Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100825

Financial Crisis
»Colorada Dem Michael Bennet Admits: “We Have a $13 Trillion Debt & Nothing to Show for it”
»France May Force Insurance on Lost Autonomy
»Italy’s German-Speaking Province Escapes the Crisis
»This is Why There Are No Jobs in America
»UK: Interest Rates at 8%? This is a Nightmare That Can Come True
»US: Recovery in Danger as Firms, Homebuyers Cut Back
»Audio: MSNBC Libtalker: Mosque Opponents Are ‘Aryans’
»Audio: Ground Zero Imam Pushes ‘Eradication’ of Jewish State
»Gallup Ignoring Its Own Big Stories
»Ground Zero Mosque Imam the Jeremiah Wright of Islam
»Ground Zero Imam Hails Iran’s Islamic Revolution
»Media’s Vain Search for Why Muslims “Become Radicalized”
»Obama Administration Reports to the UN on Human Rights Issues in U.S.
»Phyllis Chesler: Is Time a Muslim Magazine?
»The Government’s New Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS
»The Truth About Obama’s “Muslim” Faith
»Union Mechanics Reject American Airlines Contract
»Two Arrested in Ottawa After Multiple Raids in Al Qaeda Terror Probe
Europe and the EU
»Italy: Made in Italy: Parmesan/Grana Exports to US +49%
»Italy: Catholic Weekly Takes Another Swipe at Berlusconi
»Italy: Faithful Urged to Fill Funerals
»Radical Belgian Muslims Turn to Jihadist Cleric Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi for Guidance
»Sweden Democrats Publish Report on Rape
»Sweden: Traffickers Intimidated Victims With Voodoo
»U.K. Spy Slain, Stuffed in Sports Bag
»UK: First Picture of British Spy Found Stabbed to Death in His Bath Yards From MI6 HQ ‘Was Killed Two Weeks Ago’
»UK: Junior Doctor Took Fatal Drug Overdose Weeks After Boyfriend Revealed He Was Taking Part in Arranged Marriage
»Bosnia: Parliament Discuss Face Veil Ban on September 1
»Kosovo: KFOR Leaves Gracanica, Serbia and Church Protest
North Africa
»Tourism: Russians Prefer Tunisia, Followed by Turkey, Egypt
Israel and the Palestinians
»Czech List: Sometimes Even a Conference Can Teach Vivid Political Realities
»Turkey: Boycotted Israeli Firms Seek to Capitalize on Ramadan
Middle East
»1001 Inventions: Science in Muslim Lands
»Camel Dairy Ready to Milk Europe
»CIA Sees Increased Threat From Al-Qaeda in Yemen
»Lebanon: Nasrallah Wants Nuclear Power Plant Built
»Saudi Arabia: Preacher Slams Stores With Women Cashiers
»Stakelbeck on Terror Show Featuring “Mega-Mosque” at Ground Zero
»US Funds Restoration of Global Islamic Sites
South Asia
»Afghanistan: U.S. Withdrawal Deadline Boosts Taliban in Afghan War
»Key Karzai Aide in Graft Inquiry is Linked to C.I.A.
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Mauritania: Explosives-Loaded Car Near Barracks, Man Killed
»Electing Another People
»Feds Moving to Dismiss Some Deportation Cases
»Germany: Gabriel Signals Sarrazin Should Leave SPD Over Xenophobic Views
»New Book Plunges Germany Into Immigration Debate
Culture Wars
»High School Test ‘Slams’ Christianity, Lauds Islam
»The Left’s Newfound Respect for Freedom of Religion
»Virus Link With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resurfaces

Financial Crisis

Colorada Dem Michael Bennet Admits: “We Have a $13 Trillion Debt & Nothing to Show for it”

Michael Sandoval is covering the Colorado Senate Race for National Review. Today he reported this bombshell… Liberal democrat Michael Bennet told supporters that although the US Senate has spent trillions since he was appointed, they have achieved nothing:


Regarding spending during his time in office he said, “We have managed to acquire $13 trillion of debt on our balance sheet” and, “in my view we have nothing to show for it.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

France May Force Insurance on Lost Autonomy

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 24 — Among the measures in the forthcoming reform of the French national insurance system, which begins its parliamentary journey on September 7, there is the possible introduction of an obligation to subscribe to “an insurance against the loss of autonomy linked to age”. So reports Le Figaro, which quoted a parliamentary report on dependence.

The issue, the paper explains, “is urgent”, given that by 2050, faced with an increase of around 10% in the French population, “the over-60s will increase by 50% and the over-75 s will double”. The inevitable consequence is the increase in spending on public services for help to those who are not independent, which today in France is already above 20 billion per year. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s German-Speaking Province Escapes the Crisis

The German-speaking Italian province of South Tyrol has defied the economic crisis with almost full employment and a healthy economy. Its success is partly due to its paternalistic governor, Luis Durnwalder, who has ruled the province practically as his personal fiefdom since 1989. Resentment of Rome is growing in the region, which once belonged to Austria.

Reinhold Messner was the first mountain climber to ascend all of the world’s peaks taller than 8,000 meters (26,246 feet) above sea level. But in his native South Tyrol, there are those who see him as nothing but a well-traveled denigrator of his own country.

Messner, with his trademark shaggy beard and thick, wavy hair, is sitting in the courtyard of Sigmundskron Castle in front of his Messner Mountain Museum in the city of Bolzano, sipping a glass of red wine. He is gushing about the merits of his native South Tyrol, an autonomous province of Italy that used to be part of Austria until the end of World War I and that is home to speakers of German, Italian and the local language Ladin. It’s a far cry from the outbursts of rage for which he is known. “We are doing well here in South Tyrol,” says Messner. “We are living in the promised land, and that’s Durni’s achievement.”

The man Messner calls “Durni” is Luis Durnwalder, who has been president of South Tyrol since 1989. Many residents of the province, including both German- and Italian-speaking South Tyroleans, practically worship Durnwalder for his shrewdness and down-to-earth personality. But for Messner, who has made sarcastic remarks about Durnwalder in the past, the praise represents something of an about-face. “I wasn’t in favor of Durnwalder at first, because I didn’t want the province to be run by a farmer like that,” says Messner. “But I was wrong about him.”

Highly Successful

The numbers speak volumes about Durnwalder’s achievements. No provincial governor in Italy has been in office longer — or has been as successful. His province, a region of mountains and valleys stretching from the Brenner Pass to the Salurner Klause, rivals Italy’s most productive regions, highly industrialized Lombardy and the Valle d’Aosta, in GDP per capita (see graphic).

The small province of South Tyrol, also referred to as Alto Adige, is little more than half the size of the US state of Connecticut and is a land of mountains, forests, apple orchards and vineyards. Nevertheless, it is so prosperous that it can pay its governor a better salary than that earned by US President Barack Obama.

As Durnwalder makes his way up the hill at Sigmundskron Castle, it’s clear that he is aware of his market value. In fact, he is so busy greeting his fans that he almost overlooks the world-famous mountaineer Messner. The choice of Sigmundskron Castle as the site of their meeting is significant. Tens of thousands protested at Sigmundskron Castle in 1957, chanting “los von Trient” (“away from Trento”), setting the course for the province’s autonomy.

The so-called “South Tyrol Package,” signed in 1972, guarantees the governments of the two provinces of South Tyrol and Trentino, which together make up the autonomous region of Trentino/South Tyrol, extensive autonomy from Rome. “But it was only Durni who managed to transform autonomy into economic success,” says Messner, who threatened to emigrate to Patagonia years ago because of the political monoculture in South Tyrol. “Today,” says Durnwalder, “20 horses couldn’t drag Messner away from this place.”

Virtually Full Employment

In the difficult summer of 2010, South Tyrol is like a small beacon of prosperity surrounded by doom and gloom. Despite the economic crisis, there is almost no unemployment in the area surrounding the capital Bolzano (known in German as Bozen), and the province is debt-free. By comparison, Italy as a whole has the highest government debt, as a percentage of the country’s gross domestic product, in the entire euro zone. Within the last half-century, 19 prime ministers have been sworn in in Rome. In South Tyrol, on the other hand, there has been only one change in the province’s top job during the same period — from its “über-father” Silvius Magnago to Durnwalder.

For the last 21 years, Durnwalder has made sure that his realm, a place where both lemon trees and edelweiss bloom, takes full advantage of its strengths. Investors exploit the bilingualism of many South Tyrolese to capture southern markets. Vacationers flock to the region, not only to tour the Dolomites and visit “Törggelen” festivals, which showcase local food and wine in the autumn, but also because of its new boutique hotels and museums. In 2009, South Tyrol registered 28 million overnight stays in its hotels and guesthouses.

Messner, with his five mountain museums scattered around South Tyrol, is part of the attraction. In this sense, he contributes indirectly to the success of Durnwalder’s party, the South Tyrolean People’s Party (SVP), which has ruled the province with an absolute or relative majority since 1948. But when it comes to the issues he cares about, like raising money for new projects or securing approval to place statues of Buddha in the ruins of a 1,000-year-old Tyrolean castle, the mountain-climbing legend doesn’t even bother with ordinary party officials. “I only talk to the governor,” says Messner.

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

This is Why There Are No Jobs in America

I’d like to make you a business offer.

Seriously. This is a real offer. In fact, you really can’t turn me down, as you’ll come to understand in a moment…

Here’s the deal. You’re going to start a business or expand the one you’ve got now. It doesn’t really matter what you do or what you’re going to do. I’ll partner with you no matter what business you’re in — as long as it’s legal.

But I can’t give you any capital — you have to come up with that on your own. I won’t give you any labor — that’s definitely up to you. What I will do, however, is demand you follow all sorts of rules about what products and services you can offer, how much (and how often) you pay your employees, and where and when you’re allowed to operate your business. That’s my role in the affair: to tell you what to do.

Now in return for my rules, I’m going to take roughly half of whatever you make in the business each year. Half seems fair, doesn’t it? I think so. Of course, that’s half of your profits.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Interest Rates at 8%? This is a Nightmare That Can Come True

With the recovery faltering, the deficit yawning and the Treasury axe being sharpened, you might have thought that the present economic picture could hardly get worse.

But if one expert’s chilling prediction is right, then far grimmer times may lie ahead for British homeowners.

As if they did not have to shoulder enough burdens already, they could end up facing mortgage repayments three times today’s level, with horrific consequences for our economy.

That is the bleak picture Andrew Lilico, chief economist of the Policy Exchange think-tank, painted yesterday. He believes that next year the British economy will plunge back into recession — and that the future will be even worse than most of us dare imagine.

If Mr Lilico is right, then the economy will soon bounce back from the dreaded double-dip recession.

But once recovery is under way, he thinks, then the Bank of England’s quantitative easing scheme, which pumped £200 billion into the economy in the wake of the credit crunch, will have terrible consequences.

With the money supply out of control, inflation could surge as high as 10 per cent, a level unknown in Britain since the late 1980s.

And to make matters even worse, the Bank of England would then have to raise the base rate to as high as 8 per cent, leaving hard-pressed homeowners facing mortgage rates at an eye-watering 12 per cent.

With house prices and debt at record levels, this would be a catastrophe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US: Recovery in Danger as Firms, Homebuyers Cut Back

WASHINGTON (AP) — The economic recovery appears to be stalling as companies cut back last month on their investments in equipment and machines and Americans bought new homes at the weakest pace in decades.

Overall orders for big-ticket manufactured goods increased 0.3 percent in July, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. But that was only because of a 76 percent jump in demand for commercial aircraft.

Taking out the volatile transportation category, orders for durable goods fell at the steepest rate since January. And business orders for capital goods took their sharpest drop since January 2009, when the economy was stuck in the deepest recession in decades.

Separately, Commerce said new home sales fell 12.4 percent in July from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual sales pace of 276,600. That was the slowest pace on records dating back to 1963. Collectively, the past three months have been the worst on record for new home sales.

The weak sales mean fewer jobs in the construction industry, which normally powers economic recoveries. Each new home built creates, on average, the equivalent of three jobs for a year and generates about $90,000 in taxes, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

The two reports are likely to stoke fears that the economy is on the verge of slipping back into a recession. They follow Tuesday’s report that showed sales of previously owned homes fell last month to the lowest level in decades. Unemployment remains near double digits and job growth in the private sector is slowing.

“The rebound in manufacturing was one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing recovery,” said Paul Ashworth, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics. “Take it away, throw in a relapse in housing, and you don’t have much left.”

Factory orders are a key measure of the economic recovery. Manufacturers have helped to lead the rebound. They filled orders for businesses that were building up stocks after whittling them down during the recession.

But many companies are done restocking, cooling demand for factory goods.

Demand for durable goods has mostly risen in recent months. Orders are 15.6 percent higher than they were a year ago. Excluding transportation, demand has increased in all but two months this year.

Overall orders in June declined by a revised 1.0 percent. But excluding transportation, orders rose 0.2 percent. Spending by businesses increased 3.6 percent that month — a rare bright spot.

Durable goods are expected to last three years or more. The full survey of factory orders will be released next week.

Housing has never fully recovered from the recession. Builders have been forced to compete with foreclosed properties offered at significantly lower prices.

New home sales made up only about 7 percent of the housing market last year. That’s down from about 15 percent before the bust.

The industry received a boost this spring when the government offered tax credits to homebuyers. But since they expired in April, the number of people looking to buy homes has dropped, even with bargain prices and the lowest mortgage rates in decades available.

More than 600,000 new homes were sold annually from 1983 through 2007. After the housing bubble popped, sales plunged to 375,000 last year. That was the weakest yearly total on record.

Builders have sharply scaled back construction in the face of weak sales. The number of new homes up for sale at the end of July was unchanged at 210,000, the lowest level in about 40 years.

Due to the sluggish sales pace, it would still take more than nine months to exhaust that supply, above a healthy level of about six months.

New home sales were down nationwide. They fell by more than 25 percent from a month earlier in the West, 14 percent in the Northeast, 9 percent in the South and 8 percent in the Midwest.

The median sales price in July was $204,000. That was down 4.8 percent from a year earlier and down 6 percent from June.

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


Audio: MSNBC Libtalker: Mosque Opponents Are ‘Aryans’

Is Ed Schultz really a political pundit, or does he merely play one on TV?

As animated as ever, MSNBC’s answer to Sylvester The Cat delivered a couple of doozies during yesterday’s syndicated radio program. In his attempt to outdo even the most over-the-top rhetoric from pro-Islamist “progressives”, Schultz hatefully labeled Ground Zero Mosque opponents “Aryans”.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Audio: Ground Zero Imam Pushes ‘Eradication’ of Jewish State

Hear Islamic leader propose plan Israel says will bring about its disintegration

The controversial imam behind a proposal to build an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero has advocated a plan that is widely regarded here as promoting the eradication of Israel as a Jewish state.

In uncovered audio, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf pushes for a “one state” solution of Jews and Arabs sharing the same country.

While the idea may sound moderate to those unfamiliar with Mideast politics, such a proposal, which has been touted by Palestinian leaders, is seen by Israel as pressing for its destruction as a Jewish state. The population of Israeli Arabs combined with incoming Palestinians would cause Arabs to outnumber Jews, thus changing the Jewish character of the country.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gallup Ignoring Its Own Big Stories

Why would Gallup place a subtitle around this poll which is not true and which understates the importance of the poll?

The Gallup Poll is one of the oldest in polling organizations in history. Its reputation ought to be important. The articles which accompany its polls, however, seem calculated to hide the real story. Consider an article last August, entitled “Political Ideology: ‘Conservative’ Label Prevails in the South.” That is not exactly earth shattering news. Anyone who has even casual acquaintance with American politics knows that the South is the most conservative part of our country.

The subtitle of the article appears to tell more: “Conservatives outnumber liberals in nearly every state, but not in D.C.” That subtitle, in much smaller font below the headline, is, in fact, false: the data which Gallup provides in the actual poll reveals this remarkable fact: conservatives outnumber liberals in virtually every single state of our nation, without exception, including such proverbial bastions of leftism as Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont and Rhode Island. This is electrifying news, particularly in light of the Tea Party movement and the rebellion within the Republican Party against RINOs. Why would Gallup ignore this fascinating news it discovered? Why would Gallup place a subtitle around this poll which is not true and which understates the importance of the poll?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ground Zero Mosque Imam the Jeremiah Wright of Islam

If the hateful words against America spewed by Ground Zero Mosque Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf sound vaguely familiar, could it be because President Barack Obama’s former pastor the Rev. Jeremiah Wright said the same thing?

“We tend to forget, in the West that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non-Muslims.” (Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Aug. 24, 2010,

“The Iraq war is the same thing al-Qaida is doing under a different color flag.” (See Video) “America is still the No. 1 killer in the world.” (,

The big difference here is that Obama, who had been a docile congregant at Trinity United Church for more than 20 years, tossed Rev. Wright under the bus when he was going for the brass ring in November 2008.

Imam Rauf, on the other hand, is out there on active “outreach” duty in the Middle East for the U.S. State Department.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ground Zero Imam Hails Iran’s Islamic Revolution

Urges Obama to back ‘most extreme and repressive version of Muslim theocracy’

The controversial imam behind a plan to build a Muslim cultural center near Ground Zero recommended that President Obama support the Islamic revolution in Iran.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf also argued against the U.S. aiding the pro-democracy protesters who were being violently suppressed by the Iranian regime.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Media’s Vain Search for Why Muslims “Become Radicalized”

Our media and government have essentially promoted an ignorance of what motivates Muslims to undertake violent acts preferring to focus on their individual problems of being marginalized in Western societies and subject to discrimination, estrangement due to their inability to integrate or be successful. The look of benign puzzlement on the face of Attorney General Holden when asked about the common factor of “Radical Islam” in the behavior and attempted acts of terrorism by those individuals apprehended and questioned over the past year and a half of the Obama administration reveals a profound avoidance of following the dictum if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck.

No, for Obama and Holder, for The New York Times and for a large majority of those who pretend to be journalists not only in the United States, but in practically all Western societies including paradoxically, those like Spain and the U.K. that have already suffered atrocious acts of wanton terrorism, the guilty are “certain people who act from a variety of motives”.


Obama, Holder and our entire State Department prefer to be willfully ignorant, even deaf, dumb and blind to what motivated practically all the terrorist acts committed by Jihadi directed Muslims directed against innocent civilians from dozens countries of all cultural political types as well as against fellow Muslims.


Jihad, this Sixth Pillar of Islam is not a “marginal” or “perverted interpretation” practiced by a tiny minority. It may lay dormant for generations but has the power overnight to transform tens of millions of Muslims around the globe into a mob craving blood, and “revenge” for what they perceive to be an affront to their dignity and sacred beliefs. How else does one explain the mass demonstrations involving security forces, hundreds of deaths and property damage in the millions, threats, attempted mayhem and terror and a world-wide economic boycott imposed on Denmark in 2006?

Major Nidal Malik Hasan, the assassin of twelve soldiers, one civilian and the wounding of more than forty others at Ft. Hood, Texas on Nov.6, 2009 was not joking. Newspapers all over the United States carried headlines on the order of “Army authorities searching for a motive in the massacre”, and “Obama finds crime Incomprehensible”. Both the Army and the U.S. President bear complicity for the deaths of these soldiers, killed at the safest location imaginable, yet many observers referred to the crime as “incomprehensible”, although Malik had been cited numerous times for extremist Islamist statements, sympathy with Al-Qaeda and his own personal calling card as a “soldier of Allah.”


Appendix A (for the further attention of Attorney General Eric Holder: The list below contains information about “Certain People Who May Potentially Act from a Variety of Motives”)

[Comments from JD: see url for long list.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Reports to the UN on Human Rights Issues in U.S.

Under the administration of Barack Hussein Obama, the United States submitted its first ever “Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report” to the United Nations. This is the first time in the history of the United Nations that the U.S. has submitted a report to the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, which is the first step in submitting the United States to international review by some of the most repressive and abusive nations in the world. The 29-page report can be read here.

The report is the product of about a dozen conferences held across the U.S. between January and April 2010. The participants of these conferences featured such luminaries as Stephen Rickard and Wendy Patten, from George Soros’ Open Society Institute; Devon Chaffee, Human Rights First; Andrea Prasow, Human Rights Watch; Imad Hamad (a suspected member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist terrorist organization), American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee; Dawud Walid, Council American Islamic Relations; Nabih Ayad, Michigan Civil Rights Commission; Ron Scott, Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality; Osama Siblani, Arab American News; Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Cynthia Soohoo, Center for Reproductive Rights, among others.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Phyllis Chesler: Is Time a Muslim Magazine?

I did not think that the pro-Muslim/pro-Islamist and anti-Western propaganda could get any worse—and yet it just has.

TIME magazine has an August 30 cover story titled “Is America Islamophobic?” Within, the article is titled: “Islam in America: It’s part of the fabric of life, but protests reveal a growing hostility to the religion of Muslims.”

President Obama’s rather strange assertions that “seven million” Muslims live in America (only 2.5-3 million actually do), and that “Islam has always played a role in America,” actually contradict the point of this piece, but no matter.

One might wonder why any “hostility” to a productive, historically significant Muslim presence in America exists. TIME magazine does not tell us.

The article portrays Muslims as innocent victims and American non-Muslims as prejudiced racists who, historically, once banned Catholicism, tried to limit immigration, burned African-American churches, passed anti-Chinese legislation, criminalized certain Native-American rituals (polygamy, rejection of modern medicine), spawned the Ku Klux Klan, failed to elect a Catholic President until 1960, allowed Father Coughlin’s anti-Semitic, pro-Nazi rants to appear over the airwaves, and interned 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World War Two. This is all contained in TIME’s “Brief History of Intolerance in America.”

This article could easily appear in an Egyptian or Syrian magazine; however it would be Israel that would be blamed for various alleged atrocities, and Palestinians, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, even al-Qaeda, who would be seen as the innocent victims.

TIME magazine does not balance out their history of American intolerance with a history of American tolerance, which included separating the state from religion, reforming religions, instituting a tradition of free speech, fighting a bloody Civil War in order to free the slaves, giving women the vote and educational opportunities, freeing Europe from Nazi fascist rule and waging a Cold war against Soviet totalitarianism…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

The Government’s New Right to Track Your Every Move With GPS

Government agents can sneak onto your property in the middle of the night, put a GPS device on the bottom of your car and keep track of everywhere you go. This doesn’t violate your Fourth Amendment rights, because you do not have any reasonable expectation of privacy in your own driveway — and no reasonable expectation that the government isn’t tracking your movements.

That is the bizarre — and scary — rule that now applies in California and eight other Western states. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which covers this vast jurisdiction, recently decided the government can monitor you in this way virtually anytime it wants — with no need for a search warrant.

It is a dangerous decision — one that, as the dissenting judges warned, could turn America into the sort of totalitarian state imagined by George Orwell. It is particularly offensive because the judges added insult to injury with some shocking class bias: the little personal privacy that still exists, the court suggested, should belong mainly to the rich.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Truth About Obama’s “Muslim” Faith

In reality, calling Obama a “Muslim” gives him too much credit. As G.K. Chesterton once said, “We call a man a bigot or a slave of dogma because he is a thinker who has thought thoroughly and to a definite end.” The truth, however, is that few people have thought thoroughly and to a definite end. And Obama is no exception. He hasn’t even thought matters through enough to understand the folly of statism. Even more to the point, he is a moral relativist, a position the antithesis of any absolutist faith. Inherent in Islam is that belief that Allah, not man, has authored right and wrong and that, consequently, it isn’t a matter of opinion. Thus, Obama cannot truly believe in Islam — or in Christianity or Judaism, for that matter (he could perhaps be a Buddhist, but Buddhism isn’t truly a faith but a way of life).

Oh, and since some will ask, how do I know Obama is a relativist? It’s simple: Virtually all leftists are, as the denial of moral reality that is relativism lies at the heart of liberalism.


As many know, there once was a great boxer named Cassius Clay. He converted to Islam in 1964, seemingly bothered that Jesus was portrayed as “a white with blond hair and blue eyes,” as he put it, and took the name “Muhammad Ali.” Of course, the irony of this is that, despite being intensely aware of his slave roots, he rejected the name of an abolitionist (Clay) and took the name of a slave owner (Muhammad). It also perhaps eluded him that Christians were the first ones to outlaw slavery while Muslims give black Africans rope and chains to this day.

But I mention this because Ali’s path is a common one in the black community; it is why we’ve long had the Black Muslims and why Islamic names are so common among American blacks. Many blacks have bought the bill of goods that Christianity is the white man’s religion, the faith of oppressors. And they embrace Islam as part of a rejection of “white” society.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Union Mechanics Reject American Airlines Contract

American Airlines Inc. mechanics Tuesday turned down a three-year contract with the carrier, increasing the potential for a Transport Workers Union strike against the carrier.

In addition, TWU-represented stores employees, who handle the aircraft parts inventories, also turned down their proposed contract.

One group, maintenance technical specialists, approved their deal.

The results throw the issue of American’s labor dispute back to the National Mediation Board, which must decide whether to keep the two sides talking, put the talks on hold indefinitely or allow the union to go on strike.

American spokeswoman Missy Latham stressed that the two sides are “not at a point in negotiations where a strike could occur. Only the NMB can release the parties, which typically only happens after it’s clear a deal cannot be reached.”

She said American was “very pleased” that the one group approved its deal.

The airline will look to the mediation board for guidance on the other TWU groups, and “we expect to continue working toward new agreements.”

The rejected contracts would have covered about 11,500 mechanics and related personnel and about 1,200 stores workers, or nearly one in every five American Airlines employees. The approved contract covers about 90 technical specialists.

“Our members have spoken loud and clear,” said TWU international vice president Garry Drummond.

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


Two Arrested in Ottawa After Multiple Raids in Al Qaeda Terror Probe

OTTAWA — Police in Ottawa have arrested two men in connection with an alleged al-Qaeda-related terrorism plot after searching two residences in the city’s west side.

The arrests occurred Wednesday morning at 91 Esterlawn Pvt., near the intersection of Woodroffe and Carling avenues. Officers from the RCMP and Ottawa police raided the house at about 7 a.m.

The RCMP said in a press release that they were executing a number of search warrants and additional arrests were expected.

Police officers entered an apartment in a building at 220 Woodridge Cres. in the city’s Bayshore area. The person registered as living in apartment 702 is believed to be named Ahmed Ehsan. Little else is known about him at this time.

There were also indications that further police searches might take place including across the Ottawa River in Gatineau.

Police have been investigating the plot for two years. It has apparently been dubbed Operation Samosa.

“These guys were doing more than just talking about terrorism. They were planning it,” said a police source.

A vehicle was removed during the search of 91 Esterlawn Private. The registered owner of the vehicle is Misbahuddin Ahmed, 36.

A search of court records involving Ahmed shows that he was arrested for speeding in March 2009 on the Ottawa River Parkway. At the time he was living at 217-220 Woodridge Cres. RCMP searched that address in the Bayshore area of the city on Wednesday afternoon.

“He seemed like a nice young guy,” said Robert Farrell, who owns the home at 91 Esterlawn Private.

Ahmed works as an X-ray technologist at the Civic campus of the Ottawa Hospital, Farrell said, and lives in the home with his wife and their infant daughter of about six-months old.

“They seemed to be more of a traditional Muslim family.”

Farrell, a former Canadian diplomat who had been stationed in the Middle East, said he recalls Ahmed saying he was born in India but had lived for a time in Saudi Arabia.

“We met his wife at the time. She seemed quite nice.”

She wore an Iranian-style head covering, Farrell said.

Ahmed rented the home about a year ago, after responding to ad Farrell placed on an online rental site. Farrell said he carefully checked his tenant’s references in the application and called the hospital to verify.

“His immediate supervisor gave him a very high recommendation. She said he was a very stable and very steady and a reliable employee,” Farrell said.

“If I recall correctly, she said, ‘I wish all my employees were like him,’ or something like that.”

Farrell’s wife believes Ahmed had been living in Canada for several years and had previously lived in the Bayshore area.

He believes Ahmed as in his late 30s or early 40s.

The National Post reported the investigation involved an al-Qaeda plot and that the ringleader is believed to have trained in the Pakistan and Afghanistan region. The Post said the investigation involved a bomb plot, though it was not well-defined and the arrests were made today because one of the suspects was preparing to travel abroad.

Ottawa defence lawyer Samir Adam met for more than half an hour with one of the accused at Ottawa police headquarters on Elgin Street early Wednesday but had not been officially retained as counsel as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Adam would not disclose what the two discussed but said he expects the accused to appear in court on Thursday.

Police said they will release additional details about the investigation at a press conference on Thursday.

Neighbours say they saw police arrive at the house at 91 Esterlawn Pvt. before 7 a.m. Wednesday. At least five Ottawa police cars and one RCMP cruiser were parked on the street.

Neighbours say they saw several unmarked police cars in the area. They described the residents of the house as devout Muslims.

Around 10 a.m., an officer emerged from the home with a camera.

Police hauled several computer hard drives out of 91 Esterlawn around 2:15 p.m. Another officer brought out what appeared to be a scanner.

Janice Burtt, a neighbour, said she only knew the man and woman who lived in the house to see them on the street.

She would wave to her neighbours, but they never responded.

“I don’t think they gestured to me at all,” Burtt said. “People keep to themselves, so that seemed nothing too out of the ordinary.”

Burtt said the people who live at 91 Esterlawn are quiet and keep to themselves. She would sometimes see them sitting on the front porch of their house.

Burtt said this type of police activity is unusual in the condo complex.

“Very quiet, very unassuming, very gentle,” Burtt said. “Nobody out of the ordinary that I’m aware of.”

Louise, who lives next door to the suspect and would not give her last name, said she saw several RCMP and Ottawa police cars on the street when she got the paper from her front porch early Wednesday morning.

She said the woman who lived in the house wore a burqa. She often heard the couple chanting some kind of prayer in the morning.

“It’s quite scary, actually,” Louise said. “We are trying to process all of that. It’s quite the surprise.”

Debbie Rapoch, another neighbour, said she saw two women dressed in burqas, garments which cover women from head to toe, leave the home and walk down the street. She said at least one was carrying a car seat, but a child wasn’t anywhere to be seen. A person picked up the women in a car and drove off.

At 220 Woodridge Cres., on the sixth and seventh floors, RCMP and Ottawa police officers stood watch Wednesday afternoon. Most were stationed on the seventh floor where a specific unit, 702, was being closely guarded.

In the early afternoon, investigators could be seen bringing empty cardboard boxes inside the building.

Outside, residents came and went. Children played at the pool next to the parking lot, asking questions of the photographers and journalists stationed with a view of the front doors.

One resident on the seventh floor said she moved in last October and doesn’t yet know any of her neighbours. She said the building has a high turnover rate, with people moving in and out quite often.

Another resident on the seventh floor said she is friends with the people who live in unit 702, but she wouldn’t give their names, say what they did for a living, nor give her own name. She did say that the two men who resided in the apartment were in their 30s.

Anthony Seaboyer, head of the proliferation security research group at Queen’s University’s Centre for International Relations, called the arrests “a great success” for Canadian anti-terrorism forces.

“It shows that the RCMP, Ottawa police and CSIS can actually co-operate effectively,” Seaboyer said.

Given the scathing criticism of how security authorities handled the Air India bombing, “this is a good sign,” he said.

“Canada is moving more and more away from being a safe haven for terrorist organizations.”

On the other hand, Seaboyer said, “it shows what’s now going on out there. We have now found one group, but what else is out there?”

It’s impossible to know how many terrorism cells are active in Canada, Seaboyer said, but those arrested Wednesday are “definitely not the only group out there, that’s for sure.”

He said Canada is becoming more of a target for terrorists who want to use attacks on Canadian facilities, such as Quebec’s hydro-electric plants and transmission lines, to harm the United States.

“There are ways of attacking the U.S. through Canada. The whole energy for New York comes from Quebec, for example.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italy: Made in Italy: Parmesan/Grana Exports to US +49%

(ANSAmed) — ROME — There has been a record high increase of 49% in exports of Parmigiano Reggiano (parmesan) and Grana Padano to the United States, which saw is the main non-European outlet market for these cheeses. This figure was seen in an analysis by the Italian National Farmers Federation (Coldiretti) on foreign trade in the first five months of 2010, in which a positive result was also seen as concerns trade with other European countries, where the increase was 18%.

“It is an important sign of recovery which in reality concerns the entire national dairy sector with a 12% general increase in exports,” noted the Coldiretti, adding that “the positive trend in the two cheeses that are the most representatives of Italian products is also clear on the domestic market, where spending for household purchases rose by 6.2% for Grana Padano and 2.7% for Parmigiano in the first six months of 2010 according to the elaborations by Coldiretti on thee basis of ISMEA data.” However, this situation “comes up against the lack of recognition to the farms themselves of a fair price for the milk delivered to cheese factories,” Coldiretti noted, underscoring that “the trend on international markets could improve further if more effective safeguarding of the denominations were brought in”, refering to the fact that Parmigiano and Grana are the two Italian cheeses which are copied the most the world over.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Catholic Weekly Takes Another Swipe at Berlusconi

Premier ‘has split Catholic vote down the middle’

(ANSA) — Rome, August 24 — Influential Italian Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana on Tuesday took its second swipe at Premier Silvio Berlusconi in a week, saying he had split the Catholic vote “down the middle”.

The magazine, believed to be the most widely read in Italian churches, also accused Berlusconi of character assassination, saying his “method” was: “Anyone who dissents is to be destroyed”.

The paper was making a reference to the editor of the Catholic bishops’ daily, Dino Boffo, who resigned last year after an expose’ about an alleged gay harassment case in Il Giornale, a conservative daily owned by Berlusconi’s brother.

Il Giornale has been running a series of front-page stories and editorials slamming House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, who recently broke with Berlusconi, for an allegedly shady real estate deal in Monte Carlo.

Overall, Famiglia Cristiana said, Italy’s Catholics were facing a stark choice in any upcoming election since “Berlusconi’s entry into politics has resulted in something that no politician in half a century had ever hoped for: to split the Catholic (or rather, Christian Democrat) vote down the middle.

Before the downfall of Italy’s political establishment in the early 1990s Clean Hands probes, the Christian Democrat party had dominated postwar politics in a broad tent of left-leaning, centrist and conservative Catholics.

The magazine’s blast came a week after it ran an editorial saying Italians were “fed up with duels, insults and showdowns” and called for a national unity government instead of a revamped Berlusconi administration in the event of the premier losing a key confidence vote next month.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Faithful Urged to Fill Funerals

Arezzo priest sets up ‘Company of the Departed’

(ANSA) — Arezzo, August 25 — An Italian priest is urging his congregation to make up the numbers at funerals which are often poorly attended if not deserted.

Father Marcello Colcelli has written to his flock in Arezzo to form what he calls a Company of the Departed to make sure all the deceased get a “dignified” send-off.

Father Colcelli told the La Nazione daily that many services, especially for lonely elderly parishioners, were attended “only by a few relatives and acquaintance”.

Sometimes he had even been left alone with the coffin, he said.

“I often have to do everything on my own: the readings, the rites, even the mourning,” the cleric said in Wednesday’s Arezzo section of La Nazione.

“I could carry on like this but I ask myself: where’s the community?”.

Father Colcelli has put together a draft ‘regulation’ he is hoping mass-goers will subscribe to.

It includes “an obligation (when possible) to take part in funerals, guaranteeing a minimum funeral service including readings, offerings and incense”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Radical Belgian Muslims Turn to Jihadist Cleric Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi for Guidance


An individual who described himself as belonging to a group of Muslims agitating for the implementation of the shari’a in Belgium wrote to the senior salafi jihadi sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi with a request for guidance. Al-Maqdisi, who lives in Jordan, is best known as the mentor of Abu Mus’ab Al-Zarqawi; more recently he has provided guidance to the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus,[1] salafi jihadis in Nigeria,[2] and probably to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as well.[3] In his reply, Al-Maqdisi told the Belgian Muslims to support the active jihads by providing funding, men, or however else they could, but counseled against carrying out attacks in Belgium as long as they are incapable of mounting a sustained conflict.

The author of the letter signed his name as “Abu Imran” (written in Latin characters). There is in fact an Abu Imran who is known in Belgium as a leader in the group called sharia4belgium which has begun recently to draw some attention. Their website[4] is currently not working, but videos of this Abu Imran can still be seen on the sharia4belgium YouTube channel.[5] British Islamist Anjem Choudary, head of the Islam 4 UK organization, recently recorded a video in support of sharia4belgium.[6] It cannot be definitively confirmed that this Abu Imran is the one who wrote Al-Maqdisi, but it is definitely a possibility worth investigating.

Following is a translation of the appeal from “Abu Imran,” followed by Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi’s response:…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Sweden Democrats Publish Report on Rape

The Sweden Democrats presented a report on Wednesday showing that of 114 convictions for rape in 2009, 48 percent involved men born outside Sweden.

“This sample is less than half of the court rulings last year,” said Klara Hradilova Selin at The National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå) which compiles official statistics on crimes committed and reported in Sweden.

The Sweden Democrats have gone through 114 district court rulings from 2009 in cases of rape or aggravated rape. 48 percent (or 55 cases) of the convicted rapists were born outside of Sweden, with 39.5 percent of the total born outside of Europe.

The 55 conviction constitute an over representation of overseas-born as a group. There were 648,426 overseas-born males registered as resident in Sweden in 2009 of a population of 9.34 million.

According to Brå statistics men account for 98 percent of all rapes in Sweden.

According to the Sweden Democrats the over-representation is due to cultural differences, and that the view on rape and on women varies significantly between cultures. But Brå dispute that any conclusions can be drawn from the statistics.

“There were 253 court judgements last year, there were 6,000 rapes reported to the police and the Sweden Democrats have chosen 114 cases,” said Klara Hradilova Selin to The Local.

Selin also rejected the Sweden Democrats claim that there is something of a “wave of rapes” sweeping Sweden, with the country enduring the highest incidence of rape in Europe.

The comparison can not be done, according to Selin, the definition of rape differs too greatly among countries. Since 2005 Sweden has one of the broadest definitions of rape in an international perspective.

Sweden Democrats’ party leader Jimmie Åkesson has meanwhile rejected the argument that it is irresponsible for a politician to draw conclusions from such a small sample.

“I think that it is a reasonable limitation. It confirms the same pattern in other reports which, for example Brå has done, and confirms also patterns seen in some foreign countries,” Åkesson told news agency TT.

But Klara Hradilova Selin argues that it is impossible to draw any general conclusions over rape from Brå statistics.

“There simply aren’t any statistics which indicate the actual incidence of rape — it is the crime with the highest degree of hidden statistics and most cases are not even reported,” she told The Local.

The Sweden Democrats have identified the incidence of rape as the “key equality issue of the election campaign” and argue that tighter controls on immigration would help to address the issue as well as placing a ten year trial period for new citizens.

They further propose to raise the penalties for rape and spend 1 billion kronor ($134 million) annually on measures to rebuild risk areas, adding cameras and improving lighting.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Traffickers Intimidated Victims With Voodoo

Eight people were charged on Wednesday for trafficking and pimping 10 African women, intimidating the victims into prostitution by using means including voodoo.

The 29-year-old woman who is suspected of having run the operation is from Cameroon. She brought the women into Sweden, including a 16-year-old girl from Nigeria.

The presence and exploitation of African women in prostitution in Sweden is highly unusual. This is the largest-ever case exposed in Sweden involving women from the continent.

“She used some religious African ceremonies, curses and voodoo to gain control over the women, all of whom are poorly educated,” said chief prosecutor Krister Petersson of the chamber of the international prosecutor.

“They were then forced into prostitution, first in Malmö and then in Stockholm,” he added.

Petersson submitted the indictment to Stockholm District Court on Wednesday.

When she arrived in Sweden, the 16-year-old girl learned that she owed the 29-year-old woman in charge of the operation €60,000, or nearly 600,000 kronor ($76,150). The debt would be repaid by selling sex to Swedish men.

Even after the debt was repaid, she was forced to continue to pay half of her earnings to the 29-year-old woman, who is now charged for human trafficking. The price for the sexual services varied from 2,000 kronor ($270) to up to 10,000 kronor for an entire night.

Advertisements for the services provided by the women, who were equipped with mobile phones, were placed on the Internet. They then serviced the clients either in an apartment furnished by the 29-year-old or made house calls.

Several of the 29-year-old’s accomplices were also charged with trafficking or aiding and abetting the crime. Others were accused of pimping of varying degrees. They performed functions, such as set up web pages, driving the women to clients or renting out apartments at exorbitant prices as brothels.

The police raided the ring in December. The teenager was then cared for by social services, which arranged for a residence for her. She has since been granted permission to stay in Sweden.

About 20 clients have been identified and either been given orders of summary punishment for crimes against the law against buying sex or will be prosecuted later.

The trial begins next Monday in Stockholm District Court and will continue until November.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.K. Spy Slain, Stuffed in Sports Bag

Police discover body in apartment near HQ of Britain’s MI6 spy agency

Detectives have launched a murder probe after the body of a man reported to be an intelligence officer was discovered in a central London apartment.

London’s Scotland Yard said Wednesday that officers found the man, believed to be aged in his 30s, at a home near the headquarters of Britain’s MI6 spy agency.

According to media reports, the man worked for eavesdropping agency Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, and was on a assignment to MI6.

Britain’s Telegraph newspaper reported that the victim had been stabbed, and his body stuffed in a large sports bag and left in the bathroom of the top-floor dwelling.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: First Picture of British Spy Found Stabbed to Death in His Bath Yards From MI6 HQ ‘Was Killed Two Weeks Ago’

This is the first picture of the murdered British spy who detectives have said could have been killed up to two weeks ago.

The body of Gareth Williams, 31, was discovered stuffed in a large sports bag in his bath in a flat just a few hundred yards from the headquarters of MI6.

It is understood Mr Williams had been stabbed, possibly several times, and his body was decomposing when it was found.

Elsewhere in the top-floor flat — in a bizarre ritualistic scene — his mobile telephone and a collection of SIM cards were carefully laid out.

Scotland Yard has launched a murder inquiry into the grim find in Pimlico, Central London. Detectives have told local residents today that the murder may have taken place two weeks ago.

Mr Williams was employed as a communications officer at the Government’s ‘ listening post’ — better known as GCHQ in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

But it is thought he was on secondment to the headquarters at MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, near the flat.

MI6 gathers secret information about Britain’s overseas enemies, making the spy a possible target of terrorists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Junior Doctor Took Fatal Drug Overdose Weeks After Boyfriend Revealed He Was Taking Part in Arranged Marriage

A heartbroken young doctor died from a drug overdose after her medic boyfriend phoned from abroad to reveal he was having an arranged marriage, an inquest has heard.

Jennifer Suraweera, 26, was found collapsed in her flat by her brother. She was rushed to hospital by ambulance but died hours later.

Her lover Dr Usman Jawad, who like her was a doctor and trainee GP, had been forced to leave the country and return to his native Pakistan three weeks earlier because his visa had expired.

He later called from Pakistan to break the news that he was having an arranged marriage.

Dr Suraweera had taken a lethal dose of the beta-blocker Propranolol, the Sheffield hearing was told.

[Comments from JD: In general, Suraweera is a Hindu surname; Usman is a Muslim surname.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Parliament Discuss Face Veil Ban on September 1

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, AUGUST 24 — The Bosnian Central Parliament is to discuss new legislation on 1 September that would ban the wearing of a face veil, or niqab, reports Emportal.

The new law would impose a 24-hour curfew on veiled women, and those violating the ban could be fined EUR50.

Last July Muslim women held a protest outside the Central Parliament in Sarajevo after the proposal was made by the Bosnian Serb Party of Independent Social Democrats (SNSD).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Kosovo: KFOR Leaves Gracanica, Serbia and Church Protest

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE/PRISTINA, AUGUST 24 — Yesterday’s handover of control and monitoring functions of the Serbian Orthodox monastery at Gracanica by KFOR soldiers to local Kosovo police has led to serious of protests by the authorities in Belgrade and by the Orthodox church.

Oliver Ivanovic, Serbia’s Deputy Minister for issues regarding Kosovo, said today that Belgrade does not have faith in Kosovo’s police, which has not yet arrested and handed over to the judicial system those responsible for the pogroms against Serbian churches and monasteries in 2004. Belgrade, he said, is strongly against NATO’s withdrawal from surveillance duties involving Serbian churches and monasteries, as those responsible for the 2004 attacks can repeat their actions of hate as long as they remain free.

“This is why the number of soldiers should not be reduced, especially at the most important and high-risk sites and in Serbian enclaves,” Ivanovic observed.

The Orthodox church also expressed its outrage and disappointment at the handover of the Gracanica monastery, which is only a few miles from Kosovo’s capital Pristina, to local police control. The archdeacon of the Decani monastery, Sava Janjic, told Tanjug that the handover of control occurred without the consent of the Orthodox church. “The eparchy of Raska and Prizren will not allow Kosovan police to set up any sort of checkpoint or carry out any controls within the walls of the monastery,” said Janjic, who added that Kosovan agents will be allowed to enter monastery land “only to pray or to light candles”. KFOR, he added, remains the only authority allowed to carry out surveillance duty at the monastery. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tourism: Russians Prefer Tunisia, Followed by Turkey, Egypt

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, AUGUST 25 — Tunisia is the favourite destination for Russian tourists among North African countries.

So said the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR) and Rosturizm, which drew up a list of their customers’ most frequently chosen destinations.

On this list, Tunisia and Bulgaria come in seventh while Turkey is at the top, followed by Egypt, Spain and Greece.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Czech List: Sometimes Even a Conference Can Teach Vivid Political Realities

by Barry Rubin

I’m not a big fan of conferences. There’s nothing more repetitive than sitting in a panel where the presentations have interesting titles but are otherwise disappointing. Or listening to a speaker who may be very good but says absolutely nothing you don’t know already.

But sometimes you have fascinating experiences which are not exactly on the agenda. Here are three from a conference I attended in Prague a few years ago, each of which contains its own lessons. Incidentally, nothing about the below was off the record, though the names and some details have been omitted since this is about points, not personalities.

1. The German parliamentarian was well-dressed, angry, and red in the face. He raised his voice in righteous indignation. Why, he complained, were there a number of Israelis at the meeting but no Palestinians. Obviously he thought that he had caught the Czech hosts in some politically incorrect indiscretion.

After he finished his somewhat insulting remarks and sat down, one of the Czechs stood up and explained very politely that plenty of Palestinians had been invited; all expenses paid, and had accepted but had simply not shown up. That’s something I’ve seen plenty of times.

A Lesson: Why get rewarded for deciding not to succeed? Hamas refuses to act peacefully, and then is rewarded for having committed aggression and been soundly defeated as a result (2008-2009). Same applies for Hizballah (2006). The Palestinian Authority refuses to make peace and then is rewarded for alleged suffering under an occupation it has the power to end when it so wishes.

Recently, a reader made a startling suggestion to me that I think is a brilliant insight. In this day when not only equal opportunity but equal results is supposedly supposed (yes, that double use is deliberate) guaranteed, Israel is being “unfair” at doing so well socially and economically.

In past decades, the failure of a nation to achieve democracy or prosperity would have been attributed to its own choices. That’s a good thing because its people can then realize their mistakes, realize them, and succeed. Today, however, failure is often attributed to being a victim of racism, imperialism, and pure meanness.

Woody Allen allegedly said (it isn’t clear that he did) that 99 percent of life is showing up. Yes, indeed. Showing up and performing well. But in the counter-Calvinism of our time, material achievement is a proof of damnation.

The development theory of the 1950s and 1960s focused on how a country could achieve take-off to progress and prosperity. It is a model followed nowadays by China, South Korea, and some others.

The currently dominant view, at least in intellectual circles and among fashionable dictators and terrorists is the idea that underdevelopment is not a result of history, culture, society, and bad choices but of imperialist exploitation. Instead of reforming yourself, the object is to wage war and other struggle to get the West to hand over the loot. This leads to violence, social intransigence, political stagnation, and failure. But at least it is a popular, rationalized failure…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Boycotted Israeli Firms Seek to Capitalize on Ramadan

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, AUGUST 24 — Nazim Kaya, the president of Turkey’s Consumers’ Union, has said the Israeli companies whose products are being boycotted because of Israel’s policy towards the Palestinian territories are trying to compensate for their profit losses through religious marketing strategies during the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan. In a written statement reported by Anatolia news agency, Kaya said those strategies will not achieve their desired outcome.

The union’s boycott campaign, “No arms from us,” gained momentum after Israeli naval commandos attacked an international aid convoy, which ended with the killing of nine peace activists on May 31. “Those companies which have not withdrawn their support for the Israeli persecution of Palestinians and which we have started to boycott are hypocritically attempting to use religious beliefs to compensate for their losses due to the boycott. When deciding which products to buy, our country’s consumers keep in mind the brutal attacks of Israel and its allies and diligently follow our motto, ‘No arms from us’,” the statement read, adding that the boycott will continue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

1001 Inventions: Science in Muslim Lands

ISTANBUL — For generations, the lore of “One Thousand and One Nights” helped shape Western notions about Muslim culture. The collection of tales described an exotic world of harems and flying carpets, Sinbad and monsters, Aladdin and the jinn, Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.

Now an exhibition about innovation in Muslim civilization seeks to highlight what organizers say is an overshadowed period of history, a “Golden Age” in which advances in engineering, medicine and architecture laid groundwork for Western progress from the Renaissance until modern times.

In a play on the old stories, it is titled: “1001 Inventions: Discover the Muslim Heritage in Our World.”

The show seeks to be strictly academic, and shuns political or religious pronouncements. But the robust response of many young Muslims suggests a thirst for cultural pride against a contemporary backdrop of conflict and suspicion between the West and Muslim countries.

“Originally, it was aimed at the Western public,” said Salim Al-Hassani, organizer of the Britain-based exhibition and a professor of mechanical engineering at Manchester University. “But we found that when people from the Muslim world, when they see it, they get fired up, especially the young people who are in search of identity.”

It’s a slick production, with an introductory film featuring a Harry Potter-like fantasy sequence with Sir Ben Kingsley, the Oscar-winning actor, as a mysterious figure who dispels three skeptical students in a library of preconceptions about the past.

The centerpiece of the show is a replica of an elaborate “elephant” clock that symbolized a multicultural spirit and pioneered modern automation and robotics. It used Greek water-powered technology, and the figures of an Indian elephant, an Egyptian phoenix, a Persian carpet, Chinese dragons and men in Arabian dress.

It was designed 800 years ago by Al-Jazari, a Muslim engineer in what is today southeast Turkey. Other giants of innovation during the 1,000-year period that began in the seventh century were physician Al-Zahrawi, whose innovations shaped European surgery, and Fatima Al-Fihri, whose multi-subject institute of learning, with no gender restrictions, laid foundations for the modern university.

“There is a perception that Islam was always backward and made no contribution to the world of science,” said visitor Sule Seda Tezer, who was especially pleased to note the high profile of women in the displays. “The West has a phobia about Islam. I think there is an effort to break the phobia and build better ties between the East and West.”

With 40,000 followers, the “1001 Inventions” Facebook page echoes her enthusiasm. “Come to Algeria!” and “we are waiting 4 u in Damascus” are among the posts. From Saudi Arabia, Abdull-Kareem Andeejani wrote:

“Will you ever come to open in Riyadh? Please? I want to know more of my own history, I see it as highly important to look back in time, so that we can pick up what we have forgotten.”

The exhibit has interactive features designed to attract children, and details research in optics, music and algebra from Muslim civilizations that once encompassed parts of Europe and ranged as far as China.

One curiosity is a replica of the flying machine of Abbas ibn Firnas, who constructed a winged framework near Cordoba in Spain and flew briefly before injuring himself. Centuries later, Leonardo da Vinci worked on his own flying designs.

In Istanbul, at least 6,000 people a day — up to twice that on weekends — file daily into the exhibition tent in front of the former Byzantine church of Haghia Sophia, and near the fabled Blue Mosque, built during the Ottoman Empire. The display coincides with the Islamic holy month of Ramadan; the tent stays open until 3 a.m. to welcome a nocturnal crowd. There is no admittance fee.

The project was created by the Foundation for Science, Technology and Civilisation, an academic group based in Britain. Funding came from the Jameel Foundation, a British charity linked to Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd., a Toyota car distributor based in Saudi Arabia.

The exhibition had a successful run at the Science Museum in London earlier this year, and will move to the New York Hall of Science after ending its seven-week Istanbul stint on Oct. 5. It arrived hurriedly in Turkey after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saw it in London and said he was eager to host it.

“There was an attempt to impose a history that jumped from ancient Greece straight to the Renaissance period,” Erdogan said at the opening ceremony last week. “Later on, some Western scientists made a praiseworthy effort to acknowledge the contributions of Islamic civilization to the history of science.”

Erdogan leads an Islamic-oriented government that has cut away at the power of traditional elites with a strongly secular background. He has also sought to elevate the memory of the Ottoman Empire, whose attempts at Western-style reform failed to stem its collapse in the early 20th century.

Ehsan Masoud, author of “Science and Islam: A History” and editor of a research policy newsletter in Britain, said scientific innovation in Muslim lands began to decline as Islamic empires grew weak and poor, and Western colonial powers expanded.

“It’s fair to say that history is written by the victors,” Masoud said. “Quite understandably, Western nations are hardly going to start crediting the people they’ve defeated.”

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Camel Dairy Ready to Milk Europe

The camels know the drill by heart.

Just after dawn, they file on their own, always in groups of 12, into metal stalls for milking. Workers attach automated pumps. The milk flows into a system of chilled pipes that empty into a sealed metal vat.

And the next stop could be markets in Europe, and possibly beyond, under ambitious plans backed by Dubai’s ruler to expand the reach of the playfully eccentric brand name Camelicious.

European Union health regulators cleared the United Arab Emirates last month to become the first major exporter of camel milk products to the 27-nation bloc.

If onsite inspections and other EU tests pass muster, the first batches of powdered camel milk could be heading to European shelves next year, and at some point possibly to Asia and America.

“We know this isn’t what you’d call a mainstream product in the West,” said David Wernery, legal adviser for the Camelicious brand, whose parent company goes by the more staid name of Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products.

“We’re thinking about health food stores and alternative markets. It’s probably going to be a niche thing at first.”

It would be something of a coming-out party for the small but passionate community that describes camel milk in awed tones.

It has at least three times more vitamin C than cow’s milk and is considered an alternative for the lactose-intolerant.

Researchers have studied possible roles for camel milk in fighting bacteria, tumours and diabetes, as well as traditional uses such as a treatment for liver disease across the range from central Asia to North Africa.

           — Hat tip: Onzieme[Return to headlines]

CIA Sees Increased Threat From Al-Qaeda in Yemen

For the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, CIA analysts see one of al-Qaeda’s offshoots — rather than the core group now based in Pakistan — as the most urgent threat to U.S. security, officials said.

The sober new assessment of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen has helped prompt senior Obama administration officials to call for an escalation of U.S. operations there — including a proposal to add armed CIA drones to a clandestine campaign of U.S. military strikes, the officials said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Lebanon: Nasrallah Wants Nuclear Power Plant Built

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 25 — Lebanon should provide itself with a nuclear power plant for civilian purposes as Iran has, said Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, leader of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, commenting on the latest protests in different cities across the country against continual problems in electricity supplies.

“I call on the government to look into and discuss plans to build a new nuclear power plant,” Nasrallah said last night in a speech held in Beirut during the Iftar, the evening meal when Muslim break their fast during Ramadan, which was shown on a maxi-screen. The local press quoted Nasrallah as saying that in this way Lebanon could have electric energy for itself and also sell some of the energy to Syria, Cyprus, Jordan and the other countries in the region. The Hezbollah leader also urged Arab countries to provide weapons to the Lebanese army. “All Arab countries,” he said, “have said that they care about Lebanon and other friendly countries, which is why I suggest that the government decide the type of the arms we need to equip the army with and submit the requests to Arab countries”. He also added that “through its friendly relations with Iran, Hezbollah will work to equip the national army”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Preacher Slams Stores With Women Cashiers

(ANSAmed) — ROMA, 24 AGO — Saudi preacher Yusuf al-Ahmed slammed stores that hire women cashiers and called upon shoppers to boycott them on the grounds that their owners violate Islamic teachings and promote Westernization.

The recent appointment of several female cashiers in Banda Shopping Centers, owned by the Savola Group, led Sheikh al-Ahmed, who is also a professor at the Imam Mohamed bin Saud Islamic University, to issue a fatwa banning the practice.

“This is prohibited because it is part of the Western project that is imposing itself upon our society” Sheikh Yusuf al-Ahmed said, as reported by Al Arabiya website. “This is prohibited because it is part of the Western project that is imposing itself upon our society,” he added in an interview with a fatwa show. “This is a project of hypocrites and has to be stopped.” Ahmed said he contacted those in charge of the “project” and conveyed to them the concerns of the society about hiring women cashiers, but their response was “inappropriate.” “I am surprised at support the administration of this place is getting. Is this project directly backed by the United States?” Ahmed called upon Muslims to boycott Banda Shopping Centers in all of Saudi Arabia and sue them if they do not stop.

“Boycotting is one of the legitimate ways of fighting those who violate Islamic teachings and come up with novelties imported from the West and it was sanctioned by scholars and the prophet.” “If we stand still while this is happening, it will spread and the Westernized will get the opportunity to implement their project”, he added. Jeddah Labor Office head Qasei Felali, head of the labor office in Jeddah, announced earlier the appointment of female cashiers in grocery stores after the holy month of Ramadan. In line with labor regulations, she said, “Women will be allowed to take part in several fields after they were only confined to a few government jobs”. The new decision, Felali argued, gives customers the right to choose whether they need to deal with male or female cashiers and offers women more job opportunities.

Ahmed’s fatwa comes in the wake of a decision issued by Saudi king Abdullah to restrict the issuing of fatwas to members of the Senior Scholars Council and the preachers they nominate, in ordern to prevent the “fatwa chaos” that has been recently prevalent especially on private satellite channels.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Preaching and Guidance Sheikh Saleh bin Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh called upon all preachers that appear in shows on satellite channels to obtain permission from the kingdom’s Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz before issuing fatwa to the public. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror Show Featuring “Mega-Mosque” at Ground Zero

The latest episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show aired last night, featuring on-the-ground reports from America, Europe and Israel.. You can watch it online at the link above.

We kick off the show with a commentary on President’s Obama’s recent endorsement of the Ground Zero mega-mosque (hint: we don’t like it).

We then head to Murfreesboro, TN for an exclusive report on the nationwide growth of mega-mosques. Ground Zero is just the tip of the iceberg (1:49 into the show).

Our next stop is Bad Voslau, Austria: a tiny town outside of Vienna where the Turkish government recently helped fund a controversial mega-mosque (8:32 into the show).

Our War Council roundtable, featuring leading Middle East analysts Walid Phares and Lee Smith, analyzes the latest rumblings out of Lebanon, including Hezbollah’s penetration of the Lebanese Army (14:15 into the show).

We then head to Metulla, Israel, for an on-the-ground report from the Israel/Lebanon border (20:05 into the show).

And our in “Sharia Flaw” segment, see how four Christian evangelists were recently thrown in jail for preaching the Gospel: in the Muslim enclave of Dearborn, Michigan (23:34 into the show).

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

US Funds Restoration of Global Islamic Sites

The good will tour of the Middle East by the imam behind the proposed mosque near ground zero is just part of the U.S. government’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim world.

This year, the Obama administration will spend nearly $6 million to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including mosques and minarets, in 55 nations, according to State Department documents.

Under a program established by Congress in 2001, the department will fund at least five projects in as many countries at a cost of more than $271,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: U.S. Withdrawal Deadline Boosts Taliban in Afghan War

The top U.S. Marine general made a sharp departure from the White House’s talking points on Afghanistan, saying President Barack Obama’s promised July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing troops from the country had given “sustenance” to the Taliban.

“We know the president was talking to several audiences at the same time when he made his comments on July 2011,” Gen. James Conway told reporters on Tuesday. “In some ways, we think right now it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance…In fact, we’ve intercepted communications that say, ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’“

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Key Karzai Aide in Graft Inquiry is Linked to C.I.A.

The aide to President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at the center of a politically sensitive corruption investigation is being paid by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to Afghan and American officials.

Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council, appears to have been on the payroll for many years, according to officials in Kabul and Washington. It is unclear exactly what Mr. Salehi does in exchange for his money.

Mr. Salehi’s relationship with the C.I.A. underscores deep contradictions at the heart of the Obama administration’s policy in Afghanistan, with American officials simultaneously demanding that Mr. Karzai root out the corruption that pervades his government while sometimes subsidizing the very people suspected of perpetrating it.

[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mauritania: Explosives-Loaded Car Near Barracks, Man Killed

(ANSAmed) — NOUAKCHOTT, AUGUST 25 — A suicide bomber was killed over the night by Mauritanian police while he was preparing to blow himself up in a vehicle loaded with explosives near barracks in Nema, in the eastern part of the country not far from the border with Mail.

Shortly after midnight local times, the man arrived on a 4x4 near the barracks and refused to stop despite warning shots fired by soldiers. The latter then opened fire on the vehicle, causing an “extremely powerful explosion”, according to military sources, who attribute the terrorist attack to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI). The explosion caused large-scale damage near the barracks but no casualties. Eyewitnesses said that three people had been slightly injured. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Electing Another People

The political and cultural elite insist that they are the real Americans, and that the majority of Americans are Un-American

On the Ground Zero Mosque, Barack Hussein Obama and the media have insisted that their attitude is American, and that of the majority of the country is Unamerican. But if most Americans are actually Unamerican, and the country’s leading American is a fellow whose church rang to gentle cries of “God Damn America”, who fancies that there are 57 states and whose favorite reading material is The Post-American World (by another great American, Fareed Zakaria), then it’s clear that being Anti-American is the new definition of American. But then who exactly are those hundreds of millions of people living between the oceans. If they’re not to be considered Americans, then who and what are they?

The political and cultural elite insist that they are the real Americans, and that the majority of Americans are Unamerican. The majority of Americans have decided that it is the political elite that is Unamerican. There are legal mechanisms in place for the people to enforce their decision by electing a new government. And while the months roll around, the political elite is scrambling for ways to elect a new American people.

That suggestion isn’t as far-fetched as you might think. A while back the Labor Party decided that it was time to elect a new people. So that was what they did, by importing large numbers of Muslims into England.
The result was New Britain, a charming place with ever so many stabbings and mosques, and stabbings conveniently adjacent to mosques. Terrorists no longer speak with Irish accents, but raise their arses to Mecca, and load the latest lecture from Al Queda on their iPods before voting for the Liberal Dems. But that is the problem when governments try to elect a new people by way of immigration, that new people might just decide to elect a whole new government anyway.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Feds Moving to Dismiss Some Deportation Cases

Critics assail the plan as a bid to create a kind of backdoor ‘amnesty’

The Department of Homeland Security is systematically reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and moving to dismiss those filed against suspected illegal immigrants who have no serious criminal records, according to several sources familiar with the efforts.

Culling the immigration court system dockets of noncriminals started in earnest in Houston about a month ago and has stunned local immigration attorneys, who have reported coming to court anticipating clients’ deportations only to learn that the government was dismissing their cases.


Opponents of illegal immigration were critical of the dismissals.

“They’ve made clear that they have no interest in enforcing immigration laws against people who are not convicted criminals,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which advocates for strict controls.

“This situation is just another side effect of President Obama’s failure to deliver on his campaign promise to make immigration reform a priority in his first year,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. “Until he does, state and local authorities are left with no choice but to pick up the slack for prosecuting and detaining criminal aliens.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: Gabriel Signals Sarrazin Should Leave SPD Over Xenophobic Views

The Social Democrats’ leader Sigmar Gabriel has signalled that Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin should leave the centre-left party following his latest inflammatory and anti-immigrant statements.

While in the southwestern city of Worms on Tuesday, Gabriel told journalists that Sarrazin’s words against Germany’s immigrants and their ability to integrate have been “daft” and sometimes even “violent.”

He also said he planned to review whether his fellow party member had assigned particular characteristics to certain ethnic groups such as Muslims, Africans and Asians, saying that if he had, this would be “racist.”

“If you ask me why he still wants to be a member of our party — I don’t know,” Gabriel said.

But he did not directly demand that Sarrazin give up his party membership and said only a court battle could force him out of the SPD.

Gabriel also said he would like to engage Sarrazin in an “intellectual argument,” adding that in addition to his many inappropriate comments he has also said things worthy of contemplation.

Gabriel’s comments came after Sarrazin gave an interview at broadcaster Deutschlandradio Kultur to discuss a his new book on integration, to be released at the end of the month and entitled Deutschland schafft sich ab — Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany — How we’re putting our country in jeopardy.”

During the radio interview he alleged that some 40 percent of immigrants of Muslim background live on welfare and are “spared” any kind of integration.

“For all Muslim immigrants in Germany this statistic reality is true: Overall they have cost us much more socially and financially than they have brought us economically,” he added, blaming the country’s policy of “unqualified immigration.”

The comments by the 65-year-old, who was Berlin’s finance minister before joining the central bank’s board, are just the latest in a series of remarks that have led to national outrage and even censure by the Bundesbank.

In September 2009 he made anti-immigrant remarks against Arabs and Turks in an interview with Lettre International magazine.

He claimed that “a great many Arabs and Turks in [Berlin], whose numbers have grown because of the wrong policies, have no productive function other than as fruit and vegetable grocers.”

Though he apologised for those remarks, Sarrazin refused to step down from the Bundesbank’s board despite pressure to do so. He was however symbolically punished when the institution stripped him of some responsibilities after the incident, which caused widespread outrage.

In June of this year he alleged that Germany is becoming “dumber” because of its foreign population during an address of the Hesse business association on the theme of education, demography and societal trends.

Citing what he called ample statistics for proof, Sarrazin went on to say that in particular, immigrants from “Turkey, the Middle East and Africa” are less educated than those from other countries.

Additionally, immigrants have more children than Germans, he said, adding that this caused the “a different growth of population groups with different intelligence” because parents pass their intelligence on to their children.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

New Book Plunges Germany Into Immigration Debate

Are Muslim immigrants a drag on German prosperity? A new book by provocateur Thilo Sarrazin, a board member of the German central bank, argues that they are. His over-the-top comments have triggered yet another debate on immigration in the country.

Thilo Sarrazin has never been one to mince words. The German central bank board member and former senior city official in Berlin has long been a strident critic of German immigration policies, even going so far as to say in an interview last autumn that immigrants sponge off the state, are incapable of integrating themselves into German society and “constantly produce little girls in headscarves.”

In the interview, which appeared in the cultural magazine Lettre International, he also said that “a large number of Arabs and Turks in (Berlin) … have no productive function other than in the fruit and vegetable trade.” In the same interview, he claimed that the Turks were “conquering Germany … through a higher birthrate.”

This week, though, the Social Democrat (SPD) seems to have outdone himself. German media outlets, including SPIEGEL, have published excerpts of his soon-to-be-published book on Germany’s supposed demise. As Sarrazin makes abundantly clear, that demise comes as a result of immigration. The bluntness with which he presents his ideas has kicked off a debate in Germany, and within the center-left SPD, as to whether Sarrazin has crossed the line into racism and whether he should be censured.

In the excerpts that have been published, Sarrazin writes that Germany’s Muslim immigrant families have profited from social welfare payments to a far greater degree than they have contributed to German prosperity. He also has raised the spectre of the country’s Muslim population, due to what he claims are much higher birth rates among immigrants, soon overtaking that of the country’s “autochthonous” population — a term roughly synonymous with “indigenous.”

“If the fertility rate of German autochthons remains at the level it has been at for the past 40 years, then in the course of the next three or four generations, the number of the Germans will sink to 20 million,” he writes in the book. “And, incidentally, it is absolutely realistic that the Muslim population, through a combination of a higher birth rate and continuation of immigration, could grow by 2100 to 35 million.” In another passage, he writes: “I don’t want the country of my grandchildren and great grandchildren to be largely Muslim, or that Turkish or Arabic will be spoken in large areas, that women will wear headscarves and the daily rhythm is set by the call of the muezzin. If I want to experience that, I can just take a vacation in the Orient.”

In another passage, Sarrazin seems to suggest that Muslim immigrants would rather work under the table than legally. Through the language used in his polemics, Sarrazin appears to be aiming to push the highly divisive debate over immigration and integration closer to that of right-wing populists elsewhere in Europe, like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

‘We Are Becoming Dumber’

In a contribution for the mass-circulation tabloid Bild, Sarrazin wrote, in reference to the relative lack of success that immigrants have had in German schools and the country’s low birth rates, “we are simply accepting that Germany is becoming smaller and dumber.” Two months ago, Sarrazin created similar headlines by saying “we are becoming … on average dumber” and linked that claim with integration “from Turkey, the Middle East and Africa.”

The responses this week have been quick and pointed. SPD party boss Sigmar Gabriel has called Sarrazin’s comments “linguistically violent” and said “if you were to ask me why he still wants to be a member of our party, I don’t know either.” He said he plans to read the book for indications of racism. Others in the party have demanded that Sarrazin leave the SPD immediately.

Sarrazin’s comments have also made waves outside of the SPD. Green Party head Cem Özdemir called Sarrazin a “tribal leader in the mold of bin Laden” in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE and said that he has done a “disservice to efforts aimed at improving the dramatic social inequalities in our country, and not just among immigrants.” He said he was disappointed because “the ongoing debate over mutual expectations of Germans and immigrants is much more rational than Sarrazin makes it seem.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel is likewise unimpressed. Through her spokesman Steffen Seibert, she said on Wednesday that Sarrazin’s offerings were “extremely injurious, defamatory and very polemical.” She also called them “completely unhelpful” and said that “a different tone is necessary.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

High School Test ‘Slams’ Christianity, Lauds Islam

State testmakers played favorites when quizzing high-schoolers on world religions — giving Islam and Buddhism the kid-gloves treatment while socking it to Christianity, critics say.

Teachers complain that the reading selections from the Regents exam in global history and geography given last week featured glowing passages pertaining to Muslim society but much more critical essay excerpts on the subject of Christianity.

“There should have been a little balance in there,” said one Brooklyn teacher who administered the exam but did not want to be identified.


The most troubling passage came from Daniel Roselle’s “A World History: A Cultural Approach,” observers said.

The passage reads: “Wherever they went, the Moslems [sic] brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western Christendom.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Left’s Newfound Respect for Freedom of Religion

For 20 years or more the left has initiated a steady campaign to destroy the free expression of religion in America. From attacking on government property any Christmas Nativity scenes, crosses or portraits of Jesus, to summarily eliminating prayer in school, even to go so far as to prevent kids who speak at graduation exercises from mentioning God, groups like the ACLU, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State have mercilessly attacked religion. As these groups have made to eliminate religion in America the left generally has been more than supportive. But now with its assumption of a persecution of Islam in America, the left has come alive in a paradoxical support of Muslims expressing their religion in America.

No better example of the left’s hypocrisy over religion can be seen but this Ground Zero Mosque situation. The left has in one voice come alive with a sudden love with the freedom of religion clause of our First Amendment, quite despite its decades-long, wholesale effort to ignore, if not express outright hostility to, that very clause.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Virus Link With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Resurfaces

The discovery of mouse virus fragments in cells from people with chronic fatigue syndrome has reinforced earlier claims that they may cause the condition.

The origins and even the existence of chronic fatigue syndrome have been widely debated for many years. Some claim that its symptoms, including cramps, listlessness and lethargy, have psychological causes, but the search for an infectious agent has continued.

The latest findings have revived speculation that mouse viruses may be responsible for the condition — although four earlier studies have failed to find traces of such viruses in samples from patients.

Confusingly, the gene fragments identified in the new study are not from the same strain of mouse virus — the xenotropic murine leukaemia virus-related virus (XMRV) — identified as a possible cause a year ago.

Instead, Shyh-Ching Lo of the Food and Drug Administration in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues found that blood samples from 32 of 37 people with chronic fatigue syndrome contained “polytropic” murine leukaemia virus-related fragments, compared with only three of 44 healthy blood donors.

Versatile virus

The crucial distinction is that XMRV won’t infect mouse cells — despite being a variant of a virus that originated in mice — whereas the “polytropic” variant is equally capable of infecting mouse cells and cells from other animals, including humans.

“The message is that murine leukaemia viruses, whether XMRV or polytropic MLVs, are strongly associated with the cases of chronic fatigue syndrome tested by us and the cases tested last year by the Whittemore Peterson Institute [in Reno, Nevada],” says Harvey Alter of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and the senior author of the new study.

Alter says that just as there are several viruses that cause similar symptoms of hepatitis, so there may be several MLVs causing chronic fatigue syndrome.

Repetition problem

The other puzzle is why four other studies published over the past year drew a blank when they hunted for traces of MLV-related viruses in blood from patients.

Bill Switzer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who headed one of the four studies, says that a recent quality-control trial has ruled out differences in the testing procedures as a possible explanation. Several labs, including Lo’s, all received identical samples to test. “All the labs had the same results, so it’s not the assays,” says Switzer.

Another possibility is that mouse viruses vary from place to place. This might explain why no mouse viruses have yet been found in European patients.

Myra McClure of Imperial College London, who headed one of the two British studies that failed to identify the virus, says that Lo and his colleagues could have done two further tests that would have strengthened the evidence that the patients’ cells contained live, infectious viruses.

By growing patients’ cells in the lab alongside healthy cells, Lo’s team could have proved that the virus could cross-infect uninfected neighbouring cells. Also, they could have screened blood for antibodies to the mouse viruses, which also would have shown that the viruses were infectious. “It would have been more reassuring to have those results too,” she says.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]