Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100712

Financial Crisis
»FDIC Grows Backup Role at Large, Risky Banks
»Greece: Bond Auction Tomorrow, Yield Could Near 5%
»Obama’s Debt Commission Warns of Fiscal ‘Cancer’
»Climate Change Used as Excuse for Population Control
»Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds
»Frank Gaffney: Disastrously ‘Transforming’ Defense
»High Noon: Brewer Versus the Left
»Obama’s Latest Reform? NASA: Norm Augustine’s Subversive Agenda
»Package Bomb Possibly Targeted Texas Oil Executive, Woman Injured
»The Left’s Total Moral Bankruptcy
»The Manifestation of Aztlan: Mexicanization of America
»The Way of the Cuckoo
»What You Can’t Say About Islamism
»Campaign Cash Strapped Dem Senators Go to Ground in Canada
»Report Examines Violence Against Immigrant Women in Canada
Europe and the EU
»As German as Özil and Boateng
»Athens Forced to Buys Subs and Helicopters
»Cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki Puts ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ Cartoonist Molly Norris on Execution Hitlist
»Germany: Aid Group Banned for ‘Hamas Ties’
»Germany Bans Hamas-Supporting Group IHH
»Italy: Zero Earners Rent Villas at Porto Cervo
»Italy: Playboy Days Over Says Berlusconi
»Jews Reluctantly Abandon Swedish City Amid Growing Anti-Semitism
»Merkel’s Rules for Bankruptcy
»New U.K. Government Bans Michael Savage
»Radical Muslims in Finland?
»Switzerland Rejects Polanski Extradition Request by U.S.
»Switzerland Won’t Extradite Polanski to the U.S.
»‘The Most Dangerous Philosopher in the West’
»UK Students Recruited for Somali Jihad
»UK: A Genteleman and a Scholar or Just a Good Story?
»UK: Book Review of Hugh Trevor-Roper’s History and the Enlightenment
»UK: Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman
»UK: Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman: A Review
»UK: Jihad: The Somali Connection
»UK: Schools Told ‘No Swimming in Ramadan’ For Muslim Pupils
»UK: Somali Family Given £2m House … After Complaining a 5-Bed London Home Was ‘In Poor Area’
»UK: Trevor-Roper and Gibbon: A Tale of Two Historians
»World Cup: Trophy Will Remain ‘Italian’
North Africa
»Egyptian Group Wants to Censor “The Arabian Nights”
»Italy: Libyan Immigrant Jailed for Botched Bombing
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israel’s ‘Street Apartheid’
Middle East
»Iran: ‘Research Reactor’ Fuel Rods to be Ready Next Year
»Lebanese Politician Likes Germans Because “They Burned Jews”
»Saudi Prince, Fox to Start Arabic News Channel
South Asia
»India: Missionary Forced to Leave Kashmir Because His Schools Are “Too Good”
»Pakistan: Lahore: Interfaith Solidarity Towards Sufis Targeted by Terrorism
Far East
»China — Japan — Taiwan: Japan Increases Its Airspace at the Expense of Taiwan
»Pakistan — China: Kashgar-Gwadar Railway Line Would Give Beijing a Window on the Persian Gulf
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Al-Qaida-Linked Militants Claim Uganda Blasts
»Al-Shabaab’s Attack on Uganda: A Lesson for Afghanistan?
»Frantic Search for Relatives After Uganda Blasts
»In Pictures ‘Uganda Bombings’
»Uganda: Kampala City Hit by 3 Bomb Blasts
»Uganda: Al-Shabaab Islamists Suspected in Deadly Uganda World Cup Bombings
»Uganda: Al-Shabaab: Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-Linked Islamist Militants
»Uganda: Devasting Bar Bombs Kill 64 Football Fans as They Watch World Cup Final in Uganda
»Uganda: Uganda Bomb Blasts Kill Dozens of World Cup Spectators
»Uganda: Twin Attacks Target World Cup Fans in Uganda, Killing More Than 60
»Uganda: World Cup Bomb Kills 64
»Uganda: ‘Somali Link’ As Lethal Blasts Target World Cup
»Uganda: Suspicion for ‘Terrorist’ Bombings Falls on Somali Rebels
»Uganda Bombs Signal Growing Extremism of Al-Shabaab
Latin America
»Venezuela Seizes Oil Rigs Owned by US Company
»Worries About Abolition of Netherlands Antilles
»Center for Immigration Studies: Step Back From the Numbers
»More Eastern Europeans Are Working in Holland
Culture Wars
»University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs
»Major Bomb Attacks in the World in 2010

Financial Crisis

FDIC Grows Backup Role at Large, Risky Banks

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. bank regulators would have more power to examine the largest and riskiest institutions, under a new interagency memorandum approved on Monday.

The agreement gives the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp a more prominent, on-site presence at the nation’s largest banks, but seeks to ensure the agency does not add another burdensome set of eyes and ears at the firms.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Greece: Bond Auction Tomorrow, Yield Could Near 5%

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 12 — Greece could pay a yield of about 5% in bond auction to finance the public debt set to take place tomorrow, the first since the EU and IMF stepped in to rescue the country in May, reports Bloomberg.

The agency for public debt management in Athens announced the auction last week. The auction is planned for tomorrow for 1.25 billion euros worth of 26-week treasury bills. Five per cent is also the level that Europe is charging Greece for the reimbursement of bonds issued by several countries as part of the rescue package. The market is looking at tomorrow as an important test to see if investors intend to finance Greece’s debt. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Debt Commission Warns of Fiscal ‘Cancer’

BOSTON — The co-chairmen of President Obama’s debt and deficit commission offered an ominous assessment of the nation’s fiscal future here Sunday, calling current budgetary trends a cancer “that will destroy the country from within” unless checked by tough action in Washington.

The two leaders — former Republican senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton — sought to build support for the work of the commission, whose recommendations due later this year are likely to spark a fierce debate in Congress.


Bowles said that unlike the current economic crisis, which was largely unforeseen before it hit in fall 2008, the coming fiscal calamity is staring the country in the face. “This one is as clear as a bell,” he said. “This debt is like a cancer.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Climate Change Used as Excuse for Population Control

First, Obama misled the US electorate into believing he was a moderate democrat and now his socialist agenda is fully exposed. Second, he appointed of people fully immersed in socialism and philosophies of the Club of Rome who will follow Obama’s lead and pursue what they denied or obscured at their appointments. Many were simply executive appointments that bypassed any vetting process. Third, the global strategy to use global warming and climate change as the basis for world government with total control continues unabated and essentially unreported.


Consider and compare this statement from the Chinese leader in support of the delegation at Copenhagen with the statement of the Club of Rome. “After more than thirty years of reform and upon opening its doors, China has achieved immense success. Yet, the country continually faces evolving conditions at home and abroad, such as decelerating growth rates, issues of increased energy consumption and high pollution ratios, environmental and resource constraints, international trade frictions, as well as deepening socioeconomic divides.”

These concerns underscore why Zhao Baige vice-minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission (NPFPC) made a presentation in Copenhagen. She argued that China’s one-child policy was climate friendly because it reduced the number of people despoiling the world. Baige cited the Master’s thesis of Thomas Wire, a graduate student of the London School of Economics (LSE) that claimed $7 spent on birth control resulted in one tonne reduction of carbon. The Optimum Population Trust (OPT) sponsored his thesis and patrons of the Trust are a who’s who list of ardent and powerful anthropogenic global warming advocates, including Paul Ehrlich. Another patron, Jonathan Porritt, was delighted his February 2007 suggestion that China could offset charges they were not doing enough to fight climate change by claiming reductions achieved by their one-child policy.

The one-child policy is the ultimate in draconian government control. A fine of approximately $27,000 is levied if the second child is not aborted. A family can choose to pay the fine, but the child is not recognized by the State that withholds a permanent residency document which denies access to public services such as education and healthcare. The policy effects are devastating the population structure of China. Stories abound of infanticide or sex-selective ultrasound to abort females, as families want a male first born. A gross imbalance is developing in the male/ female ratio among other problems as the New England Journal of Medicine reports.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Felons Voting Illegally May Have Put Franken Over the Top in Minnesota, Study Finds

A study finds that at least 341 convicted felons voted illegally in the election that made former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken a U.S. senator in 2008.

The six-month election recount that turned former “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken into a U.S. senator may have been decided by convicted felons who voted illegally in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

That’s the finding of an 18-month study conducted by Minnesota Majority, a conservative watchdog group, which found that at least 341 convicted felons in largely Democratic Minneapolis-St. Paul voted illegally in the 2008 Senate race between Franken, a Democrat, and his Republican opponent, then-incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman.

The final recount vote in the race, determined six months after Election Day, showed Franken beat Coleman by 312 votes — fewer votes than the number of felons whose illegal ballots were counted, according to Minnesota Majority’s newly released study, which matched publicly available conviction lists with voting records.

Furthermore, the report charges that efforts to get state and federal authorities to act on its findings have been “stonewalled.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: Disastrously ‘Transforming’ Defense

Barack Obama came to office promising to “fundamentally transform” America. As President, he has done so with most obvious and dramatic effect in the government’s take-over of more and more of the private sector of the U.S. economy. Almost entirely lost in the hue-and-cry precipitated by such actions as the stimulus bill, ObamaCare, student loans and financial “reform,” however, are Obama initiatives that threaten an arguably even more momentous transformation: Changing the United States from “the world’s sole superpower” to a nation that may require the permission, or at least the help, of others to project power and defend its interests around the globe.

The backbone of America’s power-projection capability is its ability to get to a fight “the firstest with the mostest.” In today’s world, that requires two things: airlift and aerial refueling. Currently, the United States has an unmatched ability rapidly to move heavy military equipment by air around the world. But a mainstay of our airlift fleet is made up of the 59 C-5As that are over 40 years old. Twenty-two of these huge planes are expected to be retired in the near future. At present, it seems likely the rest will soon follow as they become prohibitively costly to maintain and operate.

The only American candidate for replacing the loss in rapid transport capacity associated with sending the C-5As to the boneyard is the C-17, a substantially smaller but modern and highly capable strategic airlifter. Unfortunately, the Obama administration is determined to prevent Congress from approving any more production of C-17s under threat of veto if lawmakers do as they have in the past and put in unrequested funds for additional airlifters…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

High Noon: Brewer Versus the Left

“We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us.” — Star Trek: First Contact

The Left wants you to think, like the evil “Borg” does in the old “Star Trek” movies, that “You will be assimilated into the Collective,” and that, “Resistance is futile.”

It isn’t.

Governor Jan Brewer [R, AZ] is a brave lady. I’m certain she never thought she’d be the one to stand up against, and lead the crusade for legal sanity and common sense against collectivist ideas of the Left and the Progressive Movement.

Politics are heating up, and not in a “fun” way. I believe that we may be cruising blithely toward major societal upheaval … pushed for, and instigated with malice aforethought, again, by the violent Left. This is a very uncertain time. We are at a turning point. It may not “feel” like real change yet because the Left is still trying to do this by stealth if possible. They want to present us with a fait accompli of legislation and decrees from which there is no turning back. Americans are waking up, feeling betrayed, and starting to sound off. But this is a time for calm, cool planning and deliberate resistance to their attempts to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America into a Collectivist State.


This country is a tinderbox right now. Look at the article about “Free Speech” at U of IL, Urbana on the same web-site [Gateway Pundit] after you’ve finished reading through this one. Another question: Why are Unions pushing “Card Check” when their memberships are dropping? What will a Union Card gain folks? What’s wrong with secret Union ballots? Ditto with Cap & Trade: Why do the Democrats need to pass all of this unpopular legislation now? That’s the part of the “iceberg” that lies beneath the surface, that is what we should investigate. My guess is that they know that they are in big trouble and want to pass it all in case they are thrown out. They also need an extra month to lie about the intention of their legislation, call the opposition names, and resurrect “Punching-bag Bush” before the election.

Have you ever been to a Tea Party Rally? Do you wonder, deep down, whether these Tea Party People are bad, crazy folks like the media says? I have been to a number of Tea Party Rallies. I found people mostly over 40, very many vets and retired military, and retired/former law enforcement, small business owners, and Social Security Pensioners. None I met are crazy, none are threatening looking, none are making threats. The Tea Partiers are polite and neat, they wave to folks, chat with each other, listen to their speakers, and do not get into altercations. Tea Party rules forbid that; they are a Class Act. Go to the Tea Party web-site, look at their charter and tell me why they are excoriated by the press. Next go to the contrived “Coffee Party” web-site that the press just loves, and look at their collectivist Mission Statement. My blind old Australian Shepherd can sniff this one out, Folks.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Latest Reform? NASA: Norm Augustine’s Subversive Agenda

The Committee to Review U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans, chaired by Norman Augustine, was ostensibly tasked by Obama’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, itself led by ultra-radical Communist-sympathizer John Holdren,with weighing the pros and cons of NASA’s current manned-program and to recommend various alternatives for making it safer, more competitive and more sustainable. But if the recommendations of the committee’s final report were to be adopted, it wouldn’t be “One giant leap for mankind” as Neil Armstrong so eloquently suggested, but a giant blow; costing thousands more jobs, ushering in the end of American leadership and exceptionalism in space and threatening the very existence of the United States.


Perhaps the biggest threat, buried deep within the Augustine report was a call for the United States to completely scrap the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, which govern the licensing, export, transfer, re-export or re-transfer of sensitive military weapons and technology listed on the United States Munitions list. The Augustine Committee deemed that these laws, which safeguard our most sensitive technology and weapons systems, were “outdated and overly restrictive for the realities of the current technological and international political environment.”[1]

If this recommendation were to be followed by the Obama Administration, any item found on the USML could conceivably be bought, sold, licensed and transferred to anyone, anywhere, including foreign entities. All decisions on who could receive this technology rest with the State Department, who would evaluate each request with a bias towards granting the transfer, unless the item requested was on a narrow list of exclusions.


Although in disparate pieces, it’s all there in black and white. While we’re giving anyone with enough money the opportunity to turn our own weapons programs against us, we’re simultaneously adopting a purely defensive posture, a blueprint for destruction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Package Bomb Possibly Targeted Texas Oil Executive, Woman Injured

Houston — Disguised as a package of chocolates and left on the doorstep of a Texas oil executive, the bomb went off when a woman opened the apparent gift.

In spite of BP’s shares rising over the weekend due to apparent increased confidence in the company’s attempt to recap the Deepwater Horizon, it appears that an oil industry executive might have been targeted for murder after someone left a “package bomb” at the home of a Houston oil executive last week.

An unnamed woman, described by neighbours as kind-hearted, is in serious condition after undergoing surgery for the injuries from shrapnel contained in the bomb reported KSLA News 12. ABC Local (Eyewitness News) got the scoop on the story, confirming the home belongs to an unnamed Texas oil executive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Left’s Total Moral Bankruptcy

Did you hear the one about the Left’s plan to counter the tea-party movement?

It’s no joke.

“In an effort to replicate the tea party’s success, 170 liberal and civil-rights groups are forming a coalition that they hope will match the movement’s political energy and influence,” explained a Washington Post report. “They promise to ‘counter the tea-party narrative’ and help the progressive movement find its voice again after 18 months of floundering.”

The effort is curiously dubbed “One Nation.” Historically, of course, when that two-word phrase has been used in America, it is usually followed by another two-word phrase — “under God.” But with groups such as La Raza, the NAACP, the AFL-CIO and the SEIU joining the party, it is unlikely the deity will be invoked by any within this coalition.

You might ask: What’s their beef?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Manifestation of Aztlan: Mexicanization of America

An arrogant billboard exploded on the Los Angeles skyline a few years ago by a local TV station: “Los Angeles, Mexico: Your Town, Your Community.”

It was spelled out in Spanish. CA was crossed out with a red X and replaced by the word ‘MEXICO’. Two smiling Latinos representing over two million illegal aliens in the City of Angels smiled from their anchor desks. Behind them stood the LA skyline replete with skyscrapers. Most disconcerting was a statue, also in the billboard picture, that stands in the middle of Mexico City.

The Mexicanization of America, races, with total support from Barack Obama and his Congress, full speed across our country. La Raza, the most racist organization in the world, licks its chops as sheer numbers of illegal aliens have taken over Los Angeles. They’ve run Americans out of countless cities and communities. They’ve trashed school systems and bankrupted 86 hospitals. They’ve thrown trash throughout the park systems. They defy laws by not carrying car insurance, driver’s licenses, work off the books paying no taxes, brutalize our schools with their language, spread drugs, and more terrifying are the thousands of cases of TB and hepatitis they spread into Los Angeles. In other words, they’re bringing their Third World into our world.

La Raza’s motto is, “For the Latino race, everything; for anyone outside the race, nothing!” What is their prime directive? It is the ‘Reconquista of Aztlan’ or the retaking of our four border states back into the umbrella of Mexico.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Way of the Cuckoo

The common cuckoo has a very simple reproductive strategy. It lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, which then drive out the chicks of that bird’s own species. Instead the bird raises the cuckoo’s young as its own. The name for this sort of behavior is brood parasitism. Which is a name that we should be very familiar with as our society has fallen victim to it.

Take the case of Arizona. Or so many other US states which are going bankrupt trying to cover the health care and services of illegal aliens and other members of the Democratic party base. Then think about the small bird on the side trying to feed the massive young of another species, who has already murdered its own children. Or consider Europe, where the cuckoo’s eggs of the Muslim world are hatching with the full benefits of a socialist system paid for by the very generation most directly victimized by them.

This is the Way of the Cuckoo. It is the way of the Muslim world, whose social stratification and heavy corruption leads to societies with limited room for advancement, even as its population continues to boom thanks to Western medicine and Islamic religion. The Muslim world exports that population to the West, where taxpayers fund their reproduction and raise their young. Only to have those same young murder them. And much like the cuckoo’s victims, rather than learn our lesson, we just keep repeating the process over and over again.

Whether it’s Mexico, whose economy is built on money sent home by illegal aliens working American jobs; or Europe, where the Muslim cuckoos go to bed listening to the discordant music of Islamist preachers; or Israel, where the descendants of Egyptian and Syrian guest workers attracted by the post WW1 boom under the British are being paid to have more children by the Israeli government even as they chant “Death to Israel”—the problem of the cuckoo can be seen everywhere in the civilized world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What You Can’t Say About Islamism

by Paul Berman

American intellectuals won’t face up to Muslim radicalism’s Nazi past.

In our present Age of the Zipped Lip, you are supposed to avoid making any of the following inconvenient observations about the history and doctrines of the Islamist movement:

You are not supposed to observe that Islamism is a modern, instead of an ancient, political tendency, which arose in a spirit of fraternal harmony with the fascists of Europe in the 1930s and ‘40s.

You are not supposed to point out that Nazi inspirations have visibly taken root among present-day Islamists, notably in regard to the demonic nature of Jewish conspiracies and the virtues of genocide.

And you are not supposed to mention that, by inducing a variety of journalists and intellectuals to maintain a discreet and respectful silence on these awkward matters, the Islamist preachers and ideologues have succeeded in imposing on the rest of us their own categories of analysis.

Or so I have argued in my recent book, “The Flight of the Intellectuals.” But am I right? I glance with pleasure at some harsh reviews, convinced that here, in the worst of them, is my best confirmation.

No one disputes that the Nazis collaborated with several Islamist leaders. Amin al-Husseini, the mufti of Jerusalem, orated over Radio Berlin to the Middle East. The mufti’s strongest supporter in the region was Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna, too, spoke well of Hitler. But there is no consensus on how to interpret those old alliances and their legacy today.

Tariq Ramadan, the Islamic philosopher at Oxford, is Banna’s grandson, and he argues that his grandfather was an upstanding democrat. In Mr. Ramadan’s interpretation, everything the Islamists did in the past ought to be viewed sympathetically in, as Mr. Ramadan says, “context” — as logical expressions of anticolonial geopolitics, and nothing more. Reviews in Foreign Affairs, the National Interest and the New Yorker — the principal critics of my book — have just now spun variations on Mr. Ramadan’s interpretation.

The piece in Foreign Affairs insists that, to the mufti of Jerusalem, Hitler was merely a “convenient ally,” and it is “ludicrous” to imagine a deeper sort of alliance. Those in the National Interest and the New Yorker add that, in the New Yorker’s phrase, “unlikely alliances” with Nazis were common among anticolonialists.

The articles point to some of Gandhi’s comrades, and to a faction of the Irish Republican Army, and even to a lone dimwitted Zionist militant back in 1940, who believed for a moment that Hitler could be an ally against the British. But these various efforts to minimize the significance of the Nazi-Islamist alliance ignore a mountain of documentary evidence, some of it discovered last year in the State Department archives by historian Jeffrey Herf, revealing links that are genuinely profound.

“Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases God, history and religion,” said the mufti of Jerusalem on Radio Berlin in 1944. And the mufti’s rhetoric goes on echoing today in major Islamist manifestos such as the Hamas charter and in the popular television oratory of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a revered scholar in the eyes of Tariq Ramadan: “Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.” Foreign Affairs, the National Interest and the New Yorker have expended nearly 12,000 words in criticizing “Flight of the Intellectuals.” And yet, though the book hinges on a series of such genocidal quotations, not one of those journals has found sufficient space to reproduce even a single phrase.

Why not? It is because a few Hitlerian quotations from Islamist leaders would make everything else in those magazine essays look ridiculous — the argument in the Foreign Affairs review, for instance, that Qaradawi ought to be viewed as a crowd-pleasing champion of “centrism,” and Hamas merits praise as a “moderate” movement and a “firewall against radicalization.”

The New Yorker is the only one of these magazines to reflect even briefly on anti-Semitism. But it does so by glancing away from my own book and, instead, chastising Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch champion of liberal values. In the New Yorker’s estimation, Hirsi Ali’s admiration of the philosopher Voltaire displays an ignorant failure on her part to recognize that, hundreds of years ago, even the greatest of liberals thought poorly of the Jews. And Ms. Hirsi Ali’s denunciations of women’s oppression in the Muslim immigrant districts of present-day London displays a failure to recognize that, long ago, immigrant Jews suffered oppression in those same districts.

But this reeks of bad faith. Ms. Hirsi Ali is one of the world’s most eloquent enemies of the Islamist movement. She makes a point of singling out Islamist anti-Semitism. And the anti-Semites have singled her out in return. Six years ago, an Islamist fanatic murdered Ms. Hirsi Ali’s filmmaking colleague, Theo van Gogh, and left behind a death threat, pinned with a dagger to the dead man’s torso, denouncing Ms. Hirsi Ali as an agent of Jewish conspirators. And yet, the New Yorker, in the course of an essay presenting various excuses for the Islamist-Nazi alliance of yesteryear, has the gall to explain that, if anyone needs a lecture on the history of anti-Semitism, it’s Ms. Hirsi Ali!

Such is the temper of our moment. Some of the intellectuals are indisputably in flight — eager to sneer at outspoken liberals from Muslim backgrounds, and reluctant to speak the truth about the Islamist reality.

Mr. Berman is a writer in residence at New York University. He is most recently the author of “The Flight of the Intellectuals” (Melville, 2010).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Campaign Cash Strapped Dem Senators Go to Ground in Canada

American Democrats, driven desperate by the Tea Party Movement’s apparent hold over looming mid-term elections, have found a new place to run to and a new, offshore treasure trove of well-heeled supporters.

Vancouver, B.C., Canada, known as “Vansterdam” due to its lax law enforcement of marijuana usage, proliferation of marijuana grow-ops and large drug traffic, is the new place to run to. Trial lawyers with the “Committee for a Better Future” offer Dems a new treasure trove for campaign cash in America’s hard, recessionary times.

Message to We the People: If your Dem candidate is missing during these long, languid summer afternoons, he or she is most likely having a fundraiser in Vansterdam.


Vancouver, BC may be a long way from Searchlight, Nevada, but then again Vancouver is home city of COPE, Committee of Progressive Electors (read Communists). In November 2000 municipal elections COPE won eight of 10 city council seats and also swept the park and school boards.

When COPE was in its heyday in the early 1980s, a huge public outcry, led by a Jewish rabbi, forced the news media to identify COPE for what it is: Communist. Up until the public outcry, the mainstream media identified the group only as “left of centre”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Report Examines Violence Against Immigrant Women in Canada

By Stephen Thomson

A new report calls on Canadians to confront the abuse faced by many women in immigrant communities.

“Most advocates and activists for female victims of abuse shy away from challenging the immigrant communities to examine their own traditions and cultural values in explaining the violence in their homes,” Toronto-based social worker Aruna Papp says in a statement today (July 12).

In her 20-page report, Culturally-Driven Violence Against Women: A Growing Problem in Canada’s Immigrant Communities, Papp focuses on abuse in South Asian homes.

She examines the prevalence of “honour killings”, criticizing law enforcement officials for how they approach cases where a man has murdered his wife or daughter.

“They deliberately avoid cultural finger-pointing: for law enforcement, murder is murder,” Papp writes.

“Honour killings, however, are distinct from domestic violence or child abuse,” she adds, noting the murders can relate to conflicts over wearing makeup, attending parties or clothing choices.

In Canada, at least 12 women have been victims of honour killings since 2002, the report says. Papp highlights the B.C. case of 17-year-old Amandeep Singh Atwal who in 2003 was murdered by her father because of her interest in dating a classmate who was not a Sikh.

Also included in the report, released today by the non-profit Frontier Centre for Public Policy, is a series of recommendations.

The recommendations emphasize the need for training sessions to educate women coming to Canada about their rights and gender equality, as well as shelters for females abused by members of their extended family.

The report also calls for court-ordered counselling programs for men taken into custody for domestic violence, and more action from South Asian community leaders

           — Hat tip: SF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

As German as Özil and Boateng

Germany can be proud of its multicultural football team and how it’s helping change the country’s national identity, writes The Local’s Marc Young. But sport alone won’t be enough.

Despite playing some of the most dazzling football of the tournament, Germany’s grasp for World Cup glory came up short this summer.

Turfed out of the semi-finals by a much more mature Spanish side that would eventually go on to hoist the trophy, it was a bittersweet end to a German Sommermärchen, or summer fairy tale, for coach Jogi Löw’s young team.

Still, Germans took heart as exciting new players like Thomas Müller, Mesut Özil and Jerome Boateng stepped on to the pitch and made the world take notice. Others, like the immensely impressive Bastian Schweinsteiger, filled the vacuum left by the national team’s injured captain Michael Ballack with aplomb. Playing a combination of stylish and effective football, they are certain to be a force to be reckoned with at the European championship in two years’ time.

But even more importantly, Löw’s multicultural team — 11 players have foreign roots — have come to reflect the diversity of modern German society. Just years ago it would have been unthinkable for Die Mannschaft to be made up of players with Polish, Turkish, Ghanaian and Tunisian backgrounds. That they are now considered “German” enough to take to the pitch for their country proves that more and more Germans are realizing theirs is a land of immigration.

On Saturday morning, I saw two little blond boys head back from a Berlin corner shop with milk and the newspaper for their parents. They both wore self-made German football jerseys — white t-shirts with player names and numbers in black ink. The older boy, maybe six, had “Neuer” in honour of Germany’s equally blond goalkeeper. But his younger towheaded brother was proudly sporting a misspelled “Ösil” on his back.

Considering Özil and Boateng probably would have chosen to play respectively for Turkey or Ghana only a few years ago, such heartwarming scenes can only help speed the integration of foreigners into German society. For only when immigrants feel both wanted and accepted will they have a real incentive to become happy and productive citizens. Unfortunately, it appears many still don’t.

That’s because amid all of the positive headlines about the diversity of the national football team, two worrying developments also came to light in recent weeks.

First, it was announced the number of foreigners becoming nationalized German citizens is dropping. Clearly people either don’t want a German passport or the government is not doing enough to encourage foreign residents to apply for one. Both should worry proponents of integrating immigrants into German society and encourage Chancellor Angela Merkel’s right-wing government to drop its antiquated opposition towards dual nationality. By the same token, hysterical leftists need to stop harassing patriotic immigrants for supporting the German national team by displaying the country’s colours.

Second, a survey showed the overwhelming majority of immigrant children face severe disadvantages in the German school system. Though it’s always tough for newcomers to adjust to a new country, education is the key to ensuring their children can improve their lot while giving something back to society. Naturally, not everyone can play dazzling football for the national team like Mesut Özil.

But people like Özil and Boateng can still be immensely important role models to kids from both German and immigrant families.

Their message? It doesn’t matter where you come from — everybody in Germany is playing on the same team.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Athens Forced to Buys Subs and Helicopters

“In the midst of an economic crisis, the Greek government is spending billions on arms,” leads an indignant Dziennik Gazeta Prawna. In March, the government of George Papandreou signed a deal to purchase two submarines in Germany for a total of 1.3 billion euro, and in May it committed itself to purchasing warships and helicopters from France costing 2.5 billion euro. According to experts, agreeing to both transactions was one of the informal conditions on which the EU and IMF granted Greece the rescue package of 110 billion euro. The news caused outrage in Greece, a country which has been forced by Brussels to cut 30 billion euro from public finances over the next three years in order to reduce its deficit from 13 to three percent of the GDP. “We feel pressured to carry out transactions we do not want. Greece does not need new arms,” Greece’s Deputy Prime Minister Theodore Pangalos said during a recent visit to Turkey. Both Germany and France claim that the arms deals are a result of many years of negotiations and have nothing to do with the EU rescue package. However, the Warsaw daily notes that in the last ten years French and German arms manufacturers have made fortunes from deals with Greece.

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

Cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki Puts ‘Everybody Draw Mohammed’ Cartoonist Molly Norris on Execution Hitlist

A CHARISMATIC terror leader linked to the botched Times Square car bomb has placed the Seattle cartoonist who launched “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” on an execution hit list.

Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — the radical who has also been cited as inspiring the Fort Hood, Tex., massacre and the plot by two New Jersey men to kill U.S. soldiers — singled out artist Molly Norris as a “prime target,” saying her “proper abode is hellfire.”

FBI officials have notified Norris and warned her they consider it a “very serious threat.”

In an English-language Al Qaeda magazine that calls itself “Inspire,” Awlaki damns Norris and eight others for “blasphemous caricatures” of the Prophet Muhammed. The other cartoonists, authors and journalists in Awlaki’s cross hairs are Swedish, Dutch and British citizens.

The 67-page terror rag is seen by terrorism experts as a bald new attempt to reach and recruit Muslim youth in the West.

“The medicine prescribed by the Messenger of Allah is the execution of those involved,” writes Awlaki, 39, a Las Cruces, N.M.-born American citizen.

“A soul that is so debased, as to enjoy the ridicule of the Messenger of Allah, the mercy to mankind; a soul that is so ungrateful towards its lord that it defames the Prophet of the religion Allah has chosen for his creation does not deserve life, does not deserve to breathe the air.”

Awlaki’s rant first appeared late last month in “Inspire,” which was posted to the Internet by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemeni branch linked to a Christmas Day bombing attempt on a U.S.-bound jet.

Initially, only three Web pages were accessible, leading to speculation it might be fake. But yesterday, the full edition was posted on jihadist Web forums, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

David Gomez, the FBI’s assistant special agent in charge of counterterrorism in Seattle, said Norris and others were warned of the “very serious threat.”

“We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target,” Gomez said.

Norris initially grabbed headlines in April when she published a satirical cartoon on her Web site that declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day” as a way to mock Viacom and Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of “South Park” that showed the Prophet Muhammed dressed in a bear suit.

Soon after, the topic erupted on the Web with the start of a Facebook support group for Norris. In response, Pakistan blocked access to the social networking site as a fiery pro-and-con debate raged worldwide.

Norris eventually backed away from her cartoon and cause.

“I regret that I made my cartoon the way I made it,” she told the Seattle-based KING 5 TV.

Norris’ neighbor said yesterday he’s noticed an increased police presence on the street lined with modest Craftsman-style homes. No one answered the door at her home, where a blue baby swing hung from a tree outside.

Most of the “Inspire” entries are regurgitations of widely available jihadi propaganda, including translated speeches from Osama Bin Laden and tutorials on how to “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom.” Still, experts say the goal is clear: to reach a young, impressionable audience.

“It’s like Al Qaeda’s Tiger Beat,” said one senior U.S. counterterrorism official.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Germany: Aid Group Banned for ‘Hamas Ties’

Berlin, 12 July (AKI) — Germany outlawed a charity operating in the country because of its alleged links to the militant Palestinian organization Hamas, interior minister Thomas de Maiziere said on Monday.

German authorities believe the Frankfurt-based Internationale Humanitaere Hilfsorganisation (IHH) has been funnelling money to Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist organisation by the European Union, the United States and Israel.

“The IHH has, under the cover of humanitarian aid, supported Gaza Strip-based so-called social associations which are attributable to Hamas, for a long period of time and to a considerable financial extent,” de Maiziere said in a statement.

“Hamas employs acts of violence against Israel and Israeli citizens and therefore compromises a peaceful settlement between the Israeli and Palestinian people,” the statement said.

Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 and has since been blockaded by Israel.

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

Germany Bans Hamas-Supporting Group IHH

BERLIN (JTA) — Germany has banned an organization that directly supports Hamas in Gaza.

In a statement issued Monday, Germany’s Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere of the Christian Democratic Union announced that his office had banned the Frankfurt-based International Humanitarian Aid Organization, or IHH, effective immediately.

With millions of dollars in donations each year, IHH in Germany directly supports Hamas, “whose charter denies Israel’s right to exist and promotes the use of violence to achieve its political and religious goals,” the statement read in part.

“Organizations that operate from German soil, directly or indirectly, with the aim of fighting Israel’s right to exist, have forfeited their right to freedom of association,” it concluded.

The Israeli Embassy in Berlin told JTA that it greeted the announcement “with great satisfaction.”

It was a “long overdue” move, according to Stephan Kramer, general secretary of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Hamas is a threat “not only [to] Israel and Jews but the entire free world — including Germany,” Kramer told JTA. Yet “many people in Germany think of Hamas as a group of freedom fighters who should even be considered as ‘partners for peace’ in the Mideast. That’s insane.”

The IHH in Frankfurt has denied any connections with the Turkish-based organization of the same name that sponsored the recent ill-fated flotilla ship, the Mavi Mamara, which challenged Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Three parliamentarians from the German Left Party were on board that boat.

Although its logo is virtually identical to the group in Germany, the IHH in Turkey does not list the group in Germany on its website.

The announced ban may be seen as a retort to the German Parliament, which recently passed a unanimous, multi-party motion demanding that Israel drop its blockade of Gaza. Critics say the German-based group ultimately shares the same goals as the Turkish one — provoking conflict with Israel.

In his statement, Minister De Maizière said IHH “knowingly and deliberately supports organizations that either are under Hamas control or support Hamas themselves.”

A 2004 German Federal Administrative Court decision said Hamas’ “social projects cannot be separated from its terrorist and political actions.”

Germany already has banned two other organizations with financial ties to Hamas — al-Aqsa e.V. and YATIM-Kinderhilfe e.V.

According to the Federal Department for Constitutional Protection, Hamas, which the European Union designates as a terror organization, has some 300 members in Germany.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Italy: Zero Earners Rent Villas at Porto Cervo

47% of luxury holidaymakers declare no income; some claim “social card” benefits

ROME — If you happen to see someone slipping through the gates of a rented dream villa in Porto Cervo, Capri, Forte dei Marmi, Positano, Portofino or Taormina at the wheel of a luxury car, feel sorry. According to, in 47% of cases the driver will be a zero earner or pensioner with a social card [debit card issued to low-income holders over 65 — Trans.]. And a gold credit card, of course, since the individual concerned will be either a tax-dodger or a tax-dodger’s nominee.

Are there really that many brass necks up and down Italy? Sadly, there are. Otherwise pretending to be poor wouldn’t be one of our national sports. Glance at the short articles at the bottom of the news page in your paper. In one story, the financial police found a gentleman in Siena who had applied for the rent supplement available to zero earners: he had two houses and four flats (that’s right). On another occasion, all the officers had to do was look at the cars parked outside a social housing block to see that the occupants included the owners of a Porsche Carrera, a Jaguar and a Volkswagen Tuareg SUV. And that was in Padua, not Naples, where 59.9% of people squatting in IACP-owned social housing, and a stunning 78% of those in municipality-owned accommodation, declare no income at all.

But then how else do you explain the probably conservative estimates that describe Italy as a tax cheat’s paradise where 300 billion euros go undeclared every year, with a corresponding loss to the taxman of at least 100 billion euros? We might say in passing that this is one and a half times what we pay every year in interest on the country’s enormous national debt. Obviously, the tax people are well aware of this situation. In May 2004, the minister of the economy Giulio Tremonti pointed out to an impassioned meeting of the Centre-right majority that it was scandalous for just 17,000 taxpayers to declare incomes of more than 300,000 euros while 230,000 luxury cars a year were being driven off Italian forecourts. Thirteen and a half times more drivers than taxpayers. The sad truth is that there has been no radical improvement since then. This is not the place to go into the reasons but it is equally true that in 2007, the number of taxpayers with incomes in excess of 200,000 euros was barely 76,000, or 0.18% of the total (to be precise, 75,689). Of those 56.8%, more than 43,000, were employees and a further 25% were pensioners (18,811). But do you know how many of the two and half million-plus “recipients of business income” declared that they had received over 200,000 euros? Just 6,253. To say nothing of companies. If you believe the numbers, many of Italy’s entrepreneurs are financial self-harmers. The corporations that closed 2007, the last tax year before the credit crunch, in the red made up 45% of the total. Were they all unlucky, incompetent or ingenuous? Or were they pulling a fast one?

Take a look at the figures held by the chambers of commerce and you will discover that Italy is also the homeland of brass-plate companies, set up by individuals to cloak their ownership of a boat, a home or a house by the sea…

Sergio Rizzo

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Playboy Days Over Says Berlusconi

‘I’m a play old,’ premier quips

(ANSA) — Milan, July 12 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi on Monday said his playboy days were behind him.

“I’m not a playboy any more, I’m a ‘play old’,” quipped the premier at the end of his opening address to a forum of countries in the Mediterranean basin.

The permatanned Berlusconi, 73, has shrugged off scandals that led his wife to sue for divorce while cultivating a Latin lover image that goes down well with his supporters.

Despite saying he was no long up to playing Casanova, the flamboyant premier and media magnate amused Monday’s forum by joking that Mediterranean leaders should “bring some good-looking girls over some time”.

“We would appreciate them because we’re Latins,” he quipped.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jews Reluctantly Abandon Swedish City Amid Growing Anti-Semitism

The Muslim population in Malmo lives in segregated conditions that seem to breed alienation and anger directed at Israeli policies.

MALMO, SWEDEN — At some point, the shouts of “Heil Hitler” that often greeted Marcus Eilenberg as he walked to the 107-year-old Moorish-style synagogue in this port city forced the 32-year-old attorney to make a difficult, life-changing decision: Fearing for his family’s safety after repeated anti-Semitic incidents, Eilenberg reluctantly uprooted himself and his wife and two children, and moved to Israel in May.

Sweden, a country long regarded as a model of tolerance, has, ironically, been a refuge for Eilenberg’s family. His paternal grandparents found a home in Malmo in 1945 after surviving the Holocaust. His wife’s parents came to Malmo from Poland in 1968 after the communist government there launched an anti-Semitic purge.

But as in many other cities across Europe, a rapidly growing Muslim population living in segregated conditions that seem to breed alienation has mixed toxically with the anger directed at Israeli policies and actions by those Muslims — and by many non-Muslims — to all but transform the lives of local Jews. Like many of their counterparts in other European cities, the Jews of Malmo report being subjected increasingly to threats, intimidation and actual violence as stand-ins for Israel.

“I didn’t want my small children to grow up in this environment,” Eilenberg said in a phone interview just before leaving Malmo. “It wouldn’t be fair to them to stay in Malmo.”

Malmo, Sweden’s third-largest city, with a population of roughly 293,900 but only 760 Jews, reached a turning point of sorts in January 2009, during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. A small, mostly Jewish group held a demonstration that was billed as a peace rally but seen as a sign of support for Israel. This peaceful demonstration was cut short when the demonstrators were attacked by a much larger screaming mob of Muslims and Swedish leftists who threw bottles and firecrackers at them as police seemed unable to stop the mounting mayhem.

“I was very scared and upset at the same time,” recalled Jehoshua Kaufman, a Jewish community leader. “Scared because there were a lot of angry people facing us, shouting insults and throwing bottles and firecrackers at the same time. The sound was very loud. And I was angry because we really wanted to go through with this demonstration, and we weren’t allowed to finish it.”

Alan Widman, who is a strapping 6-foot-tall member of parliament and a non-Jewish member of the Liberal Party who represents Malmo, said simply, “I have never been so afraid in my life.”

The demonstrators were eventually evacuated by the police, who were not present in sufficient numbers to protect their rally. But some participants complained that the police’s crowd-control dogs remained muzzled.

The Eilenbergs are not particularly religious, but they have a strong Jewish identity and felt unable to live in Malmo as Jews after this episode. Eilenberg said he knows at least 15 other Jewish families that are thinking about moving away.

Anti-Semitism in Europe has historically been associated with the far right, but the Jews interviewed for this article say that the threat in Sweden now comes from Muslims and from changing attitudes about Jews in the wider society.

Saeed Azams, Malmo’s chief imam, who represents most of the city’s Muslims, is quick to disavow and condemn violence against Malmo’s Jews. Recently, he, along with Jewish leaders, have been participating in a dialogue group organized by city officials that seeks to address the issue. But Azams also downplayed the seriousness of the problem, saying there were “not more than 100 people, most under 18 years old,” who engage in violence and belong to street gangs.”There are some things I can’t control,” he said.

There are an estimated 45,000 Muslims in Malmo, or 15% of the city’s population. Many of them are Palestinians, Iraqis and Somalis, or come from the former Yugoslavia.

But the problem is not just Muslims, and not just Malmo’s.

A European Problem

A continentwide study, conducted by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Research on Conflict and Violence at the University of Bielefeld in Germany, released in December 2009, found that that 45.7% of the Europeans surveyed agree somewhat or strongly with the following statement: “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians.” And 37.4% agreed with this statement: “Considering Israel’s policy, I can understand why people do not like Jews.”

“[There is] quite a high level of anti-Semitism that is hidden beneath critics of Israel’s policies,” said Beate Kupper, one of the study’s principal researchers, in a telephone interview with the Forward, citing this data and a tendency to “blame Jews in general for Israel’s policies.”

Kupper said that in places where there is a strong taboo against expressions of anti-Semitism, such as Germany, “Criticism of Israel is a great way to express your anti-Semitism in an indirect way.”

According to Bassam Tibi, professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Goettingen in Germany, and author of several books on the growth of Islam in Europe, Muslims form a significant subset of this problem. “The growth of the Muslim diaspora in Europe is affecting the Jews,” Tibi said. Among some Muslim populations in Europe — though not all — “every Jew is seen as responsible for what Israel is doing and can be a target.”

In Malmo, this population’s role in the problem is seen as significant. Most of Malmo’s Muslims live in Rosengard, the eastern part of this de facto segregated city, where the jobless rate is 80%. Satellite dishes dot the high-rise apartments to receive programming from Al-Jazeera and other Arabic-language cable networks that keep Malmo’s Muslims in constant touch with the latest Arab-Israeli developments.

Sylvia Morfradakis, a European Union official who works with the chronically unemployed, those who have been without work for 10 to 15 years, said that the main reason that 80% to 90% of Muslims between the ages of 18 and 34 can’t find jobs is that they can’t speak Swedish.

“Swedish employers insist workers know Swedish well, even for the most menial jobs,” Morfradakis said. She added, “The social welfare concept for helping without end does not give people the incentive to do something to make life better.”

But Per Gudmundson, chief editorial writer for Svenska Dagbladet, a leading Swedish newspaper, is critical of politicians who blame anti-Semitic actions on Muslim living conditions. He said that these politicians offer “weak excuses” for Muslim teenagers accused of anti-Semitic crimes. “Politicians say these kids are poor and oppressed, and we have made them hate. They are, in effect, saying the behavior of these kids is in some way our fault,” he said.

According to Gudmundson, some immigrants from Muslim countries come to Sweden as hardened anti-Semites.

The plight of the Jews worries Annelie Enochson, a Christian Democrat member of the Swedish Parliament. “If the Jews feel threatened in Sweden, then I am very frightened about the future of my country,” she said in an interview with the Forward.

A Chabad rabbi’s experience

Because he is the most visible Jew in Malmo, with his black fedora, tzitzit and long beard, Malmo’s only rabbi, Shneur Kesselman, 31, is a prime target for Muslim anti-Jewish sentiment. The Orthodox Chabad rabbi said that during his six years in the city, he has been the victim of more than 50 anti-Semitic incidents. An American, Kesselman is a soft spoken man with a steely determination to stay in Malmo despite the danger.

Two members of the American Embassy in Stockholm visited him in April to discuss his safety. From Keselman’s account, they had good reason to worry.

The rabbi recalled the day he was crossing a street near his house with his wife when a car suddenly went into reverse and sped backward toward them. They dodged the vehicle and barely made it to the other side of the street. “My wife was screaming,” the rabbi said. “It was a traumatic event.”

Local newspapers report that the number of anti-Semitic incidents in Malmo doubled in 2009 from 2008, though police could not confirm this. Meanwhile, Fredrik Sieradzki, spokesman for the Malmo Jewish community, estimates that the already small Jewish population is shrinking by 5% a year. “Malmo is a place to move away from,” he said, citing anti-Semitism as the primary reason. “The community was twice as large two decades ago.” The synagogue on Foreningsgatan, a fashionable street, has elaborate security. Reflecting the level of fear, the building’s glass is not just bullet-proof, Jewish communal officials say; it’s rocket-proof. Guards check strangers seeking to enter the synagogue.

Some Jewish parents try to protect their children by moving to neighborhoods where there are fewer Muslims in the schools so that confrontations will be minimized. Six Jewish teenagers interviewed recounted anti-Semitic abuse from Muslim classmates. According to their families, though the incidents were reported to the authorities, none of the perpetrators was arrested, much less punished.

One victim was Jonathan Tsubarah, 19, the son of an Israeli Jew who settled in Sweden. As he strolled through the city’s cobble-stoned Gustav Adolph Square on August 21, 2009, three young men — a Palestinian and two Somalis — stopped him and asked where he was from, he recalled.

“I’m from Israel,” Tsubarah responded.

“I’m from Palestine,” one assailant retorted, “and I will kill you.”

The three beat him to the ground and kicked him in the back, Tsubarah said. “Kill the Jew,” they shouted. “Now are you proud to be a Jew?”

“No I am not,” the slightly built teenager replied. He said he did this just to get them to stop kicking him. Tsubarah plans to go to Israel and join the army.

Weak government response

Many Jews fault Swedish police for not cracking down on anti-Semitism. Most hate crimes in Malmo are acts of vandalism, said Susanne Gosenius, head of the newly created hate crime unit of the Malmo Police Department These include painted swastikas on buildings. According to Gosenius, police do not give priority to this type of crime. “It’s very rare that police find the perpetrators,” she said. “Swedes don’t understand why swastikas are bad and how they offend Jews.” According to Gosenius, 30% of the hate crimes in the Malmo region are anti-Semitic.

Members of Parliament have attended anti-Israel rallies where the Israeli flag was burned while the flags of Hamas and Hezbollah were waved, and the rhetoric was often anti-Semitic—not just anti-Israel. But such public rhetoric is not branded hateful and denounced, said Henrik Bachner, a writer and professor of history at the University of Lund, near Malmo.

“Sweden is a microcosm of contemporary anti-Semitism,” said Charles Small, director of the Yale University Initiative for the Study of Anti-Semitism. “It’s a form of acquiescence to radical Islam, which is diametrically opposed to everything Sweden stands for.”

A dialogue initiative

The situation has generated some points of potential light. Recently, Ilmar Reepalu, the mayor of Malmo, convened a “dialogue forum” that includes leaders of the Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as city officials, to improve social relations in the city and the city government’s response to conflicts.

During an interview in his office, Imam Saeed Azams said it was wrong to blame Swedish Jews for Israel’s actions. The wheelchair-bound Azams stressed the importance of teaching young Muslims to stop equating the Jews of Malmo with Israel. But this seemed to include an assumption that Jews, in turn, should not permit themselves to be seen as pro-Israel.

“Because Jewish society in Sweden does not condemn the clearly illegal actions of Israel,” he said, “then ordinary people think the Jews here are allied to Israel, but this is not true.”

The imam is an advocate of dialogue with Jewish leaders, and welcomed the creation of the dialogue forum. Reepalu, Malmo’s mayor, has appointed Bjorn Lagerback, a psychologist, to take charge of the newly formed forum. And Sieradzki, the Jewish community leader, was optimistic about its prospects to eventually improve relations.

Reepalu created the forum in the wake of last year’s violence against the Jewish demonstrators and his own controversial remarks that angered Jews. Saying that he condemned both Zionism and anti-Semitism, Reepalu criticized Malmo Jews for not taking a stand against Israel’s invasion of Gaza. “Instead,” he said, “they chose to arrange a demonstration in the center of Malmo, a demonstration that people could misinterpret.”

Interviewed at Malmo’s city hall, Lagerback acknowledged an “awful situation” in Rosengard, where fire trucks and ambulances are often stoned by angry Muslim youth when the emergency vehicles go there. But like the imam, he hastened to add that those engaging in violence were a small number of young people. He attributed such behavior to living conditions of poverty, overcrowding and unemployment, as well as to cultural differences.

Swedish experts agree that integration of Muslims into Swedish society has failed, and this undermines the development of a more diverse society. Many pupils in heavily Muslim schools reject the authority of female teachers.

“We are Swedish but second- or third-class citizens,” said Mohammed Abnalheja, vice president of the Palestinian Home Association in Malmo. The organization teaches children of Palestinian descent about their bond to a Palestinian homeland. “We have a right to our country, Palestine,” he said. “Palestine is now occupied by Zionists.”

Abnalheja was born to Palestinian parents in Baghdad and came to Malmo with his parents in 1996. He has never been to the place he calls Palestine.

Meanwhile, 86-year-old Judith Popinski says she is no longer invited to schools that have a large Muslim presence to tell her story of surviving the Holocaust.

Popinski found refuge in Malmo in 1945. Until recently, she told her story in Malmo schools as part of their Holocaust studies program. Now, some schools no longer ask Holocaust survivors to tell their stories, because Muslim students treat them with such disrespect, either ignoring the speakers or walking out of the class.

“Malmo reminds me of the anti-Semitism I felt as a child in Poland before the war,” she told the Forward while sitting in her living room, which is adorned with Persian rugs and many paintings.

“I am not safe as a Jew in Sweden anymore,” a trembling Popinski said in a frail voice. But unlike others, she intends to stay in Sweden. “I will not be a victim again,” she said.

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

Merkel’s Rules for Bankruptcy

Fearing a lasting burden on taxpayers, the German government is preparing a set of insolvency rules for countries in the euro zone. It would require private investors to bear some of the financial burden and force the affected countries to give up some sovereignty. The plan is guaranteed to meet with resistance.

As a physicist and an avowed admirer of the Swabian housewife, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, leader of the center-right Christian Democrats (CDU), is seeking to establish binding rules in the midst of the chaos of financial and monetary crises. Her desire for order was reinforced recently when the prospect of Greece collapsing under a mountain of debt triggered turmoil in the European Monetary Union.

The first national bankruptcy on European soil in decades was only prevented because the remaining countries in the euro zone came to the aid of their faltering fellow member with billions in loans and loan guarantees. The chancellor, determined not to allow the Greek debacle to be repeated elsewhere, proposed the establishment of a procedure to ensure “orderly national bankruptcies.” The German chancellor hoped that the plan would create “an important incentive for the euro-zone members to keep their budgets under control.”

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, in complete agreement with Merkel, said: “We have to think about how, in an extreme situation, member states could become insolvent in an orderly fashion without threatening the euro zone as a whole.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New U.K. Government Bans Michael Savage

Conservative Party admin demands repudiation of ‘violent’ statements

The new Conservative Party-led government of Prime Minister David Cameron informed Michael Savage it will continue the ban on the top-rated talk-radio host’s entry to the United Kingdom unless he repudiates statements made on his broadcasts that were deemed a threat to public security.

The U.K. Border Agency told Savage through a letter from the treasury solicitor’s office that his “exclusion” from the U.K. that began last year under the Labour Party government of Gordon Brown will continue “in the absence of clear, convincing and public evidence” that he has “repudiated his previous statements.”


Savage today called his ordeal a “true nightmare of Kafka.”

“The ‘new’ British government continues ‘the big lie’ initiated by the previous British government, all based on extracts of radio programs over many years edited by Soros-backed Media Matters to slander me,” he told WND.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Radical Muslims in Finland?

Three radical Muslims were arrested in Norway earlier this week on suspicion of terrorism.

Dr Tuomas Martikainen, an Adjunct Professor in Comparative Religion at the University of Helsinki, says radical Muslims are probably also to be found in Finland. However, he says they remain inactive and would not be found in mosques. Finland’s Islamic community has completely condemned terrorism.

In a YLE interview, Martikainen said it is likely that individuals exist in Finland who support terrorism and who have perhaps supported such action elsewhere in the world. The Finnish Security Police (Supo) has not commented on the claim, which follows the arrest last Thursday of three people in Norway on suspicion of planning terrorist acts.

Finland’s Islamic community currently numbers around 45,000. Some 40 mosques operate in the country. Martikainen does not believe mosques attract radicals to their doors.

“I am convinced security officials monitor what is said in mosques and, for this reason, only a very simple-minded person would express a differing opinion there,” says Martikainen.

Finland’s Muslim community condemns terrorism without reservation. The Chairman of the Board of the Finnish Islamic Council (SINE), Abdi-Hakim Yasin Ararse, says any other interpretation is incorrect.

Ararse hopes for greater openness between Muslims and the rest of Finnish society.

“The Muslim community is part of this society. If something happened, which we naturally do not want, it would also affect us. Terrorists do not distinguish between who they wish to destroy or kill,” Ararse emphasizes.

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

Switzerland Rejects Polanski Extradition Request by U.S.

The Swiss government has rejected an extradition request by the United States for the film director Roman Polanski on a charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

The Justice Ministry said Monday in a statement that national interests were taken into consideration in the decision, and that Mr. Polanski was now a free man.

[Return to headlines]

Switzerland Won’t Extradite Polanski to the U.S.

Swiss release director, claim U.S. failed to share confidential testimony

BERN, Switzerland — In a stunning ruling, Roman Polanski was declared a free man on Monday — no longer confined to house arrest in his Alpine villa after Swiss authorities rejected a U.S. request for his extradition because of a 32-year-old sex conviction.

The decision left the Oscar-winning director free to return to France and the life of a celebrity, albeit one unable to visit the United States.


In Los Angeles, Cooley, who is running for state attorney general, called the decision a “disservice to justice and other victims as a whole.” He accused the Swiss of using the issue of the confidential testimony as an excuse to set Polanski free.

“To justify their finding to deny extradition on an issue that is unique to California law regarding conditional examination of a potentially unavailable witness is a rejection of the competency of the California courts,” Cooley said. “The Swiss could not have found a smaller hook on which to hang their hat.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘The Most Dangerous Philosopher in the West’

Welcome to the Slavoj Zizek Show

In the midst of a crisis of capitalism, the Western underground is rediscovering communism. Its star is the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, who mixes Marxism with pop culture and psychoanalysis. His appearances offer stand-up comedy for a radical leftist avant-garde.

It is five a.m. on a Friday morning, and Slavoj Zizek is on his way to the Idea of Communism Conference, traveling from Ljubljana to Berlin via Zurich. He finds it irritating that Alain Badiou, the French Maoist, will be making the introductory remarks.

And is it true, he wonders, that Toni — Antonio Negri, a former sympathizer with the Red Brigades terrorist group — is also coming, even though he is always at odds with Alain? When would Negri speak, what might he talk about and — above all — why has he, Slavoj Zizek, not been kept in the loop?

But Zizek doesn’t have time to waste pondering these minor irritations. He’s brought a few stacks of notes, which he must now use to write a one-and-a-half hour presentation during his two short flights. A bit about Marx, a lot about Hegel, something about Badiou’s “communist hypothesis” (which, he reasons, he could criticize a little) and something about Negri’s concept of the “multitude” (which he could even criticize sharply).

He can’t find his notes. But it doesn’t matter, because he is so full of thoughts that are just waiting to bubble out of him. He’s packed an extra T-shirt for tomorrow or the next day. It’s hot in Ljubljana, even at this early hour. Zizek is already sweating. The conference on communism begins in a few hours…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK Students Recruited for Somali Jihad

STUDENTS from some of Britain’s top universities are travelling to Somalia to fight with a terrorist group linked to Al-Qaeda. Almost a dozen young British Muslims, including a female medical researcher, are said recently to have joined Al-Shabaab, an extremist rebel organisation blamed for hundreds of deaths in the east African state. Somali community leaders in the UK say students from the London School of Economics (LSE), Imperial College and King’s College London are among those who have been recruited within the past year. The youngest recruit is believed to be 18.

One LSE graduate who grew up in Britain is said to have called his pregnant wife from Mogadishu, the Somali capital, telling her: “I am here defending my country and my rights. Look after my daughter. I don’t think I will see you again.”

An investigation by The Sunday Times into the terrorist “pipeline” to Somalia substantiates claims that Britain has become a fertile breeding ground for Al-Qaeda. It follows the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the London engineering graduate accused of trying to blow up almost 300 passengers on a transatlantic flight on Christmas Day. The security services believe that Britons travelling overseas to train and fight in lawless countries such as Somalia and Yemen pose a serious risk on their return to the UK.

They have previously suggested that at least two dozen Britons have gone out to Somalia to take up arms and even become suicide bombers, but community leaders believe the figure could be more than 100. Al-Shabaab — Arabic for “the Youth” — wants to impose sharia across Somalia and is engaged in a violent struggle against the country’s western-backed government. Experts regard it as an African franchise of Al-Qaeda.

It has been proscribed by most western countries, including America and Australia, but has escaped a ban in Britain. Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed, a moderate religious leader from north London, warned this weekend that Al-Shabaab is exploiting the loophole to recruit youths in the capital. Although many of them were born in Somalia, they have grown up in the UK and are British citizens.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ahmed. “The group’s supporters and recruiters are free to do what they want.” Ahmed said some families had received anonymous phone calls from Al-Shabaab recruiters urging them to send their children abroad in the name of Islam. “The police said they cannot take action until they [the recruits] do something,” he said.

Some of those who have left London for Mogadishu claim to be nationalists opposed to western influence in Somalia. However, one man from north London in his mid-twenties cited injustices against Muslims elsewhere before joining Al-Shabaab last year. The LSE graduate who abandoned his family in south London early last year initially told his pregnant wife and parents that he was travelling to Dubai to work as a journalist at the Khaleej Times newspaper. He never showed up. Instead, the 25-year-old Arsenal fan, who originally came to Britain from Somalia in 1994 and grew up in Leeds, had travelled to Mogadishu. Friends say he was not particularly religious and even had a western-style wedding.

Perhaps more worrying is the case of two students from west London who are believed to have travelled to Somalia about nine months ago. The men, described by an informed source as a 23-year-old law graduate from King’s College and a 25-year-old completing a medical degree at Imperial College, had both worked as volunteer anti-drugs campaigners around Ealing and were considered influential among Somali youths. Around the time of their departure, a 24-year-old woman, studying biomedicine at the University of East London, also left Britain, telling friends she was joining Al-Shabaab’s “medical team”.

Mohamed Abdullahi, director of the UK Somali Community Initiative, said his organisation is separately investigating the case of five men and an 18-year-old from London, thought to be fighting for the terrorist group. He said he treads a fine line between helping concerned families and identifying threats to the UK authorities.

LSE, Imperial and King’s College said they had no record of the students. However, members of Britain’s Somali community use a variety of names.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: A Genteleman and a Scholar or Just a Good Story?

by Charles Moore

In this excellent biography, Adam Sisman records an occasion when Hugh Trevor-Roper was Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge. A young guest at high table asked him: “But surely, Master, one can be both a gentleman and a scholar?” “Indeed so,” Trevor-Roper replied, “and,” giving a pitying look, “I think, neither.” If you wanted to be unkind — which Trevor-Roper often did — you could say that his life exemplified this problem. He longed to be both gentleman and scholar, and was, in fact, neither.

The case against him states that he wasted his gifts. He never wrote the great history of the English Civil War which he had in him. With her usual directness, Margaret Thatcher got to the point with him at once: “So, Lord Dacre [the title which, thanks to her patronage, Trevor-Roper had recently chosen], and when can we expect another book from you?” “Well, Prime Minister, I have one on the stocks.” “On the stocks? On the stocks? A fat lot of good that is! In the shops, that is where we need it!”

One reason that the book — and many other books — was never finished was Trevor-Roper’s social ambition. He had married the daughter of Earl Haig, the hero/villain British commander in the First World War, and she was expensive to maintain. Social life and the need for money got in the way of study. The couple were obsessed with having a grand house, and effectively squatted in one which they had from Christ Church, Oxford. His life is punctuated with rows about housing.

Trevor-Roper admitted privately that he was a snob. When he was offered his peerage, he chose to be titled Lord Dacre of Glanton, as a means of sounding grander than other academic peers. He called it “the eternal game of one-upmanship”, and he consumed much of his energy playing it.

There is something poetically fitting about the fact that, when Trevor-Roper got the call from The Times in 1983 to fly out and authenticate the Hitler diaries in a hurry, he was staying with the Queen at Windsor Castle. He declared the diaries to be genuine, but it turned out they were forged. The scholar/gentleman defended himself by sniffily complaining that “the normal method of historical verification had been sacrificed… to that of a journalistic scoop”. It was Trevor-Roper himself who had made that sacrifice.

If the word gentleman means anything, it is to do with an unwillingness to cause unnecessary pain to others, especially to those in weaker positions. Trevor-Roper had other ideas: “Whom can I ruin next?” he asked gleefully, after having blocked a man for a fellowship. He hardly ever tried to put younger people, or those socially or intellectually beneath him, at their ease.

And even in his historical writing, his desire to wound sometimes turned the general elegance of his tone into something merely nasty. His “Gibbonian” contempt for cant could make him crude about religious belief. It made him delight in seeking out and exposing frauds — the fantasist sinologist Edmund Backhouse, the bogus works attributed to the Gaelic poet Ossian — without making him humble about his own possible shortcomings. Like a lot of people who pride themselves on their shrewdness, he could be naif. One reason that it is hard to be merciful to him about the Hitler diaries is that one can imagine the pitiless brilliance of his own account of the fiasco if it had not involved himself.

But if the case against Trevor-Roper is strong, there is certainly a counter-case. Despite his academic bitchiness, Trevor-Roper was a brave rebel against some of the worst aspects of university life. For all his dryness of manner, he was actually a romantic opponent of academic narrowness. He was widely and deeply read, both in the classics and in more modern European literature. He was a tremendous believer in and practitioner of lucidity. His interest in “the great world” derived not from snobbery alone, but from a lifelong quest for the virtues of civilisation. He was, he wrote, “continually disgusted” by that world’s failure to live up to his hopes, but “it remains the likeliest haunt of the virtues it refuses to cultivate”.

In much of his mischief, such as getting Harold Macmillan, then Prime Minister, made Chancellor of Oxford, Trevor-Roper was trying to attack the pettiness of dons. He cunningly made Macmillan the anti-establishment candidate, striking a blow against “the solemn, pompous, dreary, respectable Times-reading world which hates elections… and thinks that everything should be left to the experts”, in favour of the “gay, irreverent, unpompous world which holds exactly opposite views … the world of the educated laity”.

His historical work tried to do the same thing. That is why he was the master of the historical essay, and why The Last Days of Hitler was (and remains) a marvellous book which must have awakened in hundreds of thousands of people a thrilling interest in the past. The “educated laity” has cause to be grateful to him.

There was something touching about Trevor-Roper too. In childhood and old age, he bravely faced a great deal of loneliness. For all his vanity, he could be acute about himself. He was like his horse, he wrote: “It revels in its speed and virtuosity. It loves showing off, and hurls itself, out of joie de vivre, at the most impossible obstacles… It despises all dull and easy ways. It exhibits a malicious delight in the discomfiture of its rivals. And it never gives up.” Such a man makes a good story.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Book Review of Hugh Trevor-Roper’s History and the Enlightenment

by Michael Dirda

In the half-century following World War II, there was no more admired British historian than Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003). His early book “The Last Days of Hitler” (1947) became a bestseller, as did his much later “Hermit of Peking: The Hidden Life of Sir Edmund Backhouse” (1976). In this last, he demonstrated, with his customary rigor and suavity, that a distinguished expert on China was a swindler, scoundrel and forger. “Hermit of Peking” remains one of the best scholarly detective stories I know, comparable to A.J.A. Symons’s “The Quest for Corvo” (about the notoriously decadent Frederick Rolfe, author of “Hadrian the Seventh”) and Charles Nicholl’s “The Reckoning” (about the murder of Christopher Marlowe).

Initially trained as a classicist, Trevor-Roper specialized in the intellectual history of early modern Britain and Europe. As a scholar, he was an essayist by inclination, though there was no mistaking the deep learning behind his forceful and elegant but also dryly witty prose. Take, for instance, this brief passage from “The Scottish Enlightenment,” one of the essays in “History and the Enlightenment.” Trevor-Roper is describing the backwardness of Scotland in the years just before the emergence of philosophers David Hume and Adam Smith: “Returning travelers wrote of it as they might write of a visit to Arabia: those long treeless wastes; the squalid towns in the plains; the savage, unvisited tribes in the hills; the turbulent tribal chieftains; the rabble-rousing mullahs with their mysterious religious organization. Only for a brief moment, in the 1650s, had Cromwell opened up the country and discovered some of its profounder qualities. Then the darkness had descended as the country had gone native again.”

“History and the Enlightenment” is a posthumous collection. Editor John Robertson has gathered together Trevor-Roper’s reflections on historiography and the achievements of the 18th- and early 19th-century historians, starting with Pietro Giannone — whose “Civil History of Naples” inspired both Hume and Edward Gibbon — and ending with Jacob Burckhardt (“The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy”).

Before the 18th century, there were roughly three approaches to the writing of history: History was either the working out of God’s will over time; or it was a Plutarch-like gallery of the noble and ignoble, proffering moral lessons; or it was largely the antiquarian accumulation of facts and dates. But Montesquieu’s “On the Spirit of Laws” — the foundational work of sociology — helped originate “philosophical” or “universal” history, which looks at the entire organic structure of a society. To the philosophical historian, social life, ideas and institutions are interdependent, and neither the church nor the state should be overprivileged.

“What was the lesson which Gibbon learned from Montesquieu?” asks Trevor-Roper. “Briefly, it was that human history is . . . a process, and a process governed, in its detail, not by a divine plan . . . but by a complex of social forces which a ‘philosophic historian,’ that is, a historian who looked behind mere events for fundamental ideas, causes and connexions . . . could isolate and describe.”

While everyone admires Gibbon’s deliciously ironic style, Trevor-Roper underscores that the author of “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” seriously addressed the principal problem that preoccupied the Enlightenment: “the problem of progress in history.” Trevor-Roper explains: “To Gibbon, progress is intimately linked to urban freedom and self-government. It was the free cities of Europe, he insists, not the empire of Rome, or any other empire, which transmitted civilization through the Dark Ages. . . . It was the empire itself which in its blind, and ultimately defensive, bureaucratic centralization had caused the organs of progress to become atrophied so that, in the end, ‘the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight.’ “

If Montesquieu appears as the guiding spirit of 18th-century historiography, novelist Walter Scott plays a comparable role for romantic historians such as Thomas Carlyle, who — through his cult of the Great Man and his rejection of progress — invested the past with glamour and romance. Discussing Carlyle’s “The French Revolution,” Trevor-Roper writes: “Its vivid, metaphorical style, its rapid narrative, its power to re-create events, as if one were in the midst of them, carried away its earliest readers. . . . To read it, even today, is a great literary experience.” He then quietly inserts the stiletto: “Whether it explains the revolution, or any historical problem, is of course quite another matter.”

Thomas Babington Macaulay, still another master of vividly dramatic prose, was also influenced by Scott. Yet the author of the once-famous “History of England” here stands out as a thoroughly tendentious, highly sectarian thinker, a formulator of draconian and irrevocable judgments about every aspect of politics, history, art and literature. His so-called “Whig history” seeks in the past both the pedigree and justification of the present. The substance of such history is, in essence, “material progress.”

Trevor-Roper shows little sympathy with Macaulay’s views. Instead, he believes, like the 18th-century German polymath J.G. Herder, that “history was the history of culture, that culture was indivisible, organic, that the past was to be respected on its own terms, not judged by the present: that, as [Leopold von] Ranke put it, all periods are equal in the sight of God.”

Of 19th-century historians Trevor-Roper is most strongly sympathetic to the Swiss Jacob Burckhardt, often derided in his lifetime as an amateur and dabbler by the German academic establishment. Burckhardt and Nietzsche were colleagues in Basel, and each developed an “agonistic” theory of society. Nietzsche’s “Birth of Tragedy” argued that the Greeks’ reputed Apollonian harmony was achieved only by suppressing Dionysiac impulses, while Burckhardt maintained that the Italian Renaissance was born from and sustained by “competitive individualism.”

“History and the Enlightenment” doesn’t just focus on famous men and books. There are, for instance, enthralling chapters on Conyers Middleton, a founder of deism, and on Dimitrie Cantemir’s pioneering “Ottoman History.” John Robertson supplies an admirable introduction to Trevor-Roper’s academic career as well as an extensive guide to further reading. In every way, this is a wonderfully intelligent and civilized book.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman

by AN Wilson

Hugh Trevor-Roper once a regular reviewer for this paper, was an English prose stylist with few rivals. He was also a historian who never lost sight of the function of history: to tell the truth. True, Trevor-Roper loved the minor squabbles of the common room, and the impenetrable feuds of the letters pages. He loved to score points off his enemies, and how those enemies rejoiced when he made the monumental blunder of momentarily authenticating the Hitler diaries for Rupert Murdoch’s bully-boy editors at the Sunday Times in 1983. But the side of Trevor-Roper who loved the minor field sport of don-baiting was only one side of a much grander figure at home on the wider uplands of European humanism.

When, in his early 40s, he was rewarded with the regius chair of modern history at Oxford, he expressed to his old mentor, JC Masterman, his exasperation that Oxford’s history faculty had become “a pitiful backwater” when compared with Chicago, Paris, Florence or Stockholm. When in old age he found himself the master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, he reviewed Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England by Maurice Cowling, the history don who had secured him the mastership. Cowling was the guru to such rightwing journalistic luminaries as Peregrine Worsthorne and Colin Welch of the Telegraph, and to that extent he was a person of influence. “The subject is the intellectual history of our time and the great spiritual crisis in which we have found ourselves,” Trevor-Roper wrote. “I find, on reading it, that this intellectual history has unfolded itself, and this crisis has been observed, and is to be resolved, almost entirely within the walls of Peterhouse.”

Trevor-Roper’s life, as this admirable book reveals, was lived on an altogether broader stage. After a brilliant academic start at Oxford, he joined the army at the beginning of the second world war and worked as an intelligence officer. His excellent German enabled him to interrogate many of the Nazi criminals, and he returned over and over again to the ruins of Hitler’s bunker in Berlin. The result was what remains one of the best books ever written about the Third Reich — The Last Days of Hitler. Joachim Fest, the German historian whose book on the same theme was made into a successful film (Downfall), added almost nothing to Trevor-Roper’s research. At the time, just after the war, Trevor-Roper had scotched the wild rumours about Hitler being alive; but more than that, he put the reader instantly in the right frame of mind to contemplate the National Socialists. His style was that of an enlightened, witty humane being; he made the last days in the bunker into a grotesque Gibbonian comedy.

Yet Trevor-Roper was unusual among historians of his generation in having the patience to take Hitler seriously as a thinker. His essay “The Mind of Hitler”, an introduction to Hitler’s Table Talk, is not only a masterpiece, but a useful corrective to those, such as Alan Bullock or Lewis Namier, who wanted to dismiss Hitler as a buffoon. It took a malign genius to rise from poverty in the slums of Vienna to carry through the conquest of western Europe, the invasion of the east, and the mass murder of the Jews. So rich and varied was Trevor-Roper’s life that it is worth considering the qualities his ideal biographer would need to possess. He would be a historian who understood the workings of history. He would also understand the world of journalism and have a sense of what Trevor-Roper himself liked to call the beau monde. He should be at home, as Trevor-Roper was, with prime ministers and duchesses. He would appreciate Trevor-Roper’s malice but not share it, for that would be arch and tedious. But he would have a sense of the great generosity of Trevor-Roper’s mind. He would also have a sense of Trevor-Roper’s quirkiness, his love of the offbeat, the slightly naughty — witness his superb book The Hermit of Peking, a life of the fraudulent sinologist and homosexual pornographer Sir Edmund Backhouse. (Readers of the Backhouse book might have suspected, as did Trevor-Roper’s own wife when she first met him, that he had a buried homoeroticism in his nature. Such readers will be astonished by the depth and passion of his relationship with that vague, boney wife, Lady Alexandra Howard-Johnston, as revealed in their extended correspondence.)

Finally, he would need to be someone with the delicacy to reveal that well-concealed organ, Trevor-Roper’s heart: “I give my heart to you — rather a complicated object, you may say, like a sea-urchin, prickly outside and untempting within; but you asked for it,” he wrote to Alexandra.

How lucky for Trevor-Roper, and for us, that the ideal biographer was here. It is impossible to praise Sisman’s book too highly. It is sprinkled with the light comedy of academic malice (healthy minded readers will shout with approval during Trevor-Roper’s triumphs over the deplorable fellows of Peterhouse). It will not disappoint those who reread Trevor-Roper’s hilarious spoof, the Letters of Mercurius Oxoniensis — anonymous dispatches printed in Another Magazine about the student protesters of the 1970s and the antics of his fellow dons. But Sisman’s book will also remind us all of why we value the life of the mind, and why style and intelligence are not superficial weapons against the forces of darkness.

Even the episode of the faked Hitler diaries, although it made a fool of Trevor-Roper (who had by now been awarded a life peerage, choosing the title Baron Dacre), does not really reflect all that badly upon him. As a director of the Sunday Times who had written about Hitler, he was the obvious expert to send to Switzerland to authenticate the diaries, when Murdoch decided he wanted to publish them. Trevor-Roper was initially sceptical, although, in common with another expert, Gerhard Weinberg of the University of North Carolina, he was impressed by their sheer bulk. Then he read the entry about Rudolf Hess flying to Scotland in May 1941, and he began to smell a rat. Doubts soon turned to outright disbelief. By then, though, it was too late. Murdoch wanted a splash, and when told of Trevor-Roper’s doubts he sent back the now famous message — “ Dacre” — which they proceeded to do. Trevor-Roper might well have been a habitual mischief-maker, but he was a perfect gent. He never made public the way that his proprietor or editors had behaved, and he never complained.

Bores liked to shake their heads about the Great Book that Trevor-Roper never wrote — too busy gossiping, dining out, writing journalism, pursuing very public feuds, and darting from one subject to the next: now the Elizabethan gentry, next Oliver Cromwell, then the pretensions of the Scots, then the mind of Erasmus. Certainly Trevor-Roper was acutely conscious that his own monumental work on the Puritan Revolution was being neglected. And yet, such is the skill of Sisman that we do not feel much of Trevor-Roper’s life was wasted. Greatness can be revealed in an essay; and in an index-entry: as with “Aquinas, his Whig views”. Trevor-Roper excelled in short forms, not because he had so little, but because he had so much to say. This great book confirms my sense that Trevor-Roper was not merely a clever, but also rather a great man.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography by Adam Sisman: A Review

by Noel Malcolm

In 1939 Hugh Trevor-Roper, a 25-year-old history don at Oxford, received a handsome advance when he signed the contract for his biography of Archbishop Laud. He used the money to buy a horse, which he eventually called ‘Rubberneck’ because of its tendency to turn and look at him in the saddle. As an entry in one of his notebooks records, he found that he and Rubberneck had some things in common: ‘It is a snob. It loves showing off, and hurls itself at the most impossible obstacles; and it doesn’t give a twopenny damn when it takes a tremendous fall in consequence. It despises all dull and easy ways. It exhibits a malicious delight in the discomfiture of its rivals. And it never gives up.’ To many people, the negatives in that description — snobbery, ostentation, pride and malice — might seem to outweigh the positives.

Reading about the young Trevor-Roper in this fascinating new biography, I was forced to wonder whether I would have found him likeable at all. A studious boy from an ordinary middle-class family, he had made great efforts to adopt the lifestyle and the company of heavy-drinking young aristocrats. And if you stripped away that element of his character, you were left, as it seemed, with a fearsome intellect, a strong but undirected ambition — and not much else.

Some of his friends never ceased to think that there was something inhuman about him. Years later, Isaiah Berlin wrote that ‘he doesn’t have any human perceptions’; and Maurice Bowra described him as ‘a robot, with no capacity for intimacy and no desire to like or to be liked’. If that is how his friends felt about him, one can imagine the feelings of his enemies — especially those who had been victims of a Trevor-Roperian vendetta. No wonder that when this hunter-historian took his most tremendous fall, over the ‘Hitler Diaries’ in 1983, there was a near-orgy of academic Schadenfreude.

One of the many virtues of this biography is that it reveals the very human character that existed behind the façade. That Trevor-Roper set up a barricade of formality or role-playing between his real feelings and the outside world is not surprising, when one learns about the emotional desert that was his childhood home and the horrific Dotheboys Hall where he was sent to board. That he was, nevertheless, a man of warm feelings is shown by his passionate love letters to the woman who became his wife, Lady Alexandra; these are quoted here for the first time.

The enigma of Trevor-Roper is of interest because he was, of course, one of the most important figures in English cultural life. This book tells the story of all his achievements, including some that are little appreciated today: everyone knows that he was able to write The Last Days of Hitler because he had been an intelligence officer in the war, but few are aware that it was his painstaking analysis of German radio messages that had enabled the British to follow the worldwide operations of the German secret service, or that some of the biggest deception operations mounted by the British had depended on the ‘feedback’ information that this provided.

Trevor-Roper was first and foremost a historian, and much of this book is about his historical projects and quarrels. His range was extraordinary: from the Middle Ages to Hitler, from Scotland to Romania, from politics to the history of art. Living in an age of specialisation, he was dismissed by some as a mere generalist or (to use an academic term of abuse) ‘essayist’; but as the historian John Kenyon put it, some of his short essays affected the way we think about the past more than other historians’ books. And if the essay is thought to be an unscholarly genre, it must be emphasised that Trevor-Roper was a tremendous scholar, as effective a sleuth in the library and the archive as he was in that bunker in Berlin.

What about the standard charge against him, that he never wrote the great academic history book for which everyone was waiting? Sisman could hardly avoid this question, since his researches have come up with book after book that Trevor-Roper promised to write, and in many cases almost completed, but never published: on the ‘July Plot’ against Hitler, Elizabethan merchants, religious revivals, capitalism and Protestantism, ‘Whig and Tory history’, and many other topics — including, above all, the massive typescript he prepared on the English Civil Wars.

Part of the explanation, on Sisman’s account, seems to lie in Trevor-Roper’s marriage to Lady Alexandra (née Haig — the daughter of the Field Marshal), whose desire to live in the grand style placed him on a treadmill of journalistic assignments which paid the bills but undermined his scholarly work. There must be some truth in this, though I feel that Sisman’s underlying sympathy for Trevor-Roper has not been extended to his wife, whom I remember as a spirited character with a deliciously girlish sense of humour, not as an imperceptive grande dame.

In the end, though, Sisman concludes that Trevor-Roper was not prevented from producing ‘the big book’: he simply chose to write the way he did, and to abandon so many of his projects. His interests were constantly galloping ahead to new topics; and he was also troubled by the fear that if his work was less than perfect, he would be harried by his academic enemies, who were not few.

That fear was a very human weakness, and some other failings are also recorded here. It is a sign of Sisman’s objectivity that a hostile reader could extract from this book quite a dossier of evidence for the prosecution. And yet I think the overall impression that emerges is the one that remains in the memories of Trevor-Roper’s friends — of a person who could be extraordinarily generous, unselfish and principled, as well as gloriously funny. This is a fine and serious biography which, on page after page, has made me laugh out loud.

Hugh Trevor-Roper: The Biography By Adam Sisman WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON, £25, 598 pp

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Jihad: The Somali Connection

British intelligence chiefs have targeted war-torn Somalia as the next major challenge to their efforts to repel Islamic terrorism, after scores of youths left the UK for “jihad training” in the failed African state. MI5 bosses have warned ministers that the number of young Britons travelling to Somalia to fight in a “holy war”, or train in terror training camps, has soared in recent years as the country has emerged as an alternative base for radical Islamic groups including al-Qa’ida.

The Independent on Sunday understands that the number of young Britons following the trail every year has more than quadrupled to at least 100 since 2004 — and analysts warn that the true figure (which would include those who enter the country overland) will be much higher.

However, the British authorities are particularly concerned about the number of people with no direct family connection to Somalia who are travelling to fight and train there. The diversity suggests Somalia is flourishing as a training ground for radical British Muslims, who could join the local terrorist militia al-Shabaab (“the youth”), go on to join conflicts including the Afghan campaign, or return home to pose a security threat to the UK.

It was reported earlier this year that a suicide bomber from Ealing had blown himself up in an attack in Somalia that killed more than 20 soldiers. Two Somali asylum-seekers were among the four men convicted of the failed attempts to bomb the London transport system on 21 July 2005.

Although Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the main destination for British would-be jihadists, the IoS has established that British intelligence chiefs have multiplied the time and resources dedicated to monitoring the trail between Britain and Somalia. The human chain to the Horn of Africa is at the centre of a number of ongoing secret operations. The most established British Somali communities — in London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Bristol — have been placed under the microscope, but “significant investigations” have been targeted on Manchester and West Yorkshire.

The Somali connection has been played down in recent years, as security services have concentrated on more traditional terror hot spots such as Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan. A number of the “liquid bomb” plot terrorists convicted last week had Pakistani connections and the bomb makers are believed to have received training at an al-Qa’ida camp in Pakistan.

The British Somali community has grown rapidly in recent years, with thousands of refugees fleeing the fighting in their homeland. But the hardship they have experienced has raised fears that many younger British Somalis have become detached from wider society — and ripe for radicalisation. The Home Office is funding a “Prevent” strategy to tackle radicalisation in UK Muslim communities.

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, chairman of the counterterrorism subcommittee, said: “I have seen figures that are not in the public domain that suggest there is an increasing flow of young Britons into Somalia. There is now a mixture of British people, from numerous backgrounds, who are heading out there and that is causing great concern.”

Despite international support, a series of governments has folded in the face of opposition from rival warlords over almost two decades. Al-Shabaab, a militant Islamic group with deepening ties to al-Qa’ida, is engaged in a vicious struggle with the latest transitional government. The organisation, which has been designated a terrorist group by the US government, has imposed sharia law in the areas under its control. US officials also accuse al-Shabaab of recruiting young children to train for suicide missions in Somalia.

But it is the ability of Somali militants to reach beyond their own borders that is causing the greatest concern. A confidential report from the non-governmental organisation Partners International Foundation in 2002 identified at least 16 terrorism training camps. The Americans claim the network has grown since then. Three men from Minneapolis have so far pleaded guilty to terror-related charges stemming from a federal investigation into Americans travelling to Somalia to fight with Islamic militants. At least three more have died, including one whom authorities believe is the first American suicide bomber. Australian authorities last month revealed they had uncovered an alleged plot by immigrants, including three Somalis, to carry out a suicide attack.

The alarm has been echoed in the UK, where undercover surveillance operations have identified a growing number of suspect visits to Somalia. “We would have started at below 20 five years ago, when Somalia was not significant enough to be put under close surveillance,” a senior Home Office source said yesterday. “It has been climbing noticeably every year. You have to remember that Somalia is not a place you would go for a holiday. It is particularly striking when people with no Somali family are going there; it looks as if some people are being attracted by the lawlessness.”

The British Somali who became a suicide bomber is believed to have entered Somalia on foot, over the border from Kenya. The unnamed 21-year-old reportedly blew himself up at a checkpoint in the southern Somali town of Baidoa in 2007. Sheikh Ahmed Aabi, a moderate Somali religious leader in Kentish Town, north London, said that he had heard from families of sons travelling to Somalia to join Islamist groups. “I’m hearing it from parents,” he said. “They say they [their children] are joining the jihad. This is a big problem facing our community.”

A troubled history

1960 British and Italian Somaliland join forces on independence to form the Somali Republic under the first president, Aden Abdullah Osman.

1969 Mohamed Siad Barre assumes power in a coup.

1993 US Army Rangers are killed when Somali militias shoot down US helicopters in Mogadishu. Hundreds of Somalis die in the ensuing battle, shown in Black Hawk Down. US mission formally ends in March 1994.

2007 Jan US air strikes target al-Qa’ida but reportedly kill civilians — the first known direct US military intervention since 1993. President Yusuf defends them. Interim government imposes state of emergency.

2007 Jun US warship shells suspected Al-Qa’ida targets in Puntland.

2008 Mar US launches missile strike on town of Dhoble targeting al-Qa’ida suspect wanted for 2002 bombing of Israeli hotel in Kenya. Insurgency spreads.

2008 Apr US air strike kills Aden Hashi Ayro, a leader of Al-Shabab insurgency.

2009 may Islamist insurgents attack Mogadishu.

2009 Jun Security minister killed by hotel suicide bomb. Officials ask neighbouring countries for troops.

Victoria Richards

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Schools Told ‘No Swimming in Ramadan’ For Muslim Pupils

The swimming guidelines are aimed at “removing barriers to full participation” Swimming lessons in some Staffordshire schools should stop during Ramadan to ensure Muslim pupils “do not swallow water”, a council has suggested.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council has issued an 11-page Ramadan guide for schools to help pupils who may be fasting when the school year starts in September.

It said swimming was acceptable to Muslims but posed a high risk of swallowing water that may break a fast.

Islam requires Muslims to fast from dawn until dusk for one month per year.

‘Not disadvantaged’

This year’s Ramadan is expected to begin on or around 11 August and finish 30 days afterwards.

The council guide states: “Schools with a significant number of Muslim pupils should try to avoid scheduling swimming lessons during Ramadan to remove unnecessary barriers to full participation.”

It also suggests re-scheduling sex education classes during the holy lunar month, as Muslim followers who have reached puberty are required to avoid sexual thoughts during this period.

Because of the religious requirement for Muslims to avoid eating during sunlight hours, some pupils get up before dawn to eat with their families.

Schools have been advised this can disrupt pupils’ sleeping patterns and it suggests examinations could be re-scheduled to reflect their lower levels of concentration.

The council said the document, produced by its Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education, was based on information from the Muslim Council of Great Britain, an umbrella organisation that claims to represent up to 500 Muslim groups in the UK.

“The overriding consideration should be that children do not feel disadvantaged in school activities because of their religious observance,” the council added.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Somali Family Given £2m House … After Complaining a 5-Bed London Home Was ‘In Poor Area’

A family of former asylum-seekers from Somalia are living in a £2.1million luxury townhouse in one of Britain’s most exclusive addresses at a cost to taxpayers of £8,000 a month. Abdi and Sayruq Nur and their seven children moved into their three-storey property in a fashionable area of London last month because they didn’t like the ‘poorer’ part of the city they were living in.

Mr Nur, 42, an unemployed bus conductor, and his 40-year-old wife, who has never worked, are now living in Kensington despite the fact that they are totally dependent on state benefits. They live close to celebrities, including artist Lucian Freud, singer Damon Albarn and designer Stella McCartney, and their home is just minutes from the fashionable Kensington Place restaurant which was a favourite haunt of the late Princess Diana.

The family’s new home is believed to be one of the most expensive houses ever paid for by housing benefit, which is administered by local councils but funded by the Department for Work and Pensions. The disclosure that a single family has been paid so much will embarrass Ministers, who last month pledged to rein in Britain’s £20billion-a-year housing benefit bill.

Mr Nur said his former five-bedroom home in the Kensal Rise area of Brent, which cost £900 a week in housing benefit, was suitable for the family’s needs but he said they had felt compelled to move because they did not like living ‘in a very poor area’ and were unhappy with the quality of local shops and schools. He said he found the new house through a friend who knew the landlord, arranged to rent it through an estate agent, then approached officials at Kensington and Chelsea council who said ‘it would be no problem’ to move.

Rules allow anyone who is eligible for housing benefit to claim for a private property in any part of the country they wish.

The £2,000 per week is paid directly to Mr Nur and his family, who then pay their landlord. Property sources say the house was being advertised locally at a cost of £1,050 per week. The house is owned by Brophy Group Business Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company whose registered address is a post office box in Liechtenstein.No one from the firm, which bought the house for £2.1 million in 2007, was available for comment.

Mr Nur said: ‘The new house is good enough and it is near the school and the shops. We need a house this big because we have so many children. The old house was good but the area was not so good. It was a very poor area and there were no buses, no shops and the schools were too far. The old house was four or five bus stops away from the primary school attended by two of my children. Soon, all three of our younger children are going to be at primary school and we can’t take them all on the bus. Now they are going to a school which is just down the road.’

From September, his children will attend a school located just 20 yards from their new front door — which has been rated as outstanding by Ofsted. They previously attended a school in Kensal Rise which was rated as satisfactory. But Mr Nur said his neighbourhood also had other advantages. ‘I like the neighbours and there does not seem to be much crime.’ He added: ‘They have very full shops here and they are still open at 2am. Unlike at Kensal Rise, where they closed at 7pm or 8pm.’

Mr Nur, who lost his £6.50-an-hour job as a bus conductor 18 months ago, claims officials at Kensington and Chelsea council said they ‘didn’t care’ about his decision to move into the borough, which they said was ‘not a problem’. The family’s three-storey property, which dates from the 1840s, has five bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fully fitted kitchen and a garden. The family’s living room, which boasts a large bay window, is dominated by a 50in LG flatscreen TV. It also has two large black leather sofas, two elaborate rugs and lush houseplants.

Neighbours of the family last night expressed their shock at the amount of housing benefit being claimed. Nigel Melville, 65, a company director, said: ‘To be paying that much out in housing benefit is ridiculous — it’s too much. I suppose they had to be housed somewhere, but it’s an awful lot of money.’

Mr Nur worked for the Red Cross in Somalia and married his wife in 1993. The couple subsequently fled their homeland because of civil war and were granted asylum in Britain in 1999. The couple’s four oldest children, who are aged between 12 and 16, were all born in Somalia. The youngest three children were born in Britain. Mr Nur last night acknowledged the family was lucky to have the new home, but he insisted his family ‘were no better or no worse off than anyone else’. He also insisted he was doing his best to find a job. ‘I am looking for a job. I am taking a course to train me in how to get a job. I would like any job. Anything in food production or warehouses would be fine.’

The current housing benefit system was overhauled by the last government in April 2008. Labour Ministers introduced new caps on the amount claimants could receive, depending on the size and location of the property. But instead of bringing costs down, the new system encouraged many landlords to raise rents to the level of the maximum allowable. The new government has announced further sweeping changes to the housing benefit system, which will come into effect next April.

The new rules mean claimants living in a four or five-bedroom house will no longer be able to claim more than £400 a week.

The changes have led to warnings that thousands of families will be forced out of existing homes into cheaper properties.

But critics say the changes are essential because of mounting concern about the size of some individual claims, particularly in London.

Earlier this year, it emerged that Essma Marjam, a single mother of six, was being paid nearly £7,000 a month so that she could live in a five-bedroom villa in Maida Vale. In December, Francesca Walker, a mother-of-eight who also lived in Kensington and Chelsea, defended her £90,000-a-year housing benefit claims for a £2 million villa in Notting Hill. She said the family were completely justified in living there because the council could not find a big enough property.

The London borough of Kensington and Chelsea last night declined to comment on the specific circumstances of the Nur family’s claim. The council said it had a responsibility to meet the needs of claimants who were eligible for benefits and was powerless to stop people moving into private accommodation in the area. A spokesman said: ‘We have been saying for some years now that the way in which the maximum level of housing benefit is calculated is flawed and we welcome the Government’s new changes which begin next year. The sums of money that many families claim for housing in the capital and elsewhere is an example of an unreasonably generous benefits system which is open to abuse.’

A spokesman for Brent Council said: ‘Households, whether they are claiming benefits or are in work, are able to make their own arrangements in terms of renting privately, as long as they can find a landlord with a suitable property. ‘This includes decisions about where they live.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Trevor-Roper and Gibbon: A Tale of Two Historians

by David Womersley

Who was the greatest English historian of the mid-20th century? Was it that flamboyant ancestor of our current rash of teledons, A. J. P. Taylor? That severe technician, Lewis Namier? That progenitor of endless dullness, E. P. Thompson? Confronted by such contenders, judgment is baffled. However, if you narrow the question to “who was the greatest historical stylist”, there is no competition. Hugh Trevor-Roper suddenly emerges at the head of the field. How did he do it? It’s clear that Trevor-Roper’s élan as an historian was partly derived from his great 18th-century counterpart on whom he wrote so often and so well, Edward Gibbon. But why did Trevor-Roper make such a close study of this great predecessor? What sustenance did he draw from him?

It seems to have been that Chelsea boulevardier, Logan Pearsall Smith, who first encouraged Trevor-Roper to make a study of Gibbon — perhaps along the lines of that heroine of Trollope’s, who was advised to take “two hours of Gibbon daily”. In Trevor-Roper’s case, the prescription worked. In a notebook entry dated May 1944, and headed “The Solution”, he confided: “To write a book that someone, one day, will mention in the same breath as Gibbon — this is my fond ambition.” In 1951, he wrote to Smith’s brother-in-law, Bernard Berenson, and gave exuberant expression to the delight he was taking in the Decline and Fall:

I am now re-reading, for the nth time, that greatest of historians, as I continually find myself declaring — Gibbon. What a splendid writer he is! If only historians could write like him now! How has the art of footnotes altogether perished and the gift of irony disappeared! I took a volume of Gibbon to Greece and read it on Mount Hymettus and the island of Crete; I read it furtively even at I Tatti, where 40,000 other volumes clamoured insistently around me to be read; and I cannot stop reading him even now.

So from the outset Trevor-Roper’s admiration for Gibbon had two aspects. He rejoiced in a companionable Gibbon — a source of stylistic solace and inspiration, a brilliant scourge with which to lash the grey specialists who were polluting the groves of Clio, particularly in Oxford. But he also admired a more remote Gibbon — the man who stood alone and unchallenged on the summit of European historiography. In the following decades, Trevor-Roper expressed and developed his interest in Gibbon in many ways. He lectured on Gibbon to history undergraduates at Oxford, having sponsored the introduction of the “Gibbon and Macaulay” paper to History Mods. He gave papers on Gibbon in England and abroad. He published reviews and journalism which brought Gibbon, and new publications about Gibbon, to the attention of the general public. He crafted a series of scholarly articles that explored the substance and significance of the Decline and Fall, and the character of its author. And he lent his weight and authority to the re-publication of Gibbon’s own writings — the reprint of A Vindication in 1961; the abridgements of the Decline and Fall for which he wrote introductions in 1963 and 1970; and, as an appropriate coping-stone, his substantial introduction to the six-volume complete Decline and Fall published by Everyman in 1993.

So Trevor-Roper’s interest in Gibbon was long-lived and found many forms. But it was also sharply defined. He was unconcerned to explore the bibliography of Gibbon’s writings, and he disdained to sink too deeply — indeed, at all — into the mud of textual criticism. Some of the more memorable sallies in his reviews of publications on Gibbon were dictated by his disdain for those he saw as the myrmidons of Gibbonian scholarship, and their depraved appetite for the dust of textual minutiae; as when he crushingly judged Joseph Ward Swain’s Edward Gibbon the Historian to be a book which “positively subtracts from knowledge”. But if he had explored Swain’s book more patiently, he would have found in it quotations from manuscripts at Yale which Lord Sheffield had composed, but finally discarded, when publishing Gibbon’s Miscellaneous Works in 1796 — manuscripts which, as it happened, had the power to enrich and strengthen Trevor-Roper’s own interpretation of the nature and importance of Gibbon’s achievement, at least in the material question of his attitude towards religion in general, and towards the outcry against chapters 15 and 16 in particular.

Furthermore, although Trevor-Roper relished Gibbon’s prose, he did so like a historian. In all his writings on Gibbon, he proceeds on the assumption that style is a kind of varnish applied as a final seal for the historical canvas. The contrary view, that style might be more intimately and fundamentally related to the substance of historical thought, was not a possibility to which Trevor-Roper’s mind warmed. Indeed, he more than once characterised Gibbon’s most tremendous strokes of style as ignes fatui that threatened to distract his readers from the substantive significance of the Decline and Fall, and thereby allow a marvellous triumph of historical thought and imagination to be valued too lightly as a work of mere persiflage.

If bibliography was the occupation of pedants and style was more to be enjoyed than analysed, what, for Trevor-Roper, was the significance of the Decline and Fall for the man of educated, liberal mind? Going through his papers (now preserved in the archives at Christ Church, Oxford), and seeing how Trevor-Roper set about preparing a lecture or an article on Gibbon, one is confronted by a concrete image of a fact about his writings on this subject. The often bewildering mass of fragments of earlier typescripts, to which small strips of new manuscript might be pinned or clipped, or bridging text precariously appended, and the unsentimental slicing up and incorporation of earlier offprints into later work, makes visually plain the fact that throughout his publications on Gibbon there was a core of a few details of the historian’s biography, and a few — indeed, surprisingly few — passages of the Decline and Fall, to which Trevor-Roper returned time and again. What constituted this core?

First, Trevor-Roper would lay heavy emphasis on the importance of Gibbon’s removal from Oxford after converting to Catholicism, and his consequent translation to Lausanne, which his father had imposed on him so that he might become again a compliant Protestant. From this episode, Trevor-Roper drew two consequences. The first, and less important, was that the débacle of Gibbon’s time at Oxford and his withdrawal from the University had put the pre-eminent historian outside the “historical guild”. Trevor-Roper often reflected with deep satisfaction on the fact that Gibbon had been no professional historian, but had pursued his researches and composed his unrivalled narrative unsupported by any institution and in the character of a private scholar. Gibbon’s estrangement from the “historical guild” made him, too, a foe of those “solemn professionals” against whom Trevor-Roper himself, throughout his career, waged implacable war. Gibbon was thus an important early member of that informal and engaging party with which Trevor-Roper always associated himself — the party of “the laity and the gaiety”. The second, and more significant, consequence of the move to Lausanne was that it liberated Gibbon’s mind and made him “intellectually not an Englishman at all”. This un-English dimension was important to Trevor-Roper’s view of Gibbon, not simply because he took pleasure in the smiting of all parochialisms, but because it corroborated his interpretation of the Decline and Fall as a European work which merely happened to be written in English. He liked to remind his audiences and his readers of the fact that Gibbon had originally intended to write his history in French, before being dissuaded from doing so by David Hume.

In a series of articles, Trevor-Roper restated and repolished what was essentially a single argument designed to restore to view what he saw as the obscured intellectual complexity and richness of the Decline and Fall. He would typically begin by drawing out the significance of Gibbon’s immersion in the intellectual currents of the European enlightenment during his exile in Lausanne. Two influences had been salient, the first of which had supplied Gibbon with his problem, the second with his method. On the one hand, that Neapolitan martyr to papal oppression, Giannone, had led Gibbon towards an awareness that the subject of the decline and fall of the Roman empire was the greatest historical problem thrown up by the Enlightenment, because of the challenge it seemed to pose to the Enlightenment’s darling doctrine of progress. On the other, Montesquieu had released Gibbon from the pulverising Pyrrhonism of Bayle and Voltaire, had oriented his stance on matters of religion away from sterile questions of doctrinal truth or falsehood, and had encouraged him to view religion through the lens of social function.

Trevor-Roper illustrated Gibbon’s engagement with Giannone’s problem by underlining the Decline and Fall‘s commitment to the view that civilisation was safe and human progress could not be undone because Western Europe was not vulnerable to calamitous change in the manner of the Roman Empire. This interpretation of the Decline and Fall as at root an anti-imperial work which described and celebrated how the 18th-century European republic of Christian monarchies had taken wing from the ashes of despotic antiquity has much to be said for it. Trevor-Roper was fond of recommending it by drawing attention to Gibbon’s plurality of values, his hatred of “immobilisation”, his commitment to “the free circulation of goods and ideas”, and his preference for open, rather than closed societies — characteristics illustrated typically by a contrast drawn with Voltaire, by Gibbon’s censure of monasticism in the Decline and Fall, and by his insistence to Lord Sheffield that his library should be broken up and sold after his death, on the grounds that he was “a friend to the circulation of property of every kind”.

A different passage of the Decline and Fall was repeatedly used to show that, notwithstanding the hysterical response to the notorious “two chapters”, which concluded the first volume of the Decline and Fall, when he contemplated religion Gibbon was indeed a follower of Montesquieu, rather than a disciple of Voltaire. Here Trevor-Roper showed impeccable taste. The passage to which he gravitated was the final section of chapter 54, perhaps the most brilliant chapter in the entire history, which traces the fortunes of the obscure Byzantine sect of the Paulicians, before broadening to offer in little more than 1,000 words an extraordinary account of the progress of Christianity in Europe since the Reformation. Trevor-Roper particularly relished Gibbon’s challenge to the Reformers’ self-image as the liberators of the minds of men from the spurious doctrines of Roman Catholicism, notably transubstantiation.

For, as Gibbon had acutely noted:

…the loss of one mystery was amply compensated by the stupendous doctrines of original sin, redemption, faith, grace, and predestination, which have been strained from the epistles of St Paul. These subtle questions had most assuredly been prepared by the fathers and schoolmen; but the final improvement and popular use may be attributed to the first reformers, who enforced them as the absolute and essential terms of salvation. Hitherto the weight of supernatural belief inclines against the Protestants; and many a sober Christian would rather admit that a wafer is God, than that God is a cruel and capricious tyrant.

Trevor-Roper’s commentary on this passage is to be found on a single sheet amongst his papers headed “Gibbon’s deism”. Before quoting from the conclusion of chapter 54, he explained his view of the direction and nature of Gibbon’s confessional inclinations: “He was a protestant by conformity, and because established protestantism, in the C18, was more liberal, more rational, more tolerant than established Catholicism. But it was not necessarily so, and if Gibbon recognised the social necessity of Reform…he would also admit that the protestant reformers enforced… ‘the absolute and essential terms of salvation…”‘ It was passages such as these, and the reflections they prompted, which nourished Trevor-Roper’s attractive view that “Gibbon’s criterion is always social or humanitarian or intellectual: it is never doctrinal.”

So far we have considered only the companionable Gibbon, who echoed so many of Trevor-Roper’s own preferences and convictions, and who beckoned him down the intellectual paths he was perhaps in any case inclined to follow. But now we must turn briefly to that other Gibbon, the man of consummate historical achievement, under whom Trevor-Roper’s genius was to some degree rebuked. For Trevor-Roper also recognised that Gibbon’s career exhibited an unusual perfection of both life and work. The years of intellectual maturity had been devoted to the work, and the work had filled the years of maturity. The Decline and Fall was a massive achievement, a triumphant example of a project of the first magnitude identified, defined and completed by the unaided efforts of its historian. Gibbon did not then go on to fritter away his energies in opuscula. After 1788, he “never contemplated another major work”, as Trevor-Roper often pointed out. Gibbon had brought about “a radical reinterpretation of the process of European history” and with that, having solved “the great historical problem of his time”, he stopped.

Such was not to be the shape of Trevor-Roper’s own career. Although in 1944 he may have nursed the hope that he might one day write a work which posterity would place alongside the Decline and Fall, that major and defining work was never written. And even if the monograph on the Civil War over which he laboured for so many years had been completed to Trevor-Roper’s satisfaction, could it ever truly have stood shoulder to shoulder with the Decline and Fall, on the terms which Trevor-Roper himself used to capture the greatness of Gibbon’s book? When Hume had said of his own day that “this is the historical age”, he had seen that the advanced social thought of the time had thrown up problems that demanded the arbitration of the historian, and of the historian alone. Well might Trevor-Roper wryly agree that Gibbon had drawn a high prize in the lottery of life. He had been a supremely gifted historian whose powers were at their peak when history, of all the intellectual disciplines, had the most important work to do.

But the second half of the 20th century was not such a time. Whatever the modern equivalent was to the Enlightenment problem of progress, it was unlikely to be answered by a book on the English Civil War, no matter how accomplished. Indeed, whatever it was, it was very possibly not a problem for historians at all. Perhaps it was a problem for physicists, or biologists. The moment of history’s intellectual hegemony had passed, perhaps never to return. Truly to emulate Gibbon was now impossible, and those who attempted it, such as Toynbee, succeeded in producing only gassy, shapeless, unhistorical monsters, as Trevor-Roper himself had reported in a letter to Berenson, in which superficial amusement at Toynbee’s folly was chilled by an undercurrent of dismay at its significance for the writing of history.

Trevor-Roper was too wise to fall into the gulf of uncritical complacency into which Toynbee had rushed headlong. But the price of such wisdom was to suffer a version of the last pain which Tertullian had devised for the damned — the pain of seeing, but not sharing, the pleasures of the historians’ Paradise. It was for this reason that the greatest English historian of the 20th century was most at home in the form of the essay.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

World Cup: Trophy Will Remain ‘Italian’

[Note: this article was published before Spain won the World Cup on July 11. — ed.]

Milan, 9 July (AKI/Bloomberg) — Who ever wins the World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands on 11 July in Johannesburg, the trophy will remain Italian. The cup that will be lifted for the first time by either the Dutch or Spanish captain is made by GDE Bertoni Srl, a family-owned company based in a Milan suburb.

Bertoni was selected to produce the current trophy for FIFA, soccer’s ruling body, after a 1972 contest.

FIFA selected Bertoni from among 53 bids to design and manufacture a new trophy that was awarded at the 1974 World Cup to the West German captain Franz Beckenbauer.

FIFA chose the model designed by Bertoni’s artistic director at the time, sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga.

Made with a malachite base, it weighs 6.18 kilos (13.6 pounds), with almost 5 kilos of pure gold, and stands 36 centimeters (14.2 inches) tall.

The trophy depicts two human figures holding up the Earth.

“The 1972 gold trophy is priceless,” said Giorgio Losa, the owner of GDE Bertoni. “If you melt the gold, you’ll get around 150,000 euros, but the real value is much, much higher.”

The first World Cup, won by Uruguay in 1930, was named in honour of a FIFA president, and was last awarded to Brazil in 1970. After winning the title three times, Brazil got to keep the cup, which ‘disappeared’ from an exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in 1983.

FIFA subsequently abolished the rule that allowed three-time champions to keep the trophy.

The FIFA trophy designed by Gazzaniga is awarded to the winning team immediately after the match and then is returned to FIFA for safekeeping at its Zurich offices. Bertoni makes a gold-plated replica for the winning country to keep on display. The company also cleans and maintains the real trophy.

Bertoni already has made the copy for the 2014 tournament that will be hosted by Brazil, and it probably will be shown after the 11 July final, Losa said.

Bertoni, founded by Losa’s grandfather in 1920, employs 10 people and also makes the Champions League and the Europa League trophies for FIFA, and medals for the International Olympic Committee as well as cups for universities and companies.

The company will have revenue of more than 2 million euros in 2010.

“The World Cup trophy gives us a lot of media attention but we can’t monetise it because we are not allowed to produce any copies of the trophy,” Losa said.

Italy’s team crashed out in the opening stages of this year’s event in South Africa after failing to win any of its three games. It was the first time since 1974 that the country, a four-time champion, didn’t get beyond the first round.

It was different in 2006, when the Italian squad defeated France in the final. More than one member of that team asked Bertoni to make a replica of the trophy as a souvenir, Losa said.

“They have to be happy with the photo of holding up the trophy because we have rigid rules,” Losa said.

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

North Africa

Egyptian Group Wants to Censor “The Arabian Nights”

Lawyers Without Shackles seeks to delete salacious passages from contemporary literature and cherished classics. Its campaign against ‘The Arabian Nights’ is part of a growing religious conservatism.

Arab writers and poets through the centuries have spiced their tales with explicit language and carnal desire. Even during the height of the Islamic Empire, when Sharia law dictated virtue across the Middle East, storytellers revealed a fondness for the unholy.

But nowadays fundamentalist Muslims are campaigning to “purify” one of the great works of Arabic literature, the “One Thousand and One Nights.”

“The book contains profanities that cannot be acceptable in Egyptian society,” said lawyer Ayman Abdel-Hakim, venting his disgust at one of the “Nights” poems in which a woman challenges Muslim men to fulfill her insatiable sexual urges. “We understand that this kind of literature is acceptable in the West, but here we have a different culture and different religion.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Libyan Immigrant Jailed for Botched Bombing

Milan, 12 July (AKI) — A court has sentenced Libyan immigrant Mohammed Game to 14 years in prison over a botched plot to blow up a military barracks in the northern Italian city of Milan last year. An accomplice, Egyptian immigrant Mahmud Koh, was jailed for four years over his role in the plot. A third defendant, Imbaeya Israfel, another Libyan, is due to be sentenced later this year.

Game, 36 and an Italian soldier were injured in the failed attack on Milan’s Santa Barbara barracks on 12 October last year. Game, Italy’s first would-be suicide bomber, was blinded and lost part of a hand when his explosive load failed to detonate properly. The Italian soldier was lightly wounded.

Judge Stefania Donadeo on Saturday ordered Game to pay damages provisionally set at 100,000 euros to the Italian state.

Game was arrested after the blast and charged with attempting to carry out a massacre and carrying and making explosive devices.

Game was reported to have exploded a home-made bomb hidden inside a toolbox at the entrance of the Santa Barbara barracks.

He allegedly entered the courtyard of the barracks on foot, where he was confronted by a military guard. The rudimentary explosives were reportedly made of solid nitrate.

The toolbox where Game reportedly hid the bomb was said to have contained two more kilogrammes of explosives, and only partially detonated.

Had the entire load detonated, there would definitely have been deaths, investigators said.

Game had also complied a ‘dossier’ containing information on Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and other government ministers, the Italian investigative weekly L’Espresso reported last November.

Game’s case renewed concern about the integration of immigrants to Italy. He had lived in Italy for many years, has an Italian partner and three children.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel’s ‘Street Apartheid’

Mahmoud Alami, a Jerusalem taxi driver, knows the city like the back of his hand. He knows the neighbourhoods, the streets. And he knows the stop lights.

There is one in particular that troubles him not professionally but personally. It stands between Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighbourhood, and Pisgaat Zeev, a Jewish settlement.

“It stays green for [settlers] for five minutes. But to go in and out of Beit Hanina? Only two or three cars can pass,” Alami says. “It’s too short. It causes a lot of traffic jams.”

Al Jazeera found that stoplights that lead to Jewish settlements and neighbourhoods stay green for an average of a minute and a half. In Palestinian areas, it’s 20 seconds. One light in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem is green for less than 10 seconds.

“[Palestinians] are stuck,” says Amir Daud, another taxi driver. “It reflects a very bad situation for the people.”

Budgetary discrimination

Traffic jams are just one of the many problems that plague infrastructure and services in Palestinian areas of Jerusalem. Roads are poorly maintained. They are narrow and bumpy, riddled with cracks and potholes. Street signs and sidewalks are almost non-existent.

Trash containers are usually communal and there are often too few to meet the needs of the neighbourhood. Pedestrians, forced to walk on the shoulder of the road, wade through garbage.

Jewish neighbourhoods and settlements, on the other hand, are neat and orderly. Sidewalks and traffic circles keep pedestrians safe; roads are well-marked, some with lit signs. Most buildings have a garbage bin and the streets are free of litter.

In one Jewish area, a grassy median is adorned with a rainbow assortment of decorative sculptures — metal children playing, kicking footballs, and riding bikes.

When Al Jazeera presented a list detailing the differences between Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods to the Jerusalem municipality, the spokesperson denied the findings.

But, speaking on the condition of anonymity, a former employee of the Jerusalem municipality confirmed that there is discrimination on a budgetary level. The sports department offers the most dramatic example — only 0.5 per cent of funds are allocated to Palestinian neighbourhoods. The other 99.5 per cent goes to Jewish areas.

Quality of life

Nisreen Alyan, an attorney at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), has recently filed a petition protesting against the lack of garbage collection in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tsur Baher, located in East Jerusalem. Despite a population of 20,000, only 12 streets receive the service.

This impacts both health and the quality of life, Alyan explains. Stray dogs, some carrying rabies, are attracted to the piles of trash. Residents have been attacked by the animals. And now children are afraid to go outside.

“There are no public gardens for them, they don’t have anything,” Alyan says. “So these streets are the only place for the cars, for the children, for the garbage, for the dogs, for everything.”

The petition ACRI has filed asks the municipality to meet its legal responsibility, “nothing less, nothing more,” Alyan says. “[This] means that they have to give [the residents] the right of sanitation.”

Alyan has informed the city of Tsur Baher’s troubles in the past. But the city claims it cannot serve the whole neighbourhood because garbage trucks cannot maneuver the small streets. Alyan points out that this should not be an obstacle. The municipality has found creative solutions in other parts of Jerusalem.

The streets in Tsur Baher are problematic, one resident explains. There are not enough of them.

While most Palestinian neighbourhoods are subject to building restrictions, Tsur Baher is one of the few that is free to build. Much of their land has been appropriated by a neighbouring settlement, Har Homa; some is on the other side of the Israeli-built separation barrier; and there is no infrastructure to reach what is left.

The lack of roads also means that emergency services cannot access all parts of the neighbourhood. Children have died in house fires. And because of a police order that prohibits ambulances from entering Palestinian neighbourhoods without a police escort residents have died waiting for medical care.

“The problem is that the policemen don’t come in time,” a resident says. “The ambulance is stopped waiting at the top of the neighbourhood for half an hour …. People have died in this situation.”

“[ACRI is] writing another petition about it now,” Alyan adds.

Paying taxes

Asked about traffic lights in Tsur Baher, Alyan answers that there are none.

Out of concern for the children’s safety, the residents scraped together the money to add speed bumps to the roads.

In other neighbourhoods, Palestinians have pooled funds to pay for garbage collection and street sweeping.

This is after they have paid taxes.

Because over 90 per cent of Israel’s Palestinians live in towns separate from the Jewish population, many Israeli Jews excuse away the differences between Arab and Jewish areas with a “poor municipality” argument.

They are poor, their towns are poor. Arabs do not pay a lot of taxes, or enough taxes, or any taxes at all, Israeli Jews say, so their villages cannot afford the same services they enjoy.

But that reasoning falls apart in Jerusalem, a city striped with Palestinian and Jewish areas. And with Nof Tzion (Zion View), a Jewish settlement found smack in the centre of Jabel Mukhaber, a Palestinian neighbourhood, the differences are glaringly obvious.

“For years, [Jabel Mukhaber] didn’t have a main street,” Alyan says. “Just after they built Nof Tzion, [the municipality] built a very fine street with pavement and lights.” But the road stops dead after Nof Tzion. It gets bumpy, dropping off into gravel, then dirt, for the Palestinians.

The “poor municipality” argument does not hold weight in Jerusalem for another reason. To the city’s Palestinians, who have only residency and no citizenship, paying taxes is tremendously important.

“If you won’t pay your taxes, you won’t have proof that east Jerusalem is the centre of your life and if you can’t prove that, you will lose your residency,” Alyan explains. This means that one becomes stateless, a refugee.

“Before [Palestinian residents of Jerusalem] find money to feed their children, they pay their taxes,” Alyan says.

Tsur Baher, along with neighbouring Umm Tuba, pays approximately $7mn in taxes annually to a municipality they do not get to vote for. East Jerusalem residents tell Alyan that they just want the government to invest what they have paid back into the neighbourhoods.

‘Psychological warfare’

Yousef Jabareen, the director of Dirasat, the Arab Centre for Law and Policy, explains that public services are also funded on the national level. This is another point of inequality.

Jabareen points to the “National Priority” programme that gave economic incentives to government-selected areas. When the programme was introduced in 1998, 500 Jewish towns received national priority status. While Palestinians make up nearly 20 per cent of Israel’s population, and half of the nation’s poor, only four Arab villages were selected.

“That was a classic example of how the allocation of government resources is discriminatory,” Jabareen says, adding that grave inequalities can be found in the state-funded educational system as well.

Everything — from the poor conditions of the infrastructure to the lack of public services — adds up to leave Palestinians feeling rejected and disconnected, Jabareen says.

“It’s a feeling of frustration and of not belonging …. That the government and state is excluding you and you are not counted as an equal.”

Do the disparities in Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods and the differences in funding throughout the nation amount to apartheid?

“In some areas you could identify some characteristics of apartheid that should raise a lot of concern about the future,” Jabareen comments.

A young Israeli Jew, fresh from army service, simply remarks, “It’s a kind of psychological warfare. The idea is to get [Palestinians] to leave.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: ‘Research Reactor’ Fuel Rods to be Ready Next Year

Tehran, 12 July (AKI) — Iran will complete the production of fuel rods for the Tehran Research Reactor by August 2011, the head of the Iran’s nuclear programme said in comments cited by state-controlled media.

“Iran has now produced 20 kg of nuclear fuel with an enrichment level of 20 percent,” Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by IRNA as saying on Sunday.

“In view of the making of fuel rods, we hope to deliver them [to the Tehran Research Reactor] by Shahrivar next year,” he added, referring to the Iranian calendar month, which begins in August 2011.

Iran said in June it would enrich its own fuel for the medical reactor after Western powers rejected a deal to swap 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium for the 120 kilograms of 20 percent-enriched fuel needed for the Tehran facility. Salehi said on June 23 that Iran can produce 5 kilograms a month of 20 percent-enriched uranium.

The country has refused to bend to western demands that it halt its uranium enrichment programme, even after the United Nations and the United States imposed new sets of sanctions against the Persian Gulf country.

Washington and many of its allies are concerned that Iran’s nuclear programme aims to develop weapons. Tehran insists its scope is for electricity generation and medical research.

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

Lebanese Politician Likes Germans Because “They Burned Jews”

A former Lebanese government minister said last week that he likes Germany because “they hate Jews and burned them.” He was speaking on Al-Jadid/New TV in Lebanon on July 4.

The clip was found and translated by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), and screened on its television monitor project.

Wiam Wahhab, known to be pro-Syrian, served as Lebanon’s Minister of the Environment from 2004-5.

Asked whom he supports in the World Cup, Wahhab said, “ “I support Germany in politics and Brazil in soccer. … I like the Germans because they hate the Jews and burned them” — and then laughed heartily.

He also said in the interview that if the current situation in southern Lebanon continues, UNIFIL could find itself under attack.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Saudi Prince, Fox to Start Arabic News Channel

Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has announced plans to launch a 24-hour Arabic-language news channel in partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network.

Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, former editor in chief of Alwatan newspaper and a media adviser to Prince Turki Al-Faisal at Saudi embassies in London and Washington D.C., will head the station.

Khashoggi is a controversial choice because he has clashed with Saudi authorities over religious police and women’s rights and resigned from his newspaper position earlier this year over an editorial questioning Salafism, a form of Islam at the heart of the conservative state.

Prince Alwaleed’s new channel will compete for Arab viewers with well-established networks Al Arabiya and Al Jazeera. He did not name the channel, which will build a network of Arab correspondents.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Missionary Forced to Leave Kashmir Because His Schools Are “Too Good”

Fr. Jim Borst directed two successful educational facilities in Kashmir. For Predhuman Joseph Dhar, a Catholic convert from Hinduism, it is the result of “jealousy” on the part of Muslims who “can not compete with their schools”. Fr. Borst must leave the country, even though four months ago the government of Jammu and Kashmir renewed his visa until 2014.

Srinagar (AsiaNews) — Fr Jim Borst, a Dutch Catholic missionary, in charge of two schools must leave Kashmir and India by the end of July after receiving notice from the government of Jammu-Kashmir. Fr. Borst already received a similar warning in 2003, but just four months ago the government had renewed his visa until 2014.

“I’m really sorry. It is a great loss for me and the entire civil society of Kashmir. Fr. Borst has lived here since 1963”, Mgr. Peter Celestine, Bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, tells AsiaNews.

Predhuman Joseph Dhar, a Hindu Brahmin convert to Catholicism and very close to Fr. Borst, tells AsiaNews: “The notice is a sparked by jealous vested interests”.

Fr. Borst has run two schools in Kashmir since 1997. Both are called “School of the Good Shepherd”, one in Pulwama and the other in Shivpora, Srinagar. The Dutch Catholic priest has always been active in education and his schools, where staff is 99% Muslim, is renowned for the quality of teaching.

For Joseph Dhar, it is for this very reason that they want to remove Fr. Borst: “The Muslim intelligentsia schools are unable to compete with his”. Twice, in 2003 the schools of the Good Shepherd were attacked and accused of trying to convert children to Christianity.

Jammu-Kashmir is a state in northern India that Pakistan has claimed for decades. In Kashmir the Christian population counts 14 thousand faithful, less than 0.0014% of the population, which is 97% Muslim.

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

Pakistan: Lahore: Interfaith Solidarity Towards Sufis Targeted by Terrorism

A delegation of Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus visited the Data Dabar mosque. Religious leaders have condemned the July 1 attack, which caused over 40 deaths and 170 injuries. Yesterday, street demonstrations in the city, present the International Sufi Conference and other Muslim organizations.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — Protests are ongoing against the 1 July double suicide attack on the Data Darbar mosque in Lahore, which caused over 40 deaths and 170 wounded . Yesterday the International Sufi Conference and other Muslim organizations have demonstrated along the streets. Solidarity with the Pakistani Sufi community has also been expressed by Christian, Sikh, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders who visited the mosque in recent days.

Yesterday in Lahore Muslim groups protested against the attack, stressing that “terrorists have no religion” and that the faithful have been “vilified in the name of terrorist acts.” The demonstrators marched through the city, stopping at local administrative offices and Press Club.

In recent days, a delegation of the National Council for Interreligious Dialogue, led by Fr Francis Nadeem, visited Data Dabar to condemn the attacks, express solidarity with the Muslim brothers and condolences to relatives of victims. The group included Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.

Fr. Nadeem said that “believers of all faiths” have come together to “express solidarity with the Muslim brothers and sisters”. The mosque, said the priest, is a “place of peace” and people “come here for peace of heart.” The followers of all religions must also take “concrete steps — affirmed the religious leaders — so that Pakistan can” overcome terrorism “and” guarantee peace and security in the country.

Sufism is a mystical form of Islam popular in South and in central Asia, preached by pilgrims and hermits. But it is considered heresy by the more orthodox Sunni Islam. The Taliban in Pakistan are supporters of hardline Islam, Wahhabism, that wants to destroy all forms of Islam they deem moderate or heretical (Shia, Sufi, Ahmadi, etc ….).

* Fr. Inayat Bernard is a Pakistani priest of the Archdiocese of Lahore and secretary of the Catholic Press Association of Pakistan

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

Far East

China — Japan — Taiwan: Japan Increases Its Airspace at the Expense of Taiwan

Long standing dispute over airspace . Now Tokyo decides to single handedly increase the area under its control. Protests in Taipei. Experts: the decision follows Taiwan’s improved relations with Beijing, with which Tokyo is competing for territory and riches.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — Japan has expanded its Air Defense Identification Zone (Adiz), the space that the aircraft of other states can not fly in without being identified, near Taiwan in the East China Sea, without first consulting with Taipei. The Taiwanese government has denounced the move as a “matter of national sovereignty.” Experts speak of pre-emptive move by Tokyo in reaction to the rapprochement between Taiwan and Beijing.

The usual boundary between the air spaces of Japan and Taiwan is a small Yonaguni island, the westernmost island off Japan’s coast just 180 km from Taiwan. During World War II the United States determined that the airspace above the island was two-thirds Taiwanese and one third Japanese. On June 26, Tokyo shifted its area 22 km to the west.

Analysts point out that Japan may be right to ask that the bordering line does not pass over its island territory, but an intermediate point between the two territories, but that this unilateral decision is a reaction to the rapprochement between Taiwan and Beijing. Tokyo and Beijing have always been rivals in the East China Sea and are still discussing their borders. The area is rich in oil and gas reserves as well as for fishing and has great strategic importance.

Since the 80’s Beijing has exploited the rich gas fields in the Xihu depression, which supplies Shanghai’s household and industrial needs. Japan protests that China that is “stealing” resources that fall within its territory.

The area near Okinotorishima, Japanese island 1,700 kilometres south of Tokyo is also contended. Beijing considers the island a mere rock is not suitable for human life and Chinese naval vessels have appeared in the area at least 3 times in the last 18 months. The island is considered to have underground resources, but above all, is halfway between Taiwan and Guam, home to a major U.S. military base.

Japan controls the Diaoyu Islands (called Senkaku by the Japanese), claimed by Beijing, which have reserves estimated between 3 and 7 billion tons of oil and allow fishing for an annual catch of 150 thousand tons. They are also of great military importance given their position. The Japanese navy patrol the area daily and the nearby islands Kume and Miyko are home to radar stations that monitor the area around the Diaoyu. But Chinese ships and planes are often seen.

The control over the entire island of Yonaguni would allow Tokyo better control of the Diaoyu Islands and other disputed areas.

Experts say that the issue between Japan and Taiwan is not new but so far the parties had tolerated it. Only after the recent rapprochement between Taipei and Beijing, a first but significantly step after decades of total closure, Tokyo has changed the situation. Drawing a heated protest from the government of Ma Ying-jeou, even though — experts say — perhaps Taiwan is concerned not so much by its strategic situation or public reaction, but not to be seen as too compliant by Beijing. Precisely because of this the Taiwanese opposition has commented that the Sinophile policy of Ma not only distances Taiwan from Washington and Tokyo but wants to use the Adiz issue to arouse anti-Japanese sentiments to satisfy Beijing.

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

Pakistan — China: Kashgar-Gwadar Railway Line Would Give Beijing a Window on the Persian Gulf

Such a railway line would allay China’s greatest fear, a naval blockade that could stop oil shipments from Africa and the Middle East. However, major political, technical and financial problems remain, including India’s opposition.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Chinese President Hu Jintao met last Wednesday during an official visit of the Pakistani leader to the mainland. They discussed plans to build a railway line from Kashgar in China’s Xinjiang province to the Pakistani port of Gwadar. This could give China direct access to the Persian Gulf and make Pakistan an alternative route for Chinese goods and Middle East and African oil, which currently have to go around India.

The ambitious plan has been on the drawing boards for many years. It has advantages for both parties. Beijing would have direct access to the Arabian Sea; currently, 80 per cent of China’s oil travels through the Indian Ocean and the Strait of Malacca, an area plagued by piracy. More importantly, in case of war, China’s enemies could easily block its oil supplies. Pakistan would especially benefit from increased traffic in the Gwadar port, which was built with Chinese capital and assistance and opened in 2008.

Now the railway, which until recently appeared to be technically impossible because of the difficult terrain, at 5,000 metres above sea level, could be built thanks to the experience and knowledge China has accumulated during the construction of the Qinghai-Tibet railway.

However, Professor Wang Mengshu, a rail expert at Beijing Jiaotong University, said that the Kashgar-Gwadar project would be “more difficult than the one in Tibet” because Chinese surveyors and mappers will not have as good an understanding of the local terrain as they did in Tibet.

This would also create uncertainties about the cost, which Wang estimates would be around 200 million yuan (US$ 30 million) per kilometre, a bill too great even for Beijing.

In addition, India is not going to look favourably at closer Sino-Pakistani relations. New Delhi has always regarded Islamabad as its main adversary and Beijing as its main rival.

In fact, the proposed railway would have to pass through Pakistan-administered Kashmir, a territory claimed by India, and would thus undermine the latter’s its claim. Indeed, important Indian newspapers have described the project as a serious threat to India’s security.

However, the idea still has many supporters in China and many see its completion as only a matter of time.

People’s Liberation Army Navy Rear Admiral Yin Zhuo said China relied too heavily on sea transportation for its oil imports. Hence, “We must either build a much more powerful navy or find alternative transportation channels.”

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Al-Qaida-Linked Militants Claim Uganda Blasts

Al-Shabab says it is responsible for attacks that killed 74 World Cup watchers

KAMPALA, Uganda — An al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group claimed responsibility Monday for twin bombings in Uganda that killed 74 people watching the World Cup final on TV, saying the militants would carry out attacks “against our enemy” wherever they are.

The blasts came two days after a commander with the Somali group, al-Shabab, called for militants to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi, two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia.


In Mogadishu, Somalia, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press early Monday that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda.

“Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,” Sheik said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Al-Shabaab’s Attack on Uganda: A Lesson for Afghanistan?

by Richard Spencer

Al-Shabaab’s shocking and pointlessly brutal attack on a bunch of Ugandan football fans, assuming their claim of responsibility is verified, is ultimately a result of a trend in western politics (and management) I like to call haphazard non-responsible interventionism.

If you think the West’s prolonged but carefully thought-out intervention in Afghanistan is an unending cruelty for both us and them — which at times seems hard to deny — Somalia is a reminder of the alternative.

Al-Shabaab are the violent Islamist rebel group who exercise sway over large parts of Somalia, and regard themselves as the local branch of Al-Qaeda. Uganda would seem like an unlikely target, except that it contributes to the African Union stabilisation force which is trying to maintain and defend the polite fiction that Somalia has a functioning government.

That’s a tough reward for Uganda, but remember why they are there. In 2006, after years of civil war, the southern half of the country fell to an Islamist political group, the Islamic Courts Union. (The northern half of the country, the former British Somaliland, is effectively self-governing, and more stable). The United States, along with Somalia’s long-standing, Christian, enemy next door, Ethiopia, couldn’t stand the idea of an Islamist government and joined together to kick them out. Now, I have no love for such governments myself — they imposed Shariah and began some of that code’s more brutal punishments — but what came next was by any measure worse. Once the formal ICU had been driven from power, the western involvement largely ended, except to leave the African Union in charge of maintaining stability. But of course there was no stability — only the chaos that we have seen from piracy, kidnappings, and constant warfare. America and its allies did enough to achieve a limited, short-term goal, but at the expense of long-term disorder.

Al-Shabaab split off from the ICU to declare formal, al-Qaeda-type jihad, and as we are seeing, is spreading fear across East Africa, and confusion across the Gulf of Aden. Tens of thousands of Somalis are now pouring into Yemen, as if that country did not have enough problems of its own.

For those with longer memories, this all happened before. In the early nineties, George Bush senior and the UN sent in troops to restore order after President Siad Barre, an old Soviet ally, fell. But after the casualties portrayed in the film Black Hawk Down — 19 American dead in one battle — Bill Clinton ordered a final withdrawal.

Neither I nor anyone else can say they know a policy that would stabilise a country like Somalia. But it can’t be a sensible policy to get semi-involved in a war and then cut and run (twice). I don’t know whether we really are in it for the long haul in Afghanistan, as we are promised. But when we look at the dangers of Sangin and Marjah, and think we’ll never win, we should also look at Somalia and consider what would happen if Sangin and Marjah became the norm

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Frantic Search for Relatives After Uganda Blasts

Collins Zziwa scrambled around Uganda’s main hospital in a blood-stained T-shirt searching for a friend wounded in a deadly blast as they watched the last tense moments of the World Cup final. “Up to now he is missing,” said the 25-year-old Zziwa who was with two friends at Kampala Rugby Club, one of the sites rocked by a bomb explosion that killed 64 people. “When the blast (occurred), I just fell down and as I was getting up, the second blast went off. When the second blast went off I stayed on the ground for another minute,” he told AFP at Kampala’s Mulago hostpital on Monday. When he rose one of his friends was lying on the floor. “She looked dead, you know. So I struggled with her. I lifted her.” The woman was being treated for head injuries, but his other friend whom he declined to name because he had not contacted his family was feared dead.

The walls of the casualty ward were streaked with blood. Dozens of people with serious injuries lay on the hard floor, or on mattresses. Hospital staff, appearing overwhelmed, moved bodies from the operating room to a nearby chamber, and called relatives from a crowd gathered in the waiting to identify their kin. In an inner ward in the run-down and ill-equiped hospital, 18-year-old US citizen Chris Sledge was treated for serious wounds on his legs and a bruised eye.

Sledge, a student from Pennsylvania, was watching the Spain-Netherlands match at an Ethiopian restaurant in the southern outskirts of Kampala when the blast ripped through the crowd. “All I remember is watching the game and I guess I blacked out and I woke up and people were screaming,” said Sledge, his legs heavily bandaged. “And I remember walking around. And then I was like, oh, my foot hurts really bad. I have a few gashes on my foot. Like to the bone.”

Loud sobs could be heard in waiting room where relatives gathered to find out about their loved ones. “She died here,” said Sam Kayanya, told AFP of his 26-year-old daughter Damarie. Kayanya recounted that Damarie, who had just completed her graduate studies in finance, had gone to the Rugby Club with friends to watch the final. “It was my niece who called to say what happened,” he said, his eyes fixed on his telephone, which did not ring.

Fred Opolot, a Ugandan government spokesman, said 71 people had been wounded in the twin blasts which police linked to hardline Shabab rebels in Somalia, where Uganda has deployed peacekeepers.

Early Monday President Yoweri Museveni visited the Rugby Club where most of the deaths occurred. The African Union condemned the explosions “in the strongest possible terms” while Somalia’s President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed accused the Al-Qaeda-inspired Shabab rebels for the a “despicable” and “evil” act.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

In Pictures ‘Uganda Bombings’

Eighteen-year-old US citizen from Pennsylvania, who did not wish to reveal his name, talks to a nurse as he receives a treatment at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, 11 July 2010. More than 50 people have been killed in three separate bomb blasts in Uganda’s capital Kampala around 11:00 pm local time. 13 people, more than half of them foreigners, were killed at Ethiopian Village Restaurant in Kampala while some 40 people were killed at a rugby sports club as soccer fans watched a World Cup soccer final match on television. Third blast was reported to have gone off in Ntinda, outskirts of Kampala. Police Chief Kale Kaihura says that he believes that Somalia’s islamic militia al-Shabab could be behind the attacks. Uganda and Burundi have some 5,000 of their troops as part of the African Union force in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. EPA/STR

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Kampala City Hit by 3 Bomb Blasts

It was the 2010 FIFA Word Cup finals to the rest of the world while the capital city of Uganda, Kampala was being rocked by bomb blasts in three city suburbs leaving over 50 dead. Ambulances and police patrol cars were busy transporting victims and dead bodies to Mulago hospital. Two bombs went off at about 11:00pm with Kyandondo Rugby Club in Lugogo being the worst hit. The explosions occurred during the half time between Spain and Netherlands.

The other bomb blast was at Ethiopian village in Kabalagala that left at least 13 dead as confirmed by the Inspector General of Police, Major General Kale Kayihura who suspects the Al Shabab were behind this. There are unconfirmed reports of similar blasts in Ntinda and Bwaise. For Kampala, World Cup end was a disaster because it only left Kampala mourning.Most of the dead were seen still seated on the chairs holding beer bottles.

Bebe Cool, Zuena and UBC’s Lauryn were among the survivors of the Kyandondo Rugby bombs. Details on the Kampala bomb blasts will be provided as they become available.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Al-Shabaab Islamists Suspected in Deadly Uganda World Cup Bombings

Somali Islamists carried out two bomb attacks in Kampala, killing at least 64 people as they watched the World Cup final, Ugandan authorities said on Monday.

Suspicion fell on the al-Shabaab rebel group, which claims links with al-Qaeda, after the severed head of a suspected Somali suicide bomber was found at one of the blast sites. If those suspicions prove true, it would be the first time that al-Shabab has carried out an attack outside of Somalia.

The explosions ripped through two bars packed with football fans watching the final moments of World Cup in an Ethiopian-themed restaurant and at a gathering in a Kampala rugby club on Sunday. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni toured the blast sites on Monday and vowed to bring the attackers to justice: “We shall go for them wherever they are coming from.” Al-Qaeda-inspired al-Shabaab militants in Somalia have threatened to attack Uganda for sending peacekeeping troops to the anarchic country to prop up the Western-backed government.

“At one of the scenes, investigators identified a severed head of a Somali national, which we suspect could have been a suicide bomber,” said Felix Kulayigye, an army spokesman. “We suspect it’s al-Shabaab because they’ve been promising this for long,” he said on Monday.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the bombings. But an al-Shabaab commander in Mogadishu praised the attacks. He admitted he did not know whether they were the work of his group, which is fighting to overthrow the Somali government. “Uganda is a major infidel country supporting the so-called government of Somalia,” said Sheikh Yusuf Isse, an al-Shabaab commander in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu. “We know Uganda is against Islam and so we are very happy at what has happened in Kampala. That is the best news we ever heard,” he said.

An American aid worker was among those killed and US President Barack Obama, condemning what he called deplorable and cowardly attacks, said Washington was ready to help Uganda in hunting down those responsible. Ten of the dead were either Ethiopian or Eritrean, a police spokesman said. Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust an Islamist movement from Mogadishu. That sparked the Islamist insurgency which still rages.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Al-Shabaab: Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-Linked Islamist Militants

The interim government’s attempts to restore central rule have largely been paralysed by infighting and the Islamist-led insurgency. Fighting has killed more than 21,000 people since the start of 2007 and uprooted at least 1.5 million civilians. The chaos has also helped fuel kidnappings and piracy offshore. Al-Shabaab’s hardline militia was part of the Somalia Islamic Courts Council (SICC) movement that pushed US-backed warlords out of Mogadishu in June, 2006, and ruled for six months before Somali and Ethiopian forces ousted them.

In June 2009, al-Shabaab officials in one of the group’s Mogadishu strongholds ordered four teenagers to each have a hand and a leg cut off as punishments for robbery. Al-Shabaab’s interpretation of Islamic law has shocked many Somalis, who are traditionally more moderate Muslims. However, some residents give the insurgents credit for restoring order to the regions under their control.

The Somali government claims hundreds of foreign fighters have joined the insurgency from countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf region and Western nations such as the United States and Britain. Some of the foreign jihadists have taken up leadership positions in militant groups including al-Shabaab.

One American national of Somali origin was killed while fighting for al-Shabaab in Mogadishu last July. Also last July Australian police arrested four men linked to the group, raising concern it may be seeking targets outside Somalia. In Sept 2009, al-Shabaab insurgents struck the main African Union military base in Mogadishu with twin suicide car bombs and killed 17 peacekeepers. Rebels said the bombing was revenge for the US killing of Kenyan-born Salah Ali Saleh Nabhan, a most-wanted al-Qaeda militant.

Two French security advisers were kidnapped by Shabaab last July but one escaped a month later. The group issued a statement of demands in September, which included an immediate end to French support for the Somali government and the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers. Al-Shabaab has threatened to strike Uganda’s capital Kampala and Burundi’s capital Bujumbura because both nations contribute troops to the 6,100-strong AU peacekeeping force AMISOM.

The UN’s World Food Programme suspended its work in much of southern Somalia in January due to threats against its staff and unacceptable demands by al Shabaab rebels controlling the area.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Devasting Bar Bombs Kill 64 Football Fans as They Watch World Cup Final in Uganda

Scores of football fans watching the World Cup final were massacred when two suspected Al Qaeda linked bombs ripped apart a restaurant and sports club. At least 64 people died in the simultaneous attacks in the Ugandan capital Kampala which were believed to be the work of Somalian Muslim extremists. The deadliest was a suspected suicide blast at a rugby club where hundreds caught the Spain-Holland clash on an outdoor big screen.

The explosion killed 49 people, while 15 people died at an Ethiopian restaurant where three American citizens were wounded. The venues are popular with expatriates and came just days after militant leaders called on terrorists to attack Uganda and Burundi in response to those African nations providing troops to U.N. peacekeeping forces.

Kris Sledge, 18, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, was with members of a church groupm when the bomb exploded. ‘I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running,’ Mr Sledge said from hospital, where he was recovering from burns to his face.

‘I love the place here but I’m wondering why this happened and who did this. At this point we’re just glad to be alive.’ One American was killed in the bombings, the U.S Embassy in Kampala confirmed. Kampala’s police chief said he believed Somalia’s most feared militant group, al-Shabab, could be responsible for the attacks which took place at venues seven miles apart.

In Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, said he was happy with the attacks in Uganda but refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible. ‘Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,’ he said. During weekly Friday prayers in Somalia two days before the double bombing, another al-Shabab commander, Sheik Muktar Robow, called for militants to bring terror to the group’s ‘enemies’. He urged followers to attack sites in Uganda and Burundi — two nations that contribute troops to the African Union peacekeeping force in Mogadishu.

In addition to its troops in Mogadishu, Uganda also hosts Somali soldiers trained in U.S. and European-backed programmes. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor immediately condemned the bombings and said the U.S. was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to the Ugandan government

‘The president is deeply saddened by the loss of life resulting from these deplorable and cowardly attacks, and sends his condolences to the people of Uganda and the loved ones of those who have been killed or injured,’ Mr Vietor said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Uganda Bomb Blasts Kill Dozens of World Cup Spectators

Group linked to al-Qaida suspected of co-ordinating explosions in Kampala, killing at least 64 people and injuring scores.

Co-ordinated explosions killed at least 64 people who were watching the World Cup final in the Ugandan capital Kampala last night. At least one American died in the attacks, which have been blamed on Somali Islamists. The US president, Barack Obama, called the blasts “deplorable and cowardly”.

The first bomb detonated at 10.25pm (8.25pm GMT) at the Ethiopian Village restaurant, which is popular with foreigners, killing 15 people. About 50 minutes later twin blasts then tore through the Kyadondo rugby club in Lugogo, where crowds were watching the match on a large television screen, killing 49 people. At least 67 people were wounded.

The blasts occurred towards the end of the Spain-Netherlands match, leaving dazed survivors lying among upturned chairs and bodies. “We were watching soccer here and then when there were three minutes to the end of the match an explosion came … and it was so loud,” said Juma Seiko, who was at the rugby club. Several Americans from a Pennsylvania church group were wounded in the restaurant attack, including 18-year-old Kris Sledge, from Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.

“I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running,” Sledge told the Associated Press from his hospital bed. His right leg was wrapped and he had burns on his face. “I love the place here but I’m wondering why this happened and who did this … At this point we’re just glad to be alive.”

Uganda’s police chief Kale Kaihura said he feared that Somalia’s most powerful Islamist group, al-Shabab, was behind the explosions. Al-Shabab is known to have links with al-Qaida, and it counts militant veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan conflicts among its ranks.

Last week, al-Shabab repeated its earlier call for attacks on Uganda and Burundi, whose soldiers make up the African Union peacekeeping force protecting the weak government in Mogadishu. Al-Shabab also strongly opposes Ethiopia, which invaded Somalia in 2006 to oust a broad-based Islamist movement that had taken control of a large part of the country.

The group’s fighters have previously carried out co-ordinated suicide attacks within Somalia. But if police suspicions are confirmed, it would be the first time that al-Shabab has struck outside Somalia. While Ugandan rebel groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army — now on the run outside the country — have targeted civilians in the past, last night’s attacks were clearly of a different nature.

In Mogadishu, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told the Associated Press early today that he was pleased about the attacks in Uganda. Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible. “Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us,” he said.

US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the US would work with the Ugandan government “to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Twin Attacks Target World Cup Fans in Uganda, Killing More Than 60

Suicide bombers have attacked football fans in Uganda who were watching a television broadcast of the World Cup final between Spain and The Netherlands. At least 64 people were killed and more than 70 injured late on July 11 in what security officials suspect was a double bombing by the Al-Shabaab militia — a group that has pledged loyalty to Al-Qaeda.

The explosions ripped through the outdoor terrace of an Ethiopian-themed restaurant and a nearby rugby-club gathering in Kampala’s popular nightclub district of Kabalagal. Both establishments were crowded with fans in the waning minutes of World Cup action.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, but authorities in Kampala say they suspect Al-Shabaab. Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulaije said investigators found and identified the severed head of a Somali national who is suspected of being one of the two suicide bombers. The bombings left shocked survivors standing among corpses and scattered chairs. Police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba says 64 people are confirmed dead — including 15 people at the restaurant and 49 at the Lugogo Rugby Club.

“We were watching soccer here and then when it was remaining like three minutes to the end of the match, an explosion came from here — one — and it was so loud,” said Juma Seiko, who was seated at the terrace of the “Ethiopian Village” restaurant when the first attacker is thought to have detonated his explosives nearby. “I was seated there. And then the second one went off, and [it] just killed almost 50 people there.”

Militant Glee

Al-Qaeda-inspired Al-Shabaab militants in Somalia have threatened to attack Uganda for sending peacekeeping troops to Somalia in order to support the Western-backed government there. Twin coordinated attacks have been a hallmark of attacks by Al-Qaeda and militant groups linked to Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

Sheikh Yusuf Isee, an Al-Shabaab commander in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu, praised the attacks but said he did not know whether members of his group were responsible. He called Uganda a “major infidel country” and accused the country of being “against Islam” because it also backs the government there. Isee described the July 11 attacks in Uganda as “the best news we have ever heard.”

Al-Shabaab has been urging Muslims to join a jihad against more than 6,000 African Union troops that have been deployed in Somalia to support the government there. Regional allies are preparing to send an extra 2,000 peacekeepers to Somalia, bringing the total number of African Union troops there to about 8,100.

On July 10, Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed told Reuters he was concerned by the growing number of foreign jihadists joining the ranks of Islamic insurgents in his country and warned that they pose a growing threat to regional security.

The U.S. Embassy in Uganda has confirmed that at least one American was among the dead. A California-based aid group called “Invisible Children,” which works against the abduction of children in Uganda for use as child soldiers — identified that victim as one of its staff.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton strongly condemned the twin bombings. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States was prepared to provide any necessary assistance to Uganda’s government.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: World Cup Bomb Kills 64

Twin bomb blasts ripped through crowds watching the World Cup final in Uganda’s capital Kampala, killing 64 and wounding scores in attacks blamed on al-Qaeda-linked militants in Somalia, officials say. No group claimed responsibility for the carnage at a sports bar and an Ethiopian restaurant but Uganda pointed at Shebab insurgents in Somalia, where Uganda has thousands of troops deployed in an African Union (AU) mission. The Shebab’s top leader called for an all-out jihad this month against countries contributing to the AU force in Somalia and protecting the Western-backed government there.

At least one American, aid worker Nate Henn, was among those killed in the explosions, which US President Barack Obama swiftly condemned as “cowardly” and came days ahead of the annual African Union summit in Kampala. Police said Ethiopian, Indian and Congolese nationals were also among the injured and dead.

“We have 64 dead and 65 injured,” national police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba said. Police are trying to determine if suicide bombers took part. “While there is evidence to suggest that there were suicide bombers, at the same time it is thought that the bombs were under some chairs,” Nabakooba reporters.

Uganda’s President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said the fact that the victims were enjoying the World Cup final “revealed the evil and ugly nature of the perpetrators and the need to uproot from the region those who do not value the sanctity of the human life”. US national Chris Sledge, 18, who suffered serious injuries to his legs and a bruised eye said: “We just wanted to watch the World Cup.”

The attacks drew a barrage of international condemnation. The United States was in contact with its embassy in Kampala and the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding Uganda’s requests for assistance. Ugandan police chief Kale Kayihura told reporters it was too early to say who was behind the attack but suggested Uganda’s leading role in the African Union force (AMISOM) battling the Shebab in Somalia could be the motive.

“Obviously this is terrorism. That one is clear,” he said. “You know there have been declarations from Shebab and Al-Qaeda. Terrorism is a modern-day threat. You know the region we are in and our commitment in Somalia,” Kayihura said. The Shebab did not immediately comment on the bombings. A website linked to the group carried a news story on the attacks, however, under the banner “glad tidings”.

Another website close to the Shebab stopped short of claiming the attacks but said “more Somalis who have suffered in the AMISOM bombardment will feel at peace when they see the mujahideen youth movement (Shebab) delivering on their pledge to retaliate for AMISOM massacres in Mogadishu.” The Shebab, which controls most of Somalia and imposes a strict form of Islamic law (Sharia), had banned people from gathering to watch the World Cup in areas it controls.

A Ugandan government spokesman said the July 19-27 African Union summit in Kampala would go ahead as planned.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: ‘Somali Link’ As Lethal Blasts Target World Cup

At least 64 people have died in two blasts in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Some 70 others were injured by the explosions, which hit a rugby club and an Ethiopian restaurant as football fans watched the World Cup final. Police were investigating whether the blasts were suicide bombings, and blamed Somalia’s al-Shabab militants.

Ugandan peacekeepers operate in Mogadishu, Somalia, and al-Shabab — linked to al-Qaeda — has threatened to hit Kampala in the past. About 5,000 African Union troops from Uganda and Burundi are based in Mogadishu to protect the fragile interim government. The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) force is engaged in frequent firefights with Islamist insurgents which control much of southern and central Somalia.

Obama ‘deeply saddened’

The explosions, about 10km (seven miles) apart, both caused death and injury, although many more people died at the crowded rugby club. Some 49 people died there as they watched the World Cup on a large screen, police said. Another 15 were killed at the Ethiopian Village. “These bombs were definitely targeting World Cup crowds,” Insp Gen Kale Kayihura said, warning people to stay away from large crowds in the coming days.

The explosions ripped through the venues with about 10 minutes remaining in Sunday night’s match. At both scenes chairs lay overturned, with blood and pieces of flesh on the floor. One unnamed witness told the BBC how he was caught in the rugby club blast. “I just heard the bomb. In fact, I was blacked out, I didn’t know anything. I was just down on the grass, I didn’t know anything until when I gained consciousness, then I started now, crawling, coming out.”

Many — if not most — of those killed and injured were foreign nationals, with both venues popular destinations for expatriates living in Kampala. One was an American, reported to be an aid worker from California. However, the crowd at the rugby club was usually a mix of Ugandans and foreigners, the police chief said. There were reports that a severed head was found at one of the scenes, leading investigators to suggest that the attacks could have been the work of suicide bombers.

Insp Gen Kayihura said he believed Somalia’s militant group al-Shabab could be behind Sunday evening’s attacks. In particular, the attack on the Ethiopian-owned restaurant raised suspicions of al-Shabab involvement: Addis Ababa backs Somalia’s government against the rebels. Somali militants have been involved in terror attacks across East Africa in the past, but — if proven — this would be the first time the current group has struck outside Somalia.

But the BBC’s Will Ross, in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, says there is no proof as yet that al-Shabab was involved. The blasts could be linked to next year’s elections in Uganda, our correspondent adds. In Mogadishu, a militant commander said he was “happy” with the attacks in Uganda. However, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible. He told the Associated Press news agency: “Uganda is one of our enemies. Whatever makes them cry, makes us happy. May Allah’s anger be upon those who are against us.”

‘Screaming and running’

At least three Americans, members of a Church group from Pennsylvania, were wounded at the Ethiopian restaurant. One, Kris Sledge, 18, said from his hospital bed: “I remember blacking out, hearing people screaming and running.” Mr Sledge, of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, who had a bandaged leg and burns on his face, told AP: “I love the place here, but I’m wondering why this happened and who did this. At this point we’re just glad to be alive.” US President Barack Obama said the explosions were “deplorable and cowardly”. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US would work with the Ugandan government “to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice”. The US embassy in Kampala has confirmed that one American was among the dead.

“The nationalities of all the fatalities will be released later,” said police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uganda: Suspicion for ‘Terrorist’ Bombings Falls on Somali Rebels

Kampala, 12 July (AKI) — The number of dead from Sunday’s twin bombings in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, climbed to more than 60 with more than 70 wounded as suspicion for the attack fell Al-Qaeda-associated rebels in Somalia. Uganda soldiers are part of a trans-African military force aiming to fend off an offensive from Islamic militants, who have in the past threatened to strike in Uganda.

The blasts shook Kampala at a rugby field and an Ethiopian restaurant where football fans watched the World Cup final between Spain and Holland.

The bombs went off within 25 minutes of each other shortly after 10 p.m. local time . There was no immediate claim of responsibility for what police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba in a news report called “definite acts of terrorism.”

African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops are engaged in frequent firefights with Islamist Al-Shabab insurgents which control much of southern and central Somalia.

Islamic militants battling Somalia’s United Nations-backed transitional government have threatened attacks on Uganda and Burundi, which contribute troops to the Amisom peacekeeping mission in Somalia.

Uganda supplied the bulk of the 5,000 troops.

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

Uganda Bombs Signal Growing Extremism of Al-Shabaab

Ugandan police say they believe the double bombing in Kampala was the work of the Somalian group, al-Shabab. If this proves to be the case, it will mark an evolution in the movement’s activities. So far, al-Shabab, which means “the youth” in Arabic, has kept to a very local agenda, in deed if not always rhetoric. This has reflected its origins. The Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (the Union of Mujahideen Youth) is a splinter group from the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a coalition of Islamist groups that established control over much of Somalia. The UIC imposed a strict sharia-based code, which it saw as the solution to the poverty-stricken and war-racked country’s many woes.

After being routed by the Ethiopian army at the end of 2006, the UIC broke up. The biggest remaining fragment was its armed wing or youth movement, al-Shabab. In successive campaigns, al-Shabab, under the leadership of a group of senior clerics and “sheikhs”, has taken over at least a third of Somalia, including most of Mogadishu, the capital. Now numbering several thousand, its expansion has been marked by two main trends: radicalisation and internationalisation. The former has led to executions, amputations and patrols of young men who, in a manner reminiscent of the Taliban’s religious police in the 1990s, seek out anyone in breach of strict, puritanical and increasingly arbitrary codes of behaviour. The internationalisation has meant a pledge of allegiance to al-Qaida’s senior leadership as well as a number of foreign volunteers joining al-Shahab’s ranks. These are primarily American but include some Britons, security sources say. Other links with militants in the Yemen appear to have been consolidated too.

There have been fears of Somalian Islamist militant groups — al-Shahab is not the only one — launching international attacks for some time. If al-Shahab is responsible for the bombings in Uganda, the reasons are most likely to be local: Ugandan troops provide most of the 5,000 African Union peacekeepers who replaced Ethiopian troops when they pulled out last year and are the main reason Somalia’s UN-backed government has not yet been entirely driven out of Mogadishu by the Islamists. Recent pledges to reinforce the peacekeepers have drawn threats of jihad from al-Shabab against any countries which send more troops.

Why attack people watching the World Cup? First, because they are a soft target.

Second, because al-Shahab has already made clear it disapproves of the football, threatening players and fans with violence in Somalia. Here, the group is only following broader thought among jihadis. In a recent web posting, one extremist scholar said that watching the World Cup was un-Islamic as it involved gambling, competition, women being shown on TV, sinful behaviour by players, cursing among supporters and “unnecessary fun”.

There are signs that al-Shabab is increasingly internally divided. The past 18 months have seen a number of high-profile figures quitting its ranks in disgust at the increasingly indiscriminate violence. Some analysts believe growing extremism within radical movements is a sign of fierce competition among factions which can eventually lead to total fragmentation. Certainly, other radical groups which rejected local roots and agendas to become steadily more extreme and more international in their outlook — in Algeria and Egypt in the 1990s or in Iraq, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia more recently — suffered as a result, rapidly losing any popular support.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Venezuela Seizes Oil Rigs Owned by US Company

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela’s government has seized control of 11 oil rigs owned by U.S. driller Helmerich & Payne, which shut them down because the state oil company was behind on payments.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez announced that Venezuela would nationalize the Tulsa, Oklahoma-based company’s rigs. He said in a statement Wednesday that Helmerich & Payne had rejected government demands to resume drilling operations for more than a year.

Helmerich & Payne announced in January 2009 that it was stopping operations on two of its drilling rigs, because Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA, owed the company close to $100 million. It said it would shut down the rest of its rigs by the end of July as contracts expired unless PDVSA began to make good on its debts.

The company said Thursday that PDVSA’s debt was $43 million as of June 14.

Referring to Helmerich & Payne, Ramirez said: “There’s a group of drill owners who have refused to discuss service prices and have preferred to have this equipment put away for a year.”

President and CEO Hans Helmerich said in a statement on Thursday the company’s position has remained clear: “We simply wanted to be paid for work already performed.”

“We stated repeatedly we wanted to return to work, just not for free,” he said. “We are surprised by yesterday’s announcement only because we have been in ongoing efforts in a good faith attempt to accommodate a win-win resolution, including a willingness to sell rigs.”

The company has worked in Venezuela for 52 years, Helmerich added.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said he hopes Helmerich & Payne is compensated and suggested the takeover and other recent nationalizations are scaring off private investment in Venezuela.

“We would just call on them, if they did make such a move, to compensate the owners of those wells,” Toner said. “This is the latest in such an instance where international investors, their investments are being nationalized by the government of Venezuela. It doesn’t speak or bode well for the investment climate there.”

Helmerich & Payne is not the only oil services company to have complained about a delay in payments. Dallas-based Ensco International Inc. said last year that it had suspended oil drilling operations off Venezuela’s Caribbean coast because Venezuela owed it $35 million — prompting PDVSA to take over the company’s operations.

The government of President Hugo Chavez has nationalized dozens of privately owned companies in recent years as the socialist leader seeks to expand the state’s role in the economy. Government critics and many business owners argue the takeovers violate private property rights.

Helmerich & Payne Inc. is primarily a contract drilling company. As of June 8, the company’s existing fleet included 214 U.S. land rigs, 39 international land rigs and nine offshore platform rigs.

           — Hat tip: Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Worries About Abolition of Netherlands Antilles

THE HAGUE, 10/07/10 — The Hague is extremely concerned about the reform of the Netherlands Antilles, now that this has been hammered out on almost all levels. Senators, who backed the deal this week, acknowledge that the islands are not complying with the agreements, civil servants’ journal Binnenlands Bestuur reports.

On 10 October this year, Curaçao and Sint Maarten will become autonomous countries. In essential areas, the two islands do not meet the requirements set beforehand. For example, the police force is not in order; the Bon Futuro prison on Curaçao is way below standard, and financial administration on Sint Maarten is below standard. The Netherlands has however already cancelled the islands’ debts.

The Upper House backed the reform deal this week. It was ‘helped’ by a motion from former Lower House Labour (PvdA) MP Leerdam, himself Antillean, whereby the islands are given the opportunity to comply with the conditions later — within two years. “I think that this period is an illusion,” acknowledges PvdA Senator Marijke Linthorst.

The Senators were not at all in favour of the accord. “It is a strangulation contract, out of which we cannot step,” according to VVD Upper House member Frank van Kappen. Senator Linthorst would also prefer to have halted the whole process, Binnenlands Bestuur reported. “But what do you have then? The country of the Antilles has proved that it is not in a state to administer properly. So it just has to be like this.”

Van Kappen (VVD) believes the Netherlands has made a serious mistake. “The islands have turned the matter around. The agreement was: first meet the conditions, then we will make the Antilles debt-free and they will become autonomous countries within the Kingdom. But we have allowed the financial part to be arranged and after that, they are now not sticking to the other agreements.”

The race is not yet over on the islands themselves regarding the transition to greater independence. On Curacao, fresh elections will be held on 27 August, which have to approve the so-called State Scheme. On Sint Maarten, not even a draft State Scheme has yet been presented to parliament.

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


Center for Immigration Studies: Step Back From the Numbers

by David North

1. I have always known that DHS had millions of folks to worry about, but more than 28 million! Nearly one tenth the American population! That’s a major responsibility.

2. Having worked with immigration statistics for decades, I was surprised to see that the nation has almost as many illegal immigrants as legal ones. I guess I should have known that. Frankly, the ratio of 11.6 million illegals to 12.6 million legals is depressing; it sounds like a situation in a Third World country, not in the world’s leading democracy. (Citizens, including naturalized ones, are not covered by the OIS estimates, and are no longer the concern of DHS’s immigration bureaucracy.)

3. Reading these numbers, in the light of watching USCIS carefully for the last few months, suggests that the total focus of USCIS is on this individual form, or that individual applicant, or that individual appeal, to the extent that the big picture of millions of arriving persons, and their impact on the rest of us, gets lost in the shuffle.

If numbers mean anything — and they do — the leaders of USCIS and the other immigration-management agencies need to step back from the daily grind to see what they, and our Congress, hath wrought.

Maybe the departments of DHS, Energy, Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services, together with the Census Bureau, should be required to report, every couple of years, on what is happening to the U.S. population, and why, and what the rapidly swelling population is doing to the environment, to the (aging) infrastructure, and to the health and happiness of America as a whole.

           — Hat tip: CIS[Return to headlines]

More Eastern Europeans Are Working in Holland

Some 100,000 people from eastern Europe were working in the Netherlands in March, up 12,000 on a year ago, according to the national statistics office CBS.

That number is expected to grow further this summer, as Polish and other workers come to the country do seasonal farm work.

Poles account for four of of five eastern European workers and most are in their 20s and 30s, the CBS said.

Some 50% are employed on a temporary contract.

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

Culture Wars

University of Illinois Instructor Fired Over Catholic Beliefs

The University of Illinois has fired an adjunct professor who taught courses on Catholicism after a student accused the instructor of engaging in hate speech by saying he agrees with the church’s teaching that homosexual sex is immoral.

URBANA, Ill. — The professor, Ken Howell of Champaign, said his firing violates his academic freedom. He also lost his job at an on-campus Catholic center.

Howell, who taught Introduction to Catholicism and Modern Catholic Thought, says he was fired at the end of the spring semester after sending an e-mail explaining some Catholic beliefs to his students preparing for an exam.

“Natural Moral Law says that Morality must be a response to REALITY,” he wrote in the e-mail. “In other words, sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same.”

An unidentified student sent an e-mail to religion department head Robert McKim on May 13, calling Howell’s e-mail “hate speech.” The student claimed to be a friend of the offended student. The writer said in the e-mail that his friend wanted to remain anonymous.

“Teaching a student about the tenets of a religion is one thing,” the student wrote. “Declaring that homosexual acts violate the natural laws of man is another.”

Howell said he was teaching his students about the Catholic understanding of natural moral law.

“My responsibility on teaching a class on Catholicism is to teach what the Catholic Church teaches,” Howell said in an interview with The News-Gazette in Champaign. “I have always made it very, very clear to my students they are never required to believe what I’m teaching and they’ll never be judged on that.”

Howell also said he makes clear to his students that he’s Catholic and that he believes the church views that he teaches.

McKim referred questions to university spokeswoman Robin Kaler, who said she couldn’t comment on Howell or his firing because it’s a personnel issue.

According to the university’s Academic Staff Handbook, faculty “are entitled to freedom in the classroom in developing and discussing according to their areas of competence the subjects that they are assigned.”

In an e-mail to other school staff, Ann Mester, an associate dean at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said Howell’s e-mail justified his firing.

“The e-mails sent by Dr. Howell violate university standards of inclusivity, which would then entitle us to have him discontinue his teaching arrangement with us,” Mester wrote.

Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, said professors should be able to tell students their own views and even argue in favor of them, provided students can disagree without being penalized.

“It’s part of intellectual life to advocate for points of view,” said Nelson, an emeritus English professor at the University of Illinois. “Hopefully when they go out in the world, they can emulate that. They can argue a case, and do it in a well-informed and articulate way, and can make a more productive contribution to our democracy that way.”

Howell has taught at the university for nine years, and was recognized by his department in 2008 and 2009 for being rated an excellent teacher by students.

He said he and McKim disagree on religious views and believes he lost his job over “just a very, very deep disagreement about the nature of what should be taught and what should not be taught.”

After he lost his teaching job, Howell also was fired as director of the St. John’s Catholic Newman Center’s Institute of Catholic Thought. The on-campus center directed questions to the Diocese of Peoria, which had paid for his position.

Patricia Gibson, an attorney and chancellor of the diocese, said Howell was let go because he could no longer teach at the university.

“We are very concerned and very distressed by what we understand is the situation from Dr. Howell,” she said. The diocese hopes to discuss the situation with someone at the university, she said.

A Christian legal defense group, The Alliance Defense Fund, said it is considering helping Howell.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Major Bomb Attacks in the World in 2010

BEIJING, July 12 (Xinhua) — At least 64 people were killed in two bomb explosions that rocked local restaurants in Uganda’s capital of Kampala on Sunday night.

The following are some major blasts in the world since the beginning of this year:

July 11: At least 105 people were killed in a suicide bombing and car bomb attack that devastated a busy market in Pakistan’s northwest tribal area of Mohmand Agency.

May 28: More than 95 people were killed and 108 others injured as gunmen armed with hand grenades and suicide jackets stormed into two Ahmadi mosques in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore during Friday prayers.

May 17: India’s extreme left-wing Naxal rebels triggered a landmine blast in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, killing 15 policemen and 30 civilians who were on a bus.

April 17: At least 41 people were killed and more than 50 others injured after two suicide bombers attacked an Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) camp in northwest Pakistan’s Kohat city.

April 6: Seven massive bomb attacks struck residential buildings in Baghdad, killing 35 people and wounding 140 others.

April 5: A suicide bomber attacked a political party rally, leaving 49 dead and 50 wounded in the Lower Dir district that borders tribal areas in Pakistan.

March 26: At least 53 were killed and 105 injured in twin bombings in Iraq’s eastern province of Diyala.

March 21: A motorbike bomb rocked Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, killing 10 people and wounding seven others.

March 12: Two suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan’s Lahore claimed at least 45 lives and wounded 100. Both attacks reportedly targeted military vehicles that were passing through a crowded area.

Feb. 5: A series of attacks targeting Shiite pilgrims killed 43 people and wounded at least 105 in Iraq’s southern city of Karbala where they were participating in religious activities.

Jan. 1: At least 105 people were killed and dozens of others injured when a suicide bomber blew up his vehicle in a crowd watching a volleyball game in the southern district of Lakki Marwat in northwest Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]