Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100728

»Democrat: Let’s Have Mandatory National Service
»Fallen Soldiers’ Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit
»Gov. Paterson Won’t be Charged in Aide’s Domestic Violence Case
»Is Fighting for Smaller Government Racist?
»Kerry Pays Big for Luxury Yacht
»Mom Was on Phone With Jupiter Man When Robbers Killed Him in Baltimore
»Never Give Up Our Electoral College
»Now a Glamorous Beautician is Caught Up in U.S. Spy Probe Over Claims She Smuggled High Tech Night-Sights to Russia
»Oklahoma: Fallin, Askins Appear on Collision Course
»Papers Prepped to Disbar Elena Kagan
»Soldier Overseas? No Voting for You
»Tang Energy Group to Resume Site Search for North American Windmill Rotor Plant
»Tiny Satellites Can Do Big Science
Europe and the EU
»Bomb Blast in Ukrainian Church Kills One, Wounds Nine
»David Cameron’s Disingenuous Defence of Turkey
»David Cameron Must Not Follow Barack Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy
»Germany: Former RAF Terrorist to Stand Trial
»Italy Turns to Private Sector to Help Colosseum
»Italy: Iceman Mummy’s DNA Mapped
»Sarkozy Orders Illegal Roma Immigrants Expelled
»Spain: Bullfighting is Banned in Spain (But Only in Catalonia and it Doesn’t Start for 2 Years)
»Sweden: Stieg Larsson First to Sell One Million Kindle Books
»The EU Will Regret Its Dishonest, Humiliating Treatment of Turkey
»Turkey: A Vital Player
»UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, Supports Turkey’s Bid to Join EU
»UK: ‘Mosque Bomb Plot’ Open Fire on EDL Extremists
»UK: Cops Fire at ‘Racist Plot’ Van
»UK: Does the Prime Minister Understand the ‘Real Islam’?
»UK: David Cameron in Hot Water as PM Accuses Pakistan of ‘Exporting Terror’
»UK: EDL Members Arrested in Far-Right Bomb Plot
»UK: EDL Set to March in Bradford
»UK: Gaza Remark Signals Cameron’s Kick-and-Run Diplomacy
»UK: Join us in Persuading the Home Secretary to Stop a Planned Demonstration
»UK: Liberty Warn Tory MP of Legal Action if He Refuses to Meet Veiled Constituents
»UK: Muslim Leaders Call on Communities to Prevent All Groups ‘Disrupting Peace’
»UK: Police in Dorset Arrest EDL Member Accused Over Suspected Bomb Plot
»UK: Politicians Call on Home Secretary to Halt Race-Hate Protest
»UK: Political Leaders Unite Against the EDL
»UK: Pair in Court Over Bradford University’s Student Death
»UK: The Undiplomatic David Cameron
»Why Cameron is Stuffed on Turkey
Mediterranean Union
»Italy: Arab and European Youth Conference in Ragusa
Israel and the Palestinians
»Cameron’s Provocative Language Over Gaza Serves to Obscure the Issue
»David Cameron is Wrong About Gaza Blockade
»David Cameron: Gaza is a Prison Camp
»David Cameron: Gaza ‘Must Not Remain a Prison Camp’
Middle East
»David Cameron Panders to Turkey — at Israel’s Expense
»Gaza is a “Prison Camp”, Says Cameron
»Top Muslim Cleric Urges Western Muslims to ‘Liberalize’
»Was a Japanese Tanker Attacked in the Strait of Hormuz?
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Puppy Saved From Death by Thugs Using it as a Football in Afghanistan is Flown to UK for a New Life
»Logs Suggest Pakistani Intelligence Controls Course of War
»Wikileaks Reportedly Outs 100s of Afghan Informants
Far East
»China’s Soft Power is a Threat to the West
»S. Korea on Alert for Possible N. Korean Cyber Attack
»Federal Judge Blocks Key Portions of Arizona Illegal Immigration Law
»Immigration Sees UK’s Population Growth Outstrip the Rest of Europe
»Judge Grants Injunction Against Ariz. Immigration Law
»Think SB 1070 is Racist, Oppressive? How Do Illegals South of Border Fare?
»UK: David Cameron to Offer India Direct Say on Immigration Policy
»UK: Migration and the Voice of the People
»UK: Up to 45,000 Failed Asylum Seekers Given Right to Work in Britain by Supreme Court
Culture Wars
»Sweden: Transgendered Need More Protection in Law
»USA: Court Upholds Expulsion of Counseling Student Who Opposes Homosexuality
»Mental Exercises Make Old Rat Brains Look Young Again
»New Episode: Stakelbeck on Terror Show
»The IPCC, Climate Change and Solar Sophistry
»Toshiba’s Ultra-Long-Lasting Battery May be in Cars as Early as Next Year


Democrat: Let’s Have Mandatory National Service

Measure orders U.S. citizens to perform duties under Obama for 2 years

A bill introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., would reinstate a compulsory military draft during wartime and require U.S. citizens not selected for military duty to perform a “national-service obligation” — as defined by President Obama — for a minimum of two years.

Rangel introduced the Universal National Service Act, or H.R. 5741, on July 15. The measure was referred to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel on July 23.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Fallen Soldiers’ Families Denied Cash as Insurers Profit

Inside was a letter from Prudential about Ryan’s $400,000 policy. And there was something else, which looked like a checkbook. The letter told Lohman that the full amount of her payout would be placed in a convenient interest-bearing account, allowing her time to decide how to use the benefit.

“You can hold the money in the account for safekeeping for as long as you like,” the letter said. In tiny print, in a disclaimer that Lohman says she didn’t notice, Prudential disclosed that what it called its Alliance Account was not guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its September issue.

Lohman, 52, left the money untouched for six months after her son’s August 2008 death.

“It’s like you’re paying me off because my child was killed,” she says. “It was a consolation prize that I didn’t want.”

As time went on, she says, she tried to use one of the “checks” to buy a bed, and the salesman rejected it. That happened again this year, she says, when she went to a Target store to purchase a camera on Armed Forces Day, May 15.

Lohman, a public health nurse who helps special-needs children, says she had always believed that her son’s life insurance funds were in a bank insured by the FDIC. That money — like $28 billion in 1 million death-benefit accounts managed by insurers — wasn’t actually sitting in a bank.

It was being held in Prudential’s general corporate account, earning investment income for the insurer. Prudential paid survivors like Lohman 1 percent interest in 2008 on their Alliance Accounts, while it earned a 4.8 percent return on its corporate funds, according to regulatory filings.

“I’m shocked,” says Lohman, breaking into tears as she learns how the Alliance Account works. “It’s a betrayal. It saddens me as an American that a company would stoop so low as to make a profit on the death of a soldier. Is there anything lower than that?”

Millions of bereaved Americans have unwittingly been placed in the same position by their insurance companies. The practice of issuing what they call “checkbooks” to survivors, instead of paying them lump sums, extends well beyond the military.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gov. Paterson Won’t be Charged in Aide’s Domestic Violence Case

The retired judge investigating Gov. David A. Paterson’s intervention in a domestic violence case involving a former top aide will not recommend any charges against the governor, according to a person with knowledge of the case.

The judge, Judith Kaye, the former chief judge of the New York State Court of Appeals, is expected to release the results of her four-month investigation into Mr. Paterson on Wednesday afternoon. Ms. Kaye was asked to take over the investigation in April by Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo, who recused himself from the case.

While Mr. Paterson does not appear to be in further legal jeopardy, the aide, David W. Johnson, may face further charges, the person said. Ms. Kaye will refer evidence regarding Mr. Johnson to the Bronx district attorney, Robert T. Johnson, who is already looking into the allegations that Mr. Johnson assaulted his former girlfriend, Sherr-Una Booker, last Halloween.

The district attorney’s office was said to be waiting for

[Return to headlines]

Is Fighting for Smaller Government Racist?

When the NAACP allowed itself to be used by the Democratic party to try and smear a grass roots movement for smaller government as racist, the resulting controversy shone a light on more than just racism by individuals associated with the NAACP, but with the organization’s inability to delink class warfare from racism. If there is one thing that both the white media elites at Jornolist and the NAACP leadership agreed on, it’s that fighting for smaller government is racist.


The racism charge leveled against the Tea Party is the doing of a leadership that sees itself as completely dependent on the Federal government, so much so that it finds any talk of reducing it to be dangerous and threatening. And as the Democratic party has identified itself closely with the domestic expansion of government and wealth redistribution politics, it has been able to manipulate the black community, to appropriate its decision making powers and use it as a political tool, while virtually eliminating its actual political clout. The sad state of affairs in which the official black leadership damns anyone who doesn’t toe the Democratic party line as Uncle Toms and “not real black people” reveals just who really calls the shots in this arrangement.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Kerry Pays Big for Luxury Yacht

From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

(CNN) — Sen. John Kerry will voluntarily pay $500,000 in taxes to the state of Massachusetts — a move that forestalls a potential investigation into whether the Bay State’s senior senator attempted to evade the hefty levy by docking his $7 million yacht in Rhode Island.

“We’ve reached out to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue and made clear that, whether owed or not, we intend to pay the equivalent taxes as if the boat’s home port were currently in Massachusetts,” Kerry said in statement. “That payment is being made promptly.”

The decision came after Kerry faced a series of questions over why the Massachusetts Democrat decided to dock his new multi-million dollar sloop in neighboring Rhode Island even though it had been reportedly spotted in Massachusetts waters and Kerry maintains residences in Boston and Nantucket.

Rhode Island has been known as a tax-haven for boaters after the state repealed its sales and use tax on boats in the early 1990’s. Kerry, who recently purchased the 76-foot yacht in Rhode Island, therefore avoided close to a half-million in taxes.

But the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has long been on the lookout for Bay Staters who dock their boats in Rhode Island and use them in Massachusetts. The Department mandates such boaters file a form with the state so use and excise taxes can be levied. If no form is filed, Massachusetts can take possession of boats it determines use its waters a sufficient number of times, the Boston Globe reports.

The Department of Revenue said Tuesday it had not launched an investigation into the matter.

The senator’s office has said Kerry was not seeking to avoid taxes but instead docked the yacht in a Newport, Rhode Island boatyard for “maintenance, upkeep, and charter purposes.”

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

Mom Was on Phone With Jupiter Man When Robbers Killed Him in Baltimore

Baltimore police say John Wagner and Lavelva Merritt were “hunting to rob someone” on Sunday night.

Around 11:30, they ran into Stephen Pitcairn.

The Jupiter man, a Johns Hopkins University researcher with dreams of finding the cure to breast cancer, was walking on Baltimore’s north side talking on the phone with his mother.

Wagner and Merritt found their perfect, distracted “someone,” police said in court records filed Tuesday .

Even after he followed the two career criminals’ orders, police allege that one of them stabbed him in the chest. All the while his mother, Gwen Pitcairn, listened as her son — just two days shy of his 24th birthday — pleaded with the robbers .

Afterward, the pair went home, apparently so proud of what they had done they bragged to witnesses, saying they had robbed and “hurt” a “white boy,” according to the court records.

Pitcairn was pronounced dead around midnight at John Hopkins Hospital.

On Monday morning, a police SWAT team raided Wagner and Merritt’s place at 2700 Baltimore Ave. and arrested the pair without incident. Police found blood at the front door, bloody shoes and Pitcairn’s brown wallet and iPhone in the house.

After being taken in for questioning, Merritt and Wagner gave statements that were “completely contradictory to one another,” police say.

Wagner, 34, and Merritt, 24, are expected to be arraigned this morning on murder, robbery and assault charges, according to the court records.

On Tuesday, Pitcairn’s colleagues were still in shock from his death.

“Everyone is trying to get over the initial response to the news,” said Dr. Gregg Semenza, who was Pitcairn’s mentor and lab supervisor.

“He was quite a remarkable young man,” he added. “This is a person that just had tremendous potential.”

Semenza said Pitcairn, who he planned to promote to lab manager, was in the process of applying to medical school for next year and that “he had all of the personal qualities” needed for a successful career as a physician.

The arrests were little consolation to Pitcairn’s friends and family in Jupiter.

“At this point it’s really hard even to articulate our loss,” said Pitcairn’s mother, Gwen Pitcairn, by telephone Monday.

“He was the best brother anybody could have,” she said, speaking through tears. “It’s just a shame that such a good person could get cut down at such a young age.”

Pitcairn, who grew up in Jupiter, was also a 2004 graduate of The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens, where he was a member of the 14-year Club for attending since preschool. Among other things, he was on the varsity cross country and track teams and was a vice president of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

“The entire school community is shocked and saddened by this devastating and senseless tragedy regarding one of our former students,” Head of School Robert Goldberg said in a statement late Monday .

“Stephen was a brilliant young man with an incredible future,” Amy Taylor, a longtime faculty member, said in an e-mail. “This is a tragic loss for his family, our community and those he could have touched with the work he had hoped to do in medicine.”

A memorial service for Pitcairn has been scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday in Jupiter. Funeral services have been scheduled for Friday at the North Presbyterian Church in North Palm Beach.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Never Give Up Our Electoral College

America’s Founding Fathers did NOT form a “democracy.” They formed a “representative republic” and guaranteed every state a “republican form of government” in the US Constitution. Contrary to modern propaganda, a democracy and a representative republic are NOT the same thing.

With an Electoral College, we have a “representative republic.” Without it, we will have a pure “democracy,” which Thomas Jefferson defined as — “nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.”

Those who wish to fully understand and appreciate the historical purposes behind our Founders Electoral College design should take some time to study the related facts here. The Founders had VERY strong reasons for everything they put in place to protect and preserve freedom and liberty. The people trying to destroy it all have their reasons too…


Do you know how many states would control the nation if there were no Electoral College?

Do you know which states would control the entire nation without an Electoral College?

I answer these two questions in this grid:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Now a Glamorous Beautician is Caught Up in U.S. Spy Probe Over Claims She Smuggled High Tech Night-Sights to Russia

A young beautician has been charged with trying to smuggle weapons parts into Russia as U.S. authorities continue to investigate suspected foreign spies.

Anna Fermanova, who lives near Dallas, Texas, was apprehended while trying to take three hi-tech night-vision rifle sights aboard a flight.

The 24-year-old was stopped in March by officials at JFK Airport in New York and the items were confiscated.

She was allowed to complete her journey and arrested when she returned to the U.S. earlier this month.

Fermanova is currently under arrest at her parents’ home in Plano, Texas, on $50,000 bail.

She is expected to attend court in New York in the next few weeks where she faces a possible ten years in prison.

Under U.S. law, sophisticated military weapons cannot be exported without the approval of the U.S. State Department.

A customs officer claims Fermanova had covered the rifle sight’s serial numbers with marker pen.

Fermanova told officials she covered the markings ‘so they would be less noticeable’ when she tried to take them overseas without a licence, it is alleged.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Oklahoma: Fallin, Askins Appear on Collision Course

It’s looking like Oklahoma will have its first ever female governor.

With 93-percent of the precincts reporting, Mary Fallin is easily defeating her male counterparts in the Republican primary while Jari Askins is edging Drew Edmondson in the Democratic Primary.

Oklahoma has never had a female governor.

In other big races, incumbent Tom Coburn was running away with the Republican primary in the race for Senate, garnering 90-percent of the vote in a three-person race. He’ll go against Jim Rogers in November’s general election as Rogers defeated Mark Myles in tonight’s Democratic primary.

Incumbent District 1 Congressman John Sullivan also easily earned his party’s nomination. He’ll face Libertarian Angelia O’Dell in November’s general election.

In District 2, Republicans Charles Thompson and Daniel Edmonds will face a runoff election next month. Thompson got 35-percent of Tuesday’s vote while Edmonds had 28-percent.

On the Democrat side, incumbent Dan Boren was a better than 3-to-1 winner over Jim Wilson in the District 2 race.

There will be a runoff in the race for the Democratic nomination for U.S. House District 3 between Matt Webb and James Lockhart. Webb took 25-percent of the vote in a six-person race with Lockhart garnering 19-percent.

In District 4, Republican incumbent Tom Cole took 77-percent of his party’s vote and, with no Democratic challenger, he will keep his seat in the U.S. House for a fifth term.

And, in District 5, a seven-person race in the Democratic primary came down to two candidates — James Lankford and Kevin Calvey. Lankford had 34-percent of the vote to Calvey’s 33-percent.

In the Republican primary, Billy Coyle easily defeated Tom Guild for his party’s nomination. The winner of November’s general election will succeed Fallin.

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

Papers Prepped to Disbar Elena Kagan

‘She should not be a justice when she’s defrauded the Supreme Court’

One of Washington, D.C.’s most feared and fearless corruption watchers has told WND he intends to file an ethics complaint to have Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan disbarred from practicing before the court she aspires to join — and possibly subjected to criminal prosecution — for her role in an escalating controversy over partial-birth abortion.

Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch USA, is bringing the complaint, alleging Kagan altered an official scientific report used as evidence by the Supreme Court to persuade the justices to overturn bans on partial-birth abortion.


In her confirmation hearings, Kagan defended the amendment, saying, “My only dealings with (the College) were about talking with them about how to ensure that their statement expressed their views.”

Several analyses have concluded, however, that Kagan’s amendment dramatically changed the meaning of the organization statement, and court records show the statement was passed off on the Supreme Court as official scientific opinion, even though the organization’s panel of scientists never approved Kagan’s wording.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Soldier Overseas? No Voting for You

DoJ scandal reveals how thousands of military ballots may go uncounted

In the wake of the Department of Justice’s New Black Panther Party scandal, a second former DOJ attorney has now come forward, blasting the department for failing to protect American soldiers’ right to vote.

What’s even more alarming, the attorney claims, is that despite congressional mandates passed in 2009 to ensure military personnel overseas can participate in elections, the DOJ’s Voting Section is ignoring the new laws and may allow thousands of ballots to slip through the cracks uncounted in November.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tang Energy Group to Resume Site Search for North American Windmill Rotor Plant

WASHINGTON — With political storm clouds apparently clearing, Dallas-based Tang Energy Group and its Chinese partners have agreed to resume a site search for a North American factory that would build fiberglass wind-power rotor blades.

Tang CEO Patrick Jenevein said his partners with HT Blade in Baoding, China, agreed at a meeting last week to start looking again. He said the search stopped after Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and others launched an effort to deny federal funds for Chinese equipment manufacturers supplying U.S. wind farms.

While Mexican or Canadian sites “are more attractive politically” for the Chinese, Jenevein said, they are not close to U.S. customers.

Jenevein said Tang Energy might cut its political risk by building one plant in the United States and another in Mexico or Canada. Each would employ about 500 workers, he said.

China’s wind-power companies are using Dallas as their door into the American market. Last year, Tang Energy got $300 million from its Chinese partners to finance wind-power projects in the U.S.

In February, Dallas-based U.S. Renewable Energy Group, led by investor Cappy McGarr, announced plans to build a 600-megawatt wind farm in West Texas with A-Power Energy Generation Systems Ltd. of Shenyang, China, and Cielo Wind Power LP of Austin.

Jenevein said Tang Energy has a tentative agreement to supply blades for the project.

The $1.5 billion project relies on Chinese financing and equipment, but developers said they would look to the U.S. government to cover as much as 30 percent of the cost under federal economic stimulus funds.

After Schumer and other senators objected, McGarr said his Chinese partners would build a wind-turbine assembly plant in Nevada that would employ 1,000 workers. The announcement was welcomed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Another Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer, Mingyang Wind Power Industry Group, announced in May that it would open an office in Dallas to handle U.S. sales and operations.

Jenevein said the Tang Energy Group hoped to complete its plant site search within a year.

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

Tiny Satellites Can Do Big Science

When it comes to laptop computers and cell phones, bigger isn’t better. The same logic applies to satellites: the bulkier the satellite, the more time it takes to design and build, and the more expensive it is to put into orbit.

Researchers are now taking advantage of the electronics technologies that have made personal gizmos compact and affordable to make satellites that weigh and cost a fraction of their predecessors. These pocket- and backpack-sized satellites are changing the way astrobiology research is done.

Conventional satellites used for communications, navigation or research can be as large as a school bus and weigh between 100 and 500 kilograms. Universities, companies and NASA are now building small satellites that weigh less than one kilogram (picosatellites) or up to 10 kilograms (nanosatellites).

These small satellites can be considered miniature versions of full-size counterparts. They contain the same components—battery, orbital control and positioning systems, radio communication systems, and analytical instruments—except everything is smaller, less expensive and sometimes less complicated.

“That’s the beauty of this technology,” says Orlando Santos, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center. “We can make these things small and still get meaningful science out of them.”

The Rise of the Cube

Two decades ago, Bob Twiggs and his students at Stanford University developed the first picosatellite the size of a Klondike ice cream bar. The Aerospace Corporation launched these picosatellites as part of a mission to demonstrate the feasibility of building little satellites that communicate with each other.

Twiggs then worked on CubeSat, a 10-centimeter cube. “I got a 4-inch beanie baby box and tacked on some solar cells to see how many would fit on the surface,” Twiggs says. “I had enough voltage for what I needed so I decided that would be the size.”

Jordi Puig-Suari at California Polytechnic State University built a deployment mechanism called the poly picosatellite orbital deployer, or P-POD, that could pack up to three CubeSats. One of these is typically the satellite bus, the brains of the satellite containing positioning and radio equipment, while the other cubes carry the scientific experiments. In 2004, the researchers sent the first three-cube nanosatellite into orbit.

Six years later, CubeSats have become the world-wide standard for small satellites. They are being used for everything from environmental sensing and fundamental biology research to testing new spaceflight systems.

Over 60 universities and high schools are part of the CubeSat Project based at Cal Poly. The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Air Force have programs that funds CubeSats for atmospheric and space weather research. Aerospace companies such as Lockheed Martin and Boeing have also built and flown CubeSats.

Kentucky-based NanoRacks LLC provides a platform to take CubeSat experiments as cargo aboard the Space Shuttles to the International Space Station for periods of 30 or 60 days, after which they bring the cubes back.

The goal of NASA’s new CubeSat Launch Initiative is to radically open up the flight opportunities for nanosatellites. This Initiative should also make it easier for universities to compete for launch access on NASA launch vehicles.

There are probably between 35 and 40 small satellites orbiting the Earth right now, of which about a quarter might still be working, says Twiggs, now a professor at Morehead State University’s Space Science Center in Kentucky.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Bomb Blast in Ukrainian Church Kills One, Wounds Nine

An Emergencies Ministry official in Ukraine says a bomb blast at a southern Orthodox church has wounded nine people and one dead — an 80 year old nun Lyudmyla.

The woman died on the operation table, according to Zaporizhya mass media.

Yulia Barysheva told The Associated Press Wednesday that a homemade explosive device detonated near the entrance to the church, in the southern city of Zaporozhye.

The blast comes on the day the former Soviet nation marks the anniversary of its conversion to Christianity in 988 AD.

Nationalist groups have protested the visit of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kiril, who is on the second to last day of an eight-day visit. There was no official word of a motive.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

David Cameron’s Disingenuous Defence of Turkey

“ANGRY”? Really? Speaking in Turkey earlier today, David Cameron used strikingly forthright language to describe his dismay at French-led efforts to block Turkey from membership of the European Union, saying:

I’m here to make the case for Turkey’s membership of the EU. And to fight for it. Do you know who said this: “Here is a country which is not European…its history, its geography, its economy, its agriculture and the character of its people — admirable people though they are — all point in a different direction…This is a country which…cannot, despite what it claims and perhaps even believes, be a full member.

“It might sound like some Europeans describing Turkey.. But it was actually General de Gaulle describing the UK before vetoing our EU accession. We know what it’s like to be shut out of the club. But we also know that these things can change.When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan alongside our European allies it makes me angry that your progress towards EU Membership can be frustrated in the way it has been. My view is clear. I believe it’s just wrong to say Turkey can guard the camp but not be allowed to sit inside the tent.”

To take first things first, Mr Cameron is quite right that the Turkey-EU relationship is in a bad place right now, and right to point out that this a huge strategic mistake. This newspaper has long argued that it is in Europe’s strategic interests to admit Turkey, a dynamic, fast-growing, youthful, officially secular Muslim nation that sits astride vital shipping and trade routes, not to mention potentially important routes for energy pipelines that can bring oil and gas from the east, while avoiding Russia. Turkey is an important regional player, with close links to all sorts of places that matter to Europe such as Iran.

Mr Cameron was also speaking as a British prime minister leading a big trade delegation to a fast growing emerging market, home to plenty of touchily nationalistic politicians and commentators. In those circumstances he can be forgiven for laying it on with a trowel. But his protestations of anger were still unwise, for a few reasons.

One is that his indignation was so obviously baloney. I am sure he is dismayed and concerned about the possibility of Turkey sliding away from Europe. But angry? Come on. On a minor note, even his nice soundbite about it being wrong to allow someone to guard a camp but not sit inside the tent, does not stand up to much scrutiny. All sorts of camps are guarded by people you would not want to sit inside your tent.

More importantly, he is the representative of a British electorate who are not remotely “angry” about Turkey being excluded from the EU just now. Most British voters do not know much about Turkey’s membership hopes. Successive governments in Britain have been leading supporters of Turkish accession, along with places like Poland, Spain or Sweden.. But when the British public are asked about the question directly they are distinctly lukewarm. The EU is wary of polling the Turkey question too often, but a 2006 Eurobarometer found only one existing member, Sweden, where more people supported Turkish entry than opposed it. In Britain, 30% said yes to Turkey, 52% said no, and 18% did not know.

You only have to look at British views towards Polish immigrants, who are pretty unchallenging when it comes to integration, to wonder how they would react to the arrival of large numbers of Turks. And indeed, for all his panegyrics to the dynamic Turkish economy and Turkey’s ability to influence Iran diplomatically, Mr Cameron has been having the same thought, judging by his careful comments at an Ankara press conference when he reserved the right to impose restrictions on large flows of labour migrants from Turkey before hastily saying he was sure no restrictions would be needed. According to the BBC:…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

David Cameron Must Not Follow Barack Obama’s Failed Foreign Policy

Listening to the Prime Minister’s remarks given yesterday in Ankara, I felt a distinct sense of déjà vu. It reminded me a great deal of Barack Obama’s controversial address to the Muslim world in Cairo in June last year, where he condemned the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank, which sparked a downward spiral of relations with America’s closest ally in the Middle East, which has yet to fully recover.

I fear the PM’s comments on Israel and Gaza could have a very similar long-term effect, with a significant deterioration of ties between London and Jerusalem. In international relations, a single throw away remark can wreak havoc upon the strongest of partnerships, carefully crafted over the course of decades but potentially undone in the space of a 30-minute speech. Here is what the PM said to his Turkish audience:

Let me be clear: the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told Prime Minister Netanyahu we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.

Not only are the above remarks hugely unfair, but they are guaranteed to alienate Britain’s most valuable friend in the Middle East. The comments may have gone down well with an increasingly Islamist government in Ankara which is rapidly turning against the West, but they will seriously damage relations with Israel. They also fail to condemn the real source of Gaza’s problems — the reign of terror carried out by Hamas — a brutal terrorist organisation backed by Tehran and Damascus.

If the Prime Minister needs a guide to what he should avoid as a world leader he should look no further than the White House’s policy of constructive engagement or “smart diplomacy” as it used to be known. A key failing of Barack Obama’s foreign policy has been his willingness to offend or even undermine key US allies, in order to try to appease hostile regimes, strategic competitors, or even entire regional blocs of countries in the Islamic world or Latin America…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Former RAF Terrorist to Stand Trial

A German court has ordered Verena Becker, a former member of the far-left Red Army Faction, to be put on trial for alleged involvement in the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback in 1977. The case was re-opened after new forensic technology revealed her DNA on a letter claiming responsibility for the killing.

Verena Becker, a former member of the far-left Red Army Faction (RAF) which waged a campaign of terror in Germany in the 1970s and 1980s, will be put on trial in September for alleged involvement in the murder of Attorney General Siegfried Buback in 1977, a higher regional court announced on Wednesday.

The case against Becker, 57, was re-opened in 2008 after newly available forensic technology detected her DNA on a letter by the RAF claiming responsibility for the murder.

Buback was killed together with his driver Wolfgang Göbel and a judicial officer, Georg Wurster, in the southwestern city of Karlsruhe when a motorbike pulled up alongside the car they were driving in and the passenger on the rear of the motorbike opened fire with an automatic weapon, shooting at least 15 times.

In an indictment issued in April this year, federal prosecutors accused Becker of being involved in the decision to assassinate Buback, in the planning and in preparing subsequent statements of responsibility.

The higher regional court in Stuttgart, southwestern Germany, said on Wednesday it was allowing the trial to go ahead with no changes to the indictment.

In and Out of Jail

Becker was arrested in May 1977 following a wild shootout with police. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for six counts of attempted murder in that shootout, not for involvement in the Buback murder. She was paroled in November 1989 and has been living quietly under a new identity.

She was arrested again at her home in the Berlin district of Zehlendorf last summer in connection with the Buback murder investigation. She was released from prison last December, but remained a suspect. The Federal Court of Justice ruled at the time that there was no danger she would try to flee the country.

The Red Army Faction, which was allied with Palestinian terrorists, killed 34 people and injured scores more in bomb attacks and assassinations targeting top German civil servants and corporate executives as well as US military installations.

The guerrilla campaign and the draconian security measures imposed by authorities in the manhunt deepened divisions between the left and right and plunged West Germany into a crisis of confidence at a time when it was still a young democracy, just three decades after World War II.

The RAF was bent on fighting “US imperialism” and overthrowing the West German elites. It declared in April 1998 that it had disbanded itself.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy Turns to Private Sector to Help Colosseum

ROME (Reuters Life!) — As Rome’s ancient Colosseum literally crumbles from neglect, the cash-strapped Italian government is looking for private sponsors willing to help pay for restoration work in exchange for advertising rights.

The vast Roman amphitheatre which housed bloody public spectacles including gladiator fights, mock sea battles and animal shows is one of the most famous monuments from the ancient world.

But it has suffered badly in recent years and only 35 percent of the structure is now open to the public.

The urgency surrounding the state of the Italian capital’s archaeological treasure was highlighted in May after chunks of mortar plunged through a protective netting.

A string of collapses at the nearby forum have also raised fears about visitor safety and whether the buildings can remain standing for much longer.

However the dire state of public finances in Italy, one of the most heavily indebted countries in Europe, means that funds are short and the government is having to turn to private investors to plug the 25 million euro ($32 million) gap.

“It’s a remarkable experiment,” said Francesco Giro, the undersecretary for Italy’s heritage ministry, which is running the tender with Rome’s city council.

“If all goes to plan, by 2013 the Colosseum will have been cleaned from top to bottom but even more important, it will be fully accessible to visitors,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Iceman Mummy’s DNA Mapped

Bolzano — Scientists said on Tuesday they had decoded the genome of a mummified Stone Age hunter found in the Italian Alps in 1991 — an achievement that could boost genetic medicine studies, including those on hereditary diseases.

“We now have access to the complete genetic profile of this world famous mummy. As a result the path is clear for an imminent solution to many of the puzzles surrounding the Iceman,” the Bolzano-based European Academy (Eurac) said in a statement.

Nicknamed Oetzi, the 5 000-year-old mummy is housed in the South Tyrol Archaeology Museum in Bolzano. He is believed to have died aged 46 after being shot with an arrow.

Scientists from Eurac, the University of Tbingen and experts in bioinformatics at Heidelberg, Germany, used the latest technologies to study Oetzi’s DNA — a process that began with the extraction of a bone sample from the pelvis of the ice mummy.

“It was a sensationally fast result,” Albert Zink, head of Eurac’s Institute for Mummies and the Iceman, told the German Press Agency. The process had been completed in two to three months when in the past “years” were required for such genome studies, Zink said.

The scientists now aim to process the “enormous quantity” of bio-data which has become available to them.

Such research could yield information on whether Oetzi’s descendants are still around today and if so, where they may be found.

It could also show up possible genetic mutations between modern humans and those who lived in ancient times, as well as information on common modern-day genetic diseases and other prevalent illnesses such as diabetes or cancer, Eurac said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sarkozy Orders Illegal Roma Immigrants Expelled

SAINT OUEN, France — French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ordered authorities to expel Gypsy illegal immigrants and dismantle their camps, amid accusations that his government is acting racist in its treatment of the group known as Roma.

Sarkozy called a government meeting Wednesday after Gypsies clashed with police this month following the shooting death of a youth fleeing officers in the Loire Valley.

Sarkozy said those responsible for the clashes would be “severely punished” and ordered the government to expel all illegal Roma immigrants, almost all of whom have come from eastern Europe.

He pushed for a change in France’s immigration law to make such expulsion easier “for reasons of public order.” He said illegal Gypsy camps “will be systematically evacuated,” calling them sources of trafficking, exploitation of children and prostitution.

The language has chilling undertones in a country where authorities rounded up Gypsies and sent them to concentration camps during the Nazi occupation in World War II. Former President Jacques Chirac, the first French leader to acknowledge the state’s role in the Holocaust, condemned “the Nazi madness that wanted to eliminate the Gypsies.”

Around Europe, some 250,000 to 1.5 million Roma were killed during World War II. Accurate figures are difficult to find, because so many Roma were rounded up away from public view, executed and dumped into mass graves.

French Roma representatives were not invited to Wednesday’s presidential meeting, and said they are the only ethnic group that French authorities can openly target.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux insisted that Wednesday’s measures “are not meant to stigmatize any community, regardless of who they are, but to punish illegal behavior.”

Romania and Bulgaria are members of the European Union, and their citizens can enter France without a visa, but they must get work permits to work here or residency permits to settle long term.

Community leaders contend the very principle of the meeting — which singled out an ethnic group in a country that is officially blind to ethnic origins — is racist and warn of grave consequences if their side isn’t heard. France’s government does not count how many of its citizens are of a certain ethnicity; everyone is simply considered French.

“Today … I am afraid we’re preparing to open a blighted page in the history of France, which could sadly lead to acts of reprisal in the days ahead,” said lawyer Henri Braun said at a Wednesday news conference by French Roma leaders. “There is a huge problem of racism in France towards this population, there is enormous discrimination.”

France’s relationship with what it calls Gypsies is complex and complicated by divisions among the disparate populations.

One, formally given the administrative label of “traveling folk,” includes several hundred thousand French citizens who have lived in France for centuries, and were traditionally nomadic but have become increasingly sedentary in recent years.

The other main Gypsy population is made up of recent immigrants who come mostly from Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria, usually illegally, and are often seen begging on the streets of French cities.

Those in the more established communities say they are being unfairly lumped together with illegal new immigrants. Sarkozy’s orders Wednesday targeted Roma, though the violence in Saint-Aignan earlier this month was in a community of traveling folk established in the region for years.

Alice Januel, whose organization represents Catholics among French Gypsies, warned that “If Mr. Sarkozy thinks that by clamping down he is going to calm the youth, I don’t think that he will succeed. We have a youth that is rebellious.”

Sarkozy also proposed that France bring in about 20 Romanian and Bulgarian police to work in the Paris region and send French police to Romania and Bulgaria, to help fight trafficking and other crime by Roma.

           — Hat tip: natskvi[Return to headlines]

Spain: Bullfighting is Banned in Spain (But Only in Catalonia and it Doesn’t Start for 2 Years)

Catalonia today became the first mainland Spanish region to ban bullfighting.

Cheers broke out in the local 135-seat legislature after the speaker announced the ban had passed by a vote 68 to 55 with nine abstentions.

The ban in the wealthy seaside region centering on Barcelona will take effect in 2012.

The bill went to parliament after 180,000 Catalans signed a petition circulated by anti-bullfighting group Prou! (Enough), which argues bullfights are cruel to animals.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Stieg Larsson First to Sell One Million Kindle Books

Sweden’s Stieg Larsson is the first author to sell more than one million books in Amazon’s Kindle electronic bookstore, the company announced on Tuesday.

Amazon said its Kindle store has sold over 1 million digital copies of the books in Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” Amazon said all three books are among the top 10 bestselling Kindle books of all time.

Larsson, the editor-in-chief of the magazine Expo, died suddenly of heart attack at age 50 in 2004. The trilogy chronicles the adventures of Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist like Larsson, and a young computer hacker and punky cohort in solving mysteries, Lisbeth Salander.

Hachette Book Group, publisher of US thriller writer James Patterson, said earlier this month that he had become the first novelist to sell more than one million e-books, a figure that includes other e-book sales besides Kindle. The Kindle electronic bookstore opened in 2007.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sony Pictures confirmed that British actor and Bond star Daniel Craig will star in “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Craig, 42, will start working on on the film in a few months after shooting on “Cowboys and Aliens” with co-star Harrison Ford finish wraps up.

Swedish production company Yellow Bird and directors Niels Arden Oplev and

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The EU Will Regret Its Dishonest, Humiliating Treatment of Turkey

Ankara has had a shabby deal from Brussels over its bid for EU membership, says Daniel Hannan.

David Cameron was too polite to say it in so many words, but his audience of Turkish MPs got the point: the EU is treating them shabbily. Singly, Europe’s governments have perfectly consistent policies. Some countries want, in Gladstone’s unhappy phrase, “to bundle the Turk, bag and baggage, out of Europe”. France, Austria and (less vocally) Germany are in this camp. Others, led by Britain, see Turkish membership as strategically valuable: a way to bolster the world’s chief Muslim democracy and perhaps, in the process, to dilute Euro-federalism.

A case can be made either way: Turcophiles argue that strengthening Ankara’s Western orientation will encourage democrats and reformers throughout the Islamic world; it is hard to see, for example, how to pacify Iran without benign Turkish intercession. Turcosceptics retort that admitting such a large Muslim country would fundamentally alter the character of the EU — a problem which, in their eyes, can only get worse as Turkey’s population grows while that of Old Europe shrivels.

Separately, both cases can be argued. Blended, they make for a policy based on deceit. The EU holds out the promise of accession without intending to honour it. In consequence, it risks creating the very thing it purports to fear: an alienated, snarling Islamic power on its borders. Of all the criticisms levelled at David Cameron, the strangest is that he is “not a proper Tory”. In his undoctrinaire way, he is as traditional a leader as any of his predecessors. His attitude to Turkey is a case in point. My party has been Turcophile since Derby’s leadership (as has The Daily Telegraph, which broke with Gladstone over his anti-Ottoman policy in 1877, and has been Tory ever since.)

Cameron’s reasons for backing Ankara’s bid for EU membership are solidly Tory: Turkey guarded Europe’s flank against the Bolshevists for three generations, and may one day be called on to do the same against the jihadis. In the circumstances, he believes, the Turks are being treated ungratefully by their allies.

He’s right. The EU’s treatment of Turkey will one day be seen as an epochal error. Had the Eurocrats made clear at the beginning that there was no prospect of full membership, and instead sat down to negotiate an alternative form of partnership, Ankara would have swallowed its disappointment. Instead, Brussels has dangled a false promise before Turks. It has made them accept humiliating reforms, ranging from the status of minorities to the history of the 1915 Armenian massacres. It chides them as authoritarian when they restrict the symbols of Islamic devotion, and chides them as fundamentalist when they don’t.

It has treated them especially unfairly over Cyprus: Greek Cypriots were rewarded when they rejected the EU’s reunification plans, Turkish Cypriots punished when they accepted them. Meanwhile, the Commission is imposing thousands of pages of the acquis communautaire on Turkey. Yet it has no intention of admitting a patriotic and populous Muslim nation to full membership — especially now that the Lisbon treaty has introduced a population-based voting system.

It’s not that all the criticisms made by opponents of membership are invalid. But Turks feel they are being held to a different standard. What has the unhappy history of the Armenians in Turkey got to do with the EU? Was Belgium required by the other states to apologise for its role in the Congo, or France to grovel about Algeria?

Not long ago, I spoke in a debate in the European Parliament on a motion condemning Turkey for failing to promote women in politics. When I pointed out that Turkey had elected a female prime minister 17 years ago, and that two thirds of existing member states had yet to reach this milestone, a kindly Christian Democrat took me aside afterwards and explained that I was missing the point. The decision not to admit Turkey had already been made in principle: everyone understood that, with a one-blackball system, there was no chance of the application going through. The objective now, he said, was to find a reason that wouldn’t upset our resident Muslim populations too much.

For what it’s worth, if I were Turkish, I would be against EU membership. Turkey is a dynamic country with — in marked contrast to the EU — a young population. The last thing it needs is the 48-hour week, the Common Agricultural Policy, the euro and the rest of the apparatus of Brussels corporatism. Why tie yourself to a shrinking part of the world economy when you have teeming new markets to your east? Why submit to rule by people who barely trouble to hide their contempt for you? (Similar arguments apply, mutatis mutandis, to Britain; but that’s another story.)

There is a difference, though, between choosing not to join and being told that you’re not good enough to join. Turks are as entitled to their pride as any other people. The way they have been messed around can hardly fail to make them despise the EU. Which, in the broader sweep of history, is likely to hurt the EU more than it does Turkey.

Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP for South East England

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: A Vital Player

What David Cameron said about Gaza yesterday was not new. He had already said that it was a giant open prison, and adding the word “camp” was not to ratchet up the rhetoric. What made it his strongest intervention yet in the conflict was the fact that he was speaking in Turkey, alongside Israel’s former ally and now scourge, prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who went on to compare the Israeli forces that attacked the flotilla to Somali pirates. The lesson of this is that a British prime minister can say something in Westminster which he cannot repeat in Ankara. This acknowledges how important a regional power Turkey has become.

The dramatic expansion of Turkey’s influence is more than just the product of a hyper-active foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu. Turkey has signed accords with Syria and Iraq. It defended the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir as a good Muslim. Along with Brazil, it brokered an agreement to transfer half of Iran’s supply of low-enriched uranium abroad — an offer that could still form part of the solution to the crisis. Turkey has transformed its relations with Russia and was the first to rush to Kyrgyzstan after the attempted ethnic cleansing of Uzbeks in the south. Join the dots of its contacts at all points of the compass around Ankara and there is some geographical truth in the opposition jibe that Mr Erdogan is trying to re-establish the Ottoman empire…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, Supports Turkey’s Bid to Join EU

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to fight for Turkey’s stalled bid to join the European Union. Mr. Cameron made the remarks during his first visit to Turkey as Britain’s prime minister. Cameron says he is angry that Turkey has not been allowed to join the European Union.

“You can really feel that there is a shared vision between us — both strongly wanting Turkey to become a full member of the European Union; both believing it is unfair that Turkey should be asked to guard the camp, but not sit in the tent,” Mr. Cameron said.

The European Union first opened formal talks with Turkey in 2005 on allowing the majority Muslim country to become a full EU member. But there are 35 policy areas that must be negotiated, and talks have opened in only 13 of them. Turkey’s refusal to open its sea and air ports to Cyprus has proved a major stumbling block. But Mr. Cameron says Turkey serves as a link between East and West. “Together we can work to try to resolve problems, whether it is our shared view that Iran should not have a nuclear weapon or whether it is our shared view that, in the Middle East, we need to go to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” he said.

Last month, Turkey voted against tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran for continuing its sensitive nuclear work.

Fadi Hakura, who runs the Turkey Project at London’s Chatham House, says Turkey would be a useful addition for the European Union. “It would gain a very important partner in the Middle East, in Central Asia, in the Caucasus; a country that is also a key transit point for oil and gas, a vibrant growing economy, a young population and a very very entrepreneurial society,” said Hakura. But he says it is unlikely to happen in the near future. “At the moment it looks very unlikely that Turkey will join any time soon,” he added. “There are deep apprehensions towards Turkey’s membership from the European public as well as also from key members of the European Union, such as France and Germany. And for that reason, it is likely to take quite a long time — if at all — for Turkey to join the European Union.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel say they would like Turkey to have a “privileged partnership” with the bloc, rather than full membership.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Mosque Bomb Plot’ Open Fire on EDL Extremists

ARMED police who feared right-wing fanatics were about to blow up a mosque fired shots in a dramatic swoop. Six members of the English Defence League were arrested in the operation. They were detained by officers probing an alleged plot to attack a Muslim temple.

Police marksmen opened fire on suspected ringleader John Broomfield and shot out the tyres on his van. He had been driving home from work and was stuck in traffic when police pounced. Officers later swooped on Broomfield’s home and seized computer equipment, phones and passports. At the same time, five other members of the group were arrested at various addresses on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion.

They were all quizzed by police, along with a seventh man, before they were released without charge. The English Defence League has repeatedly clashed with Muslim extremists and it is understood police were acting on information received. Broomfield, 27, the head of Dorset EDL, told how officers swooped on him in Corfe Castle, Dorset. He said: “There was an unmarked police car in a layby and within seconds of me stopping officers appeared from it and ran up the road. They shot at my tyres and smashed the window. There has been no conspiracy. The EDL is not a terrorist organisation. “We are not anti-Muslim, we are anti-Muslim extremism.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “These people have been released without charge. At this stage there is no indication whatsoever any of the mosques in Dorset are under threat of attack.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cops Fire at ‘Racist Plot’ Van

ARMED police opened fire on a van as they swooped on a far-right group suspected of plotting to blow up a mosque.

Cops used special tyre deflation rounds to disable a Ford Escort van driven by English Defence League official John Broomfield. Officers smashed a window and hauled the suspect out while he was stuck in traffic near the picturesque tourist spot of Corfe Castle, Dorset. Police then raided Mr Broomfield’s home in nearby Swanage and seized computer equipment, mobile phones and passports.

Five more English Defence League members and another person were also arrested in simultaneous raids at several addresses.

The suspects were questioned about an alleged conspiracy to bomb a mosque in Bournemouth. All were later released without charge. Mr Broomfield, head of the Dorset EDL, told how cops sprang from an unmarked car to arrest him on his way home from work. He said: “Within seconds of stopping police ran up, shot at my tyres and smashed the window in. For a second I thought they were shooting at me — it was extremely scary.”

Mr Broomfield, a property maintenance worker, said those arrested were held for 24 hours before being freed. He added “There has never been any conspiracy and the EDL is not a terrorist organisation.” The EDL has been protesting against Islamic extremists since 2009. Demos often involve racist chants, but EDL chiefs deny it is a racist group. Police confirmed details of the arrests. A spokesman added: “At this stage there is no indication that mosques in Dorset are under threat of attack.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Does the Prime Minister Understand the ‘Real Islam’?

The Prime Minister has decided that Turkey should be a member of the EU in order to form some sort of bridge with the rest of the Muslim world. He has also made the same mistake that the last government — and most apologists on the left made about Islam. He said of those people critical of Islam: ‘They see no difference between real Islam and the distorted version of the extremists. They think the values of Islam can never be compatible with the values of other religions, societies or cultures.’

In other words he is setting himself up as a Koranic expert, much as did Blair, in being able to adjudicate as to what is the “real Islam”. Obviously the “Real Islam” isn’t people blowing themselves up, although a large proportion of Palestinians, Afghans and so on would argue that it is, as would one or two cadres sitting tight in their Keighley or Tipton bedsits. But ok, let’s give him that one. What about apostasy, then? The majority of Islamic states impose a penalty for giving up the religion, either through the state or sharia courts; imprisonment or death. Is this Real Islam or the “distorted version of the extremists”? It’s certainly the practice of the overwhelming majority of Islamic countries, and cleaved to by all four major schools of Islamic thought, even the comparatively liberal Hanafi. What about gays? More than 30 of the 50 or so Islamic countries persecute homosexuals with anything ranging from fines to beheadings. Again, all four schools of Islamic thought believe homosexuality to be haram and thus worthy of punishment. Are they Cameron’s fatuous “Real Islam”, or the other kind? What about rights of women, rights of Christians to practice their faith AND proselytise, what about being allowed to whisper that Allah’s a goon, or doesn’t exist? What about the attitude towards Israel and, more pertinently, Jews in general? Cameron’s “Real Islam” in truth consists of secular west Turkey and a few decent liberal Muslim organisations in the UK, a constituency which represents a minuscule proportion of the Ummah. You don’t “understand” Islam by making this false dichotomy; it is not just presumptuous and ignorant, but also plain wrong.

Not unusually, Cameron is talking out of his arse.

[JP note: One of the comments left at this blog post by the commentator, Dont need no fascist Muslims telling what to think at 09:08 am, 28 July 2010:

While Cameron is sweet-talking the Turks and lecturing evil Jews about their heinous crimes, in Sharia Prison Camp Britain, the police work for far-right Mullahs:

‘Members of the English Defence League, a group which takes as its sole agenda opposition to the ferocious encroachments of far-right Islam, and far-right Muslims, within the land of Great Britain, endured the spectacle of armed British police, apparently willing to appease those far-right Muslims, fire on unarmed EDL members who were protesting against far-right Islam.” (Bournemouth Echo, slightly amended)]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron in Hot Water as PM Accuses Pakistan of ‘Exporting Terror’

David Cameron risked a diplomatic row with one of Britain’s key allies yesterday as he accused Pakistan of ‘exporting terror’.

Speaking to Indian businessmen in Bangalore the Prime Minister hit out at Pakistan for trying to ‘look both ways’ and suggested it connived to allow the spread osf terror.

His outburst came as Britain offered to share nuclear secrets and sell military jets to India, Pakistan’s bitter foe in the long-running conflict over the disputed Kashmir region.

The PM also refused to apologise over his declaration that Britain should show ‘humility’ to India.

Mr Cameron insisted he was not talking down the UK but argued it was right to be ‘realistic’ about our place in the modern world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Members Arrested in Far-Right Bomb Plot

Seven members of the ‘racist’ far-right English Defence League (EDL) were arrested by armed police following claims they were involved in a plot to bomb a mosque in Bournemouth. John Broomfield, head of the EDL’s ‘Dorset Division’ was apprehended after armed police shot out the tyres on his car. Computer equipment, passports, and other items were seized from Broomfield and six other terror suspects.

The seven accused terror suspects were released without charge and police have reassured the Muslim community that no mosques in Dorset are under threat of imminent attack.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL Set to March in Bradford

The EDL Nazis intend to march in Bradford over the August Bank Holiday during Ramadan and the reaction from the Bradford Mosques is to put out a statement saying the EDL are not wanted.

Let me be clear to my Bradford brothers and sisters stop behaving like complete twats. The Nazi scum many of whom can’t read are not interested in poxy statements they only understand one language which is violence and it is the EDL who are the real extremists. Bradford Muslims need to take a leaf out of the warriors from Muslim Defence League’s approach in Harrow and East London where we defended the community which resulted in the Nazi scum describing any return to London as a “suicide” attempt.

Bradford Muslim Youth get organised, put the word out across the North West to all Anti Nazis, defend your community, ignore the old guard within the community whose main interest is the collection after Jummah prayers and crucially remember like we did in Harrow that the battle of Badr occurred during Ramadan.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Gaza Remark Signals Cameron’s Kick-and-Run Diplomacy

Cameron’s characterisation of Gaza as a ‘prison camp’ during a love-in with Turkey reflects a very different diplomatic approach

David Cameron jumped into the ever-sensitive politics of the Middle East with both boots flying today, determined to call a spade a bloody shovel and Gaza a “prison camp” that shamed all those, principally Israel, responsible for its enduring misery. Cameron’s lunge was the diplomatic equivalent of Nigel de Jong’s chest-high tackle of Xabi Alonso in the World Cup final. From Israel’s perspective, he too was lucky not to be sent off.

If Britain’s greenhorn prime minister, new to the global diplomatic game, felt he had gone over the top in his speech in Ankara, he did not show it. Speaking with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s neo-Islamist leader, at his side, Cameron said his comments, including his condemnation of the 31 May Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla, were “warranted” by the situation there.

“I speak as someone who is a friend of Israel, who desperately wants a secure and safe and stable Israel after the two-state solution has come about,” Cameron said in a press conference after his speech. But if he thought he needed to balance his remarks, no help was forthcoming from his hard-nosed host. “The fact that this blockade [of Gaza] has not been lifted is a tragedy,” said Erdogan, the self-appointed hammer of the Israelis. “This attack in international waters can only be termed piracy.”

Turkey used to be Israel’s best friend in the Middle East. But since he first weighed into the Israelis over last year’s Gaza incursion, Erdogan’s popularity ratings in the Arab world have soared and bilateral ties have shredded. To Washington’s open dismay, he has also become a bit of an apologist for Iran and Syria. For Britain, this makes him a useful but risky ally.

Perhaps Cameron was geed up by Barack Obama in Washington last week. But so keen was he to cement what he called a “new partnership” and a “vital strategic relationship”, anchored in Turkey’s prospective membership of the EU, that he glossed over some of the more troublesome aspects of life under Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development party. Thus he made no mention of Turkey’s failure so far to bring its judicial system, its media laws, its civil protections and minority rights into line with EU norms. He ignored September’s referendum on controversial government-framed constitutional changes, which critics say are authoritarian in nature, and skirted the Cyprus issue. And ignoring the upsurge in lethal violence in the south-east of the country, he suggested that Turkey’s much put-upon Kurdish minority had a lot to thank Erdogan for.

Cameron’s central arguments in favour of Turkish EU membership were hard to refute. Turkey does indeed have a fast-growing economy and youthful workforce that offers Britain (and Europe) potentially lucrative markets and skills. Turkey is an important Nato ally that has backed Britain in Afghanistan and in fighting terrorism. And as a secular, majority Muslim democracy, its accession would strengthen and broaden the EU while creating a bridge to the Middle East, the Caucasus and central Asia.

As with his criticism of Israel, a combative Cameron showed he would not pull his punches in backing Ankara’s EU bid — or be slow to finger those who obstruct it. Without mentioning names, he effectively accused Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and lesser European powers such as Austria who also object to Turkish membership of protectionism, polarisation and prejudice.

Just to be clear, Cameron helpfully defined this latter category. The prejudiced were “those who don’t differentiate between real Islam and the extremist version. They don’t understand the values Islam shares with other religions like Christianity and Judaism … I will always argue that the values of real Islam are not incompatible with the values of Europe.”

For good measure, he also had a pop at Charles de Gaulle, who temporarily blocked Britain’s EU accession. Cameron’s implied criticism of key EU partners who have not done him any favours in the past, plus a shameless love-in with Turkey that will also dismay and annoy the Greeks and Greek Cypriots, suggests the new British government’s uneven European relationships could yet grow fractious. Perhaps as he heads for India tonight, another target market for the “big society” writ large, Cameron will not worry too much what they are saying in Brussels or Jerusalem.

With its mix of energy and determination, this is Cameron-style kick-and-run diplomacy. Call it naive. Or call it radical. But it’s certainly different.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Join us in Persuading the Home Secretary to Stop a Planned Demonstration

Today the Telegraph & Argus is launching a campaign to keep hatred and violence off the streets of our beloved city. We are asking T&A readers to join us in persuading the Home Secretary to stop a planned demonstration (like the one pictured, in Bolton) by the English Defence League in Bradford at the end of August.

Quite simply, it is something that this city does not need, want or welcome. We believe that if this march were to go ahead it could only damage community relations and threaten the prosperity and harmony of the city and district. More than in any other city, those of us who lived through the riots of nearly ten years ago know only too well what devastation displays of hatred and intolerance can cause.

The EDL claims to be a “grass roots social movement” which represents, in its words, “every walk of life, every race, every creed and every colour; from the working class to middle England”.

The truth is very different. It is an organisation which thrives on fear, untruths, rumours and hatred and one whose message is divisive to the point where it is dangerous It will argue that its march is to highlight issues relating to radical Islam but it is impossible to see it as anything other than an attempt to stir up hatred against all Muslims.

Do not doubt that the appearance of its members in huge numbers in Bradford could be a disaster for the city and the district. Bradford is a city rich in many cultures — something of which we can be justifiably proud. Why should we invite people into our community whose very presence would be a huge insult to part of that community and even put a strain on the good relations between people of different backgrounds? No doubt some people will say that to stop the EDL from demonstrating would infringe their human rights. What about the human rights of all of us who live here peacefully and do not want these unsavoury characters anywhere near our city?

Some will doubtless claim that the EDL’s freedom of speech is being curtailed. They are wrong, because when that speech is dripping with venom and designed purely to stir up hatred then a stand must be taken. Wherever and whenever the EDL has mounted demonstrations across the UK there has been violence, vandalism and hatred. That is a fact which cannot be disputed — and we do not want that on the streets of our city…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Liberty Warn Tory MP of Legal Action if He Refuses to Meet Veiled Constituents

Tory MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone, who said ‘wearing a burqa is like having a paper bag over your head’ has been warned that he ‘could face legal action if he follows through on a threat to refuse to meet constituents wearing the veil.’

From the Guardian:

‘Lawyers for Liberty have written to Philip Hollobone insisting that his stance is unlawful and that they “will be happy to represent any of your constituents that you refuse to meet because they are veiled”.

‘The group warns him that the UK’s Equality Act and the European convention on human rights (ECHR) oblige him to avoid discrimination. Because his ban would only affect Muslim women, it would also amount to indirect sex discrimination, the letter says.’

Liberty says:

‘Article 9 of the ECHR states that everyone has the freedom to manifest their religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance. Any interferences with this right must be both necessary (e.g. to protect other people) and proportionate. The Equality Act 2006 prohibits both direct and indirect discrimination on the grounds of a person’s religion or belief. This prohibition applies to, amongst others, those providing a service or who have functions of a public nature.’

The Daily Express’ editorial today unsurprisingly attacked Liberty, saying:

‘Instead of hounding Mr Hollobone Liberty should live up to its name by campaigning for Muslim women to be liberated from the curse of the veil.’

It appears the paper is far more concerned with propagating prejudices than upholding the law, honouring human rights and the freedom of choice of women to wear what they wish.

Prejudice, abuse and hostility have reportedly increased particularly against Muslim women. The Leicester Mercury reported last week that police in Leicestershire have seen a ‘sharp rise in crimes, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks, against Muslims in the past year.’

Leicestershire police have set up a website to facilitate the reporting of hate crimes:

[JP note: More cop dhimmitude.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Leaders Call on Communities to Prevent All Groups ‘Disrupting Peace’

Bradford’s Council for Mosques has backed the Telegraph & Argus campaign supporting calls for a ban on a proposed English Defence League rally in the city. The EDL has planned to flood the streets with thousands of supporters during August Bank Holiday weekend. Today, Muslim leaders in Bradford called on all of the city’s diverse communities to stop any groups “disrupting the peace”.

A spokesman for the Council for Mosques said in a statement: “All communities in Bradford must unite to say that EDL or other organisations of its type are not wanted in Bradford.”

He said that the Council for Mosques was united in its determination to keep such elements out of neighbourhoods and the city. “EDL is committed to disrupting the peace and harmony of our neighbourhoods, towns and cities,” he added. “They do this through propaganda, which encourages and incites racial and religious hatred, and by setting communities against each other. We must not allow ourselves to be drawn into their web of hatred.”

The Council for Mosques is working with Bradford Council, West Yorkshire Police and Bradford District Faith Forum, as well as voluntary groups, to make people aware of EDL tactics.

A campaign against the rally has been started by groups under the Bradford Together Banner and is backed by politicians in the city, business and faith leaders, academics and members of the public. Khadim Hussain, president of the Council for Mosques, said: “Some people may think that EDL is only targeting Muslims and that therefore they should not get involved. The EDL is against everyone who does not fit into their misguided and false definition of what constitutes Britishness. This time its Muslim; next time it will be someone else. Therefore, let us work together — Muslim, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Jews, humanists — to say to EDL: ‘We are not interested in your type of politics’.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police in Dorset Arrest EDL Member Accused Over Suspected Bomb Plot

Driver and six others arrested for conspiracy to cause an explosion — but all were later released without charge

Armed police opened fire on a van in an idyllic Dorset village as part of an investigation into a suspected bomb plot on a mosque by far-right activists, it emerged today. A marksman stopped the van, driven by a man who says he is a member of the English Defence League, by shooting at a tyre as it drove through the historic village of Corfe Castle last week.

The driver, former soldier John Broomfield, 27, and six others were arrested for conspiracy to cause an explosion, but were all later released without charge. Police said they had been working closely with the Muslim community since the incident. It appears officers had followed Broomfield home from work and pounced as he waited in traffic in Corfe Castle. A “rapid tyre deflation” round was used to disable the vehicle, and Broomfield was hauled out and arrested.

Police, including forensic officers, then swooped on Broomfield’s home in Swanage, Dorset, and seized computer equipment, mobile phones and passports. At the same time, six other people were arrested at various addresses on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion. They were later released without charge. Describing the experience as “traumatic”, Broomfield said: “While travelling home from work I was stopped and arrested by armed police. I approached a roundabout near Corfe Castle and there were about six cars in front of me. There was an unmarked police car in a lay-by, and within seconds of me stopping, police appeared from it, ran up the road and shot at my tyres and smashed the window in. I was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to cause an explosion at a Bournemouth mosque.”

Broomfield claimed that of those arrested, five were members of the EDL. All were released without charge within 24 hours. He alleged that police had carried out surveillance of an EDL meeting where he said members had been discussing sites of possible future demonstrations. But he claimed: “There has been no conspiracy, there has never been any conspiracy. The EDL is not a terrorist organisation. We are not anti-Muslim; we are anti-Muslim extremism.” The arrests took place on Thursday last week, but details have only now emerged. Broomfield claimed police believed an attack was due to take place on Friday. He said he had lost a job in property maintenance as a result of the incident, and intended to speak to a solicitor about it.

A police spokesman said: “We have been working very closely with the Muslim community since last Thursday and our local safer neighbourhood teams have been providing advice and reassurance throughout. At this stage there is no indication whatsoever that any of the mosques in Dorset are under threat of attack.” A police source confirmed the inquiry concerned suspected members of the EDL.

The EDL, which started in Luton last year, and whose supporters are split into “divisions” across the UK, has become the most significant far-right street movement in the UK since the National Front in the 1970s. A Guardian investigation earlier this summer identified a number of known rightwing extremists taking an interest in the movement — from convicted football hooligans to members of violent rightwing splinter groups. Many of its protests, which have sometimes attracted as many as 3,000 people, have descended into violence and racist and Islamophobic chanting.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Politicians Call on Home Secretary to Halt Race-Hate Protest

Bradford Council’s political leaders have spoken out against the proposed English Defence League demonstration. And Council leader Ian Greenwood has explained why he wants the Home Office to ban the event scheduled for August 28. Coun Greenwood, said: “We have listened to the views of a wide range of local groups about the English Defence League’s (EDL) plans to come to Bradford. The Council by itself has no powers to ban such an event without the consent of the Home Secretary. In these circumstances, we are asking the Home Secretary for this consent. “Everyone has a right to protest peacefully, and we strongly support that right. But the EDL’s activities in other towns and cities across the country have resulted in significant disruption, some public disorder, and cost the taxpayer, local businesses and local communities many thousands of pounds. The people of Bradford want to enjoy their Bank Holiday without having it disrupted by people from outside our district who have no concern about this community, no concern about its local businesses and no interest in its future. We are currently gathering information about how the EDL’s demonstration could affect local people and businesses, to give to the Government in urging them to give their consent to ban the demonstration”.

Martin Love, Green Party leader, said: “We want the whole thing to be stopped so that we can have a normal, enjoyable, bank holiday weekend. We have been backing Ian Greenwood on this and we have asked the Council’s chief executive to gather the necessary evidence to go to the Home Secretary and bring in the ban.” Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “The issue for me is how a ban is framed. Should the ban effectively stop 10,000 thugs from turning up in our city centre trying to have a riot? — Yes. Should a ban paralyse civic life for months? — No it shouldn’t. We need to be very, very clear about what we will be banning.”

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth, leader of the Conservative group on Bradford Council said: “Free speech and protest are accepted within a free country and should be supported. Human rights legislation reaffirms the right to insult and the right to protest. However public disorder is not acceptable and the public should not be put in any position of risk or danger.”

Shopkeepers fears over rally

Bradford city centre retailers have told of their fears about what effect the EDL rally would have on trade, already suffering in difficult economic times. At a meeting of city centre retailers to discuss regeneration with City Hall chiefs, shopkeepers voiced their concern about the proposed rally. At the meeting last week one retailer with a shop in Westgate wanted to know what contingency plan the Council had in place to deal with the planned EDL protest on August 28. She told the meeting that “everyone was terrified about it” and the damage it could cause to Bradford.

Coun David Green responded by outlining the proposals to lobby the Home Secretary for a ban in Bradford which would cover the EDL event. He said: “Everywhere they have been there has been violence and people avoiding city and town centres. The danger to Bradford as a district and a city centre in particular is immense. We’ve been talking about promotion (of the city centre), the potential is that it’s going to put us back ten to 15 years.”

When the EDL held an event in Bolton earlier this year (pictured left) the town centre was brought to a standstill and it devastated local trade. Coun Green said the Hope Not Hate organisation had organised an online petition and had produced postcards for people to sign, calling on the Home Secretary to ban the protest. He urged retailers to sign them and take some for their friends, and to sign the petition…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Political Leaders Unite Against the EDL

Political leaders from across Bradford have been adding their voices to the Stop the March of Hate campaign, initiated by HOPE not hate. Quotes from the leaders of the four main parties have been carried in today’s Telegraph & Argus, Bradford’s daily newspaper, which is itself backing the campaign. The newspaper also reports on a meeting between council leaders and local retailers, where concern was expressed about the impact the EDL protest would have on local businesses. One shopkeeper told the newspaper: “everyone was terrified about it and the damage it could cause to Bradford”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Pair in Court Over Bradford University’s Student Death

A Bradford University student was tortured and murdered when two brutal robbers tricked their way into his home, a jury heard. Siu Tung Ho, 19, was stabbed 13 times and had his throat slashed before his bank account was plundered, Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday. His sister was struck on the head with a bottle and tied to a chair in a dark cellar area and her boyfriend was stabbed and bound, it is alleged.

The Crown’s case is that Reaben Kareem, an Iraqi Kurd, planned the robbery because he had run up gambling debts and was desperate for money. His accomplice, Jwanru Osman, from Kurdistan, told police the crime was based on the horror film Hostel. Kareem, 20, of Coal Pool, Walsall, West Midlands, sat in the dock with his head in his hands as the case was opened to the jury.

Osman, 20, of Northolt, Middlesex, had his arms folded.

Prosecutor Paul Greaney QC said Siu Tung Ho, known as Tony, was studying chemistry and forensic science at the university. He lived with his sister — pharmacy student Siu Luen Ho, 22, known as Sally — in student accommodation in Grantham Road, Great Horton, Bradford. Tony and Sally were born to parents from Hong Kong and privately educated in England. The jury heard they received “substantial financial support” from their family and had access to funds. Also living in the terraced house was Sally’s boyfriend, law student Gavin Stolarczyk, 30. All three were at home at about 1pm on Friday, January 22, when Kareem knocked on the door. Mr Greaney said: “His purpose was to rob at any cost.” The jury was told that Kareem struck Sally on the head with a vodka bottle.

After she fell to the floor she saw Osman holding what was probably a wheel brace. Kareen kissed Sally on the forehead and told her he wanted money. She was lashed to a chair with electrical cord and her mouth was taped up. Gavin was stabbed in his left side and tied up. Mr Greaney said Tony died in his sister’s bedroom from multiple stab wounds. He was knifed seven times to the body and six to the arms. Five wounds completely pierced through his limbs. He was left under a Mickey Mouse duvet in the blood-soaked room. Mr Greaney alleges he was tortured to reveal his bank details before his throat was slashed. The sum of £1,600 was transferred from his account to Kareem’s. It is alleged Kareem tried to take almost £4,000 from Sally’s account but failed.

He told her to blame “local Pakistani men” for the crimes, the jury was told. Gavin and Sally were forced to take sleeping pills before their attackers fled the area. Sally found her brother’s body. He was bound to her bed and had a wire round his neck.

Sally and Gavin were treated at Bradford Royal Infirmary. Sally had facial injuries and ligature marks on her wrists and ankles. Gavin suffered a knife wound to his left side that passed close to major organs. Kareem and Osman went to London, calling for Kareem’s passport on the way. Both later handed themselves in to the police. Osman allegedly told an officer: “I just can’t get it all out of my head. I can see his face. He was screaming for his life. “He planned all of this. He based it on the film Hostel. “He was so calm. He planned everything. He was just slashing him with the knife so calmly.”

Mr Greaney said that three days before the crimes Kareem enquired about a flight to Erbil in Iraq for January 27. The jury heard that the men blamed one another. “This is not a case of ‘whodunit’. It is a case of ‘they did it’,” Mr Greaney said. He alleged Kareen was holding a machete and he and Osman both had knives. Kareem denies murder but admits conspiracy to rob and wounding Sally and Gavin with intent to cause them grievous bodily harm. Osman admits conspiracy to rob but denies murder and both charges of intending to cause grievous bodily harm. He told police he went to the students’ house with Kareem for a cup of tea and was caught up in the violence.

The trial continues.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Undiplomatic David Cameron

Having now read David Cameron’s speech in Turkey yesterday, all I can say is the Foreign Office will be well pleased. It is the most anti Israeli speech ever made by a British Prime Minister and the most pro Arab. The fact that Cameron called Gaza a “prison camp” will have sent shock waves through the Israeli government, but it will have delighted the FCO Arabists (and they virtually all are). It was clearly drafted by the most pro Arab civil servant in the Foreign Office. The only pity was that David Cameron went along with it. Margaret Thatcher would have passed it to Charles Powell for a dramatic rewrite.

This was, in many ways, a very undiplomatic speech. As well as annoying the Israelis, Germany and France will be furious that Cameron implicitly had a go at them for blocking Turkish entry to the EU. He said it made him “angry” and that he will now be Turkey’s vice in the negotiations. You can understand his reasons (closer economic ties, bridge between East and West, a bridge to Islam etc) but they are not particularly watertight. There’s little doubt that if Turkey got full membership there would be a huge migration West and I totally understand Germany’s fears in particular.

I rather like politicians who engage in undiplomatic language and this isn’t the first time Cameron has gone down that path. But I prefer it when he does it on issues where I can agree with him!

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why Cameron is Stuffed on Turkey

YOU can’t fault David Cameron for courage. First he accuses Israel of turning Gaza into a “prison camp”.

Then he lambasts Germany and France for locking the door on 70 million Turkish Muslims. Not bad for one day’s work.

Mr Cameron’s campaign for Turkey to join the European Union may be commendable. Right now, millions of British holidaymakers are abandoning costly Spain and Greece and flocking to the sunshine resorts of Bodrum and Fethiye. Most will come home with glowing reports about their food and hospitality. Turkey is desperately trying to transform itself from a proud but poor nation into a prosperous modern democracy. It sees EU membership as its passport to success. France and Germany see it as a passport to Europe for countless Turkish economic migrants.

The history of Europe and Turkey is chequered with contradictions. We were enemies in the First World War — and allies in the Second. Until a century ago, Turkey was the centre of the Islamic world, the caliphate from which all Muslims took their orders. Today, long after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the start of secular rule under the presidency of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923, it is moderate and pro-Western.

The regime rightly stands condemned for using torture and repression. Yet by comparison with some Arab states, it has a rule of law and a tolerant attitude to non-Muslims. The head scarf for women is banned in schools and public areas. France and Germany don’t want them getting too close but are grateful for Ankara’s military muscle. Turkey is a key member of the Nato defence alliance fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. Situated on the crossroads between Europe and Asia, it offers a crucial filter between the Christian West and the world of Islam to the East.

British governments have long championed its EU credentials. David Cameron, like Tony Blair and John Major, fears a snub from Brussels will increase growing tension with Islamic militants.

It is better, he argues, to have 70million Muslim allies inside the EU than a hardline military regime looking over our border.

But what if extremists take over AFTER Turkey joins up?

Once in the EU, Turkey would be a powerful voice, second in size only to Germany. Any of its poor or unemployed would be entitled to move West in search of jobs. Germany has already experienced the consequences. In 1961 a few thousand Turkish workers were invited to do jobs the Germans wouldn’t touch. Today the number has grown to an increasingly assertive FOUR MILLION. What would be the response of British voters — already angry over the arrival of three million new migrants? The answer is likely to be explosive. Immigration is already a potent source of division in the Lib-Con coalition. Business Secretary Vince Cable infuriated the Tory right yesterday by calling for “as liberal an immigration policy as it’s possible to have”.

Mr Cameron has the comfort of knowing this isn’t going to happen. Turkey can’t join until it resolves its dispute with Greece over the division of Cyprus. Greece today depends on Germany for economic survival.

So long as Berlin pulls the strings, Turkey has no chance of becoming Europe’s 28th member state.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Italy: Arab and European Youth Conference in Ragusa

(ANSAmed) — PALERMO — By boat, from Tunis to Sicily, to strengthen the dialogue between Europe and the Arab world and to focus common strategies within the context of youth politics.

The journey of one hundred twenty young people begins July 22 in Tunis, with the first meeting of the participants, half from Arab countries, the other half from the European Union, and will continue in Marina di Ragusa for the “Euro Arab Youth Conference — Mare nostrum — Sicilia 2010”, scheduled from July 25 to July 29 in the Donnafugata Castle in Ragusa.

The event is organised by the Italian Ministry for Youth through the National Youth Forum, in collaboration with the Foreign Ministry, the Arab League and the European Council, as part of the International Youth Year. Three round tables have been scheduled, covering themes including legality, justice and development.

“The future of the Mediterranean”, explained Vincenzo Coniglio, coordinator of the university internationalisation and research centres service for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Rome, “is in the hands of the young. Demographic trends show that on the southern shore of ‘Mare Nostrum’ more than 50% of the population is under 30. These moments of dialogue and comparison are fundamental in contributing to the breaking down of stereotypes and for constructing real growth between the two sides of the Mediterranean through joint strategies”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Cameron’s Provocative Language Over Gaza Serves to Obscure the Issue

And there’s me thinking that David Cameron’s overtures to Turkey were newsworthy enough, when he drops this into his speech in Ankara:

“Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. But as, hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it’s Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.”

In a wider sense, this is indicative of the West’s firmer attitude towards Israel in the wake of the flotilla incident. But Cameron should still be wary about using such provocative, emotive language. The situation in Gaza is a two-sided coin: yes, humanitarian channels should be kept open (provided they serve the general, peaceful population), but it shouldn’t be forgotten that — as I’ve written before — Hamas and their allies are as much to blame for the crisis in Gaza as anyone else. Obscuring that fact is neither helpful nor right.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

David Cameron is Wrong About Gaza Blockade

Sorry Prime Minister, but you are making a big mistake with your misguided attempt to display your politically correct credentials over the Gaza blockade in Turkey.

The situation of the Palestinians in Gaza might be dire, but it is wrong to heap all the blame on Israel for their predicament, as you did in your press conference in Ankara today. The real culprit is the militant Palestinian group Hamas which, having seized control of Gaza through force of arms, has persisted with its policy of campaigning for the destruction of the State of Israel.

The constant barrage of missiles that Hamas fires at Israeli civilian neighbourhoods whenever it gets the opportunity to do so gives the Israelis no alternative other than to enforce a blockade that ensures the flow of military supplies to Hamas is restricted.

If Mr Cameron really wants to make a valuable contribution to the Middle East, he would be better advised to call on Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to exist, and stop firing its rockets at Israeli civilians.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

David Cameron: Gaza is a Prison Camp

PM in a humanitarian call for Israel to end its blockade

David Cameron yesterday launched a blistering attack on Israel over its crippling blockade of Gaza. He accused officials of turning the disputed territory into a prison camp and demanded provisions be allowed in.

In a speech to Turkish business leaders, the PM said: “Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

Turkey has felt the full force of Israeli brutality. Nine nationals died when special forces raided a flotilla carrying emergency aid to Gaza in May. Quizzed later on his comments, Mr Cameron insisted the prison description was warranted. He said: “The fact is we have long supported lifting the blockade and long supported proper humanitarian access.”

But the PM called on Turkey to stop supporting Iran with its refusal to back sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear weapons programme. Turkey was one of only two countries to vote against a new round of UN action against Iran.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

David Cameron: Gaza ‘Must Not Remain a Prison Camp’

Gaza is a ‘prison camp’, according to David Cameron, who made the comment as he pledged to support Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.

He appealed to Israel to allow the free flow of humanitarian goods and people in and out of the Palestinian territory. The prime minister spoke during a visit to Turkey, where relations with Israel have been strained since May when troops stormed a flotilla of ships carrying supplies to Gaza. Eight Turks and one Turkish-American were killed.

Speaking in Ankara, Mr Cameron denounced it as ‘completely unacceptable’ and restated his call for Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver a ‘swift, transparent and rigorous’ inquiry.

Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has severely limited the movement of people and goods since 2007, has sparked outrage in Islamic Turkey. ‘The situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions,’ Mr Cameron said. ‘Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.’

Mr Cameron also said Turkey’s support for action in Afghanistan would help earn it a place in the EU. ‘When I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a Nato ally, and what Turkey is doing today in Afghanistan, it makes me angry that your progress towards EU membership can be frustrated in the way it has been,’ he added.

Pointing to economic growth of 11 per cent this year and a population of 72 million, he said allowing Turkey into the EU would be great for British trade. But several countries remain strongly opposed to Turkey’s membership. Turkey’s treatment of its Kurdish minority, its involvement in the Cyprus dispute and its refusal to open its ports to Greek Cypriot goods have delayed negotiations on membership.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

David Cameron Panders to Turkey — at Israel’s Expense

Western leaders have been puzzling over how to respond to the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which in recent months has abandoned its former policy of seeking integration with Europe and begun seeking to establish itself as an Islamic power — with cosy relations with Iran and Syria.

On Tuesday Britain’s new prime minister, David Cameron, tried shameless pandering. In a speech delivered in Ankara, Cameron first denounced European opponents of Turkey’s membership in the European Union, saying they were motivated by protectionism or prejudice against Islam. But Erdogan lost interest in the E.U. some time ago. So Cameron embraced the Turkish leader’s new favorite subject: the evils of Israel.

“The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable,” Cameron said. Then he added: “Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp.”

A prison camp? Israel’s enemies are fond of using that term, with its implicit hint that the Jewish state has adopted the policies of Nazi Germany. But according to the BBC, no British prime minister has ever spoken so harshly of Israel’s handling of Gaza. Asked about it later, Cameron protested that he was only repeating what he had said in a House of Commons debate several weeks ago. But the Guardian checked: in that instance, the prime minister referred to Gaza as “a giant open prison,” not a prison camp.

Erdogan, of course, was delighted to have Cameron join his anti-Israel campaign. His Islamist ruling party encouraged the Turkish ferry whose attempt to break Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza at the end of May led to a clash in which nine Turks — all of them members or supporters of a militant Islamic “charity” — died. Since then Erdogan has been using the incident in a bid to compete with Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah for leadership of the Middle East’s Israel-hating “street.”

Standing alongside Cameron, Erdogan compared Israel to the “pirates of Somalia” and added that people in Gaza “are living under constant attacks and pressure in an open air prison.” That was fairly mild stuff for the Turkish PM, who regularly accuses Israel of “state terrorism” and last month called it an “adolescent, rootless state.”

If Cameron was troubled by such rhetoric, or by Turkey’s role in the ferry incident, he gave no indication of it. Instead he proclaimed that “when I think about what Turkey has done to defend Europe as a NATO ally… it makes me angry that your progress toward E.U. membership can be frustrated in the way it has been.”

That may win the new British government some points in Ankara. But the price will be paid by Israel, which has just seen the international campaign to delegitimize it gain a little more momentum.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Gaza is a “Prison Camp”, Says Cameron

In a significant increase in the rhetorical temperature, David Cameron has renewed his condemnation of Israel for blockading Gaza and compared the situation in the Hamas-controlled territory to a “prison camp”:

“Turkey’s relationships in the [Middle East] region, both with Israel and with the Arab world, are of incalculable value. No other country has the same potential to build understanding between Israel and the Arab world. I know that Gaza has led to real strains in Turkey’s relationship with Israel. But Turkey is a friend of Israel. And I urge Turkey, and Israel, not to give up on that friendship. Let me be clear. The Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla was completely unacceptable. And I have told PM Netanyahu, we will expect the Israeli inquiry to be swift, transparent and rigorous. Let me also be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change. Humanitarian goods and people must flow in both directions. Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp. But as, hopefully, we move in the coming weeks to direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians so it’s Turkey that can make the case for peace and Turkey that can help to press the parties to come together, and point the way to a just and viable solution.”

Mr Cameron made the remarks in a speech in Turkey, where he enthusiastically backed the country’s hope to join the EU.

The Liberal Democrats in the Coalition government will approve of Mr Cameron’s tone on Israel but the government in Jerusalem will take a very dim view of the intervention. The use of such an emotive term and the lack of any balancing condemnation of the Hamas regime that terrorises Gaza will also disappoint Conservative supporters of Israel.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Top Muslim Cleric Urges Western Muslims to ‘Liberalize’

Outwardly, anyway: Yusuf al-Qaradawi expounds the doctrine of taysir, which allows Muslims to practice a more “relaxed” version of Islam — so long as their hearts cling to the more “uptight” version.

by Raymond Ibrahim

A recent episode of the popular Arabic show al-Sharia wa al-Haya (Law and Life), which airs weekly on Al Jazeera and features renowned Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, addressed the important yet little known Muslim concept of taysir(pronounced “tey-seer”).

Qaradawi, who is touted by the likes of John Esposito and CAIRas a “moderate” — even as he legitimizes suicide attacksagainst Israel (including by women) and death for apostates — explained that, according to fiqh al-taysir (the “jurisprudence of ease”), Islam (like Catholicism) offers Muslims dispensations, whenever needed: “For Allah desires ease for you, not hardship” (Koran 2:185; see also 5:6, 4:26-28, 2:286). For instance, Muslims traveling during the month of Ramadan or engaged in jihad need not observe the obligatory fast.

Qaradawi stressed that no one advocated taking the “easy way” as much as Muhammad himself. He offered several examples, including how Muhammad was angry with prayer leaders who tired the people with long prayers. (Another less flattering though applicable anecdote concerning Muhammad’s “leniency” comes to mind. When his followers thought they had to practice coitus interruptus while raping their captive women so as not to impregnate them, Muhammad told them: “There is no harm if you do not practice it, for it [the birth of the child] is something ordained [by Allah]”).

Lest it be abused, Qaradawi warned that taysir should only be used as needed, based on the vicissitudes of time and chance. In other words, Muslims should not actively seek the easy way, but rather, when uncontrollable circumstances create hardships, Muslims are free to opt for the easy way — as long as they recognize that the “hard way” (i.e., total implementation of Sharia) is the ideal way.

Qaradawi proudly contrasted taysir with the practices of Jews and Christians who “took things to the extreme, and thus were treated extremely.” After quoting the verse, “Ask not about matters which, if made known to you, may make things difficult for you” (Koran 5:105), Qaradawi said Allah made things difficult for the “anal” Jews because they always insisted on receiving specific details for his otherwise simple commandments. As for Christians, Qaradawi, in dismay, pointed to monks and anchorites, who, by shunning all female contact, and living in absolute solitude and austerity, also went to the extreme.

The most significant point of the program came when Qaradawi said that taysir is especially needed in “this era” and “especially for those Muslim minorities living in Europe and America.”

Now, why is that? For starters, by migrating to the West of their own free will, Muslims themselves — not “uncontrollable circumstances” — create the need for taysir. Moreover, Western religious freedom allows Muslims to uphold Islam’s fundamental Five Pillars: Muslims can proclaim the shahada (profession of faith), pray, fast, give zakat (except to terrorists), and go on the hajj. So what, exactly, is Sheikh Qaradawi referring to that makes living in the West especially hard on Muslims?

The answer is obvious: Qaradawi is referring to those other aspects of Sharia law — you know, subjugation of non-Muslim infidels, absolute authority over women, jihad, draconian punishments, and all the rest —that docreate “hardships” for Muslims who try to implement them in the West, for instance, by getting them arrested and imprisoned.

In other words, far from “liberalizing” Muslim life, taysir allows only for insincere conformity. As Qaradawi made clear, to practice taysir is not to renounce Sharia’s otherwise harsh obligations; it is to put them on hold till circumstances are more accommodating.

Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood colleague, Tariq Ramadan, provides an ideal example: he recommends that a “moratorium” — a temporary ban — be placed on the Muslim practice of stoning adulterers to death; yet he refuses to say that stoning is intrinsically un-Islamic. This, of course, is taysir in practice: because stoning people in the West is liable to get the stoner incarcerated or worse, upholding the Sharia mandate to stone adulterers is “hard” on Muslims living in the West, so best to put it on hold — that is, till circumstances are more opportune.

A final observation: the notorious doctrine of taqiyya, which permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims, is rooted in taysir; in fact, one of the few books devoted to the topic, al-Taqiyya fi al-Isalm, rationalizes taqiyya in light of taysir. And there it is: when Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, perhaps the most authoritative Muslim voice in Sunni Islam today, calls on Muslims “especially in Europe and America” to practice taysir, he is, in essence, calling on them to practice taqiyya — calling on them to conform outwardly to Western standards while inwardly maintaining loyalty to Sharia.

Raymond Ibrahim is the associate director of the Middle East Forum, the author of The Al Qaeda Reader, and a guest lecturer at the National Defense Intelligence College.

           — Hat tip: SC[Return to headlines]

Was a Japanese Tanker Attacked in the Strait of Hormuz?

Japanese officials are trying to determine what caused an explosion on an oil tanker as it passed through the Strait of Hormuz.

Japan’s transport ministry said Wednesday that the M. Star was carrying about two million barrels of crude oil from the United Arab Emirates to the Japanese port of Chiba when it was rocked by an explosion.

The United States Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in the Gulf state of Bahrain, said Wednesday the cause of the blast was unknown.

But the ship’s owner claimed the explosion was likely the result of an attack. Crew members on the tanker said one person on board saw a flash of light on the horizon just before the explosion.

Iran says it was an earthquake…

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Puppy Saved From Death by Thugs Using it as a Football in Afghanistan is Flown to UK for a New Life

Whimpering and just days old, he was being kicked like a football by a crowd of children on a street in Afghanistan.

When Corporal Sarah Marriott rescued the tiny puppy, he was barely the size of her hand.

The 30-year-old Army medic, who was on foot patrol with the 2nd Yorkshire Regiment in Helmand Province, was told that the youngsters had been asked to drown the little dog because his owners did not want him — so she carried him back to her base.

And after six months on a restorative diet of porridge, Spam and affection, he has been brought to the UK to live with her family.

Corporal Marriott said: ‘I was on routine patrol near our forward base when we came across some children throwing and kicking a puppy. As I got closer I could hear it whimpering.

‘I don’t think anyone could have just stood there and watched.’

‘I went straight over and we had a translator with us who spoke to the Afghan children about the dog.

‘The children said, ‘We have just been sent to drown it in the river’.

Cpl Marriott later found out that their parents’ dog had a litter of unwanted pups.

‘In Afghanistan dogs are used as working dogs, not pets, either as guard dogs or for fighting,’ she said. ‘If there are too many in the litter the ones that aren’t needed are killed.’

She spoke to her squad commander and they decided to take the little dog back to the safe haven of their base.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Logs Suggest Pakistani Intelligence Controls Course of War

Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, appears frequently in the war logs obtained by WikiLeaks. They suggest that even as Pakistan served as an ally to the United States, it was still secretly helping the Taliban in its insurgency in Afghanistan. The documents also suggest a major role is played by former ISI chief Hamid Gul.

Editor’s note: The following article is an excerpt from this week’s SPIEGEL cover story. The facts in the story come from a database of almost 92,000 American military reports on the state of the war in Afghanistan that were obtained by the WikiLeaks website. Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the New York Times and SPIEGEL have all vetted the material and reported on the contents in articles that have been researched independently of each other. All three media sources have concluded that the documents are authentic and provide an unvarnished image of the war in Afghanstan — from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground.

Afghanistan’s neighbor, Pakistan, has been in a tight spot since the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington. Officially, the country is part of the worldwide anti-terrorism coalition forged by former United States President George W. Bush. Unofficially, however, the Pakistani security forces are the patrons of the Taliban forces that gave refuge to Osama bin Laden and his terrorists. It is clear that the Taliban would not exist without help from abroad. The Pakistani intelligence service, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), helped build up and install the Taliban after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and the country descended into a fratricidal war among the victorious mujahedeen, creating the threat of a power vacuum.

Despite all assurances by Pakistani politicians that these old connections were severed long ago, the country still pursues an ambiguous policy, in which Pakistan is both an ally of the United States and a helper of its enemies.

Now there is new evidence to support this. The war logs make it clear that the Pakistani intelligence service is still presumably the Taliban’s most important supporter outside Afghanistan. The fact is that the war against the Afghan security forces, the Americans and their allies within the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is still being conducted from Pakistani soil, with the country serving as a safe haven for all hostile forces.

It also serves as a staging ground from which they can deploy. The Taliban’s new recruits, including feared foreign fighters, are streaming across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The three main enemies of the Western coalition forces, the Taliban under Mullah Omar, the fighters led by former mujahedeen leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and the militias of the Haqqani clan of warlords all have important quarters and operations centers in Pakistan.

Osama bin Laden, the original justification for this war, is also believed to have found safe haven in Pakistan, where he is still involved in the day-to-day operations of jihad against the infidels. On one occasion, according to the documents, bin Laden planned to attack his enemies with a poison called, in his honor, “Osama Kapa,” and on another he reportedly gave the gift of a wife to a particularly zealous Taliban fighter who had designed effective remotely triggered explosive booby traps.

Pakistan ‘s Assurance of Future Influence

The Pakistani intelligence service has excellent relations with all groups. In the constant fear that Pakistan’s archrival India could gain a foothold in Afghanistan and thus have Pakistan in its pincers, so to speak, the ISI supports everything that could preserve and strengthen its own influence in Kabul. And because many ISI strategists cannot believe that the Americans will remain in Afghanistan for long (after all, Washington has already announced the beginning of its withdrawal), the Taliban remains Pakistan’s assurance of future influence in Kabul. This reasoning is particularly clear in the Afghanistan war logs.

According to the warnings of new attacks and suicide bombings by the enemy, ISI envoys were present when Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s commanders met for a war council in northern Waziristan.

A document dated Sept. 1, 2007 reports on an imminent attack by a group of Hekmatyar’s fighters on one of the Allies’ forward operating bases in Kunar, the Afghan province bordering Peshawar in Pakistan. The elaborate and carefully planned attack was to involve four suicide bombers, and the Americans’ source even knew where they were from: one Pakistani, one Arab and two Afghans. The plans also included a rocket attack and artillery fire. Finally, foot soldiers were to storm the outpost and take enemy soldiers prisoner, if possible.

The Pakistani intelligence service supplied Chinese ammunition to the insurgents. The ISI, as partial financier of the operation, wanted to retain control and thus intended to send an officer to observe the attack and advise the fighters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wikileaks Reportedly Outs 100s of Afghan Informants

Hundreds of Afghan civilians who worked as informants for the U.S. military have been put at risk by WikiLeaks’ publication of more than 90,000 classified intelligence reports which name and in many cases locate the individuals, The Times newspaper reported Wednesday.

The article says, in spite of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s claim that sensitive information had been removed from the leaked documents, that reporters scanning the reports for just a couple hours found hundreds of Afghan names mentioned as aiding the U.S.-led war effort.

One specific example cited by the paper is a report on an interview conducted by military officers of a potential Taliban defector. The militant is named, along with his father and the village in which they live.

“The leaks certainly have put in real risk and danger the lives and integrity of many Afghans,” a senior official at the Afghan foreign ministry told The Times on condition of anonymity. “The U.S. is both morally and legally responsible for any harm that the leaks might cause to the individuals, particularly those who have been named. It will further limit the U.S./international access to the uncensored views of Afghans.”

One former intelligence official told the paper that the Taliban could launch revenge attacks on “traitors” in the coming days.

President Obama first warned on Tuesday that operatives inside Afghanistan and Pakistan who have worked for the U.S. could be at risk following the disclosure, former and current U.S. officials told the Associated Press.

Speaking in the Rose Garden Tuesday, President Obama said he was concerned about the massive leak of sensitive documents about the Afghanistan war, but that the papers did not reveal any concerns that were not already part of the debate.

In his first public comments on the matter, Mr. Obama said the disclosure of classified information from the battlefield, “could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations.”

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s Soft Power is a Threat to the West

China may have no intentions of using its growing military might, but that is of little comfort for Western countries. From the World Trade Organization to the United Nations, Beijing is happy to use its soft power to get what it wants — and it is wrong-footing the West at every turn.

Former Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen once told me, half with amusement and half with resignation, that military people around the world are all more or less the same. “They can only be happy when they have the most up-to-date toys,” he said.

If this is true, Beijing’s generals must be very happy at the moment. China has increased its military budget by 7.5 percent in 2010, making funds available for new fighter jets and more cruise missiles. Beijing’s military buildup is a source of concern for Western experts, even though the US’s military budget is about eight times larger. Some feel that China poses a threat to East Asia, while others are even convinced that Beijing is preparing to conquer the world militarily.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike, say, the United States, the People’s Republic has not attacked any other country in more than three decades, not since it launched an offensive against Vietnam in 1979. And even though Beijing’s leaders periodically rattle their sabers against Taiwan, which they refer to as a “renegade province,” they have no intention of entering into any armed conflicts.

Unlike many in the West, they have long since recognized that bombs are little more than deterrents these days. In today’s asymmetric conflicts, it is difficult to hold on to territory captured in bloody battles. War is an instrument of the past, and Mao’s argument that “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” no longer holds true today.

Soft Is the New Hard

It is, however, true that the Chinese are in the process of conquering the world. They are doing this very successfully by pursuing an aggressive trade policy toward the West, granting low-interest loans to African and Latin American countries, applying diplomatic pressure to their partners, pursuing a campaign bordering on cultural imperialism to oppose the human rights we perceive to be universal, and providing the largest contingent of soldiers for United Nations peacekeeping missions of all Security Council members. In other words, they are doing it with soft power instead of hard power.

Beijing is indeed waging a war on all continents, but not in the classical sense. Whether the methods it uses consistently qualify as “peaceful” is another matter. For example, the Chinese apply international agreements as they see fit, and when the rules get in their way, they “creatively” circumvent them or rewrite them with the help of compliant allies.

But why are politicians in Washington, Paris and London taking all of this lying down, kowtowing to the Chinese instead of criticizing them? Does capturing — admittedly lucrative — markets in East Asia and trying to impress the Chinese really help their cause?

The Communist Party leaders manipulate their currency to keep the prices of their exports artificially low. The fact that they recently allowed their currency, the renminbi, to appreciate slightly is evidence more of their knack for public relations than of a real change of heart. They are known for using every trick in the book when buying commodities or signing pipeline deals, with participants talking of aggressive and pushy tactics. Meanwhile, these free-market privateers unscrupulously restrict access to their own natural resources. They denounce protectionism, and yet they are more protectionist than most fellow players in the great game of globalization…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

S. Korea on Alert for Possible N. Korean Cyber Attack

South Korea’s presidential office is on alert against a possible cyber attack by North Korea after receiving related intelligence reports, the presidential spokeswoman said Wednesday. “The National Cyber Security Center obtained intelligence on a (possible) cyber attack and (the presidential office) was placed on alert as of yesterday to actively cope with things if the hacking happens,” Kim Hee Jung said in a press briefing.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]


Federal Judge Blocks Key Portions of Arizona Illegal Immigration Law

A federal judge on Wednesday blocked some of the toughest provisions in the Arizona illegal immigration law, putting on hold the state’s attempt to have local police enforce federal immigration policy.

Though the rest of the law is still set to go into effect Thursday, the partial injunction on SB 1070 means Arizona, for the time being, will not be able to require police officers to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest.

U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton also struck down the section of law that makes it a crime not to carry immigration registration papers and the provision that makes it a crime for an illegal immigrant to seek or perform work.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, reacting to the ruling, said the “fight is far from over” and vowed to take the case “all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.”

“The bottom line is we’ve known all along that it is the responsibility of the feds,” Brewer told The Associated Press. “They haven’t done their job so we were going to help them do that.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Immigration Sees UK’s Population Growth Outstrip the Rest of Europe

This country gained more people last year thanks to immigration and rising birth rates than anywhere in the continent.

The rise in population in Britain accounted for nearly a third of the 1.4million increase in the number of people living in all of the 2 EU countries, according to the analysis from Brussels.

It said the increase pushed the EU population above the half billion mark, with just over 501million European citizens at the beginning of this year.

The breakdown from the EU’s Eurostat arm showed how fast Britain’s population is rising compared to that of our neighbours and rivals and provoked fresh calls for the Government to curb numbers coming into the country.

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Migration and the voice of the people

There are rising fears that pressure on housing, transport, water, power and social services will become overwhelming if official projections that the number of people in the country will reach 70million by 2029 are realised.

The Eurostat analysis showed that Britain’s population rose by 412,000 in 2009, up 182,000 because there were more immigrants than emigrants, and up by 231,000 because of rising birth rates.

Much of the new baby boom is a result of immigration, and one in four children born last year was born to mothers who were themselves born abroad.

Germany’s population fell by 203,000. The UK increase meant the population rise per head in Britain was the greatest of any of the major EU countries.

Numbers in Britain grew by 6. for every 1,000 people last year, compared with 5.4 for every 1,000 in France, 4.9 for every 1,000 in Italy, and 3.5 for every 1,000 in Spain.

In Germany there were 2.5 fewer people for every 1,000, and Poland’s population grew by fewer than one for every 1,000 people — a clear indication that millions of Poles who left to work abroad in the boom years of the 2000s have yet to return home.

Only small and minor countries — Belgium, Sweden, Slovenia and tiny Luxembourg — showed a faster rate of population growth for every 1,000 people than Britain.

Sir Andrew Green, of the Migrationwatch think tank, said: ‘This is further confirmation that the population of the UK is rising extremely fast, mainly due to immigration, which accounts for two thirds of the projected population growth of the next 25 years.

‘There are always arguments in favour of immigration. But the majority of people are clear that immigration needs to be brought down. The Government would do well to stick to the promises they have made to the electorate.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Judge Grants Injunction Against Ariz. Immigration Law

A federal judge today issued an injunction barring Arizona from enforcing key provisions of its controversial immigration law, prompting promises to appeal from supporters and tears of joy from opponents outside the state capitol.

The parts of the law that Judge Susan Bolton put a hold on included sections that required officers to check a person’s immigration status while enforcing other laws.

The judge also delayed enforcement of the law’s requirement that immigrants must carry their papers at all times, and made it illegal for undocumented workers to solicit employment in public places.

Bolton ruled that those sections should be put on hold until the courts resolve the issues.

“It’s nothing like the law they wanted,”“said Manuel Martinez, a Vietnam veteran who hugged other immigrant advocates moments after the judge’s decision made the news. “There is so little left.”

Supporters of the law, known as SB 1070, say the judge’s decision will backfire on organizations that opposed it.

“The other side is going to be claiming victory and doing cartwheels in the street, but the reality is that they have to come down from the euphoria and really look at the law,”“ said Jesse Hernandez, chairman of the Arizona Latino Republican Association, a vocal supporter of the law.

Hernandez, a 49-year-old real estate consultant and first-generation American, said the judge’s discretion still gives law enforcement the discretion to help enforce immigration law, it just no longer mandates it. His Blackberry buzzed this afternoon as he made plans with his attorney to file a lawsuit to appeal Bolton’s decision.

“This is going to end up at the steps of Supreme Court,”“ Hernandez said. “There’s no question about that.”This is not a defeat. If anything, I think it’s a victory in that the American public is going to wake up and look at what’s going on and say, ‘Enough is enough,’““Hernandez said. “This is going to frustrate a lot of Americans.”“

For months, pundits and legal experts have speculated on the law’s legal vulnerabilities and the odds that U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton would enjoin at least portions of the law. Despite the judge’s decision today, the law already caused concrete changes in Arizona’s makeup, which has an estimated half-million illegal immigrants.

The law already had emptied out pockets of Phoenix, which was once one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities. The exodus also is widely attributed to the ailing economy and the state’s housing bubble…

[Return to headlines]

Think SB 1070 is Racist, Oppressive? How Do Illegals South of Border Fare?

SB 1070, Arizona’s citizen-friendly, illegal-alien hostile bill has ruffled quite a few feathers, including those who occupy high places in government in Washington, D.C.

After putting up with the nonsense from Washington for years, I have concluded that the U.S.should scrap SB 1070 as well as all of Obama’s foolish fantasies about immigration reform.

We can do that and solve our illegal alien mess in one fell swoop by taking one simple step: Implement Mexico’s immigration laws in America!

Mexico, according to journalist and terrorist expert Dr. J. Michael Waller, has some of the strictest immigration laws of any country, and they enforce them to the letter.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron to Offer India Direct Say on Immigration Policy

PM responds to fears that proposed immigration cap will harm trade links with New Delhi with new ‘spirit of humility’

David Cameron is to offer India a direct say in drawing up Britain’s new immigration policy as Downing Street responds to fears in New Delhi that a proposed cap will harm trade links.

In a sign of what the prime minister will today describe as a new “spirit of humility” towards India, Downing Street is making it clear that Britain will consult Delhi over a proposed new cap on non-EU immigration.

Cameron’s trip to India, which he will launch today with a speech to business leaders in the hi-tech centre of Bangalore, had threatened to be overshadowed by concerns in Delhi about the cap.

Anand Sharma, the Indian commerce minister, told the prime minister in Downing Street recently that the cap could have an “adverse effect” on trade relations. Sharma pointedly remarked that Indian professionals, “who have made a notable contribution to the UK economy”, could find it difficult to enter Britain.

A Downing Street source said the prime minister was keen to offer reassurances to India. “We want to work with India and other countries to ensure that high-skilled people can still come to Britain,” the source said. “We are going to talk to these countries about how to implement the cap.”

The proposed cap on non-EU immigration has been the subject of heated debate within the cabinet. Vince Cable, the business secretary, and David Willetts, the universities minister, who are among six cabinet ministers accompanying the prime minister to India, have voiced concerns that the cap could exclude students and highly skilled workers.

Cable yesterday told Indian journalists of his unease. “It’s no great secret that in my department, and me personally, we want to see an open economy and as liberal an immigration policy as it’s possible to have,” he told Hindu Business Online. “We are arguing, within government, about how we create the most flexible regime we can possibly have, but in a way that reassures the British public.”

The measure comes into effect next April. Theresa May, the home secretary, has imposed a temporary cap of 24,100.

The emollient signals show how ministers accept they must show due respect to India, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, if Britain is to improve trade links, which currently stand at a relatively modest £11.5bn a year. Cameron will today ask India to reduce barriers to foreign investment in banking, insurance and defence manufacturing. This is a call Delhi is unlikely to heed if it feels its highly skilled citizens are being excluded from Britain.

The prime minister will today attempt to open a new chapter in relations with Delhi when he declares that Britain can no longer rely on links dating back to the days of the Raj. He hopes to create a new special relationship with India, the world’s 12th-largest economy, by leading the largest official British delegation to the subcontinent since the end of the Raj. The chancellor, George Osborne, the foreign secretary, William Hague, and captains of industry are accompanying the prime minister, who will today witness the announcement by BAE of a £500m deal to build 57 Hawk trainer jets. They will be built in India by BAE’s partner Hindustan Aeronautics.

In an article for today’s Hindu newspaper, Cameron says he wants to forge a “stronger, deeper relationship” between Britain and India. But he adds: “I have come to your country in a spirit of humility. I know that Britain cannot rely on sentiment and shared history for a place in India’s future.

“Your country has the whole world beating a path to its door. But I believe Britain should be India’s partner of choice in the years ahead. Starting this week, that is what we are determined to deliver.”

As India prepares to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of its independence from Britain next month, the prime minister says Europe needs to accept the shift of economic power to Asia. “India’s economy is on an upward trajectory. In Britain, we’re waking up to a new reality.

“For centuries my country assumed we could set the global economic pace. But economic power is shifting — particularly to Asia — so Britain has to work harder to earn its living in the world.”

The prime minister will say that British entrepreneurs should turn their sights eastward. “In the US they used to say ‘Go west, young man’ to find opportunity and fortune. For today’s entrepreneurs the real promise is in the east.”

But Cameron will hail Britain’s historic links with India, which continue to this day, as he makes a plea for the subcontinent not to abandon its former colonial ruler. “It’s clear why India matters to Britain,” Cameron writes in the Hindu. “But why should Britain matter to India? I believe our two countries are natural partners. We have deep and close connections among our people, with nearly two million people of Indian origin living in the UK. We share so much culturally, whether it’s watching [the actor] Shah Rukh Khan, eating the same food or watching cricket.”Downing Street believes the 90-strong delegation accompanying the prime minister is a major signal of intent. It includes the chief executive of Barclays, John Varley; the former Labour trade and industry secretary Patricia Hewitt, now of the UK-India Business Council; the former Hong Kong governor Lord Patten of Barnes, now chair of the UK-India roundtable; and the Olympians Lord Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes and Sir Steve Redgrave.

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]

UK: Migration and the Voice of the People

One message of the General Election was unmistakable: after 13 years of unprecedented demographic upheaval, voters were crying out for tougher controls on immigration.

Yet less than three months after the Coalition took power, Business Secretary Vince Cable is lobbying publicly for a return to the open-door policy which even Labour was eventually forced to abandon.

Rejecting the Tories’ plans for an annual cap of some 40,000-50,000, he says: ‘It’s no great secret that in my department we want to see as liberal an immigration policy as it’s possible to have.’

Meanwhile, it emerges that India and Turkey are to be consulted on our rules. With the greatest respect, isn’t this our business — and ours alone?

Leave aside the economic and social madness of keeping millions of able-bodied Britons on benefits, while foreign settlers take the jobs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Up to 45,000 Failed Asylum Seekers Given Right to Work in Britain by Supreme Court

Tens of thousands of failed asylum seekers were granted the right to work in the UK yesterday in a landmark court ruling.

It affects around 45,000 whose applications have already been rejected at least once, but who have not been deported.

Home Office officials argued that an EU directive — which gives asylum seekers the right to work after 12 months — should not apply to them because it would encourage applicants to abuse the system by making repeated claims.

But the Supreme Court ruled that failed asylum seekers whose cases have not been dealt with after 12 months must be given access to jobs.

Many of those affected are part of Labour’s backlog of 450,000 asylum claims- which are still being processed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Sweden: Transgendered Need More Protection in Law

Transgendered people need more protection, the Liberal Party has announced, adding it proposes that the hate crime law be clarified so that it is clear that it also applies to this group, Sveriges Radio’s news bulletin Ekot reported on Wednesday.

The proposal is part of a national action plan to combat hate crimes, the report said.

“It is always important that the law be as specific as possible,” Integration and Gender Equality Minister Nyamko Sabuni told Ekot. “It is also important to note that there is a group in our society who are neither bi- nor homosexual, but have a different gender identity than the one we believe that they have.”

The Swedish Federation for Lesbian Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights (Riksförbundet för homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners rättigheter, RFSL) has long demanded that transgendered people, or people with other gender identities, should be mentioned in hate crime law.

“We fear that transgendered people fall through the cracks because the individual courts are not as familiar with the law’s preparatory work and miss that the section on hate crimes can be used for transgendered people,” said RFSL chairwoman Ulrika Westerlund.

The Liberal Party’s plan of action for LGBT people’s rights will be presented by Sabuni and European Union Affairs Minister Birgitta Ohlsson on Wednesday in connection with the Pride Festival in Stockholm.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

USA: Court Upholds Expulsion of Counseling Student Who Opposes Homosexuality

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a public university that removed a Christian student from its graduate program in school counseling over her belief that homosexuality is morally wrong. Monday’s ruling, according to Julea Ward’s attorneys, could result in Christian students across the country being expelled from public university for similar views.

“It’s a very dangerous precedent,” Jeremy Tedesco, legal counsel for the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, told FOX News Radio. “The ruling doesn’t say that explicitly, but that’s what is going to happen.


Ward’s attorneys claim the university told her she would only be allowed to remain in the program if she went through a “remediation” program so that she could “see the error of her ways” and change her belief system about homosexuality.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mental Exercises Make Old Rat Brains Look Young Again

Cognitive decline is often seen as an inevitable part of aging. A new study on rats suggests this isn’t so — and that basic cognitive training can not only prevent, but reverse the ravages of age on the brain.

The study found that a month of noise discrimination training significantly altered both the function and structure of the sound-processing regions of rat brains. The researchers hope the findings can be used to improve cognitive training for humans.

“Age-related impairments may actually be a consequence of how we lived our lives, how we used our brains,” said Etienne de Villers-Sidani, a postdoctoral researcher at UC San Francisco and one of the authors of the study. “There’s hope to improve our ability to function even as we get older.”

While cognitive engagement is associated with a sharper mind in old age, researchers aren’t sure if that engagement sharpens the brain or if sharper brains just happen to seek out more challenges. Studies of cognitive training programs in humans have returned mixed results. People may get good at the task they’re training on, but the improvements don’t always translate to other domains.

Rat music lessons

To test the training in rats, the researchers played a series of six tones for both young and old animals. All the notes were identical except one; when a rat picked out the oddball note, it got a food pellet. At first, the odd note was a half-octave apart from the rest of the tones, but by the end of the month-long training, the rats could distinguish tones off by just one-fiftieth of an octave.

This task was chosen because difficulty hearing conversations is one of the main complaints of older people, de Villers-Sidani said. Even with fine hearing, older people often have trouble picking voices out of background noise because age tends to weaken neurons in the brain that are tasked with suppressing extraneous information. Individual neurons also become less selective to particular sounds, which means that important noises don’t “pop” like they do in youth.

Unsurprisingly, all of the rats that got the training improved at picking out the odd note. But the changes went further than that. Older trained rats showed a 20-percent increase in the number of inhibitory neurons — the ones that suppress extraneous information — in the auditory area of their brains. The boost gave them almost as many inhibitory neurons as young rats.

The training also improved the quality of myelin in the rats’ brains. Myelin is a fatty substance that lines the nerves, facilitating swift communication between brain cells.

The changes seen involved “hundreds of molecular elements,” de Villers-Sidani said, suggesting that a little exercise can have far-reaching effects.

“In the auditory cortex, if you train it, you can revitalize this whole area,” he said. “We don’t know exactly how this happens, but it seems that the brain can not only improve its performance, but on a structural level, at the level of neurons, it can really look younger.”

Brain games

Rat brains aren’t human brains, but the researchers are “very optimistic” that the results will translate, de Villers-Sidani said. It may be that current brain-training programs focus too heavily on higher-level tasks, like math and word games, he said. Perhaps basic challenges like picking out an odd tone are better at engaging the underlying machinery that powers the brain.

The team is now designing a training program to test in people. One of the biggest challenges of going back to basics, de Villers-Sidani said, is finding activities to keep big human brains busy.

“It’s easier to make a rat interested in training by giving it a reward of food,” he said. “For humans, we’ll have to devise a training strategy that is engaging, interesting and motivating.”

The study was detailed online July 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Episode: Stakelbeck on Terror Show

The latest edition of my new show, Stakelbeck on Terror, is now online. You can watch it at the above link.

In this week’s episode, I sit down with a former Palestinian Muslim sniper who used to work for terror master Yasser Arafat—but now works for Jesus. See how Tass Saada put down his gun and learned to love his greatest enemy: Israel (1:32 into the show).

We then examine a disturbing trend that is spreading throughout the Muslim world: “kiddie jihad” in the form of child suicide bombers (6:14 in)

In the War Council segment, featuring Lt. Col Allen West, we analyze whether strict battlefield rules of engagement putting U.S. troops in danger in Afghanistan. (11:42 in)

And in the Stak Attack commentary, I examine whether the U.S. can really hope to win Muslim hearts and minds (21:19 in)

Also, our Sharia Flaw segment looks at Islamic jihadists’ recent dismembering of a Catholic college professor in India. His “crime?” Writing an “offensive” exam question about Islam’s prophet, Mohammed (20:12 in)

And best-selling author Joel Rosenberg joins us to analyze the coming war in the Middle East: which he says may be right around the corner (24:52 in).

[Return to headlines]

The IPCC, Climate Change and Solar Sophistry

Control of the science and content of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Reports was planned from before it was officially formed in 1988. Exposure of manipulation to achieve desired results also began early.

Benjamin Santer graduated from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), where Tom Wigley supervised his PhD. He returned to the US working at the government’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He was appointed lead author of Chapter 8, titled “Detection of Climate Change and Attribution of Causes” of the 1995 IPCC Report. It turned out Santer had significantly altered the meaning of the Chapter from that agreed on by the other authors. As Avery and Singer noted in 2006, “Santer single-handedly reversed the ‘climate science’ of the whole IPCC report and with it the global warming political process! The ‘discernible human influence’ supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world, and has been the ‘stopper’ in millions of debates among nonscientists.”

Overlooked in exposure of Santer’s malfeasance was the fact that the entire chapter was based primarily on two of his research papers, neither of which was published or peer-reviewed at the time.


Deception of claiming Reports are complete synopses of scientific literature produced by a team of experts is enough to reject the entire IPCC findings. However it’s only a part because what they chose to cover was deliberately selective. It was driven by the IPCC objective to prove human CO2 is causing global warming. Computer models and historical data were manipulated to prove CO2 was the only possible cause.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Toshiba’s Ultra-Long-Lasting Battery May be in Cars as Early as Next Year

Is this battery the one? Toshiba’s Super-Charge Ion Batteries, which reportedly lose hardly any capacity after thousands of charges, could be coming to cars next year.

As Slashdot noted today, this battery technology has been a long time coming. In 2007 Toshiba announced the creation of the SCiB, and unveiled the prototype the next year. It lasts 5,000 to 6,000 cycles as opposed to the 500 for standard lithium-ion batteries, and charges to 90 percent of capacity within five minutes. Earlier this month, the company announced it has been working with car maker Mitsubishi on electric vehicle batteries, and could be making SCiBs for cars staring next year…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]