world. And to be a true Muslim, one must feel called to aid in that global conquest, whether it is by providing money and resources to the Jihadists or to be a Jihadist yourself. Because Islam is expressed in physical supremacy, violence against non-Muslims become the essence of religion. And anything that suggests Islam is not absolutely superior touches on Islamic insecurities as blasphemy.

When Muslims explode into outbursts of violent rage over seemingly petty things like a cartoon or a teddy bear named Mohammed, it is because to them, any loss of face for Islam is the worst kind of blasphemy. Because Islam is a religion of physical supremacy, and anything that challenges that supremacy is a direct attack on their beliefs. What the Ten Commandments are for the Jew, or the resurrection of Jesus for the Christian—is the physical dominance of Islam to the Muslim. It is the basis and fulfillment of his faith.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]