Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100827

Financial Crisis
»Bernanke Signals Stepped-Up Efforts to Spur Economy
»Eurobarometer: Despite Plan, Greeks Least Pro-Europe
»Fed’s Bernanke Says ‘Pre-Conditions for US Growth in Place’, Buoys Global Markets
»U.S. Growth in Second Quarter is Lowered to 1.6% Pace
»UK: Economy Surpasses Even the Most Optimistic Forecast to Grow at Its Fastest Rate for Nine Years
»AFL-CIO Chief: Palin Will ‘Go Down in History Like McCarthy’
»AFL-CIO Joins Communists, La Raza, ACLU, Other Unions in Voter Registration Drive
»Cavemen Accused of Wiping Out Cave Bears
»Gallup: Muslims Rate Obama Highest
»Ground Zero Muslim Center May Get Public Financing
»Mosque Already Preaching Shariah Near Ground Zero
»Obama Halts Prosecution of Alleged USS Cole Bomber
»Okla. Newbie Scores ‘Unfathomable’ Primary Win
»Video: Steve Forbes on Obama: “He Thinks He Will Change America From a Greedy Nation to a Quiet Socialist Nation That Knows Its Place in the World”
Europe and the EU
»Alert Over Wanted Al-Qaeda Suspect Who May be Heading to Britain
»Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire
»Britain Faces New Terror Wave
»EU Popularity Plunges Right Across the Bloc
»France: Nationality Soon Withdrawn for Criminals
»France: Threats and Bullets to Jewish Community in Drancy
»Spain: Green Light for Basque Ecclesiastical Province
»Sweden: Rotten Fish? It’s a Delicacy
»The Dangers of Germany’s Dependence on China
»TV4 Refuses to Air Sweden Democrat Ads
»UK: Army Hero Who Lost a Leg in Afghanistan Denied a Disabled Parking Permit by Council Bosses ‘Because He Might Get Better’
»UK: Muslim Inmates ‘Turning to Terror’ As Think Tank Says Terrorists Are Radicalising Fellow Inmates
»UK: Parents of Murdered British Spy Hit Back at ‘Government’s Gay Smear’ Campaign to Discredit Him
North Africa
»Libya: New Passports With Berlusconi-Gaddafi Pictures Soon
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: Accepting the Unacceptable
»UAE: Large Increase in Emirati Men Marrying Foreigners
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Taliban Have Spies Everywhere, Warns Army Expert After Cameron Was Almost Shot Down by Insurgent Rocket
»Feds: Smuggled Chinese Immigrants Up 500%
»UK: Number of Babies Born to Immigrant Mothers Doubles in a Decade to One in Four
Culture Wars
»Spain: Jesuit Institute Says Yes to Abortion and Euthanasia
»Which Side Are You on?: The “Moderate Muslim” Litmus Tests

Financial Crisis

Bernanke Signals Stepped-Up Efforts to Spur Economy

The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, gave his strongest indication yet on Friday that the central bank was ready to resume huge purchases of longer-term debt, and was determined to prevent the economy from slipping into a cycle of falling prices.

While Mr. Bernanke emphasized that deflation was “not a significant risk for the United States at this time,” he said the Fed “will strongly resist deviations from price stability in the downward direction.” It was his most robust statement to date that the Fed would do its part to avoid a Japanese-style deflation from taking hold.

[Return to headlines]

Eurobarometer: Despite Plan, Greeks Least Pro-Europe

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, AUGUST 26 — Despite measures adopted by the EU for the financial bail-out of the Athens government, Greek citizens account for the highest decline of all member state citizens in support for EU membership compared to the figures of 2009 (-17%). Greece is followed by Cyprus (-13%) and Slovenia (-11%). This is one of the figures that emerges from the six-monthly study published today by Eurobarometer, which shows a decline in the number of those interviewed in Greece who believed that the country had benefited from EU membership (-10%), on the same level as Portugal. The Greeks are among the most mistrustful of European institutions of the citizens of the 27 member states: indeed 56% of those asked tend not to have faith, a figure surpassed only by the Brits, with 68%. 33%, however, believe in the EU as the institution most able to tackle the crisis (compared to the government, G20, IMF, U.S or others), level with the Italians, Spanish and Maltese and followed by 32% of Slovenians, 28% of Portuguese and 22% of French.

In general, 75% of European citizens believe that greater coordination of economic and financial policies between EU member states would be useful in tackling the economic crisis. In particular, measures aimed at reducing national public deficits and debt cannot wait, according to 82% of those interviewed in Cyprus, and 80% in Greece and Slovenia, 79% in Malta, 76% in Italy, 69% in Spain, 65% in France and 59% in Portugal. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Fed’s Bernanke Says ‘Pre-Conditions for US Growth in Place’, Buoys Global Markets

Ben Bernake, the Federal Reserve chairman, buoyed global stock markets on Friday when he said that despite a recent slowdown in the US recovery the “pre-conditions” for growth in 2011 are “in place”.

His comments came as official figures revealed the world’s biggest economy grew at a slower annual rate in the second quarter than previously estimated.

However, investors took heart after he did not offer any concrete new steps for stimulating the economy, but just reiterated that the Fed was ready to take further steps if needed to spur the stumbling economy.

In New York, the Dow Jones rose more than 1pc to 10,099 after the speech. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also gained around 1pc.

European bourses were lifted by Mr Bernanke’s comments.

London’s FTSE 100 index of leading shares, which had already received a modest boost from a surprise upward revision in second-quarter UK growth to 1.2pc, closed up 0.9pc at 5201.56 points.

Germany’ s DAX and the CAC 40 in France ended up 0.6pc and 0.9pc respectively.

Fears are growing that the US could lapse back into a recession and Mr Bernanke said in the speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming: “We have come a long way, but there is still some way to travel.”

He described the economic outlook as “inherently uncertain” and said the economy “remains vulnerable to unexpected developments”.

Earlier, US stocks had stumbled after the GDP figures and a profits warning from Intel.

The estimated rise in US gross domestic product, the value of goods and services produced, for the period between April and June was revised down from 2.4pc to just 1.6pc, as companies reined in inventories and the trade deficit widened.

Bond investors sold off US Treasuries after the Fed chairman signaled no imminent bond buying by the central bank.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

U.S. Growth in Second Quarter is Lowered to 1.6% Pace

Economic statistics released Friday offered the clearest sign yet that the recovery in the United States had slowed to a crawl. The government lowered its estimate of economic growth in the second quarter to an annual rate of 1.6 percent, down from an initial estimate of 2.4 percent issued last month.

The revision is a significant slowdown from the annual rate of 3.7 percent in the first quarter and 5 percent in the last three months of 2009.

The news follows dismal statistics this week on July home sales and factory orders. Economists are now concerned that the outlook for job creation, which has been spluttering all summer, could deteriorate further.

Because forecasters had expected an even worse growth estimate, the markets reacted positively in the first few minutes, as traders awaited a policy speech later on Friday morning from the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Economy Surpasses Even the Most Optimistic Forecast to Grow at Its Fastest Rate for Nine Years

Britain’s economy expanded at a faster pace than first thought in the second quarter of the year with growth hitting a nine-year high.

The Office for National Statistics said the economy grew by 1.2 per cent in the three months to June, up from its preliminary estimate of 1.1 per cent, after construction output proved stronger than first estimated.

The figures provide further evidence that the UK’s economic recovery accelerated sharply during the first half of the year but economists are concerned that a weakening world economy and looming government spending cuts will sap growth in 2011.

These fears were strengthened after a downgrade in U.S. economic growth today overshadowed the UK’s more upbeat set of figures.

Increasing the pressure on President Obama over the state of the economy the US Commerce Department said gross domestic product rose at an annualised rate of 1.6 per cent in April to June, down from an initial estimate of 2.4 per cent.

However, hopes that the UK recovery will last were given further weight as a series of British companies posted strong profits.

The CBI’s monthly distributive trades survey, which measures trends in high street trade, hit +35 in August, way up on economists forecasts of +20, and the highest since April 2007.

Retail sales figures also showed that the British public is still spending money in shops and, with the Government having awarded £5 million in tax cuts to companies in the budget, the Coalition hopes business will propel the country back to prosperity.

But it is the construction industry rather than retail that has led the jump in GDP.

Revised construction output figures were published earlier in the month and the ONS had said these could add 0.1 percentage points to GDP.

The growth in construction is believed to be due to companies responding to the contraction in the economy earlier in the recession.

‘The second quarter is still likely to represent the high point of quarterly growth as fiscal tightening and a renewed slowdown in global activity constrains a more robust recovery,’ said Hetal Mehta, an economist for Daiwa Capital Markets.

‘The zero contribution from net trade is disappointing and questions how much the UK can rely on an export-led recovery.’

Sterling was half a cent lower against the dollar after the figures because some traders had bet on an even bigger upward revision, but gilt futures were little moved as the data showed little to alter the outlook for monetary policy.

Today’s figures showed a slight downward revision to growth from the key services sector, which accounts for more than 70 per cent of GDP, from 0.9 per cent to 0.7 per cent, compared with a 0.3 per cent rise in the first quarter.

But a record-breaking performance in construction sector output, revised upwards from 6.6 per cent to 8.5 per cent, its strongest rate since the first quarter of 1982, led to the upward revision of the GDP growth rate.

The estimated growth rate for the quarter at 1.1 per cent was already the strongest in four years when it was released last month, so a further increase will add to hopes for a solid economic recovery.

However economists have warned growth in the second quarter represents a peak in the rate of recovery and any further gains of such magnitude are unlikely.

There was no upward revision to the manufacturing sector growth in the quarter, which remains at 1.6 per cent, compared with a 1.4 per cent rise in the previous quarter.

A fall of 2.2 per cent in the transport and storage industries was attributed to a poor performance from air transport, as a result of disruption caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

Today’s figures revealed household spending rose 0.7 per cent in the second quarter — compared with a fall of 0.1 per cent in the first quarter.

The rise in spending — the largest since the first quarter of 2008, when it was 0.8 per cent — was attributed to a pre-World Cup spending spree, with notable rises in food and drink, household goods and recreational purchases including televisions.

Government spending was also a main driver, up 0.3 per cent on the quarter.

A Treasury spokesman said: ‘While the Government is cautiously optimistic about the path for the economy, the job is not yet done.

‘The priority remains to implement the Budget policies which support economic rebalancing and help ensure the sustained growth that the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast this year and next.’

At the same time, the U.S. economy grew at a much slower pace, mostly due to the largest surge in imports in 26 years and a slower build-up in inventories.

The country’s gross domestic product — the broadest measure of the economy’s output — grew at a 1.6 per cent annual rate in the April-to-June period, the U.S. Commerce Department said today.

That’s down from an initial estimate of 2.4 per cent last month and much slower than the first quarter’s 3.7 per cent pace.

Although many economists had expected a sharper drop, the figures put President Barack Obama under increasing pressure as the American economic comeback stalls.

The widening trade deficit subtracted nearly 3.4 percentage points from second quarter growth, the largest hit from a trade imbalance since 1947, the government said.

The report confirms the economy has lost significant momentum in recent months. Most analysts expect the nation’s GDP will continue to grow at a similarly weak pace in the current July-to-September quarter and for the rest of this year.

The economy has grown for four straight quarters, but that growth has averaged only 2.9 per cent, a weak pace after such a steep recession. The economy needs to expand at about 3 percent just to keep the unemployment rate, currently 9.5 per cent, from rising.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


AFL-CIO Chief: Palin Will ‘Go Down in History Like McCarthy’

Ex-governor says ‘career union boss’ out of touch with mainstream American workers

Sarah Palin is responding to a union leader’s blistering attack Thursday on her home turf, characterizing AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka as a “career union boss” out of touch with mainstream American workers.

“Trumka’s attempts to put himself on the side of the working man and woman would be more convincing if he weren’t a career union boss who’s spent most of his life in DC,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page. “No surprise then that his priorities aren’t the priorities of the average working man or woman, but of the Beltway power player.”

“My fellow union brothers and sisters have had their union dues squandered for far too long by a few of the union bosses who work for partisan politics and not the good blue collar Americans who have to fund their cushy salaries,” the former Alaska governor added.

The comments came hours after Trumka delivered a speech in Anchorage, Alaska in which he called Palin a “crazy magnet that’s pulling people to the right.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

AFL-CIO Joins Communists, La Raza, ACLU, Other Unions in Voter Registration Drive

Looks like the AFL-CIO is no longer even trying to hide the fact that it no longer sports a traditionally American political outlook. The labor union has announced that it is joining a voter registration drive called One Nation Working Together. This coalition is filled with some of the most extremely leftist groups in America today including the ACLU, Enviro extremists, La Raza, Code Pink, various anti-war groups, and the Communist Party USA.

This new move by the AFL-CIO finds hearty support from the People’s World newspaper, a publication dedicated to communism and the “direct descendent” of the communist Daily Worker newspaper.

The AFL-CIO joins the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), The Center for American Progress, Green For All, USAction, and many others. The effort is being headed by United for Peace and Justice.

They claim that their goal is to, “transcend our superficial differences and bring us together in a common quest for equal opportunity and justice for all.”

I find the “superficial differences” line unintentionally hilarious because ideologically there isn’t even a hint of “superficial differences” between any of the groups involved here.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Cavemen Accused of Wiping Out Cave Bears

Giant cave bears thought to have once dined on each other might have been driven to extinction by the advance of humanity, scientists now suggest.

Cave bears (Ursus spelaeus) are named after the places where their bones are often found — caves across Europe. These giants were roughly a third larger than modern grizzly bears, and while scientists previously thought cave bears were vegetarians, recent findings hinted they might also have consumed meat, and possibly even cannibalized each other.

Cave bear populations started to plummet in Europe 24,000 years ago, dying out roughly 20,000 years ago, back when ice dominated the Earth. The cause was unknown.

Breeding bears

Now an international team of scientists analyzing DNA in 17 newly identified fossils of cave bears has revealed the decline started 50,000 years ago, “much earlier than previously suggested, at a time when no major climate change was taking place, but which does coincide with the start of human expansion,” said researcher Aurora Grandal-D’Anglade at the University of Coruña in Spain.

The scientists compared 59 DNA sequences from cave bear mitochondria — the powerhouses within their cells — with 40 modern and fossil DNA samples from brown bears (Ursus arctos) to find out why the former went extinct while the latter did not.

Their findings suggest that cave bear genetic diversity — a clue to how many there were — began declining 50,000 years ago. Other fossil evidence reveals they ceased to be abundant in Central Europe roughly 35,000 years ago. (Diversity of genes can provide indirect evidence for the number of breeding individuals, because with more bears mating more genes are thrown into the mix, and vice versa.)

“This can be attributed to increasing human expansion and the resulting competition between humans and bears for land and shelter,” Grandal-D’Anglade explained.

Cave bears vs. cavemen

Starting about 50,000 years ago, cave bears and other carnivores started receiving serious competition for these caves from cavemen.

“As humans became more effective at using caves, the number of places where cave bears could hibernate, which was essential to reproduction and everything else they did, started to decrease,” Erik Trinkaus, an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis, told LiveScience.

When ice dominated the planet roughly 20,000 years ago, the combination of fewer caves for hibernation and significant reductions in the vegetation the animals largely depended on may have delivered “the ‘coup de grace’ for this species, which was already in rapid decline,” Grandal-D’Anglade said.

In contrast, the brown bear may have survived until today precisely because they did not depend so heavily on caves.

“Brown bears rely on less specific shelters for hibernation,” Grandal-D’Anglade said. “In fact, their fossil remains are not very numerous in cave deposits.”

The scientists detailed their findings in the May issue of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gallup: Muslims Rate Obama Highest

Muslims continue to rate President Obama higher than other major religious groups in the United States, a new Gallup poll shows.


POLITICO’s Ben Smith notes: “You can spin Gallup’s latest any number of ways — He’s losing the Jews! The Catholics! The Muslims! — but it strikes me as a reminder more as a reminder of how broad-based Obama’s political problems are than a sign of any narrow trend. Everybody’s feeling the bad economy, so he’s down everywhere.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Ground Zero Muslim Center May Get Public Financing

NEW YORK (Reuters) — The Muslim center planned near the site of the World Trade Center attack could qualify for tax-free financing, a spokesman for City Comptroller John Liu said on Friday, and Liu is willing to consider approving the public subsidy.

The Democratic comptroller’s spokesman, Scott Sieber, said Liu supported the project. The center has sparked an intense debate over U.S. religious freedoms and the sanctity of the Trade Center site, where nearly 3,000 perished in the September 11, 2001 attack.

“If it turns out to be financially feasible and if they can demonstrate an ability to pay off the bonds and comply with the laws concerning tax-exempt financing, we’d certainly consider it,” Sieber told Reuters.

Spokesmen for Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor David Paterson and the Islamic center and were not immediately available.

The proposed center, two blocks from the Trade Center site in lower Manhattan, has caused a split between people who lost relatives and friends in the attack, as well as conservative politicians, and those who support the project. Among those who support it are the mayor, civic and religious groups, and some families of victims.

The mosque’s backers hope to raise a total of $70 million in tax-exempt debt to build the center, according to the New York Times. Tax laws allow such funding for religiously affiliated non-profits if they can prove the facility will benefit the general public and their religious activities are funded separately.

The bonds could be issued through a local development corporation created for this purpose, experts said.

The Islamic center would have to repay the bonds, which likely would be less expensive than taxable debt.

New York City’s Industrial Development Authority could not issue debt for the center because the state civic facilities law, which governed this type of financing for non-profits, was allowed to expire about two years ago.

           — Hat tip: her[Return to headlines]

Mosque Already Preaching Shariah Near Ground Zero

Seeking to ‘raise flag of Allah’ next to World Trade Center site

While the nation has been focused on a proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero, a mosque has been functioning just four blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks with rumored plans to build even closer to the spot that once housed the World Trade Center.

The mosque, the Masjid Manhattan, recently boasted of plans to construct a “House of Allah” next to the World Trade Center, exclaiming on its website, “Help us raise the flag of ‘LA ILLAHA ILLA ALLAH’ in downtown Manhattan!”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Halts Prosecution of Alleged USS Cole Bomber

‘No charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future’

The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Okla. Newbie Scores ‘Unfathomable’ Primary Win

Youth camp director James Lankford’s first-place finish in Tuesday’s Oklahoma 5th District primary has Washington Republicans, many of whom backed former state Rep. Kevin Calvey, scratching their heads.

A slate of prominent conservative groups—including the Club for Growth, Concerned Women for America, the American Conservative Union, and the Gun Owners of America—endorsed and provided financial backing for Calvey in his bid for the Oklahoma City-area open seat, only to wake up Wednesday to find that the former state legislator finished behind Lankford, a little-known political newcomer waging his first campaign for office.

“I think the question is, ‘Who is James Lankford?’“ remarked one Washington-based GOP operative who is supporting Calvey. “I didn’t know Lankford’s name until four weeks ago.”

Lankford, who ran the Christian Falls Creek summer camp and carried the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.), heads toward an Aug. 24 runoff with Calvey after finishing first with 34 percent in the five-way primary. Calvey, who served in the state House from 1998 to 2006, followed in second with 33 percent.

GOP strategists reviewing the primary results suggested a host of explanations for Lankford’s success. Though he spent a relatively modest $284,000 — about half of what the better-funded Calvey invested — he ran an aggressive, grassroots-oriented effort that mobilized the local Christian community.

Some argued Lankford benefitted from his lack of political experience, which enabled him to brand himself as an outsider in a year of intense anti-Washington resentment.

In the final days leading up to the race, Lankford ran a TV ad in which he proclaimed, “All of us that are outside of politics understand: We will never change the status quo in Washington if we send the status quo to Washington.”

That message distinguished Lankford from Calvey and from third-place finisher state Rep. Mike Thompson, both of whom fashioned themselves as conservatives who would oppose the Democratic agenda in Washington.

“Given the guy’s background, it’s quite possible that he brought in a lot of people who aren’t used to voting in primaries,” speculated the operative.

Still, Calvey’s second-place showing has left some Republicans wondering where his campaign went wrong.

“What the heck happened? He had all the advantages,” asked the first operative. “It’s unfathomable.”

Trebor Worthen, a Calvey campaign consultant, insisted that the campaign had never expected a blowout and that a runoff was fully expected.

“It wasn’t a surprise. We expected a tough race all along,” he said. “In short, we never expected it to be easy at all.”

In an interview Wednesday afternoon, Lankford said he wasn’t surprised that he remained a mystery inside the Beltway.

“Washington doesn’t know me, and I don’t know Washington,” he said. “I come from a non-political background.”

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

Video: Steve Forbes on Obama: “He Thinks He Will Change America From a Greedy Nation to a Quiet Socialist Nation That Knows Its Place in the World”

Forbes pegs Obama:

“He feels that, in terms of what he’s done, long-term it will make him a great President — put him on Mount Rushmore — change America from a greedy nation to a quiet socialist nation that knows its place in the world. So, in that sense, he’s just going to go along with it, and if the Democrats take a loss, they’re just martyrs to his revolution.”

That about sums it up.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alert Over Wanted Al-Qaeda Suspect Who May be Heading to Britain

An international alert has been issued warning that one of Britain’s most wanted al-Qaeda suspects has been trying to secure a passport and may be trying to return to Britain.

Passport photographs of Ibrahim Adam, 23, who has been on the run for three years, have been discovered after British intelligence began unraveling one of the biggest terrorist networks discovered since September 11.

Security sources told the Daily Telegraph they believe Adam is currently in Pakistan but is trying to get a passport. They fear that he may be trying to travel to the West in order to plan attacks.

One source said: “There are concerns about his desire to return to Britain and engage in terrorist activity.”

Another said: “We have been aware of his involvement in terrorist circles. One of the possibilities we are looking at is that he wants to return to Britain, although he may be seeking to travel elsewhere.”

The photographs, which show Adam with four different hairstyles and clothing have been circulated to law enforcement agencies across the world as part of an international alert.

Adam, 23, is the younger brother of Anthony Garcia, one of the men arrested for plotting to blow up the Ministry of Sound night club or the Bluewater Shopping Centre with a fertiliser bomb in 2004.

Garcia, 27, who changed his name from Abdulrahman Adam, was convicted of conspiracy to cause explosions three weeks before his two brothers went on the run and is serving a minimum of 17 and a half years in jail.

Ibrahim disappeared along with his older brother Lamine, 29, in May 2007 despite being electronically tagged and put under a control order.

Lamine, who had a job as a tube driver had allegedly wanted to carry out an attack on a nightclub in Britain.

Garcia attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan with other members of the fertiliser gang as well as two of the July 7 bombers.

While in Pakistan he wrote a letter to Ibrahim which was later found at the family home in Ilford, East London, telling him: “You have been gifted OK with the people you know but never think you are OK, always think you are nothing.

“Only when you believe this will you be able to sell your life….We will meet either in this life or the hereafter.

“Study hard in Islamic matters, don’t let them know you have future plans, better that they think you are a fool than someone good.”

The Adam brothers’ father, Elias, told the Daily Telegraph: “I am heartbroken. I am worried that I will never see them again. I just want them to come back home.”

The terrorist network was revealed following work by British and US intelligence services to uncover plots hatched by Rashid Rauf, a British al-Qaeda commander behind plans to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners in coordinated suicide bomb attacks using home made liquid bombs.

British and US intelligence services worked on a “painstaking” operation to identify Rauf’s contacts after he escaped from Pakistani custody at the end of 2007 and returned to the country’s lawless tribal areas.

The first cell, led by a woman called Malika el-Aroud, was arrested in Belgium in December 2008, accused of planning suicide attacks during a European summit in Brussels, although their targets were never positively identified.

The second involved the arrest of 12 Pakistani students in Manchester last April, thought to be targeting Easter shoppers.

The arrests were sparked by an intercepted email from Abid Naseer that referred to an impending “wedding,” thought to have been code for an attack.

In the US, Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-born US citizen, and two former school friends were arrested after allegedly buying bomb making chemicals to blow up the New York subway.

A fourth cell, allegedly led by Mikael Davud, a 39-year-old Chinese Uighur with Norwegian citizenship, was arrested in Norway in July, accused of plotting to blow up unknown targets using July 7-style explosives.

Adam’s passport photographs were discovered in an apartment in Oslo after undercover Norwegian security service officers broke into the flat.

Members of all four cells were in Pakistan at the end of 2008 and there are fears that there could be other sleeper cells that remain unaccounted for.

The network was developed by Rauf, a British al-Qaeda commander thought to be involved in the July 7, July 21 and trans-Atlantic airlines plots.

Rauf was killed by a missile from an unmanned drone in November 2008 but the cells were still able to return to the West.

He was working alongside Saleh al-Somali, al-Qaeda’s head of external operations who was also killed by a US drone last December, and with a third senior figure in al-Qaeda, Adnan el-Shukrijumah, who remains at large.

All the groups except the Belgian cell communicated with a more junior commander, who calls himself Sohaib, Ahmad or Zahid and is now in Pakistani custody, according to security sources.

It remains unclear what his real name is or if he will ever be brought before a Pakistani court.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Archeologists Find Gateway to the Viking Empire

For a century, archeologists have been looking for a gate through a wall built by the Vikings in northern Europe. This summer, it was found. Researchers now believe the extensive barrier was built to protect an important trading route.

Their attacks out of nowhere in rapid longboats have led many to call Vikings the inventors of the Blitzkrieg. “Like wild hornets,” reads an ancient description, the Vikings would plunder monasteries and entire cities from Ireland to Spain. The fact that the Vikings, who have since found their place as droll comic book characters, were also avid masons is slightly less well known.

The proof can be seen in northern Germany, not far from the North Sea-Baltic Canal. There, one can marvel at a giant, 30-kilometer (19-mile) wall which runs through the entire state of Schleswig-Holstein. The massive construction, called the Danevirke — “work of the Danes” — is considered the largest earthwork in northern Europe.

Archeologists have now taken a closer look at part of the construction — a three-meter-thick (10 feet) wall from the 8th century near Hedeby (known as Haithabu in German). It is constructed entirely out of stones collected from the surrounding region. Some of them are only as big as a fist, while others weigh as much as 100 kilograms (220 pounds). “The Vikings collected millions of rocks,” says archeologist Astrid Tummuscheit, who works for the state archeology office of Schleswig-Holstein.

A Customs Station, an Inn and a Bordello

At a press conference Friday, Tummuscheit’s team announced a further find — one that they are calling a “sensation.” The researchers have discovered the only gate leading through the Danevirke, a five-meter (16 feet) wide portal. According to old writings, “horsemen and carts” used to stream through the gate, called “Wiglesdor.” Next to it was a customs station and an inn that included a bordello.

For a century, archeologists have been dreaming of finding this gate between Denmark and Charlemagne’s empire. Experts knew its approximate location, but archeologists were not allowed to dig: an old roadhouse was in the way. “Café Truberg put the brakes on everything,” says Claus von Carnap-Bornheim, head of the Schleswig Holstein archeology office.

Things only began moving forward when the café went broke and could be purchased in 2008 with help from the AP Møller-Fonds, a fund belonging to Arnold Maersk, the 97-year-old Danish owner of the world’s biggest container shipping fleet. The energy company E.on Hanse, the E.on subsidiary responsible for northern Germany, paid for the building to be demolished and the archeologists could move in. The new find is certain to attract significant attention above Germany’s northern border as well — the Danevirke is seen as a national treasure in Denmark. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark has visited the site, as has Prince Frederik.

New calculations as to the age of the construction indicate, however, that the earliest parts of the wall might have been built by the Frisians and not by the Danes. Archeologists now think the foundation stone might have been laid as early as the 7th century.

Known for their Pillaging Ways

The Frisians, who lived on the west coast of what is now Denmark and on a number of islands in the North Sea, were fighting for supremacy in the region with three other peoples: the Danes, the Slavs and the Saxons (see graphic). “It was the Kosovo of the early middle ages,” says Carnap-Bornheim. In the end, however, it was the Danes who emerged victorious. According to contemporary records, King Göttrik of Denmark ordered in 808 that the border of his empire with that of the Saxons be fortified.

But why make such an effort? To what end did the Vikings pile up millions of tons of rocks on their border? Comparative structures like border fortifications built by the Romans or the Great Wall of China were built to protect them from marauding hordes. But in the case of the Danevirke, the builders themselves were the ones known for their pillaging ways. In the 8th century, Denmark had neither cobblestone roads nor houses made of stone. The pagan king was guarded by fanatic warriors wearing animal costumes — so-called “berserkers.”

Only their long boats were state-of-the-art — fast and light but easily navigable. They allowed the Danes to develop a formidable network of trading routes. They plied Russian rivers all the way to Byzantium and sailed the North Atlantic to far-away Iceland, Greenland and even the northern reaches of North America.

Overland Trade

But there was an Achilles heel in this far-flung trading empire, and that was at Hedeby. In order for goods from the east to be shipped to the west, they had to cross the narrow strip of land at the base of present-day Denmark. Traders would sail inland on the Schlei Inlet, but when they got to Hedeby, their wares were offloaded and carted overland to the Treene River, 18 kilometers away. Only there could the goods be reloaded onto boats and sailed into the North Sea.

For the duration of this short overland trek, the valuable goods — including gold from Byzantium, bear pelts from Novgorod and even statues of Buddha from India — were open to attack from the mainland. In order to protect this important trade artery, archeologists now believe, a bulwark of earth, stone and bricks was constructed. The Danevirke, in other words, was little more than a protective shield for commerce.

In the coming weeks, archeologists hope to excavate the newly discovered gate right down to the old street level. They are hoping to find old paving stones, hinges or postholes — the remains, perhaps, of the erstwhile gate into the land of the Vikings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain Faces New Terror Wave

Britain faces a new wave of home grown terrorists as 800 radicalised Islamist prisoners are released from jail, a leading security expert warns.

The report warns that leaders such as Anwar al-Awlaki are encouraging individuals to launch less sophisticated but equally deadly attacks on crowded places Photo: AP

Michael Clarke, a former government adviser and the head of the Royal United Services Institute, says he believes the security services could struggle to cope with a new generation of extremists seeking to carry out “lone wolf” attacks.

In a report published today, Prof Clarke says that, over the next five to 10 years, about 800 prisoners — in jail for non-terrorism offences — are due to be released on to the streets having been radicalised in jail.

They will be joined by convicted terrorists serving short sentences who, once freed, are likely to be just as committed to the cause of jihad as before they were jailed, the report claims.

Prof Clarke, who advised Gordon Brown as a member of the National Security Forum and is a visiting professor at King’s College London, warns that this “new wave” will pose a significant challenge to the security services responsible for identifying and monitoring them.

While previous al-Qaeda tactics involved so-called “spectacular” attacks, the report warns that the terrorist group’s leaders, such as Yemeni preacher and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, are encouraging individuals to launch less sophisticated but equally deadly attacks on crowded places.

Their targets have also changed from concentrating on aircraft to including attacks on trains, hotels and sporting events. The report will serve as a stark reminder to the Government and public that the threat from Islamist terrorism remains severe, even though there has not been a fatal attack on British soil since 2005.

The current government threat level stands at “severe”, indicating a terrorist attack is considered “highly likely”. The level was raised from “substantial” in January.

In the Western world, Britain has the “greatest to fear” from home grown terrorists, the report says.

One of the major threats in Britain, according to Prof Clarke, is from released prisoners who may have been convicted of terrorist offences or may have been radicalised while in jail. “British prisons still house more terrorists than in any other European country, though not for very long periods,” he warns.

He points out that just 23 people, around 19 per cent of those convicted of terrorism offences, have been given life or indeterminate sentences. Twenty per cent have been sentenced to more than 10 years, and the largest single proportion, 32 per cent, received between eight months and four years. “It raises immediate questions about the motivations of those now released, or soon to be released: are they more or less inclined to reoffend?” he says.

“From previous experience in Northern Ireland, it is more likely that the majority of those released will remain as committed to their cause as before, and may serve as a source of motivation to others, albeit in clandestine ways.”

Prison authorities have become increasingly concerned about radicalisation behind bars, especially in the eight high-security jails where most terrorist prisoners are kept.

Probation officers have warned that about one in 10 of the 8,000 Muslim prisoners in high-security institutions in England and Wales is successfully targeted.

This amounts to “around 800 potentially violent radicals, not previously guilty of terrorism charges, [who] will be back in society over the coming five to 10 years,” Prof Clarke says.

These radicals are ideal candidates to form a “new wave” of terrorists threatening Britain, the report says.

The release of 800 prisoners would see an increase by nearly a half of the 2,000 radicalised individuals MI5 is currently said to be watching.

Large, well co-ordinated terrorist attacks have become more difficult to carry out and instead attacks have evolved into “more individual efforts” warns the report by Prof Clarke and co-author Valentina Soria in the Royal United Services Institute Journal.

They point to attacks such as that of Umar Farouk Abulmutallab, a former student in London, who tried to blow himself up in an aircraft coming into land in Detroit on Christmas Day last year and also the Times Square attack by Faisal Shahzad in May.

“Rather than sending out trained ‘cell leaders’ to conduct preparation for sophisticated operations, AQAP

(al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) and other related organisations have recently been content to send out a higher number of lone individuals (or at least lightly supported ones) whose chances of success are considerably lower but whose number and presence raise similar public anxieties,” the report says.

“Eventually, it is reasoned, one of them will be lucky enough to succeed in a major way against high profile targets in western countries.”

Britain’s “globalised society” makes it more vulnerable, says Prof Clarke. “In an open society there is only so much that any government can do to protect the public.’’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

EU Popularity Plunges Right Across the Bloc

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — People’s confidence in the the European Union has dropped to record lows in most countries amid a placid response to the rising unemployment and the troubles of the eurozone, a Eurobarometer published on Thursday (26 August) shows.

Fewer than half of Europe’s citizens (49 percent) think that their country has benefited from EU membership — a seven-year low — while trust in the bloc’s institutions has dropped to 42 percent, six points down compared to autumn 2009.

The survey was carried out in May, at the peak of the sovereign debt crisis affecting Greece and the whole eurozone and amid hikes in unemployment all across the continent.

The EU’s image worsened dramatically in Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Italy and Luxembourg — where confidence in EU institutions fell by 10 to 18 percent compared to the previous year. Only Hungarians and Danes had a slightly better impression of the Brussels apparatus, while Belgians remained unchanged in the level of their opinion.

Unemployment remains the biggest concern of EU citizens (48 percent), along with the economic situation in general (40 percent).

EU commission spokespeople on Thursday presented the results in a favourable light, stressing that the confidence levels in EU institutions are still higher than that of national governments and parliaments.

“I’m not sure we can make a link between the negative perception of citizens about the benefit of accession and criticism of EU institutions. The disappointment about accession could be linked to EU institutions, but also the way national governments have participated in the EU debate, influenced decisions, or the lack of information about the EU,” commission spokesman Olivier Bailly said during a press briefing.

When asked what they associate the EU with — most of them responded free travel and the euro. Peace was the third most popular answer, closely followed by “waste of money” (23 percent). Austrians were the most upset about Brussels’ way of spending funds — 52 percent — followed by Germans (45 percent) and Swedes (36 percent).

Only 19 percent of respondents felt that the EU stands for democracy, a drop of seven points compared to 2009. Just ten percent of the Finns, Brits and Latvians ticked the “democracy” box. A more idealistic view on the democratic standards upheld by the EU can be observed in Romania (33 percent), Bulgaria (32 percent) and Cyprus (30 percent).

“It’s a clear sign that citizens were expecting Europe to come up with answers to problems which have a European dimension — and they still do,” said Amadeu Altafaj Tardio, spokesman for economy and monetary affairs.

Indeed, 75 percent of the respondents all across the EU said that stronger co-ordination of economic and financial policies among member states would be effective in fighting the economic crisis.

A majority of Europeans, 72 percent, said they would back a stronger supervision by the EU of the activities of the most important international financial groups, an increase of four percentage points in 2009.

But knowledge about what the term “European economic governance” actually means — a term which is still matter of dispute among member states, notably the UK and France — or which national reforms are best equipped to steer the country out of the crisis were not part of the questionnaire.

For the first time since this Eurobarometer has been carried out, the survey also included Iceland, now a candidate country for EU accession. The results show that public support for EU membership is low: only 19 percent of respondents in Iceland believe it would be a good thing and 29 percent believe their country would benefit from EU membership.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Nationality Soon Withdrawn for Criminals

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 27 — The French government will next week discuss changes aimed at withdrawing French nationality from naturalised citizens guilty of criminal offences. The news was revealed by the Immigration Minister, Eric Besson, on the radio station RMC.

According to the newspaper Liberation, two changes that follow the direction of the controversial speech in Grenoble at the end of July by the President, Nicolas Sarkozy, will be put to the Interior Minister, Brice Hortefeux, in next Wednesday’s council of ministers.

The first modification sees the creation of the crime of “de facto polygamy, fraud and abuse of the incapable”. The second change aims to withdraw French nationality from anyone “of foreign origin who has willingly made an attempt” on the life of a policeman, gendarme, or other guardian of public authority”.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Threats and Bullets to Jewish Community in Drancy

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 26 — A letter containing bullets and threats against the Jewish community was found yesterday at the synagogue in Drancy. According to judicial sources, it apparently referred to the matter of humanitarian boats directed to Gaza.

The date of the postmark is August 14, but the letter was only found by the synagogue’s personnel after the holidays. The President of the Anti-Semitism National Office of Anti-Semitism, Sammy Ghozian, said that the letter contained some bullets and a swastika and asked the authorities to reinforce security systems of the synagogue and for the managers, especially since the celebration of the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur start on September 9.

In Drancy there is also a large Muslim community which on September 11 will celebrate the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Green Light for Basque Ecclesiastical Province

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 26 — The Vatican has granted one of the historical requests of the Church of the Basque Country by giving the green light for the creation of a Basque Ecclesiastical Province. Vatican sources quoted today by the progressive newspaper Publico say that the province will include the dioceses of Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria and the archbishopric of Pamplona.

Bilbao and Vitoria currently belong to the ecclesiastical province of Burgos, while San Sebastian is part of the Pamplona equivalent. The Basque Ecclesiastical Province, whose metropolitan diocese will be Pamplona, is considered by the Vatican to be a “correct request from a pastoral point of view”, as the four dioceses have carried out joint action in Basque language territories for at least the last three decades.

However all previous attempts to set up an ecclesiastical province in the region, made by previous Basque bishops, had met with opposition from the Holy See, during the papacy of John Paul II. The reasons presented, according to Publico, include “the excessive politicisation” of the Basque Church and fears that an ecclesiastical organisation that united Navarre and the Basque Country might be used by radical pro-independence groups as a focal point for separatist action.

The nomination to the post of Bishop of Bilbao of Mario Iceta Gabicagogeascoa, who replaces Ricardo Blazquez — who led the main diocese of the Basque Country for 15 years and was promoted last spring to the Archbishopric of Valladolid — completes the “normalisation” of the Basque Church, El Pais says. Iceta has been the auxiliary Bishop of Bilbao since 2008. His nomination at the head of the diocese, many observers say, sanctions the radical transformation of the Basque bishopric which was launched by the Chair of Spain’s conference of Bishops, Antonio Maria Rouco Varela, a member of the pontifical congregation in charge of electing prelates in the world.

This revolution began last November, when Bishop Juan Maria Uriarte, who was supported by nationalists, was replaced by Jose’ Ignacio Munilla as bishop of San Sebastian. All bishops involved in the new nominations, Publico writes, are “men fully trusted by Rouco Varela, who has given them the task of bringing the situation of the Basque Church back to normality, cornering priests more inclined towards nationalism and promoting greater vocations to priesthood”.

The Basque Church’s new direction should also be read more widely as part of the historic change of government in the Basque Country at the last regional elections, when the Basque Nationalist party was defeated for the first time, after a majority that had lasted thirty years, and left the government, which is now led by the Basque Socialist Party, with external support from the People’s Party. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Rotten Fish? It’s a Delicacy

It has been banned by airlines as an offensive weapon, its smells like a gas leak and it is Swedish schoolchildren’s favourite way to cause classroom chaos. Yet thousands of Swedes regard it as a culinary delicacy. Emy Gelb reaches for a clothespin and takes a look at the famous Swedish “rotten herring” — surströmming.

Surstömming is a Swedish oddity. Its aroma — or more accurately, odour — is so pungent that it is banned from many Swedish apartment blocks, yet it is considered such an important cultural phenomenon that a society has been established dedicated to protecting its future.

Surstömming is a very special dish from northern Sweden and roughly translates into “sour herring.” It’s often described in English as rotten herring, although it is actually fermented. The fish was first used by Swedish troops in the 17th and 18th century, when they needed non-perishable food that would last for long marches.

The Baltic fish is caught in the May and June, fermented for one to two months, then tinned. Inside the tin, the fermentation process continues. After 6 months to a year, the fish releases a variety of gases that make the can bulge in weird and bizarre ways.

For many, surströmming is known as one of the most offensive delicacies in the world, rivaling other objectionable treats like southeast Asia’s durian fruit or Norway’s lutefisk. The foul odour comes from a cocktail of different bacteria that produce carbon dioxide and numerous other compounds. These conspire to create a smell similar to rotten eggs mixed with rancid butter and vinegar. A website dedicated to odd foodstuffs describes the delicacy as “the foulest-smelling food you can ever imagine.”

Late August is the traditional period for Swedes to eat surströmming. Ruben Madsen, the President of the Surströmming Academy, explains that the classic way to serve the fish is on thin, crisp bread, with 6 slices of potatoes, each topped with a small piece of surstömming, red onions, sour cream, dill, and tomatoes. Older generations say that milk, snaps, and Wisby Weiss beer is the best way to wash the taste down while the younger ones claim that a dry rose or a dark rum is what truly complements the fish.

While it is generally recommended to eat the fish outside, Madsen claims you can eat it inside too. However, he suggests, “if you live in a big apartment building, put up a sign saying that you are having a surströmming party, just so the neighbors know that it’s not a gas leak or anything.” He adds that cooler temperatures also help to curb the smell, so in order to limit intensity of the odor it is best to open the fish in cold water or in the freezer.

In 2006, several major airlines including Air France, KLM, and British Airways, banned Surstömming from their planes, claiming that the swollen cans are potentially explosive. Swedish producers rebutted by calling the airlines “culturally illiterate,” arguing that it is solely a myth that tins are dangerous. Madsen said the claims were outrageous.

“It is a family meal, how could that possibly be a terrorist weapon? Can you believe something so crazy? I find it humorous they think that a meal could explode”

Unfortunately, he still doesn’t think that Arlanda will start selling the fish again anytime soon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Dangers of Germany’s Dependence on China

Germany largely has China to thank for its current economic upswing, given the Asian powerhouse’s demand for German machine tools and other such products. But many German industrialists are asking themselves how long the symbiotic relationship can go on, given Beijing’s ambition to become a high-tech economy itself. By SPIEGEL Staff.

It’s a humid Friday afternoon in Beijing, where German Chancellor Angela Merkel is addressing a friendly crowd of 80 students from the Central Party School, the Chinese Communist Party’s highest training institution for its officials. A banner on the wall behind her reads: “Welcome, Chancellor Merkel.”

But on this day Merkel doesn’t have much time for niceties. Of course she admires the country’s economic vitality, she says, and is impressed by how quickly China has overcome the financial crisis. But, she adds, it’s also important to address the country’s deficits — which she then proceeds to do.

China’s protections for intellectual property are not up to Western standards, says Merkel. Besides, she adds, Chinese companies have the bad habit of siphoning off technical expertise from their German partners.

At the end of her speech, the German chancellor hands the future elite of the Chinese Communist Party a few lessons in democracy. There are currently five parties in the German parliament, she says, and although this can be vexing at times, it’s also productive, because the multiparty system ensures that every issue and every cause finds a voice. “This is why we ask ourselves: Can one party achieve as much as five parties achieve in our country?”

Merkel’s open words in the heart of a one-party dictatorship clearly illustrate how the chancellor — all diplomatic niceties aside — feels about Germany’s East Asian trading partner. She is well aware of the opportunities in the world’s largest market, which is home to 1.3 billion people. But Merkel also knows that business leaders in Germany are starting to feel uneasy about the unstoppable rise of Chinese industry.

Some are already wondering whether the supposedly lucrative China connection will turn out in a few years’ time to have been a pact with the devil.

Dependent on Each Other

Germany, more than most other Western industrialized countries, is currently tying its economic well-being to China’s recovery. Trade with Beijing is the most important driving force behind the current German upswing. It also explains why economists also foresee a bright future for the German economy in the medium term.

With its luxury cars, machine tools and power plant turbines, German industry offers precisely the products the giant East Asian country desperately wants or needs. But the jubilant mood at German industrial giants like Siemens and BASF has recently been somewhat marred by worried questions. What is the significance of the Chinese starting to compete in more and more high-tech markets? What will be the consequences if the fates of entire industrial sectors are decided in the back rooms of Beijing’s party bureaucracy in the future?

And what happens if growth in China proves to be an illusion? The government in Beijing, using the tools of a state-controlled economy, is already trying to prevent the next big bubble from bursting in its real estate market.

“I am aware that a growing portion of the company is dependent on this country,” says Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of German automaker Daimler. And that relation of dependency applies both in good times and in bad…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

TV4 Refuses to Air Sweden Democrat Ads

TV4 has decided not to air ads from the Sweden Democrats (SD) before the election because it believes the clip promotes hate speech, CEO Jan Scherman said on Friday.

“The film is contrary to the democracy clause in the Radio and Television Act and also against democracy clauses which the Sweden Democrats among others have adopted for the equality of all people, regardless of whether it is the European Convention or the UN Charter,” said Scherman.

“The film is also against the constitution act on freedom of speech that prohibits hate speech,” he added.

According to SD press secretary Erik Almqvist, the ad does not violate Swedish law. The party has screened the clip for lawyers, who said that it does not break the law against inciting racial hatred.

The 30-second clip promotes the SD’s demand that, like other parties, pensioners’ taxes be cut to the same levels of wage earners. However, SD claims its plans would be funded by reducing immigration.

The video shows a 20-second race consisting of an elderly Swedish woman with a walker being chased by a group of burqa-clad women with baby carriages while an alarm-like sound plays in the background.

“All politics are about priorities — now you have a choice,” says a voiceover.

“The conflict we see as a result of mass immigration is not related to the person’s origin, but rather a conflict of values, as far as we can see,” said Almqvist in reference to the burqa-clad women in the video.

Per Hultmangård, a lawyer at the Swedish Media Publishers’ Association (Tidningsutvgivarna), came to a different conclusion from TV4’s. He does not see how the Sweden Democrats’ video would violate the law.

“I cannot see how this would be hate speech,” he told news agency TT. “This is an election ad. The scope is wide for what one can say. They simply play on people’s fears. Legally, it is within the allowable framework.”

However, Scherman stood by his position and referred to an EU directive that is the basis for the wording of the Broadcasting and Television Act.

“The directive prohibits incitement of hatred according to race, sex or religion, which supports my decision,” he said.

“It is to me quite clear as the editor responsible that those who watch the clip together with the text, images and sound very clearly see a group described as intimidating and aggressive. The group is very easily identifiable, belonging to one religion, dressed in a certain way and attacking another group,” he added.

According to Scherman, that group is comprised of Muslims.

“There are probably lawyers and press experts who disagree on this,” he said. “It is for TV4 and I to make an independent decision based on our knowledge, experience and perception of the law. It is not possible, even if one gets advice and opinions, to refer to them when making a editorial decision. It must be based on the conclusion that we and I have come to.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Army Hero Who Lost a Leg in Afghanistan Denied a Disabled Parking Permit by Council Bosses ‘Because He Might Get Better’

Wounded veteran Lance Corporal Johno Lee has clocked up £800 in fines for parking in disabled bays in his home town of Newark, Nottinghamshire

A hero soldier who lost a leg in Afghanistan has been denied a disabled parking badge three times by council bosses.

Lance Corporal Johno Lee has clocked up £800 in fines for parking in disabled bays in his home town of Newark, Nottinghamshire, on days when he uses a wheelchair or feels unable to walk very far.

When he first applied to Nottinghamshire County Council for a blue badge, he was advised he was young and ‘may get better’.

His right leg was amputated below the knee after he was caught up in an explosion in Helmand Province in 2008 and was catapulted into a minefield.

He said yesterday: ‘I replied that they possibly did not quite understand the situation and that I thought it unlikely my leg would grow back.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Inmates ‘Turning to Terror’ As Think Tank Says Terrorists Are Radicalising Fellow Inmates

The Royal United Services Institute says convicted terrorists in high security prisons may have radicalised one in ten fellow Muslim prisoners.

Britain faces a new wave of terror attacks launched by Muslims radicalised in prison, a respected think tank warns today.

The Royal United Services Institute says convicted terrorists inside high security prisons may have turned one in ten Muslim inmates to their cause.

As a result, the threat from jihadists born in this country is greater here than anywhere else in the Western world, including the U.S., the report states.

Its authors warn that violent extremists have changed their tactics in the five years since the 7/7 bombings.

Rather than working in groups, jihadists are acting alone and taking aim at ‘soft’ targets with less security.

Future terror attacks are likely to involve lone bombers with little training and makeshift devices targeting crowded sporting events.

As a result they will be much more difficult for the police and security services to stop, it is claimed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Parents of Murdered British Spy Hit Back at ‘Government’s Gay Smear’ Campaign to Discredit Him

The family of murdered British spy Gareth Williams today accused the government of running a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign to blacken his name.’

William Hughes, the codebreaker’s uncle, said Mr Williams’ parents Ellen and Ian were ‘furious’ at suggestions their son has been labelled as gay and a cross dresser.

‘It is completely false,’ Mr Hughes, 62, who yesterday visited the Williams’s family home in Holyhead, North Wales.

‘They are very, very angry,’ he told the London Evening Standard.

‘The lad had been away from home for a long time — we did not know much about his private life, but it has never crossed any of our minds that he could be gay.

‘It’s not the picture they have of their son.

‘Maybe it’s the Government or somebody trying to discredit him.’

The mathematics genius, who was on secondment to MI6, was found dead in a sports holdall in the bath of his Government flat on Monday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: New Passports With Berlusconi-Gaddafi Pictures Soon

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 26 — On the new Libyan passports there will be a photo of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi shaking hands after the signing of the historic Italy-Libya Friendship Treaty on August 30 2008 in Bengasi. The news was confirmed during an ANSA interview with the Libyan Ambassador to Rome Abdulhafed Gaddur.

On one of the pages of the new Libyan passport, together with various images will be a picture of the two leaders shaking hands, explained the diplomat. “We recently asked for the authorisation of the premier and he approved. In the coming months, the new passport will be in circulation,” said Gaddur.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: Accepting the Unacceptable

Last weekend the mullahs took a big step towards becoming a nuclear power as they powered the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

Israel’s response? The Foreign Ministry published a statement proclaiming the move “totally unacceptable.”

So why did we accept the totally unacceptable?

When one asks senior officials about the Bushehr reactor and about Iran’s nuclear program more generally, their response invariably begins, “Well the Americans…”

Far from accepting that Israel has a problem that it must deal with, Israel’s decision makers still argue that the US will discover — before it is too late — that it must act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power in order to secure its own interests…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

UAE: Large Increase in Emirati Men Marrying Foreigners

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 25 — Dubai’s statistics center has found that in the first half of 2010, 30.7% of weddings in the United Arab Emirates were celebrated between Emirati men and foreign women.

The trend is rising “worryingly” (+26.3% since 2006) and has resulted in a considerable rise (+20%) in the number of Emirati women who remain unmarried.

A recent survey by the daily newspaper Al Itihad found that the main reason for Emirati men deciding to marry foreign women lies in the ever greedier dowry requests coming from brides and their families. Other factors include the reluctance to go along with the tradition of arranged marriages and the impossibility of having sexual relations with a future wife before the wedding.

The situation for Emirati women is made worse by the fact that, unlike their male compatriots, they are not allowed to marry men of other nationalities. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Taliban Have Spies Everywhere, Warns Army Expert After Cameron Was Almost Shot Down by Insurgent Rocket

Colonel Richard Kemp described how insurgents had infiltrated almost every level of the country’s armed forces

A former British commander in Afghanistan today claimed that the Taliban had a ‘very extensive’ network of spies after it emerged David Cameron’s helicopter was nearly shot down by a rocket.

Colonel Richard Kemp described how insurgents had infiltrated almost every level of the country’s armed forces.

‘Sometimes we underestimate the Taliban’s sophistication in intelligence gathering,’ he said, adding the group had sources in ‘many places’.

These included the Afghan security forces and ‘even in military bases.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Feds: Smuggled Chinese Immigrants Up 500%

Report reveals thousands of ‘other-than-Mexicans’ sneaking into U.S.

Federal documents show there was a sharp hike in the number of Chinese being smuggled into the United States across its border with Mexico, from 15 in Fiscal Year 2008 to 79 in Fiscal Year 2009, an increase of more than 500 percent.

The Chinese were among the 5,220 people in the “other-than-Mexican” category smuggled into the U.S. and apprehended during 2009, said documentation obtained by Judicial Watch from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency in the Department of Homeland Security.

“These statistics show that human smuggling continues to be a crisis on the nation’s southern border. And the problem is only going to get worse as a result of the Obama administration’s hostility to the strong enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws, especially in Arizona,” said Tom Fitton, the president of the organization that monitors Washington and investigates and prosecutes corruption.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Number of Babies Born to Immigrant Mothers Doubles in a Decade to One in Four

The number of babies born to immigrant mothers has doubled in a decade, official figures reveal.

Some 24.6 per cent of children delivered in England and Wales last year were to women who were born abroad.

There were 174,174 births to foreign mothers last year, compared to 86,456 in 1998.

The highest figure in the UK was recorded in Newham, east London, where more than three quarters — 75.5 per cent — of births were to immigrant mothers, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The three most common countries of birth of non-UK born mothers are Pakistan, Poland and India.

The Office for National Statistics said: ‘If the number of non UK-born women living in England and Wales increases then it follows that the number of births to these women is likely to increase.’

The figures also reveal the UK population swelled by nearly 200,000 last year — one of the largest increases during Labour’s 13 years in power.

There were 196,000 more immigrants than Britons leaving for abroad, according to official figures released on Thursday.

That meant the overall population of Britain rose by the equivalent of a city the size of Portsmouth.

‘Net migration’, the number of immigrants in excess of the number of people leaving the country, was 20 per cent up on 2008 — defying predictions that the recession would reduce the figure.

The population is now set to hit the sensitive 70million barrier two years earlier than expected.

But the rise has mainly been fuelled by a drop in emigration by British citizens.

Almost certainly as a result of the downturn, 23 per cent fewer Britons left the country than in the year before — down from 166,000 to 127,000.

The increased numbers staying put meant immigrants made a greater contribution to the size of the overall population.

It had been projected Britain’s population would reach 70million by 2029 — which some analysts say will put pressure on transport, housing, water, power and other services.

At the last year’s migration rates, this symbolic figure will be reached two years earlier, 17 years from now.

England is already the most crowded country in Europe, bar tiny Malta, according to figures given to MPs this week.

The 196,000 net migration figure — up from 163,000 in 2008 — has been exceeded only three times.

Higher figures were recorded in 2004, 2005 and 2007, years in which hundreds of thousands of Eastern Europeans came to the UK after their countries joined the EU.

Ministers blamed Labour for the latest rise, saying its ‘points-based system’ for controlling immigration had failed.

They repeated their pledge to reduce net migration to the levels of the 1990s. But Tory MPs said the 2009 jump in net migration was a ‘wake-up call’ for the Coalition.

The Migrationwatch think-tank called for an immigration cap to be supplemented by a four-year limit on stays by economic migrants unless they can prove their long-term value to the UK.

Yesterday’s official estimates said that 437,000 foreign citizens came into Britain last year, ‘not statistically significantly different’ from numbers in 2008.

A further 91,000 Britons came back into the country from living abroad, again, a figure not meaningfully different from that for the previous year.

Immigration from Eastern Europe continued to add to the population. Estimates showed that 52,000 Poles and other Eastern Europeans came into the country while 47,000 left.

The number of people granted the right to settle in Britain by the Home Office rose by well over a third, 37 per cent, in the 12 months up to June this year.

The 224,390 people allowed to live in this country to work or join their families was up from 163,600 in the year to June 2008.

Ministers, who have said a cap on immigration from outside Europe will be brought in next year, blamed Labour for the figures.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘Labour’s immigration legacy is even worse than anyone feared.

‘These statistics show why we must tighten our immigration system in order to reduce net migration to manageable levels.

‘While it is important that we attract the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, uncontrolled migration places unacceptable pressure on public services.

‘The Government is committed to reducing the level of net migration over the course of this Parliament to the levels of the 1990s — tens of thousands each year, not hundreds of thousands.’

But Tory MP James Clappison said: ‘These figures are a real wake-up call for the Coalition — if one were needed.

‘Immigration at this level would result in a greatly over-crowded country, and there are few tasks if any more vital for the Coalition than to clamp down on the history of high levels of immigration.’

Some ministers, notably Business Secretary Vince Cable, have made public their opposition to any cap.

But a study by left-leaning think tank Demos last weekend which showed immigration concerns were responsible for voters deserting Labour at the May election has concentrated the minds of politicians.

Sir Andrew Green, of Migrationwatch, said: ‘If we are to stem the inexorable rise of our population to 70million within 20 years, of which 68 per cent will be the result of immigration, economic migrants should be expected to leave after four years and their departure recorded.’

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Spain: Jesuit Institute Says Yes to Abortion and Euthanasia

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 27 — The position statement in favour of the legalisation of abortion and euthanasia “in extreme cases”, made by a bioethics institute, chaired by a Jesuit, has aroused the indignation of the Spanish Catholic community. The institute assists various hospitals of the order of San Juan de Dios. The issue is reported today by the conservative daily ABC, which in the past days also reported that voluntary terminations of pregnancy are carried out in two hospitals in Barcelona, managed by the Church, to underline “the existing contradiction between the Catholic doctrine and medical practice”.

The daily also points the finger at the Borja Bioethics institute, chaired by the Jesuit Francesc Abel i Fabre. This organisation gives advice to several hospitals, including the San Joan de Deu Hospital in Barcelona, which is owned by the order with that name.

According to ABC, the institute, which was founded in 1976, made a statement in favour of the decriminalisation of euthanasia in April 2005, “in extreme cases and in case of conflict”. The institute referred in particular to extremely serious situations in which “the patient repeatedly asks for” euthanasia, “of his or her free will”, and in which the patient “has a terminal illness which will lead to death within a short matter of time”, while suffering “unbearable pain”. The document “Towards the possible decriminalisation of euthanasia”, harshly criticised by the Episcopal Conference of Tarragona, was drafted by a workgroup of doctors, philosophers, jurists and theologians. It indicated several extreme situations in which euthanasia would have to be decriminalised. The bishops, through a statement, sanctioned the bioethics institute with exclusion for its participation in 13 ethical committees of hospitals linked to the Order of San Juan de Dios. After that controversy, another conflict between the church and pro-life organisations was triggered by a report of the Borja Institute on abortion, the ABC reports. The document, “Reflections on the human embryo”, quoted by the newspaper, underlines that “in extremely serious cases of conflict we are in favour of the responsible decision, made consciously by the interested persons, promoting the education of this consciousness and accompanying these people while they make a concrete decision”.

The document adds that “the decriminalisation of abortion, in certain situations of serious conflict which make it likely that the people involved will suffer in the future, will be seen as a gesture of comprehension and reception towards the people who are in a difficult situation that could turn the start of a new life into a heavy burden”.

Also in this case, the document has been stigmatised by the Episcopal Conference of Tarragona. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Which Side Are You on?: The “Moderate Muslim” Litmus Tests

By Barry Rubin

In the controversy over the “Ground Zero” mosque in New York and other issues, Muslims are often asked if they condemn terrorism, Iran, or Hamas and other revolutionary Islamist groups, along with other questions. The idea is to determine whether they are moderates or radicals. Each of these questions also has an unnoticed “internal Muslim” aspect as well that makes them all the more important.

Yet this question is often placed in the context of whether or not they support murderous attacks on non-Muslims or calls to wipe out Israel. This is a valid consideration, but it misses a key point about why Islamic activists should be asked and how they should answer such questions.

There is an important additional factor embedded in this question. One is that these are revolutionary Islamist groups or countries. If you don’t condemn them you are in effect accepting their program for a radical transformation of Muslim-majority (and even other) countries, the imposition of a radical interpretation of Sharia law on every aspect of society. If you are a nationalist, or a liberal, or a moderate Islamist the prospect of your enemies seizing state power and perhaps repressing you would be a most upsetting prospect.

In other words, a moderate would condemn these groups and Iran not for the sake of Israel or the West, but for the sake of his own people and anti-Islamist cause. It is impossible to be neutral on this point: Do you want to live (or see most other Muslims live) under a caliphate, a theocratic dictatorship, a repressive regime as exists in Iran or the Taliban’s Afghanistan or not?

Would a moderate like to see what should be his worst nightmare triumph, interpret Islam in its own extremist way, and destroy any chance that he might realize his vision? Well, he could if his vision was roughly the same as theirs.

Another question asked—Do you condemn terrorism not only against “innocent Muslims” but also non-Muslims?—has a similar twist. Again, by refusing to reject terrorism against Jews, Christians, and (in Thailand, at least) Buddhists, the political activist is accepting some types of deliberate murder of civilians.

Yet this is not the only issue going on here. An “innocent Muslim” is a regular person, a bystander. But that would not include government officials or employees or those deemed too secular or liberal, people revolutionary Islamists want to kill. Perhaps this category of the non-innocent might include whole Muslim communities (Shias in Iraq, for example; African groups in Sudan). Moreover, failing to condemn all terrorism shows either a misunderstanding (or support) for the anarchy and destruction that this tactic imposes on Muslim-majority societies. In other words, it shows both ruthlessness toward one’s own people and indicates that one is on the side of the radical Islamists.

Still another indicator is adherence to the Muslim Brotherhood or its front groups…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]