Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20100913

Financial Crisis
»Americans Nervous About Their Cash
»Feds Spent $800,000 of Economic Stimulus on African Genital-Washing Program
»One Hundred Years Later
»Amir Taheri: Islam Center’s Eerie Echo of Ancient Terror
»Charles Johnson of LGF Now Deleting Posts Which Evidence His Paranoid Islamophobic Bigotry
»Coast to Coast, Conservatives Rally to Promote Their Cause
»Congress to be Told of 60-Billion US-Saudi Arms Deal
»Conservatives Say They Will Hold the Next Republican Majority Accountable
»Health Care Law Could Mean End of Federalism if it is Upheld, Virginia AG Warns
»Imagining Islam
»Imam Says NYC Mosque Site is Not ‘Hallowed Ground’
»Imam Rauf More Extreme Than Reverend Jones
»Mosque Imam’s Associate Calls WTC Attacks an ‘Inside Job’
»Obama: No Solar Panels on White House
»Six Christians Rip Pages From Koran in White House Stunt
»The Midterm Elections and the Communist Manifesto
»U.S. Soldiers to be Subjected to ‘Mind Control’
Europe and the EU
»As European Nations Retrench, The EU Itself Seeks a Raise
»Berlusconi Jokes About Hitler at Youth Rally
»Brussels Has Broken Our Power to Rule
»Diana West: Meanwhile, Back in Brussels …
»English Defence League Members Attend New York Mosque Protest
»EU Commission ‘Interfered’ In Run-Up to Lisbon Vote
»Europe to Cut Power of Vacuum Cleaners to Save Energy
»Football: Berlusconi Blames ‘Leftist’ Refs for Milan Loss
»German Speakers Marginalised in New EU Diplomatic Corps
»Germany: Doubts Emerge Within SPD as Decision on Sarrazin Expulsion Looms
»Italy: Absentee Employees Pocket Council Attendance Fees and Salaries
»Italy: Chinese Youth Attacks Bangladeshi With a Machete
»Italy: Berlusconi Adamant Government to Remain in Office
»Left-Wing Terrorism Surges in Europe, As Governments Dismantle Social Safety Net
»Now the French Want Britain to Share Nuclear Submarines
»Sweden: Left Leader Condemns Attack on Far-Right
»Sweden: Party Leaders Vow Not to Work With Far-Right
»Swedish Officers Fined for Flying Painted Penis
»UK/USA: The Galloway-Geller Nexus
»UK: Elvis, Chatsworth, JFK and Me
»UK: Found, The Gene That Causes Short-Sight: Now Experts Say Condition Could be Halted by Eye Drops
»UK: Junior Doctors and the Britons Dying Because We Won’t Stand Up to the EU
»UK: Salman Rushdie Backs Ground Zero Mosque But Attacks Pastor Terry Jones for Threatened Koran-Burning
»Kosovo Serb Shot After Albanians Provoke Clashes
North Africa
»Algeria: Al-Qaeda ‘Turncoat’ Freed From Jail
»Libya: Gadhafi: Islam Should Reign Over Europe
Israel and the Palestinians
»Almost Half of Israeli Jews Secular
»Audio: Terrorist Confronted on Deeds Worse Than Burning Qurans
Middle East
»Iranian Woman Facing Deportation is at Risk of Stoning, Says MP
»Obama Urged to Confront Islamic States on Religious Freedom
»Saudi Arms Deal Advances
»Turkey Moves Closer to Europe After Yes Victory in Referendum
»Where’s the Outrage?
»Russia Profile Experts Panel, September 10, 2010
South Asia
»India: Christian Church and School Set on Fire in Punjab Because of the ‘Burn-the-Qur’an’ Proposal
»Indonesia: Police Move to Arrest Church Leaders’ Attackers
»Indonesia: Protestant Pastor Stabbed, Religious Freedom Attacked
»Pakistan: Italy to Press UN for Religious Minority Protection
Australia — Pacific
»Australian Lawyer Fans the Flames by ‘Smoking’ The Koran and the Bible on Youtube
»Australia: Suspected Terrorists Go on Trial
»Australian Lawyer ‘Smokes’ Quran, Bible Pages
»Lady Snails Growing Penises on Their Heads
»40 Million Americans Subsisting on Food Stamps
»At Border, Corruption of U.S. Officials Leaves an Open Door for Drug Cartel
»Italy: Immigrant Murdered in Milan Suburb
»Leading German Economist Demands More Workers From Abroad
»Muslims in Europe: Country Guide
»UK: Illegal Immigrant Stole Briton’s Passport and Masqueraded as Her for Seven Years to Get a Job, Home and Husband
»Quran Backlash: Protesters Burn US Flag, Effigies of Obama

Financial Crisis

Americans Nervous About Their Cash

(AP) People are bailing out of bank certificates of deposit and parking their cash in checking and savings accounts that earn little or no interest but also don’t exact penalties for early withdrawal.

…The Standard & Poor’s 500 is down 0.5 percent for the year, one big reason why people have pulled a net $145.3 billion out of mutual funds in the first eight months of the year…

[Return to headlines]

Feds Spent $800,000 of Economic Stimulus on African Genital-Washing Program


The genitalia-washing program is part of a larger $12-million UCLA study examining how to better encourage Africans to undergo voluntary HIV testing and counseling — however, only the penis-washing study received money from the 2009 economic stimulus law. The washing portion of the study is set to end in 2011.

“NIH Announces the Availability of Recovery Act Funds for Competitive Revision Applications,” the grant abstract states. “We propose to evaluate the feasibility of a post-coital genital hygiene study among men unwilling to be circumcised in Orange Farm, South Africa.”

Because AIDS researchers have been unsuccessful in convincing most adult African men to undergo circumcision, the UCLA study proposes to determine whether researchers can develop an after-sex genitalia-washing regimen that they can then convince uncircumcised African men to follow…

[Return to headlines]

One Hundred Years Later

During the Depression of the thirties, one of the constant themes was how cheap manufactures from the Far East were destroying British and other European industries. Cheap Japanese and Chinese textiles were destroying Manchester and causing widespread unemployment. The same thing is happening today: Cheap Chinese products (“dumping”) are causing misery all over the world. Even Krugman, in his convoluted way, has recognized the situation and is taking — hold yourself — a position against free trade.

Last week Japan’s minister of finance declared that he and his colleagues wanted a discussion with China about the latter’s purchases of Japanese bonds, to “examine its intention” — diplomat-speak for “Stop it right now.” The news made me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration.

…China is deliberately keeping its currency artificially weak. The consequences of this policy are also stark and simple: in effect, China is taxing imports while subsidizing exports, feeding a huge trade surplus. … And in a depressed world economy, any country running an artificial trade surplus is depriving other nations of much-needed sales and jobs.


           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Amir Taheri: Islam Center’s Eerie Echo of Ancient Terror

Should there be a mosque near Ground Zero? In fact, what is pro posed is not a mosque — nor even an “Islamic cultural center.”

In Islam, every structure linked to the faith and its rituals has a precise function and character. A mosque is a one-story gallery built around an atrium with a mihrab (a niche pointing to Mecca) and one, or in the case of Shiites two, minarets.

Other Islamic structures, such as harams, zawiyyahs, husseinyiahs and takiyahs, also obey strict architectural rules. Yet the building used for spreading the faith is known as Dar al-Tabligh, or House of Proselytizing.

This 13-story multifunctional structure couldn’t be any of the above.

The groups fighting for the project know this; this is why they sometimes call it an Islamic cultural center. But there is no such thing as an Islamic culture.

Islam is a religion, not a culture. Each of the 57 Muslim-majority nations has its own distinct culture — and the Bengali culture has little in common with the Nigerian. Then, too, most of those countries have their own cultural offices in the US, especially in New York.

Islam is an ingredient in dozens of cultures, not a culture on its own.

In theory, at least, the culture of American Muslims should be American. Of course, this being America, each ethnic community has its distinct cultural memories — the Iranians in Los Angeles are different from the Arabs in Dearborn.

In fact, the proposed structure is known in Islamic history as a rabat — literally a connector. The first rabat appeared at the time of the Prophet.

The Prophet imposed his rule on parts of Arabia through a series of ghazvas, or razzias (the origin of the English word “raid”). The ghazva was designed to terrorize the infidels, convince them that their civilization was doomed and force them to submit to Islamic rule. Those who participated in the ghazva were known as the ghazis, or raiders.

After each ghazva, the Prophet ordered the creation of a rabat — or a point of contact at the heart of the infidel territory raided. The rabat consisted of an area for prayer, a section for the raiders to eat and rest and facilities to train and prepare for future razzias. Later Muslim rulers used the tactic of ghazva to conquer territory in the Persian and Byzantine empires. After each raid, they built a rabat to prepare for the next razzia.

It is no coincidence that Islamists routinely use the term ghazva to describe the 9/11 attacks against New York and Washington. The terrorists who carried out the attack are referred to as ghazis or shahids (martyrs).

Thus, building a rabat close to Ground Zero would be in accordance with a tradition started by the Prophet. To all those who believe and hope that the 9/11 ghazva would lead to the destruction of the American “Great Satan,” this would be of great symbolic value.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Charles Johnson of LGF Now Deleting Posts Which Evidence His Paranoid Islamophobic Bigotry

When Tim Blair used charles johnson’s site archives to demonstrate the erratic and capricious nature of charles’ precipitous u-turn from believing that Obama was a “seekrit muslem” and an anti-white racist, mobbed up with anti-semites and communist terrorists, to shrieking “racist!” at anyone who didn’t get on the Obama train when he did (unexpectedly and without explanation), Charles responded by mocking Blair as an ersatz “investigative reporter”.

[Charles’ response is here at the URL]

Despite the…smugness of this evasive and dishonest reply, it would appear that Charles is cognizant that his past ravings substantively undermine his standing in these matters, and so he has begun stuffing old posts of his down the memory hole.

And this practice also extends to editing paranoid and bigoted remarks from posts which are left standing…

[The poster has a humorous spoof of the moving Rathergate memo which led to LGF fame. Also see further scrubbings at his link]

[Return to headlines]

Coast to Coast, Conservatives Rally to Promote Their Cause

Originally billed as a chance to reflect on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a series of raucous tea party rallies around the country on Sunday ended up focusing almost entirely on an event still to come — the Nov. 2 election.

“We are your everyday, average, churchgoing families, we represent the majority of people in this nation, and we’re ready to take back our government,” said Pam Pinkston of Fair Oaks, Calif., one of about 4,000 people to attend Sacramento’s “United to the Finish” gathering.

Thousands of tea party activists also turned up at rallies in Washington, D.C., and St. Louis to spread their message of smaller government and focus their political movement on the pivotal congressional elections in November.

Several thousand people marched along Pennsylvania Avenue from the Washington Monument to the Capitol, many carrying signs reading “Congress You’re Fired” and “Let Failures Fail and “Impeach Obama.”

“It wouldn’t bother me to make a clean sweep,” said Michael Power of Decatur, Ala., endorsing term limits for members of Congress. “There are some good ones, but we can lose those.”

[Return to headlines]

Congress to be Told of 60-Billion US-Saudi Arms Deal

WASHINGTON (AFP) — In the largest US arms deal ever, the administration of US President Barack Obama is ready to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to 60 billion dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The newspaper said the administration was also in talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Conservatives Say They Will Hold the Next Republican Majority Accountable

If Republicans regain a majority in Congress, grassroots conservatives will not let them go astray again, said former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, a leading figure in the 1994 Republican takeover of the House.

“What we did in ‘94 was an inside job,” Armey told on Sunday at the 9/12 Taxpayers March on Washington. “That was done at the initiative of half-a-dozen legislative entrepreneurs, and it didn’t have staying power. It kind of fell apart after a few years.

“What this is, is a grassroots, ground-up, across-the-country movement basically saying to the Republicans: If you want the privilege of governing, you’re going to have to govern as sincere, serious, able adults, and we’re not going to go away. We’re going to be watching you after you take the majority.”…

[Return to headlines]

Health Care Law Could Mean End of Federalism if it is Upheld, Virginia AG Warns

The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act bars state residents from being forced to buy health insurance.

Federalism is on the line in Virginia’s lawsuit to invalidate the federal mandate to purchase health insurance, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli is one of several state attorneys-general who is suing the federal government to drop the mandate. Virginia’s lawsuit is somewhat different because the state legislature passed a bill, signed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, that said state residents cannot be required to buy health insurance.

On Aug. 2, a federal court ruled against the federal government’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, giving Virginia a green light to proceed with the case.

“If we lose — if they can just order you to do something and penalize you financially for not doing it, that is what we call a police power,” Cuccinelli told Sunday, shortly after speaking at the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington.


The Obama administration argues that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution gives the federal government the right to impose the individual mandate to purchase health insurance. Virginia argues that if someone isn’t buying insurance, then by definition, he or she is not participating in commerce and cannot be required to participate in commerce by law.

“That’s why it’s the end of federalism if we lose. That’s also why it’s so serious if we do lose it…”


The Virginia Health Care Freedom Act, which bars state residents from being forced to buy health insurance, passed by lopsided margins of 90-3 in the Virginia House of Delegates and by 25-15 in the Senate.

[Return to headlines]

Imagining Islam

Wishful thinking will not bring success or security.

If only the fantasy were true: If only there actually were a dominant, pro-American, echt moderate Islam, an ideology so dedicated to human rights, so sternly set against savagery, that acts of terrorism were, by definition, “un-Islamic activity.” Imagine an Islam that, far from a liability, proved an asset (indeed, an indispensable asset) in combating the threat against us. Imagine that we could accurately call the threat mere “extremism” — no “Islamic” (or even “Islamist”) modifier being necessary because the “extremists” truly were a tiny, aberrant band, fraudulently “hijacking” a great religion.

If the fantasy were true, who among us would not be proud to mark the annual observance of September 11 by breaking ground on a $100 million Islamic center cum mosque at the site of the most horrific attack in American history? In the nine years since the atrocities that claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pa., such an Islam — if it really existed — would have spearheaded the defeat of America’s enemies.

Such an Islam, over nine long years, would have risen up and made itself heard. It would have identified by name and condemned with moral outrage the imposters purporting to act in its name. It would have honored America’s sacrifice of blood and treasure in the liberation of oppressed Muslim peoples. It would have said “thank you” to our troops. It would have joined America, without ambiguity or hesitation, in crushing terror networks and dismantling the regimes that abet them. It would not have needed trillion-dollar American investments to forge democracies; it would naturally have adopted democracy on its own.

What excruciating truths have we yet failed to grasp on this ninth anniversary of 9/11? The first is that such an Islam does not exist. The second is that, despite this fact, American foreign and domestic policy continues to proceed as though it does exist — and as though it were the only real Islam. That is, nine years after Islamists made their commitment to our destruction as unmistakable as possible, nine years after the non-occurrence of all the wonderful things that would certainly have happened if the Islam of our dreams were the Islam of our reality, our national-security strategy is still steeped in fiction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Imam Says NYC Mosque Site is Not ‘Hallowed Ground’

AP — Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, executive director of the Cordoba Initiative, is greeted at the Council on Foreign …

NEW YORK — It may be two blocks from ground zero, but the site of a proposed mosque and Islamic center shouldn’t been seen as sacrosanct in a neighborhood that also harbors a strip club and a betting parlor, the cleric leading the effort said Monday.

Making an ardent case for the compatibility of Islam and American values, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf reiterated that he was searching for a solution to the furor the project has created. But he left unanswered exactly what he had in mind.

If anything, Rauf only deepened the questions around the project’s future, telling an audience at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank that he was “exploring all options” — but declining to specify them — and underscoring what he saw as the importance of a location that would draw attention to his message of promulgating moderate Islam. And while opponents of the project see it as insulting the memories of the thousands killed by Muslim extremists in the 2001 terrorist attacks, Rauf said he didn’t see it as sacred memorial space.

“It’s absolutely disingenuous, as many have said, that that block is hallowed ground,” Rauf said, noting the nearby exotic dance and betting businesses. “So let’s clarify that misperception.”

The proposed Islamic center has become a flashpoint for worldwide debate about Islam’s place in America nine years after the Sept. 11 attacks. Controversy has colored the fall campaign season and cast a a shadow on this past weekend’s commemoration of the attacks, with supporters and opponents of the mosque project both holding rallies nearby.

Rauf says a project meant to foster understanding has become unduly mired in conflict and what he describes as misconceptions of a fundamental clash between Islamic and American values. The Kuwait-born imam used his own life story as an example, saying that his own faith had been shaped by the sense of choosing one’s identity that American society provided, compared with the predominantly Muslim society from which he emigrated in 1965.

“I’m a devout Muslim … and I’m also a proud American citizen,” said Rauf, noting that he was naturalized in 1979 and has a niece serving in the U.S. Army. “I vote in elections. I pay taxes. I pledge allegiance to the flag. And I’m a Giants fan.”

He said Monday that the Islamic center’s organizers were surprised by the uproar and might not have pursued it had they known what was coming.

“The events of these past few weeks have really saddened me to my very core,” he said, lamenting that the project had been misunderstood, clouded by stereotypes, and “exploited” by some to push personal or political agendas.

But he declined to detail any strategy for quieting the clamor — or say whether that might include moving the project.

“We are exploring all options as we speak right now, and we are working through what will be a solution, God willing, that will resolve this crisis, defuse it and not create any unforeseen or untoward circumstances that we do not want to see happen,” Rauf said during a question-and-answer session following his speech. “Everything is on the table. … We really are focused on solving it, and solving it in the way that will create the best possible outcome for all.”

He suggested the locale’s high profile served an important purpose for the proposed $100 million Islamic center, which organizers describe as featuring prayer space, but also a swimming pool, culinary school, art studios and other features.

“We need to create a platform where the voice of moderate Muslims would be amplified,” Rauf said. “This is an opportunity that we must capitalize on so that those who teach moderation will have a mega-horn.”

But to at least some who listened to his talk Monday, that’s not what Rauf is doing.

Fouad Ajami, a Middle East studies professor at Johns Hopkins University, said Rauf’s appearance didn’t change his misgivings about the mosque project.

“I just think it’s provocative,” Ajami said. While organizers may have the right to build it, “the prudence of it, the wisdom of it” is the question, he said.

           — Hat tip: BG[Return to headlines]

Imam Rauf More Extreme Than Reverend Jones

Two fame seeking religious leaders faced off this week, Muslim Imam Rauf of sophisticated New York City and Christian reverent Terry Jones of “backwater” Gainsfield, Florida.

When it became clear that the action they were about to take is causing universal consternation and may lead to the loss of innocent (and not so innocent) lives, would-be book burner, Reverend Jones, stepped down while would-be Ground Zero mosque triumphalist, Imam Rauf, not only refuses to meet with the Reverend to prevent the burning of a book supposedly holy to him but resorts to threats against any pressure to move the mosque.

Thus, not withstanding the invectives flung at Reverend Jones, he proved to be more reasonable than the much cuddled Imam Rauf.

If you force me to take into account the sensibility of 71% of my New York neighbors and move the mosque, Rauf in effect said, the Muslim world would erupt in the manner it did in response to the Danish cartoons. When asked by Christiana Amanpour if that was a threat, he retorted, it was merely a prediction…

[Return to headlines]

Mosque Imam’s Associate Calls WTC Attacks an ‘Inside Job’

A founding member of an organization run by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the driving force behind the planned mosque near Ground Zero, claims that the 9/11 attacks were an “inside job” and that Muslims have been made scapegoats, The Post has learned.

Faiz Khan — who has preached at least twice at the former Burlington Coat Factory building, the site of the proposed mosque — was for years Rauf’s partner in the American Society for the Advancement of Muslims, which is dedicated to promoting a better understanding of Islam.

Khan also serves on the advisory board of Muslims for 9/11 Truth and is a founder of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth, known as MUJCA.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama: No Solar Panels on White House

A quest to get Barack Obama to shout his commitment to solar power from the roof tops — by re-installing vintage solar panels at the White House — ended in disappointment for environmental campaigners today.

Bill McKibben, the founder of, had led a group of environmental activists to Washington in a bio-diesel van hoping to persuade Obama to re-install a set of solar panels originally put up by Jimmy Carter.

The actual Carter-era solar panels — which weigh in at 55 kilograms and are nearly 2 metres long — are out-dated now. But campaigners had hoped that the White House would embrace at least the symbolism of going solar — much like Michelle Obama kicked off her healthy food movement by planting a vegetable garden…


A California company Sungevity had offered to equip the White House with the latest technology.

But the White House declined — twitchy perhaps about inviting any comparison to one-term Democratic president Carter in the run-up to the very difficult mid-term elections in November. The White House did send three staffers to meet the campaigners.


…the panels themselves did not even survive Ronald Reagan. The panels were removed in 1986 during roof repairs. They eventually ended up at Unity College in Maine where they were used to heat water in the student cafeteria until 2005 when they were retired.

The van carrying the solar panels is now parked a few blocks away from the White House and will be rolling again on 10th October as part of the 10:10:10 international day of action on climate change.

[Return to headlines]

Six Christians Rip Pages From Koran in White House Stunt

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A small group of conservative Christians tore some pages from a Koran in a protest outside the White House Saturday to denounce what they called the “charade of Islam” on the anniversary of 9/11.

“Part of why we’re doing that, please hear me: the charade that Islam is a peaceful religion must end,” said Randall Terry, a leading anti-abortion campaigner, and one of six people who took part in the protest.

Another activist, Andrew Beacham, read out a few Koran passages calling for hatred towards Christians and Jews, and then ripped those pages from an English paperback edition of the Islamic holy book.

He carefully put the torn pieces into a plastic bag, in order not to litter, and said: “The only reason I will not burn it at the White House is because to burn anything on the Capitol grounds is a felony.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Midterm Elections and the Communist Manifesto

…But compared to Obama’s presidential campaign in which a good portion of more than three-quarters of a billion dollars of donations is still unaccounted for but suspected of being illegal or even coming from jihad sources and other suspect foreign sources , according to Pamela Geller of; where voter fraud through ACORN reached unprecedented depths of corruption and indictment in 14 states, and where the media and the opposition party were mysteriously rendered mute, the “dirty tricks” of the past seem small potatoes by comparison.

While the media, the Congress, and even the courts have spent the past almost-two-years dancing around the word “socialist” to describe the hard-left economic, social and foreign policies enacted by the Obama regime, to me those policies have the distinctively noxious stench of Communism, the deadly political movement that has murdered and subjugated far more people throughout the world than all the wars since the beginning of time—a modest number is a hundred million!


  • Obama turning NASA into a group therapy forum for Muslims because as NASA administrator Charles Bolden said, Obama ordered him to pursue three new objectives, among them to “help Islamic nations ‘feel good’ about their scientific accomplishments.” Obama’s looming threat to grant amnesty to multimillions of illegal aliens.
  • Obama’s egregious filing of a report to the cesspool on New York’s First Avenue—to which he has a fanatical fealty—known as the United Nations, accusing Arizona of human rights violations!
  • Obama’s manic mad dash not only to shred the U.S. Constitution and subvert the rule of law, but to snuff the life out of American capitalism.

    Author and journalist, Alan Caruba, writes: “Between the time that George Washington took the first oath of office as president and when Barack Obama did—1789-2009, the United States had borrowed nine trillion dollars. Since Obama took office, it has borrowed or imposed nearly three trillion more debt. Tell me he is not deliberately seeking to bankrupt the nation.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S. Soldiers to be Subjected to ‘Mind Control’

Look what Pentagon is putting in heads of America’s warriors

The U.S. military long has been able to launch a missile, explode a bridge or fire a weapon with the push of a button. Under testing now is a system intended to control a soldier’s psychiatric status, make him alert, reduce his stress and intervene when he suffers pain, among other applications, with the press of a button.

The plan is being developed by an assistant professor at Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences, where William Tyler explains that available neurotechnology shows that “brain stimulation” is capable of treating neurological diseases and brain injuries as well as “serving platforms around which brain-computer interfaces can be built for various purposes.”


Using funding from a grant from the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, he said every aspect of “human sensation, perception, emotion, and behavior is regulated by brain activity. Thus, having the ability to stimulate brain function is a powerful technology.”

He said he worked to develop a technology that implements “transcranial pulsed ultrasound to remotely and directly stimulate brain circuits without requiring surgery.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

As European Nations Retrench, The EU Itself Seeks a Raise

Governments across Europe are raising taxes, firing workers, neglecting potholes, slashing teacher salaries and shutting down libraries to atone for years of overspending.

But the new age of austerity doesn’t seem to apply to one institution: the government of Europe itself.

Even as member states stir up anger at home by imposing painful cutbacks, the European Union is set to expand its programs and its payroll next year by billions of dollars.

Launching more satellites into space, building an experimental nuclear fusion reactor and creating a pan-European diplomatic corps are among the projects expected to swell the EU’s budget, which is funded by contributions from the 27 member nations.

Some of those members are crying foul, sparking tension in a union that can often seem anything but.

“We can’t ask our members of the public to pay more here in the U.K. and have to pay more in Europe as well,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters in London last month.

“It’s very important … to make sure that the European budget over time is reduced rather than increased,” Cameron added, as visiting Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen nodded in agreement at his side.

Their two nations are among a group of EU states trying to draw a line in the sand over spending here in Brussels, part of a larger battle over just how ambitious and centralized Europe ought to be.

At stake is a budget that this year amounted to nearly $160 billion, bigger than the entire economies of some small European countries but, defenders note, only slightly more than 1% of the EU economy as a whole.


Seven countries, including Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden and Austria, voted against even the 3% raise, contending that the budget shouldn’t grow at all. The European Parliament, which traditionally supports big increases, is expected to weigh in next month, setting the stage for negotiations that are supposed to end in an agreement in November but that some observers warn could drag on into next year.

The likely outcome is a compromise somewhere between 3% and 6%.

But the dissenting nations have a longer game in mind. Going on the offensive now fires a warning shot as the EU gets ready to discuss its long-term financial plan, which will set spending priorities until 2020.

“The idea … is to give a red flag to the commission and the Parliament that this is serious stuff,” said a diplomat from one of the seven countries, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity.

Francois Roux, the chief aide to Belgium’s state secretary for European affairs, dismissed the effort to rein in spending as “a Pavlovian reflex” by countries with narrow national interests and a “Euroskeptic” view.

“For national politicians, it’s very easy to use the EU as a scapegoat,” Roux said. “But the symbolism is worrying because some countries … have a problem realizing that without a serious budget, there will be no European policy.”

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

Berlusconi Jokes About Hitler at Youth Rally

Silvio Berlusconi urged to apologise after impromptu speech in which he also advises young Italians to marry into money


Appearing relaxed, if a little pale, before a crowd of cheering supporters yesterday, the frequently outspoken and gaffe-prone Italian prime minister promised to see out the end of his term, despite losing his guaranteed majority after a split with an ally, Gianfranco Fini.

Putting politics aside, he then launched into a series of anecdotes and apparent jokes that promptly drew accusations of anti-Semitism and even mental instability from opposition politicians.

The former cruise ship entertainer told a joke in which Adolf Hitler is begged by his supporters to return to power after they discover he is still alive. After resisting, Hitler says: “I’ll come back, but on one condition … next time I’m going to be evil.”

Fabio Evangelisti, a member of parliament for the opposition Italy of Values party, demanded Berlusconi apologise to Israel and the Italian Jewish community. The party’s leader, Antonio Di Pietro, said: “At this point the problem is not political or judicial, but psychiatric.”

Turning his attention to the economy, Berlusconi jokingly advised young Italians to marry into money, adding: “I have a daughter who is free to marry.”

Now separated from his wife following the scandal over his friendship with the teenage model Noemi Letizia, Berlusconi said he was also an eligible candidate for four reasons: “I am friendly, I have money, legend has it I know how to do ‘it’, and lastly because girls think: ‘He’s old and rich, he will die soon and I will inherit everything.’“…

[Return to headlines]

Brussels Has Broken Our Power to Rule

The EU has become a lumbering, unaccountable mess, says Christopher Booker.

The latest findings of Eurobarometer, the EU’s own polling organisation, show that less than half its citizens now believe it is a “good thing”. In many countries, its popularity is at record lows, and only 19 per cent see the EU as “democratic” (in Britain, Finland and Latvia this is as low as 10 per cent).

What makes this particularly ironic is that in 2001 the EU’s leaders issued their Laeken Declaration, admitting that the EU faced a crisis through its “democratic deficit”. Their remedy was the process designed to give Europe a “constitution”. After eight years of negotiation, obfuscation, lies and referendum-reverses, they got the constitution they wanted (although they had to disguise it as the Lisbon Treaty). The upshot of this tortuous attempt to “bring Europe closer to its peoples” is that those peoples see the EU as less democratic than ever.

Meanwhile, armed with its new powers, the inflated engine of our EU government rolls on, more power-crazed than ever. It is spending £800 million on setting up its new worldwide diplomatic service, with 100 of its officials earning more than our own shrunken and virtually irrelevant Foreign Secretary William Hague. Also now on the table are the EU’s options for imposing its own taxes, the front-runner being a tax on financial transactions to which Britain, as a world financial centre, would contribute 70 per cent, more than 300 billion euros a year. Britain and the City will also be hit hardest by the EU’s seizure of control over the regulation of financial services.

Our Chancellor, George Osborne, has just conceded the EU’s right to “supervise” the contents of national budgets, taking away much of a power Parliament has exercised for centuries. Britain also seems likely to lose what remains of the EU budget rebate won by Mrs Thatcher, putting up our yearly contributions to the EU by another £3 billion — even though, for every £1 we get back from Brussels for our farmers, we already hand over £2 to farmers in other countries.

Theresa May, our Home Secretary, weakly claims that she wants reform of the European Arrest Warrant, when half of all those affected by it are being extradited from Britain. The EU’s response, in effect, is that we agreed to this travesty of justice and we must learn to live with it.

But no current issue better illustrates the bizarre nature of the system to which we have surrendered the power to run our country than the chaos inflicted on our hospitals by the enforced application of the EU’s working time directive. Led by John Black, head of the Royal College of Surgeons, medical professionals protest that this is threatening many patients’ lives.

Even the European Commission freely admits, in a recent “communication” to the European Parliament and sundry others, that its rules are, in practice, highly “unsatisfactory” and in need of urgent reform. But it adds that attempts to amend the directives have been going on since 2004 and that any chance of getting the reforms needed will involve so many consultations and negotiations that little is likely to happen for years.

Of course, if we still had the power to run our own country, this crisis in the NHS and much else besides could be sorted out within months, But since our Government seems quite happy to continue handing over even more powers to this crazy system, there is nothing we can do about it — until eventually the whole lumbering, labyrinthine, unaccountable, undemocratic mess implodes under the weight of its own contradictions.

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

Diana West: Meanwhile, Back in Brussels …

As usual, the socialist mayor of Brussels, Freddy Thielemans, prohibited the anti-GZ mosque 9/11 demonstration by Vlaams Belang and Cities against Islamization. As usual, the mayor cited the threat of violence — not violence on Filip Dewinter’s part or that of any of his supporters, but violence that would or just might be the response of that which now controls political discourse in Brussels and much of the wider West — Islamic mob rule. Indeed, Thielemans wrote as much in a letter to Filip Dewinter, describing the impossibility of keeping “the predictable violent outburst under control.” (Thielemans’ letter — a dhimmi capitulation to a specifically Islamic blackmail through the flaccidly totalitarian powers of his office — is also translated at GoV.) As usual, VB demonstrated anyway in a valiant showing of civilized opposition to this sanctioned assault on freedom of expression.

All in all, Dewinter’s is a vastly underappreciated, effort. I deeply appreciate it. Indeed, this website has long had its hat off to Dewinter’s steadfast and courageous life’s work to stem the Islamization of the Western world, which manifests itself in, among other things, the erosion of freedom of speech.

In years past, violence has marred VB 9/11 demos — not jihadist and illegal violence, but Socialist and official. Repeatedly, we have seen VB-led memorials on 9/11 met by the force of the Belgian state, sometimes with crushing savagery. Seeing is believing, so here is a picture of Filip Dewinter on 9/11/07:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

English Defence League Members Attend New York Mosque Protest

Members of the far-right English Defence League protested in New York this weekend against plans for an Islamic cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero.

The group’s leader, who goes by the pseudonym Tommy Robinson, and at least seven other EDL supporters flew to the US to oppose the plans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Robinson was refused entry at JFK airport, taken into custody and flown straight back to the UK, according to a report published on the anti-Islam Gates of Vienna website sourced to EDL activists travelling with him.

The rest of the delegation joined far-right leaders including Geert Wilders, the Dutch leader of the Freedom party, at the demonstration in lower Manhattan.

The contingent was pictured holding banners incorporating St George’s cross, Israel’s flag and the US stars and stripes, as well as the slogans “No Mosque at Ground Zero”, “The more Islam, the less freedom”, “No Sharia”, and “No Surrender”. They wore EDL T-shirts sporting the group’s crusader shield logo.

Over the past 18 months in town centres across England the group has protested against the spread of Islamic institutions and in support of the armed forces. EDL demonstrators have been heard chanting racist slogans and have clashed with anti-fascist activists, and marches have been banned for fear of violence.

The decision to send protesters to America reflects the organisation’s self-proclaimed “new phase of international outreach and networking”, which began in April when supporters attended a Berlin demonstration in support of Wilders. The Dutchman said yesterday that New Yorkers must defend themselves against “the powers of darkness, the forces of hatred”.

In June, the EDL sent delegates to speak at a “counter jihad” conference organised by the International Civil Liberties Alliance in Zurich, where they gave a presentation entitled The Anatomy of an EDL Demo.


The EDL is planning to join a far-right demonstration in Amsterdam on 30 October under the banner of the European Freedom Initiative. Organisations from Austria, Germany, Italy and France are also due to attend.

[Return to headlines]

EU Commission ‘Interfered’ In Run-Up to Lisbon Vote

New data allegedly shows how the European commission “interfered” in the run-up to last year’s Irish referendum on the Lisbon treaty.

The data was collated by Open Europe, a UK-based think-tank, which campaigns for radical reform of the EU.

It says the statistics reveal how the executive “sought to sell the Lisbon treaty, especially to Irish journalists” via a series of meetings, seminars and other events.

Stephen Booth, a researcher with Open Europe, said, “There was clearly a concerted effort to reach all Irish media before the referendum, which makes a mockery of the commission’s claim that it would not interfere in what was a national referendum.”

A commission spokesman said they did not wish to comment.

However, the claims were rubbished by UK Liberal Democrat MEP Andrew Duff who said, “This is absolute nonsense. In fact, I think the commission could have been more forceful than it was in endorsing the treaty in the run up to the referendum in Ireland.

“The commission subsidises travel to journalists all the time and for a variety of things but it does so irrespective of whether they are for or against the EU. It is exactly what governments do in member states.”

Like the proposed European constitution before it, the treaty was described as an attempt to streamline EU institutions to make the enlarged EU function better.

But its opponents see it as part of a federalist agenda that threatens national sovereignty.

The planned constitution was thrown out by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

The Lisbon Treaty which succeeded it was rejected by Irish voters in June 2008 but got overwhelming support in a second referendum in the Irish Republic on 2 October 2009.

The build-up to the second referendum was marked by a particularly heated debate in Ireland with the likes of Irish businessman Declan Ganley campaigning furiously against the treaty.

Pat Cox, a former president of the European parliament, was in the vanguard of those backing the controversial treaty.

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

Europe to Cut Power of Vacuum Cleaners to Save Energy

The cleanliness of Britain’s homes is being threatened by European bureaucrats who want to reduce the power of vacuum cleaners in a bid to cut energy use.

First it was traditional light bulbs, and then it was plasma televisions. Now European bureaucrats are targeting the nation’s vacuum cleaners as part of plans to cut energy use in the home.

Officials at the European Commission are proposing to restrict the power of domestic vacuum cleaners in a move which experts fear could reduce their effectiveness in sucking up dust and dirt.

Manufacturers say it could also reduce cleaners’ ability to remove fine particles from the air they pump back into the atmosphere, potentially leading to nasty side-effects for allergy and asthma sufferers.

The EU experts propose restricting the power of vacuum cleaners to levels last seen in the 1960s.

Britain’s current best selling upright bagged vacuum cleaner, the Hoover Pure Power, has a power rating of 2.1 kilowatts (kW) — about the same as a typical kettle. A rival, the Vax Power 2 Pet has a power input of 2.2kW.

The EC, however, wants power inputs to be cut by the year 2014 to 500 Watts (0.5kW) for upright cleaners and 750 Watts for canister cleaners and upright cleaners with integral hose and tools. The cuts, it claims, would help save enough electricity to power 2.3 million homes.

Alex Martin, technical director at the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances, said manufacturers were concerned about the move.

“If you are affecting the amount of energy you have flowing through a product then of course it is a concern about how that will impact on cleaning performance,” he said..

“Filtration efficiency is something else that is being looked at. If you lower the amount of energy in a product then there are numerous other criteria that need to be considered such as to how able a product is able to filter dust.”

Giles Chichester MEP, Conservative energy spokesman at the European Parliament, said: “Banning powerful cleaners in households could have a severe impact on allergy and asthma sufferers.

“This is another example of how EU legislation has good intentions but sometimes there are detrimental side-effects.

“I hope that both the EU and the UK government can find a way around this so that we improve energy efficiency without forcing people back to their broomsticks.”

An EU report drawn up by a panel of experts, which has now been sent for consultation with member states and vacuum cleaner manufacturers, states: “Vacuum cleaner input power ratings have increased markedly since the 1960s.

“However, the energy efficiency of vacuum cleaners has dropped over the years, in other words, more power does not necessarily equate to better cleaning.”

The European Commission’s proposed regulations, which must be approved by member states, calls for new technology to be developed to help increase the appliance’s efficiency.

In one example it suggests that manufacturers could develop new types of nozzles that vibrate or brush the surface being cleaned to help remove dust, but it also warns that this could damage valuable or delicate carpets.

The report comes just a year since the Commission began rolling out a ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs which was aimed at forcing consumers to switch to energy efficient bulbs.

The move provoked a backlash from consumers who said the newer energy efficient bulbs produced less light and were more expensive than their traditional counterparts.

The European Commission has also introduced strict energy efficiency targets for other household appliances including fridges, freezers, televisions and computers, which are expected to cut electricity use across the EU by 12.5 per cent by 2020..

Dyson, which makes some of the most energy efficient vacuum cleaners available for the domestic market, produces appliances with an average energy input of around 1.2kW but it has just produced a 650 Watt DC24 Dyson Ball.

The company’s founder James Dyson gave the European Commission’s proposals a cautious welcome but added that developing new technology required to improve efficiency can take years.

He said: “Bigger motors don’t equal better performance. In fact they symbolize outmoded ineffective design.

“Breakthrough technology takes time to develop. Our engineers have spent a decade developing highly efficient digital motors.”

Marlene Holzner, energy spokesman for the EC, said: “Technology is a rapidly developing and we have seen in other areas that it is capable of reducing energy while keeping all the functions and performance the same, if not improving them.”

Paul Pearce, technical director of the national carpet cleaning association, said: “The performance of a vacuum cleaner has more to do with airflow than with the power rating, so it should be possible to reduce the power without affecting the cleaning performance.”

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Football: Berlusconi Blames ‘Leftist’ Refs for Milan Loss

Milan, 13 Sept. (AKI) — AC Milan owner and Italian conservative prime minister Silvio Berlusconi blamed “leftist” officials for his team’s 2-0 loss on Saturday to Cesena.

“Yesterday it went badly. It’s something that happens in football even if I think the referee denied Milan three goals. I would say that Milan very often runs into leftist referees,” the billionaire prime minister said on Sunday.

It is not rare for Berlusconi to accuse critics of engaging in leftist conspiracies against him. His wrath is most often aimed at prosecutors.

In his debut with Milan Ibrahimovic missed a penalty kick with four minutes left to play at Stadio Manuzzi in Cesena.

The Swedish striker striker is on loan from Barcelona in a deal slated to become permanent next summer.

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

German Speakers Marginalised in New EU Diplomatic Corps

A conservative German politician is reportedly fuming that the European Union’s new diplomatic corps apparently sees little use for the language of Goethe and Schiller, preferring instead English and French skills.

Daily Die Welt reported Monday that deputy parliamentary leader of Chancellor Merkel’s conservatives, Johannes Singhammer, was demanding more officials in the EU’s new foreign service, the European External Action Service, speak German.

“I expect that the promise of the Foreign Office, that German is an important prerequisite for the new European foreign service, becomes reality,” he told the paper.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle reportedly admitted to Singhammer in writing in June that German skills, unlike English and French, were not a major factor in picking out EU diplomats. But he also said Berlin had pushed officials in Brussels to give the mother tongue of nearly a fifth of all EU citizens more importance at the EEAS.

“Following my intervention, the EU Vice-President and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, has given her assurance that German will play a key role,” wrote Westerwelle.

But then in August, the Foreign Ministry informed Singhammer that German speakers would not be given any preference in the new diplomatic corps. The MP is now demanding Berlin use the fact that Germany pays the lion’s share of the EEAS budget in order to “anchor” German in the EU foreign service.

The EEAS was created following the Lisbon Treaty of December 2009 and is currently recruiting 8,000 staff to help deal with EU foreign affairs. In the past, British citizen Ashton herself has been criticised for her poor foreign language skills.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Doubts Emerge Within SPD as Decision on Sarrazin Expulsion Looms

Doubts are reportedly growing among Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) about whether to expel outgoing Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin from the party following his incendiary comments about race and immigration.

“Expulsion proceedings are unfortunately exactly what this shameless self-marketer wants,” European Union parliamentarian Martin Schulz told daily Bild on Monday. “We need to address the topics brought up by Sarrazin and not as much with the person.”

The SPD leadership is soon expected to decide its course of action regarding the expulsion proceedings, which have focussed on the fact that Sarrazin based his criticism of Muslim integration into German society on genetic factors.

Sarrazin’s remarks, which have coincided with the launch of his book Deutschland schafft sich ab — Wie wir unser Land aufs Spiel setzen, or “Abolishing Germany — How we’re putting our country at jeopardy,” include claims hat Muslims don’t want to integrate and are making the country “dumber.” Other controversial statements include that ethnic groups are distinguished by particular genes — for example that “all Jews share a certain gene.”

Sarrazin agreed last week to step down from his central bank board post following public outrage at his statements, but he has refused to give up his SPD membership.

SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel has signalled that Sarrazin’s xenophobic views are not a welcome addition to the group’s dialogue, but other leading members are piling on pressure to keep him on board, lest the party risk sending the wrong message.

Former federal finance minister and SPD member Peer Steinbrück, and former SPD parliamentary group leader Peter Struck have spoken out against shutting Sarrazin out of the party.

In an interview with news magazine Der Spiegel, Steinbrück stated clearly, “I would keep him,” explaining that getting rid of his uncomfortable presence would not solve problems of integration.

Struck, on the other hand, pointed to the fact that while Sarrazin’s comments may be offensive, they are his “personal opinion.”

“And that’s where one should have let it be,” he told radio broadcaster Deutschlandfunk.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Absentee Employees Pocket Council Attendance Fees and Salaries

Palermo spends three million euros a year, one third on payments to employers

Would you hire someone you know is going to be absent 26 days a month? Some employers would, at least in Palermo. Provided, that is, the lucky candidate is a municipal councillor. In that case, the municipality will be paying for the absences, in addition to council attendance fees, of course. Outgoings for all this come to an eye-watering total of three million euros a year. It’s an enormous amount, to which must be added the equally crazy two and a half million-euro payments for ward councillors, wards that employ 750 people and cost the heavily indebted municipality almost 20 million euros every year. To put this in perspective, that’s six times what was distributed through the eight-per-thousand tax levy to the voluntary associations that plug the holes in Italy’s welfare state.

The story was carried by the Giornale di Sicilia newspaper. In his very detailed investigation, Giancarlo Macaluso makes it crystal-clear that all the breast-beating, good intentions and solemn promises about cutting the cost of politics were just so much hot air. Blah blah blah. Particularly in certain parts of southern Italy, like Palermo. The Sicilian capital has a strong pro-Berlusconi majority but Silvio Berlusconi’s pledge to govern “with the good sense of a good father” is ignored every day, as the prime minister himself knows since he is forced to cover the huge deficits in the balance sheets of Palermo’s municipally-owned enterprises. For example, AMIA, the enterprise in charge of the city’s disastrous waste disposal set-up, was rescued last year by a windfall of 80 million euros in the “thousand extension” decree. But let’s start from the beginning, with the municipal councillors’ attendance fees.

Every councillor collects €156 before tax per session for a maximum of 21 sessions a month, which makes €3,276. Theoretically, I hear you say. They can’t possibly be meeting almost every working day! Oh yes they can, what with council sessions, committee meetings and official visits. Yet paradoxically, Macaluso points out, “the problem is not so much the cost as the very low productivity of a council chamber that has been paralysed for months”. The total attendance fees paid out over the year, according to the latest accounts, is €2,024,000.

Shall we make some comparisons?. In Turin, which is much larger than Palermo, the attendance fee, with a maximum of 19 sessions, is only €120. At Padua, it plummets to €45.90, less than a third of Palermo, and the number of sessions in the whole of 2009 was 24 for a total cost of €72,383, including committees. Just one twenty-eighth of the cost in Palermo. But Palermo is bigger, you might object. OK, let’s work out the cost per resident. Councillors’ attendance fees cost Paduans 34 eurocents while Palermitans shelled out more than three euros each. Nine times more, and that’s without counting the exorbitant expenses.

The rules lay down that Palazzo delle Aquile has to pay companies not just salaries but also insurance contributions for the absences of employees (who receive both emoluments) on municipal business. This adds up to serious money. Macaluso explains that on average, each councillor “has leave of absence for committee meetings, trips, council sessions and other official business” on “26 days every month. Almost the whole of the year”.

As we said, if you asked any business to hire staff in the knowledge they were going to be absent on 26 days every month, the answer would be: “You must think I’m daft”. Well, there are a lot of daft people in Palermo who appear to have hired workers belonging to parties across the political spectrum, after their election to Palazzo delle Aquile. Here are a few examples. Ninni Terminelli “has been employed on an open-ended contract at ASEM since 1 June 2009” as a ‘project implementation officer’. For his first six months of (non) employment, the municipality paid the company €18,322.13, a monthly average of €2,600”. Ivan Trapani, an office worker with FENAPI (National Federation of Independent Small Businesspeople) “in 2009 cost the municipality €1,522 a month”. Vincenzo Tanania, hired as a “full-time executive” by the Kappaelle Comunicazioni & Eventi limited liability co-operative in March 2010, cost “€4,832 in the first month, €4.058 in May and €5,314 in June”. Stefania Munafò, an office worker at COSEV A RL, cost an average of €2,054 a month…

Gianantonio Stella

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Chinese Youth Attacks Bangladeshi With a Machete

Rome, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Italian police on Monday arrested a 19-year-old Chinese immigrant after he allegedly attacked a Bangladeshi immigrant with a machete on the outskirts of Rome. The Chinese suspect told police a Chinese compatriot paid him 1,000 euros to behead the Bangladeshi after the man had sacked him.

The Bangladeshi was admitted to Rome’s Sandro Pertini hospital with several machete gashes and is expected to be discharged in about 10 days.

Police arrested the Chinese immigrant less than a kilometre away from the scene of the attack in Rome’s rundown Tor Tre Teste suburb , still holding the bloody machete.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Adamant Government to Remain in Office

Rome, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Italy’s embattled prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, on Monday insisted his government will stay in office until the end of its term in 2013. His vow came as a new survey predicted less than 30 percent of the electorate would currently vote for his ruling People of Freedom (PdL) party, which has hit by corruption scandals and mired in political crisis since Berlusconi’s split last month with his rival, lower house of parliament speaker Gianfranco Fini.

“I rule out fresh elections. The situation is under control, we are calm and we have the necessary conditions in parliament to govern until the end of the legislature in 2013,” Berlusconi told his private Canale 5 TV channel’s ‘Mattino 5’ current affairs programme.

“I am sure Italians want the government to go forward and continue to carry out the reforms in our electoral programme, reforms which Italy needs,” conservative Berlusconi added.

But the newly published opinion poll carried out by Demos & Pi for Italy’s La Repubblica left-leaning newspaper showed the PdL would get just 29.8 percent of votes in a snap election — almost 8 percentage points less than the 27.4 percent it won in 2008.

The survey, conducted between 7 and 10 September is based on interviews with 1,176 adults and has a 2.9 percent point margin of error. Support for the PdL in a June poll was 33.2 percent.

The government’s key coalition partner, the anti-immigrant Northern League party would gain the support of 11 percent of voters if elections were held today — a significant gain from the 8.3 percent of votes it won in 2008.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi and other party politicians have been pushing for early elections, confident they will only increase their parliamentary seats.

Italy’s interior minister and Northern League member, Roberto Maroni, said on Sunday fresh elections needed to be held unless the government could win a confidence motion in the lower house of parliament with a majority (316) votes.

Since Fini, 33 PdL MPs and 10 PdL senators formed a breakaway group, Future and Freedom, the Berlusconi government no longer has a guaranteed parliamentary majority.

Berlusconi has tied his government’s future to a five-point programme of reforms due to be put to a confidence vote this month.

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

Left-Wing Terrorism Surges in Europe, As Governments Dismantle Social Safety Net


Spain, Greece and Italy reported a total of 40 attacks by left-wing and anarchist groups for 2009. This constitutes an increase of 43 % compared to 2008; the number of attacks more than doubled since 2007.

As in previous years, most attacks were carried out successfully and mainly targeted government and

business interests.The majority of these attacks were arsons, reported by Spain, and caused only property damage.

The percentage of IED attacks decreased from 43% in 2008 to 20% in 2009; the majority of these bombings occurred in Greece. In Greece, six left-wing terrorist organisations carried out a total of 15 attacks in 2009.

[Go to link for charts. Only ONE right wing attack in Europe]

[Return to headlines]

Now the French Want Britain to Share Nuclear Submarines

Britain and France may start sharing their nuclear submarines, it was announced today.

Despite firm denials that a ‘joint’ navy was a practical idea, the chairman of the National Assembly defence committee in Paris said there might be co-operation underwater.

The announcement follows news of the proposal on September 1 that Britain and France would share aircraft carriers as part of a huge cost cutting exercise by David Cameron.

Guy Teissier of the ruling UMP party told Le Figaro newspaper: ‘We can envisage co-operation between our nuclear submarines.’

Two submarines — HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant — collided deep beneath the Atlantic last February, causing up to £50 million of damage.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Left Leader Condemns Attack on Far-Right

Left Party leader Lars Ohly has condemned an attack on a local politician representing the far-right Sweden Democrats in Malmö on Friday, while the party on Monday suspended a rally in Gothenburg due to a counter-demonstration.

According to Malmö police two masked men forced their way into David von Arnold Antoni’s apartment in Malmö on Friday night.

“They cut a swastika in my forehead,” Antoni said according to the local Sydsvenskan daily.

Malmö police have confirmed only that the local Sweden Democrat politician was held down by one man while the other cut him.

“We have decided to put a lid on the investigation,” said Lars-Håkan Lindholm at Malmö police to news agency TT, confirming that the incident has been classified as aggravated assault, aggravated theft and illegal threats.

Sweden Democrat leader Jimmie Åkesson published an open letter on Monday, calling on national party leaders to condemn the attack and the Left Party’s Lars Ohly duly obliged on Monday afternoon.

“I can’t describe the repulsion I feel for this. I oppose the Sweden Democrats’ politics by all the democratic means I have at my disposal, but there is a clear line. Threats and violence must never occur and that is something that we in the Left Party are very clear on,” he said.

Elsewhere on Monday, the Sweden Democrats were obliged to postpone a rally on Kungsportsplatsen in Gothenburg when they were outnumbered by a crowd of counter-demonstrators.

While the stand-off between police and counter-demonstrators from the Gothenburg network against racism passed off peacefully, the Sweden Democrats were forced to acquiesce.

“We are doing this to show that there is resistance to their racism,” Stefan Berg of the Socialist Justice Party (Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna — RS), told local daily Göteborgs-Posten.

While there has been no analysis made of any incidents of harassment and violence during the 2010 election campaign, a study conducted after the EU parliamentary elections in 2009 showed that autonomous left groups such as the Anti-Fascist Action (AFA) or the Revolutionary Front stood behind the majority of any violence.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Party Leaders Vow Not to Work With Far-Right

Sweden’s two main prime minister candidates pledged not to work with the nationalist Sweden Democrats in a debate aired Sunday, a week before elections.

“We won’t touch them [the Sweden Democrats], even with tongs,” Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt vowed on behalf of his four-party centre-right coalition during a long and heated debate broadcast live on Swedish public television.

Mona Sahlin, who is vying for his job heading the so-called Red-Green opposition coalition made up of her Social Democrats, the Greens and the formerly communist Left Party, agreed.

“The Sweden Democrats…always make the immigrants the culprits, either for taking jobs or for not taking jobs. Such a party can only be met with a crystal clear message: that we will not touch them, not cooperate with them,” she said.

Their comments came as a Novus Opinion tally of five different polls published Sunday by Swedish public radio handed 4.6 percent of voter intentions to the far-right anti-immigrant party, which would be enough to secure them a place in parliament for the first time.

Observers have pointed out that if neither of the main political blocs, which have been neck-and-neck in polls for months, manage to secure more than 50 percent of the vote on September 19th, the Sweden Democrats could easily become the kingmaker in the parliament.

Reinfeldt’s Moderate Party and its coalition members, the Liberal, Centre and Christian Democrat parties, have in recent polls taken a lead and in Sunday’s tally, registered 50 percent of voter intention, compared to 43.6 percent for the centre-left opposition.

The prime minister has in recent weeks met criticism for saying he plans to hold on to his job if his coalition wins most votes, even if it means creating a minority government, with critics saying he then could be open to pressure from the far-right.

However, on Sunday, he stressed that if his bloc does not secure a majority, it will need to seek “a broader parliamentary solution,” most likely looking to the Green Party for support.

Meanwhile, Sahlin reiterated in Sunday’s debate that she would not create a minority government that could be open to influence by the Sweden Democrats, insisting, “Sweden needs a majority government.”

She has in recent weeks said she may try to woo over the Centre and Liberal parties if the opposition wins most votes, but not a clear majority, but both of those parties have said they would decline such an offer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Swedish Officers Fined for Flying Painted Penis

Two Swedish non-commissioned officers have been docked pay for painting a flying penis on a white flag adorning their boat during a naval exercise in the Stockholm archipelago.

The two men, sergeants in the Swedish armed forces, were leading the exercise which involved national service recruits. During the exercise the pair were clad in only blazers and underwear.

The sergeants have now been docked three days pay apiece for behaviour considered to be “unsafe, inappropriate and immature”, by the Armed Forces Disciplinary Board (Försvarsmaktens personalansvarsnämnd).

“Control of the detail of the conscripts reconnaissance reports can definitely be done in different, more appropriate, ways,” the board argued.

The board further argued that the sergeants’ skimpy attire of blazer and boxer shorts was to be considered a breach of security and found that they “had not adapted their clothing to existing water and temperature conditions”.

“With this in mind the board finds that (the officers) have rendered themselves guilty to misconduct that can not be considered minor,” the board wrote while ruling that the soldiers should be docked three days pay.

The sergeants have been given three weeks to appeal the ruling.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK/USA: The Galloway-Geller Nexus

by Gene [Zitver]

Writing at The Propagandist before the September 11 anniversary, Ben Cohen drew a connection between two people who, on the surface, couldn’t appear more different:

[W]here [Pamela] Geller has “Islam” waging a war on “us,” [George] Galloway will flip it and roar that “we” are waging war on “Islam.” Some of his co-speakers at the 9/11 conference — like Cynthia McKinney and Wayne Madsen — will go one step further by claiming that the opening salvo in this war was actually an inside job, and that we should look to Mossad, rather than Al Qaeda, for answers.

Lost in all this is the salutary observation made by Jonathon Narvey in these pages yesterday that when western bombast touches off violence in the Islamic world, the majority of those left dead are more than likely to be Muslims. Lost, too, is the understanding that the potential clash of pathologies at Ground Zero could just as easily result in an embrace.

Take, for example, the record of both camps on the orgy of Serb nationalist violence in the Balkans during the 1990s. Geller has been outspoken in her defense of the late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, the architect of ethnic cleansing, and Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb war criminal who directed the rapes and massacres in Banja Luka, Srebrenica, Gorazde and other Bosnian towns and cities. For Galloway, speaking on his show on the Iranian Holocaust denial outfit Press TV, Milosevic, Karadzic and his old buddy Saddam Hussein were set up as war criminals in order to hide the real war criminals (no prizes for guessing whom he is referring to.)

It may be true that one is motivated by loathing of Muslims and the other by a loathing of the United States and all its works, but what should that tell us? For one thing… that the semblance of division elides an underlying unity. For another — and this is perhaps a tad more important — that the lesson of Bosnia and Kosovo is that the United States is not at war with Islam, and nor is Islam at war with the United States, except in the heads of these demagogic popinjays.

Still not persuaded? Then consider this. Back in July, the Taliban congratulated the Dutch government on the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan. That little triumph, as Terry Glavin argued in a piece on the left and Afghanistan, “was handed to them by the right-wing populist Geert Wilders.”

Indeed one of the lesser-reported facts about Wilders and his Dutch Freedom Party is that they were among those who successfully clamored for the Netherlands to withdraw from the NATO contingent in Afghanistan. Given their anti-Muslim bigotry, of course, this position made perfect sense. Why spend blood and treasure helping to protect Muslims from other Muslims when, in the end, they’re all just Muslims?


[JP note: Gene Zitver and the other dhimmi stooges at Harry’s Place do more to promote the supremacist aims of Islam than they would ever be able to comprehend. Dangerous idiots.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Elvis, Chatsworth, JFK and Me

If you give the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire a fiver, she’ll show you round her house, an old vicarage in Edensor, Derbyshire. It would be tempting to think that she pocketed the money, but it goes towards the church roof fund. The occasion is the annual village fete. ‘It’s true,’ she says mildly. ‘What people love is the shoe cupboards and the lavatories and all that. And sometimes they say, “You’re very brave to do this,” and I say, “You’re very brave to come,” because there’s always a queue. So funny.’

Debo, as everyone calls her, was 90 this year. Having greeted me in her pretty garden, shaking my hand and looking me directly in the eye, she leads me into the apple-green-walled and flagstone-floored hall — ‘Do put your bags down, no burglars here’ — and shows me into her sitting-room, which has an extraordinarily nice atmosphere, and we take to the floral sofa, where she positively lounges, looking at me brightly, waiting to be amused.

There have been countless books about the Mitfords, both biographical and autobiographical, and now her own memoirs, Wait for Me!, are about to be published. (She has written several books, mostly about Chatsworth, her former home.) Debo says she was motivated to write about her life because she had offers from other people to do it for her, and she didn’t really want them ‘to fiddle about with it’. She was appalled by some of the books about her sisters — in particular David Pryce-Jones’s book about Unity, and the books about Diana, who married the fascist Oswald Mosley. ‘They are so full of inaccuracies,’ she says. ‘No one ever really got my sister Diana, and she was such an incredible person. It was always a delight for me to see somebody who was prejudiced against her sitting by her on the sofa like you and I are now and… melting, absolutely melting.’

Debo became close to Diana, who was 10 years older, only later in her life, but now, she says, ‘hardly a day goes by when I don’t say to myself, “Oh I wish I could tell Diana that, she’d laugh so much.”‘ It wasn’t an easy book to write; it has taken her four years. Debo suffers from the eye condition macular degeneration and can’t read at all, but she can write; she says it’s because she knows the shape of the words. She does all of her writing in bed, early in the mornings (‘My sheets are covered in ink’) and then her assistant, Helen Marchant, reads it back to her. ‘And you feel guilty asking someone to read it back three or four times but that is what I had to do to try and get it right. Helen in her genius way can translate it into ordinary English, because I don’t know grammar and she knows grammar.’

The book is full of stirring anecdotes, such as when a wounded soldier repatriated from Italy during the war brought home a lemon. ‘Such a luxury had not been seen in the shops for a long time and it caused a minor sensation when he put it on the post office counter at Ashford-in-the-Water and charged tuppence a smell — proceeds to the Red Cross.’ Or the dinner at Calke Abbey, where lived the Harpur Crewes. ‘The dining-room table was set with candles — the only light in that high-ceilinged room, which I imagine had not been used for years. The first course was melon; it was followed by cold beef; then melon for pudding.’ Her host, Airmyne, whose best friend was a goose, then took her up to meet ‘Nanny’ who, they said, used to be the Kaiser’s nanny, a tiny, ancient creature who was fast asleep in bed. It was the strangest evening she had ever had. ‘The Harpur Crewe siblings,’ she writes, ‘were the only true eccentrics I have ever met.’

Can this be true, I ask her. I imagined her life must be full of eccentrics. ‘Well, if you don’t count all my sisters, but I never thought of them as eccentric. I suppose my father was a bit outlandish; he was the source of all jokes in our family.’ The Mitfords — there were six sisters and one brother — were a defining family of their time; Debo says now that they always thought they were ordinary, but their celebrity and influence has endured. Extreme behaviour seemed to run in the family. David Freeman-Mitford (Farve), later Lord Redesdale, married Sydney Bowles (Muv) in 1904.

Their eldest child, Nancy, wrote several historical biographies and eight novels, the most famous of which, The Pursuit of Love, was, in her own words, ‘an exact portrait of my family’. There was Pam, the least well-known sister, described by John Betjeman as ‘the most rural Mitford’. There was Tom, who used to pay his sisters a shilling an hour to argue with him and went on to become a barrister, but was killed in the war in 1945.

Diana married young, then left her husband for the British Union of Fascists leader Oswald Mosley, and was put in prison for three years for her beliefs; she was also one of the few people who knew both Churchill and Hitler. There was Unity, who moved to Germany in 1934 at the age of 19 and became devoted to Hitler, whom she got to know well; her dual loyalties to the Führer and her country caused her to attempt suicide by shooting herself in the head at the outbreak of war.

Jessica, known as Decca, became a communist and ran away at the age of 19 with Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill’s nephew, and then moved to America. After Romilly’s death she married again and wrote several books, including The American Way of Death, which changed the way people felt about the funeral business. And there was Debo, the youngest. ‘Everyone cried when you were born,’ Nancy, 16 years older, would enjoy reminding her (their mother had wanted another boy). Nancy went on to tease and torment her until it came close to bullying. ‘I should think the social services would be called in now,’ Debo says mildly. ‘But I adored her. I used to sit on her bed for hours being mentally tortured. I would be in tears succeeded by roars of laughter. She was so funny, you see, and people don’t seem to be quite so funny any more.’

In addition to looking hopefully at the clock every evening and saying, ‘As soon as you’ve gone to bed I shall do the joy dance,’ Nancy would chant, ‘Nobody will want to marry you, not only have you got a deformed thumb but there is the gland…’ Debo had a lump in her neck, she thinks, because she drank milk from a tubercular cow. ‘Nancy explained that it hubbled and bubbled when I was asleep,’ she writes in her book, ‘and that no man could stand it.’ ‘Oh, the gland, wasn’t it wonderful?’ Debo says, touching her neck. ‘It’s still there; I’m very fond of my gland.’ Nancy continued to tease Debo all her life, calling her ‘Nine’, which she claimed was her mental age, and addressing her envelopes to ‘Nine, Duchess of Devonshire…’ (It is true, Debo says, that she hated reading, but Diana has said of her that she was the reverse of the intellectual snob; she actually claimed not to have read books that she had read.)

Debo grew up mostly in Swinbrook House in Oxfordshire. ‘This was the calm background of a self-contained agricultural community,’ she writes, ‘regulated by the seasons, in an exceptionally beautiful part of England.’ The children all had pets — Decca had a sheep called Miranda, Unity a goat, rats and snakes, Debo had ponies, dogs, guinea pigs and hens. The younger girls had extraordinarily close relationships with each other, and their own private languages; all the sisters had a complicated variety of nicknames, and, later, political alliances and rivalries (except for Debo and Pamela, who remained apolitical).

The best and most revealing book about the Mitfords is Letters Between Six Sisters, 75 years of letters masterfully edited by Charlotte Mosley, Debo’s niece, published two years ago. They all had the Mitford voice — relentlessly upper-class 1930s, and their own particular imperative way of speaking: ‘do miss me’, ‘do say you’re thrilled’, ‘do be sorry’, ‘you must say it’s funny’. They toyed with words constantly, and invented nicknames that robbed people and things of their status — in Nancy’s hand Mein Kampf became Mein Comf and then Mein Uncomf; Sir Oswald Mosley was Cyril, Sir O, the Great Leader or simply Lead; Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was Cake; Nancy herself was known as French Lady Writer.

Did Debo have a favourite sister? Growing up, she says without hesitation, it was Decca. ‘She was absolutely my boon companion; I couldn’t imagine life without her and then suddenly she left, and it was never quite the same. Her husband, Esmond, just didn’t like our family; he only liked her, and he jolly well did like her, and I’m quite convinced it would have been the happiest marriage ever, but sadly his plane went down in the Atlantic when he was in the Royal Canadian Air Force.’

Decca’s running away was a dark time for Debo. ‘It was so frightening; we didn’t know if she was dead or alive. She was in such a state of euphoria herself that I don’t think she considered that we might all be very worried.’ As a teenager, Decca had always had a Running Away bank account and became increasingly dissatisfied with her life and enamoured of the idea of communism (she and Unity would partition the schoolroom at Swinbrook, scratching swastikas and hammers and sickles on the windows). When she met Esmond Romilly, who was her second cousin, she had already fallen in love with his reputation, and they made surreptitious plans to go to Spain where he would report on the war against Franco, Decca going along as his secretary.

Under the pretence of going to stay with friends, Decca went to France but they couldn’t get a visa for Spain, and for a while her family had no idea where she was or with whom. Nancy and her husband were sent to bring them back; they refused to come. By the time they returned to England, they were married, and in 1939 Decca moved to America with Romilly. She remained there after his death in 1941, marrying again, coming back only occasionally to England. But after 1937 Decca never saw her father again.

Farve, faithfully portrayed as Uncle Matthew in The Pursuit of Love, was prone to ‘roaring’ at everyone. On her birth certificate, according to Nancy, it gives her father’s occupation as ‘Honourable’. He enjoyed the occasional ‘child hunt’ where he would chase his two youngest daughters with bloodhounds, he was rude to all Nancy’s friends who came to stay (‘Don’t these people have homes to go to?’ he would shout to his wife across the dinner table), and a man he didn’t like was a ‘sewer’ or ‘a pointless piece of meat’. He had a horror of anything sticky, and Debo once asked him what his idea of hell was. ‘Honey on my bowler hat,’ he said. Irascible, unreformed and very dry, he made a great double act with Nancy.

Did he know he was funny? ‘Oh, yes,’ Debo says, ‘but people didn’t know how to take him because he was completely deadpan.’ The sisters loved him but they would gently tease him; they called him ‘The Old Subhuman’ or ‘The Poor Old Male’. Decca would shake his elbow while he was drinking his tea so he could practise for when he had palsy.

Their upbringing was an unusual one for the time. Their mother, Sydney, rejected all conventional forms of medicine, including vaccination, believing that ‘the good body’ would cure itself. They were on a strict diet — only wholegrain bread, nothing cloven-footed and no shellfish; only their father was allowed to eat sausages. When did Debo break those rules? ‘When I was 18 and free to do what I liked. Going to all the deb dances there were marvellous suppers laid out — things like lobster, which were absolutely banned at home.’

Her brother, Tom, went to Eton but the girls mostly didn’t go to school — their father believed that they would be made to play hockey and might develop thick calves. Sydney taught them until they were six; she then engaged governesses, which she paid for out of the profits she raised from selling eggs and honey. By the time the last two sisters were teenagers she had relented slightly; Unity went to two schools (and was expelled from both) and Debo went to one for a week (‘It smelt of lino and fish and girls’) where she was so unhappy that she fainted in geometry and was sent home.

Muv was a meticulous housekeeper who lived very frugally and recorded everything. After Debo became the Duchess of Devonshire in the 1950s and moved into Chatsworth, it became clear that she had inherited some of Sydney’s skills at household management. ‘I suppose I inherited from her some of those old-fashioned ways, which seemed to work. My mother’s account books are fascinating. She was very meticulous and wrote down every penny which she spent on household things, every penny. She loved figures and adding up.’ (Her children didn’t all inherit this ability: when Sydney once tested their housekeeping skills, giving them an imaginary sum of £500 a year and asking them to budget for heating, food and so on, Nancy wrote, ‘Flowers £499. Everything else £1.’)

Debo partly wrote this book, she insists, as a way of correcting what other people had written about her parents. ‘People who never knew them. I wanted to put it straight, and then of course it burgeoned into a much bigger thing.’ Her mother particularly has been portrayed over the years in books — some by her own daughters — as distant and vague, even callous if you believe Nancy. ‘People always thought my mother was miserable because of the things my sisters had done but she used to say, “I am perfectly satisfied with all my children,”‘ Debo says.

In fact she was an extraordinarily selfless woman; when Diana was interned in Holloway prison Sydney would visit her regularly; after a journey that took between four and six hours she would be obliged to wait for an hour in the prison and then was allowed only 15 minutes with her. Her frequent and loving letters to Decca always began ‘My darling little D’, even when she was so distraught about her and Esmond. When Unity was brought back from Germany with brain damage in January 1940, she was by then incontinent and needed a lot of supervision. ‘My mother washed her sheets every day,’ Debo says. ‘The little garden was completely taken over by the sheets drying.’

The bits about her parents in the book are some of the most moving. The family became riven by politics: at various times Nancy wouldn’t speak to Unity or Diana, Diana wouldn’t speak to anyone who criticised Sir O, and Decca and Diana didn’t speak or correspond for more than 35 years. Nancy betrayed Diana to the authorities (she effectively prolonged her time in prison by reporting that in her opinion Diana was a ‘ruthless and shrewd egotist, a devoted fascist and admirer of Hitler and sincerely desires the downfall of England and democracy in general’) — a fact that didn’t emerge until after Nancy’s death in 1973. (Debo describes this betrayal as ‘extraordinary’, and thinks that Nancy was probably jealous of Diana.)

And although neither parent was directly involved in politics (although Lord Redesdale did attend the House of Lords), it was in the end politics that drove them apart. ‘My mother thought there never should have been a war and that they should have talked to Hitler. She really thought it could have been avoided,’ Debo says. ‘My father took another view and wrote to the newspaper to say he was loyal to whatever the government was going to do, and that was enough to spark off rows, banging doors, all of that.’

By this time they were living in a small cottage near High Wycombe. Even though Debo was 19 and unofficially engaged to Andrew Cavendish, it affected her very much. ‘There really wasn’t room for two people with such diverse views so they quietly went their own ways, but they still wrote to each other.’ Farve, who was something of a shadow of his former self by then, moved to Redesdale Cottage in Northumberland with their former parlourmaid Margaret Wright. ‘She was a very boring woman, very ordinary,’ Debo says.

‘I think he had had enough of rough and tumble and wanted someone quiet that he needn’t bother to answer. But we never spoke about it. In those days you didn’t talk about why people did things.’

Unity seems more of an unknowable character. ‘It is difficult to explain why we all loved her so much,’ Debo says. ‘She was very difficult as a teenager, really sullen sometimes, and if something happened at the dining-room table which she didn’t like she would just very quietly slide underneath it and stay there until she thought the coast was clear.’

After she shot herself, in the English Garden in Munich, days after the outbreak of war, Unity was taken to hospital at Hitler’s expense, and then he arranged for her to be sent to Berne in Switzerland, from where Sydney and Debo collected her at Christmas 1939. ‘She was completely changed,’ Debo recalls in Mary Lovell’s 2001 book The Mitford Girls. ‘Her hair was short and all matted. Because of the wound I expect they couldn’t do much about washing and combing it; and her teeth were yellow, they had not been brushed since the shooting. She couldn’t bear for her head to be touched. She had an odd vacant expression… the most pathetic sight… but it wasn’t just her appearance; she was a completely changed person, like somebody who has had a stroke… her memory was very jagged. She recognised us, though.’

Unity never recovered enough to live an independent life. She died in 1948 after an infection of the wound in her head turned into meningitis. In August 1938 Debo met Andrew Cavendish in a restaurant off Curzon Street in London. ‘We met at a dinner party,’ he said in an interview, ‘… and if it wasn’t love at first sight it was certainly attraction at first sight.’ They were unofficially engaged for quite some time; in 1941 she wrote to Diana, in Holloway: ‘I expect we shall be terrificly (sic) poor but think how nice it will be to have as many dear dogs and things as one likes without anyone having to say they must get off the furniture. I do so wish you weren’t in prison, it will be vile not having you to go shopping with…’

They were married at the church of St Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, in April 1941. Andrew was serving with the Coldstream Guards, and Debo moved around with him and then to a cottage in her parents-in-law’s estate, Chatsworth. The war hit her hard; she lost her only brother, her four best friends, and in 1944 Andrew’s older brother Billy, Marquess of Hartington (who was married to Kick Kennedy, JFK’s sister), was killed and Andrew became the heir to the dukedom.

Andrew’s father, the 10th Duke, set up a trust, the Chatsworth Settlement — the law at the time stipulated that five years had to pass from the date of handing over the property for it to become free of death duties. But in 1950 he died of a heart attack, 14 weeks before the five years was up, and Andrew became the 11th Duke with an inheritance subject to death duties amounting to 80 per cent of the worth of his estate: £4.72 million, with interest to be paid at a rate of £1,000 per day.

Apart from Chatsworth, the estate comprised Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, Compton Place in Sussex, Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire — and their contents — and Lismore Castle in Ireland, which he already owned. The Duke decided to hand Hardwick Hall over to the Treasury (it is now with the National Trust), and to sell thousands of acres in Scotland and Derbyshire. He also sold books and many works of art to various national institutions, though nothing left the country. The final debt was cleared in 1974.

The Duke and Duchess moved into Chatsworth in 1959. Passing it, Debo had often said to Andrew, ‘Oh, look at that lovely house, I wonder who lives there.’ And he would say, ‘Oh, do shut up.’ They embarked on a huge programme of renovation and improvement, most of it orchestrated by Debo (the house had 175 rooms, 17 staircases and 3,426 feet of passage) — including the installation of 17 more bathrooms. (‘Who is my sister going to wash in all those bathrooms?’ Nancy asked.)

Chatsworth last year attracted more than 623,000 visitors; it is one of the most popular country houses in England. Debo has played a huge part in its administration and all its initiatives. The two achievements at Chatsworth of which she is most proud are the Farmyard, which she instigated in 1973, a very avant garde idea, now very fashionable — to show town children how the country worked and where their food came from. ‘The city children were amazed and so were their teachers because they were the first generation of teachers who hadn’t got relations in the country.’ And 1977 saw the establishment of the Farm Shop, also way ahead of its time. In 1991, for their golden wedding, the Duke and Duchess asked everyone in the county whose golden wedding anniversary fell the same year to a tea party — 3,700 people attended. This was a typical gesture; there is very much a feeling that they created a sort of magic kingdom during their reign at Chatsworth.

Andrew Cavendish used to wear a sweater bearing the words never marry a mitford. ‘I don’t think any of the brothers-in-law ever read a word that Nancy had written,’ Debo says, ‘certainly Andrew never did. He just wasn’t interested.’

But he was tolerant of her Mitford-ish eccentricities — up to a point. In June 2000 some American friends of hers came to stay, who visited every year. They included the art collector Jayne Wrightsman and the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta and his wife. Thinking they would be bored by a table centre of flowers, and because chickens are her passion, a Buff Cochin cock was washed and placed on some hay in a rectangular glass container. ‘A couple of hens of uncertain ancestry occupied another glass container,’ she writes, ‘and there had been a hatch of Welsummer and White Leghorn chicks that morning so I put them in little china baskets lined with hay to keep them warm… the chicks presumably thought it was all quite normal as they had only been alive for 12 hours.’

‘It was fantastic,’ recalls a guest who was there. ‘But it only just worked. It was almost too much for the Americans.’

The following year Debo topped it by putting half a dozen piglets, replete from their feed, in straw beds on the middle of the table. ‘But after the first course, my husband said, “That’s enough, take them away,” which was rather sad really.’

Debo has an extraordinarily youthful spirit, and she is, says an old friend, just as impressed by the local milkman as by JFK. This is borne out by the fact that at one point she had a tramp living in her barn for several years. She also got to know JFK quite well, and says he was one of the funniest people she ever met. ‘He was so quick, and he made such fun of other people, but in such a nice way that they didn’t mind.’ She met Kennedy at a ball in 1938, and later became close friends with him; he would often ring her at 3am to chat, and she and Andrew attended his presidential inauguration in 1961 and, in 1963, his funeral.

Deborah Devonshire is not a self-pitying kind of person but her life has not always been easy. She has three children — Emma was born in 1943, Peregrine in 1944 and Sophy in 1957 — but she also lost three babies shortly after birth. And in her middle years one gets the impression that life with Andrew was not always a bed of roses; he was an alcoholic. (There is a short and rather brusque chapter in Andrew’s own memoirs, Accidents of Fortune, entitled ‘Drink’.)

There was alcoholism in his family — Andrew’s uncle Charlie died of it at the age of 38 — and Debo says that drinking also contributed to his father’s death at 55. Andrew was an angry man and Debo describes one period of their life as ‘like walking on eggshells’, waiting for that anger to flare up when he was drunk. Advised by her family and Alcoholics Anonymous counsellors, she explained to his loyal employees that Andrew was suffering from an illness that was alcoholism, and asked for their support. He gave up drinking twice — once in the 1970s for two years, and again for a short time in the early 1980s. In 1983, after a particularly terrible weekend when ‘Andrew’s behaviour was out of control’, she left Chatsworth and went to stay with her son, agreeing to return only if he stopped drinking. He did, with the help of the drug Antabuse, and never drank again. He died in May 2004, aged 84.

Debo never stopped appreciating Chatsworth. ‘Waking the first morning in the bed I was to come home to for the next 46 years and one month was a joy and I never tired of the incomparable view west across the park,’ she writes. ‘In all those years I never took the place for granted, but marvelled at it and the fact that we were surrounded by beauty at every turn.’ She stayed on there for 18 months after Andrew’s death, and then decided it was time to go, handing it over to her son Peregrine, the 12th Duke, and his wife, Amanda. ‘I was 85, it was high time to go and high time for the others to come.’ She now has eight grandchildren (the model Stella Tennant is one of these) and 17 great-grandchildren, and they all adore her.

The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire has her own exhibition at Chatsworth, in celebration of her 90 years. There is a display cabinet with her diary open at the page where she writes about having tea with Hitler in 1937. There are paintings and photographs of her — by Cecil Beaton, Mario Testino and Bruce Weber — and some of her clothes on display, including a Philip Treacy hat, dresses by Dior and de la Renta, a bouclé skirt by Givenchy, and her trademark uniform in the 1980s and 90s, wool cardigans by the Natural Dye Company. There is her collection of insect and spider brooches, and also what can only be described as an Elvis shrine, including a piece of picket fence with a nail that may or may not have been knocked in by the man himself.

When the talk turns to Elvis, she brightens considerably. ‘Oh, don’t speak about Elvis,’ she says looking delighted. ‘Wasn’t he wonderful? I never became a fan until after he was dead, otherwise I would have been a stalker.’

She has been to Graceland three times, once in the company of her son and daughter-in-law (‘I don’t think they were terribly impressed’), who were in Memphis for an exhibition of works of art from Chatsworth, and once in the company of people from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. ‘By far the most amusing thing was seeing them peering at the records which line the walls. They got out their little jewellers’ glasses and they might as well have been examining a Vermeer.

‘Would you like a strong drink before you leave?’ she asks, gesturing at the drinks table, although it is about 11am. We go into her office where one wall is covered with birthday cards, many of them, I note, depicting Elvis. (Her birthday celebrations — dinner for 910 at Chatsworth, staff and family only — took place shortly after the ‘long service awards’: Alan Shimwell, who has worked for Chatsworth on the farm and in the garden (60 years), was given a carriage clock; Henry Coleman, Debo’s butler (47 years), got a postbox; Debo herself (55 years) was given a bracelet.

Most of her pictures have been removed for her exhibition, but Debo shows me a lovely little Lucian Freud picture of eggs in a basket. She sees him often. ‘Good old Lu. I take him eggs every time I go to London.’ What does she think of Woman in a White Shirt, his picture of her, painted when she was 34? When Andrew went to see the finished picture at Freud’s studio, there were two men there, one of whom, looking at the painting, asked him, ‘Who is this woman?’

‘My wife,’ Andrew replied. ‘Well, thank God it’s not mine,’ the man said.

Debo thinks that the older she gets, the more like the picture she becomes. ‘Lucian’s great and extraordinary talent when he was doing that style of painting is making a person aged 34 look like I do now, and I’m 90. You know, yellow skin, green moustache. So funny.’

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Found, The Gene That Causes Short-Sight: Now Experts Say Condition Could be Halted by Eye Drops

A gene that causes shortsightedness has been pinpointed by British scientists, paving the way for eye drops that could make glasses history.

Within just ten years, a drug that prevents short-sightedness or stops it in its tracks could be in widespread use.

Millions would be spared the inconvenience and expense of contact lenses, spectacles and laser surgery.

Given in childhood, the eye drops could also spare school pupils anxieties about having to wear glasses.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Junior Doctors and the Britons Dying Because We Won’t Stand Up to the EU

Those of us who are troubled by Britain’s loss of sovereignty to Brussels have always been aware that EU membership poses risks to our political health.

Even so, few could have foreseen that belonging to the European Union can literally kill you. Yet this now appears to be happening.

Cases have recently come to light of hospital patients dying needlessly because there was no junior doctor available to attend to them — principally as a result of EU-imposed rules.


The West Somerset coroner Michael Rose observed that these cases hoisted ‘clear warning signs’ over the disastrous impact of the European Working Time Directive on the running of hospitals.

This directive, implemented for all junior doctors a year ago, forbids them from working more than a 48-hour week — even though this has caused chaos in doctors’ rotas and cut short vital medical training.

The directive ostensibly aims to secure a better work/life balance for a range of employees. But its rigidity has all but wrecked basic standards of hospital medical care. In particular, it has stopped junior doctors from being routinely attached to a particular consultant or team. Instead, they go from one team to another, providing medical cover.

The result is that the all-important requirement of continuity of care has been destroyed, since these doctors are parachuted in to treat patients of whose histories they are ignorant. Patients’ needs now matter less than the doctors’ legal requirement to clock off.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Salman Rushdie Backs Ground Zero Mosque But Attacks Pastor Terry Jones for Threatened Koran-Burning

The controversial mosque set to be build near Ground Zero has received the backing of author Sir Salman Rushdie.

The acclaimed author who was made the subject of fatwa after publishing the book The Satanic Verses said the row was pointless — because the Twin Towers contained a mosque.

He told the New York Post: ‘It’s just a stupid argument. Of course they should be able to build a mosque there.’

Praising the U.S. First Amendment rights which guarantee freedom of religious belief, he also criticised Pastor Terry Jones for threatening to burn the Koran.

He said: ‘I’m not in favour of burning books.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Serb Shot After Albanians Provoke Clashes

Ethnic Serb Milos Radenkovic was shot in the arm during the clashes and he is in a stable condition after surgery. The other wounded ethnic Serbs have been sent home after medical intervention. One EU policeman and one ethnic Albanian were also wounded.

The clashes started when a group of armed ethnic Albanians crossed over the bridge so they can celebrate Serbia’s basketball loss in the ethnic Serb quarter of the city.

The group of Albanians reached a cafe where ethnic Serbs were watching the basketball game and the Albanian celebration of Serbia’s loss sparked a confrontation.

Ethnic Albanian separatist policeman spokesman, Besim Hoti, says ethnic Albanians and Serbs pelted each other with stones Saturday when “Albanians started celebrating Turkey’s victory.”

Shots were fired followed by sirens and several hundred ethnic Serbs came out on the streets.

An Associated Press reporter heard gunshots and said police used tear gas to disperse the crowds surging toward the bridge that halves the city into the majority ethnic Albanian and minority Serb part.

Hoti could not confirm the reports, but said European Union police and NATO peacekeepers were called in to secure the bridge.

EU has condemned the incident and plans to take unspecified “measures” in cooperation with the ethnic Albanian police so that these sort of incidents do not happen in the future.

EU says that they will not tolerate “unlawful conduct”.

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Al-Qaeda ‘Turncoat’ Freed From Jail

Algiers, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Algerian authorities have reportedly released from prison Al-Qaeda member Samir Saiaud, who is believed to have coordinated external relations for the terror network’s North African branch.

According to pan-Arab daily ‘al-Hayat’, authorities decided to free Saiaud over the weekend after he decided to respond to a recent appeal launched by the leader of the Algerian Islamist GIA terrorist group, Hasan Hattab, urging fighters to lay down their arms.

Saiaud’s release was timed to allow him to join his family for the Eid festivities to mark the end of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, sources said.

He was captured in 2007 during a clash between militants and Algerian security forces in Boumerdes, a stronghold of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.

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

Libya: Gadhafi: Islam Should Reign Over Europe

Hostility toward black immigrants soaring

Due to increased Islamic immigration and declining European birth rates, Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has declared Islam should “become the religion of all Europe,” Jerome Corsi’s Red Alert reports. “Tomorrow Europe might no longer be European, as there are millions who want to come in,” Gadhafi said at a recent meeting with Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi. “We don’t know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent, or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasion.” Gadhafi also added a racial analysis to his comments, saying, “Europe runs the risk of turning black from illegal immigration. It could turn into Africa.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Almost Half of Israeli Jews Secular

A survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics indicates that 42 per cent of adult Jews feel secular, but a strong underlying religiosity remains even if closely tied to the main festivities and special occasions. About 72 per cent say they were in a synagogue at least once in the past year. Compared to the past, 21 per cent feels more religious, 14 per cent feels less.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Secularists are the most consistent group in Israel even though they are not the majority. Nevertheless, the country’s religious character remains on a solid foundation. Such a profile comes from a recent survey by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.

The results indicate that 42 per cent of the Jewish population see themselves as secular, according to the study conducted among Jews 20 and over. Eight per cent of Israeli Jewish adults define themselves as ultra-Orthodox, 12 per cent as religious, 13 per cent as traditional-religious, and 25 per cent as traditional but “not very religious,”

Some 21 per cent are more religious than in the past against 14 per cent who are less religious. About 72 per cent said they had visited a synagogue over the previous year.

Among secular respondents, 24 per cent reported that they had attended synagogue on Rosh Hashanah (New Year), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) or both, 26 per cent said they fasted on Yom Kippur, 82 per cent regularly conduct a Seder at Passover and 17 per cent build a Sukkah (hut) to commemorate the wondering in the wilderness.

Some 67 per cent of secular respondents light candles at Hanukkah (Festival of Lights) and 29 per cent do the same at Shabbat (Saturday).

Among secular and traditional respondents, 52 per cent light Shabbat candles at home but only 11 per cent refrain from travelling by car on Shabbat.

The rate of kashrut observance in the two groups collectively is 48 per cent during Passover and 33 per cent during the year as a whole.

Among adult Israeli Jewish men, 23 per cent go to synagogue daily, and 25 per cent do so only on Shabbat and/or holidays, and 16 per cent on special occasions. Conversely, 24 per cent do not visit a synagogue at all.

Among women, 31 per cent go to synagogue on Shabbat and/or holidays, 18 per cent only on special occasions and 32 per cent not at all.

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

Audio: Terrorist Confronted on Deeds Worse Than Burning Qurans

Accused of using Bible as toilet paper, desecrating church at Jesus’ birthplace

The exiled leader of a Palestinian terror organization once accused of using the Bible as toilet paper was confronted on the air today about what he thought about Quran burning, the Ground Zero mosque and more.

Jihad Jaara was chief of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Bethlehem in 2002, when a band of deadly violent terrorists under his command fled from the Israeli army and took refuge in the Church of the Nativity. There, later published reports alleged, the gunmen desecrated the church, subjected civilian hostages to cruel treatment and tore pages from the Bible to use as toilet paper. After a 39-day siege of the church by Israeli forces, the standoff was ended with a deal that included banishing Jaara to Ireland.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Woman Facing Deportation is at Risk of Stoning, Says MP

An Iranian woman accused by the Tehran regime of circulating copies of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses is at risk of being stoned and flogged if her forced removal from the UK takes place as planned tomorrow, her MP has said.

Gerald Kaufman, Labour MP for Gorton, where a campaign to prevent the family’s removal is based, described as “intolerable” the decision to remove Farah Ghaemi, 45, her son Ahmed, 20 and her 10-year-old son known as Child M.

“This woman will undoubtedly be exposed to the possibility of being flogged, tortured, imprisoned or stoned,” he said. “This is an extremely cruel and dangerous regime. To send a family that includes a vulnerable woman to a place with Iran’s current and past record strikes me as intolerable.”

The planned removal comes as fears grow for the safety of dissident Iranian women after the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, who faces execution after being convicted of adultery. She has reportedly been sentenced to receive 99 lashes in prison for “spreading corruption and indecency” after a picture said to be of her without a veil — though in fact of another woman — appeared in the Times…

[Return to headlines]

Obama Urged to Confront Islamic States on Religious Freedom


…Out of almost 200 countries reviewed in the State Department’s annual report on religious freedom, Saudi Arabia is one of just two where basic religious freedom has been found not to exist. (The other is North Korea.) It is also believed to be the only country where formal churches are banned.

Until the wording was dropped in September 2007, Saudi Arabian Airlines on its Web site warned openly that among items prohibited for visitors were “Bibles, crucifixes, statues, carvings, items with religious symbols such as the Star of David, and others.”

Reports of customs officials confiscating and even shredding visitors’ Bibles have also circulated over the years. The State Department’s 2009 report on religious freedom said confiscations of religious material had decreased.

Muslims who do not conform to the ruling family’s strict Wahhabi interpretation of Sunni Islam also face discrimination.

Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are among Washington’s closest allies in the Islamic world — a massive U.S.-Saudi arms deal is in the works — and some campaigners think the current climate offers a significant opportunity for Obama to confront them.


“This is the best time to do it while the international community is focused on Islam,” said Ali Alyami, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia.

Asked how he thought such a challenge would be most effectively made to the Saudi government, Alyami said a private appeal would be “useless.” It would need to be public.

It also should not be made through the United Nations, where the assembly is dominated by “Muslim and non-Muslim dictators who harbor ills toward democratic values.”

Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, said Washington should publicly call on the Saudis to permit churches.

“Obama should also ask the Saudi monarchy to stop burning and destroying Bibles, a practice that still occurs at the hands of the Saudi government religious police,” he said.


Nazir Bhatti, president of the Pakistan Christian Council, said on Sunday that with Pakistan on the receiving end of billions of dollars in U.S. aid, it would only take an appeal from Obama for the government to repeal the blasphemy law the “next day.”

“It is unfortunate that U.S. administration is [promoting] freedom of Muslims in U.S.A. but is silent on religious freedom and constructions of churches in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Malaysia, and Pakistan where construction of new churches is impossible due to legal procedures,” he said.

Al-Ahmed of the Institute for Gulf Affairs said successive U.S. administrations had given tacit support to the Saudi government by not calling it out on religious oppression.

He said the situation in the region had worsened since Obama took office, attributing this to his “policy of abandoning the push for democracy and human rights in the Middle East.”

“In Saudi Arabia, dozens of Shia mosques are closed, something that never happened before, the local elections for powerless councils that started for the first time under [President] Bush were canceled.”

Deterioration was also seen in Bahrain, Egypt and Iran.

“These governments do not have to worry about an Obama reaction like they did Bush’s,” Al-Ahmed said. “Now, many of the same Middle East activists who criticized Bush over the Iraq invasion yearn for his time after they saw what Obama has done…”

[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arms Deal Advances

White House to Notify Congress Soon of $60 Billion Package, Largest Ever for U.S.

The Obama administration is set to notify Congress of plans to offer advanced aircraft to Saudi Arabia worth up to $60 billion, the largest U.S. arms deal ever, and is in talks with the kingdom about potential naval and missile-defense upgrades that could be worth tens of billions of dollars more.

The administration plans to tout the $60 billion package as a major job creator—supporting at least 75,000 jobs, according to company estimates—and sees the sale of advanced fighter jets and military helicopters to key Middle Eastern ally Riyadh as part of a broader policy aimed at shoring up Arab allies against Iran.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey Moves Closer to Europe After Yes Victory in Referendum

The result, more favourable than polls anticipated , shows the willingness of people to embark on a “normal” parliamentary democracy. Even some opposition supporters voted Yes. Erdogan, who sees a confirmation in the 2011elections, must now reveal his true intentions.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — With a result of 58% voting in favour of the Yes campaign, today Turkey is celebrating democracy, exactly 30 years after the military coup of 1980. A result that exceeded even the most optimistic forecasts by 5 percentage points, showing the will of the Turkish people to support the attempt by Erdogan to reform the Turkish Constitution created by the military coup of 1980.

Erdogan almost immediately after final count said that after Ramadan Turkey is celebrating democracy and this vote expresses the aspirations of the Turkish people and put an end to those who previously supported the policy of the military coup. A clear warning to the opposition parties of Kemalist inspiration, the CHP and MHP.

With a turnout equal to 77.75, in the Turkish media reflects the same desire. Turkish analysts see this result as a first confirmation of Erdogan also in view of elections scheduled for July 2011.

An initial analysis of voting shows that opposition voters also voted for the Yes, thus expressing the strong will that Turkey’s army and the judiciary, the bulwarks of Kemalism, must adapt to meet the rules of a European-style parliamentary democracy.

In the two major cities, Istanbul came out 55% in favour of Yes, while Izmir remained loyal to the Kemalist tradition of voting with 64% against the reforms. At Diyarbakir, the Kurdish city, 93% sided with the Yes showing a scattered Kurdish opposition.

Meanwhile in Brussels Stefan Fule in charge of EU enlargement has welcomed the outcome. Likewise, the U.S. president Barack Obama.

Now it’s time for Erdogan to reveal his true intentions.

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

Where’s the Outrage?

The double standards and diabolic doublespeak are surreal, unbelievable.

“Offended” (highly choreographed) Muslim mobs rioted after Muslim troublemakers slipped two offensive cartoons into the original, more benign Danish cartoon mix—but most of the Muslim world stands silently by as more radical elements in the faith engage in the gruesome honor murders of Muslim girls and women—by Muslims.

The Muslim world stands silently by as Christians living in the Middle East and south Asia are not allowed to build churches anywhere in the Muslim world. — In Saudi Arabia, Christians can only pray quietly, inside their own homes; even then, they remain at risk. And yet, when Terry Jones, the minister of a fifty family church in Florida, promises to burn a Koran—all hell breaks loose among the easily “offended.”

Muslims are “offended” when European government leaders propose to ban the burqa—to guarantee female citizens their universal human rights; but, many stand by silenty and fail to utter a peep when more radical Muslims throw acid on the faces of young Muslim girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan whose veils are not up to par…

[Return to headlines]


Russia Profile Experts Panel, September 10, 2010

Dr. Srdja Trifkovic:

Russia will never join NATO as a full member. Institutional integration is possible either if Russia ceases to exist as an autonomous actor capable of articulating its national interests, which mercifully will not happen (although the threat was real under former President Boris Yeltsin), or if NATO ceases to be an inherently anti-Russian institution, in which case it would lose its key underlying raison d’etre.

Russia should not sign any security treaty with NATO, because what is contained in the UN Charter and in Russia’s various bilateral treaties with the U.S. and other NATO members is sufficient. The treaty would be either superfluous, or frivolous, or most likely both. It would unnecessarily grant the alliance a lease of life by enabling NATO-for-ever enthusiasts to pretend that it is more than it is or should be.

No additional coordinating or steering committees, working groups, expanded missions, or joint projects are necessary or useful. If there is to be a “paradigm shift” in Russia’s relations with NATO, it should be initiated from Washington and Brussels, with the announcement that the membership for Ukraine and Georgia is permanently “ad acta.”

A necessary and successful alliance during the Cold War, NATO is obsolete and harmful today. It no longer provides collective security of limited geographic scope (Europe) against a potentially predatory power (the Soviet Union). It has morphed into a vehicle for the attainment of misguided American objectives on a global scale. Russia’s pandering would merely cement and perpetuate its new, U.S.-invented “mission” as a self-appointed promoter of democracy, protector of human rights, guardian against instability, etc. The result was Bill Clinton’s air war against the Serbs, which marked a decisive shift in NATO’s mutation into a supranational security force based on the doctrine of “humanitarian intervention.” The trusty keeper of the gate of 1949 had morphed into a roaming vigilante five decades later.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia has been trying to articulate its goals and define its policies in terms of “traditional” national interests. The old Soviet dual-track policy of having “normal” relations with America, on the one hand, while seeking to subvert it, on the other, gave way to naÐve attempts by Yeltsin and his Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev to forge a “partnership” with the United States…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

South Asia

India: Christian Church and School Set on Fire in Punjab Because of the ‘Burn-the-Qur’an’ Proposal

Protests against insulting the Qur’an continue in India. In predominantly Muslim areas, a mob burns a church and a school. At least 11 people, including demonstrators and a police agent, are killed. The authorities impose a curfew. Christians condemn the violence.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) — Muslim extremists set fire to a Church and to a Christian school in Punjab in reaction to the proposed Qur’an burning by Rev Terry Jones, a US clergyman, in order to commemorate 9/1, an action he later abandoned but still caused protests among Muslims and anti-Christian violence. In India, the latter have taken a distinctly political and separatist tone. The resulting incidents with police left 11 people dead.

The Christian Society Mission School was set on fire this morning in Tangmarg, near Gulmarg. Rumours had already spread that it might be targeted but the authorities ignored them. When fire fighters tried to the wood-made church, they were stopped by a mob. The entire building burnt to the ground but students were not hurt.

However, this was not the only act of violence. Demonstrators also stormed a government building and clashed with police. Seven people were killed, including a police officer. Four more people died in earlier protests.

“The [church] fire was fuelled by both rumours of an alleged burning of the Qur’an and the political situation” in the state, Mgr Peter Celestine, bishop of Jammu-Srinagar, told AsiaNews. “Witnesses said that hundreds of people were on streets yesterday night.” From there, they “barged into the school building and set it ablaze. Curfew has been imposed.”

Anti-government Islamic protests are commonplace in the state. At least 70 demonstrators have been killed by police in the past three months. The ‘Burn-the-Qur’an’ issue was just a pretext to vent anti-government feelings.

“The proposal to burn the Qur’an’, even though it was abandoned, created a very tense situation. Fear and anxiety are widespread. Christians constitute only 0.0014 per cent of the population. So far, we have had cordial relations with our Muslim brothers and the authorities, but this initiative is cause for concern,” the bishop said.

In Punjab last night, an angry crowd burnt a church and various cars parked in Loha Bazar in the city of Malerkotla, Sangrur District, a predominantly Muslim area, because of Rev Jones’ proposal. The authorities have imposed a curfew until 6 pm fearing more violence.

The Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC) condemned the church burning. For its president Sajan K. George, “World’s leaders and media” must “show the same kind of outspoken condemnation when radical actions, on an equal or larger scale [than the abandoned plan to burn the Qur’an], are committed against peace-loving Christians. We plead with the Federal Home minister of India and the [state and federal] governments to show their magnanimity” and condemn “the mindless violence against Christians in Punjab.”

“The GCIC feels bad about hearing that in Malerkotla the decade-old harmony was broken. I just wish this were an isolated case and the fire did not spread elsewhere,” George added.

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

Indonesia: Police Move to Arrest Church Leaders’ Attackers

Bekasi, 13 Sept. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Imam Sugiarto, the police chief in Bekasi, West Java, said on Monday he was optimistic the individuals who savagely attacked two local church leaders on Sunday would be arrested imminently.

“We have identified the suspects. Inshallah [God willing] we will capture them today,” Sugiarto said.

Police detectives from Bekasi and Jakarta were jointly investigating Sunday’s attack at a protestant church in Ciketing area in Bekasi. In the attack, local church leader ST Sihombing was stabbed in the stomach and local priest Luspida Simanjuntak was hit on the head with a wooden plank and beaten.

Sihombing is in a critical condition after the stabbing

Police initially questioned nine witnesses over the attack, who have since been released.

Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono immediately ordered a thorough investigation into the attacks and demanded the perpetrators be arrested.

The Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP) church, where the attack took place, had received a warning letter from the Bekasi Police urging congregation members not to attend a church services, the church’s lawyer said Sunday.

Saor Siagian, an attorney for the HKBP church, said the police had no right to tell people not to go to church and should have better protected the congregation.

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

Indonesia: Protestant Pastor Stabbed, Religious Freedom Attacked

A group of unknown assailants stabbed Rev Afian Sihombing. Currently, he is in hospital in critical conditions. Rev Luspida Simanjutak, head of a Protestant community in Pondonk Bekasi, was also injured. Activists and priests react to the incident saying such actions are an attack against pluralism, a pillar of Indonesian society.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — A group of eight unknown assailants stabbed Rev Afian Sihombing and sent him to hospital where he is in critical conditions with multiple knife wounds to the stomach. The Protestant clergyman heads a local Protestant community in East Pondonk Bekasi Regency. He was attacked along with Rev Luspida Simanjutak, head of the Huria Batak Kristen Protestan. She too was injured, to the face, the head and the back.

According to preliminary reports, the two religious were attacked because they had not given up on the idea of holding an open air Mass in Ciketing Asem, a small location in the regency, despite violent protests by some local Muslim fundamentalists.

Police have denied the allegations, saying that yesterday’s attack did not have any religious connotation.

Human rights activists and local priests disagree. According to Todung Mulya Lubis, a well-known human rights lawyer, “This is a clear act against the right to worship. It is a serious violation of the fundamental identity of Indonesia, which is to strongly respect pluralism.”

“The stabbing shows how Indonesians are starting to be less tolerant today, unlike the past,” said Fr Franz Magnis Suseno, a Jesuit priest. “I believe we should practice more tolerance rather than just discuss it.”

Human rights activist Rachland Nasidhik called on the government “to move against those who oppose religious freedom and other faiths. These hard-line groups are not only operating at the local level, but are starting to be influential at the national level, including inside the government where some ministers are pursuing policies that contradict the country’s spirit of pluralism. Religious freedom, which is one of Indonesia’s pillars, is under attack. Intolerance towards minorities is dangerously growing.”

Speaking to AsiaNews three weeks ago, Rev Simanjutak said she would continue her mission without fear despite growing threats against Christians. She insisted then that they had a right to worship in the open.

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

Pakistan: Italy to Press UN for Religious Minority Protection

Rome, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Italy will present a resolution to the United Nations that protects the rights of Pakistan’s religious minorities, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini said in Rome on Monday. He made the announcement following a meeting with Shahbaz Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister of minority rights, who is a Catholic.

“The subject of religious minorities is extremely important,” he said. “We can’t forget that in Pakistan over the last few months there have been murders of Christians that have shocked Europeans, including in Italians.”

Two people, including a policeman, were injured late Sunday during a bomb blast at a Christian church near Mardan in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkh, Dawn News reported.

Sectarian assaults have especially targeted Pakistan’s minority Shia Muslims. Earlier this month more than 70 people were killed during a suicide bombing in the western city of Quetta at a Shia rally.

Of the 95 percent of Pakistanis that are Muslim, 75 percent are Sunni and 20 percent Shia.

Frattini also said he will travel to the Pakistani capital of Islamabad next month to discuss millions of euros in aid Italy has pledged to give the south Asian country following deadly flooding.

Frattini on 9 Sept. announced that Italy will grant flood- devestated Pakistan 80 million euros in relief.

Of the aid, 20 million euros of funds will come in the form debt relief, 10 million euros as direct emergency relief and 50 million euros in credits.

Pakistan is struggling to juggle the need to manage emergency rescue efforts and fight a deadly Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency.

Around 1,800 people in Pakistan have died in recent flooding which has reportedly affected 21 million people.

The country’s government has been the target of criticism for alleged corruption that has hampered relief efforts.

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

Australia — Pacific

Australian Lawyer Fans the Flames by ‘Smoking’ The Koran and the Bible on Youtube

An Australian lawyer has inflamed the row over a U.S. pastor’s plan to burn the Koran by allegedly smoking holy books and posting the videos on YouTube.

Brisbane-based lawyer Alex Stewart, a self-professed atheist, is seen smoking what appear to be marijuana joints made up of pages from the Koran and the Bible.

A US pastor’s plan to burn the Koran caused outrage among Muslims around the world and led to deadly riots in Afghanistan before he backed down.

Atheist: Australian lawyer Alex Stewart, 29, from Brisbane has sparked outrage among religious groups

But the controversy has flared up again with Stewart, who works for the Queensland University of Technology, lighting up his religious ‘joints’ under the YouTube title: Bible or Koran — Which Burns Best?

He gave the Bible a seven out of 10 for its burning qualities, and said it was better than the Koran which left him feeling sick.

Stewart says burning religious books is no big deal and that people need to ‘get over it’.

But since his video attracted approbation from around the world, Stewart — who appeared in the video wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words ‘I’m an atheist, Thank God’ — has gone into hiding.

The president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Ikebal Patel, said: ‘I think it’s highly offensive that he has done this to two of the holiest books in the world.

‘It does not in any way add value to trying to promote world peace and the consideration of different views, especially when there are heightened tensions around the anniversary of September 11 and the Eid el Fitr (end of Ramadan) celebrations.’

Sheik Muhammad Wahid, president of the Islamic Association of Australia, said Mr Stewart’s motives were deeply hurtful to Muslims.

‘We condemn the video and our feelings have been hurt by this man’s actions,’ he said.

Concerned that there might be reprisals, Mr Wahid urged his ‘fellow Muslims’ to abide by the laws of Australia and not take any action which broke the law’.

He even suggested that Stewart might not have been ‘of sound mind at the time’. Stewart told Queensland’s Courier Mail newspaper before he fled from his Brisbane home that the video was a joke and he does not do drugs.

He inisisted that the green substance he showed in a plastic bag before rolling it up in the torn-out pages was actually grass clippings.

‘Basic freedoms — such as freedom of speech — should not be threatened simply because someone might be offended,’ he told the paper.

Australians writing to newspaper comment pages had mixed reactions, some regarding Mr Stewart’s actions as lighthearted, while others expressed concern that Western troops would be placed in added danger in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘I’m saddened by the fact that this stunt of Alex will cost us many more deaths…can we hold him responsible for killing our countrymen,’ asked one writer.

The video has been removed from YouTube.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Australia: Suspected Terrorists Go on Trial

Melbourne, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Five suspected Muslim extremists went on trial in Sydney, Australia on Monday for allegedly planning an attack on a military base in the city.

The suspects, all Australian citizens of Somali or Lebanese origins, had ties to Al-Qaeda-associated Somali Muslim insurgent group al-Shabab, according to the prosecutor, Australian daily the Herald Sun reported.

The men were named as Saney Aweys, Yacqub Khayre, Abdirahman Ahmed, WissamFattal, and Nayef El Sayed.

The suspects planned to shoot as many people as possible in the planned suicide raid on the army base in retaliation for Australia’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan, prosecutor Nick Robinson told the Victorian Supreme Court in Melbourne.

Robinson said the men took a number of steps in preparation for the attack, including sending one of their number to Somalia to obtain a fatwa or religious decree to allow the plan to go ahead.

The suspects have all pleaded not guilty to conspiring with each other and “persons unknown” between 1 February and 4 August last year to preparare for or plan a terrorist act or acts.

Robinson said the suspects sought a fatwa from a Somali sheik after failing to find any Muslim leader in Australia who would back their cause.

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

Australian Lawyer ‘Smokes’ Quran, Bible Pages

An Australian lawyer tore pages from the Quran and the Bible and smoked them on YouTube, days after a U.S. pastor’s threat to burn Islam’s holy book triggered deadly protests and global condemnation.

In a 12-minute clip entitled “Bible or Quran — which burns best?” Alex Stewart, who belongs to an atheist group, holds up the Christian and Muslim holy books before tearing out pages and smoking them.

At one point he lights what looks like a joint rolled from a page from the Bible, leans back after inhaling heavily and says “Holy.”

The video, which has been deleted, was posted on YouTube over the weekend, coinciding with the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and coming after American pastor Terry Jones threatened to torch 200 copies of the Quran.

Stewart’s employer, the Queensland University of Technology, said the research lawyer is on leave following a meeting on Monday.

“The university is obviously extremely, extremely unhappy and disappointed that this sort of incident should occur,” vice-chancellor Peter Coaldrake told reporters.

Stewart’s video, in which he describes the Bible and Quran as “just books”, is deeply hurtful to Muslims, said Sheikh Muhammed Wahid, president of the Islamic Association of Australia.

“There is no need for this kind of thing, just to create disunity and disharmony among people living in Australia,” Wahid told Australian news agency AAP.

Stewart, an assistant organizer with a group called Brisbane Atheists, refers to the proposed burnings of the Quran in the United States in his video.

Florida firebrand Jones cancelled the event — a protest against plans to build a mosque near New York’s Ground Zero site — but the furor led to two deaths in Afghan protests and strong worldwide condemnation.

“With respect to books like the Bible and the Quran, whatever, just get over it,” Stewart says in the video which has since been deleted from YouTube.

In comments to Brisbane’s Courier Mail, Stewart defended his right to freedom of speech.

“The video was a joke video, of course,” he told the paper, adding that he was smoking grass clippings rather than marijuana.

“People do this stuff all the time and if people get really upset about this then they’re taking it far too seriously.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Lady Snails Growing Penises on Their Heads

A shockingly high percentage of female sea snails off the coast of Perth, Australia, have been found with a troubling new feature — penises growing from their heads! Researchers say that at one point, 100 percent of the snail species Thais orbita were found with the male appendage, and that the anti-fouling chemical TBT was to blame. As if these thorny new adornments weren’t problem enough, it just might determine the fate of the species, and the ecosystem.

According to a report from The Australian, the marine snails are suffering from a disorder called ‘imposex’ and that it is being caused by a chemical used by boatmen until the early 1990s, called TBT. Because the agent remained in the sediment, snails continue to be profoundly affected, with all female snails growing penises from their heads as late as 2005.

It may sound a bit more unusual than it actually is however, since that is where male snails wear their most distinctive appendage naturally — but for a female snail, it´s quite troublesome…

[Return to headlines]


40 Million Americans Subsisting on Food Stamps

Congress Imports 180,000 Legal Immigrants Every 30 Days Without Pause: 1.5 Million Annually

A whopping 40 million Americans subsist on stamps, yet the U.S. Congress imports 180,000 legal immigrants every 30 days to add to the number of people dependent on the Federal Government, i.e., your tax dollars. At the same time, those 180,000 immigrants need jobs, homes, medical care, education, food, and assistance.

But, today, 15 million Americans cannot secure a job. At the same time, somewhere between eight to 10 million illegal alien migrants hold down full time jobs. And, according to NBC’s Katie Couric, 13.4 million American children live below the poverty level.

Does anyone see a disconnect here? Does anyone see a complete abrogation of responsibility at the highest levels of government in our country?

Charles Abbot, journalist for Reuters said, “Food stamps are the primary federal anti-hunger program, helping poor people buy food. Enrollment is highest during times of economic distress. The jobless rate is 9.9 percent.”

Why do we suffer 40 million poor people? Look to Congress: insourcing, offshoring and outsourcing of jobs to China, India, Bangladesh and a dozen other third world countries sucked jobs out of America—from car manufacturing, textiles, steel, construction materials, tools and a dozen other goods. At present, America suffers a $700 billion annual trade deficit. Congress makes no changes to halt that situation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

At Border, Corruption of U.S. Officials Leaves an Open Door for Drug Cartel

EL PASO — She lived a double life. At the border crossing, she was Agent Garnica, a veteran law enforcement officer. In the shadows, she was “La Estrella,” the star, a brassy looker who helped drug cartels make a mockery of the U.S. border.


Cartels based in Mexico, where there is a long history of corruption, increasingly rely on well-placed operatives such as Garnica to reach their huge customer base in the United States. It is an argument often made by Mexican officials — that all the attention paid to corruption in their country has obscured a similar, growing problem on the U.S. side of the border.

The cartels have grown so sophisticated, law enforcement officials say, that they are employing Cold War-era spy tactics to recruit and corrupt U.S. officials.

“In order to stay in business, the drug trafficking organizations have to look at different methods for moving product,” said Thomas Frost, an assistant inspector general in the Department of Homeland Security. “The surest method is by corrupting a border official. The amount of money available to corrupt employees is staggering.”


Corruption is on the rise in the ranks of U.S. law enforcement working the border, and nowhere is the problem more acute than in the frontline jobs with Garnica’s former employer, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to federal investigators.

Garnica’s stiff sentence represented a rare victory in the struggle to root out tainted government employees.

Homeland Security statistics suggest the rush to fill thousands of border enforcement jobs has translated into lower hiring standards. Barely 15 percent of Customs and Border Protection applicants undergo polygraph tests, and of those, 60 percent were rejected by the agency because they failed the polygraph or were not qualified for the job, said Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who oversees a Senate subcommittee on homeland security.

The number of CBP corruption investigations opened by the inspector general climbed from 245 in 2006 to more than 770 this year. Corruption cases at its sister agency, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, rose from 66 to more than 220 over the same period. The vast majority of corruption cases involve illegal trafficking of drugs, guns, weapons and cash across the Southwest border.

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

Italy: Immigrant Murdered in Milan Suburb

Milan, 13 Sept. (AKI)- A Peruvian immigrant was stabbed to death early on Monday during a fight in an apartment the northern Italian city of Milan. Police arrested an unnamed suspect over the murder, reportedly an illegal South American immigrant.

The murder took place in a multiracial area of the city that last year was the scene of race riots after a 19-year-old Egyptian immigrant was fatally stabbed, allegedly by a South American gang.

Investigators believe the 51-year-old Peruvian immigrant was murdered after a violent, alcohol-fuelled argument broke out at the apartment in the via Padova area in northern Milan.

A number of Peruvian immigrants live in the two-storey apartment building, most of whom have residency permits, according to police.

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

Leading German Economist Demands More Workers From Abroad

Germany was already roiled in a debate about immigration. Now, a leading economist in the country has said the country needs a half million immigrants a year to maintain economic strength. His comments come as many Germans are more worried than ever about being overrun by foreigners.

The resonance has been impressive. Ever since German Bundesbank board member Thilo Sarrazin published his new book late last month, Germany has been gripped by yet another soul-searching debate about immigration and integration. Many Germans, the discussion has made clear, share Sarrazin’s worry that the country threatens to become overrun by foreigners.

But not all. Indeed, according to Klaus Zimmermann, president of the influential German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin), Germany needs even more immigrants. In an interview with the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt, Zimmermann said that the country’s aging society means that Germany “badly needs workers and immigrants from abroad.” He said the labor market needed “net immigration of at least 500,000 more people each year to ensure our economic strength.”

Zimmermann’s comments come in reference to Germany’s low birth rate and a consequently aging society. “As of 2015, the German economy will lose around 250,000 workers,” he said. He proposed the introduction of an immigration points system, much like that in place in Canada and Australia.

He is far from the first to suggest that Germany’s demographic problems can best be solved via liberal immigration policies. But the economist’s comments come at a time when Germany has become consumed by another possible consequence of low birth rates. According to Sarrazin, higher birth rates among the country’s immigrant population mean that ethnic Germans could be in the minority in Germany by the end of the century — a claim demographers have disputed. Controversially, Sarrazin linked that development to a lowering of the country’s overall intelligence. He also said that Muslim immigrants have contributed nothing to German prosperity and wrote that they would prefer to be on welfare than to work.

‘Not Contributing to a Solution’

Opinion and political leaders in Germany have roundly criticized Sarrazin’s positions and have said that his comments have hurt rather than helped ongoing efforts to improve the integration of Germany’s Turkish immigrants. “He is not contributing to a solution to the problem — on the contrary he is making it more difficult,” said Chancellor Angela Merkel in a Sunday interview with the tabloid Bild.

The Bundesbank has requested that German President Christian Wulff remove Sarrazin from its executive board. Furthermore, the Social Democratic Party, to which Sarrazin belongs, is exploring the possibility of expelling him from the party.

Germans on the whole, however, appear to largely agree with Sarrazin. According to a survey conducted for the newsmagazine Stern, 50 percent of Germans do not believe that he should be fired from his position on the executive board of the Bundesbank. In addition 50 percent of voters at large — including the same percentage of SPD voters — think it is wrong that the party is trying to rid itself of Sarrazin. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed told the pollsters that they partially agree with the controversial positions voiced by Sarrazin with 9 percent saying they completely agree.

Merkel’s government this week has been intent on toning down the shrill debate and on Wednesday approved a program drawn up by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees to promote integration. Among other measures, it calls for more teachers with foreign backgrounds as a way to reduce the number of children from immigrant families who drop out of school before obtaining a diploma.

           — Hat tip: Reinhard[Return to headlines]

Muslims in Europe: Country Guide

Islam is widely considered Europe’s fastest growing religion, with immigration and above average birth rates leading to a rapid increase in the Muslim population.

The exact number of Muslims is difficult to establish however, as census figures are often questioned and many countries choose not to compile such information anyway.

[Click link for excellent map and breakdown by individual country and ethnicity of immigrant Muslims]


Turkey is considered part of Europe in this Guide. 99% Muslim.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Illegal Immigrant Stole Briton’s Passport and Masqueraded as Her for Seven Years to Get a Job, Home and Husband

An illegal immigrant has been jailed for 16 months after creating a new life for herself on a false passport.

Qamar Yasmeen, 41, was convicted after working — and even getting married — using the identity of Henna Ali from 2002 to 2009.

Yasmeen, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was also able to get a bank account, driving licence and accommodation after applying for the document by using a childhood passport the victim had lost in 1992.

Yasmeen also managed to obtain the 35-year-old’s birth certificate and details about her late father so she could marry in her native Pakistan and bring her new husband to the UK.

She was even CRB checked and got a job working with vulnerable adults using Ms Ali’s National Insurance number.

The deceit could have continued for much longer had Ms Ali not found out about the fraud when she tried to get a new passport to go on holiday.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Quran Backlash: Protesters Burn US Flag, Effigies of Obama

Muslim rioters in Asia burned effigies of U.S. President Barack Obama in protests over the “desecration of the Quran.” Sixteen people, including a 13-year-old boy, were killed in the riots. In Iran, thousands of protesters burned the American flag.

In Indian-controlled Kashmir and Afghanistan, one Protestant-run missionary was burned down, according to the Indian website The Pioneer.

The Iranian government’s Press TV telecast anti-Quran events in the United States, where a Florida pastor had threatened to burn the Quran before backing down. The reports of desecration stoked flames of anger throughout the Muslim world.

“The transmission of Press TV in two Indian regions was banned, State Chief Secretary SS Kapur told reporters.

In Tehran, thousands of angry Iranians burned the American flag Monday in a noisy demonstration featuring university students chanting anti-American slogans and trampling on a coffin that represented “liberal democracy.” The protest was held outside the Swiss embassy in Tehran that officially represents the United States in the Islamic Republic, which has no diplomatic relations with the United States.

The protests in the Muslim world followed reports that Florida pastor Terry Jones had scheduled a public book burning of the Quran to coincide with the ninth year since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Jones backed down from his plan after pleas from a wide spectrum of political and other leaders, including General David Petraeus who said that burning the Quran would endanger lives of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Jones explained his change in plans by saying that he had brought home the point that Islam is a violent religion. However, several followers individually burned copies of the Quran on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: GB[Return to headlines]