Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101015

Financial Crisis
»Obama: “Tribal Attitude” Surfaces in Tough Times
»Sterling Hits New High Against Struggling U.S. Dollar as Experts Warn of Global Currency War
»Georgia Accused of Stripping 2nd Amendment Rights
»Lebanese Liberal: Cordoba Initiative Chairman Abdul Rauf is Not Truly Moderate
»Obama’s Un-Presidential Despicable Race Baiting
»Obama Wants $1.25 B to Compensate Up to 66,000 African American Farmers for USDA Discrimination in 1981-96…
»Phyllis Chesler: Why Women Still Won’t Vote for Women
»The Real Intentions of the Imam of Ground Zero Mosque
»You Want Flies With That? McDonald’s Happy Meal Shows No Sign of Decomposing After SIX MONTHS
Europe and the EU
»Acquit Dutch Anti-Islam Lawmaker: Prosecutors
»Diana West: The Camel in the Courtroom
»Free Speech on Trial in the Netherlands
»Germany: the New Anti-Semitism
»Italy: ‘Knox Ex-Boyfriend Can Phone Her’
»Italy: Berlusconi and Son in Rome Probe
»Srdja Trifkovic: An Ambiguous Victory for Wilders
»Sweden Tops Global Rule of Law Ranking
»Two “Swedes” Charged for Somali Terror Crime Plots
»UK: ‘Pregnant’ 23-Year-Old Woman Dies After Being Set on Fire Behind House
»UK: As Career Criminals With 100 Convictions Are Spared Jail, MPs Ask… What Does Get You Locked Up?
»UK: Britain is Losing Its Battle Against Islamic Extremists… Says French MP Who Banned the Burqa
»UK: Elderly Heart Patient Killed After His Body Was Accidentally Drained of Blood Following NHS Blunder
»UK: Send Fewer Thugs to Jail and Save £20m a Year, Judges and Jps Told
»UK: Sledgehammer Gang’s Daring Daylight Jewellery Raid Foiled by 50 Angry Shoppers
»UK: Save Us From Red Tape, Beg Councils: Labour Issued 74,000 Pages of Rules in a Decade
»UK: Woman Dies in Bradford After Being Found on Fire
»UK: Who Will We Let Off Next… Rapists and Murderers?
»Unraveling the Etruscan Enigma
»Wilders Dutch Hate Speech Case ‘Should be Dropped’
North Africa
»Coptic Organization Warns of Violence Against Copts in Egypt
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Obama & the US-Israel Alliance
»Hamas Sticks to the Hard Line
»Rupert Murdoch on Anti-Semitism and Israel
Middle East
»Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Lebanon Sends a Menacing Message
»Synod Hears of Threats to Christian Survival in Middle East
South Asia
»Guerrilla Trucks
»Italy ‘Will Stay the Course’ In Afghanistan
»Uzbekistan: Church Kids Questioned
»Decade-Long Immigration Boom Means Britain Needs 550,000 Extra School Places by 2016
»Majority of Americans Now Believe Feds Are Encouraging Illegal Immigration
»UK: In Line for a Payout, Somali Criminal Who’s Cost US £1/2m
»Wilders Warns New Cabinet on ‘Non-Western’ Immigration
Culture Wars
»Baby Snatched for Dad’s Politics Back With Parents
»The Fallacy of Social Justice
»The International Agenda: Brave New Schools
»Whose Law Counts Most?

Financial Crisis

Obama: “Tribal Attitude” Surfaces in Tough Times

Asked about what the questioner saw as an increase in racial tension Thursday, President Obama said a “tribal attitude” can come as a result of economic hardship.

“Historically, when you look at how America has evolved, typically we make progress on race relations in fits and starts,” he said at a town hall event with young Americans.

He then suggested that the recession has played a part in driving racial antagonism while he has been in office.

“Often times misunderstandings and antagonisms surface most strongly when times are tough. And that’s not surprising,” Mr. Obama said, arguing that Americans are less worried when things are going well.

He added that anxiety over not being able to pay bills — or having lost a job or a home — sometimes “organizes itself around kind of a tribal attitude, and issues of race become more prominent.”

He also said, however, that “I think the trend lines are actually good.”

“This audience just didn’t exist 20 years ago,” Mr. Obama said, surveying the multiracial room of young people to whom he was speaking. He said the interaction between races among young people today is “unprecedented.”

“We’ve got a little bit of everybody in this country,” the president said, arguing that “our strength comes from unity, not division.”

The president, referencing his own experience, added that “as you get older, your mind gets a little more set.” He said that’s why the tolerance of young people is so important. “You guys are going to be the messengers,” said the president.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sterling Hits New High Against Struggling U.S. Dollar as Experts Warn of Global Currency War

The pound hit its highest value against the dollar since January today after the chairman of the US Federal Reserve signalled that further efforts to boost recovery were on the cards.

Delivering a speech on monetary policy in Boston, Ben Bernanke said the central bank was prepared to pump more money into the world’s biggest economy to jump-start growth and fend off deflation fears.

A further programme of quantitative easing (QE) in the US would mean putting more dollars into circulation and that has depressed the greenback, leaving it at a 15-year-low against the Japanese yen.

Following Mr Bernanke’s remarks, the dollar fell further against its rivals, as the pound lifted to 1.61 dollars and the euro also hit its highest level since January at 1.41 dollars.

Mr Bernanke said the Fed was currently wrestling with the size of a potential QE programme, and added: ‘We have much less experience in judging the economic effects of this, which makes it challenging to determine the appropriate quantity and pace of purchases.’

Mr Bernanke said inflation was too low and unlikely to return to the Fed’s target of just below 2 per cent without additional help from the central bank.

He said the Federal Open Market Committee, the bank’s rate-setting arm, was ‘prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation over time to levels consistent with our mandate.’

Fed policymakers are widely expected to announce a new monetary stimulus package — dubbed QE2 — at their next meeting on November 2 and 3.

The decline in the dollar’s value has stoked concerns over a so-called ‘currency war’ in which nations compete to keep their currencies from rising in value as the dollar sags.

China has come under fire in recent weeks amid accusations that it is distorting trade by keeping its currency weak to prop up exports.

Mark O’Sullivan, director of dealing with CurrenciesDirect, said a currency war could see countries revert to ‘1930s style protectionism’ — an economic policy of restraining trade between states through methods such as tariffs on imported goods.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Georgia Accused of Stripping 2nd Amendment Rights

Case is ‘great example of why gun owners cannot trust government bureaucrats’

Another lawsuit has been launched by officials with the Second Amendment Foundation over gun rights, which officials have been watching closely since the group’s huge Supreme Court decision affirming the idea that self-protection applies to all people in America.

The newest lawsuit was filed on behalf of a Georgia resident who is an honorably discharged veteran from the Vietnam war, and it names as defendants Attorney General Eric Holder and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


The question at hand is whether a state can deprive an individual of the right to possess a weapon over a misdemeanor.

According to the Second Amendment Foundation, it was in 1968 when Schrader, then 21, was found guilty of misdemeanor assault and battery relating to a fight involving a man who had previously assaulted him in Annapolis, Md.

The organization said the altercation was observed by a police officer, who arrested Schrader, then an enlisted man in the Navy, stationed in Annapolis. The man he fought with was in a street gang whose members had attacked him for entering their “territory,” according to the complaint.

Schrader was ordered to pay a $100 fine and $9 court cost. He subsequently served a tour of duty in Vietnam and was eventually honorably discharged, the organization said.

However, in 2008 and again in 2009, Schrader was denied the opportunity to receive a shotgun as a gift, or to purchase a handgun for personal protection and even was told by the FBI to dispose of or surrender any firearms he might have or face criminal prosecution.

“Schrader’s dilemma,” explained SAF Executive Vice President Alan Gottlieb, “is that until recently, Maryland law did not set forth a maximum sentence for the crime of misdemeanor assault. Because of that, he is now being treated like a felon and his gun rights have been denied.

“No fair-minded person can tolerate gun control laws being applied this way,” he said. “Mr. Schrader’s case is a great example of why gun owners cannot trust government bureaucrats to enforce gun laws.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Lebanese Liberal: Cordoba Initiative Chairman Abdul Rauf is Not Truly Moderate

In a September 19, 2010 article on the liberal website Elaph, Lebanese journalist Joseph Bishara wrote that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, does not really believe in tolerance. He stated that Rauf is deceiving the public based on the Islamic principle of taqiyya (concealing one’s true beliefs) — that is, he is hiding his real intentions, which are to spread Islam in the U.S. while exploiting the liberties granted him by the U.S. Constitution.

“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is mentioned almost daily on the news, ever since he entered into conflict with over 70% of the American public over the mosque he wishes to build near [the former site of] the Twin Towers in New York. Until quite recently, most people had never even heard of him, but now he has become one of the [country’s] biggest celebrities, pursued by news agencies and media channels [alike]. He became famous after he and some of his Muslim partners purchased an old building, only a few meters away from [Ground Zero], in order to build, according to his statement, a large public facility that will include a mosque.” …

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Un-Presidential Despicable Race Baiting

Sunday, Oct. 10th at a rally in Philadelphia before a mostly black audience, Obama attacked Republicans saying “they’re counting on…black folks staying home…” Well, what the heck does that mean? What message was the “Great Unifier” attempting to send to black America?

I can only conclude Obama meant, “Look y’all, everyone knows the republicans are really the KKK without the hoods. Republicans along with those white tea party racists are out to get me, your black president. They want to turn back the clock.” Obama and companies clever usage of the term “turn back the clock” conjures up all kinds of fearful images in the minds of blacks.

Obama saying Republicans want black folks to stay home on election day is a disgusting divisive use of the “race card” unworthy of the president of the United States. Meanwhile, displaying their epic racism, the liberal media excoriates all blacks who do not worship this characterless man. I have been called a traitor to my race, a stupid “N” and endured threat of violence for daring to use my brain rather than a blind loyalty to skin color; and for seeking the best interest of my country and my fellow Americans.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama Wants $1.25 B to Compensate Up to 66,000 African American Farmers for USDA Discrimination in 1981-96…

…Census Says African American Farmers Peaked at 33,000 in Those Years

By Nicholas Ballasy

( — President Barack Obama is requesting $1.15 billion from Congress—to add to a $100-million earmark he pushed through Congress in 2008 when he was a senator—to create a $1.25 billion federal fund to settle discrimination claims by what the Justice Department says is 66,000 African Americans who “farmed or attempted to farm” and were allegedly the victims of discrimination committed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the period from Jan. 1, 1981 to Dec. 31, 1996.

During that 16-year period, however, the number of African American farm operators in the United States peaked at 33,000 in 1982, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 1992, says the Census Bureau, the number of African American farmers had fallen as low as 19,000. (There were 2.24 million total farmers in the United States in 1982 and 1.93 million in 1992.)

A “farm operator,” according to the Census, is “a person who operates a farm, either doing the work or making day-to-day decisions.” Farm operators include both individuals who own farms and who rent them.

A Department of Justice spokeswoman told that the $1.15 billion the administration is requesting from Congress to settle what is called the Pigford II case is based on complaints of discrimination from 66,000 individual African American farmers who allege the Department of Agriculture wrongfully denied them federal farm loans or benefits between the beginning of 1981 and the end of 1996.

Back in 1997, lawyers brought a class-action suit, Pigford v. Glickman, against the USDA on behalf of African American farmers who allegedly were discriminated against because of their race when they tried to secure federally-backed farm loans or benefit payments.

On January 5, 1999, a federal court ruled in Pigford that the following group was qualified to apply for federal compensation for discrimination by USDA: “All African American farmers who (1) farmed, or attempted to farm, between January 1, 1981 and December 31, 1996; (2) applied to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) during that time period for participation in a federal farm credit or benefit program and who believed that they were discriminated against on the basis of race in USDA’s response to that application; and (3) filed a discrimination complaint on or before July 1, 1997, regarding USDA’s treatment of such farm credit or benefit application.”

People in this group were given until Oct. 12, 1999 to submit a claim to USDA requesting compensation under the Pigford ruling. The USDA then evaluated these claims to see whether the individual claimants had been treated differently than white farmers. Approximately 20,000 individuals filed claims before the 1999 deadline. Since then, according to news reports, the Agriculture Department has paid about 16,000 of these farmers more than $1 billion in compensation.

In the first eleven months after the Oct. 12, 1999 deadline, however, an additional 61,000 people filed claims seeking compensation under the original Pigford settlement, according to a second Pigford settlement approved by a federal district court in February 2010.

About 2,700 of these 61,000 were deemed to have satisfied an “extraordinary circumstances” test and were permitted to participate in the original claim resolution processes despite missing the deadline.

Ultimately, a Justice Department spokeswoman told, a total of 66,000 individual African American farmers came forward after the original 1999 Pigford deadline seeking to make a claim against the USDA for discriminating against them on the basis of race in the period of 1981 through 1996.

Counting the original 20,000 who met the 1999 deadline and the 66,000 who did not, there are a total of 86,000 African Americans who “farmed or attempted to farm” from 1981 through 1996 made a claim of discrimination or are seeking to make one against the U.S. government.

Yet, the alleged discrimination against these 86,000 African American farmers occurred during a period when the peak African American farm-operator population was 33,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) pushed to get $100 million appropriated through that year’s farm bill to compensate African American farmers who alleged discrimination by USDA during the 1981-1996 period and had missed the 1999 filing deadline under the original Pigford case. “I am also pleased that the bill includes my proposal to help thousands of African-American farmers get their discrimination claims reviewed under the Pigford settlement,” Sen. Obama said in a May 15, 2008 statement on his web site after the passage of the bill.

Obama introduced his proposal as the “Pigford Claims Remedy Act of 2007” and it was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

On June 5, 2008, Congress passed the final version of the farm bill containing Obama’s Pigford proposal. The “Determination on Merits of Pigford Claims” section of that bill says: “Any Pigford claimant who has not previously obtained a determination on the merits of a Pigford claim may, in a civil action brought in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, obtain that determination.”

In his fiscal 2010 and 2011 budget requests, President Barack Obama asked Congress to approve an additional $1.15 billion to resolve the Pigford claims. So far, Congress has not approved this money. If it does, the administration would have a total of $1.25 billion in tax dollars to hand out to as many as 66,000 African American farmers who claimed that the USDA discriminated against them in 1981-1996 and who were not among the 20,000 who already made claims of discrimination in that period.

“The Department of Justice negotiated with counsel for the [Pigford] plaintiffs, and on February 18, 2010, the parties ultimately agreed to a settlement of $1.25 billion,” a Justice Department spokesperson told

“Once the funds are appropriated by Congress and the settlement is approved, the $1.25 billion will be distributed among those members of the 66,000 eligible claimants whom a third-party neutral claims administrator determines to be eligible for funds,” the Justice Department spokesperson said.

Robert Bernstein, a spokesman for the U.S. Census Bureau, told that according to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstracts of the United States there were 33,000 African American farm operators in 1982; 23,000 in 1987; 19,000 in 1992, and 27,000 in 1997, the year after eligibility for Pigford discrimination claims ended.

Since then, the number of African American farmers in the United States has rebounded somewhat. There were 36,000 in 2002, according to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States and 40,000 in 2007…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Phyllis Chesler: Why Women Still Won’t Vote for Women

It is 2010, ninety years after American women first won the right to vote, and nearly fifty years after Betty Friedan’s influential work “The Feminine Mystique” was published, and women still do not want to vote for women.

And women definitely do not want to vote for Republican women.For example, in Connecticut, Republican Linda McMahon has only 34 percent of the female vote as compared to Democrat Richard Blumenthal who has 61 percent of the female vote. In Delaware, Republican Christine O’Donnell has only 25 percent of the female vote as compared to her Democratic opponent Chris Coons, who leads with 58 percent of the female vote; in Nevada, Democrat Harry Reid is beating Republican Sharron Angle by a 51-33 margin. According to pollsters, Sharron Angle is a “staunch conservative, something that tends to turn off female voters.”

Possibly, women as a group may view the Democratic Party as better on certain issues such as women’s reproductive rights and equal rights in the workplace. On the other hand, like men, many women have also lost their jobs, pensions, and homes, and will equally bear the consequences of a foreign policy gone wrong.

Whatever the reason, female candidates just can’t seem to please the female electorate. Women criticized Hillary Clinton for craving power in a non-feminine and “emotionless” way—and liked her when she showed emotion, not when she discussed policy. Women judged her harshly for sticking by her man—and then just as harshly for doing so in order to further her own political ambitions. Women, including progressive women, wanted perfection in their first female Presidential candidate. No political or character “hair” out of place. Thus, Professor Susan J. Douglas had this to say about Hillary:…

[Return to headlines]

The Real Intentions of the Imam of Ground Zero Mosque

In a September 19, 2010 article on the liberal website Elaph, Lebanese journalist Joseph Bishara wrote that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative — the organization that plans to build a mosque and cultural center close to where the Twin Towers once stood in New York City — does not really believe in tolerance. Bishara wrote that Imam Rauf is deceiving the public based on the Islamic principle of taqiyya — an Islamic principle of hiding true intentions — with regard to the spreading of Islam in the U.S.

Following are excerpts from Bishara’s article as translated by the MEMRI website:

“Abdul Rauf’s Statements Raised Many Questions In My Mind — For I Do Not Believe That Islam Is Compatible With the Principles and Customs of American Society” “Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf is mentioned almost daily on the news, ever since he entered into conflict with over 70% of the American public over the mosque he wishes to build near [the former site of] the Twin Towers in New York. Until quite recently, most people had never even heard of him, but now he has become one of the [country’s] biggest celebrities, pursued by news agencies and media channels [alike]. He became famous after he and some of his Muslim partners purchased an old building, only a few meters away from [Ground Zero], in order to build, according to his statement, a large public facility that will include a mosque.

“Abdul Rauf provoked the American public when he released his plan [to build his Islamic center] near the place that, in the Americans’ eyes, has been sanctified by the blood of the hundreds [sic] of people who died in the 9/11 attacks.

“The American right is using all its influence to try and persuade the public to demand the removal of the planned mosque to another location. To this end, it is presenting Abdul Rauf’s statements and positions [to the public], so as to show that the man is not [really] moderate, that their apprehensions are well-founded, namely that the building of the mosque will be construed by the extremist Islamists as a victory…

“The American right accuses Abdul Rauf of extremism, of supporting terrorist organizations, and of refusing to condemn terror. Among his statements that the Americans have presented as damning are his claim that the U.S. administration was behind 9/11, that bin Laden is a product of U.S. [policy], that the 9/11 attacks benefited Islam and constitute an important milestone in the history of Islam in the U.S., and that the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. is larger than the number of Americans killed in 9/11.

“The Americans have also criticized Abdul Rauf for refusing to condemn terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hizbullah, and for saying that the U.S. must admit it has harmed Muslims [if it wants] terrorism to stop.

“I was disinclined to accept the position of the right-wing American media on Rauf without any evidence, so I decided… to follow his statements in order to discover what he is like and what his positions really are. One of his statements that caught my attention had to do with his efforts to Americanize Islam. He did not explain what he meant by this, so [the statements] was difficult to understand. I asked myself: How is it possible to paint Islam in American colors, when the Muslims condemn the U.S. as a land of heresy and hedonism, and as a land of perversions and licentiousness?


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

You Want Flies With That? McDonald’s Happy Meal Shows No Sign of Decomposing After SIX MONTHS

Looking almost as fresh as the day it was bought, this McDonald’s Happy Meal is in fact a staggering six months old.

Photographed every day for the past half a year by Manhattan artist Sally Davies the kids meal of fries and burger is without a hint of mould or decay.

In a work entitled The Happy Meal Project, Mrs Davies, 54, has charted the seemingly indestructible fast food meals progress as it refuses to yield to the forces of nature.

Sitting on a shelf in her apartment, Sally has watched the Happy Meal with increasing shock and even her dogs have resisted the urge to try and steal a free tasty snack.

‘I bought the meal on April 10 of this year and brought it home with the express intention of leaving it out to see how it fared,’ she said.

‘I chose McDonald’s because it was nearest to my house, but the project could have been about any other of the myriad of fast food joints in New York.

‘The first thing that struck me on day two of the experiment was that it no longer emitted any smell.

‘And then the second point of note was that on the second day, my dogs stopped circling the shelf it was sitting on trying to see what was up there.’

Expecting the food to begin moulding after a few days, Mrs Davies’ surprise turned to shock as the fries and burger still had not shown any signs of decomposition after two weeks.

‘It was then that I realised that something strange might be going on with this food that I had bought,’ she explained.

‘The fries shrivelled slightly as did the burger patty, but the overall appearance of the food did not change as the weeks turned to months.

‘And now, at six months old, the food is plastic to the touch and has an acrylic sheen to it.

‘The only change that I can see is that it has become hard as a rock.’

Even though she is a vegan, Mrs Davies’ experiment has brought her amusement rather than fear.

‘I don’t really see this experiment as scary, I see it almost as an amusement,’ she said.

‘Although, I would be frightened at seeing this if I was a meat eater. Why hasn’t even the bun become speckled with mould? It is odd.’

When asked if their food was not biodegradable, McDonald’s spokeswoman Danya Proud said: ‘This is nothing more than an outlandish claim and is completely false.’

It comes after Denver grandmother Joann Bruso left a Happy Meal to decay for a year until March to highlight the nutritional dangers of fast food.

Morgan Spurlock also made the film Super Size Me in 2004 charting the changes to his body eating just fast food for 28 days had.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Acquit Dutch Anti-Islam Lawmaker: Prosecutors

Dutch prosecutors sought anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders’s acquittal on hate speech charges Friday, saying his criticism of the Muslim religion, though hurtful to some, was not criminal. “Criticism (of religion) is allowed,” prosecutor Birgit van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court, adding that Wilders’ statements were made in the context of public debate and hence not punishable. The politician, who went on trial on October 4 for calling Islam “fascist” and likening the Koran to Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, was defiant in welcoming the prosecution’s approach. “I do not discriminate. I do not spread hatred. I do not commit group discrimination. All I did and will continue doing is to speak the truth,” the 47-year-old Wilders told journalists outside the courtroom. In June 2008, the Dutch prosecution service dismissed dozens of complaints against the politician from individuals around the country, citing his right to freedom of speech. But appeals judges ordered in January 2009 that he stand trial as his utterances amounted to “sowing hatred” — compelling the prosecution to mount a case against him. “Wilders makes his utterances as a politician,” Van Roessel told the court on Friday. “We believe the fact that he made his statements within the context of public debate removes any punishable element.” While Wilders’ call for banning the Koran and other such statements may very well be “hurtful” to Muslims, she said, “the wounding of feelings, religious feelings, plays no role” in the trial. On Tuesday, prosecutors sought Wilders’s acquittal of the first of five charges against him — giving offence to Muslims, and asked judges not to award damages to his accusers. On Friday, they also asked for him to be cleared of the remaining four charges of inciting hatred and discrimination against Muslims and people of non-Western immigrant origin, particularly Moroccans. Van Roessel argued that criticism of religion could never be punishable unless it incited people to hatred of the followers of that religion, which Wilders’ statements did not do.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Diana West: The Camel in the Courtroom

All eyes on the war on free speech, the one that Dutch powers-that-be are waging inside an Amsterdam courtroom. That’s where Geert Wilders is standing trial for his increasingly popular political platform, based on his analysis of the anti-Western laws and principles of Islam, that rejects the Islamization of the Netherlands.

But don’t stop there. There’s much more to see in the trial of Wilders, whose Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom) is the silent partner in the Netherlands’ brand new center-right coalition government. That camel in the courtroom is the tip off.

You haven’t noticed it? I’ve been watching it since last year, when sometime after Dutch prosecutors announced in January 2009 that Wilders would go to trial for “insulting” Muslims and “inciting” hatred against them, Stephen Coughlin, famous in national security circles in Washington for his airtight and exhaustive briefs on jihad, clued me in to his analysis of the Wilders trial to date.

What we know now we knew then: that this trial presents a watershed moment. Wilders, leader of a growing democratic movement to save his Western nation from Islamization, risks one year in prison for speaking out about the facts and consequences of Islamization. Such speech is prohibited not by the Western tradition of free speech Wilders upholds, but rather by the Islamic laws against free speech that he rejects. Wilders’ plight demonstrates the extent to which the West has already been Islamized.

“It is irrelevant whether Wilder’s witnesses might prove Wilders’ observations to be correct,” the public prosecutor stated back at the beginning. “What’s relevant is that his observations are illegal.” Since when are observations “illegal”? Under communist dictatorships is one answer. Under Sharia is another…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Free Speech on Trial in the Netherlands

…and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

- JS Mill, On Liberty.

Geert Wilders’ trial in the Netherlands for allegedly inciting hatred against Muslims is a damning indictment of the state of free speech in that country. I strongly disagree with most of Mr Wilders’ statements on Islam — most of the problems associated with mass immigration could be resolved by limiting the welfare state’s privileges for migrants, and Mr Wilders also makes little distinction between his objection to the Islamic faith and to Islamic people themselves. This is unpleasant, but irrelevant. The law cannot pick and choose between the statements it likes and does not like, and nobody should be restricted from saying something simply because it is unpopular.

There are two reasons for this. The first and most important reason is a simple one of justice. Since Mr Wilders is not causing harm to anybody else by speaking critically of Muslims and Islam, it is unjust to punish him for his speech. The fundamental basis of a society in which people are free is the freedom of individuals to do what they want, so long as it doesn’t impede other people’s ability to do the same. The state steps in when those spheres of personal freedom inhibit each other. Clearly, Mr Wilders’ speech, irrespective of what he has said, doesn’t affect anybody else’s freedom of action. To violate the principle of free speech in any case is to disregard the individual’s sphere of private liberty and it should not be done in any case.

The second reason to respect Mr Wilders’ freedom of speech, even if you don’t believe in the intrinsic value of individual liberty, is that it would have highly negative consequences for society at large to disregard the principle of free speech. If the state is to judge the value of each statement on a case-by-case basis, it will prevent unpopular but potentially true things from being said. Few people knew better the importance of free speech than Socrates or Galileo: Arguments in favour of prosecuting Mr Wilders imply that the trials of people like these were flawed only in their use of evidence, not in their fundamental approach to speech. The truth is often unpopular, and the only way to ensure that society progresses is by protecting the rights of everybody to speak, no matter what they have to say.

           — Hat tip: DW[Return to headlines]

Germany: the New Anti-Semitism

Having seen the disastrous consequences of virulent anti-Semitism firsthand, Germany must lead the fight against Europe’s rising intolerance towards Muslims, writes The Local’s Marc Young.

Pedants never tire of pointing out that the term anti-Semitism should not solely apply to prejudice against Jews, but also other Semitic peoples like the Arabs.

For once, I’m for backing such Semitic semantics in light of the increasingly acrid debate about the integration of Arab and Turkish immigrants in Germany. In recent weeks, it’s become rather apparent that bigotry towards Muslims is Europe’s new anti-Semitism.

Last weekend, Horst Seehofer, the conservative state premier of Bavaria, sparked outrage by calling for an end to immigration from Islamic countries. Many German observers chalked up his comments as a ham-fisted attempt to bolster support for his Christian Social Union party by pandering to crass xenophobia.

But Seehofer’s remarks followed several of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives expressing unease over German President Christian Wulff’s recent statement that Islam was as much a part of German society as Christianity and Judaism. One Bavarian politician even said there could be no religious equality for Islam in Germany.

Of course, anyone who thinks Muslim influence on European culture was rolled back with the Turks at the gates of Vienna in 1683 should try living without the benefits of algebra for a day.

But the contentious national discussion started over the summer by the centre-left Social Democrat Thilo Sarrazin — who claimed in an inflammatory book that Muslim immigrants would be Germany’s downfall — should not be dismissed lightly as harmless populism by insecure politicians.

Just as the statistic-loving former Bundesbank board member Sarrazin wrongly reduced entire groups of people to numbers, Seehofer has maligned individual Turks and Arabs by damning them collectively.

And such publicly professed prejudice has consequences.

Two studies published this week showed German youths held widespread biases against Turks and that xenophobia in Germany was spreading.

Tragically it took something as horrific as the Holocaust to ensure Jews equal treatment in Western democracies like Britain and the United States, where anti-Jewish attitudes were rife prior to World War II. No-one should forget that it was only the incomparable crimes of Nazi Germany committed against Europe’s Jewry that made it no longer socially acceptable to express anti-Semitic sentiments openly.

But unlike many nations, Germans have unflinchingly confronted the darker parts of their past in order to learn from it. Accordingly, Germany must now not allow an entire group of people be discriminated against because of their religion or heritage.

Many German conservatives have recently mentioned the country’s “Christian-Judeo” traditions — something that would normally be expressed in English as being Judeo-Christian. But it’s not just the chronological order of the three monotheistic faiths Judaism, Christianity and Islam that makes it easy to include the Jews while excluding Muslims.

It’s also the Holocaust. People who these days deny the huge cultural contribution of Jews to German society are beyond the pale — and rightfully so. But it doesn’t take a huge stretch of the imagination to apply the ugly rhetoric currently being directed towards Muslims to Germany’s Jewish population before the war.

Let me be painfully clear here — I am in no way equating the persecution Jews suffered at the hands of the Nazis with the anti-Muslim sentiment now simmering in modern, democratic Germany.

However, just as it was once acceptable to badmouth Jews and scapegoat them for society’s ills — in Germany as well as Western democracies like America and Britain — millions of law-abiding, well-integrated Muslims are now being targeted unfairly.

It would be easy to say this new anti-Semitism started on September 12, 2001, but Europe’s immigration issues have little to do with overblown fearmongering about Osama bin Laden’s “Islamofascists” plotting world domination. Germany’s Muslim integration problems are of a longer festering sort caused first and foremost by the country’s denial for decades that immigrants from Turkey and elsewhere were here to stay.

There is no point disputing that Arabs and Turks could be better integrated in German society, but labelling them all as unwanted troublemakers simply because of their faith contravenes the core tenets of liberal Western democracy.

No matter your race, creed or colour, if you adhere to the principles of the constitution — the Basic Law in Germany’s case — you should be welcome. Anything else is bigotry, plain and simple.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Knox Ex-Boyfriend Can Phone Her’

Call will be monitored, authorities say

(ANSA) — Perugia, October 14 — The jailed Italian former boyfriend of Amanda Knox has been given permission to call his fellow convicted murderer of British exchange student Meredith Kercher, in another Umbrian prison, Florence daily La Nazione reported Thursday.

Raffaele Sollecito will be allowed to phone his American ex, from Terni to Perugia, one time only, prison authorities were quoted as saying.

The pair, who became estranged during the trial that ended last December with a 26-year sentence for her and a 25-year one for him, have recently voiced renewed affection, according to media reports.

The phone call will take place in the presence of prison guards and will be taped, La Nazione said.

Sollecito’s lawyer Luca Maori declined to comment on the report but judicial sources confirmed it Thursday.

So far Knox, 23, and Sollecito, 26, have not phoned each other, they said.

In July Knox gave an interview to the Italian magazine Oggi in which she said she still feels fondness for Sollecito, with whom she was convicted of the brutal murder of Kercher in November 2007. “We often write to each other, we give each other strength,” Knox said. “We have ended up in a surreal affair that we still don’t understand. It’s terrible, but at least it unites us. The affection remains from the love we had”.

Two films about the Perugia murder are reportedly in the works, one a made-for-TV US film with rising star Hayden Panettiere as Knox and the other a British movie by Michael Winterbottom with Colin Firth as an investigative reporter. MURDER NOVEMBER 2, 2007.

Leeds University exchange student Kercher, 21, was found with her throat cut on November 2, 2007 in the house she shared with Knox in the central town of Perugia.

Knox and Sollecito both deny the killing and are appealing against the jail terms, as is a third convicted murderer, Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede, who was tried in a separate fast-track procedure and is bidding to overturn a 16-year sentence.

Knox was given a year more than Sollecito for having falsely accused a Perugia pub owner, Congo native Patrick Lumumba, of the killing in the early stages of the investigation.

According to the prosecution, Sollecito and Guede held Kercher down as Guede tried to have sex with her and Knox threatened her with a knife, before delivering a fatal blow.

DNA evidence that was already hotly contested in Knox’s and Sollecito’s first trial is expected to again be the focus of the first of two automatic appeals, slated to start on November 24.

According to recent reports, Knox is said to be worried about the appeal and has lost some of the drive that helped her carry on her studies and keep active during her first months in jail.

“She has lost her cheerfulness and peace of mind,” her lawyer told reporters when she appeared in court on October 1 in a separate trial for allegedly slandering police.

Seattle-born Knox, whose good looks led to her frequently being called ‘foxy Knoxy’ in the media, faces the slander charges because she said during the murder trial that the police hit her in questioning.

The verdict against Knox caused a strong reaction in the United States where ‘pro-Amanda’ groups have rallied to support her appeal.

One of the United States’ top lawyers, Ted Simon, president of the National Association of Criminal Defence Lawyers, will flank her Italian defence team.

Guede, 23, had his sentence commuted from 30 to 16 years in his first appeal and Italy’s Supreme Court will start hearing his final appeal on December 16.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi and Son in Rome Probe

Investigation linked to Milan tax fraud trial

(ANSA) — Rome, October 15 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi and his son Piersilvio, together with several executives at the premier’s media empire Mediaset, have been placed under investigation in Rome on suspicion of tax evasion.

The probe is linked to a similar one in Milan, where Berlusconi and his son are on trial for alleged tax fraud and embezzlement from the buying and selling of TV and movie rights.

The Rome probe regards the years 2003 and 2004 and prosecutors became involved because Mediaset’s production company RTI has its headquarters in the capital.

Berlusconi’s lawyer Piero Longo downplayed the importance of the Rome probe and said it was “just a minor branch of the one in Milan and was only opened because one of the companies involved is based in the capital. There’s nothing new here”.

In Milan, Berlusconi and his son, who is Mediaset’s deputy chairman, are on trial along with 11 others including Mediaset Chairman Fedele Confalonieri and US film producer Frank Agrama.

All deny any wrongdoing.

Berlusconi and Agrama are accused of dodging taxes and embezzlement while Pier Silvio Berlusconi and Confalonieri are only accused of tax fraud.

The nine others are accused of aiding and abetting the alleged embezzlement, and some of money laundering too.

The premier is accused of tax fraud involving Mediaset’s Mediatrade unit to the tune of eight million dollars and the embezzlement of some 30 million dollars.

Berlusconi’s lawyers have said the film rights in question were bought at market prices and Mediatrade’s balance sheets and tax records were clean.

The alleged tax-dodging occurred between 2005 and September 2009 and the embezzlement between February 2003 and November 2005.

Berlusconi has consistently stated that when he entered politics in 1994 he delegated his powers to Confalonieri and relinquished his role in the running of his companies.

The charges are not covered by Italy’s statute of limitations but the premier is expected to take advantage proposed laws which would allow him to ignore hearings if they interfere with his duties.

Berlusconi is also on trial in Milan for allegedly bribing British tax lawyer David Mills, but this is expected to run out of time this year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Srdja Trifkovic: An Ambiguous Victory for Wilders

The news that Dutch prosecutors have changed their mind about prosecuting Geert Wilders for the Orwellian crime of “discriminating against Muslims” and “inciting hatred” is prima facie a victory for free speech and all that. In fact it is not nearly as good as it may seem.

The establishment is scared of continuing to hound the leader of the third-largest political party in the land. The fact that their legal minions are forced to eat humble pie is gratifying, but the trouble is that they are dropping this particular case while keeping all the pernicious laws used against him. They have come up with the ridiculous argument that the politician’s comments about banning the Kuran can be discriminatory, but because Wilders wants to pursue a ban “on democratic lines,” there is no incitement to discrimination “as laid down in law.” As for his comparison of the Kuran with Mein Kampf, the prosecutors now say that the metaphor was “crude, but that did not make it punishable.” While some of his comments could incite hatred against Muslims if taken out of context, they concluded, on the whole Wilders seems to be opposed to the growing influence of Islam and not hostile to Muslims as such.

A clear victory would have been for the Dutch state to declare that it was mistaken in pursuing a case of any kind against Wilders; but that would have meant the end of the Dutch state as we have known it for the past forty years.

In the event the oppressive laws are there to stay. Ordinary Dutch citizens, less visible than Wilders, can be maliciously prosecuted — and convicted — for saying the same things he has said, but with far less fuss. In the same manner some well known East European dissidents were relatively protected from the Comrades’ fury in the 1970s, but arbitrary and oppressive laws were then applied with an even greater ferocity against the anonymous multitudes…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Sweden Tops Global Rule of Law Ranking

Rule of law and government effectiveness in Sweden are among the best in the world, according to the World Justice Project’s 2010 Rule of Law Index.

The index ranks governments in a variety of categories such as absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, open government and access to the justice system.

The aim of the project is to advance the rule of law around the world in a manner that transcends income and cultural factors.

According to the study, Sweden ranked first in five of nine categories —government accountability, absence of corruption, clear and stable laws, open government, and regulatory enforcement— and places in the top 5 in all nine categories.

In providing access to civil justice to its citizens, Sweden came in at number two, after Singapore.

“Establishing the rule of law is fundamental to achieving communities of opportunity and equity — communities that offer sustainable economic development, accountable government, and respect for fundamental rights,” the report said.

“Without the rule of law, medicines do not reach health facilities due to corruption; women in rural areas remain unaware of their rights; people are killed in criminal violence; and firms’ costs increase because of expropriation risk. The rule of law is the cornerstone to improving public health, safeguarding participation, ensuring security, and fighting poverty.”

While the report, based on a three-year study examining , examines data for 37 indicators on the rule of law, provides no single rank for the 35 countries examined, Sweden, by placing at the tope in five categories, performed the best of all countries included in the study.

The Netherlands also scored high, ranking second in five categories and third in two others.

Austria was the top country for “fundamental rights,” and an effective criminal justice system while Singapore topped the list for “order and security” and access to civil justice.

The United States did not top any categories but was third in open government. Most of the rankings were near the bottom of the 11 high-income nations.

Despite Sweden’s outstanding performance in guaranteeing access to civil justice to its citizens —which places it at number two—Sweden still faces challenges in guaranteeing access to legal counsel to its citizens, where it underperforms both its regional and income group peers.

The study finds that people in Sweden have less access to legal counsel in civil disputes than do individuals in some middle-income countries such as Argentina or Colombia.

Another area where Sweden underperforms Western European countries and other high income peers is the effectiveness of the criminal investigation system.

According to a Rule of Law Index poll of 1,000 people in Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö in 2009, only 4 percent of the perpetrators who committed a burglary were punished, a much lower figure than the 10 percent average than in Austria, France, Netherlands, and Spain — the other western European countries included in the index.

According to the report, which was based on 35,000 questionnaires and numerous interviews, “the findings need to be interpreted in light of certain inherent limitations.”

“While the index is helpful to tracking the ‘temperature’ of the rule of law situation in the countries under study, it is not powerful enough to provide a full diagnosis or to dictate concrete priorities for action. No single index can convey a full picture of a country’s situation.”

The project, which is advised by former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright and former Irish president Mary Robinson, among others, intends to expand its study for 2011 and 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Two “Swedes” Charged for Somali Terror Crime Plots

Two Swedish citizens of Somali origin tied to an al-Qaeda-linked extremist group were charged in Gothenburg on Friday with “planning terrorist crimes” in Somalia.

According to the charge sheet, Mohamoud Jama, 22, and Bille Ilias Mohamed, 26, are members of the Somali Islamist al-Shabaab, which has declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network and controls most of southern and central Somalia.

The two men, one arrested in Gothenburg in May and the other in Stockholm the following month, are suspected of having plotted suicide attacks in Somalia, with the aim of “murder” or “maiming” a large number of people and causing “massive damage to property,” the charge sheet said.

“There was significant danger the crimes would be carried out,” it said.

The prosecution, which based its case on interrogations of the two suspects, witness accounts and a long line of tapped telephone conversations, claimed to have proof the two men had been in contact with al-Shabaab leader Yassin Ismail Ahmed.

The recorded telephone conversations also showed that Mohamed had attended an al-Shabaab training camp in Somalia and that he aimed to “return to Somalia and wanted to become a martyr,” while Jama “was preparing for a future suicide mission,” the charge sheet said.

A clerk at the Gothenburg court told AFP the men’s trial was set to begin on October 28th and the hearings would take six days.

It remained unclear exactly when the proceedings would conclude, but likely by November 16th, with the verdict probably landing around two weeks later, the clerk said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Pregnant’ 23-Year-Old Woman Dies After Being Set on Fire Behind House

A woman aged 23 believed to be pregnant has died after being found on fire behind a house in Bradford.

West Yorkshire Police and fire crews were called to a property in the West Bowling area of Bradford at 7.15pm yesterday.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the woman, who was found ‘alight’ and with serious burns, was pronounced dead at the scene.


Aziza Kahn, who lives nearby, said she believed the woman was pregnant and lived at the property with her husband, mother-in-law and two sisters-in-law.

She said: ‘We never saw her (the woman). There was a time we were quite close to that family but not now.

‘We didn’t know her, we never got to talk to her.

‘You never saw her with her husband, never ever saw them together.

‘She was a young girl, we thought she was about 17 or 18, and she was pregnant.’

Miss Kahn also said some neighbours had told her that a group of around five men were seen coming out of the house around the same time as the incident happened but said she did not see anything herself.

Another neighbour, Rahana Kosar, said she believed the woman was Asian and had been in the UK for less than a year but she rarely came out of the house.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: As Career Criminals With 100 Convictions Are Spared Jail, MPs Ask… What Does Get You Locked Up?

Thousands of career criminals are being spared jail despite having amassed at least 50 convictions.

Almost 2,700 were handed a community sentence after being found guilty more than 50 times before.

Incredibly, 315 offenders even received a non-custodial punishment after 100 or more previous offences.

The figures, seen by the Mail, also show more than 13,000 on at least their 30th offence received a community penalty — widely derided as ‘soft’ by critics.

It means offenders who are convicted of 30 or more crimes are 1,000 times more likely to be given a community sentence or a fine than end up in prison.

MPs and experts said the alarming revelations showed why Kenneth Clarke should be imprisoning more convicts — not fewer.

Criminologist Dr David Green, director of the Civitas think-tank, said even more prolific offenders could escape jail in future.

‘It’s all very well giving out community sentences for minor offences — but if you’re on your 101st conviction, then it’s evidence of being a career criminal,’ he added.

‘I would have thought a long custodial sentence would be appropriate for these people, who will have been committing crimes more or less every day for all their adult life. If they do allow career criminals to roam the streets, we can safely say there will be a rise in crime.’ MPs claim Justice Secretary Ken Clarke should be imprisoning more convicts — not fewer

MPs claim Justice Secretary Ken Clarke should be imprisoning more convicts — not fewer

Tory backbencher Philip Davies said: ‘These statistics show what a joke the criminal justice system has become. You have to work very hard to get into prison nowadays.

‘No wonder people have lost faith in the criminal justice system when we see people carrying out literally hundreds of crimes and getting off time and time again.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Britain is Losing Its Battle Against Islamic Extremists… Says French MP Who Banned the Burqa

Britain is ‘losing the battle against Islamic extremism’ by failing to outlaw burqas, the architect of the French ban said today.

Jacques Myard, a senior member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party, said relaxed UK policies had ‘opened the door to terrorism’.

He added: ‘Allowing women to exclude themselves from society by wearing the full Islamic veil makes radicals extremely comfortable, and Britain should realise this.’

Mr Myard made his outspoken comments to British journalists in Qatar, where he was defending his country’s recent banning of the veil at the prestigious Qatar Foundation Doha Debates, which will be broadcast by the BBC this weekend.

His comments will inflame tensions between London and Paris five years after the 7/7 London bombings, which the French have regularly blamed on lax policing.

Referring to the 2005 atrocity, which left 52 dead and hundreds injured, Mr Myard added: ‘Britain has suffered a number of high-profile failures in its fight against extremism in recent years.

‘These could have been prevented if all signs of extremism were curbed, as they are in France.’

Asked if Britain should introduce its own burqa ban, Mr Myard replied: ‘Of course — it is fundamental to ensuring that extremism is kept in check.

‘There’s a good reason why London was nicknamed Londonistan — it was full of Islamic extremists. People should be learning from these mistakes.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Elderly Heart Patient Killed After His Body Was Accidentally Drained of Blood Following NHS Blunder

A pensioner died after his chest was bled ‘empty’ when he was wrongly connected to a blood pumping machine and a hospital worker left the room.

NHS staff failed to use enough clamps to disconnect 76-year-old Dr John Baines from the device after a gruelling six-hour bypass operation, on January 29.

This meant his blood was pumped into the machine, which was filling in for his heart and lungs during the surgery, but not pumped back into his body.

An inquest heard how the pensioner, a former research chemist, had survived the complex procedure only to die days later due to brain damage caused by the blunder.

[Return to headlines]

UK: Send Fewer Thugs to Jail and Save £20m a Year, Judges and Jps Told

Judges and magistrates were yesterday ordered to send fewer violent thugs to jail.

New guidelines mean those guilty of grievous bodily harm or beating up a police officer will remain on the streets rather than going to prison.

The Sentencing Council believes its move could save almost £20million a year to the prison and probation services and mean 4,000 fewer violent yobs being sent to jail…

Criminologist Dr David Green, of the Civitas think tank, said: ‘I do not believe that any experienced judge would think that current sentencing practice is disproportionate.

‘When you make the consequences of crime less severe, you will get more of it.’

The new rules would mean fewer jail sentences for common assault, assault on a police officer, causing actual bodily harm and assault trying to resist arrest.

For grievous bodily harm, an assault causing permanent disability, disfigurement, broken bones or injuries requiring lengthy treatment, attackers will not go to jail if they are considered to have factors in their favour. These include youth or immaturity, showing remorse, and causing the injury with a single blow.

The council’s guidelines were put out as a consultation and are likely to be given legal force next spring.

Unlike previous sentencing rules handed down by predecessor bodies, they must be obeyed to the letter by judges and magistrates.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Sledgehammer Gang’s Daring Daylight Jewellery Raid Foiled by 50 Angry Shoppers

A daylight jewellery store raid was foiled yesterday when members of the public wrestled a masked robber to the ground.

Five sledgehammer-wielding thieves arrived on motorbikes and smashed their way into the shop on a busy London street, grabbing armfuls of watches from the front window.

But as they made their getaway, passers-by pulled one from his bike and pinned him down until police arrived.

The four remaining robbers, who wore dark clothing and balaclavas, fled the scene and tried to hide in a nearby park, but three were caught.

Among the heroes outside the Ernest Jones jewellery store in High Street Kensington was Charlie Masud Riyahi, 51, who wrestles as a hobby.

‘When one of them tried to get away a group of people surrounded him and closed his way,’ he said.

‘He was trying to scare us with the sledgehammer. But when he got on the motorbike, someone knocked him off.

‘I jumped on his back and pinned him down to the ground. It was all over in a fraction of a second.

‘I used to do wrestling so it was really easy. I wasn’t scared of him at all and after that other people came to help me.’

Sam Dolling, 20, an electrician who saw the incident unfold, said: ‘It was like something from a film.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Save Us From Red Tape, Beg Councils: Labour Issued 74,000 Pages of Rules in a Decade

Local government bureaucrats have had to follow 74,000 pages of new rules and instructions handed down by Whitehall over the past decade, council chiefs complained yesterday.

The forest of red tape was a product of 4,000 different laws and circulars covering everything from parish council election advice to carbon reduction targets.

The direct cost to taxpayers of demands sent down by ministers to town halls amounts to £900 million a year and the overall losses could be as high as £2.5 billion annually, the Local Government Association said.

It demanded simplification of the rules that govern local councils and an end to central government guidelines that give detailed instructions on how town halls should carry out their duties.

According to a report published by the umbrella body for local councils, the burden has amounted to 40 pages of regulation for every day that Parliament has been sitting since 2000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Woman Dies in Bradford After Being Found on Fire

A 23-year old woman has died after she was found on fire behind a house in Bradford, police have said.

West Yorkshire Police and fire crews were called to a property on Cloudsdale Avenue, south of the city centre, at 1915 BST on Thursday.

A force spokesman said the woman, who was found “alight”, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said the death was being treated as suspicious and forensic science experts remained at the scene.

A post-mortem examination is to take place later.

Shocked neighbours in the quiet cul-de-sac told BBC News that the dead woman had lived in the street for about a year after moving from Pakistan to live with her in-laws.

They described the local community as close-knit where all the families knew one another.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: Who Will We Let Off Next… Rapists and Murderers?

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve loved my time as a JP and still passionately believe the Magistrates Court is the backbone of the entire British judicial system. Without it, I’m convinced our judicial system would collapse.

And yet I’m equally convinced this backbone is neither anywhere near as strong as it once was or anything like as strong as it needs to be. Over the years, it’s been progressively weakened by over-liberal reforms, misguided do-gooders and now the pressing need to save money.

Only this week, we heard that judges and magistrates are being told to send fewer violent thugs to prison. Now those found guilty of actual, or even grievous, bodily harm will not be going to prison at all, particularly if they are young or express remorse.

Makes you wonder who we’ll be letting off next? Rapists? Murderers?


It addressed the problems of criminals and criminality in a way that the latest milksop, so-called ‘community payback’, never will. A couple of weeks loafing around in high-visibility jackets? Oh yes, I’m quite sure that will get hardened criminals back on the straight and narrow, Mr Clarke.

At the grassroots level, the judicial system is a currently a mess, where something as serious as shoplifting can earn you an £80 fixed penalty fine, while dropping a cigarette butt can land you with a £1,000 fine.

It’s a world where the police keep telling us that crime is falling but only, I’m convinced, because they’re letting repeat young offenders off with warning after warning, caution after caution.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Unraveling the Etruscan Enigma

by Rossella Lorenzi

They taught the French to make wine and the Romans to build roads, and they introduced writing to Europe, but the Etruscans have long been considered one of antiquity’s great enigmas. No one knew exactly where they came from. Their language was alien to their neighbors. Their religion included the practice of divination, performed by priests who examined animals’ entrails to predict the future. Much of our knowledge about Etruscan civilization comes from ancient literary sources and from tomb excavations, many of which were carried out decades ago. But all across Italy, archaeologists are now creating a much richer picture of Etruscan social structure, trade relationships, economy, daily lives, religion, and language than has ever been possible. Excavations at sites including the first monumental tomb to be explored in over two decades, a rural sanctuary filled with gold artifacts, the only Etruscan house with intact walls and construction materials still preserved, and an entire seventh-century B.C. miner’s town, are revealing that the Etruscans left behind more than enough evidence to show that perhaps, they aren’t such a mystery after all.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Wilders Dutch Hate Speech Case ‘Should be Dropped’

Dutch prosecutors have recommended acquitting leading anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders on all five charges of hate speech.

They said his comments had targeted Islam, not Muslims, and he had the right to comment on social issues.

The trial will continue next week and judges may still disagree with the prosecution and convict Mr Wilders.

Prosecutors were obliged to look at the case again after an appeals court decision last year.

The trial of Mr Wilders, who compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, has gripped the Netherlands.

His Freedom Party’s support is crucial to the country’s new coalition government.

‘Sowing hatred’ Prosecutors had initially declined to press charges against Mr Wilders in June 2008.

But they were ordered to do so in January 2009 by the appeals court, which ruled that there was significant evidence that the politician had sought to “sow hatred”.

Prosecutors Birgit van Roessel and Paul Velleman reached their conclusions on Friday after studying interviews with, and articles by, Mr Wilders as well as his anti-Koran film Fitna.

“Criticism [of religion] is allowed,” Ms van Roessel told the Amsterdam district court.

“It would be hurtful to many Muslims when Wilders calls for a ban on the Koran but the feelings of this group can play no role in determining the facts of the case.”

Mr Velleman told the court that most of the politician’s remarks seemed to have targeted Islam as an ideology rather than singling out Muslims for abuse.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Coptic Organization Warns of Violence Against Copts in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Coptic Solidarity, a worldwide Coptic Human Rights Organization, issued a statement on October 14, warning that the alarming upsurge of significant anti-Coptic activities over the recent weeks could eventually “degenerate into wholesale violence against the Copts and their spiritual leaders” in the upcoming volatile period of political changes in Egypt.

The National election for the Egyptian People’s Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, is slated for November 29, and the Presidential election is due in 2011, with the controversial issue of President Mubarak’s youngest son Gamal, succeeding his father, hanging in the air.

The statement accuses the Egyptian authorities of having “chosen to remain silent, proving, yet again, that they may be trying to use Islamic radicalism as a means to channel against the Copts the escalating social discontent in the country” (AINA 10-10-2010).

The Coptic Church has recently witnessed concerted incitement campaigns in the national media and by Islamic radicals, varying from televised programs on Wahhabi-funded Islamic TV Channels, to demonstrations against the Church and its pontiff Pope Shenouda III. The campaigns have been initiated from mosques all over Egypt.

The statement mentions the televised false accusations levied against the Church by leading Islamic figures on September 15 and after, of “stocking arms and ammunition [imported from Israel] in their churches and monasteries” and of “preparing to wage war against Muslims.” Copts were further accused of “inciting sectarian strife and seeking to have their own separate state in Egypt” (AINA 9-22-2010).

Pope Shenouda, in his interviews of late September on state-owned and private TV channels, expressed his concern over the ongoing situation, and dismissed such claims as illogical allegations thrown at the Church, adding that the only time a Copt would carry arms is “if he works in the police or the army.” The pope went on to say that the doors of churches are open to state scrutiny He also ridiculed the rumors of a separate “Coptic State” on the lines of the expected division between north and south Sudan, “Copts live all over the country, and it would not be feasible,” he said.

“These preposterous accusations could have been easily refuted by the usually intrusive Egyptian authorities, but they have chosen to remain silent,” said the Coptic Solidarity statement.

The statement also referred to the ten demonstrations carried out by of Islamist mobs after Friday’s prayers, targeting the Coptic Church, the Pope, and the Copts in general. “Several hate slogans, normally punishable under the laws, were shouted, with no action taken by the authorities.” During these demonstrations, the latest on October 8, the Islamists demanded the delivery of a priest’s wife, who they insist had converted to Islam, and is hidden by the church, contrary to affirmations that this rumor was baseless, including a certified video recording by the woman in question affirming her Christianity (AINA 9-18-2010). Al Azhar, the leading Islamic institution in Egypt, also denied earlier that the priest’s wife ever converted to Islam. Still demonstrations went on asking for her release. Church sources said that the woman and her 18- month-old toddler is staying at a women’s home belonging to the church, “for fear over her safety from the Muslim mobs.”

Coptic Solidarity pointed out that although Christian and Jewish Holy Books are systematically ridiculed as being falsified, “a passing remark on a Koranic verse regarding the Crucifixion, made by a Coptic clergyman at an internal meeting on dogma, was denounced as ‘blasphemous.’“ The remark, which was taken out of context, caused an uproar in Egypt. The Pope himself publicly expressed regret over Muslim anger provoked by the clergyman’s remarks. The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, a formal State body headed by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar condemned the remarks and in its statement took the opportunity to point out that “Egypt was, according to its constitution, an Islamic State” and that “the citizenship rights of non-Muslims were conditional to their abiding by the Islamic Identity of the State,” thereby “reversing modern progress and downgrading the Copts to their formerly historical status of mere Dhimmis—suppressed and humbled non-Muslims living under the will of Islam,” according to the statement (AINA 10-1-2010).

Coptic Solidarity made the point to hold the Egyptian authorities and political leadership fully responsible, and demanded that effective measures be taken immediately to abate this dangerous tide.

Members of Coptic Solidarity and a group of American experts will hold a press conference in Washington to define to the American public the expected risks on Copts in Egypt, on Monday October 18 starting noon (12:00) at the National Press Building.

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Obama & the US-Israel Alliance

Israel’s opposition leaders spent the past week trying to prove their relevance. On Tuesday, both former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Kadima leader Tzipi Livni accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of wrecking Israel’s relations with the US. Both Livni and Olmert claimed that Netanyahu is taking a knife to Israel’s most valuable alliance by refusing to bow to US President Barack Obama’s demand that the government extend the ban on Jewish building in Judea and Samaria for an additional 60 days.

As Olmert put it, “The United States, the great superpower, says: ‘You held a building freeze for 10 months, now extend it by two months…’“

“Sure we are an independent state,” Olmert allowed, but then he continued, “But doesn’t reason, a sense of responsibility and foresight, justify giving two more months?”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Hamas Sticks to the Hard Line

There are few figures in the Middle East more controversial than Khaled Meshaal, the 54-year old leader of Hamas. To many Palestinians, Meshaal is the symbol of nationalism and resistance to occupation. Many Israelis, on the other hand, see him as the architect of numerous bloody suicide bombings and rocket attacks. But even his detractors will acknowledge that Meshaal is a force to be reckoned with in the cutthroat politics of the Middle East. He rose in the ranks of Hamas after surviving an assassination attempt (Mossad agents squirted poison in his ear.) in Amman in 1997. Meshaal now calls the shots for Hamas, which is the dominant party in Gaza, from his perch in Damascus. That still hasn’t earned him an invitation to the recent Israeli and Palestinian talks, which have stalled over the issue of settlements. Meshaal met with NEWSWEEK’s Babak Dehghanpisheh and Ranya Kadri in Damascus:

What is your view about [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas’s negotiations with the Israeli leadership?

From the start, there is no future and no horizon for the negotiations. The Palestinian negotiator is going into the negotiations without any strong cards to pressure the Israelis. What is going to force [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu to give the Palestinian negotiator what he’s asking for?

If Mr. Abbas somehow manages to get an agreement for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, is that something you would accept? I can answer your theoretical question but this is not even expected to happen. There is a position and program that all Palestinians share. To accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital. With the right of return. And this state would have real sovereignty on the land and on the borders. And with no settlements. What is Hamas’s role? We are looking at how to build on the bitter experience of negotiations. The lesson of negotiation is that without real pressure on the Israelis they will not withdraw to the 1967 borders. Therefore, the resistance option is the real option. Yes, we are with diplomacy and politics. But we should have resistance- the basis is resistance- and having the pressure cards and tools on the Israelis. On the first day these negotiations were announced, Hamas fighters killed four people in Hebron. Were you trying to send a message? No. This was not based on giving a message against the negotiations. It was expressing a reality. There is an illegal occupation and there are illegal settlements. And the Israeli soldiers and the Israeli settlers who are armed are attacking Palestinians. [They are] attacking Palestinian people, the olive trees, the children, the women. Therefore the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves. Not every resistance action is connected to the negotiations. This is connected to reality. It’s very clear, not every resistance is sending a message.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Rupert Murdoch on Anti-Semitism and Israel

Rupert Murdoch last night delivered a speech to the Anti-Defamation League on anti-Semitism and Israel. The New York Sun provides a thoughtful editorial on the subject. And here’s Murdoch’s entire speech, as prepared for delivery:

Thank you, Abe, for those kind words. And thank you for this award.

I can’t say I have been chosen by God. But tonight I can say this: I am honored to be chosen by His people for this award.

I am especially proud that this award bears the name of the ADL. You were founded a century ago against the backdrop of something we cannot imagine in America today: the conviction and then lynching of an innocent Jew.

In the century since then, you have fought anti-Semitism wherever you have found it. You have championed equal treatment for all races and creeds. And you have held America to her founding promise.

So successful have you been, a few years ago some people were beginning to say, “maybe we don’t need an ADL anymore.”

That is a much harder argument to make these days.

Now, there’s not a single person in this room who needs a lecture on the evil of anti-Semitism. My own perspective is simple: We live in a world where there is an ongoing war against the Jews…

           — Hat tip: Anne-Kit[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Visit to Lebanon Sends a Menacing Message

Iran’s president wants the charges dropped against Hizbollah — or else.

It is not often that a state visit by a foreign president plunges the host nation into political turmoil. But then Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presence in Lebanon is no ordinary visit. On one level, the Iranian president’s controversial tour of southern Lebanon, where yesterday he was literally a stone’s throw from the Israeli border, should be seen as yet another example of the publicity-grabbing exploits that have become the hallmark of this eccentric leader.

What better way to distract attention from Iran’s deepening economic crisis — the direct result of Mr Ahmadinejad’s intransigence over the nuclear programme — than to stage a high-profile visit to about the only place in the world where he can truly be guaranteed a popular welcome.

During the past three decades, Iran has invested billions of dollars in turning the Shia Muslim Hizbollah militia into one of the dominant forces in modern Lebanese politics. When I covered the Lebanese civil war for this newspaper in the mid-1980s, Hizbollah — or The Party of God — was a fringe group in the shadow of the more mainstream Amal movement, which represented Shia interests in the Lebanese parliament.

At that time, Hizbollah’s main claim to fame was its role in blowing up the American embassy and the US and French military barracks with suicide lorry bombs, which, at the time, was a novel terrorist technique that killed hundreds of people. The group also masterminded the hostage crisis that caused Terry Waite, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan to spend years chained to radiators in dank cells in the Bekaa Valley.

So the fact that Hizbollah is now Lebanon’s main political party, and a leading member of the coalition government, shows how far Iran’s pet militia has come during the past 25 years. More to the point, its leadership also shares Iran’s nihilistic attitude towards the feisty little Jewish state that is located on the other side of Lebanon’s southern border. Armed and equipped by Iran, Hizbollah has already provoked one war with Israel, in the summer of 2006. And, given the thousands of missiles and rockets that Tehran continues to smuggle to Hizbollah strongholds in southern Lebanon, the militia clearly believes there is another conflict in the offing.

That is certainly Iran’s view. The country’s leaders regard Hizbollah’s presence in southern Lebanon as the front line in their war with Israel. If the Israeli government was ever reckless enough to carry out its promise to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations, an important component of the military response would be to launch a barrage of missiles from southern Lebanon at Israel’s major towns and cities. When Mr Ahmadinejad praised Lebanon for its “resistance to the world’s tyrants”, no one in Israel doubted the barb was aimed at them.

But it is Hizbollah’s continued — though constantly denied — involvement in terrorism, rather than its confrontational posture with its southern neighbour, that is the real motivation behind Mr Ahmadinejad’s decision to become the first Iranian president to visit the region.

In a few weeks’ time, the United Nations special tribunal that has spent the past five years investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri is due to publish its findings. Mr Hariri, a self-made Sunni Muslim billionaire who was financing Lebanon’s post-civil war reconstruction, was killed by a car bomb as he drove through Beirut in 2005.

Lebanese security officials immediately suspected Hizbollah because Mr Hariri was demanding that the party disband its militia and arrange for its thousands of fighters to join up with Lebanon’s conventional armed forces. The bombing also bore all the hallmarks of Imad Mugniyeh, who masterminded the 1980s Beirut lorry bombings and who was himself killed by a car bomb in Damascus in 2008.

Details of the UN tribunal’s findings leaked to the Beirut press suggest that, apart from Mugniyeh, the investigators have uncovered evidence that links as many as 50 senior Hizbollah officials to the assassination. This includes intercepts of mobile phone calls made between Hizbollah officials in the days leading up to Mr Hariri’s murder.

In an attempt to distance the organisation from the report’s conclusions, Shiekh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader who lives in permanent hiding for fear of assassination by Israel, issued a video statement in the summer claiming that those involved with Hariri’s assassination were “undisciplined members which the group has no relations with”.

Diplomatic sources in Beirut tell me that, to avoid a confrontation between Hizbollah and the Lebanese government, Saad Hariri, the current prime minister and son of the murdered politician, has offered Nasrallah a deal whereby the assassination is blamed entirely on Mugniyeh, who is no longer in a position to face criminal prosecution. But Nasrallah, who regards Mugniyeh as a “martyr” to Hizbollah’s cause, has refused, and is trying to pressure Mr Hariri to reject the findings of the UN investigation.

This is a hard ask for a man who saw his father blown to pieces by a car bomb. It is also a totally unacceptable proposition for the millions of Christian and Sunni Muslim Lebanese who oppose Hizbollah’s attempts to impose its uncompromising Islamic ideology on their lives.

By parading through Shia-dominated southern Lebanon yesterday, Mr Ahmadinejad was not only demonstrating his loyalty to Tehran’s favourite Islamic militia. He was also sending an uncompromising message to Mr Hariri’s government to drop the charges against Hizbollah, or face the consequences.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Synod Hears of Threats to Christian Survival in Middle East

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The survival of the Christian communities of the Middle East is threatened not only by violence and political repression, but also by the churches’ weakened sense of mission, failure to work ecumenically and loss of their traditional liturgical heritage, bishops told the special synod for the Middle East….

Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour of Haifa, Israel, told the synod that 2,000 years ago “my ancestors started spreading around everywhere the exciting news revolving around an empty tomb and a risen man.”

Despite oppression and persecution throughout the centuries, the Christians of the Holy Land continue to proclaim to the world the good news that Jesus rose from the dead, he said.

“He is risen, but his cross is still high in our sky. Our Christianity is hanging on that terrible cross,” the archbishop said. Christians in the Holy Land “still live under daily threats” from governments who want to transfer Arabs from their ancestral lands, he said.

Archbishop Chacour called the small Arab Christian communities in Israel and the Palestinian territories “the remnant of the family of Christ” and asked the universal church to be more supportive of the land’s native Christians.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Guerrilla Trucks

As the war in Afghanistan escalated several years ago, counterinsurgency expert David Kilcullen, a member of the team that designed the Iraq surge for Gen. David Petraeus, began to notice a new tattoo on some insurgent Afghan fighters. It wasn’t a Taliban tattoo. It wasn’t even Afghan. It was a Canadian maple leaf. When a perplexed Kilcullen began to investigate, he says, he discovered that the incongruous flags were linked to what he says is one of the most important, and unnoticed, weapons of guerrilla war in Afghanistan and across the world: the lightweight, virtually indestructible Toyota Hilux truck. “In Afghanistan in particular,” he says, “[the trucks are] incredibly well respected.” So well respected, in fact, that some enterprising fraudsters thought them worthy of ripping off. The imitations, Kilcullen says, had flooded the market, leaving disappointed fighters in their wake. But then “a shipment of high-quality [real] Hiluxes arrived, courtesy of the Canadian government,” he explains. “They had little Canadian flags on the back. Because they were the real deal, and because of how the Hilux is seen, over time, strangely, the Canadian flag has become a symbol of high quality across the country. Hence the tattoos.” It’s not just rebels in Afghanistan that love the Hilux. “The Toyota Hilux is everywhere,” says Andrew Exum, a former Army Ranger and now a fellow of the Center for a New American Security. “It’s the vehicular equivalent of the AK-47. It’s ubiquitous to insurgent warfare. And actually, recently, also counterinsurgent warfare. It kicks the hell out of the Humvee.” Anecdotally, a scan of pictures from the last four decades of guerrilla and insurgent warfare around the world—the first iteration of the Hilux appeared in the late ‘60s—reveals the Toyota’s wide-ranging influence. Somali pirates bristling with guns hang out of them on the streets of Mogadishu. The New York Times has reported that the Hilux is the pirates’ “ride of choice.” A ragtag bunch of 20 or so Sudanese fighters raise their arms aloft in the back of a Hilux in 2004. Pakistani militants drive through a crowd, guns high, in 2000. It goes on. Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq—U.S. Special Forces even drive Toyota Tacomas (the chunkier, U.S. version of the Hilux) on some of their deployments. (Click here for a gallery of Toyota trucks in conflict-torn regions.) While Taliban leader Mullah Omar reportedly likes to roll in a Chevy Suburban and Osama Bin Laden is said to have preferred the Hilux’s bigger brother, the Landcruiser, when he was able to move freely, most Al Qaeda lieutenants drive Hiluxes, according to a New York Times report from the early 2000s. Even today, says Kilcullen, “It’s a bit of a sign you’re dealing with Al Qaeda when you come across them in Pakistan. They use the twin-cab version, because you can carry people and stuff in the back, and also mount a heavy weapon in the pickup.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy ‘Will Stay the Course’ In Afghanistan

Keep pursuing goal even ‘beyond any stated date’

(ANSA) — Brussels, October 14 — Italy will stay the course in Afghanistan, ministers said at a NATO summit in Brussels Thursday.

“Unless the goal is achieved, we will stay there beyond any date we have (previously) stated,” Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said, announcing the deployment of 100 new military trainers as requested by NATO.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini stressed that no one had ever spoken about an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

Instead, he said, there is discussion about a “transition strategy” to draw down NATO forces in the coming years as Afghan forces step up to the job of securing and stabilising their country.

The scenario for NATO is “neither a flight nor a withdrawal,” Frattini said when asked about Italy’s planned pull-out, currently scheduled for 2011-2014.

He said this transition would start in July 2011.

As for the new trainers, La Russa recalled that Italy has already decided to increase the number of its instructors in Afghanistan as it reduced the number of combat troops, beginning next year, but could send in an additional 100 even now.

“The final decision is Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s but we are already in a position to budget the sending in or 100 instructors or more,” La Russa said. “We know that the more instructors there are on the ground the shorter the transition phase will be to hand back control to the Afghans,” he added.

Frattini also stressed the importance of the West keeping Pakistan “close”.

“Everyone is talking about the threat of Iran becoming a nuclear risk, whereas Pakistan already has the bomb. What would happen if that country lost its stability and broke with the West,” he said.

Frattini recalled that on Friday he will be in Brussels for a meeting of the ‘Friends of Pakistan’ group, “which is helping Pakistan defeat terrorism at home so it can remain a friend of the West”.

On Monday, Italy will host a meeting of the Special Representatives for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) at the foreign ministry.

The conference will review progress made in achieving the stability needed to guarantee democracy and development in the region.

Over 50 nations and organizations will be sending delegations to Monday’s conference, also known as the International Contact Group meeting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Uzbekistan: Church Kids Questioned

Most of the people in Uzbekistan are Muslims. Kids in some parts of the country can get into trouble just for going to church!

One Sunday, several police officers and a TV cameraman raided a church service in Uzbekistan. The cameraman filmed the entire service. After church, the police questioned the children. “How often do you go to church?” the police asked.

Later, the film aired on TV. The TV announcer said that the children were “deprived of a normal, happy childhood” because of their church activities.

About a month after the raid, policemen came to the children’s school. They took the children away from school to question them some more. The officers asked questions like, “What books do you read? What music do you listen to? What do your parents teach you?”

One girl was forced to write a “confession” against her parents. Back at school, a teacher warned the Christian children that they would go to prison if they kept going to church.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


Decade-Long Immigration Boom Means Britain Needs 550,000 Extra School Places by 2016

Britain will need 550,000 more school places by 2016 to educate the children of immigrants, a study claimed last night.

And over the next decade this will rise to one million extra places — at a total cost of about £100billion.

The Migrationwatch report blames the aftermath of Labour’s ‘open door’ immigration policy.

Migrationwatch said that between 1998 and 2009 — the years in which critics say Labour’s open door immigration policy operated — the number of school places required by the children of immigrants was almost 630,000.

By analysing ONS population projections, Migrationwatch also concluded that over the next ten years one million more school places will be needed because of immigration.

This is primarily due to children being born to immigrants.

Between now and 2016, 550,000 more places will be required. Based on the cost of providing each school place, the total cost will be £40billion.

Educating children of immigrants in state schools would cost around £195billion over a 25-year period, the report adds.

Migrationwatch said the quadrupling in net migration — the difference between the number of people arriving in the UK, and those leaving — was responsible.

Many of those coming here were young people, who decided to have children, contributing to a ‘baby boom’. Between 1998 and 2009, total births increased by 11 per cent, Migrationwatch says.

Sir Andrew Green, Migrationwatch chairman, said: ‘Almost every family in England is being affected by the growing crisis over school places but no one will talk about its causes.

‘These are some of the consequences of one of the most reckless and unpopular policies of any government in generations and they are now coming home to roost.’

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Majority of Americans Now Believe Feds Are Encouraging Illegal Immigration

A recent Rasmussen poll found that 62 percent (up six points from October 2009) of likely U.S. voters believe that federal policies are actually encouraging illegal immigration, only 23 percent disagree, with another 16 percent not sure.

That same poll found that 63 percent (up four points from July 2010) of voters favor passage of an immigration law similar to Arizona’s SB1070 in their own state, while only 26 percent would oppose such a law.

The survey of 1,000 likely voters was taken between September 24-25.

Of course, with elections less than four weeks away, these numbers do not bode well for Democrats who have been pushing for amnesty legislation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: In Line for a Payout, Somali Criminal Who’s Cost US £1/2m

Since arriving in Britain claiming asylum, aged 15, the Somalian has been jailed for more than a dozen crimes — including violence, burglary and robbery.

He has spent around 100 months in custody — at a cost to the public of more than £300,000.

The man, who has been receiving legal aid throughout his criminal career, re-offended within days or weeks every time he was released.

He was first told he was being considered for deportation in 2001, but due to the immigration farce which the last Government presided over, officials failed to kick him out.

From 2004, when his last jail sentence was completed, to 2007, he was held in an immigration detention centre — at a cost of around £40,000 a year, to stop him fleeing.

Now judges have decided that — for two months of that period — he was being held ‘illegally’. Known only as MH, he will receive a compensation payout which, in other similar cases, has averaged £16,000.

He had wanted more and appealed the case through the court system, assisted by legal aid. He is still in Britain and, given anybody facing removal to Somalia can claim their human rights will be breached, there is no guarantee he will ever be removed.

His various court cases are believed to have cost £200,000.

Last night, it sparked demands for reform of the legal aid system.

Details of the shambles emerged in papers published by the Court of Appeal yesterday.

They reveal MH arrived in the UK aged 15 claiming asylum, and was given temporary permission to stay. This expired in 1997 and was not renewed, making him an illegal immigrant. His offending career began in April 1996 with a caution for shoplifting, and quickly escalated to robbery.

After a string of convictions the Home Office served him with a deportation order in April 2004.

MH appealed but a judge said in 2005 he was ‘unlikely to desist from his pattern of offending’.

At this time, the Home Office was in the grip of the foreign prisoner crisis — which culminated in the mistaken release of 1,000 inmates without even being considered for deportation. As a result, MH was never kicked out, and remained in detention until 2007 — when he was finally released.

He then went to court claiming his rights had been violated and a judge ruled two of his months in custody had been unlawful and granted him the right to a damages payout for ‘false imprisonment’.

However MH’s lawyers went to the Appeal Court in a bid to boost the award, claiming he should have been released much earlier.

The appeal was dismissed but the decision still means MH will get compensation for two months of ‘unlawful imprisonment’.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Wilders Warns New Cabinet on ‘Non-Western’ Immigration

The new cabinet will have a problem if it does not reduce the number of non-western immigrants to the Netherlands, PVV leader Geert Wilders told tv current affairs show Nieuwsuur on Thursday evening.

Wilders’anti-Islam PVV party has agreed to prop up the new minority coalition government in return for tough measures to combat immigration.

‘If it does not manage to bring about a very substantial reduction in the number of non-western immigrants, the PVV has a problem and the cabinet has a problem,’ Wilders said.


New immigration minister Gerd Leers, who has criticised Wilders in the past, does not agree with all the PVV says but is committed to carrying out the coalition agreement, Wilders said.

Earlier, PVV European MP Barry Madlener told Nos tv the aim of anti-immigration measures outlined in the new government agreement is to combat the ‘islamisation’ of the Netherlands.

Madlener was Geert Wilders’ right hand during the recent negotiations. Measures to reduce family reunions are aimed at reducing the number of Muslims coming to the country, Madlener said. ‘That is our intention,’ he told the tv programme.

European policy

And it is not unrealistic to expect shifts in European policy that will make this possible, he said. For example, Rutte could form a conservative alliance with French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the MEP said.

Several of the measures in the coalition agreement would involve changing EU treaties.

Prime minister Mark Rutte told his first news conference that the VVD, CDA and PVV all have different arguments in favour of government policy. ‘We differ on this with the PVV. That is why the PVV is not part of the government,’ he was reported as saying.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Baby Snatched for Dad’s Politics Back With Parents

Reunited! Newborn returned to family where father accused of being ‘Oath Keeper’

A tiny baby girl snatched from her parents’ custody a week ago when her father was accused of being an “Oath Keeper” today was returned to her parents.

According to WND sources close to the case, the accusations against the father, Johnathon Irish, whose fiancée, Stephanie Taylor, is the mother of Cheyenne, have been dropped.

WND originally reported on the case last weekend when the state snatched the baby, ordering the father to stand with his hands behind his back and frisking him while social workers took the child. The affidavit supporting the actions cited the father’s affiliation with the patriotic organization Oath Keepers.


The organization collects affirmations from soldiers and peace officers that they would refuse orders that violate the U.S. Constitution, in light of what they perceive as the advance of socialism in the U.S.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Fallacy of Social Justice

The late 1960’s and early 70’s was a hinge time for Western society. The New Left, with its vanguard techniques, challenged traditional cultural norms. Radicalism clashed with conventionalism, the drug culture blossomed, and Eastern forms of spirituality entered the mainstream. In America the welfare or “servile state” was greatly expanded, including experiments in community housing. All of this was coupled with the Vietnam War, first demoralizing France and then the United States. During this time, “peace” groups parroted Soviet propaganda; Capitalism was equated with “war mongering” while socialism reflected equity and peace.

The liberal-mined West embraced this trend, even though Frederick C. Barghoorn, a Yale professor who had been interned by the Soviet government in 1963, had warned America about the use of “peace” as a method in furthering Marxist ideology. Published one year after his arrest and release, his book Soviet Foreign Propaganda provided an important warning,

“It should be emphasized that all of the Soviet leaders, from Lenin and Trotski through Stalin and Khrushchev, strove in their peace propaganda to appeal both to revolutionaries seeking the overthrow of constitutional democracy and to western businessmen, liberals, pacifists, and the general public whose non-dialectic conception of peace was limited to the simple absence of armed conflict.”[5]

Liberals and pacifists of Western nations were viewed as important players in the cause of international Marxism. Their importance came not from an understanding of the Moscow-Hegelian-Marxist program, but in their ignorance. Convinced of holding the moral high ground and blinded by a sense of enlightenment, these individuals advanced the Communist agenda by acting on the emotion of the ideal. In other words, they were emotionally drawn to a Marxist-oriented “social justice” cause; the “plight of the worker,” economic and social inequalities, the desire for class-based justice, and the “struggle for peace.” These individuals would then become activists, educators, and cultural trendsetters. And they demanded social transformation that would, invariably, have an anti-Capitalist and anti-individualist tone. The boys in Moscow grinned.

The only way of “assuring lasting peace in the world” from the Marxist perspective, explained Barghoon, is the “elimination of capitalism.” [6] Peace, solidarity, and justice throbbed with a Leninist heartbeat throughout this turbulent time period. Capitalism, with its emphasis on private property and a free enterprise, was considered the prime cause of social strife. Socialism, with its emphasis on community and social order, was the path to progress.

This leftist ideology was solidly embedded in Canadian education during the 1970s, and from that point on its fingerprints can be observed in practically all major institutional systems, including churches.

[Return to headlines]

The International Agenda: Brave New Schools

“We can’t teach that only America is good,” said Seema Desai, a tenth-grader who moved from India to Florida in 1993. “That would hurt my feelings.”[4]

Seema had joined an impassioned war—led by the local teachers’ union—against three Lake County school board members who wanted Florida schools to emphasize America’s unique merits. Seeking to overturn a requirement that would “indoctrinate” students with the intolerable old-paradigm notion that America is best, the union had sued the school board. Such ethnocentric teaching, it argued, emphasizes one culture over another. Therefore it breaks a state law that requires multicultural education. Did you know that multiculturalism ruled out loyalty to our country? I didn’t. Like most parents, I believed that multicultural education simply helps students understand other cultures and people. In reality, it trains students to view the world and its people from a global and pantheistic perspective rather than from a national and Judeo-Christian perspective. In other words, it is designed to speed the paradigm shift—the current transformation toward a radical new way of thinking, believing, and relating to “our global family.”

This paradigm shift is supposed to prepare students for life in the 21st century “global village,” the envisioned worldwide community of people joined together through high-tech superhighways and a common set of values. To mold world-class students, social engineers are testing the latest techniques in behavior modification on our children. As you will see in coming chapters, children must either reject their old home-taught faith or stretch it far beyond biblical boundaries to include the world’s pantheistic, polytheistic belief systems.

“Multicultural education…strives to integrate multiethnic and global perspectives,” wrote Christine Bennet in Comprehensive Multicultural Education, a popular textbook for student teachers. Its goal is not to teach factual history, but to “challenge [the student’s] cultural assumptions” and mold global citizens with an “emotional commitment to the fundamental unity of all humans….”[5]

In other words, a new commitment to universal oneness must supercede commitments to God and country. While grandiose dreams of global unity reach back to the beginning of history, it was more recently documented in 1973 by the authors of the Humanist Manifesto II. They wrote, “We deplore the division of human-kind on nationalistic grounds. We have reached a turning point in human history where the best option is to transcend the limits of national sovereignty and to move toward the building of a world community….”[6]

Rewriting history to fit the global paradigm.

“Imagine an outline for the teaching of American history in which George Washington makes only a fleeting appearance and is never described as our first president,” suggested Lynne Cheney, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Or in which the foundings of the Sierra Club and the National Organization for Women are considered noteworthy events, but the first gathering of the U.S. Congress is not… This is, in fact, the version of history set forth in the soon-to-be released National Standards for United States History.” She continued:

“…not a single one of the 31 standards mentions the Constitution. True, it does come up in the 250 pages of supporting materials. It is even described as “the culmination of the most creative era of constitutionalism in American history”—but only in the dependent clause of a sentence that has as its main point that students should “ponder the paradox that the Constitution sidetracked the movement to abolish slavery….”

“African and Native American societies, like all societies, had their failings, but one would hardly know it from the National Standards. Students are encouraged to consider Aztec “architecture, skills, labor systems and agriculture.” But not the practice of human sacrifice….

“What went wrong? … According to [an unnamed member of the panel], those who were “pursuing the revisionist agenda” no longer bothered to conceal their “great hatred for traditional history.”

Gary Nash represents the academic bureaucracy charged with training America’s youth. His debate with Lynne Cheney on the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour on October 26, 1994, highlights the two opposing paradigms in American culture.

[Return to headlines]


Whose Law Counts Most?

ANY Western politician, judge or religious leader desiring instant fame or a dose of controversy has an easy option. All you need do is say “sharia” in public.

Sharron Angle, a Republican candidate for the Senate, proved the point when she suggested that Frankford, Texas, and Dearborn, Michigan, were both subject to a sharia regime, as a result of the “militant terrorist situation” that existed in those places. Critics retorted that Frankford, after its absorption by Dallas, no longer existed as an administrative unit. Dearborn’s mayor, Jack O’Reilly, tartly told her that his town’s 60 churches and seven mosques were flourishing happily under American jurisdiction. But for some tea party fans, she was guilty at worst of slight exaggeration.

Less weirdly, but just as controversially, Archbishop Rowan Williams, leader of the world’s 80m Anglicans, will never be allowed to forget saying in February 2008 that some accommodation between British law and sharia was “inevitable”. Lord Phillips, then England’s senior judge, drew equal ire by adding that sharia-based mediation could have some role as long as national law held primacy.

It is easy to see why the word sharia has emotional overtones, especially today. The appalled reaction to the case of Sakineh Ashtiani, an Iranian woman who has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, has stoked a global campaign for her acquittal. The sentence was suspended last month, but her fate looks dicey. She could still face execution on a murder charge.

Such cases reflect only one part of sharia: the system of corporal and capital punishments such as stoning for adultery, death for murder or apostasy (abandoning Islam), whipping for consuming intoxicants or the cutting off of a hand for theft. Muslims themselves disagree over how, if at all, these penalties should be practised in the modern world. Tariq Ramadan, a prominent European Muslim thinker, caused a furore in 2003 when he suggested that stoning and other physical punishments should be “suspended”. Hardline Islamists regarded that as backsliding. Nicolas Sarkozy (then the interior minister, now the president of France) pointed out that the formulation could imply a future resumption of physical punishment.

Horrifying as these punishments might be to modern sensibilities, there is no prospect of their exercise in any Western country. Muslims living in the West may (as has sometimes happened) take the “law” into their own hands by killing an apostate. But that counts as murder pure and simple.

Where sharia poses genuine dilemmas for secular countries with big Muslim minorities is not in the realm of retribution but in its application to family matters such as divorce, inheritance and custody. English-speaking countries boast a strong tradition of settling disputes (commercial or personal) by legally binding arbitration. This already includes non-secular institutions such as longstanding rabbinical tribunals in Britain and many other countries, or Christian mediation services in North America. Now Islam-based outfits are entering the market.

Perhaps inevitably, the procedures and general ethos of Muslim mediation are very different from those of a secular court. Many of Britain’s 2m or so Muslims come from socially conservative parts of South Asia, such as rural Kashmir. The practice of sharia-based family law both reflects and to an extent mitigates that conservatism. A network of sharia councils—whose two main founders come from purist schools of Islam, the Deobandis and the Salafis—has offered rulings to thousands of troubled families since the 1980s. Much of their work involves women who have received civil divorces but need an Islamic one to remarry within their faith. The councils can overrule a husband’s objections. Few would decry this. But the woman may well also forfeit her mahr (marriage settlement). Critics call that unfair. They also complain that, when faced with domestic violence, these councils merely administer a scolding or prescribe an “anger-management” course, rather than the safe house and prosecution that the state-run system should offer.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]