Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100811

Financial Crisis
»Dow Falls 2.5% Amid Concerns of a Slowdown; Nasdaq Drops Nearly 3%
»Obama Administration to Provide $3B in Housing Aid
»Atlanta: 30,000 Line Up for Housing Vouchers, Some Get Rowdy
»Daisy’s Con: Ground Zero Mosque Imam’s Wife Tells Whopper About Me
»Feisal Abdul Rauf on a Jaunt to the Middle East at Taxpayer Expense
»New Episode: Stakelebeck on Terror Show
»With Arab Opinion Like This, Obama Needs Media Advice
Europe and the EU
»Berlusconi Counters With Confidence Vote on Four Key Issues
»British Taxpayers Fund Trip to Far-Right Conference
»France: In the Run-Up to Ramadan, Halal Advertising Reaches Fever Pitch
»Iceland: Accession Talks — and Fishing Row — With Brussels Begin
»Italy: Muslims in Northern Town to Pray in Church Car Park During Ramadan
»Muslim Integration ‘Easier in Scotland Than England’
»Netherlands: Muggings and Rapes Rise
»Netherlands: De Hoop Scheffer Advises Wilders Not to Speak
»Netherlands: Islam Academic Legally Dismissed
»Swedish Newspaper Reported for Child Porn
Israel and the Palestinians
»Arabs Faking Graves to Grab Jerusalem Land
Middle East
»Fears of Al-Qaida Return in Iraq as US-Backed Fighters Defect
»Iran: Reformist Journalist Jailed for Six Years
»Why the EU, For All Its Problems, Is Still a Model for the Arab World
South Asia
»Superbug From India
»Finland: Zyskowicz Criticises Work on Bill for “Grandmother Law”
»Italy: Coastguard Intercept Migrant Boat Off Sardinia
»UK: Unemployed Migrants Set Up Makeshift Camp on Busy Roundabout
»Yemen: Somalis Set to Lose Automatic Refugee Status
Culture Wars
»The International Baccalaureate Curriculum

Financial Crisis

Dow Falls 2.5% Amid Concerns of a Slowdown; Nasdaq Drops Nearly 3%

Shares on Wall Street retreated in the wake of the announcement by the Fed that it would buy government debt and as new trade figures suggested a slowdown in growth in the United States. The trade data came on the heels of economic reports from China that indicated that its economy was slowing.

At the close, the Dow Jones industrial average was 2.5 percent, while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index dropped 2.81 percent. The technology heavy Nasdaq fell 3 percent.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration to Provide $3B in Housing Aid

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is providing $3 billion to unemployed homeowners facing foreclosure in the nation’s toughest job markets.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday it will send $2 billion to 17 states that have unemployment rates higher than the national average for a year. They will use the money for programs to aid unemployed homeowners. Some of those states have already designed such programs.

Another $1 billion will go to a new program being run by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will provide homeowners with emergency zero-interest rate loans of up to $50,000 for up to two years.

The administration was required to launch the HUD emergency loan program by the financial regulatory bill signed by President Barack Obama last month.

The Treasury is using money from the $700 billion Wall Street bailout to pay its share of the program. Officials said they won’t know until next month how many people are likely to be helped.

California will get the largest share of money for the Treasury program, at $476 million. Florida is in line for nearly $239 million. Illinois will receive $166 million and Ohio will receive $149 million.

The Obama administration has rolled out numerous attempts to tackle the foreclosure crisis but has made only a small dent in the problem. More than 40 percent, or about 530,000 homeowners, have fallen out of the administration’s main effort to assist those facing foreclosure.

That program, known as Making Home Affordable, provides lenders with incentives to reduce mortgage payments. So far, it has provided permanent help to about 390,000 homeowners, or 30 percent of the 1.3 million who have enrolled since March 2009.

Also receiving money are Michigan, $129 million; Georgia, $127 million; North Carolina, $121 million; New Jersey, $112 million; Indiana, $83 million and Tennessee, $81 million.

Alabama is due to receive $61 million, South Carolina, $59 million; Kentucky, $56 million; Oregon, $49 million; Mississippi, $38 million; Nevada, $34 million; Rhode Island, $14 million; and Washington, D.C., $8 million.

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


Atlanta: 30,000 Line Up for Housing Vouchers, Some Get Rowdy

Thirty thousand people showed up to receive Section 8 housing applications in East Point Wednesday, suffering through hours in the hot sun, angry flare-ups in the crowd and lots of frustration and confusion for a chance to receive a government-subsidized apartment.

The massive event sometimes descended into a chaotic mob scene filled with anger and impatience. Some 62 people needed medical attention and 20 of them were transported to a hospital, authorities said. A baby went into a seizure in the heat and was stabilized at a hospital. People were removed on stretchers and when a throng of people who had been waiting hours in a line were told to move to another line, people started pushing, shoving and cursing, witnesses said.

Still, officials of East Point declared the day a success. Nobody was arrested and nobody was seriously injured, they said. It was an assessment roundly challenged by many of the people who had to go through it.

Kim Lemish, executive director of the East Point Housing Authority, said the event marked the first time the city has offered Section 8 housing applications since 2002. The waiting list that lasted eight years had depleted, she said, and the agency was beginning a new one. So people braved all the physical difficulties just to get on a waiting list that could keep them waiting for years.

Lemish said the agency had expected about 10,000 people but three times as many showed up. Many were just accompanying those looking for an application. Some 13,000 applications were handed out.

Concern is rising that a similar scene could occur Thursday when the housing authority of this small city begins accepting the completed applications. Wednesday’s event was only to hand out the paperwork. The housing authority will begin accepting applications at 9 a.m.

Some of the crowd waited for two days at the Tri-Cities Plaza shopping center. As the temperature rose Wednesday, people fell ill.

Sgt. Cliff Chandler, spokesman for the East Point Police Department, said a toddler was treated earlier in the morning for “some type of seizure,” Chandler said.

“A lot of it was heat and some was health-related issues” such people not taking their medications, Chandler said.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Daisy’s Con: Ground Zero Mosque Imam’s Wife Tells Whopper About Me

By Wafa Sultan

I recently received a transcript of a Q&A session with Daisy Kahn which occured this past July at the Chautauqua Institution. Khan is the wife of the infamous Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf — the man behind the highly controversial Islamic supremacist mega-mosque scheduled to be built blocks away from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

Here is the transcript of the question involving me, and Daisy Khan’s response:…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Feisal Abdul Rauf on a Jaunt to the Middle East at Taxpayer Expense

The State Department is sending “distinguished cleric”, Feisal Abdul Rauf on a jaunt to the Middle East at taxpayer expense. Our State Department believes that the imam who wants to built a monument to jihad six hundred feet from Ground Zero is the ideal delegate to “help people overseas understand our society and the role of religion within our society.”

This is merely the latest imbecility from pro-terrorist Soros serf, P.J. Crowley. Prior to joining his comrades in the Obama administration, Crowley was Senior Fellow and Director of Homeland Security at the Center for American Progress (CAP); a George Soros cabal.

[Return to headlines]

New Episode: Stakelebeck on Terror Show

The latest episode of my new 30 minute show, Stakelbeck on Terror, is now up online.

We are currently working on some exciting TV distribution deals that will greatly expand our nationwide reach—more info to come in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, you can watch the new episode at the link above.

The show opens with a commentary on NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his disgraceful support of the Ground Zero mosque project.

We then sit down for an exclusive interview with Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), to discuss the Middle East and his new book, “Can America Survive?” (2:02 into the show)

We also dip into the archives for my on-the-ground report from August 2009 on a homegrown Islamic terror cell in rural North Carolina (7:53 into the show)

Also, what’s drawing more U.S. citizens to the al Qaeda movement? We examine the phenomenon of homegrown jihad in the “War Council” roundtable with two leading counter-terrorism experts. (12:40 into the show)

Plus, radical Islamists and the radical left say Israel has no right to exist. But Israel’s Minister of Public Diplomacy Yuli Edelstein told Stakelbeck on Terror in an exclusive interview why they’re wrong. (19:28 into the show)

The “Sharia Flaw” segment examines what the Koran really says about violence against non-Muslims—and how so-called moderate Muslim leaders and President Obama take two oft-quoted Suras out of context (22:24 into the show)

And you won’t want to miss author David Brog passionate defense of Judeo-Christian belies in The Vault segment. (26:10 into the show)

[Return to headlines]

With Arab Opinion Like This, Obama Needs Media Advice

The rhetoric of his Cairo speech has soured: the president can only move the debate on with a sea-change in US attitudes

A year ago in Cairo Barack Obama made an impassioned appeal for Arab goodwill and trust. Recognise I am a new type of American, he said in essence, who understands your pain and anger, and respects your culture and religion. “Islam is a part of America,” he declared.

“Let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable … They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation,” he said later in the speech. Then, in a powerful sentence he was to repeat to the UN general assembly, he said: “America doesn’t accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

No wonder Arabs were delighted. True, Obama made no promises of US sanctions, aid cuts or other action to reverse Israeli settlement activity, but they were willing to give him time to show he meant what he said. A year later the disappointment is massive. A poll taken in six Arab countries in June and July shows the air has gone from the Obama bubble. The percentage of Arabs with a positive view of the US has sunk since last summer from 45% to 20%, while the negative percentage has risen from 23% to 67%. Only 16% call themselves “hopeful” about US policy.

The survey is conducted annually by Zogby International and Shibley Telhami at the University of Maryland. The countries covered are among the region’s least radical — Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — and represent the more modern and affluent parts of the so-called Arab street, with 40% of respondents using the internet every day. The pollsters did not ask why people changed their views so rapidly. But a clue of sorts is in one of its most remarkable findings. On Iran a majority were not convinced by Tehran’s denials of having a nuclear weapons programme. The Obama administration will presumably be pleased to learn that 57% think Iran is trying to make a bomb. What will be more troubling for the White House is the finding that only 20% think foreign countries are entitled to put pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear programme and, even more strikingly, that 57% believe it would be positive for the region for Iran to have the bomb.

This is astonishing, at least for anybody who took at face value the Washington line that Iran is perceived as the biggest threat within the region. Bush and Cheney spent years trying to ally Arab states against Iran, including by attempting to make Shia/Sunni differences a major political issue. Iran is of course a Shia country. Obama continued the policy, but it has backfired. With the exception of Lebanon, the countries in the poll not only have huge Sunni majorities, they are the very countries on which Washington has spent most effort to build an anti-Iranian alliance. Their rulers may take the US line, but their people do not.

It’s true that support for Iran having nuclear weapons may simply mean “Leave Iran alone”. It may also be a message to Obama not to go on falling for Netanyahu’s diversionary ruse that resolving Israel’s dispute with the Palestinians is a sideshow compared to the issue of Iran getting the bomb. Most Arabs refuse to accept that order of priorities, which is why the poll found 88% of its respondents named Israel as the world’s biggest threat, followed by the US at 77%. Only 10% cited Iran.

Since his Cairo speech Obama’s Middle Eastern failures have been glaring. US pressure on Mahmoud Abbas to ignore the Goldstone report on suspected war crimes during the Gaza conflict was followed by Obama’s refusal to condemn Israeli piracy against the blockade-busting flotilla. A moment of anger with Netanyahu for the announcement of yet more illegal house-building in Arab East Jerusalem was forgotten a few months later when the Israeli prime minister was welcomed to the White House — a frown followed by fence-mending instead of a sustained campaign against Israel’s serial violations of international law and significant cuts in the annual aid programme submitted to Congress.

It is easy to blame Obama, as though he alone had the power to crack down on Israel’s political elite. It is easy, too, to blame the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for its lobbying against critical US politicians. Just as important is the pressure that pro-Israel campaigners put on the mainstream US media. They warn people off the very word Zionist as though only antisemites use it and demand Israel be treated as a special country whose politics deserve more sympathy than others.

In fact US publishers, editors, and reporters carry the biggest responsibility for the rotten state of US policy in the Middle East. The pro-Israel lobbies are powerful and Obama weak mainly because Americans rarely get an alternative view. On the rare occasions when Obama criticises the Israeli government, newspaper editorials and talk show hosts sometimes support him. How often do they condemn him on the more frequent occasions when he fails to criticise it?

It would be nice if Obama stuck his neck out, but he needs a radical media to start a real debate. The sea-change in US attitudes that the Middle East so urgently needs cannot come from the White House alone.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Berlusconi Counters With Confidence Vote on Four Key Issues

September clash on justice, taxes, federalism and southern Italy

ROME — The day of reckoning will come in September, when parliament reconvenes, and it will dawn with a vote of confidence over a very detailed four-point government programme on justice, taxation, federalism and southern Italy. Silvio Berlusconi will ask his allies to approve or reject the programme to find out whether “it is their intention to genuinely honour the pledge with the electorate, in which case it will be possible to carry on governing, or if they just want to rock the boat, and in that case we will go straight to the polls”.

A day of disappointment and anger was followed by one of reflection and decision as Silvio Berlusconi gathered the faithful and chose the way forward, although in practice two are still open. According to sources close to the premier, clearing the air and starting afresh are “not to be ruled out entirely” while the second option is an election. For the prime minister, the moment has come to see whether a majority still exists. His idea is to put in writing at the council of ministers, where Gianfranco Fini’s supporters are still represented, the fundamental issues that the government intends to act upon: the economy, justice in all its shapes and forms, the south and federalism. This is the agenda on which the government is set to seek a vote of confidence and which Mr Berlusconi will present to the two chambers of parliament for a definitive yes or no.

If, as People of Freedom (PDL) leaders think, Mr Fini’s supporters vote with the government, or themselves “split because no more than 15 or so deputies would toe Fini’s hard line”, the government will remain in the saddle and perhaps expand the majority to sections of the opposition. The Christian Democrat UDC, or more probably the Alliance for Italy (API), could be enticed by moral issues or justice and in fact PDL senator Gaetano Quagliarello has already organised a conference on legality and civil rights for September at which all the PDL foundations will be represented. The only alternative is an election, with all the imponderables elections entail.

What looks like a step back from the brink after the tub-thumping over the Caliendo vote has in fact been prompted by hard-nosed realism. It is true that Silvio Berlusconi has no doubts about the Northern League’s desire for an early election. PDL strategists reckon that “knowing the Northern League would rake in the votes, Bossi is pushing for a vote harder than the PDL”. It is also true, as Giulio Tremonti pointed out at the meeting, that Italy could withstand a political crisis because economic recovery is tangible, although “obviously in a situation like that, a smoothly functioning government” would be the best motor for the economy. Nonetheless, the numbers that are likely to emerge from the polls would leave the PDL-Northern League secure in the Chamber of Deputies but, with three alliances taking the field, could leave Italy with an ungovernable Senate. Silvio Berlusconi’s fear is that in such a scenario, he might not be an automatic choice as premier and the Northern League could switch to someone else.

But whatever happens, loins must be girt for an election, and the PDL is duly girding them. The manifesto has virtually written itself in the programme that Silvio Berlusconi will take to parliament but the party needs to be reorganised into a disciplined war machine, active at grass roots level in every constituency (yesterday, there was a hurriedly organised meeting with Brambilla, Valducci, Mantovani and Napoli). The PDL’s three coordinators will stay in place. Silvio Berlusconi’s attempt to ring the changes, prompted by the surveys that show loss of consensus over the issue, was firmly rejected by the coordinators. Now, however, they will be flanked by Angelino Alfano, Mariastella Gelmini and Giorgia Meloni, whom the premier sees as having strong appeal and who will be tasked with buffing up the party’s television image. In the meantime, all that remains is to wait and see what the future holds, for Gianfranco Fini among others. On the Montecarlo front, the premier is expecting “big things” that will pose serious problems for those like Mr Fini who “take up arms over legality”. And this goes beyond the affairs of Mr Fini’s partner who, as those present at the meeting concur, should not be dragged into the dispute because “it is he, not she, who must answer to the country and it will not be easy for him”.

Paola Di Caro

English translation by Giles Watson

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

British Taxpayers Fund Trip to Far-Right Conference

British taxpayers are paying for Far-Right politicians to attend the first conference aimed at creating an official worldwide alliance between extreme nationalist parties.

The three-day gathering, which is the first of its kind, is being organised by Issuikai, a Right-wing Japanese party which disputes the extent of the Nanjing massacre in China.

At least 100 representatives of far-right parties — including the BNP — from eight countries, are expected to attend the conference in Tokyo which will include a tour of the controversial Yasukuni Shrine to more than 1,000 Second World War criminals.

Jean-Marie Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, is due to make a key-note speech at the conference on Friday.

It comes as fears over the growing popularity of European Right-wing groups increase following gains in national elections and the European Election of last year.

The Alliance of European National Movements, the coalition of Europe’s Far-Right parties is sending 20 delegates to the Future of Nationalist Movements conference.

Bruno Gollnisch MEP, the vice-president of France’s Front National, is expected to attend along with members of Hungary’s Jobbik party, which recently won 17 per cent in the country’s general election, Vlaams Belang from Belgium, Portugal’s Partido Nacional, and Italy’s Fiamma Tricolore.

Adam Walker, a high-ranking member of the BNP who was accused of calling immigrants “savage animals” when he worked as a teacher, is representing the British National Party.

Issuikai is covering the delegates’ accommodation, local transport, and food costs but those attending are to fund their own return flights to Japan, which often cost up to £1,000.

MEPs are entitled to a personal travel allowance outside their member country of up to 4,000 euros a year and many are thought to be using some of the money to fly to the conference.

Timothy Kirkhope MEP, Leader of the Conservatives in the bloc called for the European Parliament’s auditors to investigate.

Matthew Elliot, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “This is yet another example of MEPs abusing expenses. It would be a disgrace for British taxpayers’ money to be used to fund MEP’s travel to a conference which is in part organised by a group that denies war crimes such as the Nanjing Massacre.

“Any money MEPs receive should be subject to more scrutiny and they should be more accountable to those who pay their salaries and expenses, they should not have free rein to use taxpayers’ money to propagate abhorrent views like those of Issuikai.”

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

France: In the Run-Up to Ramadan, Halal Advertising Reaches Fever Pitch

France’s huge Muslim population is big business for the producers of halal meats and the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan is attracting innovative and aggressive marketing.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Iceland: Accession Talks — and Fishing Row — With Brussels Begin

It’s been a cold few years for Iceland’s economy but warmer seas have boosted fish stocks, something that could present a political problem for the North Atlantic island nation. “Brussels has warned it could block access for Icelandic and Faroe Islands fishermen to EU waters if they do not back down on plans to boost their mackerel catch,” reports the EUObserver. Europe’s mackerel have been enticed out of EU waters and into those of Iceland (and Danish territory, the Faroes) by higher temperatures. As a result, both countries have raised their quotas, something that has not pleased Brussels. Fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki warned on Monday August 9 of the EU’s “grave concern” at the “unilateral” and “surprise” move, after the Faeroe Islands extended its catch limits the same day, according to the web news service. The timing couldn’t be worse: “EU membership talks with Iceland began on 27 July with fisheries expected to be one of the thorniest issues on the table.”

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

Italy: Muslims in Northern Town to Pray in Church Car Park During Ramadan

Gallarate, 10 August (AKI) — Muslims in the northern Italian town of Gallarate have been offered a white tent in the local church car park in which to observe Ramadan. The holy fasting month begins early on Wednesday and lasts until 10 September.

Gallarate’s 7,000 Muslims have been fighting for a mosque since 2005, after the local council closed down several prayer halls on hygiene and security grounds.

“I am happy the church helped out again, but regrettably, we have been denied a proper mosque for years,” said local Muslim leader Hamid Khartaoui.

It is the third year in a row that the church has provided a location for Muslims to mark Ramadan, claiming it hopes the gesture will foster dialogue between religions and cultures.

“Local Muslims asked us if we could provide them with a place to hold prayers and it seemed right to me that those who want to pray should have a place to do so,” said the priest at Gallarate’s Nazarene Church, Franco Carnevali.

“There were no problems last year, and so we decided to lend a hand once again,” Carnevali added.

Some Muslim leaders say the lack of a mosque breaches their right to freedom of worship enshrined in the Italian constitution.

Muslims have held several protests outside Gallarate’s town hall over the lack of non-Christian places of worship in the town.

Gallarate’s deputy mayor Paolo Caravati was quoted by Sky News as saying a local development plan to be unveiled in September “did not rule out” the possibility of a mosque.

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

Muslim Integration ‘Easier in Scotland Than England’

Integration is easier for Muslims in Scotland than in England, new research has suggested.

The poll, for the British Council Scotland, also found six out of 10 Scots believed Muslims were integrated into everyday Scottish life.

However, it also found that Scots have a less favourable opinion of Muslims than other religious groups.

And those who responded felt one of the barriers to adapting to Scottish life was the country’s drinking culture.

Muslim participants frequently cited Scottish people’s relationship with alcohol, in terms of integration and more generally as most Muslims do not drink alcohol.

As most social events in Scotland were seen to revolve around drinking alcohol, many Muslims felt they could not often fully integrate.

This was seen by both as a major practical barrier in the integration of Muslims into Scottish life.

The research aims to tackle the growing mistrust between Muslim communities and wider society.

Two-thirds (65%) of respondents had a favourable opinion towards Muslims — three times as many as those with an unfavourable opinion (21%). However, Muslims were viewed less favourably than any of the other religious groups asked about.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos Mori, also found that 46% of those questioned think that Muslims living in Scotland were loyal to the country while 33% thought they were not.

A total of 66% of Scots thought the attempted bombing of Glasgow Airport in July 2007 had made people in Scotland less tolerant of Muslims, while 48% thought Scotland would begin to lose its identity if more Muslims came to live there.

Most of the 1,006 respondents, both Muslims and non-Muslims, felt the process of integrating was easier in Scotland than England.

This was partly because the number of Muslims living here was smaller but also due to less fear of terrorism and the particular features of Scottishness, with Scots seen as typically very friendly, sociable, humorous, honest, open and straightforward.

There was a strong feeling among Muslims that integration in Scotland was largely one-way — with Muslims making the effort to adapt to Scottish life.

However, among non-Muslim Scots, the dominant view was that that Muslims have to make more of an effort to interact and should completely adopt Scottish customs.

Factors such as speaking in their own language and wearing traditional dress — particularly the veil — were seen as evidence that they were not integrating.

However, there was a strong view among all groups that younger generations of Muslims and non-Muslims were more integrated than previous generations.

‘Tolerant nation’

British Council Scotland director Paul Docherty said: “It has often been claimed that Scotland is a more tolerant nation than many of its European counterparts and we thought that this was an important question to examine.

“We hope that the research provokes debate that help develops greater understanding between communities. We are pleased the results suggest that integration in Scotland is easier than other European countries.

“We also hope that the research demonstrates the positive aspects of Scotland to international audiences who may look to Scotland as an economic and cultural partner.”

Rowena Arshad, director of the centre for education for racial equality in Scotland (Ceres), said: “The finding that 65% of survey respondents have some degree of favourability towards Muslims is, to some extent, reassuring, regarding the future of Scottish ‘community relations’.

“Scotland is a small country but, as the research shows, there is potential that it is not a country of small minds.

“As education and the media were cited as key influencers, it is worth exploring how these areas could be better harnessed to enable integration and to develop citizens able to process information in a critical manner.”

           — Hat tip: 4symbols[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Muggings and Rapes Rise

The number of muggings and rapes reported to crime hotline Meld Misdaad Anoniem shot up in the first six months of 2010, reports on Tuesday. Reported muggings rose 134% to 82 and rapes by 228% to 59.

‘These seem like small numbers,’ a spokesman told the site, ‘but they are not crimes people tend to report anonymously.’

In total the hotline received 6,300 reports in the first half of 2010, the same number as the year earlier period. In 2009 48% more reported crimes were solved than in 2008.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: De Hoop Scheffer Advises Wilders Not to Speak

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, former Nato general secretary, has advised Geert Wilders not to make a speech during the anti-mosque demonstration on September 11 in New York.

In an interview with NRC, he says people abroad do not know who is in the cabinet and who is in parliament. ‘When a Dutch politician appears at an event like this, then you have to assume they don’t see the difference between a coalition party and a party that is giving support,’ he told the paper.

De Hoop Scheffer, a Christian Democrat and former foreign minister, says he is personally against the building of a mosque close to Ground Zero. But he thinks it inadvisable for Wilders to speak as he will be seen as representing the Netherlands.

On Monday, Christian Democrat party leader Maxime Verhagen said he would react with ‘sharp words’ if Wilders said anything to damage Dutch interests.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Islam Academic Legally Dismissed

Rotterdam council was within its legal rights when it dismissed academic Tariq Ramadan in August 2009, a court ruled on Wednesday.

Ramadan was asking for €75,000 for wrongful dismissal, but the court ruled he has no claim. Instead, he will have to pay the €3,638 cost of the case.

The Islamic philosopher lost his job as city integration officer after officials discovered he presented a tv show for a broadcast company financed by Iran.

Erasmus University also ended his contract as a visiting professor.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Swedish Newspaper Reported for Child Porn

Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter ( and state broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT) have been reported to the police for publishing child porn in the form of manga cartoons, prohibited under Swedish law.

The report was submitted by a Stockholm man together with examples of the cartoons published on and depicting two men having sex in the background, and one of an obviously under-age girl exposing herself to an older man who becomes so turned on that he suffers a nose bleed.

Dagens Nyheter editor-in-chief Gunilla Herlitz on Wednesday responded to the report by arguing that there were “no grounds for a police report”.

“It was explained quite thoroughly in the article that there were no children in the pictures,” she said.

Herlitz explained the publication of the pictures in the context of a discussion over the classification of cartoons as pornography after the conviction of a well-known Swedish translator of manga comics for possession of drawings depicting children engaged in sexual acts.

“This article was an attempt to explain how the guilty ruling had come about, as it had received a great deal of criticism.”

Among the critics of current Swedish legislation cover child pornography which classifies cartoons as pornography, are the Pirate Party.

The Local reported last week that Pirate Party chairperson Rick Falkvinge had been forced to retract comments in a radio interview taken to mean that the party advocating the legalization of the possession of child pornography.

While the party later distanced itself from the comments, vice-chairperson Anna Troberg told The Local that the Pirate Party wants to see legal resources directed at tackling “real child pornography” and to stop making criminals of large numbers of other innocent people.

“The current law is wasting resources chasing pretend criminals and should be focusing on real child pornography, with real children involved, not manga comics, holiday pictures and so on,” she said.

The current law on child pornography was passed in 1999 and was last updated as late as July 1st 2010 to cover “systematically viewing”. The law covers even drawings of fictional characters and according to Herlitz is only now being tested in the courts.

“Where does the line go for when a drawing can lead to a charge for child pornography? It is not crystal clear in any way. Now the ruling against the translator has been appealed and will go to a higher court, this is the interesting aspect of this story,” Gunilla Herlitz said.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Arabs Faking Graves to Grab Jerusalem Land

In the heart of Jerusalem, dozens of new tombs are being added to an ancient cemetery, but no one is buried beneath them. Jewish observers and sources in the Jerusalem Municipality say the pretend-graves are simply a Muslim project for grabbing land.

The Mamilla Cemetery is located on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Independence Park (Gan HaAtzmaut), between Agron and Hillel Streets. It is an ancient Muslim cemetery containing several dozen graves, which has been in a state of severe disrepair for more than a century, despite being under the supervision of the Muslim Waqf.

In recent days, however, there has been much hustle and bustle in the cemetery, and its seems to be growing from day to day, cutting into land that is a part of Independence Park. Trucks, tractors and other heavy machines come and go, dumping building materials, which workers then shape into Muslim-style tombstones with no one buried beneath them. Dozens of these faux-graves are being created on the eastern end of the park, in row after row, where only bare earth and grassy areas existed until now.

Some of the fake tombs have been completed and others are in the process of being built.

Arutz Sheva’s Chezki Ezra visited the site following a tip from a local resident and was surprised to see many dozens of new “tombs.” He estimated their number as approaching 100.

Funding from the Gulf?

“They are trying to take over this territory,” a municipality gardener said. The Arab workers who dumped stones at the site did not answer Arutz Sheva’s questions and made haste to leave instead. Other municipality employees who were at the site confirmed that the construction is a Muslim land grab. Several tombstones were dug up, revealing no ancient graves or even remnants of graves underneath them, they said, adding that the municipality “is aware of the activity” and that it has initiated legal moves against the “tomb planters.”

Another worker at the site said that the “tomb planting” project was being financed by a rich Muslim from one of the Gulf states. Yet another employee said that the police “instructed the Muslims to stop their activity immediately” but that they are ignoring that instruction.

Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem David Hadari heard about the matter from Arutz Sheva and was dumbstruck by the news. “I am in a state of total shock,” he said. “Arutz Sheva has discovered the naked truth, and I intend to immediately turn to the Municipality Director to make use of all of the municipal enforcement arms so that while honoring the Muslim’s deceased, we will not honor Muslim fictions that are simply intended to capture more land in eastern Jerusalem.”

MK Nisim Ze’ev (Shas) said the matter was a very serious one. “The Jerusalem Municipality is allowing complete abandonment of territory and assets,” he said. “The Arabs are trying to conquer the Land of Israel in every possible way. If we do not wake up to their conniving ways we will find ourselves before a gaping chasm. We need to plow the area and take down all of the fictitious tombs.”

The apparent impotence of Jerusalem authorities in the face of brazen Arab land-grabs is also apparent in the matter of a huge wall that has been built around a Turkish cemetery.

The Muslims may be taking advantage of Israeli reluctance to act assertively regarding its land, in the face of pressure from the Obama administration over Jewish construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the razing of illegal Arab structures there.

Municipality Responds

In response to Arutz Sheva’s query, the Jerusalem Municipality said: “The Jerusalem Municipality located the illegal activity at the site yesterday. The Municipality has contacted the Israel lands Authority as the owner of the land to return things to their former state. The Municipality will not allow extremist elements to act illegally to change the status quo.”

Photos: materials for new tombs after being dumped at the site, and after being shaped into ‘tombs’.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Fears of Al-Qaida Return in Iraq as US-Backed Fighters Defect

American allies the Sons of Iraq being offered more money by al-Qaida to switch sides

Al-Qaida is attempting to make a comeback in Iraq by enticing scores of former Sunni allies to rejoin the terrorist group by paying them more than the monthly salary they currently receive from the government, two key US-backed militia leaders have told the Guardian. They said al-Qaida leaders were exploiting the imminent departure of US fighting troops to ramp up a membership drive, in an attempt to show that they are still a powerful force in the country after seven years of war.

Al-Qaida is also thought to be moving to take advantage of a power vacuum created by continuing political instability in Iraq, which remains without a functional government more than five months after a general election. Sheikh Sabah al-Janabi, a leader of the Awakening Council — also known as the Sons of Iraq — based in Hila, 60 miles south of Baghdad, told the Guardian that 100 out of 1,800 rank-and-file members had not collected their salaries for the last two months: a clear sign, he believes, that they are now taking money from their former enemies. “Al-Qaida has made a big comeback here,” he said. “This is my neighbourhood and I know every single person living here. And I know where their allegiances lie now.”

The Sons of Iraq grew out of a series of mini-rebellions against militants associated with al-Qaida that started in late 2006. They soon grew into a success story in Iraq, which was capitalised on by the then commanding US general, David Petraeus, who agreed to pay each member a $300 monthly salary and used the rebels as a tool to quell the boiling insurgency. The US handed over control of the Sons of Iraq to the Iraqi government in late-2008. The programme since has been plagued by complaints about distrust and delays in paying salaries, as well as almost daily bombings or shootings targeting Awakening Council leaders and members across Iraq this year, which have troubled US commanders as their combat troops steadily leave the country.

Sheikh al-Janabi’s cousin, Malik Yassin al-Janabi, a joint leader in Hila, became the latest victim today when he was killed by gunmen who shot him dead while he was driving, also wounding two of his guards. A second Awakening Council leader, Sheikh Moustafa al-Jabouri, said disaffection among his ranks had reached breaking point as US combat forces increasingly depart, with most of his men not having been paid for up to three months and now facing a relentless recruitment drive by local al-Qaida members.

“My people are being offered more money. It has happened throughout Arabi Jabour and Dora,” he said of the two south Baghdad suburbs that he controls. “I warned the Americans and the Iraqi government that if they continue neglecting us, the Awakening Council will become even more desperate and will look for other ways to make money. So it is an easy market for al-Qaida now. The Iraqi government has disappointed them and it is an easy choice to rejoin the terrorists.” He said approaches to his rank-and-file membership had become commonplace over the last month.

“They are trying every means they know, by threatening or offering money. Many members have no money or salaries and are living in difficult circumstances.”

The director of the Awakening Council project inside the national Reconciliation Commission, Zuheir Chalabi, today dismissed claims that members were defecting in large numbers.

“I think this issue is fabricated and politicised by people who are against the government and are pro-Ba’athist,” he said. “We have no indications that large numbers of Sons of Iraq have left their jobs. We are seeing [defections] of around four in 1,000.” However, Sheikh al-Janabi said he would give a list of names of the alleged defectors to both American and Iraqi officials. “He needs to accept the facts,” he said.

Two long-term members of the Sons of Iraq revealed to the Guardian that they had been approached in recent weeks by local men whom they knew to be al-Qaida leaders and told they would be paid more to defect. Both admitted to be entertaining the notion, largely because they feared what would happen if they did not. Mohammed Hussein al-Jumaili, 25, from Dora, said: “My salary is very low — it is about $300 per month and sometimes they delay paying me for two months or more. Ten days ago, I was in a cafe with another person from my neighbourhood. He was working with us also. Two people came to me. I knew them. They were from my area. They said: ‘You know the Sons of Iraq experiment has failed and they will be slaughtered one after the other. If you work with us, we will support you. We will give you a good salary and you can do whatever operation you want to do. You will get extra money for anything that you do that hits the Americans, or the Iraqi forces.’ “

The second member, Sabah al-Nouri, 32, from west Baghdad, said he too had been approached by Sons of Iraq members who were acting as double agents. “I am responsible for leading a group in al-Haswa district in Abu Ghraib,” he said. “Two months ago, al-Qaida contacted me through people who worked with me. They gave me a good offer, a reward for each operation and a pledge to support me and protect me. They said they would give me a weapon, a licence to carry one. There were a lot of promises. They said I would have more authority than I have now. They said: ‘We have not hurt you, why are you working against us?’ “

Major Mudher al-Mowla, who is in charge of the Sons of Iraq inside the Iraqi reconciliation ministry, said the government had recently learned of the cash offers and coercion. “We have learned about this, especially in Adhamiyeh [in West Baghdad] and we have started investigating. We are waiting for the results.” The US government has granted visas to many Sons of Iraq members and claims that future applications to emigrate to the US from Sons of Iraq leaders would be well received. Both the Pentagon and White House have hailed the Sons of Iraq experience as a triumph during seven difficult years of war. Some commanders believe Sons of Iraq leaders are overstating an al-Qaida putsch because they fear the unknown once the Americans leave. But they remain warm in their praise of the people they claim helped pave a way for their exit.

“The Sons of Iraq have displayed personal and physical courage on behalf of their country,” said Lieutenant Colonel Bob Owen, chief of the media operations centre at the US embassy in Baghdad. “When they partnered with the government of Iraq to counter the insurgency, they played a pivotal role in disrupting al-Qaida and reducing Iraqi civilian deaths. The people of Iraq and Iraqi leaders at every level of government are grateful for the courage and personal sacrifices the Sons of Iraq have made and continue to make for the safety, security and future success and prosperity of the country.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Iran: Reformist Journalist Jailed for Six Years

Tehran, 10 August (AKI) — A Revolutionary Court in the Tehran on Tuesday sentenced reformist journalist Badrossadat Mofidi to six years in prison, opposition website Peikeiran reports. Mofidi was jailed for endangering national security and spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, Peikeiran said.

Mofidi was arrested on 29 December last year together with her husband, Mashud Aghai following bloody clashes between opposition protesters and Iranian security forces.

The clashes occurred during the protests that coincided with the holy Shia day of Ashura, the climax of Muharram, an important period of mourning for Shia Muslims.

Mofidi spent over five months in Tehran’s Evin prison, where many political prisoners are held. She had been released on 8 June on payment of bail.

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

Why the EU, For All Its Problems, Is Still a Model for the Arab World

by Abdulaziz Sager

The countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) often look with admiration at the EU. Abdulaziz Sager who chairs the Gulf Research Centre, assesses what the GCC can and cannot learn from the EU

It is sometimes easy for Europeans to forget how successful the EU has been. After all, the EU has united a continent that was once bitterly divided, it has improved its own defences and has begun to speak with a common voice on international issues. The very fact that EU integration has brought prosperity and structural growth to its member states explains why the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) — a group made up of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates — often uses the EU as a model.

As far as members of the GCC are concerned, Europe’s greatest achievement has been the peace and political stability achieved in the wake of World War II. Earlier incarnations of the EU like the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community created the sort of stability that people in the Gulf crave…

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Superbug From India

Researchers said on Wednesday they had found a new gene called New Delhi metallo-beta-lactamase, or NDM-1, in patients in South Asia and in Britain.

NDM-1 makes bacteria highly resistant to almost all antibiotics, including the most powerful class called carbapenems, and experts say there are no new drugs on the horizon to tackle it.

With international travel in search of cheaper healthcare increasing, particularly for procedures such as cosmetic surgery, Timothy Walsh, who led the study, said he feared the new superbug could soon spread across the globe.

“At a global level, this is a real concern,” Walsh, from Britain’s Cardiff University, said in telephone interview.

“Because of medical tourism and international travel in general, resistance to these types of bacteria has the potential to spread around the world very, very quickly. And there is nothing in the (drug development) pipeline to tackle it.”

[Return to headlines]


Finland: Zyskowicz Criticises Work on Bill for “Grandmother Law”

“Consideration of humanitarian factors” seen as alternative to legislative change

Ben Zyskowicz, deputy chairman of the Parliamentary group of the National Coalition Party, has criticised Minister of Migration and European Affairs Astrid Thors (Swed. People’s Party) for continuing to work on behalf of amending the Aliens Act.

Zyskowicz says that the National Coalition Party does not plan to approve the bill that is currently under preparation at the Ministry of the Interior.

The proposed changes stem from the cases of two grandmothers, Irina Antonova and Eveline Fadayel, who have been refused residence permits in Finland where their families live. The aim is to make it possible for more elderly foreigners to join their adult children who live in Finland.

“Our parliamentary group has said clearly that we do not support opening up the Aliens Act. We have told this to Thors as well”, Zyskowicz says.

“We feel that it is quite questionable that Minister Thors is working on the matter, even though there is no mention of it in the government’s policy programme, and even though the National Coalition Party, a key government party, is opposed to it.”

Plans to amend the legislation were initiated by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) while he was in office. Apparently National Coalition Party MPs have not had any discussions with the current Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi (Centre) on their calls for stopping the process.

In the view of the National Coalition Party, the present law would allow for a softer line on residence permit matters.

“The Ministry of the Interior should give up its legislative project, and instruct the Finnish Immigration Service, which operates under the ministry, to take humanitarian considerations better into consideration in borderline cases”, Zyskowicz says.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Italy: Coastguard Intercept Migrant Boat Off Sardinia

Cagliari, 10 August (AKI) — Coastguard on Tuesday intercepted a six-metre boat off the coast of the Italian island of Sardinia with 12 migrants on board, including two minors. It is believed the boat set sail from the North African country of Algeria

A coastguard vessel noted the boat some 30 nautical miles off Cape Teulada on Sardinia’s southern coast. It escorted the craft into port in Teulada.

The migrants, who included a 16 and a 17-year-old youth, were taken to the Elmas identification centre on the island. Their nationally was not immediately known.

Sardinia, which lies north of Algeria across the Mediterranean has become an increasingly popular route for people smugglers in recent years, especially since a controversial pact between Italy and Libya entered into force last May.

Under the pact, coastal patrols have turned back thousands of migrants aboard boats in the Mediterranean. The pact has halved the number of migrants reaching southern Europe.

But as in past years, good weather and calmer seas during the summer months have seen a surge in the number of migrants trying to reach southern Europe by boat.

As recently as Monday, 40 illegal immigrants landed overnight on Italy’s southwestern Mediterranean island of Linosa.

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

UK: Unemployed Migrants Set Up Makeshift Camp on Busy Roundabout

Migrants refusing to go back to their home countries have set up camp on a busy roundabout. The illegal site in Peterborough, which is passed by thousands of cars every day, is one of at least 15 around the city. The roundabout at Boongate on the A1139 has two collections of tents hidden in dense undergrowth. Dozens of empty cans and bottles of cider are strewn around the area along with used tissue paper and excrement.

The majority of the homeless migrants are from Eastern Europe and came to the UK seeking factory jobs and seasonal farm work. But many lost their jobs in the economic downturn and are now trying to claim benefits or carry out cash-in-hand work. They have set up other makeshift shacks in nature reserves and parks. Peterborough resident Ian Treasure, who had a Czech immigrant squatting in his shed for six months, said the immigrants were ‘spongers’.

The 42-year-old IT worker added: ‘We just don’t have the resources to deal with all of the immigrants. Many of them are alcoholics and we can’t carry the burden of Europe’s alcohol problems.

I have seen an increase in immigrants recently, you often see them walking around in groups of ten men, all drinking cider and hanging around children’s play parks. ‘The police do try to move them on and keep them out of the public eye but that just hides the scale of the problem, we need a serious political solution.’

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, added: ‘It’s completely unacceptable to have unemployed foreign workers camping out in our cities, even on roundabouts. ‘Free movement of people within the European Union does not mean this. Those concerned must find a job or go home, with government help if necessary.’

In April the government launched a crackdown on out-of-work migrants clearing some campsites, sending home five immigrants and issuing warnings to a further 27.Peterborough is said to have the fastest growing ethnic community in Britain with around 16,000 migrants having moved to the city since 2004.

Immigration Minister Damian Green yesterday said the situation in Peterborough was shocking. He added: ‘That is why local authorities, local volunteer groups, the UK Border Agency and central government are doing their best to stop these this happening again and deal with problems in Peterborough. It is uncomfortable to see this. ‘Rough sleeping is often associated with problems of antisocial behaviour and is a health threat to rough sleepers themselves.’

The UK Border Agency found 63 EU nationals sleeping rough in Peterborough April, but it is believed this number has increased. If officers visit a tent and it is empty they leave documents in a variety of languages stating the rough sleepers must report to a police station in the next ten days. They have to prove they are self-sufficient and not a burden on the country to avoid being told to leave. The pilot scheme will also provide rough sleepers with advice on how to find work and obtain accommodation or how to get home.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Somalis Set to Lose Automatic Refugee Status

Sanaa, 9 August (AKI) — Source IRIN — Straining to cope with the number of Somalis arriving by boat, Yemen is seeking to end the prima facie refugee status (automatic asylum) it has been giving them for the past 20 years.

The government says some are economic migrants and should not be granted automatic refugee status, while others are militants seeking to join Al-Qaeda groups to destabilise the country.

“Not all Somalis are fleeing conflict. Many are immigrants who come from safe regions such as Bosasso [port in the Puntland region of northern Somalia] in search of better economic opportunities,” Essam al-Mahbashi, a subcommittee member of the National Committee for Refugee Affairs (NCRA), told IRIN.

He said the emergence of extremist groups in Somalia, such as Al-Shabab, is one of the reasons why Yemen wants to scrap the prima facie refugee status policy.

“Members of these groups want to enter Yemen to help the Al-Qaeda organisation in its plots that target national security and stability,” al-Mahbashi said.

The NCRA, which works with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), is mandated to implement the new policy when it comes into effect.

Mohammed al-Fuqmi, a rapporteur for NCRA, said the proposal for the policy change had been submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval two months ago.

“The government needs to secure international support to cover the cost of repatriating illegal immigrants, who are not eligible for refugee status, before the new policy is put into effect,” he said.

“The status quo necessitates changing the policy.”

He said all illegal immigrants would be returned to their countries of origin by plane “in coordination with their governments”, but did not clarify how this might work in the case of Somalia which lacks a functioning government.

Al-Mahbashi said Somali and non-Somali asylum-seekers would be treated alike under the new policy.

“Firmer internationally recognised screening procedures will be applied on each individual case to determine who deserves refugee status,” he said, adding that these procedures would be applied after the completion of the current refugee registration process in several months’ time.

On 18 January the interior ministry announced that all unregistered refugees in Yemen must register with the authorities within two months.

Somali refugees in Yemen blame extremist groups back home for their miserable conditions there and in Yemen.

“They forced us to flee Somalia. And then they created problems for us in Yemen. They made it too difficult for us to get refugee status,” Enab Abdullah, a 35-year-old Somali woman, told IRIN in the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

“I got my refugee ID last month from the Sanaa registration centre while my husband couldn’t because he was suspected of having connections with these groups,” she said.

“They want to force him back to Somalia where the situation goes from bad to worse.”

Patrick Duplat of NGO Refugees International (RI) said RI encouraged countries, including Yemen, to offer Somalis the broadest protection mechanisms possible given the current situation in their homeland.

However, he said Yemen’s new policy would be in line with newly issued UNHCR guidelines on Somalis that allow for such screening but call for those Somalis not granted refugee status to be afforded “complementary forms of international protection”.

“We, however, caution that a more restrictive asylum policy towards Somalis is part of a larger trend in the region with growing xenophobia, and an increasing number of arbitrary arrests and detention,” he said.

UNHCR said it was too early to comment on the Yemeni government’s proposed policy change.

The government says there are about 780,000 Africans in Yemen, most of whom it says are illegal immigrants.

According to UNHCR, there were about 178,000 African refugees in Yemen as of June 2010 — 168,000 of whom were Somalis. Yemen’s population is about 23 million.

Al-Mahbashi said only 10 percent of Africans arriving in Yemen passed through UNCHR-run reception centres.

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

Culture Wars

The International Baccalaureate Curriculum

That is, IBO says its curriculum is “the best possible” for two interrelated reasons: (1) The IBO curriculum focuses on the beliefs and values it says are universal. These beliefs and values are seen by IBO, therefore, as being superior to the parochial beliefs and values of mere nations that are less than universal. That is, IB believes that it teaches the universal beliefs and values which are superior to the limited beliefs and values of the United States.

And (2) IBO says its curriculum is “the best possible” because IB teaches the beliefs and values of the UN as defined in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights [UDHR]. This UN document specifically requires supporting nations to promote all the activities of the UN in its education program [UDHR, Article 26.]. This means that IBO is committed to teaching the beliefs and values contained in numerous UN treaties and accords the United States does not support such as Kyoto, the UN Treaty on the Rights of the Child, the Earth Charter, Agenda 21, the Biodiversity Treaty and many others. (IBO formed a partnership with UNESCO in 1996.)

To ensure that that the IBO-UN beliefs and values are adequately indoctrinated into its students, IBO and the UN are now writing their own textbooks and other materials.

[Return to headlines]