Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101001

Financial Crisis
»A Trillion and Rising: Britain’s £1,000,000,000,000 Debt Means We Now Pay as Much in Interest as We Do for Defence
»EU Commissioner Signals End to Low Taxes in Ireland
»Ikea Reveals £2.2bn Profits Bonanza as it Unveils Its Accounts for the First Time Ever
»Italy: Vatican Bankers Quizzed
»Italy: Shady Movements in IOR Bank Accounts
»The Risk of Currency Devaluation
»Was the Deutsche Mark Sacrificed for Reunification?
»CNN Anchor: Network Run by Jews
»‘Feds Radiating Americans’? Mobile X-Ray Vans Hit US Streets
»Joe Sobran’s Tomeless Lesson on America’s Role in the World
»Muslim Center’s Developer to Use Islamic Loan Plan
»U.S. Power Plants at Risk of Attack by Computer Worm Like Stuxnet
»MacKay Shuts Down Islamic Group Speech
Europe and the EU
»“Italians Steal Our Jobs” — Insulting Swiss Posters Attack Italian “Rats”
»British Police Offer Apology to Muslims for Spy Cameras
»Economic Realism Will Ease Anti-Turkish Feeling, Joschka Fischer Says
»Italy: Bossi ‘Sorry’ For ‘Roman Pigs’ Quip
»Italy: Fini’s Group Crucial as Government Secures Confidence Vote With 342 Ayes
»NATO Chief Urges EU to Give Turkey Security Role
»OIC Secretary General Condemns Publication of the Book “Tyranny of Silence”
»Osama Bin Laden Still Talking Despite Rain of Drone Strikes
»Osama Bin Laden ‘Behind Plot to Attack European Cities’
»Turkey Offers Referendum Gamble to Europe
»U.S. Believes Bin Laden Involved in Europe Plot
»UK: Homeless and Penniless, The Mother-of-Two Forced to Spend £50k to Get Squatter Evicted From Her House
»Wilders’ Trial Verdict Postponed
North Africa
»Muslim Body Sets Conditions for Christian Citizenship in Egypt
Middle East
»Caroline Glick: The Lessons of Stuxnet
»Coalition Picks Maliki in Move That May End Iraq Stalemate
»Turkish Nationalists Rally in Armenian Holy Site at Ani
South Asia
»Dozens of NATO Oil Tankers Attacked in Pakistan
»Gen Musharraf Warns of Pakistan Coup After Crisis Meeting in London
»India Remains Calm After Ayodhya Holy Site Verdict
»Indonesia: Police Anti-Terror Chief Replaced
»Indonesian Women Caned for Selling Food During Muslim Festival of Ramadan
»Musharraf Launches Movement to Regain Control of Pakistan
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigerian Capital Rocked by Three Bombs on 50th Independence Anniversary
Latin America
»Nicole Ferrand: A Political Tremor Brewing in Peru
»Alarmist Clive Hamilton: In an Attempt to Prevent Bad Weather, Immigration to Australia Should be Cut by a Factor of Six
»U.S. Worsens Mexican Violence by Returning Criminal Aliens to Border Cities, Mayors Say
Culture Wars
»Italy: Rome Holds First Gay Tennis Tournament
»UK: Death of the Office Joke: Coalition Enacts Harriet’s PC Equality Law Which Means Anyone Can Sue for Anything That Offends Them
»Climate Film Depicts Children Assassinated for Not Reducing Carbon Footprint

Financial Crisis

A Trillion and Rising: Britain’s £1,000,000,000,000 Debt Means We Now Pay as Much in Interest as We Do for Defence

Britain’s debt has grown to a hitherto unimaginable level, it emerged yesterday — smashing the £1trillion barrier for the first time.

Government borrowing hit £1,000,389,000,000 at the end of March — or £40,000 per household — the Office for National Statistics said.

The figure is so enormous, equivalent to more than one million million pounds, that the country must pay £40billion interest on it in this year alone — roughly what is spent on the entire defence budget.

It follows unprecedented levels of spending under Labour which saw the Government borrow nearly £450million a day under Gordon Brown.

But the £1trillion figure does not include items such as the cost of public sector pensions and private finance initiatives.

Experts believe the true debt, including these hidden items, is between £4trillion and £5trillion.

Government borrowing was around £400billion when Labour came to power in 1997 and has more than doubled in the past five years. The ONS said the Government borrowed £159.8billion last year alone — a record 11.4 per cent of the UK’s entire economic output, or gross domestic product.


Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: ‘This puts into stark terms the scale of Britain’s debt mountain and is a timely reminder of why we need to tackle the deficit.

‘Right now we are paying £120million pounds a day in debt interest alone.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

EU Commissioner Signals End to Low Taxes in Ireland

Ireland will stop being a low tax economy in the future, EU commissioner for economic and monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn said today.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels today where he was attending a meeting of EU finance ministers, Mr Rehn foretold an end to the country’s status as a low tax base.

His comments come following yesterday’s announcement from the Central Bank on the cost of the bank bailout plan, after which Taoiseach Brian Cowen and Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan signalled tougher austerity measures in the forthcoming Budget.

Asked if he believed Ireland’s rate of corporation tax should be included in moves to increase tax revenues, Mr Rehn said: “I do not want to take any precise stand on an issue which is a matter for the Irish Government and the Irish parliament to decide.”

He added: “I would not rule out any option at this stage since we know that Ireland is not going to be in the coming decade, it’s a fact of life, Ireland will not continue as a low tax country. But it will rather become normal tax country in the European context.”

Financial markets have reacted positively to yesterday’s announcement of the expected final cost of the bank bailout, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) said today.

The agency, which is responsible for managing the State’s debts, said the cost estimates, together with the Government’s signalling of a stricter budgets over the next four years have been well received.

Bond yields continued to decline today after falling back slightly yesterday. The interest charged on ten-year bonds is at 6.38 per cent at lunchtime, after dropping 14 basic points to 6.56 per cent following the Central Bank’s announcement yesterday.

The State has issued €20 billion worth of bonds this year. Yesterday, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said that the Republic was “fully funded” up to next June.

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

Ikea Reveals £2.2bn Profits Bonanza as it Unveils Its Accounts for the First Time Ever

Home furnishings giant Ikea has unveiled vast profits of £2.17billion as it published its accounts for the first time.

The secretive Swedish firm saw profits surge 11 per cent in 2009 despite the global recession.

It’s profits rose from £2billion (2.3billion euros) in 2008, with an incredible 21.85billion sales across the 12 months.

The 12-month summary is the first time the store has every made its accounts public.

Bucking the trend: Ikea has posted bumper profits

Because it is a private company, it is not obliged to report its finances but decided to do so due to growing interest.

It has not given figures for 2010 but did reveal sales were up 7.7 per cent.

Chief executive Mikael Ohlsson said the company would now publish an overview of its financial results every year.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Vatican Bankers Quizzed

‘Everything done by the rules’ says Gotti Tedeschi

(ANSA) — Rome, September 30 — The Vatican Bank’s top two executives were questioned for several hours Thursday in a probe into suspected money laundering and told reporters afterwards they had done nothing wrong.

“We asked to be questioned, everything was done according to the rules,” said Istituto per le Opere Religiose (IOR) President Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, suspected of failure to observe Italian money-laundering rules along with Director-General Paolo Cipriani.

“There has been a misunderstanding which we intend to clear up with prosecutors,” said Gotti Tedeschi, who has been at the helm of the IOR for about a year.

There was no immediate word from the prosecutors, who are probing two allegedly suspicious transfers, one of 20 million euros and the other of three million, which prompted a precautionary seizure of 23 million euros earlier this month. The Vatican has staunchly defended the two men, who were placed under investigation on September 21. In a letter to the Financial Times last week, Vatican Spokesman Father Federico Lombardi also said the case was the result of a misunderstanding.

Lombardi said he was keen to avoid “the spread of inaccurate information” about the probe.

He said that since he was appointed last year, Gotti Tedeschi had been working to “ensure the absolute transparency of the IOR’s activities and its compliance with the norms and procedures which will allow the Holy See to be included in (the international money-laundering) ‘White List’“.

The spokesman reiterated the Vatican’s “perplexity and amazement” at the “surprise” probe and said “the nature and aims” of the two allegedly suspicious transactions “could have been clarified with great simplicity, being cash transactions the beneficiary of which is the (IOR) itself”.

“The Holy See reiterates its complete confidence in the managers of IOR”, Father Lombardi added.

In the precautionary measure, prosecutors impounded some 23 million euros the IOR transferred to the Credito Artigiano SpA, a private bank that is part of the Credito Valtellinese group.

It was the first time such action had been taken against the IOR, which, as the Bank of Italy recently recalled, is to be considered a non-European Union bank.

The probe was opened by Rome magistrates to determine whether a 2007 Italian law on transparency in regard to the identity of account holders was violated.

The possibility that the Vatican accounts violated this law was raised by the Bank of Italy’s financial intelligence unit which on September 15 suspended the two transactions ordered by the IOR because they looked suspicious.

These involved 20 million euros sent to the German bank J.P.Morgan Frankfurt, and three million sent to a central-Italian bank, Banca del Fucino.

The IOR, or Institute for Religious Works, has been in the headlines before, most notably in connection with the 1982 fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano, then Italy’s largest bank, run by Roberto ‘God’s Banker’ Calvi, whose body was subsequently found hanged under London’s Blackfriars Bridge.

Italian prosecutors say Calvi was killed for failing to repay Mafia money and his murder was staged to make it look like suicide. There was no suggestion of Vatican involvement.

The IOR was also named in kickbacks probes stemming from the 1990 collapse of public-private colossus Enimont, part of the Clean Hands investigations that swept away Italy’s old political establishment.

Gotti Tedeschi, 65, is a close adviser to Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti, serves on the board of several Italian banks, and heads an Italian branch of Spain’s Banco Santander.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Shady Movements in IOR Bank Accounts

Mysterious meeting of top-level bankers

Three deposits, two closed current accounts and a list of persons who have cashed cheques or received payments are at the centre of the investigation by the Rome public prosecutor’s office into deposits made at the Credito Artigiano bank in Rome on behalf of IOR, following the seizure of 23 millions euros two days ago. Despite the suspension of operations put in place by IOR executives on 19 April, two weeks ago chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi and director general Paolo Cipriani attempted to transfer some of the money to Germany (20 million euros to JP Morgan in Frankfurt) and the rest to another account (three million euros to a Rome branch of the Banca del Fucino). They now face possible charges of violating money-laundering regulations.

The IOR executives had been warned they had to comply with the regulations, which require all non-EU banks to report details of their customers before carrying out operations of any kind. The so-called “enhanced due diligence measures” regard the supply of cheques, the payment of bank transfers and cash operations. IOR reassured the authorities that it had put procedures in place and was able to supply the information requested. The pledge, however, was not maintained so magistrates intervened.

Confidential meeting of top-level bankers

The order signed by the magistrate to identify the amount reconstructs bank movements over the past three years. It also reveals that on 23 April, four days after the decision to freeze the account was taken, there was a “top-level meeting of IOR and Credito Artigiano the outcome of which is not known”, and which the two persons under investigation will now be asked to clarify. What will have to be explained is how the Vatican bank executives failed to fulfil the requirements of the law, despite their pledge to comply with legislation in force since January this year, and on the basis of a decree law that came into force in 2007. As they wait to put their questions, the public prosecutors are examining financial documents already in their possession. Investigation of the accounts has revealed that movements “recorded as ‘credits and receipts related to negotiable bills’ for a total of 72.44 million euros correspond to three separate credit operations on 17 March, 17 June and 16 September 2009, respectively for about 22 million euros on the first occasion and 25 million euros on the other two”. At this point, it emerges that the 22 million euros came from “the closure of account 11231, also opened at Credito Artigiano, which is improperly recorded as a ‘withdrawal using teller forms’“.

Checks on beneficiaries of cheques and transfers

A similar procedure is being applied in the other cases. Investigations carried out by the currency unit of the financial police have ascertained that the two deposits of 25 million euros “refer to the account closure credit likely to have been paid at the same bank (this has yet to be verified in detail with the bank). The credits correspond to a similar number of debit operations for the same amount”. Magistrates will now have to establish the real reasons behind this clearing operation and above all identify the recipients of bank transfers or cheques to find out the true nature of the relationships. Thereafter, investigators will have to verify whether the purpose of the movements was actually money laundering. They will be starting from the statements of account already seized. These documents have already shown that “when the suspension was put in place, deposits in the account totalled 28.3 million euros but from 31 December 2007 to 30 November 2009, the debit column showed operations for 116.3 million euros and the credit column 117.6 million euros”.

Bank of Italy notifications regarding Unicredit deposit

According to magistrates, investigations should start from the Bank of Italy report following an inspection to “investigate the functioning of a current account in the name of IOR at a Unicredit branch revealed a number of critical situations, in particular: failure to comply with due diligence of customers, in that the actual agents of operations carried out by IOR were systematically not identified; until 31 January, the compulsory recording in the single bank database of cash deposits in the account in the name of IOR; a practice involving negotiable bills of exchange has been identified that tends to exclude traceability of funds transferred, in violation of the law on cheques. The public prosecutors’ application for seizure of the funds that were to have been transferred from the Credito Artigiano points out that “the conduct of the executor of an operation who fails to communicate the details of persons on whose behalf the executor is carrying out said operation, or does not supply information on its purpose and nature required by the continuous report, constitutes an offence under decree 231 dated 2007, regarding money laundering regulations, and leaves open no other conclusion than that, further investigations to verify the nature and purpose of the transfer operations aside, given the current state of affairs, the elements of the offence can be recognised”. The magistrate upheld the view with a reasoned ruling that is now the basis for further investigations.

Fiorenza Sarzanini

23 settembre 2010(c) all rights reserved — unauthorized reproduction forbidden

English translation by Giles Watson

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

The Risk of Currency Devaluation

It is interesting to watch Wall Street defy reality. This is a scene we’ve observed since the early 1960s, the effect of debt on the economy and the nation and in turn on its currency. The result of the profligacy over all those years is the biggest bull market in history in gold and silver. As we write gold is toying with $1,300 and silver with $21.50. Each day a new high is reached in spite of a pending options expiration and the perpetual market rigging and manipulation by the US government.

One of the things that astound us is that few professionals have seen this coming over the past 10-1/2 years, and even those that do believe do not think this is an earth-shaking event. What we are about to experience is an event that only occurs every 300 to 500 years. All we can imagine is that they have a very limited perspective of history and particularly economic and financial history.

Unbeknownst to most gold and silver shares, coins and bullion have been under accumulation since 2000, by the smart money. Gold alone on a compound basis has been up just under 20% annually. It should also be noted that gold demand rose 36% in the second quarter.

Several events of recent vintage have changed the atmosphere in which gold and silver reside. Six or eight months ago the major NYC banks arranged for a major rally in the dollar, which ran from 74 to 89. It is now back to 79. The problems in Greece were the catalyst, as well as other EU-euro zone member problems. This caused the euro to fall from $1.50 to $1.19. It is now at $1.35. This temporarily boosted the dollar. About 11 weeks ago we predicted a new quantitative easing program in the US and it was put into operation about a month ago. This is the way the Federal Reserve again intends to keep the US economy from collapsing. The result of this move is that again foreign central banks are moving to cheapen their currencies, because the dollar is again falling in value. That is reflected in the increasing foreign exchange dollar reserves of many countries. What they do to cheapen their currencies in US dollar terms is to print their own national currency and purchase dolla rs. With those dollars they buy US Treasuries or spend them. That process cheapens their currency in dollar terms. This is called intervention.

Over and over again we hear central banks worldwide announcing how they are going to defend their currencies in order to keep their exports inexpensive. We wonder when someone in Washington is going to catch on to what has been perpetually done to injure the US economy? Free trade, globalization, offshoring and outsourcing doesn’t work. It has cost 8 million American jobs over the past 12 years and lowered wages from $30.00 an hour to $14.00 an hour, and caused a depression. British mercantilism has never worked except for those demeaning their currencies. The only answer for America is to impose stiff tariffs on foreign goods and services and junk NAFTA, CAFTA and the WTO. Just look at what China has done as an example. The yuan is undervalued by 40% and they could care less. They keep right on devaluing their currency and then complain about the loss in the value of the dollar and US Treasuries they buy as a result of currency manipulation. If the US is ever to survive econ omically they have to put an end to criminal devaluations.

Government goes on its merry way because they have a Federal Reserve. There will be no cutback in deficit spending.

The prevailing attitude is that if a nation doesn’t cheapen its currency others will and that would leave a nation at a disadvantage in terms of trade and pricing exports. This has been going on for years and US administrations have overlooked the practice. That is because it cheapens exports into the US, holds down inflation and creates buyers for Treasury and Agency bonds and US stocks and investments. Unfortunately for the US other nations have decided US debt is so onerous that they are diversifying into other currencies, purchasing items such as commodities and in some cases buying gold. The argument against gold has been that there is no interest on the investment. They perpetually do not understand that gold has been appreciating in value for the last ten years just shy of 20% annually. Thus their argument for not owning gold is incorrect. It has cost nations dearly and will continue to do so. The real reason that they do not purchase gold is because of pressure from t he US government.

[Return to headlines]

Was the Deutsche Mark Sacrificed for Reunification?

As the German people celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall, the governments in Bonn and Paris were secretly haggling over European monetary union. According to internal government documents, the negotiations almost collapsed. Was West Germany’s beloved currency, the deutsche mark, sacrificed at the altar of reunification to win France’s support?

The architect of Germany’s reunification is furious. Current Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, the interior minister under the then-Chancellor Helmut Kohl, has deep furrows on his brow as he fires off a series of expressions of his immense dissatisfaction. They are harsh words, but ones the chief negotiator of his country’s reunification treaty does not want to see in print.

Schäuble holds a thick book in his hand. On its cover, Schäuble’s predecessor as finance minister — Peer Steinbrück of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) — looks resolutely into the distance. Not that Schäuble, a member of the governing center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has anything personally against Steinbrück. Schäuble recently listened to a speech Steinbrück gave about democracy and the media. Nor does Schäuble disagree much with Steinbrück’s theories on the financial crisis.

What Schäuble is annoyed about is an unassuming sentence in the second chapter of Steinbrück’s book, hidden in a long treatise about the “lame duck” that is Europe. “Abandoning the deutsche mark for the (equally) stable euro was one of the concessions that helped pave the way to German reunification,” Steinbrück wrote.

There aren’t very many political statements that can rile the long-serving Schäuble. But claiming German unity was achieved by way of a swap against the deutsche mark is clearly one of them. “No such trade-off ever occurred,” Schäuble insists. The question of European monetary union had played “at best a minor role” in the decision-making on German reunification.

Steinbrück, however, is convinced he is right. He says that for anyone who meets with French government representatives, this theory will be backed up dozens of times.

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


CNN Anchor: Network Run by Jews

This is going to be a tough day for Rick Sanchez. The CNN host, as Mediaite notes, is the frequent butt of “Daily Show” jokes, which may have contributed to his ill-considered comments yesterday on Pete Dominick’s satellite radio show.

First, Sanchez called Jon Stewart a “bigot,” though he walked the comments back a bit later.


Then, he suggested that CNN is run by Jews.

“I’m telling you that everybody who runs CNN is a lot like Stewart, and a lot of people who run all the other networks are a lot like Stewart, and to imply that somehow they, the people in this country who are Jewish, are an oppressed minority? Yeah.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Feds Radiating Americans’? Mobile X-Ray Vans Hit US Streets

Atlanta — For many living in a terror-spooked country, it might seem like a great government innovation: Use vans equipped with mobile X-ray units to scan vehicles at major sporting events, or even randomly, for bombs or contraband.

But news that the US is buying custom-made vans packed with something called backscatter X-ray capacity has riled privacy advocates and sparked internet worries about “feds radiating Americans.”

“This really trips up the creep factor because it’s one of those things that you sort of intrinsically think the government shouldn’t be doing,” says Vermont-based privacy expert Frederick Lane, author of “American Privacy.” “But, legally, the issue is the boundary between the government’s legitimate security interest and privacy expectations we enjoy in our cars.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Joe Sobran’s Tomeless Lesson on America’s Role in the World

Srdja Trifkovic

I met Joe Sobran in early 1997 at a conference near Chicago on the American intervention in the Balkans. It was not his area of primary interest, but he understood all of the key issues because he understood U.S. foreign policy and its domestic roots. His diagnosis, which applied then, in Bill Clinton’s second term, applies even more today, with his wife in charge of the Department of State and his moral equivalents in charge of everything else.

Sobran’s diagnosis of the domestic malaise started with the notion that “the regime we live under” derives its legitimacy from a blatant distortion of the United States Constitution. On the basis of a compact among the sovereign states, the federal government was to be a service confined to the specific enumerated powers the people delegated to it, pursuant to their general welfare and common defense. Over the past century and a half, however, the federal government has usurped all kinds of powers neither the people nor the states had delegated to it. It has become a “consolidated” or centralized government. This, to Sobran, was an act of tyranny, but very few of our contemporaries would understand what he was talking about:…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Muslim Center’s Developer to Use Islamic Loan Plan

The developer of the planned Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero hopes to finance the bulk of the $140 million project using instruments developed to allow many Muslim investors to comply with religious prohibitions on interest.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times Sharif el-Gamal revealed details of his plans Wednesday. The developer, Sharif el-Gamal, said on Wednesday that he envisioned raising $27 million through a nationwide campaign focused on small donations from Muslims and other supporters, and financing much of the rest that consultants estimate it will cost to build the 15-story center.


Mr. Gamal and Feisal Abdul Rauf, the imam who is his planning partner in the project, have promised that they will invite the federal government to review all the donations.

Most of the financing, Mr. Gamal said on Wednesday, would come through religiously sanctioned bondlike investments known as sukuk, devised in Muslim nations to allow religious Muslims to take part in the global economy and increasingly explored by American banks. Sukuk and other Islamic banking instruments are tracked on the Dow Jones Islamic Market Index.

In sukuk construction projects, the investors own the real estate asset, and the developers lease it back; the investors’ profit on the rent is analogous to the yield on a bond. Some Islamic scholars do not accept the system, but it is widely used in places like Malaysia and Dubai.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

U.S. Power Plants at Risk of Attack by Computer Worm Like Stuxnet

A sophisticated worm designed to infiltrate industrial control systems could be used as a blueprint to sabotage machines that are critical to U.S. power plants, electrical grids and other infrastructure, experts are warning.

The discovery of Stuxnet, which some analysts have called the “malware of the century” because of its ability to damage or possibly destroy sensitive control systems, has served as a wake-up call to industry officials. Even though the worm has not yet been found in control systems in the United States, it could be only a matter of time before similar threats show up here.

“Quite honestly you’ve got a blueprint now,” said Michael J. Assante, former chief security officer at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, an industry body that sets standards to ensure the electricity supply. “A copycat may decide to emulate it, maybe to cause a pressure valve to open or close at the wrong time. You could cause damage, and the damage could be catastrophic.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


MacKay Shuts Down Islamic Group Speech

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Peter MacKay has vetoed the speech from a controversial Islamic group because of its “extremist views.”

Imam Dr. Zijad Delic, the national executive director of the Canadian Islamic Congress, was to speak at an internal event at Department of National Defence headquarters Monday.

A spokesman for MacKay said when the minister learned of the CIC’s participation in the Islamic Heritage Month event, he pulled the plug “based on extremist views promulgated by the Canadian Islamic Congress.”

“The Canadian Islamic Congress has declared that Israelis over the age of 18 are legitimate targets of suicide bombers,” wrote Jay Paxton, MacKay’s director of communications, in an e-mail. “These types of comments don’t support Islamic Heritage, they simply divide Canadians, promulgate hate and they have no place in Monday’s celebrations.”

Without Delic’s speech, Monday’s event will focus on the “evolution of Islam” in the Canadian Forces, Paxton said, and the “positive contribution” of Canada’s muslim community to Canadian society.

Delic reporedly called the cancellation, “hurtful.”

Charles McVety, who heads up the right-wing Institute of Canadian Values, issued a statement Friday saying Delic’s invitation to speak is an insult to the Canadian Forces soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.

“This will shock the conscience of Canadians of good faith, dismay military families whose children have made the supreme sacrifice, and undermine the credibility and morale of our armed services in the eyes of allies and enemies alike,” McVety said in the statement on the association’s website.

           — Hat tip: SF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

“Italians Steal Our Jobs” — Insulting Swiss Posters Attack Italian “Rats”

“We Lombards and you Ticino Swiss speak the same language. We both say ‘go and sell your arse!’“ thundered the jovial former Northern League mayor of Milan, Marco Formentini, on an official visit to our Swiss cousins. Cousins? It depends, as the shameful “Italian rat” campaign launched against cross-border workers demonstrates.

For some time, the Ticino League has been making the same accusations although its leader Giuliano Bignasca seems to have forgotten he was found guilty by the court of Lugano in 1993 of employing a dozen or so permit-less Yugoslavians. The charge is that workers from Como, Varese and Verbania “are stealing Swiss jobs”. It’s an obsession, which prompted La Provincia di Como newspaper, hardly a left-leaning publication, to run the headline “there’s always a League supporter to the north of us”.

The claim is an old one. You only have to remember James Schwarzenbach, the man who promoted three referendums — almost winning the first one — against Italian immigrants, and in particular against their wives and children. He wrote that “they are dead weights round our necks (…) We must free ourselves of this burden. We must remove from our community the immigrants we have summoned to do the meanest jobs and who, in the course of a few years, or a generation, after their initial bewilderment, look around and improve their social position. They find more agreeable positions, study and use their initiative, even threatening the tranquillity of the average Swiss worker, who is still perched on his stool looking at the Italian who used to wash dishes and may now be sitting in an armchair”.

That’s what makes the portrayal of cross-border workers as rats even more outrageous. It comes in the wake of an unspeakably painful history. There were the armed gangs at Goeschenen in 1875 who fired on and killed Italian labourers at the San Gottardo tunnel protesting at the deaths of 144 companions, killed by dynamite, collapses and gas. There was the Zurich manhunt in 1896, when the authorities had to organise special trains to take terrorised Italians home. There was the closure of the third-class waiting room at Basle to “Italian gypsies” in transit, most of whom came from Piedmont, Lombardy and Veneto. There was the scandalous not guilty verdict for the Mattmark disaster. And there were the racially motivated killings, like Vincenzo Rossi, thrown into a blast furnace by his boss, Attilio Tonola or Alfredo Zardini, beaten to death by a racist who in 1974 was sentenced to 18 months.

Of course, the story of Italians in Italy is much more than this. Large numbers of Italians, some at considerable sacrifice, have integrated very well indeed, earning the respect, friendship and affection of our Swiss neighbours. Despite all the painful memories, like Armando and Giuseppina Colatrella who settled in Lucerne in 1960, worked and paid taxes for half a century only to be refused Swiss citizenship in 2004, it would be unfair not to recall the many positive aspects of Swiss-Italian relations…

Gian Antonio Stella

English translation by Giles Watson

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

British Police Offer Apology to Muslims for Spy Cameras

LONDON (AP) — The British police on Thursday apologized for a counterterrorism program that featured surveillance cameras that were installed in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. Police officials said that even though the cameras had never been switched on, the initiative had damaged trust and caused anger in the community.

Under the program, more than 200 closed-circuit television cameras and license plate recognition devices were placed in parts of the city of Birmingham in central England. The effort was conceived in 2007 after a series of terrorist plots were uncovered in Birmingham.

Residents complained that they had not been consulted about the program, and civil liberties groups protested that the measures were heavy-handed.

Protests from human rights groups led the police to decide not to begin using the cameras after they had been installed. Some have been covered with plastic bags to reassure people that the cameras are not in use.

In 2006, the police and intelligence agencies uncovered a plot in Birmingham to kidnap and behead a British soldier. The accused ringleader, Parviz Khan, was later convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

The city was also the site of the first arrest in Britain of a terrorism suspect who the authorities said was inspired by Al Qaeda; the suspect, Moinul Abedin, was detained in 2000 and later jailed after the security services uncovered a bomb factory in his home.

An independent review conducted by the Thames Valley Police, in southern England, criticized the police in central England for the camera program. The review found “little evidence of thought being given to compliance with the legal or regulatory framework” before the television cameras were installed.

There were 218 cameras in all, and they were placed in two mostly Muslim residential neighborhoods in Birmingham that had been associated in the past with Islamic extremism.

The West Midlands Police constable, Chris Sims, said that the authorities had made a mistake in not considering the impact of the cameras’ intrusion into people’s privacy.

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

Economic Realism Will Ease Anti-Turkish Feeling, Joschka Fischer Says

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Austrian, French and German opposition to Turkey joining the European Union will melt away with time, Germany’s ex-foreign minister Joschka Fischer has predicted.

Speaking to EUobserver on the margins of an event to launch a Council of Europe ‘Group of Eminent Persons’ in Brussels on Thursday (30 September), he said a growing realisation that Europe needs to replenish its aging workforce is already altering perceptions and that it is Turkey, not the EU, which might ultimately jettison accession plans.

“We may knock on the doors of Ankara and there may be nobody home,” Mr Fischer warned.

“If you look at France and Germany, you don’t need to be a prophet to see things will change,” he added. “Europe’s future economy will depend on its openness. We need immigration, that’s the maths of it. Either we Europeans wake up or we become poorer.”

The former Green party politician is a highly-paid advisor for the Nabucco consortium trying to build a gas pipeline in Turkey. The Council of Europe group, which he is to chair, will study the problem of growing intolerance in Europe as witnessed in the recent Roma dispute and the rise of far-right parties even in traditionally liberal countries such as Sweden.

Turkey, home to Europe’s largest Muslim and Roma populations, would wield enormous clout in the EU if it joined.

But at the same time its median age is just 28 compared to 42 in the Union and its economy grew by around 11 percent in the first half of this year compared to the EU’s 1-2 percent.

German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle, from the Free Democratic Party in the German coalition government, has in recent days spoken along the same lines as Mr Fischer.

“It is in our own interest that the perspective of Turkey remains European and Western,” he said at a press briefing in Washington on Wednesday. “It sometimes amazes me how self-assuredly countries that are influential today assume that things will always be that way,” he told the Wall Street Journal a week earlier.

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

Italy: Bossi ‘Sorry’ For ‘Roman Pigs’ Quip

‘Only joking,’ federalist leader says

(ANSA) — Rome, September 30 — Northern League leader Umberto Bossi on Thursday apologised for offending Romans with an old wisecrack saying the famed S.P.Q.R. tag meant Romans were ‘pigs’.

“I apologise to citizens, who felt insulted, but it was just a quip,” said the outspoken federalist leader.

Bossi claimed too much had been made out of the incident.

“I was hanged for a remark,” he said.

The Senator and Reforms Minister voiced confidence that a no-confidence motion in him as minister would be defeated.

“It was just a joke,” he repeated.

The centre-left Democratic Party filed the motion on Tuesday, a day after Bossi made the remark at a beauty contest where he railed against a planned new Rome Grand Prix, saying “they can ride chariots down there”.

The quip, that the S.P.Q.R. tag stood for “Sono Porci Questi Romani” (“These Romans Are Pigs”), was met with a bipartisan volley of criticism and Premier Silvio Berlusconi urged Bossi to issue an apology.

Bossi was only defended by a handful of MPs who said people were taking offence at a well-known old joke, something Asterix the Gaul said in the famous comic strip. The S.P.Q.R acronym, standing for Senatus PopulusQue Romanus (The Senate and Roman People), was coined soon after ancient Rome became a republic.

It continued to be used after Rome became an empire and is seen all around the capital today, not only on Roman monuments but also on modern municipal plaques, drinking fountains and sewer covers.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fini’s Group Crucial as Government Secures Confidence Vote With 342 Ayes

Berlusconi replies attacking Democratic Party and Christian Democrat UDC. PD’s Bersani calls for end to “foot-dragging”

ROME — The Chamber of Deputies has expressed its confidence in the Berlusconi government with 342 ayes and 275 noes from the 620 parliamentarians present. The result was a foregone conclusion when Gianfranco Fini’s supporters announced they would vote in favour. Yet the most glaring detail to emerge is that without Fini’s group and Raffaele Lombardo’s Autonomy Movement (MPA), the executive would fall short of the 316 votes necessary for an absolute majority. According to early estimates, the majority can count on no more than 303 deputies without the Fini group or the MPA.

BOSSI AND THE POLLS — “The numbers are limited, the road is narrow”, said Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, who on several occasions has let it be known that would not object to a general election. “In life, the best thing is to take the high road, and the high road means going to the country. Berlusconi didn’t want to take it and look where we are now”. Not least because Gianfranco Fini’s supporters were soon trumpeting how important they had been for the vote. “The prime minister had to acknowledge the existence of the Future and Freedom (FL) group, which has carved out a space and created a programmatic political agreement with Raffaele Lombardo’s MPA vital for the survival of the government majority itself”, pointed out Carmelo Briguglio. “The vote tells Italians that without FL, this government wouldn’t be in power”.

DI PIETRO’S ATTACK — The vote came at the end of an eventful day that began with the prime minister’s speech presenting the five key points of the government’s new course and ended in mounting tension. The calmer tones of the morning, when Mr Berlusconi appeared occasionally to patronise the minority, and was in an almost institutional mood, gave way in the afternoon to a head-on collision of majority and opposition. The sparks began to fly when members declared their votes. Italy of Values’ (IDV) Antonio Di Pietro, in particular, attacked the prime minister accusing him of using public institutions “for his own business”, of belonging to the banned P2 Masonic lodge, of bending justice to his own ends and of being a “convicted illusionist” and “violator of democracy” who “after the rape, passed a couple of dozen laws to escape punishment”. Several People of Freedom (PDL) deputies left the chamber after Mr Di Pietro’s speech. Mr Berlusconi himself protested and the leader of the Chamber, Gianfranco Fini, on several occasions invited Mr Di Pietro to adopt a more parliamentary tone. Alliance for Italy’s Bruno Tabacci attacked Mr Berlusconi’s stance on justice, accusing him of “bobbing on the waters” of Tangentopoli. Mr Tabacci said: “In your speech, you criticised the political use of justice for 16 years. Why talk about 16 years? Why start in 1994? What about Tangentopoli? You didn’t mention that because you were bobbing on the waters of Tangentopoli. You are where you are thanks to Tangentopoli. Which is why you are not credible on the issue of relations between justice and politics”.

“DON’T PUNISH THE MAGISTRATES” — Italo Bocchino, speaking on behalf of FL, reiterated the support of Mr Fini’s group for the government but also pointed out that the pact with MPA showed a lack of self-sufficiency in the PDL, the Northern League and their various allies. Mr Bocchino then stressed the need for a return to “legality” and said that his group approved of “a reform of justice but we will never be in favour of reform that is punitive to magistrates, who for us are the bulwark that guarantees justice”.

“NO MORE FOOT-DRAGGING” — The Democratic Party (PD) secretary, Pier Luigi Bersani, was critical, saying the “what was missing from Berlusconi’s speech was the real Italy. For the first time, we are falling behind the leading group of EU countries”. He went on: “You can’t go on foot-dragging any longer. You’ve been in government for seven of the past ten years. Is it really always the other side’s fault? How long do you have to be in power before you own up to your mistakes?” Mr Bersani also said: “Don’t start talking about us being afraid of an election. You’re the ones who put it back in the box. This is where an old page of politics ends. We will turn over a new one”. PDL group leader Fabrizio Cicchitto replied: “The 2006 elections were repeated in 2008 because you on the Centre-left imploded and exploded, leaving us the refuse crisis in Naples to deal with. You have nothing to teach us. The Centre-left is not an alternative. It merely hopes to profit from our internal divisions. That should serve as a lesson to everyone”. Marco Reguzzoni, the Northern League group leader, pointed out that Umberto Bossi’s parliamentarians had never broken faith with the majority. He noted the importance of federalism and stressed the “problem of problems”, the “failure to develop the south” since “a hundred years of mistaken policies weigh on us, our families and our companies. The first premise for the development of southern Italy is the war against the Mafia and organised crime. And this government is waging it”.

JIBES AT PD AND UDC — Silvio Berlusconi criticised the opposition, referring explicitly to the PD and UDC. No one in our majority will fail to honour the pledge with the electorate when the time comes to vote but I was expecting a bit more from the opposition. A great Centre party like the UDC and a great democratic party like the PD have the political and moral duty to offer a response commensurate with the gravity of the situation. If they fail to do this, they will propose only slogans, sarcasm and tactical moves. If they allow tactics to prevail over responsibility to the nation, they will have failed in the great task that falls to the opposition in democracy”. Mr Berlusconi then rejected charges of shopping around for deputies and explained that if other parliamentarians — and he made a direct reference to former UDC deputies — decide to join the majority, they will receive nothing in exchange. No junior ministers’ jobs or anything else. Centrist leader Pier Ferdinando Casini commented ironically on the deputies who had left the UDC: “You referred to a split in the UDC. And I thought we were here to discuss a split in the PDL, certified by the departure of 35 deputies and ten senators who have formed a new group”. According to Mr Casini, there has been a breakdown and bipolarism is not well. It is no coincidence, he said, that “you are a long way from the 316-deputy majority”.

English translation by Giles Watson

30 settembre 2010

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

NATO Chief Urges EU to Give Turkey Security Role

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of NATO, has called on the European Union to give Turkey a role in the Union’s security policy. He said that NATO and the EU had to find pragmatic ways to improve their co-operation. Under his proposals, the EU would conclude a security agreement with Turkey, give Turkey special status with the European Defence Agency, and involve it in decision-making on EU security missions.

Fogh Rasmussen told European Voice that such measures were required to overcome the chief obstacle to closer EU-NATO co-operation, the division of Cyprus. NATO member Turkey has been occupying the northern third of the island since 1974, but the rest of Cyprus became part of the EU in 2004. Fogh Rasmussen said that because of mutual vetoes by Cyprus in the EU and Turkey in NATO, co-operation between the two organisations was hamstrung.

“We are in the absurd situation that the only issue we are allowed to discuss in formal joint EU-NATO meetings is Bosnia,” he said. A special arrangement was found for co-operation between NATO headquarters and the EU missions in Macedonia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but the arrangement does not apply to Kosovo, Afghanistan and Somalia where both organisations have separate missions. With prospects for a Cyprus settlement receding, pressure for a more permanent mechanism to allow strategic co-operation is growing.

Fogh Rasmussen is preparing for a NATO summit in Lisbon on 19-20 November, at which he will present his strategic concept for NATO.

“It is my intention to make an EU-NATO partnership an important part of the strategic concept,” he said.

“If we are to put substance into that, then we need some progress on the ground, and this is the reason why I have accompanied the strategic concept with more pragmatic proposals as to how we could overcome the obstacles,” Fogh Rasmussen said.

The NATO summit, which will be attended by US President Barack Obama, will be followed by an EU-US summit. The US has been urging its European allies to work more closely on defence matters with Turkey.

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

OIC Secretary General Condemns Publication of the Book “Tyranny of Silence”

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu today strongly condemned the publication of the book entitled “Tyranny of Silence” in Denmark. The book contains a compilation of denigrating caricatures and cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) published by the Jyllands Posten in 2005 which aroused worldwide condemnation and denunciation, and caused hurt and insult to the sentiments of Muslims around the world.

The OIC Secretary General expressed his dismay and disappointment at the release of the book despite the fact that he and some other leaders of the Muslim countries had personally addressed letters to the Foreign Minister of Denmark urging the intervention of the Danish government against the publication due to the highly provocative and inciting contents of the book. He reiterated his position when the Foreign Minister of Denmark called on him to discuss the issue at the sidelines of the 65th session of the UN General Assembly.

Emphasizing the moral responsibility of the political leadership of Denmark in this regard, the Secretary General said that the publication of the book was a deliberate attempt to incite prejudices and animosity which would undermine the ongoing efforts of the international community for promoting understanding and peaceful coexistence among peoples of diverse religious and cultural backgrounds.

Referring to the statement issued by the Danish Foreign Ministry, the Secretary General said that the publication constituted a flagrant violation of the stipulation of Article 20 of 1966 International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. In this connection he also referred to the Danish Criminal Code which in its section ‘140’ stipulates protection of religious feelings against mockery and scorn, and in section ‘266 b’ stipulates protection of groups of persons against scorn and degradation on account of their religions among other things.

He added that the publication of the book substantiated the OIC’s concerns over the abuse of freedom of expression by motivated groups and individuals to fuel hatred towards Islam and Muslims in some parts of the western world.

Jeddah, September 30, 2010

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Osama Bin Laden Still Talking Despite Rain of Drone Strikes

Osama bin Laden released his first audio tape since March today calling for Muslim relief and charity in places like flood-ravaged Pakistan.

The new message comes despite a record number of drone attacks along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border targeting Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters. Both Bin Laden and Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman Zawahiri are believed to be hiding in the mountainous border region.

The 11-minute message could not be immediately authenticated but was released on a variety of known extremist websites with an old still photo of the al Qaeda leader. The message was largely addressed to Pakistani citizens affected by recent devastating floods.

Although there is no date referenced, the recent floods in Pakistan suggest the recording is no more than two months old.

In several recent messages bin Laden has shifted slightly from militancy and addressed geopolitics, climate change and environmental disasters, seeking to appear as a humanitarian. His previous message, however, threatened the US with violence if 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammed is executed by the US government.


According to European and American intelligence officials, bin Laden asked al Qaeda affiliates to attack England, France and Germany using a “Mumbai- style” attack aimed at “soft and economic” targets.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Osama Bin Laden ‘Behind Plot to Attack European Cities’

Several months ago, bin Laden sent a directive to al-Qaeda affiliates and partners that he wanted a Mumbai-style attack on at least three European countries — the United Kingdom, Germany and France — the US National Public Radio said, citing intelligence officials. Gunmen had planned to fire on crowds at busy European tourist sites and take over hotels in a plot that would mark a new style of attack for al-Qaeda, although details of the plans remain unclear for now. The United States may also have been in bin Laden’s sights.

“We know that Osama bin Laden issued the directive,” an unnamed official familiar with intelligence surrounding the plot said. “And if he issued the directive, we just don’t believe that the US wouldn’t be on his shortlist of strategic targets. It has to be.”


Some officials worried that members of the commando-style teams could be travelling to the West using European passports, thus complicating any effort to find and stop them.

In 2008, 10 heavily armed gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai and wounded more than 300 in three luxury hotels, a railway station and restaurants in the Indian city.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkey Offers Referendum Gamble to Europe

Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s chief EU negotiator, sought yesterday (29 September) to unblock Ankara’s accession bid by calling on European Union countries to call referenda on the country’s EU membership. Turkey may also chose to consult its citizens, he said.

So-called ‘Norway status’ (see ‘Background’) appears to be a formula which Turkey is officially putting on the table, it emerged after a two-hour Q&A session between Bagis and the Brussels press.

Bagis, who is a leading politician from Turkey’s AKP party, repeatedly referred to Norway, which had completed accession negotiations but twice decided not to join the Union following referenda lost by narrow margins in 1972 and 1994.

Bagis gave assurances that Turkey was such a strong asset to the EU that he was more doubtful of the result of the Turkish referendum than he was about those in EU countries seen today as Turkey-sceptic.

“We have a very solid example in front of us. A country that I follow very closely — Norway. They conducted their negotiations, they completed their reforms, and they chose not to become a member.”

“The day we complete our negotiations, we will not be today’s Turkey, just as today’s Turkey is not the country from 51 years ago when we first applied. And I don’t know what the Turkish nation will decide. And I don’t know what the populations of some of the member states will decide.”

“Maybe like in the case of the UK we will be vetoed, but again like the UK we will go through with determination and become a member […] Or like Norway, we will not become a member, but we will be closely linked to the EU,” the Turkish negotiator said.

Asked by EurActiv if Turkey would accept a situation in which, for example, the French were to say ‘no’ to Turkey’s accession in a referendum, Bagis replied: “Of course, why not? Because we make decisions based on the consequences. French people would calculate France’s interest, when they go to the ballot box, and our people would calculate our interest, or self-interest.”

“But I believe that by the time we have completed the negotiations, the approach of French people will not be similar to the approach of French people today. I strongly believe that by the time we complete the negotiations, the European Union member states would try to lobby to make sure that Turks vote to become members of the EU,” he added.

The Turkish official strongly argued that Turkey had a lot to offer to the EU and would in fact relieve the Union of some of its burdens, instead of bringing additional ones. In particular, he mentioned the demographic factor, but also the economy.

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

U.S. Believes Bin Laden Involved in Europe Plot

U.S. counterterrorism officials say they believe that senior al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, are involved in the latest failed terror plot against European cities.

The multipronged scope of the emerging plan — which aimed to launch coordinated shooting sprees or attacks in Britain, France and Germany — is an al Qaeda hallmark. One U.S. intelligence official added, however, that the details of how the plan was directed or coordinated by the group’s core leaders is not yet clear.

The involvement of bin Laden and his core leaders, believed to be in hiding in Pakistan, underscores concerns about that country’s role as a haven for al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Homeless and Penniless, The Mother-of-Two Forced to Spend £50k to Get Squatter Evicted From Her House

A mother-of-two has been left penniless after spending £50,000 fighting a 15-month legal battle to get a squatter evicted from her home.

Dy Maurice, 50, was homeless for a year after a tenant secretly sub-let her house while she was out of the country.

The new tenant then declared squatters rights on the £250,000 property and refused to move out.

Ms Maurice, a former hotel manager, was forced to stay in a bed and breakfast as she was unable to return home

She also had to hire a lawyer to obtain a civil court order before the bailiffs were called in to evict the squatter.

The house, in Macclesfield, Cheshire, has sustained £20,000 worth of damage and the property value has been reduced by £80,000 to £170,000.

It is believed the squatter is now living in a three-bedroom council house.

Ms Maurice said: ‘This law on squatters rights is totally and utterly disgraceful and damaging, soul-destroying, and it’s time MPs realised this.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Wilders’ Trial Verdict Postponed

The verdict in Geert Wilders’ trial for inciting hatred will be announced two days later than originally planned, the Amsterdam court said on Friday.

The leader of the PVV anti-Islam party faces five charges of religious insult and anti-Muslim incitement in the trial, which begins on Monday. The court says it needs seven days to hear the evidence.

The original date for the verdict was November 2, the day on which film maker Theo van Gogh was killed in 2004 by a muslim extremist. But the court denies this is the reason, reports the Telegraaf.

A spokesman for the court said an extra day, October 21, is needed for the hearing, delaying the verdict by two days.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Muslim Body Sets Conditions for Christian Citizenship in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Bishop Bishoy, secretary of the Coptic Church’s Holy Synod and the second highest authority in the church, caused a Muslim furor last week when the media published excerpts from a lecture he was due to give later to the clergy during the “Coptic Faith” Seminar held in Fayoum, south of Cairo on September 23.

He was questioning whether some verses inferring that “Christians were infidels” were added to the Qur’an after the death of Prophet Muhammad by one of his successor Caliph Uthman ibn Affan (644-656), suggesting that they may have been inserted for religious/political purposes. Bishop Bishoy’s lecture was later canceled for unknown reasons.

Angry Muslims considered his queries about the time frame of these verses as accusations that the Qur’an was distorted, since they believe that all verses were received by Muhammad through the Angel Gabriel during his lifetime and that the words have remained undistorted since then.

In an effort to diffuse the situation, Coptic Pope Shenouda III apologized on state-run TV on Sunday September 26 saying: “I am sorry if our Muslim brother’s feelings were hurt. Debating religious beliefs are a red line, a deep red line.”

Bishop Bishoy told the clergy audience in Fayoum that his questions were merely about the time of the verses, which say “Verily they are disbelievers and infidels who say ‘The Messiah, son of Mary, is God.’“ (Qur’an 5:17). He believes these verses contradict the Christian faith. “I don’t understand how that can be turned into an attack on Islam,” he said, insisting that his remarks had been taken out of context.

Many Copts were against the Bishop’s remarks, especially coming at a time of heightened tension with Islamists, when demonstrations were being staged by them in front of mosques against the Coptic Church and Pope Shenouda, with false accusation like the abduction of a converted to Islam priest’s wife (AINA 9-17-2010) or the Church stockpiling weapons to wage war against Muslims (AINA 9-21-2010).

On Friday, September 24, thousands of Islamists demonstrated in front of Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria demanding the detainment of Bishop Bishoy and insulting Pope Shenouda and throwing shoes at his photos.

Members of al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Council held an emergency meeting led by the institution’s head, Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, repudiating Bishop Bishoy’s comments and accusing him of provoking sectarian tension.

A “Statement to the Nation” was released by the Council on Saturday, September 25 in which al-Tayeb said “This kind of behavior is irresponsible and threatens national unity at a time when it is vital to protect it.” He also warned against repercussions these sorts of statements can have among Muslims in Egypt and abroad.

The Statement went on to say the Council stresses the fact that Egypt is an “Islamic State” according to the text of its Constitution, which represents the social contract between its people. “From this stems the rights of citizenship, as taught to us by the Messenger of Allah in his pact with the Christians of Najran, in which he decided that they were to enjoy rights and duties as the Muslims. However, these rights are conditional to respect for the Islamic Identity and the citizenship rights as set by the Constitution.”

The Christians of Najran, Medina, refused conversion to Islam in 631 A.D.. and offered Mohamad to maintain their faith, accept the dominance of Muslims and pay an annual tribute (the jizya), he accepted and the pact was sealed between them.

Magdy Khalil, head of the Middle East Freedom Forum, issued a press release on September 27, saying the Al-Azhar’s “Statement to the Nation” brings us back to the era of Dhimmitude. He thinks this statement, which is addressed to the Islamic nation and Muslims in Egypt and abroad, undermines completely the concept of modern citizenship, replacing it with their perception of an alternative Islamic citizenship, which corresponds to that promoted by various groups of political Islam. “citizenship in the traditions of the Islamic Research Council is conditional to non-Muslims in the Egyptian State by their acceptance of the Islamic State, respecting the Islamic identity and accepting the rule of Sharia,” said Khalil, “meaning that the Council has reproduced the unfortunate Dhimmi status as a condition for the Copt to being a citizens in his own country.”

He believes the “Statement to the Nation” does not strengthens national unity in Egypt but rather contributes to the increased agitation of the Islamized people, increases the feeling of religious superiority towards the Coptic minority and contributes to the destruction of what remains of the pillars of the civil state.

Partners for the Nation, an Egyptian Coptic organization, slammed the Al-Azhar statement. “The secular Coptic community completely rejects al-Azhar’s statement that Egypt is an Islamic state. We are a civil state. We reject a state religion and no religious institution should interfere in political matters or bypass the role of the state,” said Mamdouh Ramzi, head of the organization, in an interview with Al He added the expression “Egypt an Islamic state” is “totally false” and seeks to spread hostilities between Muslims and Christian Copts in Egypt and undermine efforts toward democracy.

He said trying to impose Islamic law in Egypt would possibly lead to a situation similar to that in Sudan, when a bid to impose the Islamic law lead the Christian south to demand secession. Ramzi demanded that Al-Azhar withdraws its statement, holding the institution responsible for any consequences of its announcement, which he said could lead Egypt down a dangerous path.

Magdi Khalil further criticized the Al-Azhar statement for falsely claiming that “all beliefs are considered a red line not to be crossed.” He accused Al-Azhar of having a basic plan through its curriculum, educational books and preaching “to ridicule the beliefs of non-Muslims, challenge their faith and their holy Books, a line not constrained by the Al-Azhar since its inception in 972 A.D., and until the present time under the chairmanship of Dr. al-Tayeb, who challenged the validity of the Bible from the rostrum of the state-run Nile television, when he was rector of Al-Azhar University.”

“We refuse to bow to their condition of respecting the Islamic Identity, in order to get our citizenship rights,” said Coptic activist Selim Riad. “We have our separate Coptic identity, and our rights are not at the disposal of Muslims setting conditions for us to obtain them.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Caroline Glick: The Lessons of Stuxnet

There’s a new cyber-weapon on the block. And it’s a doozy. Stuxnet, a malicious software, or malware, program was apparently first discovered in June.

Although it has appeared in India, Pakistan and Indonesia, Iran’s industrial complexes — including its nuclear installations — are its main victims.

Stuxnet operates as a computer worm. It is inserted into a computer system through a USB port rather than over the Internet, and is therefore capable of infiltrating networks that are not connected to the Internet.

Hamid Alipour, deputy head of Iran’s Information Technology Company, told reporters Monday that the malware operated undetected in the country’s computer systems for about a year…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Coalition Picks Maliki in Move That May End Iraq Stalemate

An alliance of Iraq’s Shiite political blocs has chosen the incumbent, Nuri al-Maliki, as its nominee for prime minister, alliance officials said on Friday, ending months of wrangling that had stalled formation of a government.

The decision appeared to make it all but certain that Mr. Maliki would form a new government and continue as prime minister.

[Return to headlines]

Turkish Nationalists Rally in Armenian Holy Site at Ani

Turkish nationalists have said Muslim prayers inside the ruins of a historic Christian cathedral in a move likely to cause friction with Armenians.

Hundreds of nationalists travelled to the ruins of the 11th Century cathedral at Ani in eastern Turkey to commemorate a Muslim victory there.

The action is being seen as a response to the reopening of another historic Armenian church last month in Turkey.

Armenians from across the world came to hear Mass at the church in Lake Van.

Ani, an uninhabited archaeological site, was once the capital of a medieval Armenian kingdom in the province of Kars.

Devlet Bahceli, head of the Nationalist Action Party (MHP), led the crowd saying prayers at the site.

The party said it was following the example of Turkish ruler Alp Arslan, who removed the cathedral’s cross and prayed there following his capture of Ani in 1064.

On 19 September, Armenian worshippers held a service at the island church in Lake Van for the first time in nearly 100 years.

The church, on an island in the lake, was damaged during the mass killing of Armenians during World War I.

It was restored by the Turkish government in 2007 and turned into a museum.

Turkey allowed the Mass to take place in the hope it would be seen as a gesture of reconciliation but some denounced the move as a publicity stunt.

Some Christians did not attend the service, complaining that the Turkish authorities had refused to place a cross on the roof of the building.

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

South Asia

Dozens of NATO Oil Tankers Attacked in Pakistan

SHIKARPUR, Pakistan (AP) — Suspected militants in southern Pakistan set ablaze more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan on Friday, highlighting the vulnerability of the U.S.-led mission a day after Pakistan closed a major border crossing.

The convoy of tankers attacked Friday was likely headed to a second crossing in southwest Pakistan that was not closed. It was not clear if the vehicles had been rerouted because of the closure at Torkham.

Around 80 percent of the fuel, spare parts, clothing and other non-lethal supplies for foreign forces in landlocked Afghanistan travels through Pakistan after arriving in the southern Arabian sea port of Karachi. The alliance has other supply routes to Afghanistan, but the Pakistani ones are the cheapest and most convenient.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gen Musharraf Warns of Pakistan Coup After Crisis Meeting in London

Gen Pervez Musharraf said the army should be given a constitutional role in the government of the Muslim state.

“The situation in Pakistan can only be solved when the military has some role,” he said. “If you want stability, checks and balances in the democratic structure of Pakistan, the military ought to have some sort of role.”

Rumours of an imminent coup have swept through Pakistan since an angry confrontation between the unpopular president and the army chief earlier this week. Gen Ashfaq Kayani, the hand-picked successor of Gen Musharraf, criticised President Asif Ali Zardari and Yusuf Gilani, the prime minister, for the government’s response to the floods that devastated the country in July, leaving at least 2,000 dead and millions displaced.

Gen Musharraf said the circumstances that forced him to launch a coup against the civilian government in 1999 had re-emerged. “In that one year, Pakistan was going down and a number of people, including politicians, women, men came to me, telling me ‘Why are you not acting? Are you going to act for Pakistan’s good?’


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

India Remains Calm After Ayodhya Holy Site Verdict

Calm prevailed in India a day after a court ordered splitting a disputed holy site in the northern town of Ayodhya between Hindus and Muslims.

Schools, shops and businesses reopened on Friday although thousands of troops remained in the streets on high alert.

In a majority verdict, judges gave control of the main disputed section, where a mosque was torn down in 1992, to Hindus.

Other parts of the site will be controlled by Muslims and a Hindu sect.

The destruction of the mosque by Hindu extremists led to widespread rioting in which some 2,000 people died.

It was some of the worst religious violence since the partition of India in 1947.

Hindus claim the site of the Babri Masjid is the birthplace of their deity, Ram, and want to build a temple there.


“The law and order situation throughout the country has been extremely peaceful,” Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said on Friday.

“We are very pleased and satisfied that the people of India have been respectful and dignified,” he added.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led the appeal for calm after the verdict was announced on Thursday afternoon in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state where the disputed site is located.

The court ruled that the site should be split, with the Muslim community getting control of a third, Hindus another third and the remainder going to a minority Hindu sect, Nirmohi Akhara, which was one of the early litigants in the case.

It said that the current status of the site should continue for the next three months to allow the land to be peacefully measured and divided.

The Hindus will keep the area where a small tent-shrine to Ram has been erected, lawyers said.

‘Not happy’

Both Hindu and Muslim lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling in the 60-year-old case to the Supreme Court.


Some Muslim leaders said they were dismay at the verdict.

Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the chief cleric of New Delhi’s main Jama Masjid mosque, said he was “definitely not happy” with the ruling, news agency AFP reported.

He said Muslims would not give up their claims to rebuild the mosque at the site.

Asaduddin Owaisi, a Muslim MP, told AFP that “there is anger building up among the Muslim community over the verdict”.

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

Indonesia: Police Anti-Terror Chief Replaced

Jakarta, 1 Oct. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — National Police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri has replaced counterterrorism chief Tito Karnavian, who will be assigned to the newly established National Antiterrorism Agency (BNPT).

“The Detachment 88 will be led by Sr. Comr. Mohammad Syafei,” said national Police spokesman Iskandar Hasan, referring to the national counterterrorism squad.

Syafei is the counterterrorism squad’s field commander. City Police chief detective Idham Azis will work as Syafii’s deputy.

The change of guard comes on the heel of a series of raids on suspected terrorists across the country. Under Karnavian’s leadership, the squad shot dead and captured several prominent terrorist leaders.

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

Indonesian Women Caned for Selling Food During Muslim Festival of Ramadan

This is the moment two women were publicly caned in Indonesia’s staunchly Muslim Aceh province on Friday for selling food.

The two women were found guilty of selling food during the fasting hours of Ramadan, thereby violating Islamic sharia law. Hundreds of people gathered to watch as Murni Amris, 27, received three lashes and Rukiah Abdullah, 22, received two at a mosque in the city of Jantho, southeast of the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, Indonesia.

“The two women were found selling rice in a stall at noon during Ramadan. The sharia forbids selling food during fasting hours at Ramadan,” said Marzuki Abdullah, Aceh’s sharia police head. Ms Amris owned the food stall where Ms Abdullah was selling the rice. Muslims are supposed to fast from dawn to dusk during the holy month of Ramadan, which took place during August and September this year, but there are exceptions in cases such as illness or pregnancy. Aceh, on the northern tip of Sumatra island, is one of several areas of Muslim-majority Indonesia where Islamic sharia laws have been adopted. The conservative province passed a law last year that imposes death by stoning on Muslim adulterers and a law under which homosexuality is punishable by long prison terms.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Musharraf Launches Movement to Regain Control of Pakistan

Pakistan’s former military ruler vowed to emerge as his country’s future saviour as he launched a new political party from exile in London.

Pervez Musharraf told a packed press conference of cheering supporters at the former National Liberal Club in Westminster that he had made mistakes while in office. But, launching the All Pakistan Muslim League, he added: “The time has come to make Pakistan into a progressive, modern Islamic state.” Musharraf, 67, said Pakistan’s current leaders were failing to “show any signs of light in the darkness that prevails in Pakistan”.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigerian Capital Rocked by Three Bombs on 50th Independence Anniversary

At least eight people were killed in Nigeria today when suspected militants from the country’s oil region attempted to wreck 50th independence anniversary celebrations with an unprecedented series of car bomb attacks on the capital.

The explosions came an hour after the main militant group in the oil-rich southern delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), threatened in an email to attack the festivities and warned people to evacuate the area.

“Several explosive devices have been successfully planted in and around the venue by our operatives working inside the government security services,” the email, signed by spokesman Jomo Gbomo, said. “In evacuating the area, keep a safe distance from vehicles and trash bins.”

President Goodluck Jonathan, who was inspecting a guard of honour at the time, called it a “wicked act of desperation by criminals and murderers”.

Police confirmed that two car bombs detonated outside the justice ministry. A third and smaller explosion hit a venue at nearby Eagle Square, where the president sat with hundreds of Nigerian and foreign dignitaries. Jonathan, who faces an election next year, left in an armoured limousine without making a scheduled national address. The celebrations, with army bands, dancing children and air force displays continued without him.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Nicole Ferrand: A Political Tremor Brewing in Peru

A few weeks ago, we at The Americas Report wrote an article about the current situation in Peru, as a country finally laying the foundations for economic prosperity, this after years of struggle and internal conflicts against two major terrorist groups: Shining Path and the MRTA.

Peru is doing extremely well with its economy recording growth of over 8% annually over the past five years. Inflation has been relatively low, averaging 4.5 percent between 2006 and 2008 and analysts and experts agree that Peru has all the potential to achieve economic sustainability. Investment continues to grow in the mining and energy industries and seven interest rate cuts last year. Shockingly, recent events that are taking place in the municipal elections in Lima could well have national implications that could affect the Presidential Elections of April 2011.

Peru’s democracy is still weak and even local races and trends tend to have tremendous effects at the national level. Take the case of the municipal elections in Lima, the capital of Peru, that are to take place this Sunday, October 3rd…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]


Alarmist Clive Hamilton: In an Attempt to Prevent Bad Weather, Immigration to Australia Should be Cut by a Factor of Six

Hamilton: ‘Listen to the climate [junk] scientists’ | Green Left Weekly

Climate denial still needs to be exposed, resisted and ridiculed at every turn because there is no doubt that climate deniers have made great strides in recent times. It’s a highly effective movement, which has shifted the political ground and also has had a large impact on public perceptions.

They have pursued an explicit strategy of sowing doubt in the minds of the public and political leaders about the validity of climate science. They are very effective in Australia, and are particularly effective in the United States.

My view is that we should cut immigration to Australia to about 50,000 a year, from the current levels of close to 300,000. And that 50,000 should be used to expand our humanitarian efforts, to expand the number of asylum seekers coming into Australia.

[This] would help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions and help us better fulfil our humanitarian obligations.

[12:13:42 PM] Baron 2:

           — Hat tip: Swenglish Rantings[Return to headlines]

U.S. Worsens Mexican Violence by Returning Criminal Aliens to Border Cities, Mayors Say

A coalition of Mexican mayors has asked the United States to stop deporting illegal immigrants who have been convicted of serious crimes in the U.S. to Mexican border cities, saying the deportations are contributing to Mexican border violence.

The request was made at a recent San Diego conference in which the mayors of four Mexican border cities and one U.S. mayor, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, gathered to discuss cross-border issues.

Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes blamed U.S. deportation policy for contributing to his city’s violence, saying that of the 80,000 people deported to Juarez in the past three years, 28,000 had U.S. criminal records — including 7,000 convicted rapists and 2,000 convicted murderers.

Those criminal deportees, he said, have contributed to the violence in Juarez, which has reported more than 2,200 murders this year. Reyes and the other Mexican mayors said that when the U.S. deports criminals back to Mexico, it should fly them to their hometowns, not just bus them to the border.


Juan Hernandez, founder of the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas and former director of Mexico’s Presidential Office for Mexicans, says he’s spoken to the border city mayors, and they don’t believe the U.S. is doing enough.

“Mexico believes that individuals who commit crimes in the United States should be prosecuted in the United States and not sent to Mexico to continue their performing of crimes,” he told

Critics of the Mexican lawmakers say the U.S. is prosecuting the criminals in question, and if Mexico wants to keep them out of its border towns, then it should be up to Mexico to lock them up or transport them elsewhere.

“It’s almost perverse that foreign officials would blame us for sending their criminals back to their country. Sovereignty entails responsibility. This country needs to take responsibility for its own criminals, and other countries — Mexico included — need to take responsibility for their own criminals and deal with them,” Ira Mehlman, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told

But Hernandez, a dual citizen of both the U.S. and Mexico, says the U.S. can’t wash its hands of this issue.

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

Culture Wars

Italy: Rome Holds First Gay Tennis Tournament

Rome, 30 Sept. (AKI) — Rome will hold its first gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tennis tournament from Thursday to Sunday. Mayor Gianni Alemanno will be among top officials attending the event, in which 250 athletes from dozens of countries are taking part.

The ‘A Smash for Civil Rights’ tournament is being organised by the Yellow Tennis Rome and Gay Project advocacy groups, the Rome city council and the Province of Rome.

Equal opportunities minister Mara Carfagna has also been invited to attend. Her ministry is a supporter of the event.

“The hope is that Rome can become the capital of sport aimed at equality and fighting homophobia,” said Gay Project president Imma Battaglia.

She said she hoped Rome would host the 2020 Olympics and the Gay Games at the same time.

The tournament is taking place at two south Rome tennis clubs, the Tennis Club Garden and Sporting Club La Torre, which have helped organise the event.

Yellow Tennis Rome says its mission is to involve people of all ages, races, sexual orientation, gender and religious beliefs in tennis.

The group already organises a national tennis tournament each year during the Rome Gay Pride week in June.

Yellow Tennis is also organising a doubles tournament from 29-31 October in the southern Italian city of Salerno in the Campania region.

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

UK: Death of the Office Joke: Coalition Enacts Harriet’s PC Equality Law Which Means Anyone Can Sue for Anything That Offends Them

Draconian new equality laws could spell the end of the office joke.

Ministers yesterday announced that the vast bulk of Labour’s controversial Equality Act would be implemented immediately, despite concerns about its impact on business and office life.

The legislation, championed by Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman, introduces a bewildering range of rights which allow staff to sue for almost any perceived offence they receive in the workplace.

It creates the controversial legal concept of ‘third party harassment’, under which workers will be able to sue over jokes and banter they find offensive — even if the comments are aimed at someone else and they weren’t there at the time the comments were made.

They can sue if they feel the comments ‘violate their dignity’ or create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’.

A one-off incident is enough to sue — there is no need for the ‘victim’ to have warned the perpetrator that their comments are unwelcome.

They could even have a case against their employer if a customer or contractor says something they find offensive.

One critic suggested employers could have to outlaw office banter to prevent offending anyone.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Climate Film Depicts Children Assassinated for Not Reducing Carbon Footprint

A new climate change infomercial released by a prominent global warming activist organization depicts children being assassinated for not reducing their carbon footprint, as AGW skeptics are grotesquely blown up with innards and blood splattering everywhere, a frightening reminder of the fact that the environmental agenda is merely a veil for a hideous religion of death, and that the vehemently discredited and increasingly desperate global warming movement is in the last death throws of its existence.

Entitled “No Pressure,” the clip begins by showing a teacher brainwashing children about CO2 emissions, before blowing up two kids who do not go along with the mantra and refuse to lower their “carbon footprint”.

The video continues in the same vein, as climate skeptics are liquidated and their bodies horribly ripped apart for having the temerity to hold a different viewpoint, in scenes that wouldn’t look out of place in the most stomach-churning horror movie.

Watch the clip. [see video at the link]

Stunned by the massive backlash the video has generated in just the first few hours of its release, the organization behind the stunt, 10:10 Global (email them), pulled the clip from their own website. “Sorry, we’ve taken this video down for now. More info coming very soon,” reads the text on the page where the video formerly appeared.

This video represents one of the last major death throws of the global warming movement. The sheer level of desperation, vitriol and idiocy contained in the four minute clip is indicative of an ideological group who are losing the scientific debate and are therefore forced to resort to crass and vile propaganda in a bid to shove their discredited message down people’s throats.

“What were they thinking? They weren’t, because this is going to have the exact opposite effect they intended it to have. I don’t have words to describe my disgust with the video,” wrote prominent climate change skeptic Anthony Watts.

“This is hate speech, pure and simple. It legitimizes almost any action against or characterization of those who do not agree with the most hysterical version of Catastrophic and Cataclysmic Climate Change—shoot ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out,” writes Thomas Fuller.

[Return to headlines]