Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100601

Financial Crisis
»Italy: Judges Threaten Strike Over Budget Cuts
»Italy: Lay-Offs Cost State €500 Mln in 2009
»Italy: Requirements Better, Reach 50.1 Bln
»A Blueprint for Resurrecting Our Republic
»Boston Jewish Leaders Slam Mass. Treasurer
»Fort Hood Suspect’s Hearing Postponed Until Fall
»Homeland Security: Homeland Security to Deport Mosab Hassan Yousef
»Hundreds Rally in Support of Israeli Raid on Flotilla at L.A. Turkish Consulate
»Reporters to Need Government Licenses?
»Wind Farms Could Interfere With Flight Patterns, Radar Systems, Military Says
»Comment Worth Noting: Canadian Somali Conference More Significant Than Its Billing Suggests?
»Soaring Costs Force Canada to Reassess Health Model
Europe and the EU
»Austria Submits to Sharia
»Economists Propose ‘Gradual EU Entry’ For Turkey
»EU: Turkey: Too Many Problems in Negotiations, Minister Bagis
»Helsinki Residents No Longer So Shocked by — or So Sympathetic Towards — Begging in the Streets
»Italy: Paedophilia-Linked Priest to Stay in Jail
»Poland: Church That Doubted His Solar Theory Reburies Copernicus in a Hero’s Tomb
»Sweden: University in Quest to Return Sami Bones
»Sweden Democrats to Cut Foreign Aid for Welfare
»UK: A Hatred Exposed
»UK: Egypt Runaway Bride Amy Robson Returns to England After Cafe Owner Husband Seeks Second Wife
»UK: New Mosque Bid Unveiled
»Vatican: Pope to Send Officials to Ireland in Sex Abuse Probe
»Kosovo: Tensions Flare After Polls in Divided Northern Town
Mediterranean Union
»Jordan and France Discuss Cooperation
North Africa
»Algeria: High-Ranking Al Qaeda-Salafist Figure Surrenders
Israel and the Palestinians
»Andy McCarthy: The Grand Jihad and the ‘Humanitarian’ Flotilla
»Blitz: UN Text is Hypocrite, Lieberman Says
»Blitz: Hamas: Disappointing UN Statement
»Blitz: Urgent UN Human Rights Council Debate
»Flotilla: UN Urges Inquiry and Release of Activists
»Frank Gaffney: How Wars Begin
»Gaza: Border Shootout, Two Militants Killed
»Indonesia: Muslim Activists Rally Against Israel
»Italy: Muslim Groups Call on Israel to Release Aid Activists
»MEMRI TV Clips on the Gaza Flotilla: Activists on Board Chant Songs of Martyrdom at Departure
»Raid: Italian Gaza Activists ‘Well’
»Raid: Hamas Turns Back Aid Sent on by Israel
»The Non-Violent Murder of Jews
»Vatican Says Israeli Occupation Unjust
»Violence and Humanitarian Aid
Middle East
»A War for World’s Future — Battle Isn’t About Gaza, But Rather, About Radical Islam vs. Liberal West
»Defence: Turkey, Syria to Hold Joint Military Exercises
»IDF: Global Jihad on Flotilla
»Iran: UN Seeks $18 Mln for Afghan Refugees
»Israeli Aircraft to be Delivered on Time, Turkish Minister Says
»Turkey: Aircraft Sent to Israel to Retrieve Wounded Activists
»Turkey: Foiled Coup, Former Justice Minister Arrested
»Turkey Launches Long-Term Diplomatic War Against Israel
»Turkey: Stocks Fall on Israel Gaza Flotilla Raid
»Turkish PM Erdogan Calls on World to Punish Israel Over Deadly Attack
»UAE: Dubai Holding Posts $6.2 Bln Loss
»An Abridged Translation of the Last 40 Minutes of the Fatal Flight of PAF 101 That Killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 Others
»Full Publication of Smolensk Crash Recordings Blocked?
South Asia
»Diana West: Just-Not-Mohammed’s-Face Book
»India: DNA of 12 AI Crash Victims Don’t Match With Relatives
»Pakistan: Gunmen Kill at Least Five in Hospital Rampage
»Sharia Panchayat Boycotts 5 Muslims for Being ‘Infidels’
Far East
»China Aims to Become Supercomputer Superpower
Australia — Pacific
»Islamic School Bid ‘Not Ours’
Culture Wars
»Father: Carmel Bus Driver Berated Girl Over Beliefs
»Free Birth Control Under Health Care?

Financial Crisis

Italy: Judges Threaten Strike Over Budget Cuts

Rome, 31 May (AKI) — Italy’s judges on Monday threatened to go on strike after Italian president Giorgio Napolitano signed into law some 25 billion euros in budget cuts that include salary reductions for many civil servants. The measure aims to reduce the country’s deficit and follows similar moves by other members of the European Union.

Judges “are ready to strike,” said Luca Palamara, president of National Association of Magistrates, after meeting with a close aid to prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, government under-secretary Gianni Letta.

“For the sake of being responsible, until now we put on hold any action, but now…we are ready to strike and even ready for other forms of protest that are alternatives to a strike.”

Italian union leaders last week also threatened a general strike.

Italian politicians and other workers in Italy’s huge public administration will be forced by the austerity measures to accept salary cuts and freezes. The government also says it will recover billions of euros in evaded taxes as a way to reduce its deficit.

The European Union has asked its 27 members to implement measures to curb public spending in a bid to safeguard the euro and prevent a repeat of the Greece’s debt crisis. Germany, Spain, Portugal and Greece have also announced spending cuts.

“The measures are urgent in order to stablise the financial markets andmake the economy more competitive,” Napolitano (photo) said in a statement on Monday.

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

Italy: Lay-Offs Cost State €500 Mln in 2009

Rome, 31 May (AKI) — The Italian government paid out 500 million euros more in layoff and redundancy payments in 2009 than it received in unemployment insurance contributions as Europe’s fourth-largest economy experienced its worst recession in more than six decades, the Bank of Italy said on Monday.

“The entire cost was 4.3 billion euros compared to the 3.8 billion euros in contributions,” the Bank of Italy (photo) said in its annual report.

The figures primarily referred to a type of unemployment benefit the Italian government awards workers to cover periods during which they have been temporarily layoffs.

About 1.8 million Italians in 2009 received this type of benefit payout during the period when Italy’s economic output shrank 5.1 percent, according to the Bank of Italy report.

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

Italy: Requirements Better, Reach 50.1 Bln

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 1 — In the first five months of 2010, a total financial requirement of 50.1 billion euros has been registered in Italy, a drop of 6.1 billion compared to the corresponding period of 2009, when a figure of 56.223 billion was recorded. The figures were released by the Treasury. The requirements of the state sector for the month of May 2010 alone reached 8.1 billion, an increase of over 400 million compared to the 7.695 billion figure recorded in May 2009. The Economy Minister, however, has pointed out that the figure includes aid for Greece. “Net of this outlay, the monthly requirements reach around 5.2 billion, a drop of about 2.5 billion compared to the equivalent month of 2009,” the Treasury explains. State sector requirements for 2010 include the allocation to Greece of a loan of roughly 2.9 billion euros. As a result, the requirements of the first five months would under normal circumstances be around 8 billion lower than they were in the first five months of 2009. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


A Blueprint for Resurrecting Our Republic

Repeatedly I am asked what I would do to restore constitutional governance to America. Let me start by diagnosing the problem and then explaining precisely what needs to be done to eliminate it.

Since the 1930s, the United States has transferred governing power from its elected representatives to some 83 independent regulatory commissions. Those commissions are law makers, prosecutors, and judges, possessing combined legislative, executive, and judicial powers. They operate outside of the constitutional system created by the Founding Fathers and have established a bureaucratic oligarchy in place of our constitutional republic. They give unelected officials and commissions enormous power to invade and deprive Americans of their rights to life, liberty, and property, and effect taxation without representation.

There are at least 6 major ills that have transformed our Constitution of liberty that gave birth to a republic into a Constitution in exile (a term coined by the brilliant D.C. Circuit Judge Douglas H. Ginsberg) that has given birth to a bureaucratic oligarchy. The essential principles the government violates that would otherwise constrain government and protect liberty are the following:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Boston Jewish Leaders Slam Mass. Treasurer

(JTA) — Boston Jewish leaders were among the religious leaders who slammed the Massachusetts state treasurer for criticizing Gov. Deval Patrick’s attendance at a forum at a local mosque.

The religious leaders — including representatives of several synagogues, the Archdiocese of Boston, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Massachusetts Council of Churches and some of Boston’s most prominent black churches — gathered May 28 on the steps of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center to criticize Treasurer Timothy Cahill for saying that the meeting was “playing politics with terrorism,” the Boston Globe reported.

Cahill is running as an independent candidate for governor against Patrick, a Democrat.

Patrick’s campaign told the newspaper that Cahill was engaging in “fear mongering” when he rapped Patrick for holding a forum for the Muslim community. The forum touched on such issues as discrimination and racial profiling, and encouraged businesses to allow Muslims time off to attend Friday prayers.

Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom in Newton praised members of the mosque, who assisted the synagogue when it was vandalized with a swastika earlier this year. He called Cahill’s statement against the governor an “act of hatred and bigotry.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Fort Hood Suspect’s Hearing Postponed Until Fall

Fort Hood, TX, United States (AHN) — A hearing for the Army psychiatrist charged with fatally shooting 13 people at the nation’s largest military base has been delayed.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan made his first court appearance Tuesday since the Nov. 5 tragedy. His lawyer successfully convinced the judge, Col. James Pohl, to postpone his Article 32 hearing for four months until fall based on arguments that the defense had not been given crucial evidence in the case.

An Article 32 hearing is a pre-trial investigation that could result in a court martial.

Hasan attended the proceedings shackled and in a wheelchair. The 39-year-old was wounded during the shooting and left paralyzed from the chest down.

The shooting at Fort Hood took place at a “readiness center” where troops routinely gathered for medical and dental consultations before their deployment. Hasan, a practicing Muslim, is believed to have used a handgun and a semiautomatic against fellow soldiers, killing more than a dozen and wounding 32 others.

The tragedy took place just days before Veterans Day and amid public debate about whether more troops should be sent to fight in the Afghan war, now on its ninth year.

Hasan has been charged with 13 counts of first degree murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. His motives are still unclear, but he was due for deployment before the shooting and had sent e-mail messages to Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki while he was a doctor at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Awlaki is the former imam of the Dar al Hijrah Islamic Center in Virginia, a mosque attended by two 9/11 hijackers. An American citizen, he is said to have been added by the Obama administration to the target list of people the CIA is authorized to capture or kill.

The FBI said last year that Hasan’s communications with Awlaki were consistent with his work as a doctor for military personnel.

A Pentagon review after the shooting has found gaps in the Defense Department’s rules on anti-terror and criminal threats. The complete review is due for release this month, but Defense Sec. Robert Gates has announced the adoption of 26 recommendations from the review committee, including a policy for privately owned weapons and clearer guidelines on banned activities that would allow commanders to act on potential threats to troop discipline and good order.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Homeland Security: Homeland Security to Deport Mosab Hassan Yousef

Mosab Hassan Yousef, known as The Son of Hamas, has been targeted by Homeland Security for deportation. Yousef is a Palestinian. His father is a Hamas leader. Mosab was an agent for Israel’s Mossad for many years. In a strange turnaround in his life, Mosab was imprisoned in Israel for ten years, witnessed the torture of Hamas members by Hamas member and met a tourist who led him to convert from Islam to Christianity.

Today, Mosab Yousef lives near San Diego. He is officially seeking asylum in the United States, but Homeland Security says he is a security threat (translated: he’s a Muslim with the audacity to convert and…he supports Israel); DHS wants to send him back to Palestine where he will be put to death. Yousef will go before a San Diego judge on June 30th to determine his status in this country.

Mosab Yousef’s life story is awe-inspiring, unless you have a Liberal viewpoint. Which begs the question: Who is behind the effort to send him home to certain death? Is CAIR lobbying Homeland Security? Is Hamas lobbying Muslim Congressmen Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Andre Carson (D-IN)? Are Ellison or Carson involved in this in any way? Is Syrian President Assad lobbying his ally, Nancy Pelosi? How about the powerful Dalia Mogahed, or Obama’s good friend Louis Farrakahn and the “Fruits” of Islam? Or maybe Obama’s good friend, drinking-buddy and Jew-hater, Rashid Khalid?

On the other hand, maybe it’s our dhimmi U.S. State Department or more simply, Eric Holder in our Muslim-infected Department of Justice.

This young man needs our prayers, our telephone calls, our faxes, our emails. In short, we need to lobby for his life. Read Mosab’s story here. Karen has more.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Hundreds Rally in Support of Israeli Raid on Flotilla at L.A. Turkish Consulate

About 1,000 people protest[ed] in front of the Turkish Consulate in Mid-Wilshire on Tuesday evening in support of Israel’s…raid of a protest flotilla that tried to break through a blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The L.A. activists, members of StandWithUs and other groups, said that the vessel boarded by Israeli commandos was carrying weapons intended for members of Hamas. They said the ship was flying under a Turkish flag.

“We’re very concerned about Hamas and weapons coming to Hamas,” Roz Rothstein, chief executive of StandWithUs [], said in a telephone interview. “What you saw was Israel trying to protect its citizens.”

She said “hundreds and hundreds” of people had gathered in front of the consulate in the 6300 block of Wilshire Boulevard. Los Angeles police estimated the crowd size at about 1,000 protesters.

The raid prompted a firestorm of international condemnation of Israel’s actions against the flotilla, which reportedly was trying to deliver humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for the consulate was not immediately available.

[Return to headlines]

Reporters to Need Government Licenses?

Lawmaker suggests registry for journalists’ background, experience

A Michigan lawmaker says people have the right to know reporters are credible and have “good moral character,” so he’s proposed a procedure to license journalists and document their credentials, background and experience.

But the plan by Sen. Bruce Patterson, a Republican from the state’s 7th district, is going nowhere, according to a government watchdog organization, because it would “step on” the U.S Constitution.

The plan by Patterson was reported by Fox News, which said Patterson cited the state’s ability already to license professions such as automobile mechanics, plumbers and hairdressers.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Wind Farms Could Interfere With Flight Patterns, Radar Systems, Military Says

The Department of Defense says six large-scale wind farms proposed in the Mojave Desert near Barstow would interfere with military operations and should not be built.

The military opposition prompted Houston, Texas-based Horizon Wind Energy last week to withdraw applications for three of the wind farms, said Greg Miller, the renewable energy program manager for the Bureau of Land Management’s Desert District. The bureau is handling the applications because the wind farms would be on public land.

No construction had started on the wind farms. Miller said Horizon had been gathering meteorological data at the three sites. The fate of the other three wind developments has not been determined yet, officials said.

In letters sent to the BLM in April and May, military officials said wind turbines in the Barstow area would constrain flight operations, interfere with radar and increase the chance of collisions.

The military considers the area critical for flight tests and training missions, according to one of the letters, sent by a military planning group representing the Navy, Air Force and Army.

Three other wind farms — one sought by Horizon and two by a subsidiary of the Arlington, Va.-based AES Inc. — are on hold because of military concerns that turbines would interfere with radar systems, Miller said.

One of the projects is the 82.6-megawatt wind farm proposed by AES on 1,577 acres of public land and 380 acres of private land on Daggett Ridge, a low mountain range about 10 miles southeast of Barstow. The turbines would stand more than 400 feet above the ground.

Daggett Ridge was one of two Mojave Desert wind projects selected last fall by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar for fast-tracked approval so it could be ready for construction by the end of the year and thus qualify for federal stimulus dollars.

Mike Azeka, AES Wind Generation’s permitting and planning director, said it is too early to comment on the radar issue.

“We don’t know too much about it, and much of the information is classified,” he said.

A Horizon official referred questions to the Reliable Northwest Project, a Portland, Ore-based nonprofit group that advocates for clean energy projects.

Rachel Shimshak, the project’s executive director, said military radar issues have affected wind projects sought for the Columbia Gorge area east of Portland. The federal government needs to be more clear about restrictions before energy companies spend money on their projects, she said.

Military officials, contacted by phone and e-mail, were not available last week for interviews.

In an April 30 letter to the BLM, a joint military policy board said Doppler interference from wind turbines in the Tehachapi Mountains area has degraded the military’s ability to test and evaluate “newly developed airborne radar systems.” Wind development near Barstow would cause the same problem, according to the letter signed by Scott Kiernan of the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

The letterhead listed the Flight Test Center, the Naval Air Warfare Center at China Lake and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin as members of the planning group. The bases form a triangle north and east of Barstow.

Edwards, often used as an alternative landing site for the space shuttles, covers 301,000 acres in San Bernardino, Kern and Los Angeles counties. It is a major flight research center.

China Lake encompasses 1.1 million acres in San Bernardino, Kern and Inyo counties. Its main mission is developing and testing airborne weapons systems.

Fort Irwin, north of Barstow, extends across more than 637,000 acres. Troops from all over the nation train there for battle in the Middle East.

Miller said BLM officials have received only limited briefings about radar issues because the agency’s employees don’t have the necessary security clearances to learn the full extent of the problem. He said he expects the energy companies to look for potential technical or design solutions to the problem.

The military’s concern comes as a new generation of wind machines is reaching higher into the sky. The bigger turbines are more efficient, energy officials said.

The Daggett Ridge project calls for 33 towers, each12 feet in diameter, that would stand more than 260 feet. The tips of the rotating blades would reach even higher — 429 feet in the air.

In the past few years, the BLM has received 63 applications to develop wind farms on public land in the desert from Ridgecrest to Mexico.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Comment Worth Noting: Canadian Somali Conference More Significant Than Its Billing Suggests?

Reader Khadra is back with another warning. Regular readers may remember we had an interesting exchange with Khadra, a Somali woman, here almost two weeks ago. Last night Khadra was back with more concerning information in response to my post on May 26th about the US terror warning to border states about Somalis illegally entering the US.

This is what she says (emphasis is mine):

This isn’t surprising at all and it is too little too late. The Somalis are unwilling to assimilate, but they are willing to make everything their own: schools, malls, stores, mosques, and even districts. There are two kinds of these Islamists: 1. The one who has brought his ideologies overseas, and 2. The young ones who were brainwashed that live in the U.S.A. When one goes down the drain the other raises up its a continuous cycle.

3 weeks ago I attended (I had to) the First Annual Somali Islamic Conference which brought over 3,000 Somalis across the GTA [Greater Toronto Area] in Canada. Surprisingly the main point of this conference was: to build Islamic schools across Toronto and for Somalis to be able to have control over their children (as they say they don’t like or trust public schools and their children to attend them), to start Somali language and Arabic classes, to merge the biggest Somali mosques in Toronto: Abu Hurairah and Khalid bin Walid into one big mosque, the establishment of the MBA (Muslim Basketball Association, already established, trying to be as high and famous as the NBA), to form the Islamic Somali Imam’s Council of North America, etc.

This shows that the Somalis are coming to the move of where they want to establish a Shariah based laws in the West and its already heading in that direction. The conference was the first of its kind to gather all Somalis living in Canada and might extend to the United States.

All the preachers and Shiekhs of the conference were not surprisingly of either Somali, Arab, and or Pakistani descend. They came from all over the world: Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, USA, Canada, Australia, the UK, etc. for this conference and they had a great impact on the people because I have witnessed people literally in religious hypnosis mode (chanting prayers in Arabic or Somali) and some were even crying in agreement to the Shiekhs. So you see and know where this is heading

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

Soaring Costs Force Canada to Reassess Health Model

TORONTO (Reuters) — Pressured by an aging population and the need to rein in budget deficits, Canada’s provinces are taking tough measures to curb healthcare costs, a trend that could erode the principles of the popular state-funded system.

Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, kicked off a fierce battle with drug companies and pharmacies when it said earlier this year it would halve generic drug prices and eliminate “incentive fees” to generic drug manufacturers.

British Columbia is replacing block grants to hospitals with fee-for-procedure payments and Quebec has a new flat health tax and a proposal for payments on each medical visit — an idea that critics say is an illegal user fee.

And a few provinces are also experimenting with private funding for procedures such as hip, knee and cataract surgery.

It’s likely just a start as the provinces, responsible for delivering healthcare, cope with the demands of a retiring baby-boom generation. Official figures show that senior citizens will make up 25 percent of the population by 2036.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria Submits to Sharia

Herbert I. London

Vienna is a city bursting with history. The Vienna of jack boots and swastikas is a distant memory. On the surface, the contemporary Vienna is prosperous, peaceful and civilized.

But there is another Vienna percolating beneath the surface, a dark presence that has the potential to undo the tranquility Austrians have come to accept as the norm. This is the Austrian version of banlieus, the areas populated by Muslims, mostly Turkish. In these areas, crime is on the rise, resentment is palpable and buildings are marred with graffiti.

Most significantly, the average person refuses to recognize the potential problem these communities represent. If one points out the dangers, the specter of Islamophobia or racism is raised as a chilling censor, and defenders of Enlightenment ideas, such as individual rights, property rights and the rule of law are castigated as right wing fanatics when they insist on applying these principles to Muslim minorities.

So preoccupied are establishment figures with maintaining this Austrian version of tranquility that they prefer to look away and criticize the people upholding democratic ideals. It is obvious, or should be obvious, that Sharia Law is inconsistent with Enlightenment ideas. But when it comes to peace versus principle, authorities opt for the former, fearful that any other stance will exacerbate public attitudes.

As a consequence, official state numbers suggest the Islamic population in Austria has remained stable at 500,000 over the last decade, even through the birth rate among Muslims is more than twice the replacement level of 2.1. Far better to deceive the public at large than alarm it.

The same condition prevails with the crime rate. As crime statistics are not broken down by race or ethnicity, the average person may discern a disproportionate crime rate among Muslims, but it is not part of the public record.

When Elisabeth Sabaditch-Wolf, a resident of Vienna, spoke out against Muslim practices that threaten democracy, she was labeled a right wing fanatic and is currently facing prosecution for public incitement. Rather than honor her for defending civilizational principles, she has been marginalized as an extremist by Austrian authorities. These prosecutions — even if unsuccessful — have a chilling influence on free speech and open debate.

It is remarkable that Sharia Law has won a psychological victory as it cannot be challenged without judicial investigation. Yet Sharia, in essence, cannot tolerate apostasy. Apostates, according to Koranic principles, must either convert, submit or die. This is a direct contradiction of democratic ideals and a violation of liberal religious practices established over centuries of bloodletting. Now, without a shot being fired, the Austrians have seemingly conceded. All it took was the possibly of violence and the pervasive ambience of intimidation.

One gets the impression that a nation that has grown to love freedom and prosperity has grown complacent. And with this complacency, Austrians will engage in almost any arabesque of rationalization to maintain tranquility. Without fully realizing it, this strategy is leading to the very totalitarianism it fought so hard to avoid during the Cold War. Sharia Law disavows secular prescriptions, but in its political agenda it is intent on transforming Western institutions. Signs of this goal are already evident in Austria today.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Economists Propose ‘Gradual EU Entry’ For Turkey

In an article for the website, Thorvaldur Gylfason and Per Magnus Wijkman suggest that Turkey’s integration into the European Union should be strengthened with membership to the European Economic Area. Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News, Gylfason says the EU and the euro are too important to be allowed to be put in jeopardy by the recent debt crisis

‘The biggest benefit for Turkey with the European Economic Area would be a deeper integration, more trade and cross-border investment,’ professor Thorvaldur Gylfason says.

Supporting a deeper integration of the Turkish economy into the European Union, two renowned economists said the country should be invited to enter the European Economic Area, or EEA, as a “way station to future EU membership.”

According to a joint article from Thorvaldur Gylfason, an economics professor at the University of Iceland and Per Magnus Wijkman, adjunct professor of international economic policy at the University of Göteborg, the EEA is the path forward in Turkish-EU relations, as it “goes beyond the Customs Union” that has been in force since 1996.

“The EEA constitutes de facto associate economic membership of the EU without subscription to the Common Agricultural and Fisheries Policies as well as the euro,” the article, published at, said. The EEA ensures the free movement of services, capital, and labor.

“It provides for deeper integration and for common institutions for surveillance and adjudication of disputes. Focusing on these economic issues first could speed up the current negotiations, leaving the more difficult political issues to be settled later,” the article said.

Responding to questions from the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review last week, Gylfason said the EEA could facilitate full EU membership for Turkey.

“The biggest benefit for the country would be a deeper integration, more trade and cross-border investment, as well as the responsibilities that a new EU member must shoulder to respect the rules of the game,” he said. “Good neighbors mean good growth.”

Crisis delays ambitious plans

Many are concerned that the evolving sovereign debt crisis in Western Europe will delay EU enlargement. A recent analysis by the Financial Times implied that Estonia, which is due to adopt the euro next January, could be the last new eurozone member for some time. Other applicants have also begun to show more ambivalence about joining the euro — a recent poll in Poland showed that 41 percent of those surveyed were in favor of “taking more time” over the application.

“The European project involves learning by doing. But the EU and the euro are too important to be allowed to be put in jeopardy by the developments in Greece,” Gylfason said.

“Partnership in the European project presupposes domestic discipline as well as dedication to shared goals,” he said. “The Greeks failed that test in the first round. But they will adjust. Had France or Germany failed, Europe would be in trouble. That did not happen. Europe did not fail.”

Turkey has been on the road to European integration since 1959. It became an associate member of the European Economic Community in 1963 and applied for community membership in 1987. It joined the EU Customs Union in 1996 and the EU is Turkey’s largest trading partner. However, it was only in 2005 that the bloc formally began Turkey’s accession process, which may take until 2019 to complete.

“The main obstacle [for Turkey’s membership] appears to be the widely held view that it needs to make further progress to safeguard democratic principles, human rights, and the rights of religious and ethnic minorities,” Gylfason said.

“EU members must reach a consensus on Turkey’s application. Some of them are concerned about economic and social difficulties that might arise from premature membership and argue instead for a privileged partnership.”

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

EU: Turkey: Too Many Problems in Negotiations, Minister Bagis

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JUNE 1 — “No other country has experienced the problems we have had in the accession process to the European union”, said Turkish European Affairs Minister and chief negotiator for negotiations with the EU Egemen Bagis. In a speech at the Luiss University in Rome, the Minister pointed out that his country has made considerable progress towards European standards and that Turkey is “more democratic, more transparent and more stable”, but despite this there are still many problems. “The dream of the founding fathers like Spinelli and De Gasperi will not come true as long as Turkey stays outside the EU”, said Bagis, underlining Italy’s support to Turkey’s EU accession. Turkey, Bagis added, “is the most eastern country of the West and the most western country of the East”. A sort of synthesis for Europe which today faces integration problems. But that is not the issue. According to the Turkish European Affairs Minister, Ankara has met all standards required by Brussels and more. For example, he specified, Turkey “is an essential energy hub”, and “one of the largest and most dynamic markets” in Europe. The country has not felt the impact of the financial crisis, which has seriously weighed down the economy and finance of the 27 EU countries. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Helsinki Residents No Longer So Shocked by — or So Sympathetic Towards — Begging in the Streets

Finnish capital already has more than 200 migrant Roma panhandlers; their earnings are falling as public attitudes harden

By Janne Toivonen

Daniel Aleman, a Roma from Romania, says that today the Helsinki residents’ favourite call to the beggars they encounter on the street is:”Go Romania!”

It is no sporting shout of encouragement; it just means that the Roma should go back to where they came from.

“Many people seem to hate us. I have even been spat at. Nothing like this happened last year”, Aleman says.

A passer-by joins the discussion with some vigour:

“Why don’t you go somewhere else? You just bring more crime here”, says entrepreneur Svetlana Leskinen-Kajamäki with feeling. She has lived in Finland for 25 years.

Our interpreter translates to Aleman what she said, and Aleman defends himself.

“I did not come here in search of wealth and I do not want to receive any social security benefits. But in Romania we do not have anything to live on. In the European Union people are free to move to another EU country and to look for livelihood”, Aleman argues.

“But why was Romania admitted to the EU? This kind of activity does not belong in Europe”, Leskinen-Kajamäki continues.

This summer, the number of beggars will be higher than ever before in Finland.

The current number of panhandlers out on the streets of Helsinki is slightly over 200, estimates Jarmo Räihä, a leading expert at Helsinki’s Social Services Department.

In general, beggars move in the same places as other people. In the space of a few blocks radius from Helsinki’s Central Railway Station, some 10 to15 beggars can be seen sitting on the ground.

We are interviewing six beggars with the help of our interpreter. They all say that their earnings are now 10 to 15 euros a day, while still last year they earned around EUR 20 to 25 per day. Some of them say that they collect only 6 to 7 euros in a day, in other words one euro per hour.

People no longer give us money. They regard us as thieves. Drunks sometimes kick down our cups”, complain Rozalia and Maria Sandu, who are incidentally not in Finland for the first time.

“Why the f**k are you molly-coddling those people! They come here just as long as you give them money”, shouts a passer-by with a neck tattoo.

This spring and summer’s trend appears to be begging and empty returnable bottle collecting in festivals.

For example, at the traditionally rather liquid spring festival Vappu (May Eve and May Day) the beggars’ earnings were hefty.

“Do you know of any festivals this week? They could be even 300 to 400 kilometres away from Helsinki. We can arrange a trip by a van, for which we will naturally have to pay”, say Kamelia Caldarary and her husband Vasile, who are sitting on the grass adjoining the Ateneum Art Museum.

When Kamelia collected bottles at a festival in Turku last summer, she earned a hundred euros during a weekend.

“Or if you know of a place where we could buy a car with which we could go to festivals, and maybe later drive back to Romania”, they ask.

The couple say that they sleep in a car.

Why do they not use the vehicle to go to festivals?

“Vasile bought it for 50 euros to give us shelter. It does not have an engine”, Kamelia replies.

The two continue their lunch: ready-made meatballs and toast directly form the bag.

In the district of Itäkeskus, in Eastern Helsinki, Daniel Aleman is standing at the entrance of the shopping centre on one foot, supported by a pair of crutches.

“A car accident six years ago”, Daniel answers when asked about the amputation of one of his legs.

Aleman is not one of those crippled or “crippled” people who are carried by criminal gangs from Romania to Southern Europe to beg for pity.

Authorities have suspected that the same phenomenon might arrive in Finland, too.

Aleman came to Finland a year ago from Metz, a city in the northeast of France.

All Roma beggars were offered by French authorities a flight ticket back home and EUR 300 in return for not coming back. However, Aleman left for Finland, following his wife.

His wife Virginia Moldovan turns up. She is also a veteran here, and this is her fourth summer in Finland.

“Last year we were not insulted nor spat on. People here no longer believe in God”, she says with regret.

In any case, the question: “Why are you cosseting those people!” is good. Should we cosset beggars or should we not, that is a question to be considered in the next few days.

The Ministry of the Interior is to set up a working group to consider the possibility of a ban on begging in Finland.

The working group will include representatives from the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Finnish Immigration Service, the National Police Board, the City of Helsinki, and the Office of the Ombudsman for Minorities.

Another line of discussion has also been opened in Finland.

A Helsinki resident and Member of Parliament Juha Hakola (National Coalition) has proposed that the Public Order Act of 2003 should be amended so that begging would be forbidden.

The related bill is to be brought before Parliament this week.

Under current legislation, begging is not illegal in this country.

Neither can municipalities set bans of their own on begging.

Police can intervene only if begging causes a public disturbance.

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

Italy: Paedophilia-Linked Priest to Stay in Jail

Milano, 31 May (AKI) — Domenico Pezzini, an elderly Italian priest accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy, will remain in custody, a judge in the northern city of Milan ruled on Monday. The judge rejected a request by lawyers for Pezzini, 73, to transfer him to a monastry in the province of Como.

Judge Giuseppe Vanore said there was a danger that Pezzini could re-offend if he were released from prison. Pezzini, a gay activist, is being held in Milan’s San Vittore jail and denies the charges against him.

Vanore questioned finds the claims against him by his alleged victim credible, according to unnamed sources close to the investigation. Vanore questioned Pezzini last Friday at San Vittore.

Pezzini’s lawyer Mario Zanchetti declined to comment and no other details were released about the priest’s interrogation.

Pezzini was arrested by police on 24 May after claims that he sexually abused the boy — now an adult — over a three-year period.

He reportedly befriended the impoverished boy in a park near Milan.

According to investigators he provided the boy with money and helped him to study, while starting a three-year sexual relationship with him.

During a search of Pezzini’s home in Milan, police found a large collection of paedophile pornography, according to Italian news reports.

The Vatican has been accused of a vast cover-up of widespread abuse by not taking action to removing suspected paedophile priests or turning them over to police.

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

Poland: Church That Doubted His Solar Theory Reburies Copernicus in a Hero’s Tomb

Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th-century astronomer whose findings were condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as heretical, has been reburied by Polish priests as a hero, nearly 500 years after he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave. His reinterment in the cathedral where he once served as a church canon indicates how far the church has come in making peace with the scientist who first postulated that the Earth revolves around the sun.

Copernicus, who lived from 1473 to 1543, had spent years developing his theory, which was condemned much later as heretical by the church because it removed Earth and humanity from their central position in the universe. His revolutionary model was based on complex mathematical calculations and naked-eye observations of the heavens; the telescope had not yet been invented.

After his death, his remains rested in an unmarked grave beneath the floor of the cathedral in Frombork, Poland.

The anonymity was not linked to church criticism. When he died, his ideas were just starting to be discussed by a small group of European scientists, and the church was not yet forcefully condemning the heliocentric world view as heresy, according to Jack Repcheck, author of “Copernicus’ Secret: How the Scientific Revolution Began.” The full attack on those ideas came decades later when the Vatican was waging a massive defense against Martin Luther’s Reformation.

“Why was he just buried along with everyone else, like every other canon in Frombork?” said Repcheck. “Because at the time of his death he was just any other canon in Frombork. He was not the iconic hero that he has become.”

At the urging of a local bishop, scientists began searching in 2004 for the astronomer’s remains and eventually turned up the skull and bones of a man who was 70 years old, the age Copernicus was when he died. A forensic reconstruction showed a broken nose and other features that resemble a self-portrait of Copernicus. Later, DNA taken from teeth and bones matched that from hairs found in one of his books.

On May 22 his remains were blessed by some of Poland’s highest-ranking clerics before being reburied in the spot where they were found. His new tombstone is decorated with a golden sun encircled by six of the planets.

The pageantry comes 18 years after the Vatican rehabilitated the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was prosecuted by the Inquisition for carrying the Copernican revolution forward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: University in Quest to Return Sami Bones

A major project is underway at Uppsala University to try and return the remains of Sami people used for racial biology research.

Old catalogues show that university once held 57 skulls and six skeletons from Sami, an indigenous people whose homeland covers large parts of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia, but accurately identifying the remains is proving to be a major task.

“The problem is finding this material in the big pile of bones we have,” Geoffrey Metz, who is leading the project, told The Local.

The Sami bones are mixed up with other remains, including those of prisoners whose bodies were given to the university by the state, a practice that continued until the 1950s.

The university has so far identified two skulls likely to be Sami. They were dug up in a churchyard in Rounala in 1915 and are believed to be the remains of people who lived in the 13th century. They are to be sent to the Áttje Sami Museum in Jokkmokk, northern Sweden. But there remain some question marks over even these bones:

“They could also be the remains of Swedish settlers,” Metz said.

Many of the Sami remains were used to test theories on the differences between races. Uppsala was home to Sweden’s infamous state institution for racial biology research until it closed in the 1950s:

“Racial biology researchers were interested in researching the differences between Swedes and Samis,” Metz said. The researchers used now-discredited racial theories to justify the forced sterilization of Sami people and the plundering of graves for remains to use in experiments.

The fate of even ancient Sami remains such as those from Rounala are a sensitive topic for Sami communities due both to historical injustices Sami cultural attitudes to human corpses. Many feel that the bones’ continued presence in state and university collections symbolize colonialism and the historic repression of the Sami people.

While many of the Uppsala remains are old, some of those listed in the university’s ledger are considerably more recent, including one from a Sami prisoner who died in the 1890s. The ledger records the prisoner’s age and the prison in which he died, but not his name. It has so far not been possible to identify the prisoner’s corpse:

“It would be fantastic to return a skeleton like that to the family,” Geoffrey Metz told The Local.

Metz says non-Sami remains held by the university, such as those of prisoners, have not generated the same level of controversy:

“But we have started discussing what to do if we get a request from a Swedish family whose great-grandfather ended up on the slab.”

James Savage ( 656 6518)

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

Sweden Democrats to Cut Foreign Aid for Welfare

Sweden’s small far-right Sweden Democrat (SD) party presented a shadow budget on Monday pledging lower taxes and higher benefits, to be financed by cutting international aid and refugee quotas.

The party said their first shadow budget would “re-establish Swedish welfare and at the same time lower taxes.”

The party has never held a seat in the Swedish parliament and a poll published Friday found it had 3.6 percent voter support, less than the four percent needed to enter parliament after September 19 elections. In the 2006 general election SD polled 2.93 percent of the vote.

The budget “mainly involves reallocating the funds of the expensive immigration policy and ineffective development aid to necessary welfare and safety commitments, and raising direct assistance to real refugees in the world,” it said.

The party proposed cutting the number of refugees allowed into Sweden, along with immigration by relatives of foreigners, by 90 percent.

It also called for slashing Sweden’s direct development aid but doubling its grants to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The party said its planned reforms to Swedish immigration and asylum policy, and to international aid would save about 107.5 billion kronor ($13.7 billion) in one budget period.

The savings would allow it to lower taxes for the middle class and pensioners while raising unemployment and sick-leave benefits, it said.

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

UK: A Hatred Exposed

The Guardian exposé of the English Defence League should now persuade Westminster to take anti-Muslim hatred seriously

The Guardian’s brave and insightful undercover investigation into the activities of the EDL should finally persuade Westminster politicians to take the issue of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence seriously. Our own research supports the findings of the Guardian investigation, most importantly concerning the extent to which the EDL is fuelled by visceral, violent anti-Muslim hatred.

The video that accompanies the Guardian report should leave no room for doubt that members of the EDL are echoing sentiments about Muslims they have adopted from sections of the mainstream media and the BNP. It is no coincidence that Nick Griffin has been peddling exactly the same hatred towards Muslims for the last decade. Similarly, a cursory examination of the records of Islamophobia Watch over the last five years provides a sense of the extent of Islamophobia in the mainstream media.

Daily Mail commentator Peter Oborne is right to argue that it has become “permissible to fabricate malicious falsehoods and therefore foment hatred against Muslims in a way which would be regarded as immoral and illegal if perpetrated against any other vulnerable section of society”.

While that hatred clearly has links to aspects of racism it is the description of Muslims as terrorists and Muslims as extremists that gains most traction in EDL and BNP circles — just as it does in sections of the mainstream media. As a result the EDL can attract supporters who are genuinely adamant that they are not racist.

For example, the Guardian video reveals EDL leader Guramit Singh, a Sikh, repeating the claim made by mainstream journalist Andrew Gilligan that Islamic Forum Europe and the East London Mosque represent a hub of Islamist extremism that runs counter to British democracy and security. For Singh that makes Tower Hamlets, Britain’s largest Muslim community, a target for future EDL demonstrations and campaigns. For Tower Hamlets residents old enough to remember the violence that accompanied the racist campaigns of the National Front and the antisemitic campaigns of the British Union of Fascists such a prospect is ominous.

Our research suggests that the EDL is one manifestation of widespread anger and violence towards Muslims in the UK. We have documented what this means: attempts to bomb Muslim targets, murder, grievous bodily harm, arson attacks on mosques and most frequently, abuse and violent intimidation of Muslims, especially Muslim women in the street. The shift towards Muslim targets for violent attack has been especially marked since 9/11.

Prior to 9/11 we can find no record of a racist attack in the UK in which the victim is berated for being “a Muslim terrorist” or “Muslim extremist”. During the last decade it has become commonplace.

With notable exceptions, it is almost as difficult to find records since 9/11 of Westminster politicians defending Muslims from the charge of being terrorists and extremists.

Instead we find a long list of politicians who have sought to define and embrace “good Muslims” while attacking “bad Muslims”. If these “bad Muslims” were limited to the al-Qaida inspired terrorists who bombed London on 7/7 and the extremist members of al-Muhajiroun it might at least be an accurate categorisation. Instead, the concept of “bad Muslim” has come to demonise thousands of ordinary Muslims who do not wish to compromise their religious or political principles.

One unintended consequence of this mainstream political discourse is that EDL and BNP supporters have appropriated the “bad Muslim” target. Time and again they cite mainstream Westminster politicians and media pundits as their sources and role models for their campaigns against “Muslim extremists”.

Our research also confirms what Mujibul Islam says about the impact the growth of the EDL is having in terms of violence towards Muslims away from EDL demonstrations. His account of Muslims being attacked by EDL supporters on trains and in the street is important and mirrors the behaviour of violent racist groups like Combat 18 in the past.

Westminster politicians should therefore reflect long and hard on the problems posed by the English Defence League (EDL).

It is only vigilant policing that has so far prevented major public disorder at an EDL demonstration. Experience suggests, however, that it is only a matter of time before serious public disorder follows in the wake of an EDL protest. That will have serious adverse implications for community relations just as National Front demonstrations did it in the 1970s.

In her response to the Guardian report Samia Rahman is right to highlight the failure of the BNP to make a significant impact at the general election. It would be complacent, however, to see that as a sign that anti-Muslim violence by the EDL and kindred spirits in the UK is on the wane. On the contrary, street level political violence of all kinds feeds off apathy and antipathy towards the ballot box.

In March we joined academics and campaigners in the Grand Committee Room of the House of Commons to argue that the formation of an all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia was long overdue. The Guardian has now produced evidence to clinch the case.

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

UK: Egypt Runaway Bride Amy Robson Returns to England After Cafe Owner Husband Seeks Second Wife

She was 17 when she defied her parents and ran away from home to marry an Egyptian internet cafe owner.

Scouring the Red Sea resort of Hurghada for a man she had known for a matter of days, lovestruck Amy Robson declared: ‘I’m desperate to find him. I love him, I miss him and I need him.

‘All I want is to get married, be his wife and have his children.’

How those words must haunt Miss Robson now.

For the girl who married 31-year-old Mohamed El Sayed in 2007 and moved into a cramped two-bedroom flat with him, his parents and his younger brother is now back home near Carlisle and pursuing a divorce.

Miss Robson, now 20, returned to the UK after the man she knows as Noby began talking about marrying another woman in Egypt where it is legal to have up to four wives. Last night she said: ‘Getting married was the biggest mistake of my life and I’m so glad to be home.’

Miss Robson, who is now dating a 24-year- old security guard, hit the headlines in April 2007 when she ran away to Egypt from her home in the village of Beaumont to be with a married boathand with whom she became infatuated on a family holiday the year before.

Despite emailed promises to meet her at her hotel, he left the schoolgirl high and dry.

But within 12 hours and despite the language barrier, Miss Robson had fallen in love with Noby who proposed on their second day together.

They went to stay with his parents in Cairo and intended to marry within the week, but put the wedding on hold when Miss Robson suffered appendicitis.

Her parents James, an electrician, and Janet, a teacher, flew to Egypt to bring her home, but six months later she fled for a second time and spent two months searching for Noby.

In December 2007, having turned 18, Miss Robson married him in a traditional Egyptian ceremony, telling the Daily Mail: ‘I am sure this is something I won’t regret.’

Now, separated from the man she just ‘had to be with’, Miss Robson thinks differently and regrets missing out on being a ‘normal teenager’.

‘I thought we’d have a perfect life together, but I was stupid,’ she told Closer magazine. ‘I wish I’d never gone to Egypt, but I’ve got no one to blame but myself.’

She told how she was welcomed by Noby’s family, but he disliked the attention his pale-skinned wife attracted when they were out. And while he wanted ten children, Miss Robson ‘wasn’t ready’.

She said that within months he asked how she would feel if he married someone else and she ‘started to worry he didn’t love me any more’. By their first wedding anniversary she said they barely saw each other.

Miss Robson, who missed simple things such as homemade shepherd’s pie and McDonald’s, lied to family and friends in emails home about how happy she was. But in February 2009 she confessed she wanted to come home, and two months later she did just that.

‘I felt awful for the hell I’d put my family through but they were still there to support me,’ she said. Her husband, she added, had begged her to return ‘but it was too late’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: New Mosque Bid Unveiled

New plans to build a mosque in a Preston conservation area have been revealed.

An extra 40 prayer mats would be added to the Masjid-e-Salaam mosque on Watling Street Road, Fulwood, as part of the new proposals which would include a copper-roofed dome and minaret towers, a library and up to eight classrooms.

The plan would also add 63 car parking spaces on land where the existing mosque sits and the imam’s house on neighbouring Victoria Road.

A plan to build a new mosque was approved by Preston Council two years ago, after a previous plan for a larger building was kicked out amid fears of its impact on the conservation area and parking problems.

But in the new application, drawn up by Alban Cassidy at Preston-based architects Cassidy and Ashton for the Preston Muslim Society, the trustees said their purchase of the land at Victoria Road and a narrow strip of former garden next to the mosque had “greatly increased” the area’s potential for development beyond its existing permission.

It said: “The proposed development represents an opportunity to provide a modern building with the necessary facilities for a place of worship, but in a manner than enhances the character of the conservation area whilst increasing the amount of car parking available on site.”

Before going on to add: “Whilst the development footprint of the mosque will be increased, the substantially increased site area will allow it to sit comfortably within the site.”

The plans set out that the ground floor of the building will house a lobby area and facilities for “ablutions for worshippers” with the first and second floors filled with between six and eight classrooms, a library or reading room and an IT suite.

The prayer hall which would accommodate a totalof 170 prayer mats would be on ground level and be double storey height with a dome over the centre of the roof.

The application concludes: “The proposed design aims to sensitively develop the site within the context of the surrounding area, with particular reference to the conservation area, in order to provide a modern community facility that is fit for its intended use and identifies itself as an Islamic building.”

In a separate heritage statement, drawn up by Manchester-based consultants, Paul Butler Associates, the new plan is described as “a high-quality, well-designed landmark place of worship that will preserve and enhance the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

The plans for the site have been one of Preston’s most controversial planning battles in recent years with an application to demolish the existing mosque and build larger mosque given the go-ahead by the council’s planning committee in May 2007 before the permission was withdrawn amid fears over the impact over parking and the impact on the conservation area.

A scaled-down development was then given permission in May 2008 to the design with a 110sq m prayer hall, four classrooms, accommodation and a 45-space car park, but these plans have been mothballed due to the “current economic situation” since being given the go-ahead.

Beryl Adams, of the Fulwood Conservation Association, said she could not understand why the mosque committee had chosen to submit more revised plans.

She said: “When the plans were passed everyone seemed to agree that it was a design which fitted the area and the requirements of the most, so I cannot understand why they have gone back to the drawing board again.

“We will look at the application and its potential to impact upon the conservation area and decide what to do.”

Neil Cartwright, the authority’s cabinet member for development who lives on nearby Victoria Road, said: “I think it is broadly similar to last time when the application was rejected, there will be something of a battle again.”

A spokesman for the Masjid-e-Salaam trustees and architects, Cassidy and Ashton, was unavailable for comment.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Vatican: Pope to Send Officials to Ireland in Sex Abuse Probe

Vatican City, 31 March (AKI) — Pope Benedict XVI has named nine Vatican officials to investigation sex abuse by priests in overwhelmingly Catholic Ireland starting in the fall in an effort to pin point errors it made in the handling of molestation by clerics, the Vatican said on Monday.

“The apostolic visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse,” the Vatican said in a written statement.

The pope in March issued an historic pastoral letter on the damaging child sex abuse scandal in Ireland, in which he apologised for the abuse and rebuked Irish bishops for “grave errors of judgement”.

The letter comes as hundreds of allegations, many of systematic child abuse by Catholic clergy, have emerged this year in several European countries including Benedict’s native Germany, where it has caused outrage.

The Vatican on Monday also said Benedict accepted the resignation of an Irish-born archbishop who had led the diocese of Benin City in Nigeria and faced accusations that he carried on a 20-year relationship with a woman that began when she was 14. Archbishop Richard Burke had been suspended

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


Kosovo: Tensions Flare After Polls in Divided Northern Town

Pristina, 31 May (AKI) — A day after Serbian local elections on Sunday in the divided northern town of Kosovska Mitrovica, tensions have flared between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. Each blame the other for clashes on Sunday in which several people were injured.

Ethic Albanians accused Belgrade of organising “illegal elections”, insisting on Kosovo’s statehood and sovereignty.

On the other hand, Serbia’s ministry for Kosovo secretary Oliver Ivanovic accused Albanian authorities of being responsible for Sunday’s clashes when some 2,000 Albanians protested against the elections in Northern Kosovska Mitrovica.

Ethnic Albanians moved closer to the bridge, while on the other side of the bridge local Serbs were gathering.

Both sides threw stones and rocks at each other, two men were injured. Members of the international EULEX and KFOR forces had to intervene to prevent the incident escalating into a more serious conflict.

The Serbian Minister for Kosovo, Goran Bogdanovic, said on Monday the protest on the Albanian side of the town was “deliberately” organised by Pristina to provoke Serbs not to vote in the northern part of the town.

Bogdanovic added that the situation in Northern Kosovo was still tense on Monday.

The northern part of Mitrovica should have participated in the elections in September, organised by Kosovo’s leadership,” the Pristina-appointed president of the southern part of the town, Avdi Kastrati, said on Sunday.

The Kosovo government “would not recognise the results of the illegal Serbian votes,” Kastrati said.

Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in February, 2008, with the support of western powers. Belgrade does not recognise Kosovo’s secession and runs parallel administrations in northern Kosovo, where the tiny Serb minority is concentrated.

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

Mediterranean Union

Jordan and France Discuss Cooperation

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JUNE 1 — Top officials from Jordan and France on Tuesday discussed means of cooperation in the transport sector including railway network and road transport, according to the state run news agency Petra. Talks were held between minister of transport Ala Batayneh and his French counterpart Dominique Bussereau who expressed interest in providing technical aid to the kingdom in its railway and road networks, said Petra. France said it would be helping the kingdom through the European aid Bank, said Petra, noting that Bussereau promised to study a Jordanian request of aid in other transport related fields. The two sides also discussed cooperation in maritime sector including inspection of ships that arrive at the port city of Aqaba. The kingdom also requested to host the regional office of the European safety training centre, added Petra. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: High-Ranking Al Qaeda-Salafist Figure Surrenders

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JUNE 1 — Touati Othmane, a leading figure in the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) with affiliation to Al Qaeda, surrendered to security forces last week. So reports Algerian newspapers today. Othman, alias Athmane Abou El Abbas, was considered the main lieutenant and right-hand man of Emir Droukdel and a member of the Council of Sages. He was held to be the most important authority in the hierarchy of the fundamentalist organisation. According to daily paper ‘La Liberte”, El Abbas joined the ranks of GIA, (Armed Islamic Group) in 1993 before joining up with Hassan Hattab, along with whom he founded GSPC. At the same time that El Abbas was surrendering, another former GIA figure, Grik Ahcene, also turned himself in after escaping from the Tazoult prison in Batna some years ago. Most of the GSPC cells on Algerian territory have been dismantled and El Abbas has himself spoken of the intention of numerous fundamentalists to surrender under the constant pressure exerted by security forces and the loss of popular support. El Abbas also spoke of “problems for the armed groups living rough caused by their living conditions” and the lack of support from Moslem religious leaders who have criticised the Jihad being conducted in Algeria and condemned the use of violence by the GSPC. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Andy McCarthy: The Grand Jihad and the ‘Humanitarian’ Flotilla

The main points of my new book, The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, are (a) that the West, including Israel, is under attack by Islamism, a “civilizational” movement (that’s how it describes itself) that is much broader and more sophisticated than Islamist terrorism; and (b) that this movement collaborates energetically with the modern hard Left because, for all their differences, Islamists and Leftists are in harmony on several important matters, including who their enemy is: us — Western civilization, American constitutional republicanism, and the culture of individual liberty. It was my hope that the book would accurately describe the challenge. I was not banking on there so quickly appearing incidents that prove my point.

Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism reports today on the “humanitarian” flotilla that so clearly provoked the deadly confrontation with Israelis who are trying to protect themselves from Iran-backed Hamas — the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian “resistance” faction that exists for no other purpose than to destroy Israel. As Steve points out, the pertinent background goes back to Leftists led by George Galloway:

It’s worth remembering why the aid was being transported by sea in the first place. A convoy led by then-British MP George Galloway ended in violence at the Egyptian-Gaza border in early January after authorities delayed their entry into Gaza.

An Egyptian police officer was shot and killed by Hamas gunmen. Egypt deported Galloway, made it clear he was unwelcome there again, and told the convoy it could no longer enter through its crossing. Galloway’s partner in that convoy was the Turkish-based International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which helped lead the flotilla.

IHH was a key player in the Free Gaza Movement flotilla. Israeli officials say IHH is tied to Hamas, and even to al Qaeda, and it was banned in Israel in 2008 for being “part of Hamas’s fundraising network.” Court papers in the U.S. prosecution of Abdurahman Alamoudi also tie it to terrorist activity, citing French intelligence expert Jean Louis-Bruguiere’s assessment that IHH played “[a]n important role” in the Millennium bomb plot.

IHH also is part of the Union of Good, a collection of charities run by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The union was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008 as a terrorist entity due to its fund-raising activities on behalf of Hamas and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

I write at length in the book about Qaradawi, who is probably the most influential Sunni cleric in the world and whose recent accomplishments include sparking the rioting over the Danish cartoons, giving the Islamic jurisprudential seal of approval to “martyrdom” suicide terrorist attacks by Muslim women, and similarly endorsing terrorist attacks against American troops in Iraq.

Steve continues:

During the past year, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has chronicled the Hamas-ties of relief convoy participants, led by Galloway. In March 2009, he defiantly handed a bag of cash directly to a Hamas minister and announced that:

“By Allah, we carried a lot of cash here. You thought we were all fat. We are not fat. This is money that we have around our waists … We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents. And we make no apology for what I am about to say: We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine; to the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.”

After the January convoy, a Palestinian media outlet reported that Hamas political and militant leaders were fighting for control of $1 million delivered in the Viva Palestina/IHH convoy. And last week, before the confrontation on the Mediterranean, Palestinian political scientist Talal Okal told the Christian Science Monitor that Hamas controls anything that comes in from the relief efforts. Hamas activists were even seen driving ambulances the convoy left behind:

“They want to show that they dominate everything, and that everything in Gaza passes under their eyes. So, if these boats arrive, Hamas will receive it [the aid] and distribute it how they want, to their supporters and according to their policies.”

With that in mind, Israel’s concern that the flotilla might carry goods Hamas could use in weapons and explosives isn’t so far-fetched.

No, not far-fetched in the slightest. In fact, that’s the plan. And it’s been the plan since Hamas came into existence in 1987 — including when, as I mentioned yesterday, Hamas was run from Virginia for several years during the Intifada.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Blitz: UN Text is Hypocrite, Lieberman Says

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JUNE 1 — During a telephone conversation with UN general secretary Ban Ki Moon, Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, defined “hypocrite” and based on a “double standard” the criticism expressed by the Security Council on the bloody blitz carried out yesterday by Israeli forces against the flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists sailing towards Gaza. The report was made by government sources in Israel. Lieberman stated that the UN declaration was a “sad” episode, the result of precipitating affairs and the international community’s “double standard of judgement”. The minister named as especially “hypocrite” the fact that in the last month alone “approximately 500 people were killed in Thailand, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and India”, in attacks, police actions or military operations, without a reaction by the international community. But today the UN’s Security Council lost no time to condemn Israel for what Lieberman stated was an “act of defence”. Hence the conclusion according to which the Israeli government deems the Security Council’s stand as “unacceptable”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Blitz: Hamas: Disappointing UN Statement

(ANSAmed) — SANA’A, JUNE 1 — Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas today defined as “disappointing” the statement of condemnation expressed by the UN Security Council against Israel’s assault on the humanitarian flotilla sailing towards Gaza. During a press conference in Sanàa, the head of Hamas’ political office in exile Khaled Meshaal stated that “the Security Council’s decision is not up to the crime” that has been committed. Meshaal also accused the US administration of being “responsible for Israel’s impunity”. During the press conference, that was broadcast live by pan-Arabian TV network al Jazeera, the Hamas leader also thanked Egypt for having decided today to temporarily open the Rafah pass, south of the Gaza strip, to allow the transit of humanitarian supplies. Meshaal added that “However this is not enough, because the passage must be always open and without any conditions”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Blitz: Urgent UN Human Rights Council Debate

(ANSAmed) — GENEVA, JUNE 1 — The Israeli attack on the flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and the ensuing loss of human life have today been condemned by a number of countries taking part in the UN Security Council on human rights during an urgent debate organised today in Geneva to discuss yesterday’s incident. Discussions will continue tomorrow, when the Council’s 47 member states are expected to decide on a project proposed by the Arab group and by the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC). The text — which is yet to be finalised — requests “a fact-finding mission to investigate violations of international law deriving from the Israeli attack”. The Palestinian representative asked the Council to condemn a “criminal act that shows that Israel believes itself to be above the law”. The Israeli ambassador regretted the loss of life but repeated that Israel had the right to intervene against the flotilla. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Flotilla: UN Urges Inquiry and Release of Activists

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK — The UN Security Council, after a meeting of more than 12 hours in New York to discuss the Israeli raid on the humanitarian aid convoy for Gaza, has asked for an investigation and for the release of the activists and their ships. In a statement on the Israeli intervention, the UN demands a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent” inquiry. The Council also “regrets the loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force during the Israeli military operation in international waters against the convoy sailing to Gaza”, according to the document that was adopted after the meeting behind closed doors. “The Council condemns those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and many wounded”, the document reads. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: How Wars Begin

In hindsight, it will probably be obvious that the missteps of the Obama administration vis a vis Israel were critical catalysts to a war that today seems ever more likely to engulf the Middle East, and perhaps the world more generally. Assuming such an outcome is neither the intention of the President and his team, nor desired by them, American course corrections must be urgently taken.

To be sure, as is often the case in the moment, a different narrative is operating. The rising tensions in the region are widely seen as the fault of the Jewish State. Most recently, Israel is being portrayed as the villain of the bloody interception of a “humanitarian flotilla” bringing relief aid to the Gaza Strip.

Before that, the Jewish State has been serially excoriated for: engaging in: “illegal” construction of homes in Jerusalem; exercising “disproportionate force” in military action in Gaza, including by some accounts “war crimes”; and being intransigent with respect to the sorts of territorial, strategic and political concessions needed to advance the “peace process” with the Palestinians.

In each case, the Obama administration has either strongly endorsed these mimes or acted fecklessly to challenge them. Throughout their seventeen months in office, the President and his senior subordinates have been at pains to demonstrate a more even-handed approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to “engage” the Muslim “world.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Border Shootout, Two Militants Killed

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JUNE 1 — Two Palestinian militants were killed early this morning, after they crossed the border fences coming from the Gaza Strip near the kibbutz of Nirim, military radio reports. The same source added that another militant may still be in the area. The Israelis in the surrounding area are hiding, students have not gone to school. Palestinian sources add that Israeli armed vehicles have entered around 100 metres into the Gaza Strip, in the direction of the city of Khan Yunes. The sources add that combat helicopters are flying over the area. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Muslim Activists Rally Against Israel

Jakarta, 1 June (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Pro-Palestinian activists gathered in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, on Tuesday to condemn Israel’s deadly commando attack on a humanitarian aid flotilla travelling to the Gaza Strip.

Hundreds of people protested in central Jakarta on Tuesday, displaying Indonesian and Palestinian flags.

Protesters held a banner that read: “Don’t stop humanitarian aid to Palestine” and called on the United Nations to punish Israel for the attack.

Pro-Palestinian activists also rallied in front of the US Embassy in Jakarta.

A total of 12 Indonesians were on board the Mavi Marmara when Israeli commandos attacked it. Their fate is not yet known.

A number of Muslim groups, including the country’s largest Muslim organisation Nahdlatul Ulama, have condemned the Israeli attack.

At least 10 activists were killed in the incident, which has drawn widespread international condemnation and prompted several countries to summon their Israeli ambassadors.

“Nahdlatul Ulama from the beginning has opposed the use of violence in solving any problems. This attack will destroy the peace process,” NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said.

The Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) also condemned Israeli’s attack on the humanitarian mission.

“This attack confirms that Israel is an anti-humanity and anti-peace nation,” PPP Deputy secretary-general Muhammad Romahurmuziy told The Jakarta Post.

“The PPP demand the government, in this case the foreign ministry, take any bilateral or multilateral approach to ensure the safety of Indonesian citizens who are aboard the Mavi Marmara,” he added.

The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday condemned the Israeli attack that left at least 10 people dead when soldiers stormed a ship carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

In reaction to the attack, Arab leaders in Israel called for demonstrations and a general strike.

Israel imposed an embargo on the Gaza Strip three years ago, when Palestinian Islamist group Hamas seized control of the territory.

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

Italy: Muslim Groups Call on Israel to Release Aid Activists

Rome, 1 June (AKI) — Italy’s Islamic associations have called for the immediate release of hundreds of aid activists arrested by Israeli authorities on Monday in a raid on a humanitarian mission bound for the Gaza Strip. Six Italian citizens are among 610 activists believed to have been arrested in raids conducted by Israeli naval forces.

At least 10 activists were killed in the attack which has provoked condemnation from the United Nations Security Council and political leaders around the world.

“The Association of Muslim Women in Italy strongly condemns the vile Israeli attack on the ‘Freedom Flotilla’ which was shipping aid for the tormented people of Gaza,” the organisation said in a statement.

“We ask all people of good will to mobilise to demand the truth, to seek justice and we ask the authorities to strongly condemn what happened and ask them to immediately intervene and resolve the situation.”

The Italian Young Muslims Association also condemned the attack.

“In the face of the umpteenth act of violence by the Israeli army, which was in violation of human rights, we the Young Muslims of Italy hope for a strong condemnation by international public opinion and in particular Italian government institutions, so that acts of this type are never repeated.”

The Italian ministry of foreign affairs confirmed that six Italians are among those being held in Israeli prisons.

Of these, two are believed to have dual Italian-German citizenship while another has Italian-Palestinian citizenship.

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

MEMRI TV Clips on the Gaza Flotilla: Activists on Board Chant Songs of Martyrdom at Departure

Gaza-Based Yemeni Professor Abd Al-Fatah Nu’man: As Much As the Heroes on the Flotilla Want to Reach Gaza, the Option of Martyrdom Is More Desirable to Them — Al-Aqsa TV, May 28, 2010

Dr. Abd Al-Fatah Nu’man: “The word ‘fleet’ and all the talk about its commander, Bülent Yildirim, reminded me of the days when the Mediterranean Sea was full of Islamic fleets. Today, once again, we smell the scent of the fleet. True, the current fleet does not bear weapons or carry armies, but it carries the same scent — believing men, armed with faith.

“Yesterday, I was following the news agencies, and they reported the threats of the Zionists to detain the convoy and to prevent it from reaching Gaza. On the other side, there are people armed with faith and resolve, who chant — even while hearing the threats: ‘Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.’ A woman stood on the deck, and said: “We await one of two good things — to achieve martyrdom or to reach the shore of Gaza.”

“This scent is a message to the Islamic nation worldwide: Islam is coming, and Gaza is the spearhead that sets the nation in motion.


“What they fear today is the awakening of the Islamic nation. The issue is not the entrance of a convoy or the arrival of aid. The fear of the convoy and of Gaza is, in fact, the fear of the Zionists and of the [Arab] rulers. These rulers, who weigh heavily on the Arab and Islamic nation, are no less terrified than the Zionists of those actions that awaken the shackled, persecuted, and oppressed nation.

“My message is to those heroes who are, as we speak, at mid-sea, in pitch darkness under the skies, their palms raised to Allah in supplication. What are they asking for? The Prophet Muhammad said: “He whose feet have been covered with dust for the sake of Allah is saved from the Hellfire, and he who has fought even for only the time it takes to milk a she-camel secures a place in Paradise.” These heroes were selected by Allah to carry out this mission — the mission of awakening the nation, and this will bring honor upon them.

“Yesterday, the commander of the fleet said: ‘We will not allow the Zionists to come near us, and we will wage resistance against them.’ With what will they wage resistance? With their fingernails. These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them.

“We pray to Allah that they be awarded both good things: That they reach the shore of Gaza safe and sound, and that they be granted martyrdom, along with us, on the walls of the Al-Aqsa Mosque — as conquerors.”

Al-Jazeera TV Report from “Freedom Flotilla” Before Its Departure for Gaza: Activists On Board Chant Intifada Songs and Praise Martyrdom — May 28, 2010

Reporter: “Despite the Israeli threats and some unexpected obstacles, the arrival of the ships at the rendezvous, in preparation to set sail to Gaza, has kindled the emotions and enthusiasm of the participants.”

Crowd chanting: “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return.”

Reporter: “Through songs about the Palestinian Intifada, the participants expressed their longing to reach Gaza.”

Participant 1: “The brothers here are shouting and are full of enthusiasm. They are waiting to leave soon, with the ships around us in the sea. Allah willing, we will make our way to Gaza.”

Participant 2: “We are now waiting for one of two good things — either to achieve martyrdom, or to reach Gaza.”

Egyptian Expert on International Law Ahmad Hassan Omar: Turkey and Other Countries Should Use Aid Convoys to Transfer Weapons to Gaza and Returning Refugees to Acre — Al-Jazeera, May 18, 2010…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Raid: Italian Gaza Activists ‘Well’

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JUNE 1 — The six Italians among almost 500 international activists detained after an Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla are well, Foreign Undersecretary Stefania Craxi said Tuesday. “They’re all well,” Craxi said after speaking to Italian consul Gloria Bellelli who met the six in an Israeli prison. But the group are “rather shaken” and the only woman among them, Turin journalist Angela Lano, is “the most affected”. Five of the six were on a Togolese ship and one on a Greek boat when the commandoes boarded to stop the convoy breaking Israel’s three-year naval blockade of the Gaza Strip, Craxi said. She said it would take three days to process the Italians before they could head home. Bellelli is working with the representatives of the other countries involved to recover the detainees’ personal effects from the six ships, Craxi said. At least nine civilians died in a clash on the Turkish lead vessel, sparking international condemnation. Israel deported 48 members of the flotilla who agreed to be expelled from the country and detained 480 who did not. Another 45 people, mostly Turks, were taken to hospital along with six Israeli soldiers. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Raid: Hamas Turns Back Aid Sent on by Israel

(ANSAmed) — GAZA, JUNE 1 — Hamas is making its acceptance of humanitarian aid carried by the six ships of the peace convoy conditional on Israel’s immediate freeing of the hundreds of activists arrested yesterday by Israeli forces on the high seas. The aid materials (including cement, medicines, medical equipment and other goods) were unloaded yesterday at the Israeli port of Ashdod and were sent on today to the Kerem Shalom pass, at the southernmost tip of the Gaza Strip. But the gates remain closed on the Palestinian side of the frontier. Local sources have explained that Hamas does not intend to allow the supplies to enter Gaza as long as the international activists are being held by Israel.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The Non-Violent Murder of Jews

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”—Al Bukhari, quoted in the Hamas Charter

Let there be no mistake about it. This is about genocide. This is what it has always been about generations back, when Hamas forefather, Hassan al Banna was writing fan letters to Hitler.

This in a single paragraph is Hamas. This is what it stands for. And this is what anyone who talks about “the People of Gaza” really supports. The “People of Gaza” is a euphemism for Hamas which won the last PA election and rules with popular support in Gaza. Israel responded to this takeover by a genocidal terrorist group by closing its border with Gaza. Hamas cynically responded by lying and claiming to be out of power and starving. That allowed their supporters to try and pass off their pro-Hamas agenda as a humanitarian agenda.

But real humanitarians don’t sympathize with only one side in a conflict where civilians on both sides are dying. Real humanitarians don’t bring guns and knives on a humanitarian mission. And real humanitarians don’t chant calls for the murder of Jews calling themselves “The Army of Mohammed”. That’s what the pack of racist Islamist killers hiding behind their Western useful idiots did. And the Western useful idiots conducting a propaganda mission on behalf of a terrorist organization are no better than the murderers who exploited them.


The Hamas supporters on board the Gaza flotilla called themselves the Freedom Flotilla. A brilliantly Orwellian name, considering that they were headed to support an organization that had eliminated what little freedom there had been in Gaza. Hamas had banned music, outlawing the piano, the flute and the violin because they weren’t in the Koran. It banned mixed sex music festivals and jeans. It imposed a curfew on public gatherings It banned male hairdressers and women riding on motorcycles. Its morality police have carried out brutal murders of women they decided were immoral. The lack of freedom in Gaza had one common denominator. Hamas. And the Anti-Freedom Flotilla were there to give Hamas a propaganda victory.

Israel sent aboard soldiers armed with paintball guns and stun grenades expecting token resistance from entitled Western left wing protesters. Instead the Westerners were serving as beards for Turkish Islamic radicals. The IDF force functioned under strict rules of engagement that prevented them from defending themselves until the situation escalated so badly that soldiers were suffering serious injuries including gunshot wounds. Only then did the Israeli soldiers return fire with live ammunition. Long after any military or police force would have done so.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican Says Israeli Occupation Unjust

(ANSAmed) — Vatican City, June 1 — The Vatican believes the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories to be unjust, Pope Benedict XVI will reiterate to Middle East bishops later this year. Benedict will present the working document for the October synod in Cyprus on Sunday. According to an excerpt which ANSA has obtained, it calls the Israeli occupation a “political injustice imposed on the Palestinians”. “The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories makes daily life difficult in terms of freedom of movement, the economy and religious life (access to Holy Places, conditioned by military permits issued to some and refused to others, for security reasons),” the document reads. “Furthermore, certain fundamentalist Christian groups justify the political injustice imposed on the Palestinians by referring to Holy Scripture, which makes the position of Arab Christians all the more delicate”. The 40-page document also says the Christians in the region are confronted by Islamic terrorism which is a threat to all, including Muslims, and regional conflicts, against the backdrop of the Palestinian question. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Violence and Humanitarian Aid

Condemnations of Israel’s commando raid on the flotilla trying to break a blockade on Gaza are pouring in after 10 people were reported killed in the violence at sea early Monday.

Egypt announced Tuesday that it would open its border with Gaza, which Reuters describes as “a major boost for Hamas and a blow to efforts by Israel and its Western allies to cripple the Islamists.” Turkey is threatening to send more ships, escorted by its own navy, while there are fears Hizballah will use the incident to justify a new wave of rocket attacks toward Israel.

Was it, as some suggest, the plan of flotilla organizers all along?

It’s worth remembering why the aid was being transported by sea in the first place. A convoy led by then-British MP George Galloway ended in violence at the Egyptian-Gaza border in early January after authorities delayed their entry into Gaza.

An Egyptian police officer was shot and killed by Hamas gunmen. Egypt deported Galloway, made it clear he was unwelcome there again, and told the convoy it could no longer enter through its crossing. Galloway’s partner in that convoy was the Turkish-based International Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), which helped lead the flotilla.

IHH was a key player in the Free Gaza Movement flotilla. Israeli officials say IHH is tied to Hamas, and even to al Qaeda, and it was banned in Israel in 2008 for being “part of Hamas’s fundraising network.” Court papers in the U.S. prosecution of Abdurahman Alamoudi also tie it to terrorist activity, citing French intelligence expert Jean Louis-Bruguiere’s assessment that IHH played “[a]n important role” in the Millennium bomb lot.

IHH also is part of the Union of Good, a collection of charities run by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The union was designated by the U.S. Treasury Department in 2008 as a terrorist entity due to its fund-raising activities on behalf of Hamas and Hamas-controlled organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.

During the past year, the Investigative Project on Terrorism has chronicled the Hamas-ties of relief convoy participants, led by Galloway. In March 2009, he defiantly handed a bag of cash directly to a Hamas minister and announced that:

“By Allah, we carried a lot of cash here. You thought we were all fat. We are not fat. This is money that we have around our waists … We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of the contents. And we make no apology for what I am about to say: We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine; to the Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.”

After the January convoy, a Palestinian media outlet reported that Hamas political and militant leaders were fighting for control of $1 million delivered in the Viva Palestina/IHH convoy. And last week, before the confrontation on the Mediterranean, Palestinian political scientist Talal Okal told the Christian Science Monitor that Hamas controls anything that comes in from the relief efforts. Hamas activists were even seen driving ambulances the convoy left behind:

“They want to show that they dominate everything, and that everything in Gaza passes under their eyes. So, if these boats arrive, Hamas will receive it [the aid] and distribute it how they want, to their supporters and according to their policies.”

With that in mind, Israel’s concern that the flotilla might carry goods Hamas could use in weapons and explosives isn’t so far-fetched.

In Monday’s violence, the videos speak for themselves.. Israeli commandos were beaten as they landed on the ship’s deck by men wielding pipes, knives and other weapons. One commando said he thought the crowd was trying to lynch him. Israeli officials say the initial plan was to use paintball guns to gain control of the ship and that the navy team had handguns for use only if their lives were threatened.

Flotilla members grabbed at least one gun from a soldier, contributing to the decision to fire back, Israeli military officials said.

The Israelis, it seems, weren’t prepared for what met them. But any notion that the ship carried peaceful activists is ludicrous.. They wanted a confrontation.

According to London’s Times, a flotilla passenger told a reporter during a stop in Cyprus:

“We are now waiting for one of two good things — either to reach Gaza or achieve martyrdom.”

She was not alone.

Al-Aqsa television, the Hamas station in Gaza, interviewed Professor Abd Al-Fatah Nu’man last week. According to a translation from the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Nu’man said:

“Yesterday, the commander of the fleet said: ‘We will not allow the Zionists to come near us, and we will wage resistance against them.’ With what will they wage resistance? With their fingernails. These are people who wish to be martyred for the sake of Allah. As much as they want to reach Gaza, the other option is more desirable to them.”

As it turns out, they had much more than their fingernails. Clubs, knives and slingshots are among the weapons found on the ship and seen on the video in attacks on the commandos.

It’s clear, though, that the commandos were not the ones looking to hurt people. The Times report indicates passengers on five other ships in the flotilla were trained in non-violent resistance. Israeli forces took control of those ships without reports of any injuries. They were taken to the Israeli port at Ashdod where officials pledged genuine humanitarian supplies will go to Gaza’s civilians.

That’s what officials said would happen when they urged the flotilla to give up peacefully:

“Delivery of the supplies, in accordance with the authority’s regulations will be through the formal land crossings and under your observation, after which, you can return to your home ports aboard the vessels on which you arrived.”

Contrast that with the message flotilla participants conveyed from the beginning. Passengers chanted “Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud Jaysh Muhammed Safayood” (Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”)

That’s a taunt invoking a massacre of Jews.

Der Spiegel writer Christoph Schult thought the Israelis over-reacted, but recognized the passengers were spoiling for a fight:

“But as the Israeli army stormed the largest ship, the Mavi Marmara, the activists they encountered were in no way exclusively docile peaceniks. Some of the ‘peace activists’ received the Israelis with crow bars and sling shots. Some of the self-professed “human rights activists” reportedly even tore the weapons from soldiers and began to shoot.

That’s not what a peaceful protest looks like.”

Even Israelis and their supporters are openly wondering whether the country fell into a trap — designed to provoke Israel into action that cost it more in international pressure than in upholding its blockade of Hamas in Gaza.

Lost in all of this is the reason there is a blockade on Gaza at all. When Israel ended the occupation of Gaza by unilaterally withdrawing — even removing its own citizens by force — Hamas responded with increased terror attacks and launching thousands of crude rockets at Israeli civilians. It also kidnapped an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and has refused to hand him back after four years.

Newsweek’s Joe Klein, a frequent critic of Israeli policy, noted the underlying causes in a column about the flotilla attack:

“And the blockade is not total—food and humanitarian supplies are allowed through by the Israelis, which renders the humanitarian aspects of the flotilla redundant. The real purpose of the flotilla is to dramatize the inhuman conditions in Gaza. But those conditions are as attributable to Hamas’s behavior, especially its refusal to release Shalit and to negotiate, as they are to Israel’s intransigence. If I were an Israeli—even an Israel opponent of the Netanyahu coalition—I would be utterly opposed to making concessions to an organization as historically intransigent and violent as Hamas, unless there were signs that Hamas was willing to behave more reasonably.”

For all those who say they want life to improve for Palestinians in Gaza, they can do things to end the blockade and enhance the quality of life. But it begins with Hamas leadership and their belief, perhaps a correct one, that they are winning the propaganda war by preserving the status quo. Until that changes, conditions will not improve for Palestinians in Gaza.

What flotilla organizers call the legitimate government in Gaza is a murderous band of religious fanatics who seek no compromise, no peace that recognizes the state of Israel and calls for its destruction. Monday’s violence will only entrench their hard line.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Middle East

A War for World’s Future — Battle Isn’t About Gaza, But Rather, About Radical Islam vs. Liberal West

Mordechai Kedar

It is clear to anyone with eyes in their head that the battle taking place off the Gaza shore is in fact a clash between an Islamist coalition which Turkey attempts to head — and which includes Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah on one hand — and forces with a liberal Western orientation, represented by Israel, on the other hand.

This fight isn’t about Gaza. The battle is about the future of the Middle East: Will it be a future where the existing political order is maintained, or will radical Islamic forces rise and replace the current order, as already happened in Lebanon and in Turkey…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Defence: Turkey, Syria to Hold Joint Military Exercises

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 26 — Turkish and Syrian soldiers will hold joint drills this week to enhance border security cooperation, Turkhish press reports quoting the Turkish General Staff as saying Monday. The announcement came as yet another sign of the flourishing ties between the two neighbors who came to the brink of war in the late 1990s after decades of hostility. The three-day exercises, starting Tuesday at two border outposts on the Turkish side of the frontier, aim to “boost cooperation and confidence between the land forces of the two countries and raise border units’ level of training and ability to work together,” the statement said. Turkey has significantly improved ties with Syria in recent years, much to the annoyance of Israel, its once close ally with whom relations have badly deteriorated. The Syrian and Turkish militaries held joint exercises in April last year, stirring criticism from Tel Aviv. In 1998, Ankara threatened military action if Damascus continued to shelter Abdullah Ocalan, leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which is listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union. Tensions eased after Syria expelled Ocalan, paving the way for improved ties. (ANSAmed).

2010-04-26 17:20

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

IDF: Global Jihad on Flotilla

50 of Mavi Marmara passengers tied to global jihad network, refusing to identify themselves.

Dozens of passengers who were aboard the Mavi Marmara Turkish passenger ship are suspected of having connections with global jihad-affiliated terrorist organizations, defense officials said on Tuesday, amid growing concerns that Turkish warships would accompany a future flotilla to the Gaza Strip.

According to the defense officials, the IDF has identified about 50 passengers on the ship who could have terrorist connections with global jihad-affiliated groups.

During its searches of the Mavi Marmara on Tuesday, the military also discovered a cache of bulletproof vests and night-vision goggles, as well as gas masks. On Monday morning, at least nine foreign activists were killed during the navy’s takeover of the Mavi Marmara, which was trying to break Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The group of over 50 passengers with possible terror connections have refused to identify themselves and were not carrying passports. Many of them were carrying envelopes packed with thousands of dollars in cash.

The military is working to identify the passengers and is looking into the possibility that some of them have been involved in terror attacks. Some of them are apparently known Islamic extremists.

“This is the group that was behind the violent lynch against the naval commandos,” a defense official said. “They came on board the ship prepared and after they had trained for the expected navy takeover.”

Late Tuesday, there were reports that Issam al-Budur, Jordan’s consul in Israel, reached an agreement with Israel according to which another group of 124 detained flotilla activists would be taken by bus to Jordan and sent from there to their home countries. The detainees are Jordanian, Mauritanian, Moroccan, Kuwaiti, Pakistani, Indonesian and Syrian.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Israel not to test Ankara’s patience.

“Turkey’s hostility is as strong as its friendship is valuable,” he said. “Israel in no way can legitimize this murder, it cannot wash its hand of this blood.”

This comment, officials said, could signify a change in Turkish military posture in the event that another flotilla is dispatched to the Gaza Strip. One official said that the chances that Turkey would send navy ships were slim — due to its membership in NATO — but that the issue was of great concern.

“This is a definite possibility that we need to prepare for,” a senior defense official said.

The flotilla that arrived late on Sunday night comprised six ships, and another two ships, including the Rachel Corrie, are expected to attempt to enter Israeli waters in the coming days.

Greta Berlin of the Free Gaza Movement, which organized the flotilla, said that two vessels, one a cargo ship and another carrying about three dozen passengers, would arrive in the region late this week or early next week.

“This initiative is not going to stop,” she said from the group’s base in Cyprus. “We think eventually Israel will get some kind of common sense. They’re going to have to stop the blockade of Gaza, and one of the ways to do this is for us to continue to send the boats.”

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen described the Rachel Corrie as Irish-owned and said it should be allowed to finish its mission, according to Reuters. The ship was carrying 15 activists, including a northern Irish Nobel Peace laureate.

“The government has formally requested the Israeli government to allow the Irish-owned ship… to be allowed to complete its journey unimpeded and discharge its humanitarian cargo in Gaza,” Cowen told members of parliament in Dublin.

Navy sources said that the ships sailing toward Gaza would be intercepted the same way the flotilla was stopped on Monday morning, although it had yet to be decided if the operation would be carried out by Shayetet 13, the navy’s commando unit.

“We are tracking the ships and are under orders to stop them,” a top navy officer said.

According to the sources, in a future operation, the navy would use more force.

“We boarded the ship [the Mavi Marmara] and were attacked as if it were a war,” one officer said. “That will mean that we will have to come prepared in the future as if it were a war.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Iran: UN Seeks $18 Mln for Afghan Refugees

New York, 1 June(AKI) — The United Nations refugee agency is seeking 18 million dollars to meet an expected shortfall in funding for its operations to help more than one million Afghan refugees in Iran. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has received only around one fifth of the 36.8 million dollars it sought for its programmes for Afghan refugees, which are carried out in partnership with the Iranian government.

“Iran, which is facing its own economic difficulties amid the global downturn, has hosted two generations of Afghan refugees but has received little international support,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters in Geneva.

Since 2002, UNHCR has helped more than 860,000 refugees repatriate to Afghanistan. In addition, a million Afghans have returned home spontaneously since that time.

The agency noted that voluntary repatriation of Afghans from Iran has slowed considerably in recent years owing to poor security and economic conditions in Afghanistan, with only 6,000 people returning in 2009 and 3,600 in 2008.

The vast majority — 97 per cent — of the more than one million registered Afghans remaining in Iran live in urban or semi-urban areas, putting a strain on health, education and other local infrastructure.

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

Israeli Aircraft to be Delivered on Time, Turkish Minister Says

The Turkish defense minister said Tuesday that the current crisis with Israel would not pose any problems for the delivery of four unmanned aerial vehicles known as “Herons.”

“We expect the remaining Herons to be delivered in June or July,” Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül told reporters in Parliament.

In January, Turkish officials said Israel would send four Herons to Turkey in March. The remaining six Herons are set to arrive in Turkey by the end of 2010, according to Turkish officials.

Turkey awarded the aircraft-building contract in 2005, ordering 10 drones from Israeli manufacturers Israel Aerospace Industries, or IAI, and Elbit.

The Heron UAV System is an operational fourth-generation, long-endurance, medium-altitude system based on leading-edge technology with new fully automatic take-off and landing features and can provide deep-penetration, wide-area and real-time intelligence either by day or at night. The Heron can climb to an altitude of nearly 10,000 meters, has a range of 350 kilometers and can fly continuously for at least 24 hours. It can carry out strategic reconnaissance and surveillance on six targets at once.

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

Turkey: Aircraft Sent to Israel to Retrieve Wounded Activists

Istanbul, 1 June (AKI) — Turkey sent three ambulance aircraft to Israel on Tuesday to retrieve Turkish activists wounded in an Israeli attack on a flotilla of aid ships on Monday. The move came as Turkish leaders expressed outrage at the attack which killed 10 activists, nine of them Turkish citizens, on a humanitarian mission bound for the Gaza Strip.

The government said that 20 Turkish citizens were among those wounded in the early hours of Monday when Israeli forces attacked ships including the Mavi Marmara.

One of the Turkish military planes flew to the city of Haifa, while the other two planes were to fly to Tel Aviv to pick up the wounded. Three other Turkish aircraft were on standby.

More than 10,000 people gathered in front of the Israeli consulate in Istanbul late Monday to protest the attack by Israeli naval forces.

Many gathered to show their support for the volunteers as well as the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, Turkish media reports said.

The protesters also called on the Turkish government to cancel all bilateral agreements with Israel and dismiss all Israeli diplomatic representatives in Turkey, according to the one of the country’s biggest selling dailies, Hurriyet.

Several people were carrying placards with slogans such as “Do not remain silent” and “Keeping silent against violence is to be a part of it.”

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (photo) expressed outrage at the attack, describing it as state-sponsored terrorism.

“This action, totally contrary to the principles of international law, is inhumane state terrorism. No one should think we will keep quiet in face of this,” Erdogan said.

“The vicious attack targets, our nations’s unity, brotherhood, and stability.The dirty hands and mentality who are behind this attack will never achieve their goals.”

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

Turkey: Foiled Coup, Former Justice Minister Arrested

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 1 — Turkey’s former Justice Minister Seyfi Oktay and 22 others were arrested in the past hours in Turkey in a large-scale police operation, part of the investigation into Ergenekon, allegedly a secret nationalist organisation that has tried to overthrow the government of the Islamic Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Premier Tayyip Erdogan. The news was reported by private network CnnTurk. The operation was carried out simultaneously in Ankara and Istanbul, where 15 houses were searched. No further details have been reported yet. Seyfi Oktay, 76 years old, born in 1934 in the city of Matatya, was Justice Minister in the 49th Turkish government (from November 20 1991 to June 25 1993) led by the centre-right Suleyman Demirel, and later (from June 25 1993 to October 5 1995) by Mrs. Tansu Ciller. The police operation against those believed to be involved in the Ergenekon case is still in progress in Ankara and Istanbul, the local media report. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey Launches Long-Term Diplomatic War Against Israel

A long-term diplomatic war between Turkey and Israel, once solid allies in an unstable region, seems unavoidable in the wake of Monday’s deadly raid on a Turkish civilian ship carrying aid to Palestinians.

Turkey’s recalling of its ambassador and canceling of three military drills are the most concrete signs thus far of the longer and much larger-scale diplomatic row indicated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s speech Tuesday, coupled with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s address to the U.N. Security Council and other diplomatic activities.

But as Turkey stays hard on Israel’s heels, Erdogan’s statements show that Turkey will only target the current Israeli coalition government, led by Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liebermann, in retaliation for the attack, which ended with as many as 19 dead.

This government has become the main source of trouble in the region, Erdogan indicated in his speech, reflecting the prime and foreign ministers’ previous decisions to not hold any high-level meetings with the current Israeli leadership. With reciprocal accusations from both sides since the famous Davos spat making it impossible to reduce tension, the only possibility for reconciliation between Ankara and Tel Aviv seems to be a change of administration in Israel.

Erdogan made it clear that Turkey has no problem with either the Israeli people or the Israeli state, calling on the country’s citizens to stand up against the Netanyahu-Lieberman government, which he said hurts the interests of the Israeli people.

Full isolation of this government by the international community, backed by strong internal pressure, would surely start a process of removing the current Israeli leadership from power. This, of course, cannot be achieved solely by Turkey. Strong international determination in the international community is required, and Turkey will therefore try to gain the backing of the United Nations, NATO and other respectable international organizations. But the support of the United States is key.

Bilateral level

Though Erdogan did not list the further measures Turkey could apply against Israel in response to the deadly attack, it is known that Turkish officials have already started to work on determining ways in which Ankara can curtail its relations with Israel.

According to Energy Minister Taner Yildiz, Turkey is examining its energy ties with Israel in the wake of the crisis, though he added that the prime minister would make any final decision. Turkey and Israel had studied construction of the Medstream pipeline project that would connect the two countries for gas, oil and water trade, but the worsening of relations has slowed progress on this project.

Legal compensation

Following Monday’s attack, Turkey is also calling on Israel to take steps to compensate the victims. In addition to an official apology, Ankara is asking Israel to punish the perpetrators of the brutality and compensate the families of the people who lost their lives.

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said prosecutors have already started to look into whether the Israeli aggression against a Turkish ship would constitute a crime according to the Turkish Penal Code.

Turkey had earlier accused Israel of violating the international laws that prohibits countries from interfering in the navigation of ships on international waters. Some experts, however, argue, citing examples from the past, that not every instance of interference on international waters would necessarily mean a breach of the law.

“Countries could stop vessels at a reasonable distance in international waters if they believe that they could pose a security threat,” Hakan Hanli, a senior attorney-at-law and an expert on international law, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. The lawyer, however, also criticized the way Israeli security forces handled the situation.

“The first thing Israel had to do, according to law, was to show themselves to the boats and inform them that they’re ready to interfere. Next, according to the same laws, they should have fired at the front of the boats to slow them down or change their course,” he said. “If the boat doesn’t stop, they are not to fire, but to come abreast of the boat with their own boat in order to change its course.”

In addition, Hanli said, “the Israeli government should have contacted other countries, especially Turkey, to ensure that the country whose flag is flown on the boat contacts the captain and orders a change of course.” Israel, he added, did none of these things.

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

Turkey: Stocks Fall on Israel Gaza Flotilla Raid

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JUNE 1 — Turkish stocks fell for the first time in four days and the lira weakened after the government said Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid flotilla that included Turkish vessels may permanently damage relations. Istanbul Stock Exchange’s benchmark ISE-100 Index of stocks dropped 2.1% to 54,073.68 at 3:05 p.m. in Istanbul, extending the month’s slump to 8.3%. The Turkish lira depreciated 0.4% to 1.5740 per dollar. Bonds retreated, pushing yields on the benchmark two-year debt seven basis points higher to 9.04%, the first increase in four days. More than 10 people aboard ships that were part of a flotilla heading for the Gaza Strip were killed in a clash this morning after Israeli naval forces boarded the vessels, the Israeli Army said in an e-mailed statement. Turkey recalled its ambassador from Israel, saying the raid was “inhuman” and that those responsible should be punished. ‘This is very serious,” Tera Brokers analysts in Istanbul wrote in an e-mailed report to clients today. The “already strained relationship with Israel is poised to come to an end after the Israeli attack,” the brokerage wrote. “We are not sure how bad things could get. The event is definitely not market-friendly as Turkish-Israeli relations are now in uncharted territory.” Israeli forces encountered live fire and were attacked with knives when they tried to detain the flotilla members, according to the Israeli Army’s statement. Israel’s benchmark TA-25 Index fell 1.7%, the most in four days and the shekel weakened as much as 1.3% against the dollar. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkish PM Erdogan Calls on World to Punish Israel Over Deadly Attack

Calling on both the international community and Israel citizens to respond to the ‘bloody massacre’ against a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan says the event is ‘a turning point in history.’ In a emotional speech to Parliament, Erdogan reiterates his support for Palestinians, but tempers his harsh words against Israel by saying that protests should not be extended to attacking Jewish citizens of Turkey

Israeli government officials responsible for a fatal assault Monday on an aid convoy “must be absolutely punished by all means,” a deeply emotional and visibly angry Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday.

Taking uncommon pains to distinguish Israel’s government from its citizens, Erdogan drew a sharp bead on the country’s decision-makers in a well-prepared speech aimed as much at a Palestinian audience as a domestic and international one.

“Today is a turning point in history. Nothing will be same again,” Erdogan told his party’s lawmakers hours after a 16-hour flight from Chile. The prime minister cut his trip short following Israel’s deadly attack on the humanitarian boats early Monday.

Calling the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla a “bloody massacre,” Erdogan warned Israel not to test his country’s patience, saying, “Turkey’s hostility was as strong as its friendship is valuable.”

In his remarks, Erdogan cast himself in his favored regional role of savior, leader and beacon of democratic rights. Recalling his 2008 spat with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Davos, where he accused Israelis “of knowing well how to kill,” the Turkish prime minister said, “They once again showed their ability to perpetrate slaughters.”

“It is no longer possible to cover up or ignore Israel’s lawlessness. This bloody massacre by Israel on ships that were taking humanitarian aid to Gaza deserves every kind of curse,” Erdogan said. “This attack is on international law, the conscience of humanity and world peace. Israel in no way can legitimize this murder. It cannot wash its hand of this blood.”

Emphasizing Turkey’s determination to extend its hand to Palestinians, no matter the conditions, Erdogan added: “We will not turn our back on Palestine, Palestinians and Gaza, even if nobody backs them. Once again we call on Israel to immediately end its inhumane blockade of Gaza.”

Appeal to the international community

In his hour-long speech, Erdogan also called on the international community to respond to what he described as Israel’s unlawful actions. “Statements of condemnation are not enough… We [the international community] should get results,” he said. “The incident was not something between Turkey and Israel, but rather was a matter for the world.”

In an effort to create internal pressure on the Israeli government, Erdogan also conveyed a message to the Israeli people. “These policies [of aggression] are damaging the interests of Israel and your peace and security,” he said. “It is the Israeli people who must stop the Israeli government in the first place. Israel cannot ensure its security by drawing the hatred of the entire world.”

Praising the reaction shown by the Turkish people against Israel, the prime minister also welcomed the peaceful nature of the protests and reiterated that Turkey was not a place with anti-Semitic feelings, saying protests should never target the country’s Jewish citizens.

Diplomatic campaign at full speed

Before his parliamentary speech, Erdogan held meetings with his top aides and representatives of the country’s security institutions, including deputy prime ministers Bülent Arinç and Cemil Çiçek, Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül, National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, head Hakan Fidan and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Aslan Güner.

The Turkish prime minister also held a phone conversation with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and was scheduled to talk to U.S. President Barack Obama by phone late Tuesday. “I will tell them all my feelings I shared with you in this room,” Erdogan said in his speech in Parliament, which was covered by a large group of foreign journalists.

The Palestinian, Iranian and Indian ambassadors to Ankara attended Erdogan’s speech to lawmakers in Parliament for the first time; simultaneous interpretation in English and Arabic was also provided in an unprecedented move.

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

UAE: Dubai Holding Posts $6.2 Bln Loss

Dubai, 1 June (AKI) — Dubai International Capital, the investment arm of the troubled real estate and hospitality conglomerate Dubai Holding, has reported a 6.2 billion dollar loss for 2009.The company owned by the emirate’s ruler, reported the full-year loss after property prices plunged in the Gulf’s trade and tourism centre last year.

“Dubai Holding Commercial’s portfolio of companies have endured a challenging year,” chief executive officer Ahmad Bin Byat said in the statement.

“The key initiatives undertaken place us in a strong position, enabling Dubai Holding Commercial to shift in line and adapt to current market conditions.”

The latest news came six months after Dubai’s much larger conglomerate Dubai World shocked stock markets around the world when it sought to restructure 23.5 billion dollars in debt repayments.

Dubai International Capital last Thursday asked lenders for a three-month extension on major debts, indicating the financial challenges confronting the city-state.

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


An Abridged Translation of the Last 40 Minutes of the Fatal Flight of PAF 101 That Killed President Lech Kaczynski and 95 Others

The Polish government released the 40-page transcript on Tuesday.

via KathrynReport

As we reported earlier, a transcript of the cockpit conversation from the crashed Polish Air Force flight 101 was released to the public earlier today. However, at the moment the document is only available in Polish and Russian. Below, we present unedited excerpts of our own English translation of the document.

The 41-page full transcript covers roughly 40 minutes of conversation, between 10:02:48,6 and 10:41:05,4 as notated in the flight data


ST: 118,975, Polish Air Force 101, thank you, good day.

D: Bye.

2P: You’re supposed to say, “Do swidanija”.

ST: Well, I don’t know, is it “Do swidaija”, or…

2P: Or how?

ST: I wouldn’t agree…

2P: “Dobroje ranieco”.

2P: Say that, we’ll see if he gets it (laughter).

2P: Dobroje ranieco.


2P: No, I can see the ground… I can see something… It may not be a tragedy…

2P: Do you have something to write with?

ST: Yes, I do.

2P: So? Let’s start getting ready.


B/I: Can I have the air pressure and temperature too?

ST: How should I know (incomp.)?

2P: I don’t know. No, tell them the temperature. Coooooooold. (laughter).

A: (incomprehensible)

A: (incomprehensible)

2P: Coooooooold.


D: Polish Air Force 1-0-1, for information at 06:11 Smolensk visibility 400 meters fog.


KVS: Not looking good, there’s fog, it’s unknown whether we’ll land.

B/P: Yeah? (incomprehensible)

A: And if we don’t land, then what?

KVS: We’ll leave.

A: (incomprehensible)

A: What information do we have (incomprehensible) to Warsaw?

A: Around 7.

A: How much fuel?

2P: We have about 13-12.5 tonnes.

A: (incomprehensible)

2P: We’ll make it!


D: PLPH-2-0-1, there is fog at KorsaÅ1/4, visibility 400 metres.


D: There is fog at KorsaÅ1/4, visibility 400 metres.


KVS: Temperature and air pressure, please.

044: We greet you warmly. You know what, speaking honestly, it’s a bitch down here. Visibility is about 400 metres and in our view the bases are below 50 metres, thick.

D: The temperature (incomp.), air pressure 7-45. 7-4-5, the landing conditions are nonexistent.

KVS: Thank you, if it’s possible we’ll try to approach, but if not, if the weather’s bad, we’ll circle around.

2P: Have you landed yet?

044: Yeah, we managed to land at the last minute. But speaking frankly, you can definitely try. There are two APMs, they made a gate, so you can try, but… If you’re unable by the second attempt, I advise you to try, for example Moscow, or somewhere [else].


2P: According to them, it’s about 400 visibility, 50 metres base.

A: How much?

A: 400 metres visibility, 50 metres base (incomp.)

A: (incomprehensible)

2P: No, they made it.

2P: He also said, that the fog (incomp.)

A: (incomprehensible)

KVS: Mr. director, there’s fog…

KVS: At the moment, in the present conditions, we won’t be able to set down.

KVS: We’ll try to approach, we’ll make one attempt, but most likely nothing will come of it.

KVS: If it turns out that (incomp.), what should we do?

KVS: We don’t have enough fuel for this (incomp.).

A: Well, then we have a problem… director Kazana

KVS: We can hang around for half an hour and fly to the reserve.

A: What reserve?

KVS: Minsk or Witebsk.


KVS: Ask Artur, if the clouds are thick.

2P: I don’t know if they’ll be there, that… If they’re still there.

2P: Ok, I’ll transfer.

2P: Artur, are you there?

A: (incomprehensible)

044: I’m Remek.

2P: Oh, RemuÅ›, ask Artur, whether… Or maybe you know, are those clouds thick?

A: (incomprehensible)

A: (incomprehensible)

2P: How many?

KVS: 9-9, hold.

2P: 9-9.

A: (incomprehensible)

044: About 400-500 metres.

ST: Stay on course?

KVS: No.

ST: About 400-500 metres.

2P: But is that the thickness?

A: Visible.

044: Are you there?

2P: But is the thickness of the clouds 400-500 metres??

044: As far as I remember, at 500 metres we were still above the clouds.

2P: Ah… At 500 metres [you were] above the clouds… Good, good, thanks.

044: Ah… One more thing… The APMs are about 200 metres from the edge of the runway.

2P: Thanks.

2P: The APMs are there.

2P: 200 metres from the edge of the runway.

KVS: Ask if the Russians have landed yet.

2P: Have the Russians landed yet?

A: (incomprehensible)

022: They approached twice and I think they flew somewhere else.

2P: Ok, I understand, thanks.

2P: Did you hear that?

KVS: Great.


KVS: Korsaz, Polish 101, holding 1500.

D: Ahh… Polish 1-0-1, according to pressure 7-4-5, descend 500.

KVS: According to pressure 7-4-5, descending 500.


A: At the moment, there’s no decision from the president about what to do next. director Kazana


KVS: We’re making our approach. In case of a failed approach, we ascend on autopilot.


Signal at F=500 Hz.

A: 6.

D: PLF (incomp.) 500 copy?

KVS: We’ve descended 500 metres.

D: 500 metres, have you landed at a military airport before?

KVS: Flaps 15.

A: Lit.

KVS: Yes, of course.

D: Reflectors on the left, on the right, at the start of the runway.

KVS: Understood.

B/P: Captain, board ready for landing.

KVS: Thank you.


044: Arek, the visibility is now 200.

KVS: Flaps.

A: (incomprehensible)

KVS: Thank you.


Signal at F=845 Hz. Pursuing further.



D: 4 and on course.



ST: 200.

KVS: On.

ST: 150.

D: 2 and on course.


A: 100 metres.

ST: 100.




ST: 100.

(2P): In the norm.

ST: 90.


ST: 80.

2P: We’re aborting.

Signal at F=400 Hz. (Unsafe altitude).


ST: 60.

ST: 50.

D: Horizon 101.

ST: 40.


ST: 30.

D: Altitude control, horizon.

ST: 20.

Signal at F=400 Hz. ABSU.

Signal at F=800 Hz. Close lead.

Signal at F=400 Hz. ABSU.


Signal at F=400 Hz. ABSU.


Sound of hitting trees.

2P: F*cking hell!


D: Abort to second approach!

A: Screaming F*ckkkkkkkkkkkk…


           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Full Publication of Smolensk Crash Recordings Blocked?

Contrary to earlier reports, the full, unabridged transcripts of the contents of black boxes recovered from the TU 154 which crashed in Smolensk on April 10 will not be made public, after Russia blocked the move.

The Kremlin has said that publication of evidence is against the Chicago Convention on International Aviation (1948) which stipulates rules on the transfer of information about plane disasters across international borders.

Poland’s Interior Minister Jerzy Miller met with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ivanov in Moscow this morning, where the formal agreement to hand over the evidence was signed.

Minister Miller later confirmed that: “The restrictions arise from the Chicago Convention. [The decision not to publish the recordings] was a choice of a lesser of two evils. Information that creates a negative image of someone, but at the same time has nothing to do with the course of events, must not be published.”

However, the minister also said that now that Poland has come into possession of transcripts of the recording, Warsaw will decide on the next step.

“Poland will be the owner of these documents. Russia will be informed if we decide to disclose anything. That’s what we agreed on — we won’t surprise each other with information which could have broader implications for any party,” Miller said.

Change of plan?

On Sunday, however, the Polish government said that after the transcripts and a copy of the recordings were be handed over by the Russians, and the contents will be made available to the media.

“We will receive transcripts of conversations that took place both between the pilots in the cockpit and those who were also in the cabin,” Justice Minister Kwiatkowski told journalists. “This material will be presented to [Poland’s] National Security Council in the coming days and then will be presented to the public,” he added.

Speculation has been intense as to the content of the black boxes since the plane crash in western Russia killed all 96 on board, including president Lech Kacyznski, as he and his delegation made their way to a Katyn massacre anniversary. One of the most common theories as to the cause of the crash is that the pilot was put under undue pressure by Kacyznski’s entourage to land the plane, even though traffic control informed that visibility was poor and it would be better to divert to another airport.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Diana West: Just-Not-Mohammed’s-Face Book

Islamic masters win another round.

From the AP:

Pakistan has lifted a ban on Facebook after the social networking site apologised for a page deemed offensive to Muslims and removed its contents.

Two weeks ago Facebook was blocked after a member used it to encourage people to post images of the Prophet Mohamed.

Slick AP Stylebook submission. What I refer to is the reference to “the Prophet Mohamed” — not “the Islamic prophet Mohammed,” or, as my 1988 AP Stylebook suggests, just “Mohammed,” period, described as “the founder of the Islamic religion.”

“In response to our protest, Facebook has tendered their apology and informed us that all the sacrilegious material has been removed,” said Najibullah Malik, from the information technology ministry. But at least 1,000 “sacrilegious” web pages that were also blocked will remain inaccessible.



The New York Times fills in with more gory details, including results of a recent poll of 8,000 Pakistani voters, 73 percent of whom wanted Facebook permanently banned, and the emergence of two Muslim social networking sites (“Pakistan” does mean “land of the pure [Muslim],” after all). The Times then wonders: “But where are Pakistan’s liberal and moderate voices?”

It doesn’t matter where they are. What matters is that they ain’t got no stinkin’ critical mass to make a dime’s worth of difference.

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

India: DNA of 12 AI Crash Victims Don’t Match With Relatives

The remains of 12 passengers of the Air India Express flight that crashed in Mangalore on May 22 might never be identified.

Their last rites, therefore, will not be religion-specific.

The 12 were among the 22 charred beyond recognition after the Boeing overshot the tabletop runway and fell into a 200-foot ditch killing 158 people.

“The DNA tests failed to match the bodies with the blood samples of their relatives leading to confusion over their identities,” Prabhakar Sharma, deputy commissioner in-charge of South Canara district, told HT.

As per Section 34 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005, the remains of the 12 unidentified passengers will be buried.

“They may be buried tomorrow on neutral ground following a five-minute prayer session for each of the three faiths they belonged to,” Sharma said.

Of the 158 persons who died, 142 have been identified. As per the list of passengers who boarded the plane in Dubai, seven of the unidentified passengers were Muslims, four Hindus and one Christian.

The district authorities and police held meetings with relatives of the 12 passengers to finalise the burial plan.

“We agreed to this standard procedure (in case of unidentified bodies) after we realised it was futile to identify the bodies,” said a victim’s relative.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Gunmen Kill at Least Five in Hospital Rampage

Lahore, 1 June (AKI) — Four gunmen killed at least five people when they opened fire in a hospital in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Monday in an attempt to get a suspect in last week’s attacks on a religious minority, authorities said.

Lahore’s police chief, Shafique Gujjar, said that the motive for the raid on Jinnah Hospital was to free a militant who has been on a ventilator since he was wounded Friday, in the brazen attacks at two place of worship in Lahore that killed more than 80 members of a minority Muslim sect called the Ahmadis. About 35 Ahmadis wounded Friday are also being treated at the hospital.

The suspect was being treated in the intensive care unit at Jinnah Hospital, hospital chief Javed Akram said. He has since been moved to a safe place.

Hospital officials originally put the death toll at 12. But Khusro Pervez, the city’s top civilian commissioner, and Dogar later said four police officers and a security guard were killed.

The gunmen fled the scene after the shooting, said Sajjad Bhutta, a senior government official in Lahore.

Pakistani authorities are blaming Friday’s bloodbath on militants with ties to the Pakistani Taliban. The group Punjabi Taliban has claimed responsibility for that attack on the worship places of the Ahmedi community in Lahore.

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

Sharia Panchayat Boycotts 5 Muslims for Being ‘Infidels’

MUMBAI: Has Talibanism breached the solid wall which guarded Indian Islam for centuries? If the diktat issued by a Sharia panchayat comprising a dozen or so clerics in the Muslim-majority town of Malegaon last week is any indication, it seems to have.

In a shocking incident which reeks of Talibani fundamentalism and the regressive approach of the Khap Panchayat in parts of India, the Malegaon Sharia panchayat last Friday summarily “ex-communicated” five Muslims for allegedly being “apostates and infidels”. Islamic scholars and liberal thinkers insist that such a unilateral decision has no standing, especially as Islam doesn’t recognise priesthood and the practice of ex-communication is non-existent, unlike in Christianity.

The clerics declared that the five — Fareedul Abedin, Sharief Cookerwalla, Yunus Trolleywalla, Iqbal Engineer and Yusuf Dalalthey — were no longer Muslims after hearing many who testified that the “accused”, among other things, believed in and preached ideas and beliefs which went against Islam. One of the charges against them is that they refuted Prophet Mohammed’s divine ride, also called Meraj.

“Their activities had created huge embarrassment. We invited all five to present their side of the story but only one of them, Abedin, turned up. We pronounced them out of Islam, as reliable witnesses testified against them,” said Mufti Ismail, local MLA and head of the Jamiautul Ulema in Malegaon.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Aims to Become Supercomputer Superpower

China is ramping up efforts to become the world’s supercomputing superpower.

Its Nebulae machine at the National Super Computer Center in Shenzhen, was ranked second on the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list.

For the first time, two Chinese supercomputers appear in the list of the top 10 fastest machines.

However, the US still dominates the list with more than half the Top 500, including the world’s fastest, known as Jaguar.

The Cray computer, which is owned by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, has a top speed of 1.75 petaflops.

One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

It is used by scientists conducting research in astrophysics, climate science and nuclear energy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Islamic School Bid ‘Not Ours’

THE Rahma Islamic Association of Australia, based in Guildford, has denied being behind an application to build an Islamic school in Cecil Park.

A spokeswoman for Shiekh Azzam said the group was not involved in the development application lodged with Fairfield Council, which is now on public exhibition.

Sources had told the Champion that the group was involved in acquiring the planned school site and also intended to build a mosque on the site later.

But the group’s website states that they have purchased a property in Guildford and will go ahead with plans for a school and mosque on that site, not in Cecil Park.

Residents against the proposed school in Cecil Park will hold another rally at the site on the corner of Duff Road and Elizabeth Drive on Saturday, June 5.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Father: Carmel Bus Driver Berated Girl Over Beliefs

CARMEL, Ind. — A family has filed suit against Carmel Clay Schools after they said a bus driver was caught on tape berating their daughter about her religious beliefs.

Edward Zimmer said bus driver Betty Campbell harassed and caused emotional distress to his middle school daughter, Rachael, in November of 2008, 6News’ Renee Jameson reported.

He said the incident began during a ride home from school when his daughter told another student that she would never vote for President Barack Obama because of her anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage beliefs.

Zimmer said that led to an allegation that Rachael told other students that they would go to hell if they believed differently, something he said his daughter vehemently denies.

Zimmer said that when Campbell heard what Rachael had supposedly said, after the girl had already been dropped off, a camera on board the bus showed the driver telling the students, “If you can’t believe in tolerance toward one another, you don’t belong here. You belong in a parochial, church school.”

Zimmer also claims that the bus driver questioned another student about whether Rachael ever said anything racist to him.

“If she says anything racial to you, I want to know about it, because I am going to eat her alive,” Zimmer said Campbell can be heard saying on the tape. “You’re a smart guy. Rachael is a stupid little bigot.”

Zimmer said Campbell then came back to the girl’s home after all of the children had been let off the bus and brought Rachael and her older sister, who were home alone at the time, onto her empty bus, berating Rachael about her opinions on gay marriage.

“Say we’re a gay couple …and we go to China … and she would adopt a child. She comes back, and if she dies, that child isn’t mine. You can’t keep that kid,” Zimmer said Campbell is heard saying on the tape. “Or I’m filthy rich and she is not, I die, she does not inherit my money. That’s what this is all about.”

Zimmer said that when he questioned the school about why Campbell wasn’t disciplined, he was told that she was working within the scope of her employment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Free Birth Control Under Health Care?

As health reform regulations begin to take shape, Planned Parenthood has begun a quiet campaign to ensure that birth control is counted among the free preventive services that health insurers must cover under the Affordable Care Act.

Birth control barely came up in the health care reform debate, brushed aside by the more heated debate over abortion language and coverage. But with numerous religious groups opposed to contraceptive use, this issue is all but certain to become a flash point as implementation moves forward.

“We see this as a tremendous opportunity to get no-cost birth control in the bill and ensure that this part of women’s health is covered under preventive health,” said Laurie Rubiner, Planned Parenthood’s vice president of public policy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]