Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100510

Financial Crisis
»A Perfect Financial Storm
»EU: Plan Up to 750 Bn to Save the Euro
»Greece: Papoulias, An End to Political Impunity
»Greece: Govt Adopts Pension Reforms
»Madrid Stock Exchange Closes With Record 14.34% Rise
»No Austerity Measures for France: Sarkozy
»Plan: European Markets Euphoric After Approval
»Plan: Frattini: Strong Anti-Speculation Deterrent
»Spain: More Public Deficit Cuts Announced
»World Stock Markets Soar as Investors Welcome $1tn EU Bail-Out… But Lameduck Darling Leaves Britain With £10bn Bill by Daily Mail Reporter
»Boehner Slams FCC for ‘Takeover of Internet’
»Chuck Norris: The New Abortion, Part 3
»Communists Boast ‘Mentoring’ David Axelrod
»Good Riddance to Newsweek
»Government Funded Front Groups
»Kagan Whitewash
»Obama Eyes Global Gun Control and Martial Law, Critics Say
»Value Added Tax and Illegals
»We All Know What Happens When You Assume
»Can Nazis be Victims of Hate?
Europe and the EU
»Brown to Resign as UK Prime Minister
»How Sick is Germany’s Healthcare System?
»Italy: Mafia ‘Planned to Kill’ Industrialist
»Italy: Civil Protection Chief Provokes Diplomatic Row
»Italy: Production in March +6, 4%, Top Since 2006
»Italy: Police Smash ‘Mafia Federalism’
»Netherlands: Church Abuse Inquiry to Take Up to 18 Months
»Sweden: Rail Worker Panned for ‘Negro Ball’ Gaffe
»Sweden: Legalize Prostitution: Liberal MP
»Swedes Launch Youth Condom Drive
»Sweden: Malmö Police Seek New Weapons Amnesty
»Sweden: Teen Raped at Stockholm Swimming Pool
»UK: 200 Women Sue Hospital for Botched Operations Carried Out by ‘Overworked’ Surgeon
»UK: Knifeman ‘Went to Police Three Times Saying He Was Going to Kill… But Was Released to Murder Waitress in Random Attack’
»UK: Sulphuric Acid Attacker Who Left Man Looking Like ‘Zombie’ Facing Jail
»UK: The Engage [Muslim Website] Election Results Digest
»UK: The Patients ‘Bullied’ Into Joining NHS Database
»UK: Teenager Stabbed to Death by Stranger at Tube Station While Protecting Girlfriend
»UK: Unions Warn of Greek-Style Riots in Britain Against Public Sector Cuts After Court Victory Over Capping of Redundancies
»Italy-Serbia: Parliament to Fini, Thanks for Support in EU
North Africa
»Libya: Seif Gaddafi, Facilitate Visas to Tourists
Israel and the Palestinians
»Jerusalem: Dozens of Rabbis at Temple Mount
»MK Ganaim Calls for Islamic Caliphate in Israel
»PNA Against Israeli Violations, U.S. Must React
»Two Arab-Israeli Activists Arrested for Spying
Middle East
»Ahmadinejad Unveils His Grand Strategy: A Nuclear Defensive Umbrella for Aggression
»Iran: Evin Prison-Execution of Five (5) More Political Prisoners
»Medicine: Research, A Link Between Henna and Leukaemia
»Nazia Quazi Reaches Freedom in Dubai
»Turkey: CHP Leader Resigns
»Medvedev in Damascus, Greater Syria-Russia Rapport
South Asia
»Exclusive: Mullah Omar Captured!
Australia — Pacific
»Anger Over Reality Television ‘Virgin Auction’
Latin America
»Barack Obama’s “Red” Spiritual Advisor
»Immigration: Five Myths About Illegal Immigration From US Government
»Italy: Mayor of Milan Claims Immigrants Should Work
»Italy: Maroni: Thursday Bilateral Meeting With Malta
»Libya: 1st Trial Against Human Traffickers
»UK: Illegal Immigrant Fraudster Who Received Kidney Transplant on NHS Uses Public Money to Fight Deportation
»UK: Three-Quarters of Britons Want to Emigrate With Australia the Most Popular Destination
Culture Wars
»Is Elena Kagan a Lesbian? Media Ignores Four Harvard Students Outting Supreme Court Nominee
»Oppressive Government: Feds Tell GA Old Folks They Can’t Pray Before Meals
»UK: Christian Preacher Arrested for Saying Homosexuality is a Sin

Financial Crisis

A Perfect Financial Storm

So, the EUnion is once again using a crisis to greatly expand its power, at the cost of another big slice of sovereignty of member states. But at the same time it is sowing the seeds of the total economic ruin of the euro zone by removing moral hazard. In the name of European solidarity countries that are financially prudent will be made to pick up the tab of the countries that are not. The good shall pay for the bad. In all likelihood, this will have the effect that the good will stop being good, because that will only incur costs.

But it will likely not even have to wait for that to happen. According to Zero-Hedge the measures are doomed to failure. A failure that will become apparent in the next month or two. And when finally the house of cards is coming down, it will be you and I, ordinary citizens, taxed to the hilt and our savings depleted, who will have to bear the consequences. So much for the Euro and the EUnion bringing us prosperity…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

EU: Plan Up to 750 Bn to Save the Euro

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — A plan of up to 750 billion, with IMF participation, to defend the eurozone from speculative attacks and avoid the risk of default by other countries, after the risk run by Greece. Released after ten hours of negotiations by EU Finance Ministers meeting in Brussels. Spain and Portugal, the two countries currently considered most at risk, have been asked to introduce more cuts. “Significant measures” by the ECB have also been announced. It is an unprecedented bail-out plan, prepared after a day of contacts between the various European capitals. Also U.S. President, Barack Obama, made phone contacts with both French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, underlining the need for a “strong response” by Europe to reassure the markets. The “anti-speculation” shield decided by ECOFIN involves loans for 60 billion Euros by the EU Commission, which may turn to the markets for loans, offering funds from the EU’s budget as surety, in favour of countries which might come under speculative attacks and have difficulty in obtaining capitals on the markets. The package also contains 440 billion which should be in the form of bilateral loans by euro area Member States, along the lines of the Greek bail-out plan. In detail, the IMF quota is expected to be up to 250 billion, up from the previously announced sum of 220 billion. The overall amount in the fund could be up to 750 billion. There is also the possibility that the ECB may intervene, deciding to loan money to countries at risk by buying their bonds. A decision to be taken independently by the ECB, whose top exponents have remained in Basle with EU Central Governors awaiting the news from Brussels.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Papoulias, An End to Political Impunity

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 10 — The Greek President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, has today asked for an end to the impunity of the Greek political class in order to deal with the crisis that is not only economic which is gripping the country. According to the semi-official agency Ana, Papoulias, chairing a summit between Premier Papandreou and the political leader of the centre right and right, urged the abolition of immunity for deputies and ministers, to introduce the absolute economic transparency of the parties and the reduction of state subsidies. At the end of the summit, Papandreou agreed that it was time to “finish with yesterday’s Greece” and to take the fight against corruption to its conclusion. The leaders of the parties of the centre right (ND) and the far right (Laos) were present at the summit whilst the left party was absent. Papandreou said that the end of the financial emergency thanks to the EU-IMF intervention will allow “great changes”, starting with putting an end to a “political system that serves particular interests and not the collective interests of the people and the nation.” According to Papandreou and the leader of the right, Giorgio Karatzaferis, there was consensus at the summit today on the issue of the fight against corruption and the moralisation of the political system. The communist party (KKE) for its part today urged all workers to take part in mass protests, starting with the large demonstration on May 15.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Govt Adopts Pension Reforms

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, MAY 10 — The Greek government adopted a pension reform plan today, as part of the austerity measures agreed upon with the EU and IMF. The plan, which must be presented in the coming hours in Parliament, involves, according to official sources cited by the press, the unification of pension funds, equalising women and men, and increasing the pension age and taxes gradually starting in 2013 and by 2018 in order to retire. The unions have announced more protests on Wednesday against the austerity plan and are preparing for another general strike against the pension reforms. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Madrid Stock Exchange Closes With Record 14.34% Rise

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 10 — The Spanish stock Exchange has ended the day with a record 14.34% rise in the IBEX index, the highest increase in its 18-year history, allowing a recovery to the level of 10,305.8 points. The strong rise comes after the announcement of the creation of a 750 billion euro fund, overseen with EU Ecofin Ministers, and after the European Central Bank’s announcement on the purchase of sovereign debt. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

No Austerity Measures for France: Sarkozy

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Monday rejected the claim that his government was adopting austerity measures after it announced a three-year spending freeze.

“We have a clear objective, which is to clean up our public finances,” Sarkozy told a meeting of union and business leaders at the Elysee palace.

“That was our objective before the financial crisis and it remains so. We have not changed tack. We are maintaining our strategy.”

Prime Minister Francois Fillon last week announced a freeze on public spending for the coming three years, from 2011 to 2013, to get France’s soaring budget deficit under control.

Opposition politicians accused the government of opting for an austerity programme and said ordinary families would have to brace for painful cuts.

“Some of our partner countries, which are under threat, have announced austerity measures. Some see a similar shift in our economic policy. But I reject this interpretation,” said Sarkozy.

“We must not implement a policy of austerity, but rather a responsible policy. There is credibility at stake.”

Like most European Union countries, France has seen its deficit exceed the EU limit of three percent of output as it has taken costly measures to climb out of recession. Its deficit is expected to hit eight percent this year.

The government has set targets to reduce it to six percent in 2011 and get it under the three percent required by EU regulations in 2013.

The government is already planning to make cuts by not replacing one in every two retiring civil servants. It faces a tough battle with unions meanwhile over its plan to raise the retirement age and reform pensions.

Sarkozy argued that raising the legal retirement age, now 60, would be the answer to salvaging the pension system, which this year will have an 11-billion-euro deficit.

He pledged to implement a fair reform of pensions and said “an additional effort will be required from high-income earners and capital holders”.

A series of special benefits rolled out for struggling families last year at the height of the economic crisis will not be renewed, Sarkozy added.

“After the considerable effort that was made during the crisis. we must now engage in an effort to shore up our public finances,” he said..

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Plan: European Markets Euphoric After Approval

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 10 — There has been euphoria on the principal stock exchanges of Europe after the approval by the EU of the plan to safeguard the European single currency against speculation, which provides for interventions up to 750 billion euros with the contribution of the International Monetary Fund. Meanwhile another burst of acceleration has been given to the European markets by futures on Wall Street. Madrid is the best performer today with a rise of 11.64%, followed by Athens (+11.03%). Milan follows (+9.85% with the FTSE Mib at 20,703), Lisbon (+9.57%), Paris (+8.24%), Dublin (+6.33%) and Stockholm (+6.03%). London is proving more cautious (+4.75%), as are Frankfurt (+4,62%) and Zurich (+4,21%). (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Plan: Frattini: Strong Anti-Speculation Deterrent

(ANSAmed) BRUSSELS, MAY 10 — “A very powerful tool to fight speculation: I believe we have used the best instrument in terms of both quantity and quality,” is how Foreign Minister Franco Frattini commented in Brussels on the plan of up to 750 billion euros, approved during the night. “Certainly,” he added, “we must keep our guard up because attacks by speculators will not stop in the space of an hour,” explaining that “with this action they have been neutralised, as demonstrated this morning by the stock markets.” “Italy, France and Germany have worked in a perfect way in close coordination, encouraging other countries to make steps forward,” said Frattini, underlining above all the decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make a contribution that is equal to 50% of the European one, “which has brought the package up to 750 billion euros.” “It is a sizeable figure,” he said. The plan provides for interventions for 60 billion euros by the EU Commission and for 440 billion by the member states. The total from the IMF is not quantified in a figure, but there is talk of interventions “up to half” of those put forward by the EU, i.e. up to 250 billion euros, half of the 500 billion euros fielded by the EU. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: More Public Deficit Cuts Announced

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 10 — Under pressure from the markets, and with insistence coming from Brussels, Spain has announced a new cut in public deficit of 0.5 points (5 billion euros) for 2010 and of 1 point (10 billion) for 2011, according to reports in the Spanish media today. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy, Elena Salgado, announced the measure during yesterday’s meeting in Brussels with her Eurozone colleagues, who agreed on the need to send the market austerity signs. The new cuts concern investments and public spending. Compared to the initial predictions by the socialist executive, which expected a deficit reduction down from 11.2% to 9.8% of GDP for 2010 and a 7.5% drop in 2011, the extra cuts will take the figures to 9.3% in 20101 and 6.5% in 2011, in order to reach the 2013 objective of 3% of GDP. The Prime Minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, will appear before the congress of deputies on Wednesday to explain the government’s plan to reduce public deficit and speak about the situation created by speculative attacks in the financial markets. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

World Stock Markets Soar as Investors Welcome $1tn EU Bail-Out… But Lameduck Darling Leaves Britain With £10bn Bill by Daily Mail Reporter

World stock markets and the euro soared today as investors cheered the European Union’s $1 trillion (£650 billion) plan to defend the embattled 16-country currency and keep a spreading debt crisis from damaging the global economic recovery.

But there was concern that Alastair Darling had signed Britain up to the deal — at a potential cost of £10 billion — even though he could lose his job as Chancellor in a matter of days.

The bail-out could also form a dividing line between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats as they attempt to form a governing coalition.

Shadow chancellor George Osbourne has privately voiced ‘reservations’ about a deal that is likely to be Labour’s last act in government.

But investors across the globe remained upbeat about the move this afternoon.

After last week suffering some of the biggest losses since the height of the financial crisis in 2008, European markets rebounded decisively. The euro jumped above $1.3071, after wallowing at a 14-month low of $1.2523 on Friday.

Britain’s FTSE 100 index rose 4.1 per cent to 5,350.05, Germany’s DAX gained 3.9 per cent while the CAC-40 in France soared 6.7 per cent.

Wall Street was also expected to jump higher this afternoon — Dow futures were up 3.5 per cent at 10,694 and Standard & Poor’s futures were 4.6 per cent higher at 1,158.30.

Crucially, borrowing costs for debt-laden countries plummeted. The difference between yields on Greek 10-year bonds and their benchmark German equivalents was at 4.84 percentage points this morning, down massively from a record 10.25 points last week.

The historic deal comprises of £383 billion in loans or guarantees from the 16 eurozone countries, another £52billion in loans from the EU budget and £217billion from the International Monetary Fund.

But Britain could be exposed to extra payments if a member state defaulted on loans using the EU budget fund and the IMF.

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Mr Darling said: ‘There is about 440 billion euros which the eurozone countries have put together. That is their responsibility — we are not involved in that.

‘The second element is that there is additional help from an existing facility going to be made available to any member state that gets into difficulties.

‘If there was a 100 per cent default — and remember all these loans are made with strict IMF (International Monetary Fund) conditions and strict European Union conditions — then our exposure would be about £8 billion.’

Mr Darling said most countries in the world are members of the IMF which lends money to countries in difficulties, thereby acting as a kind of ‘big insurance scheme’ with very stringent conditions attached to loans.

He said: ‘The good thing about it is that it comes with very stringent conditions so countries generally don’t default.

‘Therefore this is actually quite a good insurance scheme for us. Put another way — if we didn’t do it, the risk is the countries would go down and there would be a far greater loss on us.’

Details of the deal were initially thrashed out at a meeting of EU leaders on Saturday in which Britain played no part.

That fund already offers tens of billions of euros to non-eurozone countries but will now be widened so all 27 EU countries can grab the funds.

Ministers from the 16 eurozone countries have already approved a £95billion bail-out for Greece.

But economists estimate that if Portugal, Ireland and Spain eventually require similar three-year bail-outs, the total cost would add up to £430billion.

Britain pays 10 per cent of the Commission’s bill and if the loan fund had to take the strain, Britain’s share of the liability would be £43billion.

Mr Darling said he had spoken to Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Vince Cable during the negotiations.

He refused to disclose details of his discussions with Mr Osborne and Mr Cable but the bailout could become a major stumbling block in reaching any deal between the euro-sceptic Tories and the pro-European Lib Dems.

Although Mr Darling was powerless to stop the rescue package as the decision was taken by majority voting, Tory sources said that Mr Osborne is highly sceptical about the plan that he would inherit if he became Chancellor.

A Conservative source said there was no guarantee that a Tory government would back the deal and they would demand to see the details.

European policymakers agreed on the dramatic intervention this morning after coming under pressure from Asia and America to help shore up global stability.

Failure to contain the Greek debt crisis last week led to a 4.1 per cent drop in the euro and increased pressure on Portugal and Spain.

As the package was unveuiled in the early hours this morning, the U.S. Federal Reserve also reopened a currency ‘swap’ program to ship billions of U.S. dollars overseas in a bid to pump more short-term cash into the financial system and ensure banks have the dollars they need.

Separately, the ECB jumped into the bond market, saying it is ready to buy debt from the eurozone — EU nations that use the euro — to shore up liquidity in ‘dysfunctional’ markets.

Japan’s central bank decided today to restart a temporary dollar-swap agreement with the US Federal Reserve, as part of a global effort to stabilise financial markets roiled by the European debt crisis.

At an unscheduled monetary policy meeting, board members also voted unanimously to keep its key interest rate at 0.1 per cent.

The Bank of Japan’s decision follows a move by the Federal Reserve to ship US dollars overseas to limit fallout from Greece’s debt problems.

Other central banks, including the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank also are reportedly involved in the dollar swap effort.

The coordinated moves are designed to ease liquidity strains in US dollar short-term funding markets in Europe, the Bank of Japan said.

‘The Bank will continue to strive to maintain financial market stability through proper implementation of money market operations,’ it said in a statement.

There was cautious endorsement from analysts who still feared the measures may not be enough to save the common currency, which was adopted by many of the EU’s member states in 1999.

‘It buys time. We don’t know if it will be enough. They’re trying to give the impression that they’re still united. They’ve bought some breathing space but that’s all,’ said Song Seng Wun, an economist with CIMB-GK Research in Singapore.

‘This perhaps just postpones the inevitable, the euro may have to ultimately give way, that’s the worst case scenario.’

The EU’s monetary affairs commissioner, Olli Rehn, said the agreement ‘proves that we shall defend the euro whatever it takes.’

He said the arrangement would be ‘particularly crucial for countries under speculative attacks in recent weeks’.

The EU ministers said in a statement: ‘We are facing such exceptional circumstances today and the mechanism will stay in place as long as needed to safeguard financial stability.’

Markets had battered the euro and Greek government bonds even as EU leaders insisted for days that Greece’s problems were a unique combination of bad management, free spending and statistical cheating that doesn’t apply to other euro-zone nations.

Market jitters also partly contributed to a nearly 1,000-point drop in the Dow Jones industrials last Thursday.

America’s Securities and Exchange Commission is meeting with heads of exchanges Monday to discuss how conflicting trading rules may have exacerbated the historic stock market plunge.

The idea being advocated by France and Germany would give government-backed loan guarantees to the euro’s failing economies, leaving taxpayers liable for all their debts.

As he arrived in Brussels, Mr Darling made clear that the UK would not sanction such a move — which required unanimous support — but said the eurozone countries could take that step on their own if they wanted.

He said Britain would ‘play our part’ in helping to ‘ stabilise the situation’, but added: ‘When it comes to supporting the euro, obviously that is for the eurozone countries.’ But he was effectively forced to support the separate balance of payments loan fund after other EU leaders made clear that under the Lisbon treaty Mr Darling was powerless to stop it being passed.

Fears of a ‘stitch up’ were fuelled after President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office released a statement saying France and Germany had agreed measures to deal with the financial crisis.

Critics warned that EU leaders were taking advantage of the confusion over the status of the British government.

Mats Persson, director of Open Europe, a Brussels reform think tank, said: ‘What we’re were told would never happen has now occurred.

‘British taxpayers have become directly liable for the mess created by the failed euro experiment.

‘While it’s in everyone’s interest for Europe’s economy to stabilise, this deal could easily spiral out of control.’

Treasury officials stressed that the fund Britain is signed up for will not involve putting in any money up front. The UK would only be landed with a multi-billion pound bill if there were defaults.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Boehner Slams FCC for ‘Takeover of Internet’

House Republican Leader John Boehner (Ohio) is using language from the just-completed healthcare debate to blast the FCC’s attempt to rein in broadband providers.

Boehner accused the agency Thursday of pursuing a “government takeover of the Internet,” just hours after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski unveiled the plan, which would place broadband providers under some of the same rules that have long governed phone companies.

“Under this job-killing big government scheme, the Obama administration is seeking to expand the power of the federal government,” Boehner said in a statement.

“The success of the Internet is a perfect example of what happens when entrepreneurship and innovation are allowed to flourish, but today’s decision will undermine its success and hurt our economy,” the GOP leader continued. “The American people are asking ‘Where are the jobs?’ They aren’t asking for yet another government takeover that imposes new job-killing federal regulations and puts bureaucrats in charge of the Internet.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Chuck Norris: The New Abortion, Part 3

(Editor’s note: This is Part Three of a three-part series on the threat to the Second Amendment and Americans’ firearm freedoms.)

I believe the political stars are aligning right now for the opening of a new front in the battle against our gun rights: via the election and work of an anti-gun president, the disarmament passions of the Washington elite and the United Nations, the appointments of gun prohibitionists from the White House to the Supreme Court and the funding of an anti-Second Amendment movement by billionaire progressives like George Soros.

In Part One, I discussed President Obama’s anti-Second Amendment record and his administration’s goals to use dormant treaties and global agencies to loosen the boundaries and binds of the Second Amendment. In Part Two, last week, I further discussed the United Nation’s participation in that treaty development and “consensus” process.

If it weren’t bad enough to have a plethora of government officials in Washington that abandon and abolish the principles of the Second Amendment, it is far worse to have them in the highest court in the land, the U.S. Supreme Court, dutifully designated with the honor to interpret and apply our Constitution to cases across the land, and with lifetime tenure to boot.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Communists Boast ‘Mentoring’ David Axelrod

Activists ‘educated’ top adviser, boosted president’s career, too

Newly uncovered correspondence quotes a purported communist activist claiming he served as political mentor to President Obama’s Senior Adviser David Axelrod.

The correspondence is highlighted in a brand-new book that exposes evidence of Axelrod working closely with a pair of communist activists who boasted of aiding Axelrod’s political career.

“The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and other Anti-American Extremists” also ties Obama to the same activists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Good Riddance to Newsweek

It is extremely doubtful that The Washington Post will find a buyer for Newsweek magazine and it would not surprise me if Time magazine disappears as well. Both are an offense to anything that passes for journalistic ethics or practices and have been for far too long.

Newsweek had the audacity to publish a cover that said, “We Are all Socialists Now.” No, we’re not! Quite a few of us are doing everything we can to keep America from being turned into the economic disasters occurring in Europe these days. Socialism did not work in Russia where they at least had the decency to call it by its correct name, Communism.

Socialism has ill served Great Britain and is currently on full display in Greece where it is loved by every Greek with a government job.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Government Funded Front Groups

How many Progressive groups are in reality government supported entities masquerading as public interest lobbies? How many government agencies act as Progressive lobbies? Marx said “The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”

Is our hard-earned tax money being used to fulfill the words of the Progressive’s secular messiah? Another old saying goes, “The acorn doesn’t fall too far from the tree.” If the tree is the Progressive clique that’s captured America the acorn is the government money used by various Progressive fronts, both public and private to advocate for more money from the treasury to buy more power. Or is that more rope?

Here are some of these groups:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Kagan Whitewash

By Evan Gahr

United States Solicitor General Elena Kagan, who President Barack Obama interviewed April 30 to replace Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court, is widely considered a blank slate.

But is she?

True, Kagan, a former Harvard Law School dean, would be the first person without judicial experience appointed to the Supreme Court since William Rehnquist in 1972, doesn’t have much of a paper trail.

Her views on most of the hot button issues she would likely decide on the Supreme Court—race relations, abortion and federalism, are mostly impossible to discern.

But Kagan does have an identifiable, though overlooked, track record on one matter and it’s a telling one. As Dean of Harvard Law School in 2004 and 2005 she treated two liberal law professors with kid gloves when they were busted for plagiarism. Her chicanery was so blatant that even a leftist academic said she should be fired for her “whitewash.”

Kagan’s essential absolution of both professors has been virtually unnoticed in the flood of stories about her possible Supreme Court nomination this year and in 2009 when she was considered a top candidate to replace liberal Justice David Souter.

But the way she handled professors Larry Tribe and Charles Ogletree, when they both were caught swiping the words of others, seems to violate basic principles of fairness.

She let the professors off easy for the kind of offense that for which any Harvard undergraduate or law school would have been suspended if not expelled.

As the Harvard Crimson wrote after Kagan and Harvard president Larry Summers declined to punish Tribe, “the glaring double standard set by Harvard stands as an inadequate precedent for future disappointments.”

It also could say a lot about Kagan would behave on the bench. Through inaction and disingenuous statements that disregarded Harvard’s own disciplinary policy Kagan exonerated Tribe and Ogletree of any malfeasance.

In other words, like a good liberal activist judge, she ignored precedent and the plain meaning of relevant texts to create an outcome that struck her fancy.

The copycat cases came to light in the Fall of 2004. Ogletree was busted first for his book, part history part personal memoir, All Deliberate Speed.

Following a Harvard investigation ordered by Kagan when she received an unsigned letter claiming that Ogletree’s book had ripped off a collection of essays about Brown Ogletree issued a September 3 statement on the school website.

The professor, who taught both Michelle Obama and Barack Obama at Harvard Law School, said that his book contained six paragraphs, almost word for word, from the essay collection, What Brown v. Board of Education Should Have Said. The 2001 book was edited by Yale Law School professor Jack Balkin.

Ogletree, who gained prominence when he served as Anita Hill’s lawyer during the Clarence Thomas confirmation battle, said he took “complete responsibility” for the errors. Then he blamed it on his research assistants.

He said one assistant put quotation marks around Balkin’s words so the other assistant could summarize it with “proper attribution to Balkin.” But the second assistant mistakenly removed the quotes and and sent a book draft to the publisher.

So much for contrition what about the punishment?…

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]

Obama Eyes Global Gun Control and Martial Law, Critics Say

While most news media outlets and the American people are engulfed in news coverage regarding the economy, the 2010 elections, the Gulf oil spill and other stories, little if any news coverage exists about two major actions being considered by President Barack Obama and progressive lawmakers.

First, news of a increased role for the military within the United States is being totally ignored or suger-coated by the media, according to conservative observers. And second, apparently the United States will sign-on to an International Gun Control Plan, backed by Secretary Hillary Clinton.

Numerous occurrences in the United States — both scheduled events and emergencies — require the Department of Defense to coordinate, integrate, and synchronize its homeland defense and civil support missions with a broad range of U.S. federal agencies, according to a congressional report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.


Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is pushing for the United States to become a party to a global gun control law. And President Obama appears to be sympathetic to such an international power-grab.

Last week, the Obama Administration took its first major step in a plan to ban all firearms in the United States. The Obama Administration intends to force gun control and a complete ban on all weapons for US citizens through the signing of international treaties with foreign nations,” according to journalist Joan Sharon.

By signing international treaties on gun control, the Obama administration can use the U.S. State Department to bypass the normal legislative process in Congress. Once the U.S. Government signs these international treaties, all US citizens will be subject to those gun laws created by foreign governments.

These are laws that have been developed and promoted by organizations such as the United Nations and individuals such as radical billionaire George Soros and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“The laws are designed and intended to lead to the complete ban and confiscation of all firearms,” according to Sharon.

“The Obama administration is attempting to use tactics and methods of gun control that will inflict major damage to our 2nd Amendment before US citizens even understand what has happened,” she added.

Critics believe Obama will appear before the public and tell them that he does not intend to pursue any legislation in the United States that will lead to new gun control laws, while cloaked in secrecy, his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is committing the US to international treaties and foreign gun control laws.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Value Added Tax and Illegals

Many Americans believe voting is the most important thing they do as U.S. citizens. No. It isn’t. The most important thing good American citizens can and should do is to become involved in the candidate selection process before voting. That means you need to attend local caucuses or whatever pre-ballot candidate selection process your State offers. You must become informed about candidates so you know to whom political power is being given before their name appears on a ballot.

The only weapon citizens have other than involvement in the process is information. Learn as much about candidates as possible. Be informed about political issues.

Following are facts about two important issues, the value added tax (VAT), which the Congress will try and pass, and illegal aliens (which Congress chooses to ignore). Arm yourself with the facts and ask your political candidates questions about these issues.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

We All Know What Happens When You Assume

Presidential Spokesgullet Robert Gibbs said last week that the near-miss in Times Square did not represent a “systemic failure”, but I would argue that the government’s response was indeed just that. I would even go a step further. I would argue that the government’s failure to actually stop Shahzad’s attempt to detonate a Vehicle-Borne-IED in Times Square also exemplifies just how dangerous the entire Progressive approach to terrorism is. Let’s not forget, this incident did not occur in a vacuum.


While our government failed to detect or even stop him, their propaganda machine has been in full overdrive, spinning the incident as a textbook, counter-terrorism operation. Immediately after the incident was made public, the Taliban claimed responsibility. The government immediately and inexplicably discounted any foreign connection and said they were looking for a 40-ish white male. The timing of the Taliban claim coincided exactly with when they believed the bomb would have gone off, so the statement by the government that there was no Taliban connection was not only premature, but patently false. A week later, they finally acknowledged a foreign link. Much to the chagrin of Democrats, the Tea Party wasn’t responsible for this one, either.

Terrorists tried many times during the Bush years to attack us, but they were always unsuccessful. In the age of Obama, we’ve already been the victims of several, foreign-sponsored acts of terror that have killed Americans (mostly soldiers thus far) on US soil, because Barack Obama dispensed with many of his predecessor’s safeguards. In every one of these cases, the perpetrator was initially characterized by this bumbling administration as a “lone wolf”; as if some idiot with bomb training, a grudge and an appreciation for our enemies is any less threatening. But the only lone wolf was Bledsoe.

While the NYPD did a remarkable job clearing the bomb site, the fact that Shahzad was in custody within 53 hours was not that remarkable. All one had to do was retrieve one of the many VIN numbers stamped on the vehicle frame, engine block or key parts of the failed VBIED and then follow the trail. In this case, we were lucky once again, as the trail was complete. Although Shahzad was placed on the no-fly list as soon as he was identified, he was still able to board and he almost got away, had it not been for alert Customs officials.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Can Nazis be Victims of Hate?

‘Nazi’ listed as an identifiable victim group in Toronto Police’s 2009 hate crime stats report

According to Toronto Police’s 2009 report on hate and bias crime statistics, they can indeed.

In the report presented to the Police Services Board on April 22, Nazi is listed as one of the 27 identified victim groups targeted in hate-motivated criminal acts in 2009.

Under the breakdown of occurrences by police division, “Nazi” is listed as the victim group for one mischief offence that was reported in 13 Division. The west-end division polices parts of Forest Hill, Davenport, Cedarvale and Dovercourt.

In the report’s executive summary, Nazi also appears under the listing of “new victim group” for 2009; these are the identifiable groups that have not appeared in the previous hate/bias crime reports.

The category is puzzling, given that Nazi typically refers to a political party. Political organizations do not appear to fall under any of the hate/bias category codes used throughout the report’s charts and tables.

The Toronto Police definition of hate/bias crime is a “criminal offence committed against a person or property, where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on the victim’s race, nationality or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age mental of physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.”

“How does Nazi fit into that,” questioned Bernie Farber, of the Canadian Jewish Congress, when the category was pointed out by the Town Crier.

“A Nazi can never be a victim but only a victimizer,” he said.

There’s no further elaboration in the report on what a Nazi is by definition, but the report notes that victim groups are categorized according to the suspect’s perception. For example, if an individual is attacked because he is wrongly perceived by the suspect as being homosexual, the individual still becomes the victim of gay bashing, and the attack is categorized as a hate crime targeting sexual orientation.

A representative from the Toronto Police’s Hate Crime Unit declined to comment on the report May 6. A call to the Toronto Police communications department did not yield any immediate replies.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Brown to Resign as UK Prime Minister

London, England (CNN) — UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is stepping down after his party was defeated in parliamentary elections last week, he said Monday.

“As leader of my party I must accept that that is a judgment on me,” he said.

He is asking his Labour Party to begin preparations for a new leadership contest in which he will not be a candidate, he said. That effectively means he is on his way out as prime minister.

The move may clear the way for a deal to keep his party in power after elections last week left no party with an absolute majority in parliament.

The Conservative party won the most seats, after 13 years in opposition, but not enough to form a government on their own.

Brown’s Labour party came in second, and the Liberal Democrats came in third.

The Liberal Democrats are in talks with the Conservatives, but Brown said they had now asked for talks with Labour as well.

The Liberal Democrats refused to confirm to CNN that their leader Nick Clegg had made a request to Labour.

But a top party member indicated Monday that there were areas where the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives had not reached agreement after discussions through the weekend.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

How Sick is Germany’s Healthcare System?

Healthcare in Germany is better than in most countries, but patients are facing increasing costs and political doctoring. Ben Knight gives the system a check-up for Berlin’s English-language magazine Exberliner.

The phrase “healthcare reform” entered the politicians’ lexicon of stock ideas a long time ago: no matter what country you live in, the system that provides medical care seems to be in constant refurbishment. Perpetual adaptation and improvement is a good thing in principle, but as governments keep on discovering, a new healthcare policy is not easy to agree on, never mind convert into actual change. Compromises between political parties, labour unions and powerful lobby groups for the likes of pharmaceutical companies and doctors hold back change. Any particular nation’s old problems tend to persist, like a cold you can’t shake.

Germany’s niggling cough is its two-tier health insurance system. It remains one of the few developed countries where you can opt out of the state system altogether and insure yourself completely privately. About 10 percent of the population — mostly the self-employed or those with high salaries — are privately insured, while the 90 percent have to muster healthcare for the whole nation.

On top of this, the chronically ill, who incur the biggest costs, have trouble getting private insurance, so the 90 percent who pay into the state system also pay for the most expensive cases. “That’s why we don’t need to be surprised that the social contribution system doesn’t work,” says Rene Bormann, a health policy spokesman for the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a think tank associated with the SPD. Bormann believes in the German state insurance system (which is made up of a patchwork of statutory insurers or gesetzliche Krankenkassen) — at least in principle. He particularly believes in the principle that employer and employee share health insurance costs. “I think it’s important that the employer also contributes, because then he has the motivation to form work conditions accordingly,” he says. “That’s a very important central point, and I think we should hold onto that.”

New plan, same problem

Unsurprisingly, Bormann is unimpressed with the kind of reform the new health minister Philipp Rösler, a pro-business Free Democrat, has in mind. Like every other idea so far, Rösler’s plan conspicuously fails to address the inherent unfairness of the public-private schism. In fact, his Kopfpauschale idea — a monthly flat-rate fee paid regardless of income — is more likely to widen the gap between rich and poor among state patients, and continues to protect private insurance companies from intervention. “To start with, I find the idea that the receptionist or the canteen lady downstairs pays the same as me a bit difficult,” says Bormann.

As Rösler’s Kopfpauschale was presented to parliament in February, the leftist opposition lined up its responses. The most withering came from SPD health spokesman Karl Lauterbach, a veteran health policy enthusiast and conservative antagonist. Lauterbach’s research assistant Olaf Rotthaus spelt out the main point: “The central aim has to be getting over the divided insurance system,” he says. “We need insurance from everyone, for everyone, for everything. That means a unified contribution system for private and state patients. That would be the most effective measure.”

The political battle lines make sense. The SPD’s alternative to the FDP’s notion is nicely egalitarian, but it’s hard to avoid pointing out that Germany’s unfair two-tier system, so roundly blamed by Rotthaus, survived almost a whole decade of SPD health ministership: during Ulla Schmidt’s tenure from 2001 to 2009, piecemeal reforms failed to make the system either fairer or more efficient.

Chronically expensive

Inefficiency is as big a problem as injustice. Keeping Germany healthy is chronically expensive: this country has the fourth highest health expenses in the world and the compulsory individual fees, be they state or private, carry on rising faster than inflation.

The average state health insurance contribution is €500 a month, which is split between employee and employer — while the self-employed pay everything themselves, unless they’re lucky enough to be in the Künstlersozialkasse for freelancers in creative professions But both state and private health insurance companies have increased their premiums in recent months as rising unemployment has put more pressure on the welfare state.

Yet however much the contributions grow, they never seem to be enough for Germany’s ravenous healthcare system. It demands vast sacrifices, and in the past few years, the government has been forced to inject more and more tax money into the system: from 2008 to 2009, its contribution to the newly devised Gesundheitsfond (“health fund”) — a centralized pot into which everyone’s healthcare contributions are paid — doubled from €1.5 billion a year to €3 billion. The idea that healthcare should be at least partially funded by tax money is a central plank of more left-minded policy — the notion that everyone contributes and everyone gets basic healthcare, and that competitive capitalist model isn’t necessarily the most effective way to keep people alive.

In Europe, Britain’s National Health Service, for all its flaws, is still the model example of an entirely tax-financed system. The last round of German reforms, brought about during the SPD-CDU coalition government in 2007, was a gesture in this direction. Even Rösler’s new plan requires a significant tax contribution, as low earners would receive an extra health allowance which would have to be financed by tax money. But Bormann is not convinced such a system would work in Germany.

“I’m not really sure if financing through tax is always the right idea,” he says. “In the last few years, there have been many efforts to raise the contribution from tax money. And in the following year, all of a sudden the state budget didn’t look so good, and everyone said the contribution was too high. It’s a risky business.” Bormann has a better idea: “If we widened the income base from which we got healthcare contributions — for example, if we included capital income — we’d get significantly more money.”

Coming back to Rösler’s plan, Bormann says, “On the whole, I don’t think the Kopfpauschale idea gets us closer to our aims. It’ll create additional and disproportionate bureaucracy. I think we should keep the system we have in place now and try to optimise it.”

Private is not always best

Peter Sawicki, head of the Institute for Quality Efficiency in Healthcare, a government-appointed body that examines new medical services and drugs, recently got himself into trouble over his expenses and was dismissed by the new government. But he was also seen as an official who protected the consumer against avaricious pharmaceutical giants, and a few people believe the business-friendly government expedited his departure to clear away an inconvenient troublemaker.

His views are certainly obstructive to the pharmaceutical industry: “I think the market forces are often suspended for pharmaceuticals — supply and demand don’t determine the prices — and with the huge amount of money they get, they win influence,” Sawicki says. “There needs to be an independent body that decides whether a new medication has additional patient-relevant benefit. If it doesn’t, then it shouldn’t be reimbursed at all, and if it does, then you should have to negotiate about the price.”

Sawicki has a simple solution to Germany’s healthcare problems. “There should be a general, compulsory basic insurance for everyone. After that, people should be able to voluntarily insure themselves to get additional services — for example, for single rooms or treatment by the head doctor. Some party, — I don’t know which one — should back such a sensible scheme, and go into an election with it.”

Bormann, along with the SPD, wants some kind of merger of state and private health insurance. Exactly how this can be achieved is difficult to define: Rotthaus ominously talks about Germany needing “a third way beyond radical market values and state medicine”. But it seems even well-earning Germans are beginning to notice the pitfalls of going private — an apparently privileged situation much-coveted among the middle classes. “I was on private insurance for about a year — they have their tricks,” says Ralf, a Berlin musician. “They were able to charge me for care that they denied anyway!” These are probably the “radical market values” that Rotthaus mentioned.

But there is another problem with private insurance: it encourages massive waste of medical resources. Some doctors are reported to be able to earn 50 percent of their income from the 10 percent of their patients they treat privately. Often the only difference in the treatment is that they don’t keep private patients for as long in the waiting room. Private patients also get appointments quicker from many specialists. Some clinics and hospitals even have special appointment hotlines for privately insured patients.

A recent article in Stern magazine exposed the massive temptations doctors come under to over-treat private patients. Mike, a 33-year-old privately insured Berliner hurt his knee while playing squash. “I said ‘privat versichert’ and it was of course no problem getting an appointment with a ‘booked out’ orthopedic specialist pretty much right away. The problem was escaping his over-zealous care. First he prescribed me expensive knee braces, custom shoe inserts, then physiotherapy. Soon, it was surgery — which he would be performing himself at a private clinic…” A second doctor said the operation was unnecessary. Mike resumed his weekly squash game. His knee got better, “by itself.”

Many commentators note that doctors with privately insured patients are the most privileged salesmen — they have the instant confidence of the customer, and the customers have the comfort of feeling that their money is being spent on them.

On top of this, it is very difficult to return to the state system once you have gone private, as Ralf found. “They’ll raise your premiums substantially once you’re no longer entitled to public healthcare,” he says. To return to a state insurer, you’ll have to get a proper professional contract with employee status, or else go on welfare (Hartz IV) so that the job centre pays for your insurance.

The situation can sometimes be quite precarious for expats. Sarah is a non-EU national working as a freelance English teacher in Berlin, which means she finds it difficult to get state coverage in the first place. “So as far as I understand it, right now private is my only choice,” says the 39-year-old New Zealander. “Unfortunately, the premiums are slanted towards the needs and budgets of high-income earners, and I can’t afford it.”

Due to a Kafkaesque quirk of bureaucracy, Sarah’s just lost her insurance coverage. “They asked me to supply a date of entry stamp from my passport or a copy of travel tickets. Of course, there is no such thing as travel tickets any more, and I only keep such things after I travel if I can claim it as tax deductible. I sent the insurance company a photocopy of my first entry into the EU, which was actually near on 10 years ago, and explained that that was my first entry and that I had no other stamps because of the EU no-stamping policy. So they cancelled my insurance because of that, saying it was too old.” At the moment, she is completely uninsured.

Ralf, Sarah, Sawicki, Rotthaus and Bormann all have a clear view of the central predicament, but that doesn’t mean the solution is simple. “The money sometimes goes into the wrong channels,” Bormann says. “And it’s sometimes a bit of a problem that we always see health as just a question of costs. After all, the healthcare sector is also a huge part of the economy that sustains hundreds of thousands of jobs — and there is a lot of unused economic potential in certain areas. It’s often a question of financing this. We just have to find a way of financing it fairly.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mafia ‘Planned to Kill’ Industrialist

Palermo, 7 May(AKI) — The Sicilian mafia had plans to kill the chairman of the Italian oil giant Agip, Enrico Mattei, months before he was killed in a plane crash almost 50 years ago, said mafia turncoat Antonio La Perna on Friday. He made the claim during a trial in Palermo into the 1970 kidnap and murder of journalist Mauro De Mauro who was killed during his investigation into Mattei’s death.

In a deposition at the trial, La Perna said before the plan was carried out the would-be assassins were told to drop it.

“Everything was ready. We had the sawn-off shotgun and some automatic weapons but then a few days [before Mattei was supposed to be killed] we received the counter order,” said La Perna.

La Perna said that a few months before the 1962 plane crash, members of the Sicilian mafia, also known as Cosa Nostra, from the coastal city of Gela received orders to kill the chairman of the company that is now Eni, but the plan was scrapped.

Mattei is credited with challenging the world’s dominant oil companies in international exploration of petroleum, coining the term the “Seven Sisters” for the likes of Exxon, Shell and BP.

Mattei was killed in October 1962 when his plane crashed on a flight from Sicily to Milan. Mattei was 56 at the time of his death.

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

Italy: Civil Protection Chief Provokes Diplomatic Row

Rome, 8 May (AKI) — Italian minister for foreign affairs, Franco Frattini, has distanced the government from provocative comments made by civil protection agency chief and junior minister, Guido Bertolaso regarding former US president Bill Clinton. “The Farnesina ( foreign affairs ministry) and the government completely disassociates itself from the language and comments made by the junior minister,” the ministry told Adnkronos on Saturday.

Bertolaso held a media conference in Rome on Friday to counter allegations of sexual impropriety and corruption in relation to a public works kickbacks scandal linked to last year’s Group of Eight summit in Italy.

During the media conference he made a joke about the former US president Bill Clinton, whom he said had sent him a letter complimenting him for the “splendid work” done in Italy and Haiti.

“When I saw him at the end of March I had wanted to make a joke but I did not, ‘Dear President you and I have a problem called Monica, only I do not believe I ever had a problem with this Monica, while he did,” he said, referring to Monica Lewinsky.

The foreign ministry said the comments in “no way” reflected the views of the Italian government which had the highest esteem for the former president.

Florence prosecutors claim to have telephone intercepts in which Bertolaso allegedly enjoyed “not only massages but sexual services” at the Salaria Sport Village, a health club in Rome.

In his comments Bertolaso was referring to allegations linking him to a Brazilian masseuse employed there called Monica. Investigators have alleged that Diego Anemone, the Rome businessman arrested in relation to the alleged corruption of G8 construction contracts, organised “ sex parties” for Bertolaso.

Bertolaso was forced to apologise earlier this year when he criticised the international response to the Haiti earthquake.

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

Italy: Production in March +6, 4%, Top Since 2006

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 10 — Italian industrial production in March recorded an increase of 8.7% (raw index) over March 2009. It was announced by the ISTAT (Italian National Statistics Institute), specifying that the correct swing due to calendar effects is +6.4% (working days were 23 against 22 in March 2009): the best result since December 2006. Instead, the raw figure is the best data recorded since April 2008. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Smash ‘Mafia Federalism’

Clans form alliance to control fruit and vegetable market

(ANSA) — Rome, May 10 — Italian police said on Monday that they have broken up a “Mafia Federalism” network of mobsters from Naples, Sicily and Calabria who had formed an alliance to take hold of the fruit-and-vegetable trade in southern Italy. Police arrested 68 people, including a man surprised by officers while on his honeymoon cruise, in the operation against suspected members of clans belonging to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra, the Calabrian ‘Ndrangheta and the Neapolitan-Campanian Camorra. A massive stash of arms smuggled from Bosnia was seized, along with assets estimated to be worth 90 million euros, including real estate, vehicles, land, bank accounts and the assets of dozens of companies in the sector. “The operation’s significance lies in (the uncovering of) the alliance created over time between the (Sicilian) Mafia, the Camorra and the ‘Ndrangheta in order to be able to monopolise the fruit-and-vegetable sector,” said anti-Mafia prosecutor Antonio Girone. He added that this alliance controlled various stages of the market “starting by imposing prices at the local level up to transport and distribution”. Investigators said that in several cases this led to bizarre practices, citing the example of Sicilian strawberries that were sent to the central region of Lazio to be packed and then sent back down to be distributed around southern Italy.

“A system like this has an impact on ordinary citizens, who face higher prices, sometimes 20 times as much as the original price, damaging consumers and the economy as a whole,” Girone said. Indeed, Italian Farmers’ Confederation CIA thanked the authorities for helping to liberate the agricultural sector from extortion.

“We express enthusiastic appreciation to police and prosecutors for this operation,” the CIA said in a statement. “This is only the latest link in a chain that is leading agriculture to become one of organised crime’s favourite targets.” Among those arrested are the brother-in-law of jailed Catania superboss Benedetto ‘Nitto’ Santapaola and entrepreneurs linked to Matteo Messina Denaro, who is considered the new chief of the Sicilian Mafia after the arrests of other top mobsters.

The police said that the Casalesi Camorra clan at one stage was engaged in a violent feud with a rival gang over the fruit-and-vegetable transportation business which featured a lorry being rammed by other vehicles on a southern motorway.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Church Abuse Inquiry to Take Up to 18 Months

The inquiry into the sexual and physical abuse of children by members of the Catholic church will take between one year and 18 months, the Volkskrant reports on Friday.

The church-backed inquiry is being carried out by an independent commission, headed by CDA stalwart Wim Deetman.

Speaking on Friday, Deetman said he wanted the inquiry to have academic underpinnings, and throw light on the cause, size and conditions surrounding the abuse scandal.

The aim is to help the victims and to take steps to make sure such abuse does not happen again in the future, he said. The inquiry team comprises two psychologists, a former judge, a historian and philosopher.


The far-ranging investigation was ordered by Catholic bishops in February following mounting reports of abuse by priests at schools and seminaries in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since the end of February when newspapers reported claims of abuse at a boarding school in ‘s-Heerenberg in the 1960s and 1970s, over 1,500 people have come forward.

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

Sweden: Rail Worker Panned for ‘Negro Ball’ Gaffe

Train passengers were left reeling on Thursday by an announcer’s use of the antiquated term ‘negro balls’ (negerbollar) to describe a type of chocolate treat on sale in the bistro carriage, public broadcaster Sveriges Radio reports.

A number of passengers complained about the loudspeaker reference to a small, spherical, coconut-covered cake more commonly referred to in modern times as a ‘chocolate ball’.

“It wasn’t particularly smart, or correct,” said Ulf Wallin, spokesman for rail operator SJ.

The announcement was made on the X2000 fast train from Gothenburg to Stockholm.

Sweden’s Discrimination Ombudsman classified the word ‘negerboll’ as inappropriate in a 2005 ruling against a bakery in Sjöbo in southern Sweden, arguing the term was redolent of racism and slavery.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Legalize Prostitution: Liberal MP

Liberal Party member of parliament Camilla Lindberg has argued that Sweden should legalize prostitution and provide greater social security for practitioners of the “oldest profession”.

The controversial parliamentarian said she hoped her vocal stance would spark debate. Best known for her opposition to a high profile surveillance law, Lindberg said Swedish laws permitting the sale of sex but forbidding its purchase had failed to protect prostitutes.

Speaking to local newspaper Borlänge Tidning, Lindberg said prostitutes should be given full access to Sweden’s unemployment insurance and pension systems.

“Prostitution has existed for thousands of years. How can we help people living with this? They too are part of our society. People should be secure in society and feel that they belong,” she told the newspaper.

Lindberg said it had become taboo to question Sweden’s prostitution laws.

“What one really wants to get at is trafficking, which is a completely different thing to prostitution. The two are often mixed up. One shouldn’t confuse trafficking with a 40-year-old woman who has chosen to sell her body, or a 40-year-old man who has made that choice,” she told Borlänge Tidning.

Lindberg said she could conceive of prostitutes plying their trade in legal brothels, while stressing that the fight against sex trafficking remained vitally important.

External links:

Swedish prostitution: gone or just hidden? “

Article in Borlänge Tidning (in Swedish) “

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

Swedes Launch Youth Condom Drive

The National Council for Coordination of HIV Prevention (Nationella hivrådet) has launched a campaign to encourage Sweden’s youth to choose condoms in a push to halve the spread of HIV by 2016.

Refugees died after HIV misdiagnosis (8 Aug 09)

Every fourth man aged 20-24 would rather run the risk of infection than decline sex in the absence of a condom, according to a new Youth Barometer (Ungdomsbarometern) survey conducted by the council together with the National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen).

40,000 people contracted chlamydia and around 500 HIV, prompting the launch of the new campaign to encourage condom use and increase knowledge.

“Sex is for the most part a pleasurable and positive part of life. But condoms must become a matter of course with new and casual sexual encounters. The alternative is that you risk your health, and that of your partner,” the public health minister, Maria Larsson and Christer G Wennerholm, chairperson of the National Council for Coordination of HIV Prevention, in an opinion article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Monday.

Young people in Sweden have a generally positive attitude to the use of condoms, the survey shows, but many don’t use them themselves, with a third of 20-24-year-olds never doing so.

The survey, which interviewed 4,714 people within the age group 15-24-years-old, shows that 75 percent of sexual intercourse in Sweden is conducted without a condom. Only 56 percent responded that a condom should be used with a new sexual partner.

Larsson and Wennerholm argued that while it is commonly presumed that young Swedes are well informed about HIV and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, the reality is very different.

“Currently only 60 percent of young people can answer correctly in response to basic questions concerning how HIV is transmitted,” the pair wrote.

The new campaign will focus on behaviour and will feature an interactive site called Knullträdet (literally: the

tree) reminding people that when they have sex with a new partner they also have sex with all of their ex-partners.

The site will enable users to chart their sexual history and establish how many people that are actually in their sexual tree.

“One case of HIV is one case too many regardless of who you have sex with. We have the knowledge, we now have to start to work with attitudes,” Christer G Wennerholm said in a statement on Monday.

External link: The National Council for Coordination of HIV Prevention “

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

Sweden: Malmö Police Seek New Weapons Amnesty

Malmö police have petitioned the government for a temporary illegal weapons amnesty, reporting an increase in the number of weapons in circulation in the city’s criminal circles.

The amnesty would permit the surrendering of weapons without penalty, according to the letter from the Malmö police to the ministry of justice asking them to propose the amnesty to the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag.

Malmö police have reported an increase in the number of weapons in circulation in Malmö’s criminal circles. The police have argued that the previous amnesty, called in 2006, had a good effect on cutting the number of weapons in circulation.

According to the letter, the use of illegal firearms in Malmö in a criminal context appeared to have increased.

Several high profile incidents in recent months have brought the problem to a head with a gang-related murder in January in the city centre among them. Police seized a total of 22 firearms between March 1st and March 23rd in connection with criminal investigations.

The last illegal weapons amnesty in Sweden was called in Sweden in 2006 and was in force for six months from March 2007.

“The two weapons amnesties carried out so far in Sweden have resulted in a total of about 31,000 illegal firearms surrendered to the police,” said Skåne Police Authority Malmö district Chairman Björn Lagerbäck and Vice Chairman Björn Gudmundsson in the letter dated March 29th.

“After the last one in 2006, the National Police Board said the weapons amnesty had contributed to a trend of reducing the existence of illegal weapons in circulation in criminal circles.”

Intelligence analysis indicates that within the culture of criminal gangs in Malmö, the possession and use of firearms is becoming an increasingly important factor within serious criminal activity.

Given the relatively large amount of illegal weapons in the municipality, the Police Board in Malmö fears that the previous positive trend may be in reverse.

Vivian Tse (

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

Sweden: Teen Raped at Stockholm Swimming Pool

A 19-year-old woman has reported that she was raped in a toilet at the Eriksdalsbadet swimming pool in central Stockholm on Sunday, her 15-year-old alleged attacker has claimed that she consented.

The 15-year-old boy turned himself into police on Sunday evening.

“He had seen television footage and though that perhaps that he was the one we were looking for,” said Lars-Erik Baarsen at Södermalm’s police.

The boy was interviewed during the evening and was later released on the advice of the prosecutor.

“They have had sex but he perceived it as consensual,” said Tomas Järnkrok at Södermalm’s police after hearing the boy’s version of events.

The 19-year-old girl was at Eriksdalsbadet, the largest and most-visited of central Stockholm’s swimming pools, with a friend. When she left the pool to go to the toilet she claims that she was raped by the boy.

The teenager was taken to Stockholm South General Hospital’s rape clinic for care.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: 200 Women Sue Hospital for Botched Operations Carried Out by ‘Overworked’ Surgeon

The number of women suing an NHS hospital over botched bladder operations carried out by an overworked surgeon has soared to more than 200, it has emerged.

Managers at Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust are accused of allowing consultant George Rowland to continue operating because they were desperate to meet Government targets.

He had told management that he felt ‘overwhelmed’ by his work load.

The hospital is now facing one of the largest class actions in British medical history, which could leave the NHS facing a compensation payout of up to £20million.

Although around 200 women are seeking damages, that figure could more than double after investigators found problems with 30 per cent of Mr Rowland’s 1,500 cases.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Knifeman ‘Went to Police Three Times Saying He Was Going to Kill… But Was Released to Murder Waitress in Random Attack’

A man who fatally stabbed a pregnant woman in a random street attack had handed himself into police three times before, claiming voices were telling him to harm people, a court heard today.

Alan McMullan, 54, killed 21-year-old Claire Wilson as she walked to her job as a Pizza Hut waitress on June 7 last year.

A jury at Hull Crown Court heard McMullan, was arrested shortly after the attack on Miss Wilson and told officers: ‘I’ve got voices in my head telling me to do it. I left the knife stuck in her.’

Lynn Tayton QC, prosecuting, told the court McMullan had walked into a police station on three occasions in June and July 2008 armed with a knife.

He told police he was hearing voices telling him to harm or kill people and was admitted to hospital on each occasion, where he received treatment from mental health services and later released.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sulphuric Acid Attacker Who Left Man Looking Like ‘Zombie’ Facing Jail

[Comments from JD: Warning : Graphic Content.]

A man who carried out a horrific acid attack on a 25-year-old over his intimate relationship with a married woman was facing a life sentence today.

Awais Akram was left severely disfigured after he was targeted in revenge for his liaison with businesswoman Sadia Khatoon, whom he met on Facebook.

When her husband and family found out, they got Ms Khatoon, 24, to lure the victim out of his flat, where concentrated sulphuric acid was poured over his head.

Mr Akram, who was left with 47 per cent burns, said he was in so much pain at the time that he wanted to die.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Engage [Muslim Website] Election Results Digest

As the results come in from yesterday’s general election and party leaders horse-trade to create a coalition government, an optimistic note that has struck in this election is the galvanization of Muslims at the polling booths and the increased number of Muslim MPs returned to the House.

The total number of Muslim MPs has doubled. Three female Muslim MPs have entered Parliament for the first time with the election of Yasmin Qureshi (Lab — Bolton South East), Shabana Mahmood (Lab — Birmingham Ladywood) and Rushanara Ali (Lab — Bethnal Green & Bow). All enter Parliament as Labour MPs.

Other new Muslim MPs are Sajid Javid (Cons — Bromsgrove) and Rehman Christi (Cons — Gillingham & Rainham), the first Conservative MPs, and Anas Sarwar (Lab — Glasgow Central) who successfully defended his father Mohammed Sarwar’s old constituency seat against Osama Saeed’s challenge from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Incumbent MPs Sadiq Khan (Lab — Tooting) and Khalid Mahmood (Lab — Birmingham Perry Barr) hold on to their seats while Shahid Malik, former Communities minister, lost his seat in Dewsbury.

Salma Yaqoob, George Galloway and Abjol Miah running for Respect were all unsuccessful in their constituencies with Poplar and Limehouse returning Jim Fitzpatrick with an increased majority.

The 50 constituency seats which have the highest Muslim population density and in which ENGAGE’s Get Out and Vote campaign focused, are listed here together with details of election results and voter turnout.

Other interesting results:

Jack Straw, who recently apologized at an ENGAGE hustings event for comments he made on the burqa in 2006 retained his seat increasing his majority with a swing of 1.1% towards Labour.

Philip Hollobone, the Conservative MP who likened the burqa and niqab to the ‘the religious equivalent of going around with a paper bag over your head’, and is supportive of a ban, holds his seat in Kettering with a 9.4% swing from Labour to Conservative.

Mark Pritchard, the Conservative MP who spoke against Shari’ah councils in the UK claiming they damage social cohesion and advance a two tiered legal system, held on his constituency seat in The Wrekin.

Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, which made a manifesto promise of banning the burqa and niqab in Britain, came in third in Buckingham where he garnered 17.4% of the vote.

Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough, who spoke of Afghan Muslim boys’ initiation ceremony including ‘raping and killing foreigners’ holds on to his seat with a slim swing from Labour to Conservative of 0.9%.

As the Conservatives and LibDem parties bargain over a coalition arrangement no doubt significant to negotiations will be the Lib Dem’s support for a proportional representation electoral system. Not a trivial matter given the huge disparity between the LibDem share of the vote and the actual number of seats won. And of course deeply relevant to the many voters whose votes have not been reflected in the first past the post electoral system’s constituency seat allocations.

But perhaps the most assuring outcome of the election is the all-round defeat of the British National Party which, despite being given unprecedented media coverage from the BBC Newsnight debate to Nick Griffin’s appearance on BBC Radio 5 Live last month, has failed to capture a single seat. After months of mayhem with EDL demonstrations outside mosques in the UK and an explicit anti-Muslim manifesto — the British public has proven itself above and beyond the hatemongering and immigration scaremongering of the BNP.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Patients ‘Bullied’ Into Joining NHS Database

The NHS is scaring patients into signing up to its controversial database — by claiming that those who refuse run the risk of receiving the wrong test results or the wrong drugs.

Dire warnings have been placed on the website of the agency in charge of the new IT system, saying that failure to sign up could lead to lost records and prescribing errors.

Patients are allowed to opt out of having their information stored on the database, which is designed to be accessible to all GPs, hospital consultants, nurses and other NHS staff.

It is intended to replace the current system, under which health records are written on paper files in GPs’ offices and cannot easily be accessed by hospital staff.

But doctors’ leaders have complained that the database makes it too hard to opt out, prompting the government to suspend the roll-out of the programme in some areas.

Now it has emerged the NHS is trying a different tactic to persuade patients to sign up — scaremongering.

On the website for the NHS Connecting for Health agency, visitors are warned that if they opt out of the computerised ‘summary care record’ scheme, they could suffer ‘adverse consequences’, including ‘a delay or missed opportunity for correct treatment’.

It says: ‘The NHS has significant problems now with lost records and test results and treatment and prescribing errors.’

Connecting for Health’s strategy is controversial because it highlights the safety risks inherent in the current paper-based records system.

But critics argue that the dangers are not as high as the agency is suggesting.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Teenager Stabbed to Death by Stranger at Tube Station While Protecting Girlfriend

A teenager was stabbed to death after trying to protect his girlfriend from a drug-crazed stranger as she celebrated her 18th birthday.

Marcin Bilaszewski, 19, was travelling on a bus with about 25 friends when they started being pestered by the man.

His girlfriend, Anna Betlinska, asked the attacker to leave them alone — but he became angry and started to hit her as the group got off the number 254 bus.

Mr Bilaszewski, a Polish construction worker who has been living in Britain for five years, tried to intervene as they alighted at Finsbury Park train station in North London on Saturday night.

But the attacker, black and thought to be in his 30s, pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

The teenager collapsed in a pool of blood as his friends were preparing to take a tube train into the centre of London for a night out.

He was taken to hospital, but doctors were unable to save him.


The teenager collapsed in a pool of blood outside Finsbury Park station. He and his friends were preparing to take a tube train into the centre of London for a night out

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Unions Warn of Greek-Style Riots in Britain Against Public Sector Cuts After Court Victory Over Capping of Redundancies

Militant unions today sent a chilling warning of Greek-style strikes and protests after winning a major legal victory for civil servants made redundant.

The warning raises fears of months of chaos triggered by a furious public sector who refuse to accept painful changes to tackle Britain’s financial crisis.

With one in five workers employed by the State, the scale of the crisis could be crippling with unions warning of a ‘tidal wave’ of strike action.

The Public and Commercial Services Union signalled the nightmare facing the future Prime Minister who tries to wield the axe.


The terms of the old redundancy deal was extraordinarily generous, with some long-serving civil servants eligible to get about six years’ pay if they joined before 1987.

For example, a 46-year-old earning £24,000 who had been a civil servant for 25 years could enjoy a cash payment of about 6.2 years’ salary, or about £150,000.

Under the new deal, the civil servant would still be eligible for a generous deal of £60,000.

By comparison, a private sector worker who earns the same money and has done the job for the same length of time would get just £8,360 under statutory redundancy rules.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Italy-Serbia: Parliament to Fini, Thanks for Support in EU

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, MAY 10 — In a meeting with Italian President of the Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini, Serb President of Parliament Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic has thanked Italy for its full and continual support for Serbia’s integration in Europe. “I expressed thanks on the behalf of Serbia to President of the Chamber of Deputies Fini for Italy’s support of us in our path towards the European Union,” said Ms Djukic-Dejanovic at the end of the meeting with Fini. Djukic-Dejanovic pointed out that this year is the 131th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Italy and Serbia and underlined that this “is an incentive to further intensify our relations.” Ms Djukic-Dejanovic added that in the meeting with Fini, the possible negative repercussions of the Greek crisis on Serbia and Italy were also discussed. “Our task,” she said, “is to improve our citizens’ quality of life.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: Seif Gaddafi, Facilitate Visas to Tourists

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI MAY 10 — Entry visas to Libya to be issued by shorter procedures so as to enable “millions of tourists” to visit the country. This was proposed by Seif Al Islam Gaddafi, son of the Libyan leader and President of the Charitable Association entitled to him, as reported by local newspapers, including Qurina, belonging to his editorial group, Al Ghad (Tomorrow). Seif, it reports, wants to facilitate entry to Libya by people from many countries “to improve Libya’s image in the world”. “An image which is set in the ‘80s”, said Seif. “If we can attract tourists to Libya”, he continued, “they will be the best witnesses of the new Jamahirija”. At present, to enter Libya, a passport, valid For at least six months upon arrival in the country, is Needed, along with a whole free page, which must be stamped With the Arabic translation of personal data, without which, even with a visa, one runs the risk of being rejected at the border. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Jerusalem: Dozens of Rabbis at Temple Mount

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, MAY 10 — A group of dozens of nationalist rabbis has today entered the Temple Mount, a holy place not only for Muslims, but also for Jews because it was there that the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. According to settlers’ radio Channel 7, the 43 rabbis prayed on the 43rd anniversary (on the basis of the Jewish lunar calendar) of the six-day war, during which Israel secured control of the old city of Jerusalem. It appears that the visit of the rabbis (the most conspicuous of its kind in recent years) to the contested Temple Mount has not caused any disorder. Channel 7 reports that last night over 1,000 Jewish followers converged on the Palestinian city of Nablus (West Bank) to pray at the supposed tomb of Joseph, a Jewish councillor of the Pharaoh mentioned by the Bible.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

MK Ganaim Calls for Islamic Caliphate in Israel

On completion of first year in Knesset, Arab MK tells Nazareth newspaper ‘it is in the Jews’ interest, since their golden era was under this caliphate’

Knesset Member Masud Ganaim (United Arab List-Ta’al) believes “an Islamic caliphate should be established and it should include Israel.” In an interview to Nazareth-based paper Kul al-Arab, Ganaim presented his opinion of the situation at the end of his first year in Knesset.

“I believe there is an urgent need to return to the Islamic caliphate. I believe this is the most fitting solution to the state of weakness, deterioration and erosion the Arabs and Muslims are suffering from,” Ganaim said when asked if, as a devout Muslim, he believes an Islamic regime should be established in “Palestine or the Arab and Islamic homeland.”

He said, “We are not necessarily talking about Israel here, but I believe an Islamic caliphate would be in the interest of the Jews themselves, since their golden era was under this caliphate.”

In the interview, which was published over the weekend, the Knesset member said, “We believe the Nakba stemmed from the weakening and the collapse of the Islamic body, and we must therefore strengthen the Islamic body.”

Of the fate of the State of Israel in such a situation, Ganaim said it would be included in the greater Islamic state. “We are not against the Jews, but against the Zionist movement and its racist ideology. We have no objection to the Jews managing their own matters themselves.”

When asked about a possible conflict with Iran, Ganaim clarified that he backs the Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis. “I am against any aggression and any alliance that does not serve the Arab interest. I support the righteous party. The Iran-Hezbollah-Syria axis represents the line of resistance and intractability, and naturally, I support this axis.”

He added, “Hezbollah is the security valve of the residents of Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah has properly combined the political and religious plan.”

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

PNA Against Israeli Violations, U.S. Must React

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, MAY 10 — Controversy and accusations have already been launched the day after the formal start to proximity talks promoted by the U.S. to attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Triggering them were several Israeli statements on East Jerusalem, interpreted by the Palestinian National Autority (PNA) as “violations” of the guarantees for the negotiations offered by Washington. Violations that the White House “must react to”, warned President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Everything began last night with a statement by a State Department spokesperson, according to which, Benyamin Netanyahu’s Israeli government assured the Americans a freeze of at least two years of the disputed building expansion plan (1600 more houses) for the Ramat Shlomo settlement: a Jewish neighbourhood in East Jerusalem. Subsequently, Israeli officials and ministers in an about-face clearly reiterated that the official policy of the Netanyahu government on East Jerusalem (laid claim to by Palestinians as their future capital and whose annexation to Israel is not recognised by the international community) has not changed, and that there is no formal commitment, except for the fact that the “technical procedure” of the Ramat Shlomo project — the subject of a diplomatic crisis with the U.S. when it was announced in March during a visit to Jerusalem by Vice-President Joe Biden — will in reality require a few years of time before it goes through. The specification — responded to on the fly by Islamic radicals of Hamas to confirm their disapproval of negotiations and to ‘order’ the PNA to withdraw immediately — irritated Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). And it appeared as a challenge to the United States, whose envoy, George Mitchell, promised Palestinians that all “provocations” on the settlements and East Jerusalem would be set aside in order to get them to return to negotiations. A challenge that — pushed the PNA leader today — Washington “must respond to”. All the more since the same de facto freeze to the ongoing work in East Jerusalem — never declared, but observed at any rate in recent weeks on the ground by the Israeli press and observers — appears to be up for discussion. At least according to Yasser Abed Rabbo, one of Mahmoud Abbas’ (Abu Mazen) closest advisors, who — cited today on Haaretz’s website — already has reported “an initial concrete violation of the starting conditions of the proximity talks”: approval for 14 houses for Jewish settlers, this time in an Arab neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, revealed recently by Israeli pacifists of the ‘Peace Now’ group.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Two Arab-Israeli Activists Arrested for Spying

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 10 — Two Arab-Israeli activists were arrested by Shin Bet (Israeli secret services) for spying, reported sources today involved in the investigation a few days after restrictive measures were issued. According to Ynet news website, both individuals are accused of having contacts with an alleged member of Hezbollah, the radical Lebanese Shiite movement. The two individuals who have been arrested are Omar Saied, a representative for Balad (the Arab-minority nationalist party in Israeli Parliament) and Amir Makhoul, a promoter for an NGO. Makhoul’s name, who is also a writer, was already leaked recently from the secret investigation, while Saied’s name has just come out today, after the removal of a publishing ban imposed by authorities. Saied was captured at least two weeks ago while he was about to cross the Israeli-Jordanian border; Makhoul was taken in last week at his home in Haifa.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ahmadinejad Unveils His Grand Strategy: A Nuclear Defensive Umbrella for Aggression

by Barry Rubin

Whatever you think of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad he is not a stupid man. And he’s also not acting like an intimidated one. During the latest UN meeting on nuclear issues, when the new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)director-general urged Iran to “clarify” its activities, the camera showed Ahmadinejad laughing contemptuously.

Diplomatic engagement isn’t going to win this guy over, nor are hollow threats. He knows the current U.S. government court-martials Navy Seals for giving a bloody lip to a terrorist who murdered American civilians in Iraq and mutilated their corpses (though the two tried have been cleared). What does he have to be scared about?

The main theme of Ahmadinejad’s speech at the 2010 Review Conference by countries that have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is to outflank Obama’s calls for getting rid of nuclear weapons, trying to repeat Iran’s success of last September in getting sanctions postponed. Back then, Iran proposed a plan for letting its nuclear materials be reprocessed abroad. But once the sanctions’ momentum had been derailed, Iran made clear that it had no intention of agreeing to anything like that.

Incidentally, it was Obama who strongly supported adding the issue of getting rid of all nuclear weapons in the world to the UN conference agenda.

Afer running his own international nuclear summit under the slogan, “Nuclear Power for All, Nuclear Weapons for None,” Ahmadinejad gave a UN speech sounding word for word what an idealistic pacifist would say: nuclear weapons are bad; ban them now.

Nuclear weapons, Ahmadinejad explained, don’t bring real security and producing or possessing them, “under whatever a very dangerous act which first and foremost makes the country” having them worse off. He even stated:…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Iran: Evin Prison-Execution of Five (5) More Political Prisoners

While many mothers all around the world celebrated Mother’s day with their children, 5 mothers in Iran had a bloody mother’s day, when they found out that their beloved children had been executed at the notorious Evin Prison early Sunday morning (May 9th 2010).

Sunday morning many of us woke up to the tragic news that five Kurdish political prisoners who had endured years of imprisonment and torture had been executed Sunday. These individuals were Farzad Kamangar, Ali Heydariyan, Farhad Vakili, Ms. Shirin Alam Hooli and Mehdi Eslamiyan.


I also see this latest atrocity as a sign of weakness and desperation coming from the Islamic Regime. The fear of people and their demands for a free and democratic Iran has forced the Islamic Regime to murder these five innocent freedom fighters in a desperate attempt to instill fear and hopelessness in the heart of the Iranian people. What they do not (or maybe they do) realize is the fact that Iran is full of Farzads, Ali’s, Farhad’s, Shirin’s and Mehdi’s and the fight for a free, democratic and secular Iran will continue until the overthrow of the Islamic Regime.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Medicine: Research, A Link Between Henna and Leukaemia

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, MAY 10 — According to the Emirati daily newspaper The National, there could be close links between the use of henna, the traditional red dye commonly used in the Middle East for decorating the body and colouring hair, and the onset of leukaemia, the cancer of the blood. The National quotes a study by the University of the United Arab Emirates in Al-Ain, which says that there are 93% more instances of blood and bone marrow cancer in the country’s women than in men. On top of this, according to research carried out between 2000 and 2006 into 263 cases, the rate of tumours in Emirati women is 63% higher than for foreign women living in the country. The frequent use of henna to decorate hands, arms, ankles and other parts of the body, combined with a limited exposure to the sun due to the headscarfs and ample robes that cover the female body, could be two important factors in accentuating the phenomenon among local women. Traditionally, henna is a pigment drawn from the shrub of the same name that grows on the Arabian peninsula, but a large range of dyes being sold today are drawn synthetically from chemical substances, including benzene, which is used in oil and tobacco and is known for carcinogenic properties. A previous study carried out by the same research team suggested that the enveloping black dress of women in the region could also favour the tumour, in that it prevents the formation of Vitamin D, which needs exposure to sunlight. The UAE’s health authorities have underlined that frequent inspections are carried out to check for use of harmful or illegal substances in the composition of henna.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Nazia Quazi Reaches Freedom in Dubai

After being held in Saudi Arabia for three years, Nazia Quazi will finally be free of her father’s control.Photograph by: Handout photo, The Ottawa CitizenOTTAWA — As of Monday morning, Nazia Quazi is free of her father’s control.

The young Muslim woman, who is a Canadian citizen and studied at the University of Ottawa, had been trapped in the Saudi Arabian capital for the past three years under the country’s male guardianship system that sees fathers speak on behalf of their unmarried daughters.

Her father refused to let the 24-year-old Quazi leave the country, allegedly because he didn’t approve of her boyfriend, Bjorn Singhal, whom she met in Ottawa.

Last night, Singhal, who had been communicating with her via text messages, reported that Quazi boarded a plane bound for Dubai, which was rolling away from the terminal when she had to turn off her phone. It landed in Dubai less than two hours later.

As soon as she was in the air, she was officially out of the reach of the male guardianship system and therefore free to make her own choices about where she lives and who she spends time with. The plan, Singhal said, is for them to marry in Dubai on Wednesday.

Quazi’s mother, who lives in Ottawa, travelled to Riyadh with her son last week, reportedly to try to convince her husband to let their daughter leave and be with her boyfriend.

It would seem she was successful as they all traveled to Dubai on Sunday night with Quazi for the wedding.

Singhal’s mother, who lives in Montreal, also travelled to Dubai on Sunday, to be there for her son’s wedding.

Singhal said the plan was to go to the high court and get married while also getting “the necessary paperwork done for Nazia to be with me legally.”

After that, he said, they’ll spend some time planning a proper reception and celebration of their marriage for family and friends.

Singhal hasn’t seen Quazi since he went to visit her in Riyadh in June 2008. While he was there, Quazi’s father, who goes by the name Quazi Malik Abdul Gaffar, told Singhal he called the authorities on him and that, if Singhal didn’t leave immediately and forget about his daughter, he would have him arrested.

“I just left quietly,” Singhal said Sunday by e-mail.

Remarking that it has been a long wait, he said that, even though Quazi reported to him that she was on the plane, he wouldn’t believe it until he actually saw her in Dubai.

When a member of a local group — Muslims for Progressive Values Ottawa —that has been lobbying for her release from Saudi Arabia asked Singhal to give Quazi a hug for them, he responded: “I am afraid I mite (sic) hug her so tight that she runs outta breath.”

Under Saudi law, the male guardianship system says fathers must make decisions for their unmarried daughters.

Quazi was living in housing provided by her employer and said her father was becoming increasingly violent and abusive.

Pressure for Quazi’s father to grant permission for her to leave has been mounting in recent weeks as politicians of all stripes have been calling for the Canadian citizen to be freed.

In addition, a few Canadian soldiers who received medals from the Saudi government for their service in the 1991 Gulf War have returned them to the embassy as a sign of protest.

Deepak Obhrai, minister of state for foreign affairs, said previously the government was in contact with Saudi officials, but couldn’t do much because of the country’s rules.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Turkey: CHP Leader Resigns

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 10 — Turkey’s main opposition leader Deniz Baykal resigned from his post, as NTV reported. Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Baykal said at a news conference that he faced an illegal and unethical conspiracy. Last week, a video tape allegedly featuring Baykal having an affair with a female deputy of CHP was released on a video-sharing web-site. The Chief Prosecutor’s Office in Ankara has launched a criminal investigation. Members of the CHP claimed that it was a conspiracy against their political party. President Abdullah Gul also condemned it and said that it was extremely obnoxious. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Medvedev in Damascus, Greater Syria-Russia Rapport

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT/DAMASCUS, MAY 10 — The Russian President Dmitry Medvedev arrives in Damascus tonight for his first official visit to Syria, while the local press is celebrating the summit with Cold War slogans, harking back to a time when the two countries mutually supported one another to tackle American influence and Israeli expansionism. Accompanied by his wife Svetlana and a large delegation of Russian businessmen, Medvedev is taking the Energy Minister, Sergei Shmatko, with him to Syria, with the latter interested in strengthening relations in the sector between the two countries. The Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, has marked the occasion by laying on a banquet at the Presidential Palace, while official talks will take place tomorrow. At the centre of the agenda are the dossiers on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Middle East peace process in the light of the announcement of the resumption of proximity talks between Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the issue of how to “strengthen” bilateral relations.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Exclusive: Mullah Omar Captured!

by Brad Thor

Through key intelligence sources in Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have just learned that reclusive Taliban leader and top Osama bin Laden ally, Mullah Omar has been taken into custody.

According to the State Department’s Rewards for Justice Program there is a bounty of up to $10 million on Omar for sheltering Osama bin-Laden and his al-Qaeda network in the years prior to the September 11 attacks as well as the period during and immediately thereafter.

At the end of March, US Military Intelligence was informed by US operatives working in the Af/Pak theater on behalf of the D.O.D. that Omar had been detained by Pakistani authorities. One would assume that this would be passed up the chain and that the Secretary of Defense would have been alerted immediately. From what I am hearing, that may not have been the case.

When this explosive information was quietly confirmed to United States Intelligence ten days ago by Pakistani authorities, it appeared to take the Defense Department by surprise. No one, though, is going to be more surprised than Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It seems even with confirmation from the Pakistanis themselves, she was never brought up to speed…

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Anger Over Reality Television ‘Virgin Auction’

An Australian documentary maker has convinced several young people to appear in a reality television programme in which they auction their virginity to the highest bidder.

Justin Sisley was forced to move the auction from the Australian state of Victoria to Nevada in America, after authorities said they would charge him with prostitution if the filming went ahead.

Sisley has gone public with the controversial project, claiming to have at least three willing participants.

Family First Senator Steve Fielding described the documentary as “absurd, ridiculous and disgusting”

The virgins will be paid $20,000 (pounds 12,000) each to take part in the auction and will also receive 90 per cent of their “sale price”, according to a report in the Sydney Daily Telegraph.

The remainder of the money will go to the Nevada brothel which is hosting the event.

Initial bids will be placed online, but bidders will attend the final part of the auction, coming face to face with the people whose virginity they are bidding for.

One 21-year-old woman from Sydney, who used the name Veronica, said she had signed up for the auction to earn money and challenge traditional perceptions about sex.

“Technically I’m selling my virginity for money, technically that would be classified as prostitution, but it’s not going to be a regular thing, so in my head I can justify that I’m not going to be a prostitute,” she told the paper.

“I don’t think I’ll regret it.”

One of the male virgins, identified only as Alex, said he had applied as a way of meeting someone.

Sisley admitted his plan was unpopular with the parents of the people involved. “They hate me,” he said.

           — Hat tip: REP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Barack Obama’s “Red” Spiritual Advisor

El Salvador has officially joined the Red regimes of Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia. South America is turning Red, dark Red, and little is being said to alert North Americans of the encroaching Red plague. Perhaps that’s because North America is moving in the same direction. The President of the United States has surrounded himself with socialists, and some of those closest to him have had a part in turning South America Red.

According to the Associated Press (March 17, 2009), Mauricio Funes, the presidential candidate of the Farbundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) is the new head of the nation of El Salvador. Behind Funes “is a party of former Marxist guerrillas that fought to overthrow U.S.-backed governments in the 1980s and whose rise to power has raised fears of a communist regime in the war-scarred Central American country.”


While all of this, of course, is relevant to an ardent free-market capitalist, what really frightens me is that Obama’s latest announced “spiritual advisor” has had connections with all these Marxist regimes. And who is the President’s latest advisor? The Rev. Jim Wallis!

FrontPageMagazine (March 17, 2009) reports, “The most notable of [Obama’s] spiritual advisors today is his friend of many years, Rev. Jim Wallis.” Rev. Wallis admits that he and Obama have “been talking faith and politics for a long time.” He was picked by Obama to draft the faith-based policies of his campaign at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado in 2008.

Why should this alarm us?

First, Jim Wallis has had relationships with the communist Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES).

Second, his “Witness for Peace” was an attempt to defend the Nicaraguan Sandinistas! Wallis, together with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s former pastor of 20 years) “rallied support for the communist Nicaraguan regime and protested actions by the United States which supported the anti-communist Contra rebels” (Family World News, February 2009, p. 7).

Third, Wallis and his Sojourners community of fellow-travelers believe Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, and the other revolutionary forces “restructuring socialist societies” are the Communist paradises the United States needs to emulate in order to establish “social justice.” Writing in the November 1983 issue of Sojourners, Jacob Laksin notes, “Jim Wallis and Jim Rice drafted what would become the charter of leftist activists committed to the proliferation of Communist revolutions in Central America” (Laksin, “Sojourners: History, Activities and Agendas” in, 2005).

The ugly truth is Wallis wishes to see the destruction of the United States as a nation and in its place “a radical nonconformist community” patterned after the progressive, socialist commune he established in Washington, D.C., in 1971 (Laksin, Ibid.).


Unbeknown to these colleges and seminaries is Wallis’ Red background. He was the president of the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) while at Michigan State University. The SDS was the youth arm of the League for Industrial Democracy-the American counterpart to the British Fabian Society founded to promote socialism throughout the West. One of the League’s mentors for years was Norman Thomas, who argued that “the American people will never knowingly adopt socialism, but under the name of liberalism, they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program until one day America will be a socialist nation without ever knowing how it happened” (Google, Norman Thomas quotes). Another prominent League mentor was John Dewey, a signatory of the atheistic, socialistic 1933 Humanist Manifesto. The SDS actually merits a chapter in Richard J. Ellis’s work The Dark Side of the Left: Illiberal Egalitarianism in America published by the University of Kansas Press.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Immigration: Five Myths About Illegal Immigration From US Government

In a whopping “Pinocchio’s nose grows longer than a football field” essay, the Washington Post published a piece by former INS commissioner Doris Meissner, currently a senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute. She wrote: “5 myths about immigration” 5/9/2010. Also published by the Denver Post.

Once again, ‘experts’ of the U.S. Government fail, and fail miserably, to engage the American public with integrity, honesty and service to American citizens.

“Despite the fact that we are a nation of immigrants,” said Meissner, “immigration continues to be one of America’s most contentious topics. The new law in Arizona authorizing police to arrest individuals who cannot show documents proving that they are in the country legally has set off a fresh bout of acrimony. But as in the past, much of the debate is founded on mythology.”

Reality check: Americans do not question LEGAL immigration although it proves more methodical at 1.5 million annually and more disastrous as it drives this nation toward adding 100 million people within 25 years. Americans resent ILLEGAL immigration. Meissner stands “up and away” from reality by making such an egregious statement.


1. “Immigrants take jobs away from Americans”—”Although legal immigrants account for 12.5 percent of the U.S. Population, they make up 15 percent of the work-force,” said Meissner. “As a result of this growth, economists estimate that wages for the vast majority of American workers are slightly higher than they would be without immigration.”

Reality check: Over 20 million Americans suffer unemployment with 35 million Americans subsisting on food stamps. Millions of Americans suffer home foreclosures because they cannot secure jobs. That means those Americans must be supported by working Americans through taxes.

The fact remains: immigrants DO take jobs from Americans. Ten to twelve million fully employed illegal alien migrants displace Americans from jobs and they undercut wages as they work off the books. Over 20 million Americans remain unemployed. But, as Katie Couric announced, the U.S. adds only 95,000 jobs monthly. However, the U.S. Congress adds 150,000 to 180,000 legal immigrants every 30 days. Therefore, those immigrants take jobs away from Americans and we cannot possibly catch up to hire Americans to create full employment. Ms. Meissner needs to go back to sixth grade math to understand the numbers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mayor of Milan Claims Immigrants Should Work

(AGI) — Milan, 10 May — According to the Mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, “Illegal immigrants who do not work legally usually fall into crime.” Ms Moratti’s statement was made during her speech at the ongoing ‘Toward Feasible Integration’ conference at Milan’s Universita’ Cattolica. .

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

Italy: Maroni: Thursday Bilateral Meeting With Malta

(ANSAmed) — MILAN, MAY 10 — Italy’s Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, has announced that he will take part in a bilateral meeting between Italy and Malta next Thursday, during which collaboration in patrolling the Mediterranean will be discussed, after Malta’s exit from Frontex on April 29. “Malta’s exit from Frontex could have negative consequences because it breaks up a front that has until now been united in controlling the Mediterranean. This is the task for Frontex,” Maroni explained. “On Thursday,” he added, “we will have a bilateral Italy-Malta summit in which we will try to convince our Maltese colleagues to resume with us actions of patrolling the Mediterranean.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: 1st Trial Against Human Traffickers

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, MAY 10 — The first trial against those assisting illegal immigration began today in Libya. For the first time in the country, almost 500 people have been accused with “facilitating illegal immigration and human trafficking in the country”. This was reported by the only non-government-run newspaper in Libya, ‘Oea’, which is also the only daily allowed to follow the debate. According to reports from a local source to ANSA, the 490 people who have been accused include not only civilians, but also “soldiers, public security agents and members of the navy”. A special tribunal, the Court for National Security, will judge the people who are to stand trial, since — explained the source — the case has to do with “actions that have put national security in jeopardy”. The accused have been divided into groups of 30 and will stand trial daily.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Illegal Immigrant Fraudster Who Received Kidney Transplant on NHS Uses Public Money to Fight Deportation

An illegal immigrant who was jailed over an £800,000 loans scam is living in a nursing home as he fights against being deported.

Mashal Almansour, 38, claims he will die within weeks if he is sent back to Jordan.

He needs dialysis three times a week for kidney failure and says he will not be able to afford treatment in Jordan. He has already had a kidney transplant on the NHS, but the swap failed.

He is now living in a nursing home in Adswood, Stockport, Greater Manchester, at a cost of about £700 per week, paid for by the council.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Three-Quarters of Britons Want to Emigrate With Australia the Most Popular Destination

Three in four Britons have considered moving abroad this year, research reveals.

Three in ten said the poor state of the economy was their reason for wanting to emigrate, a survey found.

A quarter of those polled blamed the lack of job prospects while an eighth said a change in the pace of life was the main attraction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Is Elena Kagan a Lesbian? Media Ignores Four Harvard Students Outting Supreme Court Nominee

As far back as 2006 and 2007, four different Harvard Law Students confirmed that Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan was a Lesbian. Why is the Obama Administration now suddenly ashamed of Kagan’s homosexual orientation?

CBS News first reported that President Obama’s new Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan will be the “first openly gay justice,” pleasing much of Obama’s liberal base. But after pressure from the White House they amended the report: “I have to correct my text here to say that Kagan is apparently still closeted—odd, because her female partner is rather well known in Harvard circles.” CBS later pulled the report entirely, after The Washington Post criticized CBS policy, saying “most major news organizations have policies against ‘outing’ gays or reporting on the sex lives of public officials unless they are related to their public duties.”

Why the sudden media blackout, even among conservative news organizations?

[Return to headlines]

Oppressive Government: Feds Tell GA Old Folks They Can’t Pray Before Meals

Big Brother says elderly visitors to federally funded meals at a Georgia senior citizen’s center aren’t allowed to pray to that absurd, dangerous Christian God of theirs. Obama’s Big Brother government contends that since it has paid for their meals the government has the right to slam its iron boot heel down on the necks of those seasoned citizens that dare to engage in such an apostasy toward the state.

Seem absurd? Well it is, but that is what happens when the feds roll into town and begin to hand out money. They feel the right to dictate what everyone is allowed or not allowed to do and in the case of Port Wentworth’s Ed Young Senior Citizens Center near Savannah that is to tell these old folks that they are not allowed to pray before a meal.

There are federal “guidelines” to observe, after all and the federal government’s rules say none of that ridiculous Christian stuff will go on if the feds supply even a penny of funding. Old folks that want to pray are banned from doing so, and if they don’t like it, why they can go hungry because the new Uncle Sam is a crusader against religion.

Well, at least one religion, anyway.

You see, while Obama’s federal government is ever ready to get tough with Georgia’s elderly and to put a stop to all that praying nonsense, it is also the same government that at federal expense is installing ritual footbaths in airports and universities to mollify Muslims. Not only that, but the same federal government sees no reason to stop bombers from easily boarding planes so that they can make an escape to a foreign nation after a failed attempt to kill untold hundreds of Americans. But damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead to prevent those dangerous old folks in the middle of Georgia from daring to pray to that subversive Christian God!

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Christian Preacher Arrested for Saying Homosexuality is a Sin

A Christian street preacher was arrested and locked in a cell for telling a passer-by that homosexuality is a sin in the eyes of God.

Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships.

The 42-year-old Baptist, who has preached Christianity in Workington, Cumbria for years, said he did not mention homosexuality while delivering a sermon from the top of a stepladder, but admitted telling a passing shopper that he believed it went against the word of God.

Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.

Mr McAlpine, who was taken to the police station in the back of a marked van and locked in a cell for seven hours on April 20, said the incident was among the worst experiences of his life.

“I felt deeply shocked and humiliated that I had been arrested in my own town and treated like a common criminal in front of people I know,” he said.

“My freedom was taken away on the hearsay of someone who disliked what I said, and I was charged under a law that doesn’t apply.”

Christian campaigners have expressed alarm that the Public Order Act, introduced in 1986 to tackle violent rioters and football hooligans, is being used to curb religious free speech.

Sam Webster, a solicitor-advocate for the Christian Institute, which is supporting Mr McAlpine, said it is not a crime to express the belief that homosexual conduct is a sin.

“The police have a duty to maintain public order but they also have a duty to defend the lawful free speech of citizens,” he said.

“Case law has ruled that the orthodox Christian belief that homosexual conduct is sinful is a belief worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

Mr McAlpine was handing out leaflets explaining the Ten Commandments or offering a “ticket to heaven” with a church colleague on April 20, when a woman came up and engaged him in a debate about his faith.

During the exchange, he says he quietly listed homosexuality among a number of sins referred to in 1 Corinthians, including blasphemy, fornication, adultery and drunkenness.

After the woman walked away, she was approached by a PCSO who spoke with her briefly and then walked over to Mr McAlpine and told him a complaint had been made, and that he could be arrested for using racist or homophobic language.

The street preacher said he told the PCSO: “I am not homophobic but sometimes I do say that the Bible says homosexuality is a crime against the Creator”.

He claims that the PCSO then said he was homosexual and identified himself as the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender liaison officer for Cumbria police. Mr McAlpine replied: “It’s still a sin.”

The preacher then began a 20 minute sermon, in which he says he mentioned drunkenness and adultery, but not homosexuality. Three regular uniformed police officers arrived during the address, arrested Mr McAlpine and put him in the back of a police van.

At the station, he was told to empty his pockets and his mobile telephone, belt and shoes were confiscated. Police took fingerprints, a palm print, a retina scan and a DNA swab.

He was later interviewed, charged under Sections 5 (1) and (6) of the Public Order Act and released on bail on the condition that he did not preach in public.

Mr McAlpine pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing on Friday at Workington magistrates court and is now awaiting a trial date.

The Public Order Act, which outlaws the unreasonable use of abusive language likely to cause distress, has been used to arrest religious people in a number of similar cases.

Harry Hammond, a pensioner, was convicted under Section 5 of the Act in 2002 for holding up a sign saying “Stop immorality. Stop Homosexuality. Stop Lesbianism. Jesus is Lord” while preaching in Bournemouth.

Stephen Green, a Christian campaigner, was arrested and charged in 2006 for handing out religious leaflets at a Gay Pride festival in Cardiff. The case against him was later dropped.

Cumbria police said last night that no one was available to comment on Mr McAlpine’s case.

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]