Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101013

Financial Crisis
»A Global Financial Disaster is Imminent, Says Bernanke
»On Interest
»World Financial System Not Sustainable
»Detroit Archbishop Vigneron at Vatican Synod on Mideast, Seeking Dialogue With Islam, Judaism
»Iranian, Chinese Computers Also Discovered to Have Been Hacking D.C. Internet Voting System
»Justice Department Finds No Crime in Imam’s Killing in FBI Raid
»Microsoft’s Bing to Slurp Facebook Users’ Data and Likes
»New York: Four Teenagers on Hate Crime Charge Accused of Beating Muslim Classmate They Called a Terrorist
»Obama Agency Busts Plan to Sell Rifles to Americans
»Obama’s Healthcare Rules Will Shut Down Catholic Hospitals Nationwide
»‘Revolution Muslim’ A Gateway for Would-be Jihadis
»See Which Candidates Supported by Socialist Group
»Barbara Kay: A Friend of the Jews, Looking to Save Islam From Itself
»Calumny! The UN Votes Against Canada
»Court Gives Woman Second Chance for Niqab at Trial
»‘Islamic History Month’ Triggers Opposition
Europe and the EU
»Almost a Quarter of Europeans Can’t be Bothered With the Net
»Christofias Makes a Mockery of the Greek Cypriot Refugees and Their Human Rights
»Danish FM Meets Top Muslim Cleric to Defuse Cartoon Tension
»German University Launches Training for Imams
»Irish “Anti-War” Movement / Socialist Workers Party / People Before Profit
»Italians in Meningitis Breakthrough
»Letter From France: Hamburger Chain’s Decision Sparks Tensions Over Islam
»UK Sharia Chief — There is No Such Thing as Rape Within Marriage
»UK: Cancer Man Told 6 Months to Live Sells Everything Then Doctors Admit ‘We Made a Mistake’
»UK: Girls as Young as Nine Admitted to Hospital With Anorexia and Bulimia
»UK: Met Officers ‘Hate Living in London’
»UK: One in Six Boys Can’t Write Their Own Name by the Age of Five
»Why is Germany Playing Down Radical Islam?
»Wilders’ Impact Felt as Dutch Coalition Sworn in
»Xenophobic Attitudes in Germany at High Level
»Srdja Trifkovic: Hillary Clinton’s Ongoing Bosnian Fixation
North Africa
»Egypt: Scores of Muslim Brotherhood Members Arrested
Israel and the Palestinians
»October 12th — A Day of Infamy
Middle East
»Ahmadinejad Visits Lebanon and Rails Against Israel
»Al-Qaeda Webzine Suggests Crashing Trucks Into Crowds
»Barbara Boxer Approved Code Pink Trip to Fallujah to Donate $600,000 to Extremists to Murder US Soldiers
»Crossbows and Bolts: A Dangerous Nexus Between the Iranian Missile and WMD Programs
»Mideast Conflict Blamed for Christian Exodus
South Asia
»Afghan Pull-Out ‘Gradual’ Says Frattini
»Italy: Minister Says Afghan Troop Mission May Focus on Training
»Pakistan: Munawar Hassan Slams Vatican Statement
Culture Wars
»UK: New BBC Guidelines Require ‘Due Impartiality’ On Religion

Financial Crisis

A Global Financial Disaster is Imminent, Says Bernanke

Notwithstanding the jargon for insiders, the chairman of the Federal Reserve says that the current situation cannot be sustained. There will be major consequences for the public debt, pension plans and health care programmes of the United States, Europe and Japan. The only way out is belt-tightening, less democracy and greater power to the banking system.

Milan (AsiaNews) — The US and global financial systems are on the brink of disaster, but do not take the word of this commentator to believe it. Although AsiaNews has been saying it for almost five years[1], read what Ben Shlomo Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, has to say.[2] Obviously, he uses the typical jargon of economists, but once you get through the lingo (a couple of courses in political economy are enough to put it into everyday language), the meaning of the first part of what he said on 4 October (available on the Federal Reserve website) at the annual meeting of the Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council, in Providence, Rhode Island, becomes clear. Whilst the “independent” press did not pick up on Bernanke’s important public speech, AsiaNews was handed a scoop on a silver platter without much effort, courtesy of the Federal Reserve and the same “independent” press. Our readers can thus vet some of the excerpts from the original speech translated into ordinary language (sceptics can always check the original in the footnotes).

In his speech, Bernanke[3] said that the recession is bad, and that its effects will not be only short-term. As the US population ages (longer life expectancy), the existing pension system and public health programmes are bound to be overburdened (what is true for the United States is true for all developed nations, and many others as well, except Chile because of General Pinochet’s well-known reform). State and local finances are also in trouble, but the real problem is at the federal level[4], which is what is discussed next.

The public debt ballooned in a short period of time (as AsiaNews had noted from the start, never has such a huge debt appeared so suddenly), reaching levels seen only at the end of the Second World War [5] (a comparison noted by this small Catholic missionary news agency). The mild recovery that is currently underway should not fool us. Soon (in the medium-long term according to Bernanke), the unsustainability of the situation will be obvious to all. The current respite should not lead anyone to think that the storm is over[6] for there is no more money for pensions and health care (Bernanke blames aging, leaving out military spending, whilst AsiaNew included it in reaching its conclusions). Today[7], we are paying for a crisis, the chairman said, that is long in the making, a systemic crisis, and we cannot agree more. To illustrate his point, Bernanke uses the case of Rhode Island, the smallest state in the Union, but the problem is more general and affects Europe and Japan as well and even more.[8]

At this point in his speech, Bernanke said that the situation is so bad that it could get out of control at any time.[9] Moreover, he added that the tax system[10] is inefficient, unfair and complex with negative consequences for economic activities, public spending is not only inefficient in meeting its goals but also too high. Thus, the problem is thus bad in both the short and medium term because the country is in the hands of foreign creditors and higher taxes would cripple the whole country.[11] Raising taxes is a bad idea because it would deprive the United States of the only card at our disposal, which should be held back for extreme situations of unrest caused by recession, wars and natural disasters.[12] It is not clear when insolvency on the public debt will come, but it could be sooner than later. Politicians should thus get their act together, and adopt austerity measures now because it will take years before their effects will be felt.[13]

Where the Fed chairman and AsiaNews agree ends here. In the remainder of his speech, he has more interesting things to say. In it, Bernanke says that adopting the right austerity measures is hard to do under the current congressional system (House and Senate) in which the people annoyingly elect members on an regularly basis.[14]

Students and sceptics can look at the rest of the speech, too long to be reported here, on the Federal Reserve website, but its thrust is simple: decisions about belt-tightening should not be in the hands of Congress, which ought to be bound by “fiscal rules”. For Bernanke, Congress should not have the power to determine taxes.

He backs his argument by looking at past attempts to introduce similar rules in the United States. More specifically, he looks at the European (Soviet) Union, and its treaties imposing “fiscal rules” on “national” parliaments, which European rulers have tried to make even more coercive, a step he admires.[15] He is referring here to the ‘Stability Pact’ adopted in June 2010, just a few months ago following the crisis that hit Greece and other European countries (the so-called PIGS). The Fed chairman already knows that national budgets are no longer in the hands of “national” parliaments or governments, but are determined by a “soviet”, or council (in Russian), of unelected officials. This central European body decides public spending for 300 million Europeans. For Greenspan’s successor advocates, the same should be done in the United States.

Brilliant, clear and ingenious compared to the nobodies in other countries, or his European counterparts, chairman Bernanke does not beat around the bush. Like any good American, he tells it like it is, in a straightforward manner. For him, representative democracy is an old frill, an heirloom better placed in a protected glass case so that it cannot interfere with those who wield real power, even if it means crushing much of the population, especially the middle class, with a so-called (yet sadly necessary) “austerity” package to save those who are too big to fail. Despite its great and glaring errors, or even its crimes, the banking system and its men are above everyone else. Economic and financial “instability” can always be used to shield and protect them, when wielded as a powerful weapon of blackmail.

Such an assault on democracy in the country that has made it its banner may appear incredible, a real paradox. Yet, all things considered, what Bernanke says is logical. As chairman of the Federal Reserve, he is not mandated to serve his fellow Americans. He is the head of the central bank, i.e. the syndicated instrument of the bank system.

[1] See Maurizio d’Orlando, “This year, US public debt could reach end game,” in AsiaNews, 3 March 2010.

[2] See Ben S. Bernanke, “Fiscal Sustainability and Fiscal Rules,” Federal Reserve, 4 October 2010.

[3] The recent deep recession and the subsequent slow recovery have created severe budgetary pressures not only for many households and businesses, but for governments as well. Indeed, in the United States, governments at all levels are grappling not only with the near-term effects of economic weakness, but also with the longer-run pressures that will be generated by the need to provide health care and retirement security to an aging population. There is no way around it—meeting these challenges will require policymakers and the public to make some very difficult decisions and to accept some sacrifices. But history makes clear that countries that continually spend beyond their means suffer slower growth in incomes and living standards and are prone to greater economic and financial instability. Conversely, good fiscal management is a cornerstone of sustainable growth and prosperity.

[4] Although state and local governments face significant fiscal challenges, my primary focus today will be the federal budget situation and its economic implications.1# I will describe the factors underlying current and projected budget deficits and explain why it is crucially important that we put U.S. fiscal policy on a sustainable path. I will also offer some thoughts on whether new fiscal rules or institutions might help promote a successful transition to fiscal sustainability in the United States.

[5] The budgetary position of the federal government has deteriorated substantially during the past two fiscal years, with the budget deficit averaging 9-1/2 percent of national income during that time. For comparison, the deficit averaged 2 percent of national income for the fiscal years 2005 to 2007, prior to the onset of the recession and financial crisis. The recent deterioration was largely the result of a sharp decline in tax revenues brought about by the recession and the subsequent slow recovery, as well as by increases in federal spending needed to alleviate the recession and stabilize the financial system. As a result of these deficits, the accumulated federal debt measured relative to national income has increased to a level not seen since the aftermath of World War II.

[6] For now, the budget deficit has stabilized and, so long as the economy and financial markets continue to recover, it should narrow relative to national income over the next few years. Economic conditions provide little scope for reducing deficits significantly further over the next year or two; indeed, premature fiscal tightening could put the recovery at risk. Over the medium- and long-term, however, the story is quite different. If current policy settings are maintained, and under reasonable assumptions about economic growth, the federal budget will be on an unsustainable path in coming years, with the ratio of federal debt held by the public to national income rising at an increasing pace.2# Moreover, as the national debt grows, so will the associated interest payments, which in turn will lead to further increases in projected deficits. Expectations of large and increasing deficits in the future could inhibit current household and business spending—for example, by reducing confidence in the longer-term prospects for the economy or by increasing uncertainty about future tax burdens and government spending—and thus restrain the recovery. Concerns about the government’s long-run fiscal position may also constrain the flexibility of fiscal policy to respond to current economic conditions. Accordingly, steps taken today to improve the country’s longer-term fiscal position would not only help secure longer-term economic and financial stability, they could also improve the near-term economic outlook.

[7] Our fiscal challenges are especially daunting because they are mostly the product of powerful underlying trends, not short-term or temporary factors. Two of the most important driving forces are the aging of the U.S. population, the pace of which will intensify over the next couple of decades as the baby-boom generation retires, and rapidly rising health-care costs. As the health-care needs of the aging population increase, federal health-care programs are on track to be by far the biggest single source of fiscal imbalances over the longer term. Indeed, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the ratio of federal spending for health-care programs (principally Medicare and Medicaid) to national income will double over the next 25 years, and continue to rise significantly further after that.3# The ability to control health-care costs as our population gets older, while still providing high-quality care to those who need it, will be critical not only for budgetary reasons but for maintaining the dynamism of the broader economy as well. The aging of the U.S. population will also strain Social Security, as the number of workers paying taxes into the system rises more slowly than the number of people receiving benefits. This year, there are about five individuals between the ages of 20 and 64 for each person aged 65 and older. By 2030, when most of the baby boomers will have retired, this ratio is projected to decline to around 3, and it may subsequently fall yet further as life expectancies continue to increase. Overall, the projected fiscal pressures associated with Social Security are considerably smaller than the pressures associated with federal health programs, but they still present a significant challenge to policymakers.

[8] The same underlying trends affecting federal finances will also put substantial pressures on state and local budgets, as organizations like yours have helped to highlight.4# In Rhode Island, as in other states, the retirement of state employees, together with continuing increases in health-care costs, will cause public pension and retiree health-care obligations to become increasingly difficult to meet. Estimates of unfunded pension liabilities for the states as whole span a wide range, but some researchers put the figure as high as $2 trillion at the end of 2009.5# Estimates of states’ liabilities for retiree health benefits are even more uncertain because of the difficulty of projecting medical costs decades into the future. However, one recent estimate suggests that state governments have a collective liability of almost $600 billion for retiree health benefits.6# These health benefits have usually been handled on a pay-as-you-go basis and therefore could impose a substantial fiscal burden in coming years as large numbers of state workers retire. It may be scant comfort, but the United States is not alone in facing fiscal challenges. The global recession has dealt a blow to the fiscal positions of most other advanced economies, and, as in the United States, their expenditures for public health care and pensions are expected to rise substantially in the coming decades as their populations age.7# Indeed, the population of the United States overall is younger than those of a number of European countries as well as Japan.8#

[9] Let me return to the issue of longer-term fiscal sustainability. As I have discussed, projections by the CBO and others show future budget deficits and debts rising indefinitely, and at increasing rates. To be sure, projections are to some degree only hypothetical exercises. Almost by definition, unsustainable trajectories of deficits and debts will never actually transpire, because creditors would never be willing to lend to a country in which the fiscal debt relative to the national income is rising without limit. Herbert Stein, a wise economist, once said, “If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.”9# One way or the other, fiscal adjustments sufficient to stabilize the federal budget will certainly occur at some point. The only real question is whether these adjustments will take place through a careful and deliberative process that weighs priorities and gives people plenty of time to adjust to changes in government programs or tax policies, or whether the needed fiscal adjustments will be a rapid and painful response to a looming or actual fiscal crisis. Although the choices and tradeoffs necessary to achieve fiscal sustainability are difficult indeed, surely it is better to make these choices deliberatively and thoughtfully.

[10] Arguably, the imperative to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability is an opportunity as well as a challenge. Opportunities for both taxing and spending reforms are ample. For example, most people agree that the U.S. tax code is less efficient and less equitable than it might be; moreover, the code is excessively complex and imposes heavy administrative and compliance costs. Collecting revenues through a more efficient, better-designed tax system could improve economic growth and make achieving sustainable fiscal policies at least somewhat easier. Likewise, many federal spending programs doubtless could be reformed to achieve their stated objectives more effectively and at lower cost. Certainly, continued efforts to reduce health-care costs and government health spending, while continuing to ensure appropriate care for those who need it, should be a top priority.

[11] Failing to address our unsustainable fiscal situation exposes our country to serious economic costs and risks. In the short run, as I have noted, concerns and uncertainty about exploding future deficits could make households, businesses, and investors more cautious about spending, capital investment, and hiring. In the longer term, a rising level of government debt relative to national income is likely to put upward pressure on interest rates and thus inhibit capital formation, productivity, and economic growth. Larger government deficits increase our reliance on foreign lenders, all else being equal, implying that the share of U.S. national income devoted to paying interest to foreign investors will increase over time. Income paid to foreign investors is not available for domestic consumption or investment. And an increasingly large cost of servicing a growing national debt means that the adjustments, when they come, could be sharp and disruptive. For example, large tax increases that might be imposed to cover the rising interest on the debt would slow potential growth by reducing incentives to work, save, hire, and invest. Finally, a large federal debt decreases the flexibility of policymakers to temporarily increase spending as needed to address future emergencies, such as recessions, wars, or natural disasters.

[12] Finally, a large federal debt decreases the flexibility of policymakers to temporarily increase spending as needed to address future emergencies, such as recessions, wars, or natural disasters.

[13] It would be difficult to identify a specific threshold at which federal debt begins to pose more substantial costs and risks to the nation’s economy. Perhaps no bright line exists; the costs and risks may grow more or less continuously as the federal debt rises. What we do know, however, is that the threat to our economy is real and growing, which should be sufficient reason for fiscal policymakers to put in place a credible plan for bringing deficits down to sustainable levels over the medium term. The sooner a plan is established, the longer affected individuals will have to prepare for the necessary changes. Indeed, in the past, long lead times have helped make necessary adjustments less painful and thus politically feasible. For example, the gradual step-up in the full retirement age for Social Security was enacted in 1983, but it did not begin to take effect until 2003 and will not be completed until 2027, thus giving future retirees ample time to adjust their plans for work, saving, and retirement.

[14] Amid all of the uncertainty surrounding the long-term economic and budgetary outlook, one certainty is that both current and future Congresses and Presidents will have to make some very tough decisions to put the budget back on a sustainable trajectory. Can these tough decisions be made easier for our elected leaders? At various times, some U.S. Congresses and foreign governments have adopted fiscal rules to help structure the budget process. Fiscal rules are legislative agreements intended to promote fiscal responsibility by constraining decisions about spending and taxes. For example, fiscal rules may impose constraints on key budget aggregates, such as total government expenditures, deficits, or debt. In the remainder of my remarks I will discuss the use of fiscal rules to address longer-term budget problems, beginning with a review of the U.S. and foreign experience.

[15] Many other countries have experience with fiscal rules. The European Union, by treaty, established fiscal rules in the early 1990s, with the goal of ensuring that all members would maintain sustainable fiscal policies. The rules specified that countries should keep their government deficits at or below 3 percent of their gross domestic products (GDP), and that government debt should not exceed 60 percent of GDP. Even before the recent financial crisis and recession, however, the enforcement mechanisms for these rules did not prevent these targets from being breached, and fiscal problems in several euro-area countries have recently been a source of financial and economic stress. European leaders are working to strengthen their tools for enforcing fiscal discipline.

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

On Interest

And what percentage of prices can be related to interest? It depends on the kind of business, particularly how capital intensive it is. Going from 12% for garbage collection to 77% for renting a house. All in all about 40% of prices can be traced back to costs for capital. These figures are by Kennedy and they have been corroborated by an independent study done by Erasmus University, Rotterdam, the Netherlands under the supervision of STRO, a leading monetary think tank in the Netherlands.

So, you lose 40% (!!!!) of your disposable income to interest through prices.

6. Interest is being payed by people borrowing money and received by people having loads of it. So it is per definition a wealth transfer from poor to rich.

It transpires, that about 80% of the poorest people pay more interest than they receive to the richest 10%. The next richest 10% pay as much as they receive. This means the vast majority is losing a substantial part of their money to interest. The richest own the banks or have a lot of money there.

We must keep in mind that this is totally for nothing, since most of the money is printed at the time it is loaned out.

How much money are we talking about? I have only figures for Germany, but reason suggests it is basically the same everywhere.

In Germany the poorest 80% pay 1 billion Euros in interest to the richest 10% PER DAY. Yes, that’s right, one billion euros per day. That is a grand total of 365 billion euro’s per year. That is one seventh of German GDP and extrapolating this to America, the poorest 80% must be paying at least a trillion a year.

It conclusively explains the old adage that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

This is the hidden tax that nobody is talking about.

[Return to headlines]

World Financial System Not Sustainable

“No sovereign government should ever, under any circumstances, give over democratic control of its money supply to bankers.” -Prof John Hotson, University of Waterloo

While in Toronto recently, I met Sydney White who told me about Prof. John Hotson who was a leading Canadian exponent of banking reform. He died under suspicious circumstances during an operation in 1996. This is an excerpt from an article entitled “Understanding Money” which he wrote shortly before his murder. Needless to say, he has no Wikipedia entry.

The financial system the world has evolved on the Bank of England model is not sustainable. It creates nearly all money as debt. Such money only exists as long as someone is willing and able to pay interest on it. It disappears, wholly or partially, in recurring financial crises. Such a system requires that new debt must be created faster than principal and interest payments fall due on old debt. A sustainable financial system would enable the real economy to be maintained decade after decade and century after century at its full employment potential without recurring inflation and recession. By this standard, a financial system that creates money only through the creation of debt is inherently unsustainable. When a bank makes a loan, the principal amount of the loan is added to the borrower’s bank balance. The borrower, however, has promised to repay the loan plus interest even though the loan has created only the amount of money required to repay the principal-but not the amount of the interest. Therefore unless indebtedness continually grows it is impossible for all loans to be repaid as they come due. Furthermore, during the life of a loan some of the money will be saved and re-lent by individual bond purchasers, by savings banks, insurance companies etc. These loans do not create new money, but they do create debt. While we use only one mechanism — bank loans — to create money, we use several mechanisms to create debt, thus making it inevitable that debt will grow faster than the money with which to pay it. Recurring cycles of inflation, recession, and depression are a nearly inevitable consequence.

[Return to headlines]


Detroit Archbishop Vigneron at Vatican Synod on Mideast, Seeking Dialogue With Islam, Judaism

DETROIT — Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit is one of three Roman Catholic prelates from North America at the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

The gathering of 185 bishops from around the world began runs through Oct. 24.

Most participants are from Eastern Catholic churches, and most of the discussion is in Arabic. Those attending also include Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, leader of the Southfield-based Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle.

The focus is strengthening the church in the Middle East and bolstering dialogue there with leaders of Islam and Judaism.

Southeast Michigan has many members of Eastern rites, including Melkite, Maronite, Chaldean, Syrian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Byzantine and Armenian. The Detroit area has one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States and is home to many Mideast refugees.

Charges against Islamic center are an affront to entire Muslim community

AS PAST and current presidents, respectively, of the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland, we appreciate that the group designating itself as Americans for Peace and Tolerance has found the educational experience at our center to its satisfaction (“Mosque video flap is a case of attacking the messenger,” Letters, Oct. 5). As key players in the development of community outreach at our center, we have also had contact with the current leadership of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and the Muslim American Society. On this basis we have absolute confidence in their integrity and find any suggestion that they would harbor, let alone promote, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-American diatribes totally contrary to their personal character and the transparent inter-religious outreach they have endorsed.

Though many of the Islamic centers in the Boston area are geographically dispersed for the convenience of their congregants, all of these centers view the ISBCC as their flagship in representing Islam, with an open welcome and community outreach to all. We, therefore, find the allegations made by Americans for Peace and Tolerance against the ISBCC most disturbing and view them as a blanket criticism of all Muslims in the area. We have noted the vendetta waged by this group against the ISBCC for some time, but had hoped that the good will being engendered with other large Christian and Jewish groups would help to diminish their vitriol. Clearly, as this has not been the case, we now openly declare our solidarity with the ISBCC and consider any attacks against it as a denigration of the entire Muslim community.

Abdul Cader Asmal Malik Khan


In addition to Asmal, six additional former presidents of the Islamic Center of Boston in Wayland cosigned this letter.

Fears of Sharia Law in America Grow Among Conservatives

The rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in America has brought with it a wave of largely-unsubstantiated suggestions from conservative media commentators and politicians that America is at risk of falling under the sway of Sharia law.

First, a definition: Sharia law is strict Islamic law. It is designed to guide devout Muslims in their personal and professional dealings, and has been used by the Taliban and others to justify limits on women’s rights and harsh punishments, including amputation and stoning. (It is open to interpretation, however; here’s a helpful backgrounder from the Council on Foreign Relations.)

Last week, Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle invoked Sharia law when asked about “Muslims wanting to take over the United States.”

“They are building mosques all over the place,” the questioner told Angle. “They want to build one near [ground zero]. And they seem to be getting their way. On a TV program just last night I saw that they are taking over a city in Michigan.”

After stating that the “militant terrorist situation” in question “isn’t a widespread thing,” Angle said this: “First of all, Dearborn, Michigan, and Frankford, Texas are on American soil, and under Constitutional law. Not Sharia law. And I don’t know how that happened in the United States.”

“It seems to me there is something fundamentally wrong with allowing a foreign system of law to even take hold in any municipality or government situation in our United States,” she added.

The statement drew a rebuke from Dearborn Mayor Jack O’ Reilly, who said Angle “doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” (As for Frankford, it reportedly doesn’t exist, but is a former town annexed into Dallas 35 years ago.) The Dearborn claim may have been grounded in the arrest of four Christian evangelists for disorderly conduct at an Arab cultural festival in June, which some conservatives took as evidence that Sharia law had come to Michigan.

media matters video link:

The notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been percolating in the conservative media for a while. Fox News’ Sean Hannity suggested the arrest of the Christian missionaries in Dearborn reflected the possibility that “Sharia law is taking over in Dearborn,” as did Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade, who interviewed one of the men who was arrested.

At the Values Voters summit in September, Newt Gingrich said — to a standing ovation — that “[w]e should have a federal law that says Sharia law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States.” He has also warned that jihadists are trying “to replace Western civilization with a radical imposition of Sharia.”

To support his argument, Gingrich cites a 2009 judgment in New Jersey that a man had not sexually assaulted his wife because his behavior was “consistent with his practices.” The decision was later overturned, and stands as “the one and only instance of stealth sharia that anyone has been able to find,” according to the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson.

The outcry over Sharia law has been tied in large part to the controversy around the Islamic cultural center two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attacks, as well as other mosques around the country. In August, Dick Morris said on Fox News that the cultural center will be used to “train and recruit Sharia law advocates who become terrorists.”

Meanwhile, a former county Republican Party chairman told the Washington Post that residents opposed to a proposed mosque in Tennessee are worried that “the Muslims coming in here will keep growing in numbers and override our system of law and impose Sharia law.”

On the Internet, which is awash in warnings about Sharia law, Pamela Geller of the influential conservative blog Atlas Shrugged warns of “creeping Sharia” in the United States.

“It’s a drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. The mosque-ing of the workplace where you’re imposing prayer times on union contracts, non-Muslim workers have to lengthen their day: it’s wrong,” she told the New York Times. “And in places like Greeley and in Marshall, in Colorado, the media doesn’t report on it, but they’ve come to fisticuffs, there’s been rioting.”

Geller’s comments prompted the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg to write that “a Martian takeover of New Jersey is more likely than the imposition of a caliphate, or of Muslim law, on America.” He added: “Only a true paranoid could look at America as it is today and see the creeping takeover of Islamist caliphate ideology.”

But Geller is far from alone in suggesting that Sharia law is making inroads. In the right-leaning tabloid the New York Post this week, columnist Andrea Peyser warned readers that “[c]oming soon to a TV in your child’s bedroom is a posse of righteous, Sharia-compliant Muslim superheroes.”

Peyser quoted a column suggesting the show was designed to indoctrinate children and said it “has the seal of approval of a Sharia board.”

On November 2nd, voters in Oklahoma — a state not exactly awash in Islamic activity — are expected to vote in favor of a “Save Our State” constitutional amendment forbidding the state’s courts to consider Sharia or international law in making rulings.

Backers of the law say they don’t want the United States to go the way of the United Kingdom, where the archbishop of Canterbury generated an uproar more than two years ago by suggesting that British law make room for Sharia. British newspapers reported later that year that “the government has quietly sanctioned the powers for Sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.” (Tribunals grounded in Sharia law are only binding if both parties agreed to give the judges power to make rulings.)

As it turns out, U.S. courts “already recognize and enforce Sharia in everything from commercial contracts to divorce settlements, to wills and estates,” as NPR reports.

The system in the U.S. is similar to Britain: Courts are open to honoring agreements made under Islamic (or Christian, or Jewish) law and worked out by religious tribunals — within reason. As Marc Stern of the American Jewish Committee told NPR, U.S. law supersedes religious agreements when those agreements are seen as grossly unfair. For example, when a Muslim husband in Maryland argued that he should be allowed to give his wife nothing when they divorced, citing Islamic law, the courts ruled that he did not have the right to do so.

All this isn’t to say that there isn’t the possibility that a greater Muslim presence in the United States won’t have some impact on the law; Christian-backed blue laws, which limit the sale of alcohol on Sundays in order to foster religious observance, are a good example of such religious influence.

But considering that there are perhaps two million Muslims in the United States, a country with a population of more than 310 million, fears of an outbreak of Sharia law seem overblown at best. Even if there is somehow a serious push for the imposition of Sharia law — or any other religious law — it would quickly run up against the first amendment to the Constitution.

“Were not going to see hand chopping off, were not going to see retaliatory violence, we’re not going to see underage marriages, were not going to see polygamous marriages,” Clark Lombardi of the University of Washington Law School told NPR. “The U.S. courts simply wouldn’t do it.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Iranian, Chinese Computers Also Discovered to Have Been Hacking D.C. Internet Voting System

A University of Michigan computer scientist and his team were not the only ones attempting to hack the Internet Vote scheme that Washington D.C. had planned to roll out for actual use with military and overseas voters in this November’s mid-term election.

According to testimony given to a D.C. City Council committee last Friday by J. Alex Halderman, asst. professor of electrical engineering and computer science at University of Michigan, hackers from Iran and China were also attempting to access the very same network infrastructure, even as his own team of students had successfully done so, taking over the entirety of the Internet Voting system which had been opened for a first-of-its-kind live test.

[See our report last week on details of what had already been disclosed about Halderman’s startling hack prior to last Friday’s hearing.]

“While we were in control of these systems we observed other attack attempts originating from computers in Iran and China,” Halderman testified. “These attackers were attempting to guess the same master password that we did. And since it was only four letters long, they would likely have soon succeeded.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Justice Department Finds No Crime in Imam’s Killing in FBI Raid

No federal crime occurred when FBI agents shot to death a Muslim cleric in Michigan during a raid last year, the Justice Department announced Wednesday. A Justice Department statement said no further investigation is needed in the death of Luqman Ameen Abdullah, who died on October 28, 2009, in the raid in Dearborn, Michigan. Abdullah was fatally shot after he fired at law enforcement agents who were trying to arrest him and four other suspects, authorities say. An FBI dog also was killed. Authorities say Abdullah was the imam at a Detroit mosque where he preached offensive jihad, including violence against the U.S. government and law enforcement agencies. He was one of 11 men charged last year with conspiracy to commit federal crimes, including theft from interstate shipments, mail fraud to obtain the proceeds of arson, illegal possession and sale of firearms, and tampering with motor vehicle identification numbers, the FBI said. A criminal complaint stated that he repeatedly told three confidential informants he would never be taken alive, saying, “If they’re coming to get me, I’ll just strap a bomb on and blow up everybody.” In Wednesday’s statement, the Justice Department said that to establish a criminal violation in the case, the government would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an officer acted “with the specific intent to do something the law forbids.” Thomas Perez, the assistant attorney general for civil rights, met with members of Abdullah’s family on Wednesday to explain that the evidence “does not reveal” a criminal violation, the statement said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Microsoft’s Bing to Slurp Facebook Users’ Data and Likes

Microsoft and Facebook are partnering on Bing, folding in information from 500 million Facebookers into Microsoft’s search engine — but claiming they’ll respect your privacy.

The companies rolled out a feature Wednesday that will search through your Facebook contacts’ Likes and fire recommendations into Bing trawled from your peeps’ Facebook posts to supplement Bing searches.

Also, Bing will slurp your friends’ profiles to help Bing users when they’re searching for specific individuals — contacts, long-lost school friends — or just Googling Binging around on a wet Friday afternoon waiting for the clock to run down. Returns in both cases are pulled into the Bing results page using a Facebook module for Bing.

The features are live now, with deeper integration planned. Microsoft and Facebook want to bring in your friends across different pages in the “near term”. The ability to supplement Bing with returns from Facebook users considered domain experts is “further out”.

Microsoft called this the initial step in harnessing the “tremendous potential” of social networks and the Facebook platform, “taking today’s search experience to the next level.”

Unveiling the features on Microsoft’s Mountain View, California, campus, Microsoft and Facebook were at pains to stress the new features’ privacy aspects when grilled by the press.

Speaking were Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and vice president of partnerships and platform marketing Dan Rose, along with the president of Microsoft’s online services business Qi Lu and senior vice president of online audiences Yusuf Mehdi.

They flagged up two features they claim will protect people’s privacy.

[Return to headlines]

New York: Four Teenagers on Hate Crime Charge Accused of Beating Muslim Classmate They Called a Terrorist

Four teenagers were facing hate crime charges today for allegedly bullying a Muslim classmate in their New York school.

The victim, now 16, was said to have been subjected to a harrowing ordeal in which he was frequently labelled a ‘terrorist’, punched in the groin and was spat in the face.

It was the latest example of a spate of hate crimes which have shocked New York, after it emerged last week that a Bronx gang tortured two teenagers and an adult for being gay.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Agency Busts Plan to Sell Rifles to Americans

Feds call popular gun a ‘threat,’ proposed shipments canceled

The Obama-run Washington bureaucracy has classified a common and reliable rifle, the M1 Garand, as a “threat to public safety in the U.S.,” and the State Department has canceled plans by the Republic of Korea to return tens of thousands of surplus rifles to the U.S. for sale in the consumer market.

The stunning classification of an ordinary gun that was used in the U.S. military for two decades and issued to thousands of soldiers and Marines during World War II and Korea as a threat came in a document by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

It is being publicized by Examiner gun rights writer David Codrea, who said the federal agency appeared alarmed that there would be “no more controls [over imported Garands] than any other firearm.”

“If I read this right, what they’re saying is, every gun poses a threat to public safety in the U.S.,” he wrote. “This is the same rationale used in model-specific ‘assault weapons’ bans — the type of gun is somehow deemed relevant, even though untold numbers of such firearms are already peaceably owned in this country, and even though no supporting evidence for this conclusion exists beyond agenda-promoting speculation.”


The gun expert who acted as a source for WND said the implications of the case are significant for several reasons. One is that a “5-year-old” could figure out that if the government classifies one type of rifle as a “threat,” there could be similar designations for other kinds of firearms.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Healthcare Rules Will Shut Down Catholic Hospitals Nationwide

Some of Obamacare’s most destructive forces are quickly becoming common knowledge. We have, for instance, become painfully aware that Obama’s claim that we all could keep our plans and doctors “if you like them” is an outright falsehood as some people are already losing their coverage.

It is also becoming clear that companies will be dropping plans all over the place making a lie of the idea that plans will be cheaper and easier to get once Obamacre comes into force. Another aspect of the destructive nature of this top down-style of “healthcare” is that once government takes over the system Democrats will assume they have the power to force religious-based healthcare providers to perform abortions and this will cause thousands of facilities to close down. This will, of course, make care even harder to get in many cities across the nation as hospital beds are lost in great numbers.

In fact, we are already seeing this disastrous situation of closing hospitals playing out in Scranton, Pennsylvania where three Catholic-operated hospitals are likely going to be shut down and/or sold off because of the negative affects Obamacare will have on these facilities.

Kevin Cook, the CEO of Mercy Health Partners, the company that operates these three hospitals, told WNEP TV News that Obamacare “absolutely” playing a role in the decision to sell off the facilities.

“Health care reform is absolutely playing a role.” Cook said. “Was it the precipitating factor in this decision? No, but was it a factor in our planning over the next five years? Absolutely.”

Almost immediately Obama associate Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association came out to slam Mr. Cook.


The CHA is a for profit company that works for some Catholic hospitals as a sort of trade association and Keehan is a close associate of the president and a prominent supporter of Obamacare. Keehan was even a recipient of one of the 21 pens that Obama used to sign the Orwellian named Affordable Care Act— much to the chagrin of Catholic Bishops.

This Keehan apostate is constantly put forth by the Old Media as some representative of Catholic hospitals. Worse few Old Media outlets note that she is an Obamacare activist and Obama associate.

As Jeffery Lord of the Spectator says, “In other words, Sister Carol is not just some kindly nun who reminds you of the nun whacking your knuckles in grade school for this or that offense. No, in the world of Washington Sister Carol is a powerhouse lobbyist—make that a liberal social justice lobbyist— with a clear set of political skills and a very, very high-powered set of very elite friends.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Revolution Muslim’ A Gateway for Would-be Jihadis

When Yousef al-Khattab demonstrated outside New York mosques just a couple of years ago, it was pretty obvious where he stood on the political spectrum.

“All we want is the non-Muslims, at this point, off the lands of Muhammad. … We want the kafirs out of it,” Khattab said in one interview, using a term for infidels or Muslim nonbelievers. When asked if he wanted Islam to take over the world, his answer was unequivocal: “Of course I want it to … and it will.”

To promote that world view, Khattab and a friend of his — Columbia University graduate Younes Abdullah Mohammed — started a group called Revolution Muslim. Khattab says it was supposed to be both a radical Islamic organization and a movement. It operates openly and freely in New York City and on the Web. He says their blog receives 1,500 hits a day, while the Revolution Muslim YouTube channel has almost 1,000 subscribers.

The group’s goals include establishing Islamic law in the U.S., destroying Israel and taking al-Qaida’s messages to the masses.

“Everything we did was basically open,” Khattab says one recent afternoon in New York. “Our meetings would usually consist of a small lecture; sometimes, in the early period, it would be a Sheik Abdullah Faisal recording of some sort and then analysis. … That’s basically what it was all about.”

It sounds innocent enough. But Abdullah Faisal, the spiritual leader of the group, has preached the message of radical Islam for some time. He told NPR several months ago in Jamaica that Muslims had to fight against the people who were raping their women and robbing their lands.

The cleric served five years in prison in the United Kingdom for incitement to terrorism. And Kenya recently deported him back to Jamaica. Authorities there said he was trying to recruit foreign fighters for a terrorist group in Somalia called al-Shabab.

Faisal says that if he had actually done that, thousands would have left Kenya for Somalia. He denies he was ever in the recruitment business.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

See Which Candidates Supported by Socialist Group

Marxist-oriented organization seeks to work within Democratic Party

A U.S.-based Marxist-oriented socialist organization has released a list of Massachusetts politicians it supports in upcoming congressional and state Senate elections.

The list was released by the Yankee Radical, the Boston newsletter of the Institute for Democratic Socialism, the educational arm of Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA.

Among the candidates supported by the DSA are:

[see URL for long list]

Working within Democratic Party

As WND was first to report, the DSA has been closely linked to the Democratic Party, in particular to the party’s Progressive Caucus.

Until 1999, the website of the Progressive Caucus was hosted by the DSA. Following an expose of the link between the two organizations in a WND column by Joseph Farah, the Progressive Caucus established its own website under the auspices of Congress.

The Democratic Socialists of America’s chief organizing goal is to work within the Democratic Party and remove the stigma attached to “socialism” in the eyes of most Americans.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Barbara Kay: A Friend of the Jews, Looking to Save Islam From Itself

According to Israeli literary lion Hillel Halkin, Islam is “an insult to human intelligence.” That’s a harsh assessment, but then Islam is also harsh in its assessment of Jews, so one might say it’s a saw-off on the phobia front. What is to be done about Islam’s Jewish problem, the source of so much of the world’s tensions and misery?

Tarek Fatah, Canada’s most outspoken reformist Muslim, would be the first to acknowledge and even sympathize with Halkin’s contempt for Islam. In his new book, The Jew is Not My Enemy, to be released Oct. 19, Fatah summarizes the present situation between Jews and Muslims: Jews hate Islam, and Muslims hate Jews. “Even the most radical Islamist websites [attack Jews viciously but] do not have a single sentence attacking the Jewish faith,” Fatah notes, while even the most rabidly anti-Islamist Jews “rarely attack Muslims, yet have little reservation in deriding Islam and the Koran.”

By coincidence, Jonathan Kay’s review of historian Martin Gilbert’s In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands, appeared here yesterday. Gilbert’s book leaves us with a depressing portrait of “a hateful pathology rooted in 14 centuries of Muslim history.” But Gilbert is by no means the first, or even the most erudite scholar of Islam, to arrive at this glum and apparently hopeless conclusion.

Tarek Fatah is almost as savage a critic of Islam in its present manifestations as the others, but unlike the others — whether non-Muslim like Gilbert, or a Muslim apostate like Ibn Warraq, whose new book Virgins? What Virgins? batters Islam to a polemical pulp — he is also a deeply committed Muslim. He is guardedly optimistic, too. Fatah envisions a peaceful place where Jews’ respect for the Koran and Muslims’ respect for Jews can co-exist in harmony.

His book attempts to take us there. Not on a flying carpet of wish fulfillment, but on a slow, steady train of facts, textual analysis and historical interpretation.

Tarek Fatah grew up in Pakistan. He does not remember any anti-Semitism in his youth. But on a 2006 visit home, he was revolted by the ubiquity and virulence of the anti-Semitism he met when socializing with even educated and wealthy Muslims. In a posh neighbourhood of Karachi he saw a banner over a grocery store announcing, “Bird flu is a Jewish conspiracy.” He was dumbstruck to hear the store owner’s theory that the “Yahoodis” wanted to destroy the poultry industry of Muslim Indonesia. The owner then pressed a free copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion on Fatah and told him it would explain everything, including how the 2004 tsunami was a joint venture by the Yahoodis and the United States.

Anti-Semitism spewed forth from every social and media spigot on this visit, from the Karachi Press Club to the upper crust’s charity balls. In Pakistan today, Fatah sadly notes, “expressing hatred of the Jew…is the easiest way to establish one’s intellectual credentials.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Calumny! The UN Votes Against Canada

It did not take long for the chattering classes of the left to blame Canada’s failure to obtain a seat on the UN’s Security Council rotation on the Harper government’s principled support of Israel. The tsk-tsks could be heard from the editorial rooms of newspapers to the halls of academe.

Even yesterday morning there were articles questioning whether International Trade Minister Van Loan’s call for closer trade ties with Israel could cost Canada a seat. We can only ask these commentators, “Have you no shame?” Those who criticize our government’s foreign policy seem to think that there is nothing wrong with the moral relativism implicit in treating with failed states and cultures on the same basis as we do with free nations. It is sad for them and sad for this country.

What is not sad is that we have a government that clearly and candidly sides with a democratic ally facing the same existential threat as all democracies. What is not sad is that the Harper government does not believe in political equivalency in treating with tyrannies, theocratic and otherwise. What is not sad is that this government puts principle above pandering. And for those who think that there is any moral high ground in the UN vote, they perpetuate a great calumny much to their discredit.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Court Gives Woman Second Chance for Niqab at Trial

Ontario’s highest court has quashed a judge’s order that required a Muslim woman to remove her niqab while testifying at the trial of two male relatives accused of sexually assaulting her.

However, in its 3-0 decision Wednesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal stopped short of saying the woman can give evidence in front of a jury with most of her face shielded by a head scarf.

Instead, the court opened the door to a more thorough inquiry by a preliminary hearing judge, saying the woman, who can be identified only as N.S., should have been allowed to explain the connection between her religious beliefs and the wearing of he niqab and to demonstrate the sincerity of those beliefs.

The case is the first time a Canadian appeal court has dealt with the contentious issue and the court emphasized Wednesday that requests to have witnesses remove their niqabs must be considered on a case-by-case basis because the subject does not lend itself to any “bright line” rule.

Writing for the three-judge appeal panel, Justice David Doherty also endorsed the legitimacy of arguments that the ability of the accused men to make full answer and defence to the charges could be impaired if N.S.’s facial expressions cannot be scrutinized while she is giving evidence.

“Where the case turns on the witness’s credibility, it must be conceded that the jury will lose some information relevant to the witness’s credibility if the witness is allowed to wear her niqab,” he said. “The extent of that loss is open to debate.”

“However, in a jury case, it is the jury’s obligation and no one else’s to evaluate demeanour and determine the extent to which it impacts on the outcome,” Doherty added. “Where the credibility of the witness is virtually determinative of the outcome, denying the jury full access to that witness’s demeanour could be seen as detracting from the accused’s right to trial by jury.”

Almost two years ago, a judge presiding at the preliminary hearing of N.S.’s cousin and uncle ordered her to remove her niqab while testifying, finding her assertion that she wears the veil for religious reasons was “not that strong” and open to exceptions.

In its decision Wednesday, the appeal court said the preliminary hearing judge, Justice Norris Weisman, erred in law by focusing too much on the fact that N.S. had agreed to be photographed without her niqab for her driver’s license and that she had testified it was simply a matter of her being “more comfortable” with it on.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

‘Islamic History Month’ Triggers Opposition

Mayor Derek Corrigan has issued a proclamation declaring Islamic History Month in October, and it has some residents riled.

The city has made the proclamation every year since October 2007, when the federal government first proclaimed Islamic History Month in Parliament.

But it wasn’t until this year that the Burnaby NOW received several letters protesting the decision.

According to Corrigan, the proclamation was just one of many made for groups that put in a request.

“We try as a city to be very generous (with the proclamations),” he said, adding that it is part of being a multicultural, multi-religious city. “When asked, we simply recognize what’s important to them.”

There have been many proclamations made this year, according to Corrigan’s administrative assistant, Sharon Fuller.

Some of these include Barbados Heritage Week, Black History Month, Diwali Month, European Heritage Month and Falun Dafa Month.

“It’s symbolic, there’s no financial recognition,” Corrigan said.

Organizations approach his office, and usually provide the wording for the proclamation.

“We’re not going to devote a lot of city resources to the wording (of the proclamation),” he said. “That’s not what we do.”

His staff looks over the document to ensure it falls within the city’s guidelines, and the mayor signs it, he added.

The letters sent to the NOW included concerns that the city was promoting the Islamic faith over others, some angry about the Muslim religion in particular.

One e-mail, from Grigori Khaskin, took issue with the final item in the proclamation, which he wrote implies Canada is an Islamic country.

“Whereas Islamic History Month Canada will enhance Canada’s ties with other Muslim countries,” the proclamation, dated Oct. 4, stated.

Other cities in B.C., including Victoria, Surrey, Port Coquitlam and Vancouver, have also issued proclamations for Islamic History Month Canada.

However, Vancouver’s final item reads: “Whereas Islamic History Month Canada will enhance Canada’s ties with Muslim countries.”

The word “other” is the only difference between the two proclamations.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Almost a Quarter of Europeans Can’t be Bothered With the Net

The European Commission is renewing its effort to get every European hooked up to the net — whether they want to or not.

The Commission’s latest study into Europeans’ digital world showed that 43 per cent of EU households “still do not have internet access”. This, the Commission believes, is simply not good enough.

It notes that “almost one in five households surveyed mentioned the high costs associated with the internet being the reason for having no internet connection at home”.

Thus, the Commission concludes, “Enhancing competition to get the prices down, an important objective of the Digital Agenda, would therefore be likely to encourage more people to get an internet connection.”

Fair enough — most people are unlikely to argue with cheaper broadband access. Though it still seems the figures suggest that around 23 per cent of Europeans are simply not particularly interested in having internet access, whatever the price.

It might not help that many are not particularly happy with the service they’re getting, with 30 per cent point to fluctuating speeds, 36 per cent experiencing breakdowns, and 24 per cent saying performance doesn’t match what they signed up for. Just over a fifth reckoned their provider was blocking specific content or applications.

But politicians and bureaucrats just seem to love the idea of every home being hooked up to the grid, and seem unlikely to let people off just because they don’t see the point of Twitter and are content to just have real world friends.

[Return to headlines]

Christofias Makes a Mockery of the Greek Cypriot Refugees and Their Human Rights

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2010

Following the latest heavily condemned statement by president Demetris Christofias at the Brookings Institute regarding “ two invasions” in 1974, the Athens newspaper “Eleftheros Kosmos” approached the London based Greek Cypriot journalist, researcher/writer Mrs Fanoulla Argyrou for an interview. The interview was published in their last Sunday’s edition 10 October 2010. Mrs Argyrou responded with straight forward answers vis-Ã -vis the history of the Cyprus problem. Characteristically the paper’s introduction notes: “ Mrs Argyrou is a “nail” in the eyes of those who distort the history of Cyprus … and there are not many who know the Cyprus issue so well as Fanoulla Argyrou does”.

Please click the link to Eleftheros Kosmos, to read the interview:…

[Return to headlines]

Danish FM Meets Top Muslim Cleric to Defuse Cartoon Tension

Denmark’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that the hurt caused to Muslims from cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammed was “very regrettable,” after she met Egypt’s top cleric to defuse tensions caused by the re-publication of the caricatures. Lene Espersen said she and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, discussed “how to make sure that the great religions of the world can live peacefully side by side.” The meeting followed the publication last last month of a book carrying the caricatures, entitled “The Tyranny of Silence.” The 499-page book does not reprint the drawings separately, but its inside pages features “a picture of the front page of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper that had the Mohammed cartoons on it,” its editor said. Espersen had met Muslim ambassadors ahead of its release on the fifth anniversary of the cartoons’ publication in the daily Jyllands-Postens, which led to deadly riots in Muslim countries several months later. Espersen, speaking in English at a press conference in Tayeb’s offices in Cairo, did not mention the book, but said that she understood that “many people living in the Muslim world felt deeply hurt by cartoons that were in Denmark some years ago.” “I would just like to make it clear that this was something we found very regrettable and didn’t wish to see it repeated,” she said. “The Danish government respects all religious creeds and communities and condemns any attempt to demonise groups of people on the basis of religion or their ethnic background.” Tayeb told reporters after the meeting “we have confirmed that what happened was an individual action and the people and government of Denmark are against it and do not accept it.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

German University Launches Training for Imams

Germany — Ahmed Sami spoke only Arabic when he moved from Morocco to Germany eight years ago to work as an imam. During his Friday prayer services at a mosque in western Germany, he soon noticed that many of the listeners could not understand him. “The children and teenagers don’t speak a lot of Arabic anymore,” the 31-year-old imam said. “German is their native language.” Now Sami’s part of a pilot program at the University of Osnabrueck that started this week to train imams — not only in the German language but also to steer them to preach about Islam in a way consistent with Germany’s democratic values and religious tolerance. It comes at a time of growing concern about some young German Muslims becoming radicalized in extremist mosques and turning to terrorism. This month’s terror alert in Europe was sparked by information provided by a German radical of Afghan descent who had been captured by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. “We need imams who are socialized and at home in Germany,” said Rauf Ceylan, a professor for Islamic religious education and one of the founders of the new program in Osnabrueck, in northwestern Germany. “They influence the religious orientation of Muslims in Germany, they have a big impact on whether young Muslims will practice a tolerant, conservative or extremist version of Islam.” Other European countries have been taking new measures as well. In France, which has a Muslim population of at least five million, the Catholic University of Paris began courses to train French imams in 2008; several imams have been expelled in recent years for what was deemed dangerous teaching. Experts say the new German academic initiative is much needed. So far, over 90 percent of the more than 2,000 imams in Germany barely speak any German. Most come from Turkey and only stay here for a couple of years before going back home. Due to the language barrier, these foreign-sent imams can’t interact with younger community members and they are also not aware of the specific problems the 4.3 million Muslims in Germany deal with on an everyday basis.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Irish “Anti-War” Movement / Socialist Workers Party / People Before Profit

The IAWM / SWP / PBP are probably the most consistent supporters of the global jihad in Ireland, more than any Islamic group.

Oddly, they are not Muslims. Rather, they are a group of deluded dhimmis who think the jihad killing around the world somehow fits in with their absurd plans for communist revolution.

Irish “Anti-War” Movement These are not anti-war. They are anti-west, and pro-the other side. They are linked to the Socialist Workers Party, who want to take away our freedom and establish a totalitarian communist state.

The SWP openly promotes the totalitarian communists Lenin and Trotsky and Che, none of whom were “anti-war”. In fact, all were mass killers.


Richard Boyd Barrett attended the conference of the International Campaign against US and Zionist Occupation in Cairo, Mar 2005. This was openly dedicated to “Supporting the resistance in Palestine and Iraq”. Given that both of these resistances are violent, it seems strange that “anti-war” people would support them.

Present at this international hate-fest were:

The child-killers Hamas. By that I don’t mean they kill children by accident, as all armies do (and all car manufacturers do). I mean they target children, because they are Jew-hating racists.

The fundamentalist Islamist al-Sadr thugs. The Sunni Iraqi fascist “resistance”.

The original Islamic religious fascists the Muslim Brotherhood.

The IAWM declined to condemn any of these groups. On the contrary, it said: “There is a growing unity of anti-occupation groups in Iraq, anti-imperialist currents across the region and anti-war groups in the west.”


Richard Boyd Barrett, Chair of the Irish “Anti-War” Movement. Election record:

Richard Boyd Barrett, Apr 2009, told a gathering of Islamic jihadists “that it was “entirely legitimate” to argue that “Israel has no right to exist”“.

Appalling: Richard Boyd Barrett elected local county councillor, June 2009. He tops the poll in Dun Laoghaire area. A sad day for Ireland.

Dun Laoghaire, by the way, is a wealthy area.


[See links and images at the URL]

[Return to headlines]

Italians in Meningitis Breakthrough

First vaccine against 4 out of 5 strains

(ANSA) — Rome, October 11 — Italian researchers have created the world’s first vaccine which acts against four out of five strains of meningitis, a potentially life-threatening brain inflammation.

The vaccine has already won approval from United States and European agencies and was presented on Monday for use in Italy.

Hitherto, children in Italy have only been vaccinated against one strain of meningitis, the meningococcus C.

The new vaccine also acts against the A, W135 and Y forms of the disease. The team led by Novartis researcher Rino Rappuoli is already working against the other, B, strain, and “clinical studies are showing great promise,” he said Monday.

Rappuoli said it would initially be used for children over the age of 11 “but within a matter of months we will ask the European Medicines Agency for permission to vaccinate two-month-old babies”.

Rappuoli said the new ‘tetravalent’ vaccine provided a “longer-lasting” protection from meningitis and was “100% safe”.

Vaccines, he recalled, were the only way of beating meningitis, a disease which causes 900 new cases a year in Italy with a mortality rate of 14%.

“Therapies do not work against it, and patients either die or are left with very serious disabilities”.

The exact worldwide incidence of bacterial meningitis is unknown. It occurs in about 3 people per 100,000 annually in Western countries.

A related problem is a reluctance of parents to vaccinate their children.

According to a survey presented Monday, only a third of Italian children are vaccinated.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Letter From France: Hamburger Chain’s Decision Sparks Tensions Over Islam

By Edward Cody

LA COURNEUVE, FRANCE — Sami Desadjri, an observant French Muslim, used to have a problem when he and his high school classmates hit the local burger joint for lunch. Since the meat was not halal, or slaughtered according to Islamic guidelines, he was forced to fall back on fish sandwiches, assaulting his adolescent taste buds and splitting him from the clique.

But those awkward times are over. In a telling measure of the growing Muslim presence in France, Quick, a homegrown hamburger chain trying to compete with McDonald’s, began serving halal hamburgers last month in 22 of its 367 restaurants, including the busy establishment frequented by Desadjri and his friends in this heavily Muslim suburb just north of Paris.

“It’s really important for me,” said Desadjri, a bright-eyed 16-year-old with wavy black hair who was gulping a hamburger and fries the other day alongside a non-Muslim pal, Darren de Lemos, 17. “I used to come here before, but I could never eat what I wanted. Now, we can all eat the same thing.”

The decision to serve halal burgers, with its bow to Muslim buying power, has produced an outcry among some political leaders, who regard it as an affront to France’s Christian traditions and official secularism. As a result, the lowly hamburger has become an unlikely new symbol of the unease spreading across Western Europe over an influx of immigrants, including many Muslims, who as their numbers increase demand respect for their traditions.

The great hamburger debate has not risen to the national level, where President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government has occupied the backlash scene by cracking down on illegal residents, particularly Roma from Eastern Europe, and instituting a ban on full-face Islamic veils in public. But Quick’s decision has roiled a number of mayors, from the political left as well as the right, in communities where the new halal restaurants are becoming popular.

Rene Vandierendonck, the Socialist mayor of Roubaix in northern France, charged Quick with discrimination when it turned its Roubaix restaurant into a halal-only operation. He acted after a protest from Marine Le Pen, a leader of the far-right National Front and the daughter of its founder and former presidential candidate, Jean-Marie Le Pen.

In response, authorities in nearby Lille opened a criminal investigation. But Vandierendonck withdrew his complaint after Quick offered to negotiate a compromise under which those who preferred could order non-halal hamburgers.

Since then, at least two more legal complaints have been filed.

Jacqueline Rouillon, the Communist mayor of Saint-Ouen near Paris, said she planned to contact other mayors in towns where Quick restaurants have gone halal to see whether they can organize joint negotiations, with the goal of forcing the firm to maintain a choice.

The opposition seemed based on an assumption that non-Muslims are frozen out in halal restaurants because they cannot eat halal meat. But neither the taste nor the texture is affected by halal practices; non-Muslim customers here in La Courneuve, including Desadjri’s friends from a nearby vocational high school, seemed to find no difference in their burgers.

Halal, or lawful, meat comes from animals slaughtered according to Islamic rules stipulating, among other things, that they be killed by a knife stroke that severs the arteries in their throat so they lose their blood. In addition, the rules require care lest halal meat be contaminated by contact with non-halal products. As a result, Quick officials explained, offering a choice to restaurant customers is difficult because keeping halal and non-halal meat separate during storage and cooking is not cost-effective.

Quick, a franchise operation owned by a French-run investment group, decided on halal burgers not as a gesture toward integration but as a way to raise its market share, which is one-third that of McDonald’s. A six-month test last year in eight restaurants in Muslim-heavy neighborhoods showed a doubling of business after certificates were hung up guaranteeing that their beef was halal, the company said.

Quick’s board chairman, Jacques-Edouard Charret, noted that Quick was not the first to offer halal meat in France, since hole-in-the-wall souvlakia shops have been offering a halal guarantee for years. Just down the street from the La Courneuve operation, for instance, are butcher shops, sandwich shops and a pizzeria that advertise, sometimes in Arabic, that their meat is halal.

A franchise holder in the southwestern city of Toulouse had urged the test after noting a drop in business as little halal sandwich shops began opening along nearby streets, said Quick’s spokeswoman, Valerie Raynal. Restaurants were picked for the experiment on the basis of how many fish sandwiches they served, how few bacon burgers were ordered and how sharply business dropped off during the Ramadan fast.

The numbers are not yet in since halal operations expanded to 22 Quick restaurants last month, but indications are that business is way up, Raynal said.

Nobody has counted for sure how many people from Muslim families live in France; ethnic identification is forbidden in censuses. Some Muslim leaders have suggested the number is 6 million, but the Interior Ministry and several academic specialists estimate 5 million. Either way, France, with its close ties to North Africa, has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, many of whom go for hamburgers.

Carre Gandega, an immigrant from Mauritania who manages the La Courneuve restaurant, said Quick’s decision to go halal “took some daring” given the tense debate over immigration that has been riling the country but added that the result has been good for his profits.

“There is a big difference, a big, big difference,” he said as customers, including a number of women in Islamic scarves, lined up to place orders.

Above the counter were advertisements for burger meals, oily fries, sugary soft drinks and cloying milkshakes. Just to the right hung several framed certificates, delivered by Muslim religious authorities, with guarantees in French and Arabic that the calories were all halal.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

UK Sharia Chief — There is No Such Thing as Rape Within Marriage

Chaminda Jayanetti speaks to the president of Britain’s main Islamic law court about rape within marriage.

It is hardly the most obviously controversial of statements:

The husband undertake not to abuse his wife/child(ren) verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually.

This statement is from the London-based Muslim Institute’s Muslim Marriage Contract, published in 2008 as an attempt to modernise the contract governing many Islamic marriages in Britain. But few within the British Muslim establishment were impressed. Britain’s main Islamic sharia court, the Islamic Sharia Council, produced a swift rebuttal of the contract, including the statement on sexual abuse (page 6 here).

Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed is the president of the Islamic Sharia Council. A softly spoken elderly man with the manner of a kindly grandfather, he is far removed from a firebrand radical Islamic preacher — indeed, he is nothing of the sort.

But sitting in a small office at the al-Tawhid Mosque in East London, where the Council’s sessions had been relocated while its nearby headquarters were renovated (the Council has now moved back), I asked Sheikh Sayeed whether he considered non-consensual marital sex to be rape.

“No,” he replied. “Clearly there cannot be any ‘rape’ within the marriage. Maybe ‘aggression’, maybe ‘indecent activity’.”

He said it was “not Islamic” to classify non-consensual marital sex as rape and prosecute offenders, adding that “to make it exactly as the Western culture demands is as if we are compromising Islamic religion with secular non-Islamic values.”

The Islamic Sharia Council handles very few cases of alleged marital rape — Sheikh Sayeed said there had only been two or three such cases since the Council was founded in 1982. It is therefore unlikely that the Council’s views on this issue, or those of Sheikh Sayeed himself, directly impact upon a significant number of marital rape victims.

Sheikh Sayeed made his opposition to non-consensual marital sex absolutely clear — “of course it is bad, one should not jump on his wife as and when he desires” — but he said that it was wrong to prosecute it as rape:

“It is not an aggression, it is not an assault, it is not some kind of jumping on somebody’s individual right. Because when they got married, the understanding was that sexual intercourse was part of the marriage, so there cannot be anything against sex in marriage. Of course, if it happened without her desire, that is no good, that is not desirable. But that man can be disciplined and can be reprimanded.”

Rather than pursuing miscreants through the criminal justice system, Sheikh Sayeed felt the sharia court was better placed to handle such cases by policing offenders by “Islamic means”. He explained the Council’s approach:

“If such a man comes to us, to ask him not to repeat the same, ask forgiveness from his wife, ask forgiveness from Allah as well, and make a new contract that he would never do it, otherwise his wife will have the liberty to finish the marriage unilaterally. This sort of relief is available.”

By contrast, he said the prosecution of marital rape was due to misguided Western values: “Why it is happening in this society is because they have got this idea of so-called equality, equal rights. And they are misusing these equal rights in every single aspect of human conduct. That’s why. It is one aggression against another, and that is bigger aggression against minor one.

I asked Sheikh Sayeed what he considered to be the “bigger aggression”.

“To call it rape. Rape is a criminal offence in this country; man will end up in prison for three, five years or more.”

So the non-consensual sex is the minor aggression, and calling it rape is the major aggression?


Why is calling it rape a major aggression?

“Because within the marriage contract it is inherent there that man will have sexual intercourse with his wife. Of course, if he does something against her wish or in a bad time etc, then he is not fulfilling the etiquettes, not that he is breaching any code of sharia — he is not coming to that point. He may be disciplined, and he may be made to ask forgiveness. That should be enough.”

Sheikh Sayeed said he would not immediately advise a wife who claimed her husband had raped her to go to the police. “Not in the beginning, unless we establish that it really happened. Because in most of the cases, wives, as they have been advised by their solicitors that one of the four reasons for which a wife can get a divorce is rape, so they are encouraged to say things like this that may not be the true picture of the situation.”…

           — Hat tip: Derius[Return to headlines]

UK: Cancer Man Told 6 Months to Live Sells Everything Then Doctors Admit ‘We Made a Mistake’

A patient who was given six months to live after being diagnosed with terminal cancer sold off all his precious possessions and gave away his dog — only to be told by doctors he wasn’t going to die after all.

Malcolm McMahon set about getting his affairs in order after a blundering doctor told him he had terminal liver cancer.

He sold off most of the heirlooms left by his parents and his premium bonds, put his four-bedroom house up for sale, made a will and even gave away his beloved Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

The 55-year-old then went about telling his heartbroken girlfriend that he was going to die and sold off his family antiques at a cut price.

Mr McMahon said his GP Andy Thompson of Enki Medical Centre, in Handsworth, Birmingham, had interpreted ultrasounds of his liver as cancerous and gave him the devastating news that he had just months to live.

He said: ‘I just wanted to cash in on everything I had before I thought I was going to die. I started selling things around three days after the doctors told me I only had months to live.

‘I was told my dogs would have to be put down because there would be no one else to look after them, so I tried to find them new homes.

‘My Bull Terrier Kiser was given away to a man in Walsall after I’d had her for around four months.’

It wasn’t until three agonising months later that Mr McMahon went for a further examination at Birmingham City Hospital and Dr Thompson informed him that the cancer cells were actually harmless lesions on his liver.

He said: ‘I sat there listening to the doctor detail about dying at home and how Macmillan nurses could help, but the whole time, I was fine. All that time spent worrying over nothing.

‘My girlfriend was devastated. I wanted to make sure the people I loved would be financially secure without me, so I sold antique rings, china ornaments and plates left by my parents for silly money as I thought I didn’t have much time.’

‘For the doctors to then turn around and tell me I wasn’t going to die after all left me traumatised and still mentally affected by the whole thing.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Girls as Young as Nine Admitted to Hospital With Anorexia and Bulimia

Girls as young as nine are being admitted to hospital with anorexia, alarming figures show.

They are developing severe eating disorders before even reaching puberty, and some are so ill they have to be fed by tube.

Figures show that the number of girls aged nine and under needing hospital treatment for conditions such as anorexia and bulimia has doubled in the past year, although they still remain fairly low.

The biggest rise for those admitted to hospital for eating disorders was among teenagers aged 15 to 19, which went up by almost 15 per cent from 609 to 698.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Met Officers ‘Hate Living in London’

london’s police officers are living en masse in villages in Surrey and Hertfordshire because they “do not like the capital”, it was claimed.

Kit Malthouse, the city’s Deputy Mayor with responsibility for policing and crime, made the point to illustrate what he described as a “growing divide between the police and the public, which is not yet at dangerous levels but may well become so”.

Speaking to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee yesterday, Mr Malthouse said: “Police officers now, certainly Metropolitan Police officers, often want to live in police ghettos, villages in Surrey and Hertfordshire… because they like to live together.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: One in Six Boys Can’t Write Their Own Name by the Age of Five

One in six boys cannot write his name after a year of schooling, while girls race ahead, official figures revealed yesterday.

Boys have fallen behind girls in key areas of development such as writing and the ability to concentrate following the introduction of a controversial ‘nappy curriculum’ two years ago.

Sixteen per cent are unable to write their name and simple words such as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ by the time they reach the end of primary school reception classes at the age of five.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Why is Germany Playing Down Radical Islam?

On the cover of Monday’s edition of the International Herald Tribune, the headline was, “Germany is annoyed by U.S. terror alert.”The thrust of the report is that Germany has gone on the offensive to play down the U.S. (as well as British and French) travel advisory warnings about planned Islamic terror attacks in Europe. In short, Germany says the planned Islamic terror attacks in Europe are an Obama election stunt.

According to Michael Slackman’s Tribune report, “the prevailing sentiment here [Germany] was that the United States issued its warning for political purposes, perhaps an effort to help preserve support for the war in Afghanistan or to somehow aid President Obama with elections next month.”

German anti-American conspiratorial thinking is nothing new when dealing with U.S foreign policy. Take the example of Germany’s former Justice minister Herta Däubler-Gmelin who argued during now former-German chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s election campaign in 2002 that President Bush planned a war in Iraq because “Bush wants to divert attention from his domestic problems. It’s a classic tactic. It’s one that Hitler also used.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wilders’ Impact Felt as Dutch Coalition Sworn in

A government supported by the anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders is to take office in the Netherlands on Thursday, with plans to harden immigration rules and cut public spending.

In a nod to tradition, Mark Rutte, the incoming prime minister, and members of his government will stand on the balcony of the royal palace in The Hague to accept a mandate from Queen Beatrix to form the country’s first minority administration since the second world war.

One notable absentee from the day’s celebrations will be Mr Wilders, whose PVV party is not represented in cabinet despite his pledge to support the new coalition in parliament.

Mr Wilders is seen as wielding considerable influence despite his backbench role. By offering the support of the PVV — which will deliver a one-seat parliamentary majority to the new government — he has helped to shape the political road map of the incoming administration.

“You can clearly see Wilders’ influence on the coalition plans,” says Dick Houtman, a professor of cultural sociology at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. Policies to be pursued include a ban on the burka, a “very substantial” fall in non-western immigration and the possibility of revoking the citizenship of naturalised migrants.

The incoming government — made up of Mr Rutte’s liberal VVD party and the Christian Democrats of outgoing premier Jan Peter Balkenende — is also planning to cut €18bn ($25bn) in public spending over the four-year parliamentary term.

Jan Kees de Jager, who has been caretaker finance minister since February, when the previous government collapsed, will continue in the post.

A recent poll showed that only 28 per cent of voters expect the government to run a full term, against 36 per cent who think it will collapse by the end of next year.

A previous alliance between mainstream parties and a far-right grouping, the Pim Fortuyn List, lasted just 86 days before collapsing in 2002.

Even the loose alliance with Mr Wilders has caused significant discomfort among mainstream politicians. Coalition talks repeatedly faltered after the inconclusive June elections, as some worried about sharing a platform with the far right.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Xenophobic Attitudes in Germany at High Level

A new study shows that a worryingly high proportion of Germans agree with statements expressing anti-foreigner positions. Islam and Muslims are met with particular reservations.

The study released Wednesday called “Right-wing extremism in Germany 2010” argues that extreme views have penetrated to the heart of German society.

But, although between 10 and 20 percent of the population approve of traditional far-right positions such as the need for a dictator, or say that the Nazis weren’t so bad after all, policy makers will be more alarmed at the high levels of approval given to statements expressing disapproval of foreigners in Germany.

For example, 32 percent approve of the statement that “When there’s a shortage of jobs, foreigners should be sent back home;” 34 percent agree or strongly agree with the statement that “Foreigners only come here to exploit Germany’s social welfare system;” and 35 percent think that “Germany has a dangerous level of foreign influence as a result of the many foreigners in the country.”

In each of these cases, approval was considerably higher in the former East Germany than in the former West.

Majority critical of Islam

The survey, which was carried out by a team of researchers from the University of Leipzig for the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is linked to the Social Democratic party, also found high levels of chauvinism across the board, with some 27 percent of the population thinking that the main task of the German government should be “to ensure that Germany gets the power and influence it is entitled to.”

But extreme views turned into majority opinions when it came to Islam, with 55 percent saying they could understand that people find Arabs unpleasant, and 58 percent saying that the practice of the Muslim religion should be “considerably restricted.”

Indeed, an absolute majority of those who otherwise did not hold extremist views agreed with these two statements.

The survey was carried out in April, before the latest controversy over the role of Islam in German society.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Srdja Trifkovic: Hillary Clinton’s Ongoing Bosnian Fixation

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton started her two-day Balkan tour in Sarajevo on Tuesday by issuing a fresh call for Bosnia’s centralization. She urged “reforms that would improve key services, attract more foreign investment, and make the government more functional and accountable.” Hatreds have eased, she went on, “but nationalism persists. Meanwhile the promise of greater stability and opportunity—represented by integration into Europe—remains out of reach.”

Mrs. Clinton’s performance amounted to yet another coded demand for the abolition of the Republika Srpska, the autonomous Serb republic covering 49% of Bosnia—and the assertion of Muslim (“Bosniak”) dominance in a “reformed” (that is, unitarized) Bosnia-Herzegovina. She treats the Balkans as one of the few spots in the world where she can assert her credibility by postulating a maximalist set of objectives and insisting on their fulfillment. She is greatly helped in that task by the fact that the regime of Boris Tadic in Belgrade has capitulated to Brussels and Washington on all fronts, from accepting the fait accompli of Kosovo’s secession to imposing the degrading farce of a ‘gay pride parade’ on its long-suffering people.

Like a dog returning to lap up its own vomit, Hillary Clinton just cannot let go of Bosnia, a place she fundamentally misunderstands and treats as an “imagined community.” And yet this figment is so important to her that during the primaries in 2008 she repeatedly invoked embellished memories of a “dangerous” trip to Bosnia in 1996, when she was supposedly threatened by Serb sniper fire at Tuzla airport—although the war had ended six months earlier, and video footage shows smiling schoolchildren greeting her in Tuzla. The same obsession was evident in her Senate hearing in January 2009, when she declared she was committed to wrapping up what she called ‘the unfinished business in the Balkans.’ The same fixation was manifested in her Tuesday call on Serbs, Muslims and Croats “to put country ahead of ethnicity.”

Mrs. Clinton’s Sarajevo speech is the latest in a long series of attempts by the Department of State under her guidance to meddle in Bosnian affairs…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Scores of Muslim Brotherhood Members Arrested

Cairo, 13 Oct. (AKI) — Egyptian police over the last two days have arrested 50 members of the banned Islamist Muslim Brotherhood in cities throughout the country, according to a Wednesday report in newspaper al-Hayat.

The arrests were made ahead of the presentation of candidate lists for the 29 November national elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful political opposition group, over the weekend confirmed it would field candidates for up to 30 percent of the 508 parliamentary seats up for grabs.

“The arrests were made as a way to hinder financing and weaken candidates for the Islamic group ahead the election campaign,” al-Hayat said in the report.

In 2005, 88 people affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood won seats in the People’s Assembly. The victory gave them 20 percent of the seats in the lower house of Egypt’s parliament.

The northern Egyptian port city of Alessandria had the highest number of arrests, with 17 people detained there by Egypt’s police, according to the news report.

The world’s largest Islamist political group, the Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928. In Egypt the group claims to advocate an Islamic state achieved through peaceful means.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

October 12th — A Day of Infamy

Do you remember where you were ten years ago on October 12th? That was the day that al-Qaeda bombed the USS Cole in Yemen. Seventeen sailors died in the attack.

But also on the very same day—two Israeli reservists, Vadim Norzich z”l, and Josef Avrahami, z”l, were lynched in the most barbaric fashion when they lost their way in Ramallah, which was the late Yasir Arafat’s headquarters.

I will never forget that day. That was the precise moment—and it preceded 9/11 by eleven months—that I knew, really knew, that the bloody beast was back, that we had entered an era of unending bloodshed. Over and over again, the footage was shown of the murderers who tortured, mutilated, and disemboweled the two Israelis, smiling like madmen, proudly displaying their hands smeared with Jewish blood. And how the Palestinian crowds cheered for them…


[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ahmadinejad Visits Lebanon and Rails Against Israel

Beirut, 13 Oct. (AKI) — Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his first state visit to Lebanon to rail against Israel, calling it an occupation force that must be confronted.

“It is necessary to completely liberate Palestinian land. To put an end to Israel’s occupation of land that belongs to Palestinians, to Syria, to Lebanon otherwise this area won’t ever see the light of day,” he said on Tuesday during a joint press conference with Lebanese president Michel Suleiman in Beirut.

Ahmadinejad’s motorcade was met by cheering crowds that showered him with rice and flowers.

Iran is a supporter of Hezbollah — a militant Lebanese Shia Muslim political and social organisation that fought a war with Israel in 2006. The group has since periodically launched missiles across the border into neighbouring Israel.

“The tenacity of your people in resisting Zionist attacks has made all of us in the region proud,” Ahmadinejad said.

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

Al-Qaeda Webzine Suggests Crashing Trucks Into Crowds

“Al-Qaeda urged Muslims in western countries to weld deadly steel blades to SUV vehicles and then plough into civilian crowds, in the second edition of the group’s online English-language magazine.

“Inspire”, a 74-page propaganda organ published by the Yemen-based wing of the Islamist group, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), aims to recruit young westerners to the jihadi cause and to inspire random attacks.

In an article titled “The Ultimate Mowing Machine”, illustrated with a picture of an imposing civilian Ford four-by-four truck, the group suggests arming the vehicle as a spiked battering ram and targeting crowded areas.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Barbara Boxer Approved Code Pink Trip to Fallujah to Donate $600,000 to Extremists to Murder US Soldiers

On October 12, Scott Swett at the American Thinker reported that Senator Barabara Boxer (D-CA) along with Representatives Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) secured diplomatic courtesy letters that allowed anti-American Code Pink activists to travel to Fallujah, Iraq. The radicals traveled to Fallujah in late 2004 to donate $600,000 worth of humanitarian aid to the people who had just killed 51 Americans and wounded 560 more earlier that month. Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah was the heaviest US urban combat since the Vietnam War. After the report was published at American Thinker the article was deleted at Islam Online. But, thanks to the internet archive a copy of the article is still available:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Crossbows and Bolts: A Dangerous Nexus Between the Iranian Missile and WMD Programs

By Jahangir Arasli, Non-Resident Scholar, INEGMA A firing test of a new Sijjil-2 missile on May 20, 2009, that featured an increased 2,400 km range and solid propellant engine, has marked the next dangerous stage of the ambitious ballistic missile (BM) program of the Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI). The purpose of this short report is to provide a brief analysis of different aspects of the program, establish a potential logical link between it and the nuclear program, developed by the IRI, and to offer possible explanations of the motivations behind the Iranian quest for what one may call a hybrid BM — WMD capabilities, with some potential scenarios of its application and implications. This essay represents the personal views of the author and not of INEGMA or other institutions.

The Iranian ballistic missiles program emerged amid the Iran — Iraq war in the 80s as an initial attempt to gain a deep strike capability, replacing the own degrading air force and mitigating Iraqi air superiority. However, the end of war did not lead to cessation of the program; moreover, it was steadily accelerated throughout the 90s. Starting with the supplies of ready weapons from foreign sources, within a decade and a half Iran had established and gradually enhanced the research and development branch, industrial-technological cycle, training base, and finally, an operational component of its own missile forces. The IRI missile effort has finally moved from the shadow into the spotlight in mid-00s, when the U.S. invasion in Iraq dramatically changed both the Iranian strategic environment and posture.

As of mid-2010, the IRI BM potential remains largely obscure. The bulk of the program constituted from the short-range ballistic missiles are mostly different derivatives of the ‘Scud family’. However, the primary weapon of concern in relation to the presumable WMD program are the medium-range ballistic missiles (MRBM), primarily the Shahab-3, which already are both in operational status and online production, the Sijjil-2 (formerly Ashoura) and the Shahab-4 and some other unidentified projects at the R&D stage. Based on open sources, the estimate number of deployed Shahab-3 launchers is between 6 and 12. This asset, essentially based on the North Korean No-Dong design, has a liquid fuel engine and a range near 2,000 km with Israel, Turkey, South-East Europe and the Arabian Peninsula in range. This is not a full-fledged missile force yet, but not a rudimentary either.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Mideast Conflict Blamed for Christian Exodus

Bishops summoned to the Vatican to discuss the flight of Christians from the Middle East have blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for spurring much of the exodus and warned that the consequences could be devastating for the birthplace of Christianity. Some bishops have singled out the emergence of fanatical Islam for the flight. But others have directly or indirectly accused Israel of discriminating against Arab Christians and impeding solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In fact, the working document of the two-week synod accused the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territories of creating difficulties in everyday life for Palestinian Christians, including their religious life since their access to holy sites is dependent on Israeli military permission. Pope Benedict XVI called the two-week synod, which continued Wednesday, to try to encourage Christians in the largely Muslim region, where the Catholic Church has long been a minority and is shrinking as a result of war, conflict, discrimination and economic problems. In Iraq alone, Catholics represented 2.89 percent of the population in 1980; by 2008 they were just .89 percent. In Israel, home to important Christian holy sites, Catholics made up 3.8 percent of the population in 1980; by 2008 they were just 1.82 percent. Some 185 bishops are taking part in the synod from Latin and Eastern rite Catholic churches across the region and from the diaspora. In addition, two Muslim imams and a rabbi were invited to address the synod. Patriarch Gregory III, archbishop of the Greek-Melkites in Damascus, Syria, said fundamentalist movements such as Hamas or Hezbollah had been born from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and warned Tuesday that the resulting flight of Christians would make a “society with only one color: only Muslim.” “Should this happen, should the East be emptied of its Christians, this would mean that any occasion would be propitious for a new clash of cultures, of civilizations and even of religions, a destructive clash between the Muslim Arab East and the Christian West,” he said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Pull-Out ‘Gradual’ Says Frattini

Bomb-on-planes debate as four latest casualties buried

(ANSA) — Rome, October 12 — Italy will gradually start pulling its troops out of Afghanistan next summer, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Rome daily La Repubblica Tuesday.

The withdrawal, he said, aimed to be completed in 2014.

The pull-out, he said, will be carried out “at the right time and will be totally coordinated with our allies”.

Calls for an Italian withdrawal from Afghanistan were again raised after the death of four soldiers at the weekend brought Italy’s death toll since 2004 to 34.

The attack by insurgents has also sparked a debate on arming Italy’s warplanes with bombs, like its NATO allies.

Any decision would have to be ratified by parliament where the centre-left opposition opposes the move on the grounds of increased danger to civilians.

The funeral of the four took place Tuesday and was broadcast on live TV.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano offered his condolences to the relatives of the four Alpine troops, Francesco Vannozzi, Gianmarco Manca, Sebastiano Ville and Marco Pedone. “They died for a just cause,” the president said.

Other dignitaries present included Senate Speaker Renato Schifani and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini.

There was also an unusually large turn-out of ordinary Italians.

The four were killed on Saturday when a 100kg bomb exploded under their vehicle in Farah province.

The latest loss of life has revived calls for an early pull-out amid widespread displays of mourning. Italian sportsmen will be wearing black armbands at all events this week.

A poll last year showed a majority of Italians now thought the Italian mission had turned from a peacekeeping one into a war operation, overstepping the terms of its parliamentary mandate.

Italian ministers have performed a balancing act in insisting that troops are only used in support of NATO missions.

More Italian troops are being subjected to insurgent attacks as militants are driven out of southern Afghanistam.

Italy has committed to United States President Barack Obama’s surge and is set to push its troop strength up from 3,400 to 4,000 by the end of this year.

But many of them will be military trainers.

At a NATO summit in Lisbon in November, Frattini stressed, “we will try to see what criteria to adopt to mark out a road map to transfer power to the Afghans”.

But there was already a “timing”, he said, which was becoming clear.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Minister Says Afghan Troop Mission May Focus on Training

Rome, 13 Oct. (AKI) — Italian defence minister Ignazio La Russa on Wednesday said he “hoped” his country’s troops in Afghanistan would end their combat mission next year and concentrate on training Afghan forces.

“We can hope that by the end of 2011 in western Afghanistan our function will be limited only to training police and armed forces,” he said during testimony in the Italian senate in Rome.

His comments appeared to soften the stance he took on Monday when in the wake of the weekend killing of four Italian soldiers he said Italy was considering withdrawing its troops by the end of next year.

In an interview earlier this week with newspaper La Repubblica, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini said mid-2011 could mark “the start of a gradual drawdown of troops, with the intention of completing it by 2014.”

Frattini said Italy would withdraw its soldiers in coordination with allies and a Lisbon meeting in November will be key in discussing the transfer of power to Afghan forces.

Italy has around 3,300 soldiers deployed primarily in western Afghanistan. That number is expected to rise to 4,000 by the end of 2010.

The latest deaths brings the number of Italy’s troops killed in Afghanisan since 2004 to 34.

US president Barack Obama has set 2013 as a deadline for the withdrawal of international troops from Afghanistan, where around 150,000 soldiers are currently serving.

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

Pakistan: Munawar Hassan Slams Vatican Statement

The Jamaat e Islami cheif, Syed Munawar Hasan, has strongly reacted to the Vatican statement declaring the promotion of political Islam as a great threat, and said that the Vatican had also joined the crusade already going on against Islam and the Muslims.

Commenting on the Vatican statement, he said this showed that the entire talk of inter-faith dialogue and relations and tolerance were a farce.He said the world peace and the Middle East were threatened by the US- Israel collusion while Islam, the Islamic civilization and the Muslim masses were the target of biased Christian rulers, and now the Christian religious leaders too had joined them.

“This should be an eye opener for the Muslim rulers and the Quran burning plan of a priest and the Church was not simply a brain child of a singe mind as the whole Christ ian world and the Vatican were behind the move, “ he pointed out.

The JI chief explained that Islam had its own political system, its culture and civilization, besides also delivering an economic system based on equity and service to the humanity.

Heberated the way the Western civilization and the capitalistic system had divided the humanity had added to poverty and started an arms race. “Islam provided political and economic solutions to the current human problems,” he added.

Syed Munawar Hasan said following the 9/11, ex-US president George Bush had raised the slogan of Crusades with the intention to grab the Muslim world’s resources, and he had also described political Islam as a threat, and colonial powers had already divided the Muslims in different compartments and created mental disorder.

He said that the Middle East had been declared a danger zone for the Christians only due to the Israel-Palestine conflict and the Iraq war. The Muslims were the victims in both cases and their lands had been occupied. Israel was a grabber and was involved in the genocide of the Palestinians but the Vatican had never condemned Israeli policies and on the other hand, Israel fully enjoyed the support of biased Christian.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: New BBC Guidelines Require ‘Due Impartiality’ On Religion

The BBC must show due impartiality when covering the ‘controversial topic’ of religion, new editorial guidelines say.

It follows several incidents where the BBC has been accused of an anti-Christian bias in its broadcasts.

Secular campaigners are angry at the move, saying the BBC has bowed to “pressure from religious groups”.


The new guidelines, which have been published by the BBC Trust, stipulate that when the broadcaster deals with controversial topics involving religion it should show impartiality.

They also state that any content which is likely to cause offence to those “with religious views must be editorially justified and must be referred to a senior editorial figure”.

The BBC’s previous editorial guidelines, issued in 2005, stated that the “controversial subjects” which must be treated with due impartiality were those subjects involving public policy or political/industrial controversy.


But the new guidelines, which were released yesterday, extend the definition of “controversial subjects” to include religion, science, culture and ethics.

A statement from the BBC Trust, the corporation’s governing body, said: “In practice, this means that when BBC content deals with controversy within these subjects, it must be treated with a level of impartiality adequate and appropriate to the content, taking account of the nature of the content and the likely audience expectation.”

Sir Michael Lyons, Chairman of the BBC Trust, welcomed the new guidance, saying: “We recognise the need for the BBC to be original, surprising and sometimes edgy. At the same time it must be fair, accurate, impartial and avoid giving broad offence.

[…] Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said: “The idea that any comment that could be offensive to a religious person must be editorially approved shows that the BBC has become ridiculously timid and fearful of religious controversy.

“Pressure from religious groups has caused the BBC to severely curb free speech in the area of religion.”


Don Maclean, the former Radio 2 religious programme host, also said that the broadcaster is “keen on Islam”.

Mr Maclean said: “you don’t see any programmes on Anglicanism that don’t talk about homosexual clergy and you don’t see anything on Roman Catholicism that doesn’t talk about paedophiles.

“They seem to take the negative angle every time. They don’t do that if they’re doing programmes on Islam. Programmes on Islam are always supportive.”



And in June 2009 it was revealed that the BBC Trust had rejected complaints against a TV drama that showed a fanatical British Christian beheading a moderate Muslim.

The offending episode of “Bonekickers” was aired in July 2008.

The BBC Trust rejected suggestions that the drama associated fanatical Christianity with evangelicalism and gave an offensive portrayal of evangelical Christians.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]