Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100507

Financial Crisis
»Audit the Fed Push Strengthened by Second Front in Senate
»BCE: Trichet: Portugal is Not Greece, Just See Figures
»De Gucht Not Worried by Plummeting Euro
»Dubai World Said to Stop Paying Interest on Loans
»Greece: The Figures of the Plan
»Greece: Credit Agricole, 3.4 Bln Euros Exposure
»Greece Today — USA Tomorrow — Under Obama
»Italy Has ‘Reasonable Distance’ From Greek Effect
»Markets Have “Pushed Greece Down the Stairs”
»Spain: Economy Growing Again After 21-Month Crisis
»The “Real” Unemployment Rate Jumps to 17.1%
»The Euro the Insolvent Are Expected to Bail Out the Bankrupt
»Yields on Dutch Treasury Bonds at Record Low
»Arizona to Shut Off Highway Speed Cameras
»Elaph Columnist: Most Muslims in the U.S. Harbor Hostility Towards it and Feel No Loyalty to it
»Feds Seize $143m Worth of Bogus Networking Gear
»Gen. Petraeus: Times Square Bomber Acted Alone
»Newark N.J. Mayor and Police Chief Cut Crime
»Obama Already Insulted Pro-American UK Conservative Cameron- Called Him a “Lightweight”
»Suspect Cites Radical Imam’s Writings
»Tim Burns and the Pennsylvania “Clingers”
»Largest Beaver Dam Seen From Space
Europe and the EU
»Belgian Parliament to Hold Elections in June
»Britain’s First Female Muslim MPs Elected
»Election 2010: Brown Hanging on as Salmond Says SNP Will Work With New Labour Government — But Not Cameron’s Conservatives
»Greece: Obama Supports Plan, It Will Take Time
»Italy: Koran Does Not Exclude Jews and Christians, Siddiqui
»Italy: Tens of Mln in Damage, Eyes on Po River
»Italy: Council Rejects Censure of Pope Over Sex Scandal
»Italy: Banks Are ‘Robust’ Compared to Others
»Leuthard Brings Up Child Abuse With Pope
»‘Massive’ Ash Cloud Closing Western Irish Airports
»Sweden: Police Launch Q&A Game to Solve Ethical Dilemmas
»UK: Brutal Revenge: In a High-Security British Jail, A Serbian Warlord Has His Throat Slashed by Three Muslim Inmates
»UK: Bungling Council Orders 20 Dead People to Court for Not Paying Council Tax
»UK: English Defence League Protestors Appear Before Dudley Magistrates
»UK: Hilton, Letwin, Boles: Into My Office Now!
»UK: How Was a 14-Year-Old Schoolboy Allowed to Vote in the General Election?
»UK: Into the Murk
»UK: Leading Conservative Claims Muslim Politicians Lack ‘Principles’
»UK: Library Forced to Hire Doormen to Stop Staff Being Threatened
»UK: No Balls Moment — But Some Truly Awful People Are Out
»UK: Race Thugs Attack Sons of UK’s First Asian Bishop
»UK: Schools Urged to Axe Homework Because it ‘Pollutes’ Family Life, Says Leading Children’s Author
»UK: The People Who Advised the Tories Over the Last Five Years Should be Shot
»UK: What a Success — MPACUK Defeats Top Zionist Dismore
North Africa
»Morocco: Festival, Islamic Party Calls for Ban of Elton John
Israel and the Palestinians
»Conflict With Palestinians Only Link Brandeis Protesters Have to Israel.
»Israel Prepares for the Possibility of a Summer War With Lebanon
»The Futility of Seeking Peace With the Palestinians
»Time to Plan for War
Middle East
»Lebanon: Israel Will Start War if it Finds Nasrallah, Press
»Saudi Arabia: King Opens to Women, Clerics Divided
»Vatican: Pope Discusses Christian ‘Needs’ With Kuwaiti Emir
»Turkey: Russia to Sign Visa Removal Agreement
»Blast Kills 1, Wounds 5 in Russia’s Caucasus
South Asia
»Pakistan: Taliban and Al-Qaeda ‘Morphed’ Into One Group
Far East
»Dallas Panelist Paints China as Cyber Victim, But Critics Say Evidence Shows Otherwise
»Japan — United States: Tokyo Makes U-Turn on US Base in Okinawa
Australia — Pacific
»Burqa Ban is “Un-Australian” Say Muslims
»For Australia’s Sake, We Need to Ban the Burqa
»N.Y. Creates Pardon Panel for Deportable Immigrants
»Revenge Flick That Centers on an Assassination Plot Against an Anti-Immigration U.S. Senator
»UK: Muslim Group’s “Vicious Abuse” of Candidates
Culture Wars
»Planned Parenthood Thinks Moms Want More Abortions for Mother’s Day
»Culture: How the West Took Leave of Its Senses
»Fast Breaking Caveman News

Financial Crisis

Audit the Fed Push Strengthened by Second Front in Senate

The push to audit the Federal Reserve was given a fresh injection yesterday with the introduction of another bipartisan amendment to the Wall Street reform bill in the Senate that would force the central bank to reveal where $2 trillion in public bailout money was spent.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) noted that the Fed’s continued secrecy regarding its emergency lending programs, even in the face of federal court rulings, had motivated them to introduce the measure.

“The Fed refuses to disclose this information to the American people so we are taking Congressional action to determine how the Fed has used these trillions of dollars,” Dorgan said in a joint press release.

“The Fed has gone beyond was was viewed as its historical authority in the last two and a half years without any transparency or accountability,” Grassley said. “Our amendment changes that by making the Fed’s emergency loan authority subject the light of day.”

[Return to headlines]

BCE: Trichet: Portugal is Not Greece, Just See Figures

(ANSAmed) — LISBON, MAY 6 — “Greece and Portugal are not in the same boat, the facts and figures show as much. Portugal is one of the 15 other economies from the Euro zone” that is not suffering from Greece’s problems. The President of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, said as much, adding that “obviously we expect that all country’s make the required adjustments” on the public funds plan.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

De Gucht Not Worried by Plummeting Euro

Thu 06/05/2010 — 11:40 The European Trade Commissioner, the Fleming Karel De Gucht, has said in an interview with the German daily ‘Süddeutsche Zeitung’ that the fall in the value of the Euro against the Dollar doesn’t give him great cause for concern. The value of the European single currency has fallen in recent days as a result of the crisis in Greece.

Mr De Gucht told the paper that “In normal circumstances we would all be most satisfied with the current rate of exchange.”

“The fall is good for Europe’s exports.”

“A rate of exchange of between 1.50 and 1.60 Dollars per Euro is not good for trade in Europe.”

The Flemish liberal believes that the economic problems in Greece could have far more serious consequences than a fall in the value of the Euro against the Dollar.

Mr De Gucht says that everything possible must be done to prevent what he describes as “a revolutionary climate” being allowed to develop in Greece.

The EU Trade Commissioners points to Wednesday’s tragic events in Athens when three bank clerks were burned alive after demonstrators petrol bombed the bank in which they were working.

The Euro opened at a new low point against the Dollar on Thursday morning.

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

Dubai World Said to Stop Paying Interest on Loans

May 6 (Bloomberg) — Dubai World won’t pay interest on outstanding loans starting this month as the state-owned holding company waits for lenders to agree to the $14.2 billion debt restructuring proposal, two bankers familiar with the plan said.

Interest accrued on the loans as of May 1 will be added to the new rolled-over securities offered to creditors, the bankers said, declining to be identified because the negotiations are yet to be completed. Creditors of Nakheel PJSC, Dubai World’s real-estate unit, will continue to be paid interest, according to a letter by law firm Allen & Overy to Nakheel creditors.

A separate coordination committee of Nakheel’s creditors has also been set up to negotiate with the property company, the letter from the law firm says. A group of seven banks including Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, HSBC Holdings Plc and Standard Chartered PLC, is currently negotiating the debt deal with Dubai World on behalf of more than 90 lenders.

Dubai World, one of the emirate’s three main state-owned holding companies, and Nakheel are seeking to renegotiate terms on a combined $24.8 of debt after the global credit crunch battered Dubai’s real-estate market and left the emirate’s companies unable to raise loans to repay older debt. Dubai World asked its creditors on March 25 to roll over debt into two new five- and eight-year loans.

A spokesman for Dubai World declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Dubai’s Department of Finance, which has committed $9.5 billion to help the restructuring, said discussions with creditors continued to progress constructively and the department would not comment on the negotiations. An official at Allen & Overy was not able to comment immediately.


“I think the negotiations are getting tougher,” John Tofarides, a Dubai-based analyst at Moody’s Investors Service said today. Banks will have to book provisions on the loans if interest is not paid for three months though a restructuring deal “will probably be reached in the next three months,” he said.

Abu Dhabi’s government lent Dubai $5 billion on Dec. 14 to enable Dubai World to pay $4.1 billion to settle an Islamic bond of Nakheel. The remaining money was to be used to pay interest and working capital until April 30 if banks agreed to the restructuring, Dubai’s government said that day.

Nakheel may repay a 3.6-billion-dirham ($980 million) Islamic bond due May 13 even if Dubai World doesn’t reach an accord with creditors, a government spokeswoman said last week. The floating-rate sukuk closed unchanged at 96.98 fils to the dirham yesterday, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Interest Rate

Dubai World’s creditors are being offered below-market interest rates on rolled-over loans, while Nakheel’s creditors will be paid interest tied to market rates, according to the proposal. The different terms for the two reflect differences in their level of security, legal positions of each creditor class, a person close to the Dubai government said March 29.

Dubai World has offered to pay its creditors 1 percent interest on rolled-over loans, a banker familiar with the plan said April 15. It will pay an additional 1 percent interest upon the maturity of the loans, another banker said April 29. Banks are asking for different rates on dirham and dollar loans rather than the uniform 1 percent on all loans, the banker said.

Some banks are reluctant to accept the 1 percent rate presented on March 25 as it is lower than the market rate of about 5 percent and would force creditors to book impairment provisions. An interest rate of 2 percent to 2.5 percent on the new loans would mean writing down the value of the loan by 20 percent to 25 percent, said Murad Ansari, a Riyadh-based analyst at EFG-Hermes April 22.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Greece: The Figures of the Plan

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 6 — The 3-year aid plan to Greece totals 110 billion euros, of which around two third (80 billion) paid by the EU and one third by the IMF. Ten billion will be allocated to a stabilisation fund for Greek banks. In 2010 45 billion euros will be paid in three tranches, of which 30 in bilateral loans from the euro countries (at a 5% interest rate) and 15 billion from the IMF (at a maximum rate of 3.26%). The first tranche, scheduled mid-May, reportedly totals at least 8.5 billion euros. The aid is supplied under the condition that the European Commission, ECB and IMF will verify the implementation of the Greek austerity plan once per quarter. The 16 eurozone countries each give a contribution that is proportional to their participation in ECB capital. The 2010 contributions per country: GERMANY. 8.4 billion euros. With a population of 81.7 million, the aid will cost each inhabitant around 103 euros. FRANCE. 6.3 billion euros and a population of 65.4 million, therefore 92 euros per capita. ITALY. 5.5 billion. For the 60 million Italians, rescuing Greece means spending up to 92 euros per person. SPAIN. 3.7 billion, or 80 euros per head for the country’s 46.08 million citizens. NETHERLANDS. 1.8 billion paid by 16.5 million inhabitants, 109 euros p.p. BELGIUM. 1.1 billion euros on a population of around 10 million, which makes 110 euros per person. The other countries in the eurozone pay less than one billion euros. Austria pays 870 million, Portugal 780, Finland 560, Ireland 490, Slovakia 310, Slovenia 140, Luxemburg 75, Cyprus 55 and Malta 25.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Credit Agricole, 3.4 Bln Euros Exposure

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 7 — The French banking group Credit Agricole declared a 3.43 billion euros exposure to the Greek debt in its banking activities, of which 850 million euros in sovereign debt, 180 million euros in interbank debt and 2.4 billion euros in controlled subsidiary company Credit Agricole Cib’s commercial commitments. For the insurance activities, the company specifies in a press release, the exposure to the Greek debt is “slightly lower than 400 million euros”. These numbers, the bank’s release concludes, do not compute “financing to private economy authorized in Greece by local subsidiaries”, particularly by the Emporiki subsidiary. According to the Le Figaro newspaper, such financing would amount to 22.7 billion euros, which would increase Credit Agricole’s total exposure to 27 billion euros. In its on-line edition the newspaper remarks today that the French banks are the most exposed to the Greek debt, with total credit rounding up to about 53 billion euros, followed by german banks (45 billion euros according to estimates from the International Regulations Bank at the end of 2009). Among others, Societe Generale company declared a 3 billion euros exposure to the Greek debt, besides its 54% participation in the Greek bank Geniki Bank, whose loan portfolio amounted to 4 billion euros at the end of March. BNP Paribas’s exposure would instead amount to 5 billion euros, plus 3 billion euros from commercial commitments with Greek private companies. Lastly, the BPCE group declared a 2.1 billion euros exposure, of which 800 million euros through its Natixis subsidiary. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece Today — USA Tomorrow — Under Obama

As Rasmussen reports — “New Jersey and California are just two of the states that are wrestling with high numbers of well-compensated unionized public employees as they try to reduce growing budget deficits. But a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that Americans are generally favorable toward these unions…”


To no surprise, states with the most labor union influence are first to belly up in America. So-called “right to work” states (aka, states where workers can reject labor unions) seem to be faring much better, even in the economic downturn.

Still, according to Rasmussen, 53% of U.S. citizens support labor unions for public employees, without connecting the dots between labor union demands for ever shrinking worker productivity and ever increasing pay and benefits, and the fact that the U.S. economy is only months behind Greece, Iceland and much of the EU, at best…

Labor unions have destroyed manufacturing in America. They made U.S. students the most under-educated lot on earth. Now they are driving the cost of government through the roof, just like in Greece and there is NO way for this to end well.

When labor unions demand every increasing wages and benefits for government employees, the taxpayer takes a direct hit every time. When the economy stumbles, and tax revenues shrink, the cost of government and welfare services in particular, become unsustainable.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy Has ‘Reasonable Distance’ From Greek Effect

New York, 6 May (AKI) — Italy is at a “reasonable distance” from falling victim to a contagion effect from the Greek debt crisis, according to New York University professor Nouriel Roubini, who was interviewed by Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Roubini said that Italy’s government and banks have reacted relatively well to the global financial crisis, Roubini said.

However, he called for more financial reform to enhance recovery in countries at risk.

“You have to be careful to not stop here,” he told the newspaper. “There are still serious problems like public debt and lack of competitiveness.”

IN 2005 Roubini predicted that speculation in the US housing market would seriously harm the economy.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund this week pledged to bail out Greece from a heavy debt burden which almost caused the Mediterranean country to default.

He said that Portugal was the country at greatest risk after Greece.

He said Ireland and Spain were also at risk while Italy was at a “reasonable distance” from financial default.

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

Markets Have “Pushed Greece Down the Stairs”

Greece has come under attack from financial markets and has been “pushed down the stairs”, Swiss economist Paul Dembinski tells

Greece’s economic crisis is sending shivers through global markets as investors and policymakers fear it could spread like wildfire through Europe and beyond. The country is facing up to three years’ recession as it tries to cut its deficit.

The Greek government told parliament on Thursday there was no alternative to the deep budget cuts in its austerity plan.

On Wednesday some 50,000 Greeks marched in Athens in protest at the planned measures and a petrol bomb attack killed three workers in a bank.

Paul Dembinski: They are the same as those behind the heavy debts of pretty much most governments, apart from the Swiss.

Over the past 20 years, the general approach has been not to increase taxes, or to be very cautious in this respect, and to have lots of difficulties controlling expenditure, especially of a social nature.

I suspect that a large part of Greece’s debt was used to finance social services, as many people are lost, need help and are excluded from the labour market.

In other words, and I think this is very important, their debt was not just caused by bad management; it also reflects social tensions that have been alleviated via expenditure.

P.D.: Financial markets are always looking for a victim. They are seeking to generate volatility on which they can earn their daily bread. Essentially, they look for weaknesses. They try to find movements on which some surf and others plunge.

Greece has come under attack. I’m not sure there were any deeper factors behind all that. Now having pretty much succeeded with Greece, the emphasis is on Portugal and Spain. But I don’t see the emergency.

Greece, Portugal and Spain are all members of the eurozone. Europe’s survival is under scrutiny and it cannot be seen to fail over a small country. If it had been Germany, there might have been problems over the amount of the bailout, but not with Greece, Portugal or even Spain. That’s not the point.

The issue here is about the extremely profitable instruments of market makers, which bet on certain countries crashing, while trying to push them down the stairs.

Paul Dembinski (

P.D.: Given the huge global debt (external and internal) mountain of the eurozone and of the United States — which has one of the biggest debts — we are searching for solutions. There are three possible solutions in a stable world.

First, inflation, which dissolves debt; this is a very good way of relieving the debt burden. Then, there is the solution which Argentina is going through — a restructuring, whereby the worst part of the debt is defaulted. The third is economic recession.

The debt mountain is impressive, but it is not worse for Greece or Spain than for all other OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] countries. But how do we get out of this situation? This question worries me.

P.D.: Inflation. For the past 15 years, we have been stuck in a strict monetary straightjacket mostly in the interest of investors in order to preserve the value of currencies that are lent. But historically we have often functioned by reducing a share of debt through low inflation.

Let’s not forget that the bailout package for Greece is not strictly intended to help Greece but to reassure investors about the country’s ability to pay its debts. The main concern is not whether Greece is undergoing any restructuring, but if it has any liquid assets.

P.D.: I am quite worried about the way it is being sold to the public, especially in France and Germany. French, German and other taxpayers are told it’s a good deal, as money is borrowed at a lower price than it is lent to the Greeks. If that’s solidarity within Europe then…

When someone is in a mess, we should extend a helping hand rather than say we are doing good business thanks to them. This is perhaps necessary for the general public — I can’t really say — but it’s quite worrying.

But I don’t really know what else Europe could have done other than send in the ambulance. We could have asked Greece to default on half of its debt. The remainder would then have been assumed by investors but would have caused panic on the markets. The investors took a risk as they could have lost half — that’s the game. The question is whether we have taken into account what is good for the patient or what is good for the doctor.

P.D.: I don’t know Greece well enough, but if you take the example of Spain, which has 20 per cent unemployment, or five million people affected of whom 1.5 million where entire families are unemployed, there are clearly mounting tensions. This is what’s happening in Europe, but also in the US.

Therefore I don’t think investors that have lent to states will be paid back in the medium term. It’s clear that debts will have to be restructured.

Pierre-François Besson, (Translated from French by Simon Bradley)

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

Spain: Economy Growing Again After 21-Month Crisis

(ANSAmed) — Madrid, MAY 7 — The Spanish economy grows again in first quarter 2010, though gaining a minimum 0.1%, following seven consecutive quarters in recession. According to the economic bulletin released today by the Bank of Spain, this recovery is due to an improvement in home consumption, which braked the fall to 2.6% in the first quarter, halving those recorded in final quarter 2009; and to exports and imports which “continue to give signs of new activity”. However, on an annual basis, the Spanish GDP fell in the first quarter by 1.3%, over the same period last year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The “Real” Unemployment Rate Jumps to 17.1%

The BLS’s U-6 number, which is sometimes called the “real” unemployment rate, because it takes into discouraged workers who aren’t looking for work ticked up in April from 16.9% to 17.1%.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Euro the Insolvent Are Expected to Bail Out the Bankrupt

by Paul Belien

The euro crisis is far from over. Markets are reacting with skepticism to the largest bailout ever — an attempt to prevent the bankruptcy of Greece. Former Eastern Bloc countries, such as Slovakia, are now expected to bailout Greece. On Sunday the IMF and the 15 other Eurozone countries — the member states of the European Union (EU) which, together with Greece, use the euro as their common currency — agreed to bail out Athens with bilateral loans totaling €120bn ($160bn) over the next three years. Many of these 15 countries, however, have huge debts themselves. They have agreed to help Greece, hoping that someone (read: Germany) will come to their rescue, too. Will Berlin and the IMF be able to save them all?

Polls show that between 66% and 86% of the Germans are opposed to bailing out the Greeks. Nevertheless the German government says there is a “good chance” of getting the Bundestag to agree to the bailout by Friday. Germany has to pay €22bn of the €120bn — the largest share apart from the IMF, which pays €40bn. Nevertheless, 76% of the Germans expect that Greece will not be able to pay back the loans it receives. The German political establishment, however, feels it has no other choice but to come to the rescue of the Greeks. “It is about recognizing our national responsibility within Europe,” German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel long resisted the plans to bail out the Greeks. Last week she changed her mind. One of the people who rang her to ask her to bailout Greece was U.S. President Barack Obama. Merkel insists, however, that the Greeks implement harsh measures, “not just for one year but for several years.” Merkel said on German television that due to the bailout she would not be able to keep her election promise of a tax relief.

In exchange for the bailout, Greece must introduce draconic austerity measures. The IMF and the EU demand €22bn in new budget cuts over three years, on top of cuts already announced. Greece will raise its retirement age from 62 to 67 years, salaries and pensions in the public sector will be frozen, annual holiday bonuses will be capped and scrapped for higher earners, VAT will rise from 21% to 23%, and there will be a 10% hike in fuel, alcohol and tobacco taxes. The German weekly Der Spiegel writes that the IMF expects to have to remain in Greece for ten years until the economic reforms have been realized and successfully implemented.

The Greeks trade unions reject the austerity plan. A general strike hits the country today and tomorrow. On Labor Day there was severe rioting. Anarchists threw petrol bombs, attacked banks, shops and hotels, and clashed with riot police outside the Finance Ministry in Athens, while thousands of Greeks, mobilized by the trade unions and left-wing parties, demonstrated against the austerity plans of the government. Polls suggest that more than 50% of the Greeks are prepared to take to the streets to stop the government plans. Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has promised the IMF and the EU that the cuts will be implemented

The markets, however, are not impressed. In early February Papandreou promised similar austerity measures, but did not live up to his promises. Earlier this week, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned that there are no guarantees that the massive bailout for Greece will prevent fallout from spreading to the other countries of the eurozone. The government of Slovakia, a country that is expected to contribute $1bn to the Greek rescue plan, announced that it will not immediately contribute its share. “I don’t trust the Greeks. The approval [of the austerity plan] by the [Greek] government is not enough. We want to see laws approved by the parliament leading to cuts in salaries, pensions and social benefits. Until then the Slovak cabinet will not authorize its loan,” Robert Fico, the Slovak Prime Minister said. The Austrian Finance Minister, Joseph Pröll, warned that Europe is “losing patience” with Greece. “when we watch the protests, our patience, mine and the rest of Europe’s, is almost at its limit,” he said…

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

Yields on Dutch Treasury Bonds at Record Low

The massive flight of investors seeking refuge in secure treasury bonds has forced the yield on Dutch treasury bonds to a record low.

The yield on ten-year government bonds has dropped below three percent. According to the Dutch statistics agency CBS, the only time on record this has occurred in the past was in 1946.

The low yields have made it cheaper than ever for the Netherlands to finance its growing budget deficit and renew expiring government bonds. The eurozone crisis has led to the massive sale of Greek, Portuguese and Spanish bonds by investors, who are driven into the arms of what they consider safe havens such as Germany. Investors commonly lump the Netherlands together with Germany, which allows the Dutch to profit from the treasury bond feeding frenzy that has caused their bonds to skyrocket in value, reducing yields and effective government interest rates.

Investors’ renewed flight on Friday morning was caused in part by the continuing unrest in Greece and fears the crisis might spread to Portugal in particular. The spread between Greek and German treasury bond rates rose to a record high of 10.28 percent.

Uncertainty took hold in stock markets as well after prices on Wall Street plummeted by nine percent on Thursday. The drop was probably the result of a so-called ‘fat finger’: a human error which led a trader to sell a thousand times more stock than intended. Wall Street ended the day at a 3.2 percent loss. Stock markets in Asia and Europe also registered significant losses on Friday morning.

On Friday evening, government leaders from EU countries will convene in Brussels to discuss the crisis. The euro dipped below 1.26 dollars on Friday morning, but recovered after the US treasury department announced that the finance ministers of the seven foremost industrial nations (G7) would be holding a teleconference later in the day to discuss the state of affairs in financial markets. The euro also received an indirect boost from the British pound sterling, which dropped steeply after it became apparent no single party had been able to attain a majority in the UK elections.

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


Arizona to Shut Off Highway Speed Cameras

Arizona’s controversial — and widely despised — highway speed cameras are coming down.

The state’s Department of Public Safety sent a letter to the cameras’ operating company this week, stating that its 2-year contract would not be renewed. The agreement ends July 15, and the cameras will be turned off the next day.

The cameras, paired with radar devices, photograph vehicles exceeding the speed limit by 11 mph or more on state highways. A notice of violation — with a fine of $181.50 — was then sent to the address of the vehicle’s registered owner.

Motorists and lawmakers protested that the cameras were impractical in a state where people are accustomed to driving long, lonely stretches of road at high speeds. Citizens covered camera lenses with Silly String or Post-it sticky notes. Pressure had been mounting in the Legislature to end the program, and Republican Gov. Jan Brewer had denounced it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Elaph Columnist: Most Muslims in the U.S. Harbor Hostility Towards it and Feel No Loyalty to it

Khudayr Taher, an Iraqi columnist who lives in the U.S. and posts regularly on the liberal website, posted on this website an especially harsh reaction:, May 6, 2010

“In democratic countries that respect the law and human rights, these wonderful virtues become a risk, and a loophole through which terrorists infiltrate [the country] to perpetrate their crimes. The attempted car bombing in New York exposed a problem, [namely] that the Muslim diaspora in the U.S. is not carefully monitored, due to the laws [protecting] human rights. The Pakistani terrorist was able to act freely in forming contacts inside and outside the country and in preparing his criminal plans. Even though he comes from a country that is considered to be one of the strongholds of terrorism, [the American authorities] did not keep an eye on him.

“In the past, this happened with others, who were similarly left [to their own devices], e.g., the Yemeni terrorist [Anwar] l-Awlaqi, who served as Imam in an American mosque. He was a member of Al-Qaeda, and was visited by the depraved [Al-Qaeda] operatives who [later] perpetrated the 9/11 [attacks]. After this, he was lightly interrogated and then left alone, and he traveled freely to Yemen. Eventually he emerged as one of Al-Qaeda’s devils and started to operate in the open. Thanks to the American laws that prohibit arresting people or torturing them without evidence, he escaped without punishment, when [in fact] he could have easily been exposed and made to confess.

“America is home to about seven million Muslims. Most of them, even if they are not terrorists, do harbor hostility towards the U.S. and feel no loyalty to it. As an Arab and Muslim, [I tell you] that it is difficult to find a Muslim who loves America; those [who do] constitute a tiny minority among all those millions.

“The rationale and need to defend American security and protect [American] lives make it necessary to make sacrifices and infringe on the [existing] laws and charters of human rights. The Muslims must be subjected to the principle of collective suspicion. Individuals whose presence [in the country] causes concern or who have a potential to cause problems must be monitored, pursued and placed in preventive detention, which is not subject to time restrictions or require [the presentation of] evidence. They must [even] be stripped of their citizenship and deported.

“The collective deportation of all suspicious Muslims, and all those convicted of misdemeanors, is the best way to pressure [potential offenders], in order to deter them, threaten their personal interests, and cause them to follow the rules and inform on the terrorists among them. The U.S. and the European countries must first of all think of defending themselves against the threat of terrorism, [even if it means] sacrificing democracy, law, and the human rights charters — for this is a matter of life and death.”

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Feds Seize $143m Worth of Bogus Networking Gear

Federal authorities over the past fives year have seized more than $143m worth of counterfeit Cisco hardware and labels in a coordinated operation that’s netted more than 700 seizures and 30 felony convictions, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Operation Network Raider is an enforcement initiative involving the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection agencies working to crack down on the bogus routers, switches and other networking gear. In addition to costing Cisco and other US businesses millions of dollars, the scams could threaten national security by infusing critical networks with gear that’s unreliable or, worse, riddled with backdoors.

As part of the operation, Ehab Ashoor, 49, a Saudi citizen residing in Sugarland, Texas, was sentenced this week to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay Cisco $119,400 in restitution after being found guilty of trying to sell counterfeit gear to the US Department of Defense. In 2008, he attempted to traffic 100 gigabit interface converters that were bought in China and contained labels fraudulently indicating they were genuine Cisco equipment, according to court documents. The kit was to be used by the US Marine Corps for communications in Iraq.

In January, 33-year-old Chinese resident Yongcai Li was ordered to serve 30 months in prison and pay restitution of $790,683 for trafficking counterfeit Cisco gear, officials said.

The prospect that government and business networks may have deployed bogus gear has raised national security concerns, since much of the counterfeit equipment originates in China. Similar espionage fears were raised by research from University of Illinois researchers, who in 2008 showed how they were able to modify a Sun Microsystems SPARC microprocessor to effectively create a hardwired backdoor capable of logging passwords or other sensitive data.

In May of 2008, Cisco officials said they had no evidence that any of the counterfeit networking gear contained backdoors.

Since late 2007, US authorities have made more than 1,300 seizures of 5.6 million bogus semiconductors. More than 50 shipments were falsely marked as military or aerospace grade devices. The Justice Department’s press release is here.

           — Hat tip: AK[Return to headlines]

Gen. Petraeus: Times Square Bomber Acted Alone

Gen. David Petraeus told The Associated Press that alleged bomber Faisal Shahzad was inspired by terrorists in Pakistan, but did not have direct contact with them.

Authorities said Shahzad told investigators he went to a terror training camp in Pakistan, but they have yet to confirm that.

Shahzad is a US citizen, accused of an attempted terror attack nearly a week ago in New York’s Times Square. He was caught Monday night trying to leave the country.

[Return to headlines]

Newark N.J. Mayor and Police Chief Cut Crime

In March, Newark, New Jersey—not so long ago dubbed “America’s Most Dangerous City”—celebrated its first homicide-free month in 44 years. Overall, since 2006, Newark has seen its number of shootings cut in half and its murder rate drop by a third. Only Los Angeles boasts more impressive numbers over the same period. The city’s crime turnaround is a testament to Newark mayor Cory Booker and his handpicked police director, Garry McCarthy, and it shows that NYPD-style proactive policing can succeed in even the nation’s most troubled cities…

[Return to headlines]

Obama Already Insulted Pro-American UK Conservative Cameron- Called Him a “Lightweight”

Obama met with David Cameron last year. (world news)

Barack Obama has already managed to insult the leading UK candidate, conservative David Cameron. After Cameron attempted to stress his pro-American credentials, Barack Obama labeled him a “lightweight.” The Guardian reported, via FOX Nation:

According to tomorrow’s New Statesman, Barack Obama was unimpressed by his encounter with David Cameron earlier this year and commented: “What a lightweight!”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Suspect Cites Radical Imam’s Writings

Shahzad Says He Was Influenced by Anti-West Exhortations of Cleric Who Communicated With Alleged Fort Hood Shooter

Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad has told investigators that he drew inspiration from the teachings of the fugitive imam who communicated with the sole suspect in last year’s deadly rampage at Fort Hood, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. officials said that Mr. Shahzad didn’t appear to have communicated with Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical U.S.-born cleric who exchanged dozens of emails with suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan in the run-up to the November assault that left 13 soldiers dead.

But the officials said Mr. Shahzad told his interrogators that he read Mr. Awlaki’s English-language writings calling for holy war against Western targets and was moved to action, at least in part, by the cleric’s exhortations.

Mr. Awlaki, who is believed to be in Yemen, is thought to be the only U.S. citizen approved for capture or killing under a secret presidential decree.

Mr. Shahzad is being held in an undisclosed location, and federal prosecutors haven’t said when he might be presented before a federal magistrate judge on terrorism-related charges. People familiar with the case said Mr. Shahzad had waived his right to be presented in court so he could continue to cooperate with authorities.

The disclosure of Mr. Shahzad’s exposure to Mr. Awlaki’s teachings comes as authorities in the U.S. and Pakistan ratchet up their effort to determine what led Mr. Shahzad, a 30-year-old married father of two, to attempt to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square last weekend.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the failed attack, and Mr. Shahzad has since told investigators that he learned bomb-making techniques from the group during a recent five-month trip through Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Despite those links, federal investigators have arrived at a “working model” of the case that suggests Mr. Shahzad was the sole plotter inside the U.S. and received no operational assistance or funding from other militants, U.S. officials say…

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]

Tim Burns and the Pennsylvania “Clingers”

[Pennsylvanians] get bitter, they cling to guns, or religion, or antipathy to people who aren’t like them, or anti-immigrant sentiment…as a way to explain their frustrations.”—Barack Hussein Obama April 6, 2008

“…this election is extremely important and is widely viewed as a bellwether for the upcoming mid-terms… It will…make vulnerable Democrat politicians less likely to support Obama this summer, when he pushes for the cap and tax and amnesty bills, while he still has large majorities in Congress.”—Doug Brady April 28, 2010

Two years after Obama dismissed the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th District, as clinging to God and religion, his supercilious comments are coming back to bite the Democrats on the butt.

A little over a week from now, elections will be held to fill the seat left vacant by John Murtha’s death (1932-2010). I believe in the adage, “if you can’t say something nice about the dead, don’t say anything at all.” So this is all I have to say about Murtha (D-PA):

If you would like to find out more about Murtha’s long career, you might check out The Wall Street Journal’s “John Murtha and Congress’s ‘culture of corruption.” Or you might check out Murtha’s slander of the USMC, in Christian Lowe’s article “Murtha’s Mistake.”


An ever increasing number of voters are turning to Republican Tim Burns. Burns has not only garnered the backing of such conservative heavy hitters as Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich, but (most importantly) he has earned the backing of the area’s blue-collar workers.

Not since the Massachusetts election, have folks been so passionate about an election’s outcome. People are flocking in from all over, to volunteer their time, and make donations. You can keep track of the campaign via Twitter.

Unlike Scott Brown, Burns is a true conservative, who not only wants to reduce the federal deficit; he wants to eliminate it—and he’s serious about getting people back to work.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Largest Beaver Dam Seen From Space

A Canadian ecologist has discovered the world’s largest beaver dam in a remote area of northern Alberta, an animal-made structure so large it is visible from space.

Researcher Jean Thie said Wednesday he used satellite imagery and Google Earth software to locate the dam, which is about 850 meters (2,800 feet) long on the southern edge of Wood Buffalo National Park.

Average beaver dams in Canada are 10 to 100 meters long, and only rarely do they reach 500 meters.

First discovered in October 2007, the gigantic dam is located in a virtually inaccessible part of the park south of Lac Claire, about 190 kilometers (120 miles) northeast of Fort McMurray.

Construction of the dam likely started in the mid-1970s, said Thie, who made his discovery quite by accident while tracking melting permafrost in Canada’s far north.

“Several generations of beavers worked on it and it’s still growing,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Belgian Parliament to Hold Elections in June

A Flemish nationalist MP cried “May Belgium die” at the end of a speech as the country’s parliament dissolved itself ahead of elections in June.

During the parliament’s final session, the deputy from the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interests), cried out “Long live free Flanders, may Belgium die.”

The government of Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme fell last month after a key member of the five-party coalition, the Flemish liberal Open VLD walked out, frustrated over talks aimed at decreasing special rights for French speakers in Dutch-speaking Flanders.

The lower house chamber of deputies adopted a list of more than 50 articles of the constitution which could be modified by the next legislature, a move which automatically triggered the dissolution of parliament. Minutes later the upper house Senate did the same.

The formal decision will be published in the official gazette Friday after which a general elections must be held in 40 days.

The exact date must be fixed by royal decree but the chamber’s president Patrick Dewael left the matter in no doubt; “The elections are fixed for June 13,” he told the session.

Belgium’s two main communities, the Dutch-speaking Flanders and poorer francophone Wallonia have long been at loggerheads.

French-speakers fear that Flemish moves towards more autonomy could presage the break up of the country.

No party operates nationwide in Belgium with its linguistic faultline between the two communities. Only the capital Belgium is officially bilingual.

Francophone fears are not eased by opinion polls which put the independentist Flemish NVA in first place in Flanders and in a position to replace Leterme’s Christian Democrats in a new coalition.

Following the last legislative elections in 2007 it took more than six months to form a government.

Any such delay now would be an embarrassment for a country which prides itself on hosting the European Union’s main institutions and will on July 1 take over the EU rotating presidency.

The fragility of Belgium’s coalitions is demonstrated by Mr Leterme’s fortunes since the last polls; he quit three times as prime minister and had his resignation accepted twice. His final term lasted just five months.

Last December, without an election, he assumed control from Herman Van Rompuy who left to become the first European Union president.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Britain’s First Female Muslim MPs Elected

Britain’s first female Muslim MPs were elected for the Labour Party in Thursday’s polls, according to a national daily, representing a silver lining for the governing party that finished second to the Conservatives.

Shabana Mahmood, a Labour candidate for Birmingham Ladywood and Yasmin Qureshi, a Labour candidate for Bolton South East, easily won seats with majorities of more than 8,000, The Guardian reported on its website.

A former Oxford graduate and lawyer, Mahmood is the daughter of the Birmingham Labour party’s chairman and stood against another female Asian candidate for the Conservatives, Nusrat Ghani. Her selection caused consternation among local activists but was fiercely backed by party chiefs.

Mahmood said she was “humbled and honored” by her win.

“This is a constituency with significant challenges but it is incredibly diverse and vibrant. I pledge to be a hard working MP, working every day to fulfill the faith people have in me. I will fight for Ladywood as a passionate and committed Labour MP,” she said.

Qureshi, 46, a Pakistani-born criminal lawyer, moved to the United Kingdom when she was 9 years old. She advised former London Mayor Ken Livingstone on human rights and was chosen from a shortlist of six candidates.

She has also previously headed the criminal legal section of the United Nations Mission in Kosovo.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Qureshi said following her win. “Obviously, I am very pleased the voters of Bolton South East chose a Labour candidate and elected a Labour MP. It is a truly humbling experience and I promise to work very hard for the constituents.”

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

Election 2010: Brown Hanging on as Salmond Says SNP Will Work With New Labour Government — But Not Cameron’s Conservatives

GORDON Brown was hanging on to power by the thinnest of threads today as his opponents conspired to bounce him out of power following an inconclusive General Election.

Tory leader David Cameron put pressure on the Prime Minister to concede defeat after the Tories won the largest share of the votes but fell well short of an overall majority.

But SNP leader Alex Salmond has revealed his party and Welsh Nationalists Plaid Cymru have accepted an offer from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to discuss possibilities for future government.

And he explicitly ruled out working with David Cameron’s Conservatives — even if they turned out to be the largest overall party in Westminster.

The Scottish First Minister said he and his Welsh counterpart had agreed to an offer from Mr Brown for discussions over a potential coalition government.

“Fate seems to have dealt us a mighty hand between ourselves and Plaid Cymru,” he said.

“As I understand it, on the projection we have at the present moment, certainly there would have to be some involvement of the SNP and Plaid Cymru, if you were to get and construct an alternative government scenario.

“So for that reason, I’m accepting the offer of the Prime Minister, on behalf of the SNP, and Plaid Cymru are accepting, to have the Civil Service back-up to have discussions to see what the possibilities are in terms of defending the interests of Scotland and Wales in this parliamentary situation.”

Mr Salmond, who stood down as an MP at the election, remains an MSP and First Minister of Scotland in a minority SNP government.

Asked what he was looking for in discussions, he said: “I’ve been through this process in 2007 with Civil Service back-up to discuss from a different vantage point. That was in the formation that ended up in the formation of SNP minority in Scotland.

“I know exactly how you should go about this and it doesn’t involve showing too much of your hand before you have the discussions.”

With just 25 seats of the 650 seats remaining to be declared by 1pm, the Conservatives had 294 MPs — making it impossible for them to reach the 326 threshold for an overall majority in the House of Commons.

The inconclusive result sparked a feverish round of behind-closed-doors negotiations between all the main parties, with Labour insiders hopeful a deal could still be struck which would keep Mr Brown in Downing Street.

But as bookies instilled him as firm favourite to be the new Prime Minister, David Cameron called for Mr Brown to concede defeat and clear the way for the Tories to try to govern — either at the head of a minority administration or with the support of Northern Irish unionists and other parties.

And Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg further turned the screws on the Prime Minister by publicly backing the Tories “right to govern.”

As Mr Brown remained locked in talks with key lieutenants, the Conservatives had — by 1pm — won 294 seats (up 93), with Labour on 252 (down 82) and the Liberal Democrats on 52 (down five).

In terms of the share of the vote Labour had 29 per cent while the Tories had 36 per cent and the Lib Dems 23.

But in Scotland the voters firmly backed Labour once more, winning 41 of the 58 seats up for grabs while the Liberal Democrats won 10, the SNP had a disastrous showing with just six seats.

And the Tories were obliterated north of the border again, and managed only to hold on to one seat.

Speaking at the Witney count, Mr Cameron said: “What’s clear from these results is that the country, our country, wants change. That change is going to require new leadership and we will stand ready to do all we can to help bring that leadership.”

But Mr Brown brushed aside claims Labour had lost the mandate and insisted: “My duty in all of this is that there be a stable, strong and principled government and to play my part in making that possible.

“I think it is too early to say what the verdict of the people is but it is pretty clear that what the people will want at the end of this election is a government that is strong, stable and principled.”

He told reporters travelling to London with him from his count in Kirkcaldy: “I am the leader of the Labour Party but I’ve also got a duty to the country.”

He added: “The economy is incredibly important to our future and we must be sending out the right message to the world.”

And his pledge to carry on appeared backed by senior ministers as Lord Mandelson emerged from talks inside Number 10 to declare his support.

He said: “The Prime Minister’s duty is to stay at his post, to continue doing his job and not resign until it is clear who the Queen should call as an alternative to form a new government, should Mr Brown not be able to do so.

“The Prime Minister can’t just resign and leave a vacuum for the Queen to deal with.”

In the case of a hung Parliament, Lord Mandelson said: “Either there has to be a minority government which tries its chances or a combination of other parties — in this case most likely the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats — would have to see if they can form some arrangement instead.”

Despite the Lib Dems relative poor showing, their support of the Tories this morning made Gordon Brown’s task of holiding on to powert much harder.

Nick Clegg said the party with the most seats had the first right to seek form a government so the Tories should now prove they are “capable of seeking to govern in the national interest”

Speaking on the steps of his party’s Westminster HQ, Mr Clegg said the party with the most votes and seats had the “first right” to seek to form an administration.

“I have said that whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties and I stick to that view,” said the Lib Dem leader.

“I think it is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest.”

His comments were a clear indication that he will talk first with Mr Cameron about the prospect of a Commons pact to allow the creation of a stable government.

But the Lib Dem leader was also the subject of strong overtures from Labour, with senior ministers leaving no doubt that the PM will be ready to deliver their cherished goal of electoral reform in return for a deal which keeps him in Downing Street.

The projected results indicated that a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition could provide a solid overall majority in the Commons, but that if Labour was to enter into a deal with Mr Clegg, they would also require the support of smaller parties like the Welsh and Scottish nationalists, the SDLP and Britain’s first Green MP.

Close Cameron confidant Michael Gove indicated that the Tory leader would be “happy to talk” with other parties with the goal of delivering a “strong and stable” Conservative-led government at a time of grave economic uncertainty for the UK.

But other senior Tories made clear that Mr Cameron would wait to see the final shape of the new Parliament before deciding how to proceed.

The Conservatives may prefer to seek to govern as a minority rather than offer the Lib Dems the electoral reform which is likely to be an absolute precondition for any deal.

The uncertainty meant the pound tumbled against the dollar and euro and the FTSE 100 index fell to a three-year low this morning as the markets took fright at the prospect of a hung Parliament.

The increased turnout of 65 percent, four per cent up on the last General Election, led to chaos at some polling stations as officials strugged to cope.

And there were angry protests in parts of London, Liverpool and Sheffield as a late rush saw voters turned away from the polls.

[Return to headlines]

Greece: Obama Supports Plan, It Will Take Time

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, MAY 7 — U.S. President Barack Obama firmly supports Greece’s “ambitious plan” to solve the current crisis and is closely monitoring developments in contact with the European leaders. However, the White House emphasises that it will take time. “The plan is designed to bring results over the following years”. “We are determined to sustain the efforts made to return stability to Greece and trust in the global financial system”, says the White House in a note released yesterday, at the end of a black day for world markets, with Wall Street first losing 9% and then closing with its indexes falling by over 3%. “The Treasury Department closely monitors the situation”, adds the note, specifying that Obama “spoke last Sunday with Greek Prime Minister Papandreou”, to whom he expressed his “backing for the announced ambitious reforms programme, and for the significant support provided by the other eurozone Member States and the IMF”. “When Greek Prime Minister Papandreou was in Washington in March, the President discussed various issues with him, including the economic situation. Papandreou illustrated the efforts Athens was making to tackle the challenges of the budget. Obama and Papandreou, adds the note, also discussed the European and U.S. efforts to jointly move toward a reform of the financial system”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Koran Does Not Exclude Jews and Christians, Siddiqui

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 5 — The Koran speaks of the Jews and Christians “in both a negative and a positive way”, but in parallel it also contains the principle, with reference to the other revealed religions, that “communities submitted to God shall be saved”. It is this concept of submission to God, shared “in their own way” also by the majority of Christians and Jews, that may be “the common denominator” between the three great monotheisms. This is the starting point of considerations by Mona Siddiqui, a young Anglo-Pakistani Muslim theologian, in Rome today to speak at the Angelicum, during the third annual Conference for the dialogue between religions held at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas. “Humanity’s unity and diversity are issues which coexist in the Koran and may be interpreted both in support of inclusivist and exclusivist claims”, said Mona Siddiqui in her speech to a Jewish, Catholic and Muslim audience, including Chief Rabbi Jack Bemporad of the Centre for Interreligious Understanding in New Jersey. Not by chance, she stated to ANSAmed, did she today choose “such a controversial topic for Muslims and Christians”, also with the intent of “giving a practical sense to this theoretical framework”. The common denominator of submission to God can thus break down the convictions of those Muslims who believe that Judaism and Christianity are “corrupt religions”, and that anyone who believes in them is “an infidel”. This also does away, she acknowledges, with the assumption on which the concept of ‘jihad’ is erroneously based by radicals and terrorists. Because, even if historically Jihad was also a “military war which under certain circumstances was a Muslim’s duty”, she explains, this concept changes today, within the ambit of a historical “contextualization” of Islam shared by many scholars and Muslims. “The problem”, she admits, “is how to bring the message to a broader audience. And this is done by talking about it constantly, even if the outcome depends on those who want or do not want to hear”. Woman and theologian, and held in esteem as such in a still largely male environment, Mona Siddiqui does not want to define herself as a feminist, let alone an Islamic feminist, an issue which does not even enter her sphere of research. “To be honest I am bored by the debate about women in Islam and by the fact that not much progress had been made. In Islamic societies there are much greater issues about which men and women have to think”. But if we wish to look at the scriptures to promote “justice, respect and dignity”, she adds, “this may not be a mere theoretical debate, it must also be a practical way of life”. Born in Pakistan, reared in England, and currently a Professor at the University of Glasgow and an influential analyst for many media, Mona Siddiqui observes with preoccupation her country of origin where, she says, instability and corruption dominate, as well as the necessity to tackle many external problems. A country “founded as a Muslim state”, but where governments “have used Islam for their politics”, making religion’, she concludes, “a tool to control society’“. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Tens of Mln in Damage, Eyes on Po River

(ANASmed) — ROME, MAY 6 — Tens of millions of euros worth of damage has already been done to farming by the exceptional wave of bad weather that has hit Italy in the last few days. Critical situations have been registered throughout the North, but severe difficulties have also hit the centre of the country. Heavy rain and flooded rivers (the Po is on a level of alert and there are fears over the river’s swelling) and streams have devastated freshly sown cornfields, open air vegetable crops and those in greenhouses. A number of cattle farms have also been evacuated. Many farming companies have suffered the devastating effects of the adverse conditions. Hail storms have battered fruit trees, (peaches, apricots, plums and cherries). This is the first analysis carried out by the Italian Farmers Confederation (CIA), which is monitoring the situation in order to help put in place as soon as possible the procedures deriving from states of emergency and natural disasters. The force of the rains has caused landslides and flooding in many parts of northern Italy. But the CIA has warned that the situation in central and southern areas in the last few hours has become worrying for farming. There are fears that flooding from the river Po could inundate fields cultivated on the flat Pianura Padana land, particularly cereals and fruit and vegetables. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Council Rejects Censure of Pope Over Sex Scandal

Vaiano Cremasco , 6 May (AKI) — A council in the north of Italy has rejected a proposal from a Communist councillor who sought to condemn Pope Benedict XVI for what he considered inaction over the paedophile scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. The Vaiano Cremasco council voted against the measure proposed by council member and former mayor Giovanni Alchieri who called on his colleagues to express their “lack of solidarity” over the pope’s failure to take action on clerical sex abuse claims.

Vaiano Cremasco, is a small town 40 kilometres from Milan with 4,000 people.

Alchieri cast the sole vote in favour of the proposal, and the 17-member council rejected the move.

The Vatican is seeking to contain the damage caused by the alleged sexual abuse of thousands of children by paedophile clerics and lay brothers over the past 60 years in Europe and North America.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi expressed his solidarity with the pope after Benedict issued an historic pastoral letter expressing a heartfelt apology over sexual abuse in the Irish Catholic Church. Berlusconi described it as an incredibly effective response to a difficult situation.

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

Italy: Banks Are ‘Robust’ Compared to Others

Rome, 6 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy’s banks are “robust” compared to others elsewhere, an official at the country’s central bank said on Thursday. The bank official was responding to a report by the international debt-rating agency, Moody’s Investors Service, on sovereign-contagion risk to the financial industry.

“The Italian banking system is robust,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

He noted that the nation’s overall debt was lower and its savings rate was higher than in other countries.

“All of this makes the Italian case different,” he said.

Contagion from the Greek fiscal crisis could threaten banks in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and the United Kingdom, Moody’s said in a report released earlier on Thursday.

The ratings agency said that while every nation’s banking system faced different challenges, “contagion risk could dilute these differences and impose very real, common threats on all of them.”

The European Union had no comment on the report, but European Central Bank council member Axel Weber said on Wednesday that Greece’s crisis is threatening “grave contagion effects” in the euro area.

The bank’s comments echo similar comments by New York University professor Nouriel Roubini, who told Italian daily, La Repubblica that Italy was a “reasonable distance” from falling victim to a contagion effect from the Greek debt crisis.

Roubini in 2005 predicted that speculation in the US housing market would seriously harm the economy.

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

Leuthard Brings Up Child Abuse With Pope

Swiss President Doris Leuthard has discussed the issue of child sex abuse during a private audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Leuthard, on a visit to the Vatican to mark the swearing in of new recruits to the pontiff’s Swiss Guard, also discussed the Swiss vote to ban the construction of minarets and the place of burkas in Swiss society.

“The pope stressed that young people must be protected,” she told the media afterwards. “But he added that the problem of paedophilia affects not just the church but all of society.”

They also discussed the role of Islam and freedom of religion, which the pope said had to be practised throughout Europe.

“Equality and tolerance towards Christians in Islamic states would increase acceptance in our society,” Leuthard added.

Regarding the Swiss Guard, new guardsmen are sworn in every year in May in St Peter’s Square. A mass also takes place in memory of 147 Swiss Guards who died in 1527 defending Pope Clement VII during the Sack of Rome.

The Swiss Vatican Guard is known as the smallest army in the world and comprises 110 men. It reports to the pope and is financed by the Vatican.

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

‘Massive’ Ash Cloud Closing Western Irish Airports

DUBLIN — Iceland’s volcano has produced a 1,000-mile-wide (1,600 kilometer-wide) ash cloud off the west coast of Ireland that will force western Irish airports to shut down again Friday, the Irish Aviation Authority announced.

The authority said shifting winds, currently coming from the north, had bundled recent days’ erupted ash into a massive cloud that is growing both in width and height by the hour.

[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Police Launch Q&A Game to Solve Ethical Dilemmas

The Swedish Police Union (Polisförbundet) has turned to a card game in order to help officers to address both professional ethics and personal conduct on and off the job.

Police probe cop blogger over furtive glans (9 Mar 10)

Is it okay to be a police officer and be politically active with the Sweden Democrats, a nationalist party? Is it appropriate for police officers to write about their profession on Facebook? These are a few issues that the the Swedish Police Union (Polisförbundet) address in its new professional ethics tool, a flashcard game.

The aim of the tool, called MoralMatch and developed by police union activists, is to increase the ethical standards of the police.

“I hope this contributes to higher ethics in the police force,” Police Union Chairman Jan Karlsen told The Local on Friday.

“It’s necessary to make progress in ethical questions. A good way to start talking about it is with simple play. It is necessary to discuss ethics and very important for a police force. We have to remind ourselves everyday, so to speak.”

Swedish police were dogged by allegations of racism last year after a police officer was disciplined for describing a suspect as a “negro” in an email, while Malmö police used fictional names such “Neger Niggersson” and “Oskar Neger” (Negro) for internal training purposes.

The new game hopes to prevent these types of situations from occurring and consists of 110 cards posing describing ethical scenarios raised from the responses of 3,000 members to a questionnaire.

At least two police officers are needed to play the game, but the ideal number is four to five. The organisation has produced 2000 games, which have been distributed among 20,000 police officers, with the game expected to become a regular feature in their work.

The tool was developed with the Linnæus University’s police education, which uses several toolboxes in their program, as well as local workshops.

The innovative idea has sparked interest from medical, nursing and teaching federations, as well as several Swedish companies and political organisations, who wish to adapt it for their own uses, Karlsen told The Local.

The flashcard game addresses other issues in addition to racism. The union has examined all the notifications received by the union’s staff disciplinary board over the last three or four years and included the issues raised by them in the game.

The scenarios are divided into three categories: how to respond to the public, how to interact with colleagues and the personal conduct of police officers in their spare time that may have an impact on their professional roles, the report said.

“It depends on which situation you’re in. You have to behave in the right way, all are very important issues. If you act badly off-duty, you always have to remind yourself, ‘You’re a police officer. My behaviour can damage the force’s reputation.’“

Karlsen declined to comment on the cost of the project, saying only that the union made the product itself at a low cost and expects to use it for many years.

“We often discuss ethical questions within the trade union. It’s always on the agenda. Slowly, we worked with these questions and decided to make a new ethical toolbox here,” he said.

“We had another ethical toolbox about four to five years ago and decided to make a new one to make progress. We can always make new cards and put them in the box. I hope we’ll use it for several years.”

Working on ethical issues is natural for the union and part of a strategy to raise the profession’s status.

“If you want a raise in your salary, part of it comes through good ethical behaviour,” Karlsen told The Local.

Another goal is for the tool to become part of a learning process. In order to focus on actual ethical dilemmas, all cases that have been addressed by the police’s staff disciplinary board in recent years are included. In cases where there has been a recurring pattern, they are presented as a professional ethical dilemma.

Since its launch on April 28th, the tool has met with both positive and negative views. Some police officers questioned the point of playing games during work time, Dagens Nyheter reported.

“We first tested it in focus groups. They thought it was a very good way to start discussions at work. So far, we have received some negative feedback,” Karlsen told The Local.

“They police are not expected to use it everyday, but when they can do it and have spare time to take some time off. You don’t have to play it from start to finish, even just two minutes, decide, do another thing, then go back to it. It is not built to be played for hours.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: Brutal Revenge: In a High-Security British Jail, A Serbian Warlord Has His Throat Slashed by Three Muslim Inmates

A former Serb general convicted of Europe’s worst massacre since the Second World War had his neck slashed open by three Muslim prisoners in a British jail yesterday.

Radislav Krstic, 62, serving a 35-year sentence for war crimes, was in a critical condition in hospital after the attack at top security Wakefield Prison.


The incident is a huge embarrassment to prison bosses because Krstic is regarded as one of Britain’s most sensitive and high-profile inmates.

It is almost certain to be raised at diplomatic level and questions will be asked about how the suspects were able to attack him.


He was slashed using a homemade weapon — believed to be a razorblade embedded in a toothbrush.

Last night it emerged that one of his suspected assailants was serving life for the torture and murder of a girl in a suburban park in 2005.

He is Indrit Krasniqi, 22, of Chiswick, West London, convicted in 2006 of the gang murder of Mary-Ann Leneghan, 16, in Reading.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Bungling Council Orders 20 Dead People to Court for Not Paying Council Tax

A local council has been forced to apologise after sending council tax bills and court orders to 20 people who have passed away.

The families of the deceased were distraught to receive court summonses addressed to their loved ones — some of whom died 10 years ago.

Croydon Council in South London admitted the mistake, blaming it on an out of date database.

Ray Shakespeare, from New Addington, received a £70 bill for his 79-year-old mother Fanny, who died in October 2000.

The council demanded she pay £153 including costs and warned the case would go to court if it wasn’t paid by May 18.

Mr Shakespeare said he was ‘angry, upset and disgusted’ by the letter and said he had been unaware that his mother had any outstanding debt.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: English Defence League Protestors Appear Before Dudley Magistrates

MEMBERS of the right-wing English Defence League (EDL) who held a rooftop protest in the Black Country were remanded in custody charged with burglary and inciting religious hatred.

Leon Mccreery, 28, of Dumbarton Road, Stockport, and John Shaw, 39, of Littondale Avenue, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, indicated not guilty pleas before Dudley magistrates yesterday after the Bank Holiday Monday demonstration.

They will appear via video-link at Dudley Magistrates’ Court for a committal hearing on May 10. The pair allegedly occupied the roof of a disused factory on Hall Street, Dudley, in protest at plans for a new mosque on the site. During the protest Islamic calls to prayer were played over loud-speakers.

Meanwhile police quashed rumours the pair had been denied access to legal advice whilst in custody which had been spread on social networking site Facebook.

Chief Inspector Matt Markham, who monitored Monday’s protest, said: “All those held in police custody are held in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and codes of practice which set out clearly the rights of those in custody.”

Of Monday’s police operation to control the EDL protest, which attracted around 200 supporters of the group to Dudley, he said: “The EDL gave us no prior warning as they have done traditionally.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hilton, Letwin, Boles: Into My Office Now!

“Every time a friend succeeds I die a little,” said Gore Vidal. I predicted last week that this wasn’t a sensation I would be feeling today towards my old mucker David Cameron. And so it has come to pass. I’m not feeling remotely jealous of the poisoned chalice he has just inherited.

But what I am is seething. Britain did not want another Heir to Blair. The Mk I version was quite bad enough. Britain did not want a faux Conservative whose role models were grim lefty termagant Polly Toynbee and Satan-worshipping leftist agitator Saul Alinsky.

Britain found itself — quelle surprise — oddly reluctant to get in any way enthused by Dave’s bouncy new “Big Society” plan for teenagers and grandmothers to be compelled every other week to whitewash their local community centre.

That’s because what Britain really wanted — and definitely needed — was a charismatic leader more akin to Margaret Thatcher. Someone capable of restoring Britain’s economic efficiency and rolling back the state; someone who, instead of wittering on about how much they cared about the NHS, might understand the needs and aspirations (which Cameron doesn’t and never has) of the hard-working middle classes; someone who valued the principle of liberty and realised just how much of it we’ve lost in the last 13 years; someone unafraid to address issues of concern to so many people such as immigration and the growing power of the European Socialist Superstate.

Cameron would have been quite capable of doing all this. But because he has no real personal ideology — as is the way with rich toffs in Conservative safe seats — what he badly needed was advisors capable of pushing him in the right direction. In this he has been badly failed.

Some of us have been warning the Conservatives about this for years. I remember going to a dinner party four years ago with Steve Hilton’s wife Rachel Whetstone and saying to her: “But when are you going to do something Tory?” Her response was almost as dismissive as the ones I used to get from Nick Boles whenever I raised the subject with him. We old school Conservatives, who believed in nonsense like tradition, low taxes and a small state, were now part of the problem not the solution. It was Guardian readers the Cameroons were courting now…

The person I feel perhaps sorriest for in all this is Michael Gove, whose schools policy was the one genuinely Conservative thing in Oliver Wetwin’s otherwise dismal manifesto. For four years now — this is only an inference of mine; he has never actually told me as much — he must have been sitting as part of Cameron’s inner circle, gnashing his teeth at all the Steve-Hilton-inspired centrist drivel the party was being forced to adopt in the name of being elected, kidding himself that if only he kept schtum and bided his time at least one sector of Britain (and possibly the most important one, too: education) could be saved from ruin.

There were precious few consolations in this grim election. We never got to see the appalling Ed Balls defenestrated. We never got to see the idiot voters in Brighton twig to the fact that a vote for a Green is probably more dangerous than a vote for a Marxist. Nothing.

But I do think we are now entitled to ask ourselves whether Steve Hilton was worth the £200,000 plus he has been paid these last five years to act as the chief architect of this stunning Tory victory. And whether next time, they might consider asking someone more red-bloodedly Tory than Oliver Letwin — Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, maybe, or Johann Hari — to take charge of the manifesto. And also to dwell sadly on what might have been — if only the Conservatives had gone into this election offering us some clear blue water, rather than a mish-mash of libtard platitudes.

They detoxified the brand all right. But in doing so they also destroyed it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: How Was a 14-Year-Old Schoolboy Allowed to Vote in the General Election?

Concerns were raised over election identity checks yesterday after it emerged a 14-year-old schoolboy managed to vote.

Election officials handed Alfie McKenzie a ballot paper without querying his identity.

He then voted for the Lib Dems at the polling station next to his school in Preesall, Lancashire, where he was a candidate in a mock election.

Teachers at St Aidan’s High School, raised the alarm after Alfie was overheard bragging to his classmates.

Police are investigating and in theory the youngster could face a criminal charge and, if convicted, a fine of £5,000 or six months in prison. The legal voting age is 18.

But sources said he was unlikely to be arrested or charged and that he had simply been given a ‘slap on the wrist.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Into the Murk

Everyone lost!

Who can be surprised? Only the political class (and its media groupies) who refused to heed the unequivocal message being shouted from the rooftops by the public at every opportunity, that as far as they were concerned all politicians were venal, incompetent and untrustworthy, and that people had had it up to here with the entire political system. So when increasingly panicky Labour and Tory politicians desperately warned before the election that a hung parliament would be a disaster because it would not deliver the strong and decisive government that the system was tailored to provide, the voters said ‘Yesss!!!’ Or to be more precise, they turned their backs on the big national picture and voted local: the candidate who impressed them on his or her own account won, largely regardless of party; simple as that. True localism!

So now all is murk. And no, the likely political paralysis is not good at all. But then, no party was offering any prospect of getting to grips properly with anything important anyway. It is the condition of British politics, and beyond that the state of British society, which is not good at all and of which this election result is an accurate reflection.

The big shock last night was the drop in the LibDem vote. So much for the ‘Politics Idol’: it looks like when it came to it the voters had more sense. But the real losers were the Tories. Yes of course Labour was smashed (although it’s a brave soul who would say even now that Brown has no prospect of hanging on to power). For although the Tories are the largest party, they fluffed a goal that was wide, wide open. Given the unprecedented incompetence, corruption and chaos of the Labour government and with the country screaming for relief, the Tories should have walked it. If Cameron becomes Prime Minister, it will be by default — and with a fragile hold on power making the prospect of having to hold another election in the near future all too likely.

This result finally proves that the Cameroon ‘hopeydopeychangey’strategy was a bad mistake, for all the reasons discussed here month after month. Will the Cameroons now admit it?

Is the Pope a Catholic?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Leading Conservative Claims Muslim Politicians Lack ‘Principles’

Baroness Warsi under fire for comments made at dinner in honour of the visiting president of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir

A leading member of the Conservative shadow cabinet has argued against more Muslims going into Parliament because they lack “principles”, a video obtained by The Independent reveals.

Baroness Warsi, the party’s spokeswoman for community cohesion, was recorded saying that she did not want to see more Muslim MPs or Muslim Lords because “Muslims that go to Parliament don’t have ‘asool’“. Asool is Urdu for “morals” or “principles”.

A Conservative spokesperson said her remarks were take out of context. They said the word “asool” should have been translated as “Muslim principles” and wasn’t intended to imply that Muslim parliamentarians were immoral.

They also acknowledged that “this may not have been the best way of making her point” but insisted that she had been taken out of context.

“She was saying you shouldn’t vote for a Muslim MP on the basis of their Muslim principle, you should vote for an MP based on their ability to represent the community regardless of their ethnic tick box.”

Sayeeda Warsi was talking in Rotherham at a dinner in honour of the visiting president of Pakistan-controlled Kashmir on 2 April in response to an earlier speaker who urged more Muslims to enter politics.

Lady Warsi, speaking in a mixture of English and Urdu, said: “[He] says that we need more Muslims MPs, that we need more Muslims in the House of Lords. I would actually disagree with that because I think one of the lessons we have learnt in the last five years in politics is that not all Muslims that go to into politics have asool.”

“Not everyone puts their community before their own career,” she added.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

UK: Library Forced to Hire Doormen to Stop Staff Being Threatened

But one library has had to hire bouncers after young thugs tore through the premises, ‘terrorising and tormenting’ two female staff and intimidating visitors.

Security were also needed to deal with groups drinking near the entrance of the premises.

Safe and secure: A desperate council have drafted in bouncers to police the doors at the public library in King’s Lynn to keep a lid on anti-social behaviour.

Nearly £1,000 was spent on bouncers in black jackets with high-visibility armbands to watch over the town library in King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: No Balls Moment — But Some Truly Awful People Are Out

As it turned out, there was no Michael Portillo moment for Conservatives hoping to castrate the Labour party by removing Schools Secretary Ed Balls. Brown’s henchman hung on by the skin of his teeth, and in characteristically graceless style blamed “Ashcroft money” for his nearly losing his seat, a refrain used by many Labour politicians on the night — as if Labour money comes from £10 subscriptions from little old ladies.

There were many other disappointments for the Tories — Shaun Bailey in Hammersmith springs to mind — among the general disappointment of the night. Still, as has been suggested already, Balls might be more use to the Tories inside Parliament than out.

On the other hand Tony McNulty in Harrow, Jacqui Smith in Redditch and Shahid Malik in Dewsbury are out — all of them disgraced by the expenses scandal.

Christian Conservatives in particular will be over the moon about the defeat of Dr Evan Harris in Oxford West and Abingdon, “Dr Death” being something of a hate figure for his strong views on abortion. Harris, whose sterling work trying to reform the libel laws and promotion of science has earned him a huge and sycophantic following on Twitter, said he did not expect a week ago to lose his seat. Perhaps that’s why he spent all his time on social networking sites retweeting all of his lackeys’ grovelling praise. It’s unlikely that life issues played a part in his downfall — far more that, as Greece goes down in flames, voters thought twice about the most pro-Euro party in Britain.

Still, we’re still waiting for the scalp that would really cheer Conservatives — their own John Bercow in Buckingham. Alas, the omens aren’t good.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Race Thugs Attack Sons of UK’s First Asian Bishop

The former Bishop of Rochester’s two sons have been set upon in a racial attack, it has emerged.

Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the first Asian bishop appointed by the Church of England, last night condemned the gang assault.

Pakistani-born Dr Nazir-Ali, who retired last September, said: ‘Any act of violence is concerning but it makes it even worse that it was racially motivated.

‘My main concern is making sure the boys are OK.

‘I was the Bishop of Rochester for 15 years and we worked hard to make sure there were good relations between everyone — regardless of race — in the area.

‘Unfortunately, town and city centres attract the wrong sort of people these days.

His sons Shami and Ross suffered cuts and bruises after being chased from a kebab shop by a 20-strong gang in Rochester, Kent, last Saturday evening.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Schools Urged to Axe Homework Because it ‘Pollutes’ Family Life, Says Leading Children’s Author

Dr Updale, who wrote the award-winning Montmorency series about a Victorian ex-convict turned spy, said homework undermined families’ limited time together.

All work should be completed in the classroom instead, she suggested.

The Government, schools and parents should ‘break away from the automatic assumption that homework is a good thing’, she said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The People Who Advised the Tories Over the Last Five Years Should be Shot

A truly dreadful night for everyone. But firstly — how delicious, on waking, to see Nick Clegg getting a taste of humble pie. I thought I was dreaming. Clegg is a system politician through and through who couldn’t believe his luck that over the past couple of weeks the British public appeared to be falling for his “great outsider” line. What a tremendous demonstration of this nation’s thoughtfulness that they didn’t fall for it in the end.

Labour have obviously had some bad losses, but it is interesting how some of their more principled MPs, like the great Gisela Stuart, have hung on. Is there any chance of other MPs taking a lesson from this? Perhaps principles in politics aren’t so unrewarding after all? The increase of votes to the great Douglas Carswell also suggests that the public don’t feel entirely opposed to politicians who behave well with their money and honour their vote.

But as for the Tories generally. Ouch ouch ouch. But I don’t blame the individual candidates. I’m with Comrade Delingpole on this one. The people who have been advising the Tory party for the last five years should be taken out and shot (OK, James didn’t quite say that). I have lost count during this election of the number of times Tory candidates have told me about what they are hearing on the doorstep, what they would like to be able to say in response, and what they are, however, not permitted to say by the party.

This was the election where not only the Conservative party, but conservative principles, should have been triumphant. The campaign should have explained to the British people that the Conservative alternative was attractive not because it was a different set of faces but because it was an entirely different way of doing things. It should have explained that conservative economics would save this country not because Conservatives have better hair but because conservative policies make fiscal sense.

Instead, the greatest electoral opportunity that the conservative cause has had in a generation has been squandered utterly. I know that traditionally Tories don’t tend to need encouragement to knife each other. But if I were one of the Conservative candidates who went into politics to fight for conservative values but who has just had to fight an election campaign with my hands tied by the party leadership I think I’d start to be identifying targets.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: What a Success — MPACUK Defeats Top Zionist Dismore

SUCCESS! MPACUK defeats Arch-Zionist MP by 106 votes!

Alhamdulillah, our efforts in Hendon were granted success as Andrew Dismore — a leading member of Labour Friends of Israel — was defeated by just 106 votes! Dismore (who backed the Iraq war and has a long record of Islamophobia) has MPACUK and the Muslims of Hendon to thank for his early retirement. We’re waiting for his card and flowers…

We were planning Andrew Dismore’s downfall for a long time and the General Election was our chance to give Dismore both barrels. He didn’t like it one bit. Squirming through the hustings attended by MPACUK and then trying to label us as “extremists”. Dismore squealed to his friends in the Jewish Chronicle in the hope that its readers would sympathise with him but they couldn’t save him from MPACUK’s awesome campaign.

We ensured that all the local Muslims were aware of his appalling record — distributing thousands of leaflets outside the mosques, knocking on hundreds of doors and putting up posters in every Muslim shop we could find. Mash’Allah the Muslims of Hendon woke up to the political jihad and they booted him out.

Now that Dismore is history, the Muslims of Hendon should ensure that the next Labour candidate is responsive to their needs. Right now we’re savouring the victory of another enemy defeated but we won’t rest until every single warmongering Zionist is booted out of power.

We need your help — please donate to MPACUK or volunteer your time, so we can achieve more successes for the Ummah insh’Allah. Jazak’Allah khair.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: Festival, Islamic Party Calls for Ban of Elton John

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, MAY 7 — The Moroccan Islamic Justice and Development Party (PJD, opposition) asked today to ban British singer Elton John from participating in the festival Mawazine “because this risks encouraging homosexuality in Morocco,” said Mustafa Ramid, the party’s leader in Parliament. “We categorically refuse the participation of this singer because this risks encouraging homosexuality in Morocco,” said Ramid. Elton John will be present at the Mawazine festival, which takes place from May 21 to 29 in Rabat with numerous signers such as Julio Iglesias, Mika, Carlos Santana and BB King. “The problem is not him, but the image that he has in the public opinion,” said MP Lahcen Daoudi, one of the party leaders. “Society has a negative perception of this singer and we must take that into account.” The PJD party filed a request in the lower house of Parliament today calling for “the British singer’s “participation to be banned”, also criticising “the welcome that has been reserved for him”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Conflict With Palestinians Only Link Brandeis Protesters Have to Israel.

…Brandeis University recently decided to award honorary degrees to Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Paul Simon, among others, at its May 23 commencement, and Ambassador Oren, an extraordinary orator among his many other qualities, was invited to deliver the commencement address.

But the days in which Jewish students on an American campus would have been thrilled to have the Israeli ambassador honored by their school are apparently long since gone. Brandeis’s student newspaper, The Justice (how’s that for irony?), deplored the choice, writing that “Mr. Oren is a divisive and inappropriate choice for keynote speaker at commencement, and we disapprove of the university’s decision to grant someone of his polarity on this campus that honor.”

The ambassador is a polarizing figure? Why is that? Because, the editorial continues, “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hotly contested political issue, one that inspires students with serious positions on the topic to fervently defend and promote their views.”

This is where we are today. For many young American Jews, the only association they have with Israel is the conflict with the Palestinians. Israel is the country that oppresses Palestinians, and nothing more…

[Return to headlines]

Israel Prepares for the Possibility of a Summer War With Lebanon

Israelis urged to “clean out your bomb shelter” as fears of a flare-up refuse to subside.

Emerging from a briefing earlier this week with top Israeli intelligence officers, one Israeli lawmaker quipped, “If you have a bomb shelter, clean it out now.”

This warning came amid reports of the potential for summer war breaking out between Israel and Lebanon, spilling over into Syria. Leaders on all sides have tried to calm these fears, but they persist.

This could be because intelligence is being leaked that Hizbullah in Lebanon has obtained larger and more precise rockets from Syria and Iran that put most of the Israeli population in its reach.

In addition, the redistribution to all Israeli citizens of kits to protect them against chemical and biological attacks by Israeli army Home Front Command has done little to calm fears that a conflagration is nigh.

Col. Yossi Sagiv, who is responsible for the Home Front Command’s protective kits distribution program, said the timing was coincidental.

“We had originally planned to start this in January 2009, but it was delayed until now due to budgetary reasons, that’s all,” Sagiv told The Media Line.

Under the new plan Israelis are now ordering their newly designed gas masks from the post office and an employee will deliver them straight to their door. For decades Israel has equipped it citizens with kits to protect them from gas and germ warfare. But it collected the old ones in 2007.

Since it started redistribution four weeks ago about 4 percent of the population has already renewed their kits, Sagiv said.

“We expect about 60% of the population to replace their kits within two years, with the remaining 40% being apathetic and waiting for an emergency,” he said.

“Still, if there is an emergency situation then we are capable of implementing our plans that involve reserve units that can quickly distribute the protective kits where they are needed,” Sagiv added.

Sagiv spoke to The Media Line amid revelations that the Home Front has been quietly and steadily revamping its civil defense preparations to give the Israeli rear better protection than it did when it came under Hamas rocket attacks last year and Hizbullah strikes in 2006.

“For the last 62 years we couldn’t sleep even one night with both eyes shut,” said Zeev Bielski, a legislator from the centrist Kadima Party, as he emerged from the intelligence briefing with a long face.

“Since the last war [in 2006] Hizbullah has received four times [the] amount of weapons they had then thanks to its cooperation with Syria. Iran, Syria and the Hizbullah have brought about a situation where a terror organization like the Hizbullah can ignite the whole Middle East,” Bielski told The Media Line.

Briefing the legislators was Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, the Israeli army’s chief intelligence assessment officer. He told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week that Syria had transferred larger and mores sophisticated surface-to-surface missiles, including about 200 M600 rockets that can carry a half-ton warhead, much more powerful than the katyushas Hizbullah fired in 2006.

Israeli intelligence claims Hizbullah now has over 40,000 rockets and missiles of various calibers. Baidatz said the arms transfers were the “tip of the iceberg.”…

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

The Futility of Seeking Peace With the Palestinians

Here’s a notion worth considering; you cannot make peace with people that want to kill you.

It is impossible to make peace with people who will not sit down and negotiate with you on any other terms than their own.

It is beyond impossible if you are seeking peace with people who regard your existence as a “nakba”, a disaster, a catastrophe.

Several U.S. administrations have foundered in their efforts “to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” That conflict would end the minute the Palestinian entities, whether they are the Palestinian Liberation Authority and/or Hamas would accept Israel as it is in 2010 and not demand that history be erased and that it return to its 1967 borders.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Time to Plan for War

by Caroline Glick

So much for US President Barack Obama’s famed powers of persuasion. At the UN’s Nuclear Non-Poliferation Treaty review conference which opened this week, the Obama administration managed to lose control over the agenda before the conference even started.

Obama administration officials said they intended to use the conference as a platform to mount international pressure on Iran to stop its illicit nuclear proliferation activities. But even before the conference began, with a little prodding from Egypt, the administration agreed that instead of focusing on Iran, the conference would adopt Iran’s chosen agenda: attacking Israel for its alleged nuclear arsenal.

Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that US officials were conducting negotiations with Egypt about Egypt’s demand that the NPT review conference call for sanctions against Israel for refusing to join the NPT as a non-nuclear state. The Journal quoted a senior administration official involved in the discussions saying, “We’ve made a proposal to them [Egypt] that goes beyond what the U.S. has been willing to do before.”…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Lebanon: Israel Will Start War if it Finds Nasrallah, Press

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 7 — Israel will begin war in Lebanon as soon as it discovers the whereabouts of the leader of the Shia movement Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Rai al-Aam writes today, citing anonymous western sources. “Israel will start war as soon as it discovers the hiding place of Nasrallah, regardless of the time or the circumstances,” said the sources, who also confirmed that “this will be the zero hour in which Israel will reach a series of objectives at the same time”. The same sources state that Israel believes that the battle would be “half won” with the decapitation of the Shia movement, which is backed by Iran and Syria. Nasrallah has lived in a secret location since the inconclusive “second Lebanon war” in 2006. Hezbollah has said a number of times that it is stronger since the 34-day long conflict and possesses long-range missiles capable of hitting any spot in Israel, who recently accused Syria of supplying Hezbollah with ballistic Scud missiles. Damascus has dismissed the accusations as unfounded. The sources cited by al-Rai al-Aam also stated that “it has become impossible for Israel to stay silent in the face of Hezbollah’s capabilities” and that the Jewish state will start a preventive war to ward off the threat posed by the Lebanese Shia movement. “Waiting one year would compromise Israel’s military advantage,” the sources said. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: King Opens to Women, Clerics Divided

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 4 — The clearest indication of the level of modernisation reached in Saudi Arabia under the reforming drive of King Abdullah is perhaps the controversial debate of the last few weeks on the space that should be left to the female universe and on social and family relations between men and women. As well as involving large media audiences, the issue highlights the depth of the growing split in the kingdom’s religious framework, a stronghold of the country’s ultra-conservative outlook. Without thundering speeches or sensational moves — with the exception of the appointment of Nura Al Faiz as undersecretary for the Education of Women, the first time in the country’s history that the position has been held by a woman — the Saudi monarch has begun and continued a slow and gradual process of opening that has culminated in the two most recent episodes, which are as symbolic as they are politically significant. Sheikh Ahmad Al Gamdi, head of the Mecca division of the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice — the religious police that tracks the behaviour of citizens — was reinstated by King Abdullah after being suspended by religious authorities. The man had been suspended for a speech he made during the inauguration of Kaust, Saudi Arabia’s first mixed university, during which he claimed that there is nothing in the precepts of Islam that imposes segregation of the sexes in public places. Another religious exponent, Sheikh Sàad Al Shetri, who in the last few days had criticised the policy of the university supported by the King, was relieved of his duties. At the height of the furore over Al Gamdi’s suspension and reinstatement, almost all the newspapers in the Middle East published at least one photo of the Saudi monarch with Prince Sultan surrounded by women with their faces covered during a seminar on health. This was read by some analysts as a sort of statement by the King, who is keen to go ahead with reforms of social opening. There is still a lot of important ground to be made by women, though. This includes the right to drive, to vote, the right to move around without being guarded by a male family member, and a number of professions. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Pope Discusses Christian ‘Needs’ With Kuwaiti Emir

Vatican City, 6 May (AKI) — Pope Benedict XVI and Kuwaiti emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah discussed Christian rights in Kuwait as they sought to extend inter-religious dialogue at the Vatican on Thursday.

During the meeting “attention turned to certain questions of mutual interest, with particular reference to the promotion of peace in the Middle East, and of inter-religious dialogue,” the Vatican said in a statement. “

“The positive contribution that the significant Christian minority makes to Kuwaiti society was also highlighted, and consideration given to the particular needs of that minority,” the statement said.

In 2005 Benedict discussed the role of minority Christians when he met Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah.

The Vatican is seeking greater freedom and more rights for Christians there as it seeks to strengthen relations with Muslim countries.

After a controversial speech the pope delivered in Germany in 2006 that implied Islam was violent and irrational, he hosted a three-day meeting at the Vatican with 138 Muslim delegates to discuss faith and inter-religious dialogue.

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


Turkey: Russia to Sign Visa Removal Agreement

(ANSAmed) — MOSCOW, MAY 7 — Turkey and Russia are expected to sign a visa removal agreement next week during Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev’s visit to Turkey on May 11-12, as Anatolia news agency reports. “The consulates of the two countries have initialed the agreement to lift visa procedures,” Turkey’s Ambassador to Russia Halil Akinci said adding that Russia had requested small changes in the editing of the agreement. However, Medvedev and Turkish President Abdullah Gul could sign the agreement without waiting for domestic approval process to end, Akinci said. Transitions between Turkey and Russia without any visa are expected to begin within this year. Removal of visa procedures first came up during Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Moscow last January. Two countries have launched necessary studies as Russia was also positive towards the move. The initialed agreement foresees tourist visits for up to one month between the two countries to be exempted from visa. Turkish citizens earning their living in Russia and Turkish students having education in Russia are expected to be out of this implementation. According to Turkey, 2.6 million Russian people visited Turkey last year. This figure was 1.9 million according to Russia’s statistics. Turkish citizens preferring Moscow as a tourist destination is around 30,000-40,000. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Blast Kills 1, Wounds 5 in Russia’s Caucasus

A powerful bomb tore through a crowd of commuters in Russia’s troubled Northern Caucasus on Friday, killing a woman and wounding five other people, officials said.

The woman died in a hospital shortly after a bomb planted in a garbage bin exploded at a railway station in the town of Derbent in the violence-ridden province of Dagestan, regional transport police spokesman Akhmed Magomayev said. He said a police officer was among the wounded.

Dagestan, along with other provinces of Russia’s Northern Caucasus region, is home to an active Islamist insurgency.

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan: Taliban and Al-Qaeda ‘Morphed’ Into One Group

Islamabad, 7 May (AKI) — The Pakistani Taliban, which US investigators suspect were behind the failed Times Square bomb attack, have in recent years combined forces with Al-Qaeda and other groups, according to The New York Times.

Citing Western diplomats, intelligence officials and experts, the US daily made the claim in a report published on Friday.

Pakistan’s military offensives and intensifying US drone strikes have damaged their capabilities.

But the Pakistani Taliban have sustained themselves through alliances with any number of other militant groups, splinter cells, and foot soldiers in the areas under their control, The Times article said.

Those groups have “morphed,” an unidentified Western diplomat said in a recent interview with the New York Times.

Their common agenda, training and resource sharing have made it increasingly difficult to distinguish one from another and alliances have also added to their skills and tactics and list of shared targets, the newspaper claimed.

“They trade bomb makers and people around,” a senior US intelligence official said on Thursday in an interview with the newspaper. “It’s becoming this witch’s brew.”

The senior intelligence official said that in recent years the overall ability and lethality of these groups had dropped, but that the threat to individual countries like the US had increased somewhat because the groups cooperated against a range of targets.

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

Far East

Dallas Panelist Paints China as Cyber Victim, But Critics Say Evidence Shows Otherwise

Looming in the background of any discussion of Internet crime, espionage and warfare is China.

Earlier this week at the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit in Dallas, China’s role in the underworld of cybercrime briefly took center stage.

The flashpoint was a panel discussion of how companies and governments can build an international consensus on dealing with online security.

The panel included Liu Zhengrong, deputy director-general of the Internet Affairs Bureau in China’s State Council Information Office.

He said cybercrime is a growing problem for citizens and businesses in China, as roughly 48,000 cases of Internet crime were reported in the country last year, a 37 percent increase from 2008.

“China has become one of the major victims, suffering huge losses,” Liu said, estimating that cybercrimes cost the country more than $1 billion per year.

But many critics say China — its criminals as well as the Chinese government itself — is a major perpetrator of cybercrime and Internet espionage.

[Return to headlines]

Japan — United States: Tokyo Makes U-Turn on US Base in Okinawa

Newspapers and political leaders slam Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama who ran his campaign against the US base on the southern island. His government is now in a free-fall, at 20 per cent of support.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama (pictured) is now confronted by another crisis, purely political in nature. After being hit by a financial scandal and questions over his wife, Mr Hatoyama now has to defend his U-turn on the US Okinawa airbase, a move some have deemed “shameful”.

During his election campaign, Prime Minister Hatoyama had made closing the US base, even partially, part of his platform. Now he has dropped that demand so as not to hurt American sensibilities.

“The government’s recent disarray appears shameful,” the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun said in an editorial. “Needless to say, Prime Minister Hatoyama bears the greatest responsibility.”

On his first visit to the sub-tropical island since he took office in September, Hatoyama yesterday apologised for his failure to meet his election pledge to remove the US Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from Okinawa entirely.

Hatoyama had long vowed to review an accord made in 2006 by previous governments in Tokyo and Washington under which the base should be moved from its crowded urban location to a quieter coastal area on Okinawa.

Islanders have expressed their opposition to moving the base anywhere on the group of islands, sometimes with violence.

Now the prime minister is running out of time as the 31 May deadline approaches. If he fails to meet it, the 2006 agreement would be null and void.

“The prime minister has stated that he would stake his job on the resolution by the end of May. The words are grave,” the Mainichi Shimbun said. “If he fails, it will be certain that his political responsibility should be rigorously examined.”

Liberal Democratic Party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki is even harsher. “It’s a clear breach of promises and for people in Okinawa, it’s a betrayal,” he said. “It would be natural for the prime minister to resign”

The latest opinion polls in Japan have put support for Hatoyama and his cabinet at just over 20 per cent, sharply down from 72 per cent in September when he took office.

“Prime Minister Hatoyama can’t help but lose his political influence further,” said Shinichi Nishikawa, professor of politics at Meiji University in Tokyo. “It would not be a surprise if calls for his resignation spread to his ruling coalition,” he added.

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

Australia — Pacific

Burqa Ban is “Un-Australian” Say Muslims

A CALL for a controversial ban on wearing the burqa in public has split opinion and sparked outrage from the Muslim community who labelled it a political stunt.

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi yesterday sparked outrage after he called for the Islamic headdress to be banned following an earlier robbery in a Sydney store by a burqa clad man.

Writing on his personal blog, the outspoken senator said the veil was “emerging as the preferred disguise of bandits and n’er do wells”.

He wants to see it banned, but also because it prevents women from interacting in normal day-to-day life. “The burqa isolates some Australians from others,” he wrote.

“It is un-Australian — and it’s symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from. For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned.”

However Assisting Shift in Multicultural Australia director Janine Evans, who is a Muslim, said the burqa did fit in with the Australian way of life.

“To say it doesn’t fit with our way of life and culture shuts the door to (Muslim) women becoming active members of society,” she said.

Other Islamic groups dismissed the call as a political stunt aimed at tapping into anti-Islamic sentiment.

Senator Bernardi’s comments were backed by security experts but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said while there was “understandable concern in the community” about people wearing the burqa, a ban was not Coalition policy.

Islamic Friendship Association’s Keysar Trad rejected the call as ignorant and said it was a political stunt. Wearing the burqa actually encouraged women to integrate into Australian society, whereas a ban would only force them indoors where they’d “miss out on the vitamin D”.

“It’s tantamount to denying them the right to drive, the right to enjoy all the services of society as well as equal opportunity,” Mr Trad said.

In France, a bid to ban the veil from public places was about President Nicolas Sarkozy trying to win anti-Islamic votes, Mr Trad said.

Former Victoria Police deputy commissioner Bob Falconer said most police were reluctant to search suspects wearing burqas.

Counter-terrorism and aviation security consultant Roger Henning said that anything which prevented identification of the face posed “a massive risk” to public safety.

“People have used burqas to escape prison, for bank robberies and terrorists carrying explosive devices are sometimes disguised as women,” Mr Henning said

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

For Australia’s Sake, We Need to Ban the Burqa

The burqa is no longer simply the symbol of female repression and Islamic culture, it is now emerging as a disguise of bandits and n’er do wells.

In Sydney this morning a man was robbed by a burqa wearing bandit who further disguised his (or her) identity by wearing sunglasses. The bandit was described by police as being of “Middle Eastern appearance”.

Well of course he was (assuming it was a he) because the only characteristics the victim could see were the burqa and the sunglasses. Now unless the sunglasses had ‘made in Iran’ stamped on them, it’s fair to say that the ‘Middle Eastern appearance’ line was attributed to the head to toe veiling of the Islamic burqa.

In my mind, the burqa has no place in Australian society.

I would go as far as to say it is un-Australian. To me, the burqa represents the repressive domination of men over women, which has no place in our society and compromises some of the most important aspects of human communication.

It also establishes a different set of rules and societal expectations in our hitherto homogenous society.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

As an avid motorcyclist I am required to remove my helmet before entering a bank or petrol station. It’s a security measure for the businesses and no reasonable person objects to this requirement. However, if I cover myself in a black cloth from head to toe, with only my eyes barely visible behind a mesh guard, I am effectively unidentifiable and can waltz into any bank unchallenged in the name of religious freedom.

Little wonder bank bandits in the UK are now becoming burqa bandits.

The same can be said for any number of areas where photographic identification is required. How many of us would ask for the veil to be dropped so we can compare the photo with the burqa wearer’s face? I suspect the fear of being called bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic or insensitive would prevent many from doing what they would not think twice about under normal circumstances.

Put simply, the burqa separates and distances the wearer from the normal interactions with broader society.

But there is a greater reason the burqa needs to be binned.

Equality of women is one of the key values in our secular society and any culture that believes only women should be covered in such a repressive manner is not consistent with the Australian culture and values.

Perhaps some of you will consider that burqa wearing should be a matter of personal choice, consistent with the freedoms our forefathers fought for. I disagree.

New arrivals to this country should not come here to recreate the living environment they have just left. They should come here for a better life based on the freedoms and values that have built our great nation.

The burqa isolates some Australians from others. Its symbolic barrier is far greater than the measure of cloth it is created from.

For safety and for society, the burqa needs to be banned in Australia.

Cory Bernardi is a Liberal Party Senator. This article first appeared on

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


N.Y. Creates Pardon Panel for Deportable Immigrants

To shield criminally convicted immigrants from deportation, the governor of New York has created a special pardon panel to forgive individuals of state crimes that under federal law require expulsion from the U.S.

Governor David Paterson claims that he created the first-of-its kind initiative because federal immigration laws, particularly those involving deportation, are extremely inflexible and he simply wanted to soften the blow for deserving individuals caught in their web.

The new five-member state panel, which has ignited a hostile confrontation with federal authorities, will assist the governor in reviewing the pardon applications of convicted immigrants in the Empire State who are facing extraction from the U.S. Individuals who have shown extensive efforts towards rehabilitation will likely get pardoned, Paterson said at a press conference announcing his plan this week.

Not all violent criminals will be forgiven, the Democrat governor assures. The panel will only recommend pardons for individuals who have “contributed as New Yorkers.” This will help preserve the wealth of good that immigrants have provided the state and will stand as a symbol of justice and humanity that captures the spirit of New York, according to the governor.

Under federal laws passed in 1996, immigrants even those living in the U.S. legallyare subject to mandatory deportation after criminal convictions, including misdemeanor drug possession. In most cases they are classified as state crimes and only a governors pardon can intercept deportation even if the convict is married to a U.S. citizen or has American-born children.

Paterson was inspired by the fact that, in many cases, the individual’s rehabilitation efforts, years of living in the community without any legal trouble and their positive contributions to society are not considered before deportation. Now his new state panel will consider all those factors before allowing the feds to deport a convict.


Not all violent criminals will be forgiven, the Democrat governor assures. The panel will only recommend pardons for individuals who have “contributed as New Yorkers.”

[Return to headlines]

Revenge Flick That Centers on an Assassination Plot Against an Anti-Immigration U.S. Senator

“A violent new film from cult director Robert Rodriguez is declaring war on Arizona with a “special Cinco De Mayo message” in the wake of the state’s controversial illegal immigration law.

“That message is: “They just f—-ed with the wrong Mexican.”

“Machete,” which features a knife-wielding Mexican assassin out for revenge against double-crossing gringos, won’t be in theaters until September, but it is already sparking a political melee over Wednesday’s stab at the Grand Canyon State.”

[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Group’s “Vicious Abuse” of Candidates

A Muslim organisation which campaigns against candidates who support Israel has been reported to the equalities watchdog for intimidating behaviour.

The Community Security Trust raised its concerns about the Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) in a meeting with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission before the election, and received an assurance that its activities would be closely monitored. Such has been the intensity of the MPAC campaign that the CST decided to take up the issue with the EHRC as soon as the polls closed.

MPAC accused several prominent Labour candidates of “Islamophobia” and urged Muslims to vote for others.

Their prime target was Immigration Minister Phil Woolas, whose 3,590 majority in Oldham East and Saddleworth was identified as vulnerable. Mr Woolas was accused this week of stoking racial tension by publishing an eight-page newspaper to publicise the attacks on him, including an alleged death threat.

A statement on the MPAC website said the organisation had been “campaigning peacefully in Oldham and Saddleworth for the past few weeks to encourage Muslims to express their democratic right to speak up regarding issues close to their hearts, lobbying against politicians that support illegal wars and display or nurture Islamophobic tendencies.”

MPAC claims to be an organisation devoted to the “political empowerment of British Muslims” and to exposing injustice across the Muslim world. However, several MPs targeted by the group have described it as an “extremist” organisation in their campaign literature.

In Hendon, Andrew Dismore raised his own concerns about the MPAC campaign to persuade Muslim constituents to vote for any of his opponents in protest at his consistent support for Israel.

Other targets included Rotherham MP Denis MacShane. MPAC issued an election leaflet advertising Dr MacShane’s voting record and repeating tabloid stories about his expenses claims. Dr MacShane said one MPAC activist had been urging people to vote BNP in Rotherham.

MPAC has also been campaigning against Muslim MP Khalid Mahmood in Birmingham, whom they accuse of “demonising Muslims” by voting with the government on the war and security issues.

Meanwhile, Ilford South MP Mike Gapes challenged the head of MPAC, Asghar Bukhari, to stand against him. Mr Bukhari notoriously admitted to funding the Holocaust denier David Irving.

Mark Gardner, Communications Director of the CST, said: “MPAC are notorious for viciously abusing and intimidating candidates whom they dislike. Knowing their track record, prior to the election campaign we raised our concerns with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, which assured us that it would deal firmly with such behaviour.

“Now the election is done, we will discuss the situation with candidates and agree upon who is best positioned to move things forward with the Commission.”

A spokesman from the EHRC said: “We had a meeting with CST earlier this year at which we outlined what we would be doing during the election period with regard to complaints about election literature and speeches which people may feel breached equality and discrimination guidelines or legislation.” He added that any complaint from CST would be taken seriously. However, any incidents of intimidation during the election should be reported to the police and the Electoral Commission.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Planned Parenthood Thinks Moms Want More Abortions for Mother’s Day

It’s a little difficult for people who were victims of abortion to purchase their mother a gift for Mother’s Day this weekend. But Planned Parenthood apparently thinks moms want donations made to the abortion business in their name from those lucky enough to not have been aborted themselves.

Cecile Richards, the president of the largest abortion business in the nation, sent out Planned Parenthood’s annual Mother’s Day fundraising missive today.

“It’s almost Mother’s Day … and if you have a mother in your life who’s anything like me or my mom (the late Texas Governor Ann Richards), then you know nothing would make her happier than a gift that represents bold and compassionate values. Like a gift in her honor to Planned Parenthood Federation of America,” she writes.

“We’ve made it quick and easy — and we’ve even made it pretty,” Richards adds. “Honor a mother in your life with a gift to Planned Parenthood. [It’s] a gift your loved one will appreciate — and remember.”

[Return to headlines]


Culture: How the West Took Leave of Its Senses

by Melanie Phillips

In the post-Christian West, it is an article of secular faith that religion and reason repel each other like magnetic poles. Religion, it is said, is not rational and reason cannot embrace anything that lies outside materialist explanation.

In recent years, this disdain for religion has grown into a virulent animus, not least in response to the Islamic jihad that poses a mortal threat to life and liberty from a religious fanaticism that would bomb us back to the seventh century.

Defenders of national identity and traditional morality are vilified as racists, homophobes, Islamophobes or xenophobes. Jews expressing outrage at the lies and libels being used to delegitimise Israel are denounced for “dual loyalty”, demonised as part of a global conspiracy to harm the world and ostracised socially and professionally.

Such determination to stamp out dissent follows inexorably from utopian creeds that aim to bring about through human agency the perfection of the world. When utopia inevitably fails to materialise, the disappointment turns ugly. Adherents of the cult create scapegoats upon whom they turn with a ferocity fuelled by disorientation, anger and shame, in an attempt to bring about by coercion the state of purity purportedly thwarted by the designated culprits.

This article is based on “The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth and Power”, by Melanie Phillips, published by Encounter Books, New York.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Fast Breaking Caveman News


Assuming that these Neanderthal introgressions in non-African modern humans exist (the technical problems Paabo has had to deal with — in particular, avoiding contamination by modern human DNA — and the analytical problems are daunting), they probably aren’t neutral or junk genes, which would tend to disappear over the last 1,000 or so generations. They are probably useful genes that give some Darwinian advantage or advantages in some environments.

…If they haven’t spread back into Africa, that might suggest they aren’t that useful in Africa…

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“It is characteristic of all movements and crusades that the psychopathic element rises to the top.” — Robert Lindner

Various definitions of leadership exist and they are all vague as is the concept. “Leadership, a critical management skill, is the ability to motivate a group of people toward a common goal” or “The ability to lead skillfully.” The first seems to confuse management and leadership while both smack of manipulation. Neither hints at morality but assumes the people are being led in the right direction.

History shows that demagogues gain power when the people believe the society is drifting toward collapse and feel powerless. The demagogue is the siren of salvation, but the price is always disaster. Economic conditions in Germany created by the disastrous Treaty of Versailles provided Hitler with all the ammunition needed to seize power. Apparently we are now in a new situation where the disaster was knowingly and falsely created. As the 1974 report of the Club of Rome titled, “Mankind at the Turning Point” said, “It would seem that humans need a common motivation…either a real one or else one invented for the purpose…” Couple this with vicious attacks by the media and the use of legal intimidation on anyone in leadership and the vacuum for demagoguery is created.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


costin said...

speaking of "Burqa Ban is “Un-Australian” Say Muslims" it's nice to see how some muslims think they know more about the cultures they migrate to than the people lliving creating that culture in the first place.
Head of Islamic Conference calls burqa ban 'un-European'