Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101020

Financial Crisis
»British Payments to EU Set to Rise £900m Next Year
»News Networks Ignore $4 Trillion in Obama Tax Hikes
»Arkansas Democrats Busted Breaking Election Laws
»Disapproval of Islam is No Indication of Bigotry
»How to Opt Out of the TSA’s Naked Body Scanners at the Airport
»NAACP Releases Report Accusing Tea Party Groups of Links to Bigots
»The 9-11 Emergency Wake-Up Call
»Why We’re All Going to Drink Pee, Eventually
»Lorne Gunter: If Islam Were Truly Equal, Wouldn’t Muhammad be Fair Game, Too?
»No Evidence Khadr ‘A Good Kid, ‘ Doctor Says
Europe and the EU
»Clueless British Children Think Spanish Armada is a National Dish and Sir Walter Raleigh Invented the Bicycle
»Geneva Expats Worry About Housing and Crime
»German President’s Criticism of Turkey Was Also Aimed at Germans
»Germany: Wulff Wins Praise for Bridge-Building Speech
»German “Heatball” Wheeze Outwits EU Light Bulb Ban
»German President Calls for Tolerance
»Germany: Anxiety Sparked by Ignorance
»Islam Part of Germany, Christianity Part of Turkey — Wulff
»Italy: Berlusconi’s Approval Rating Falls to New Low
»Norwegians Find Perfectly Preserved Stone Age Site
»Police See Over 1,000 Militant Islamists in Germany
»Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Islamization of Britain
»Sweden: Malmö Shooter Targeting Immigrants: Police
»The Debate About Islam in Germany Heats Up
»Turkish PM Bitter About EU Talks
»UK: £9billion Worth of Council Homes Are Inherited by 90,000 People Who Don’t Need Government Help
»UK: Concern for Margaret Thatcher as She is Rushed to Hospital: Friends’ Fears as Former PM Fights Flu Bug
»UK: Hardliners Call for Deaths of Surrey Muslims
»UK: Taliban Taking Over University Life?
»Under Pressure David Cameron Faces Calls for a New EU Vote
Middle East
»Headscarf Issue Resurfaces in Turkey
»Turkey’s Parties, Court Draw Lines Over Headscarf
»U.S. Announces Massive Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia
»US Confirms $60bn Plan to Sell Saudi Arabia Arms
»Chechen Leader Urges End to Bride Kidnapping
»Pictures: Six Dead After Suicide Bomber and Gunmen Storm Chechen Parliament
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Suspected Islamists Kill Another Police Officer in Nigeria
»Abu Hamza’s £2m Fight to Keep British Passport
»Netherlands: ‘Muslims Threaten Christians in Asylum-Seeker Centres’
»Turkey Concerned With Immigrant Rights After Dutch Coalition Deal
Culture Wars
»Failing Boys and the Powder Keg of Sexual Politics
»Officers Denied Immunity for Strip-Searching Protesters
»‘Pedophile Ping-Pong’ Permeates Sex Horror
»University of Winnipeg Stung by Its Own Viper
»Ban-Ki Moon Warns Against Intolerance to Muslims

Financial Crisis

British Payments to EU Set to Rise £900m Next Year

A £6.5 billion EU budget rise that would increase EU spending by six per cent to £114.5 billion — of which £9.2 billion would be the British contribution — was voted through by MEPs in Strasbourg. The increase, which Britain has so far failed to block, will cost the British taxpayer an extra £884 million and is a sum equivalent to the costs of employing an additional 14,000 NHS doctors, 29,000 nurses, 34,000 police constables or 52,000 Army privates.

David Cameron was questioned over the “obscene” Strasbourg vote by back-bench Conservative MPs during Prime Minister’s Questions and pledged to oppose the increase during negotiations in Brussels next month.

“We need to make sure that Europe starts to live within its means,” he said. “We’ve called for a cash freeze in the size of the EU budget for 2011 and we’re working hard to make this case across Europe.” Included in the EU assembly’s budget demands is a staffing increase of 388 posts to swell the ranks of the 6,166 civil servants who assist the work of 736 MEPs.

On top of that, cash is also set aside for an additional £32,000 a year towards new MEP assistants or pay rises for existing researchers who can earn up to £80,000 a year. More than 50 assistants or researchers are already paid between £68,000 and £80,000 a year — more than the salary paid to Westminster MPs.

Despite the creation of a new EU diplomatic service, at a cost of £399 million next year, the parliament is also planning to open new offices in New York, Beijing and Moscow, replicating existing European representations and missions. As MEPs agreed to increase their staff and to open new offices around the world, Mr Osborne’s announcement is expected to lead to the cutting of 500,000 public sector jobs.

Daniel Hannan, the Conservative MEP for South-east England, attacked his colleagues for voting through budget increases that would undermine attempts by national governments to cut public spending. “This vote shows how utterly divorced MEPs are from reality and how far the European parliament is from a representative body,” he said. “There is not a country in Europe that is not going through cuts but we have a situation where the EU is sucking up the savings.”

MEPs also voted to double the parliament’s budget for champagne receptions, increased spending on their courtesy limousines and maintained £8 million in funding for Europarl television, despite refusing to release the channel’s viewing figures, thought to be in the hundreds. Marta Andreassen, a Ukip MEP and member of the parliament’s budget committee, said: “European taxpayers will rightly feel that they have been mugged by their own elected representatives.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

News Networks Ignore $4 Trillion in Obama Tax Hikes

Zero of 171 reports pointed out increases nearly 20 times larger than cuts

President Barack Obama winks as he delivers remarks before signing the Executive Order on the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics during a ceremony in the East Room at the White House in Washington, October 19, 2010. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

A soon-to-be released media study documents how ABC, NBC and CBS repeatedly have portrayed President Obama as a leader who is cutting taxes while ignoring the potential $4.2 trillion in taxes — that about $14,000 apiece or $56,000 for a family of four — that could state hitting Americans as early as January 1.

Those potential tax increases are almost 20 times the size of the $214 billion temporary tax cuts Obama included in the stimulus bill. Tax cutter? Hardly,” said a summary of the new report by the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute.

The study looked at all 171 network evening news reports containing the terms “tax cut” or “tax cuts” from Sept. 1, 2008, to Aug. 31, 2010.


“President Obama waging class warfare isn’t a surprise; it is a common left-wing tactic. But the networks should see his anti-success rhetoric for what it is and report objectively instead of supporting claims that only the wealthy benefit from tax cuts, or that the rich deserve to pay higher taxes,” the report recommended.

The media’s role in all this has been to tell a fairy tale,” Seymour told WND. Instead of reporting on the possible ramifications of tax hikes, she said, the reporting has “focused on the things that make this president look good.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Arkansas Democrats Busted Breaking Election Laws

Systemic corruption throughout the Arkansas Democrat Party in charge of the election process is exposed and under fire, thanks to state and local citizen precinct activists who understand the true power of the precinct delegate position.

Arkansas has been controlled by Democrats for so many years that there was barely a Republican Party presence in the state prior to citizen activists learning and employing the precinct strategy. During their tenure, Democrats had even installed unconstitutional state election laws making it all but impossible for the Republican Party to function in the state. There were even laws that require two Democrat poll watchers for every Republican poll watcher in the state.

But when citizen precinct activists started building a Republican Party from the ground up in county after county, Democrats found themselves exposed and under legal attack from “We the People” as the Democrat Party broke one election law after another in a desperate effort to retain power.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Disapproval of Islam is No Indication of Bigotry

Does a negative opinion of Islam amount to conclusive evidence of bigotry?

Those who warn of a raging frenzy of American “Islamophobia” base their case on the assumption that anything less than enthusiastic approval of The Religion of Peace automatically qualifies as hate-mongering and ignorance. On ABC News, Christiane Amanpour pointed to recent survey figures on public uneasiness with Islam to prove that Muslim Americans faced an unprecedented tsunami of hostility and discrimination. Actually, the Washington Post/ABC poll she repeatedly cited hardly indicated seething, volcanic anti-Muslim sentiment: less than half the public (49%) held generally “unfavorable” views of Islam, while fully 37% felt favorably disposed toward Koranic values.

Far from reflecting an alarming new surge of groundless hatred, these figures remain virtually unchanged from results of an identical Washington Post/ABC survey from four-and-a-half years ago (March, 2006), which showed 46% unfavorably inclined toward the Muslim faith. The real question raised by all such expressions of public opinion should confront the nearly 40% of Americans who say they feel positively impressed by Islam and its influence.

What aspect of Muslim teaching and achievement most inspires such respondents? The daily reports of suicidal violence from every corner of the globe, with fellow-Muslims (invariably) as the primary victims? Or the well-known association of Islamic piety with open-hearted respect for the rights of women, homosexuals and infidels? Or is it the sterling record of economic progress, cutting age technology and social justice achieved by precisely those societies (like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan) that take Shariah law most seriously? Or would Islam’s American admirers cite the record of Muslim charities in the U.S., the most prominent of which (remember the Holy Land Foundation?) have been shut down by the government for their lavish support of murderous terrorist groups like Hamas?

Quite naturally, the people who look favorably on Islam feel unconcerned over its ancient teachings or loathsome perversions in benighted corners of the globe, and focus instead on the law-abiding, patriotic, family-loving Muslims who have established benign communities throughout the United States. But even the decent people who reside in those communities rightly worry that their impressionable off-spring may become too religious, too zealous in their fervent commitment to The Prophet and his teachings.

There is no real parallel to this fear in Christian or Jewish homes. Christian parents may feel embarrassed by their religiously reborn children suddenly studying the Gospels obsessively, or witnessing obnoxiously to family or friends, but they needn’t worry about wayward kids blowing up themselves or others in the name of Jesus. Jewish mothers and fathers may hate the scraggly beards and black hats adopted by a suddenly Orthodox generation, or resent the refusal to eat non-kosher food at home, but even the most fanatical of their kids feel scant temptation to travel to remote mountain hideouts as part of an international terror conspiracy.

By contrast, the secularized, prosperous parents of the Christmas Day Underwear Bomber (Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab), or the would-be Times Square Bomber (Feisel Shahzad), or the Fort Hood Shooter (Nidal Hassan), or European-educated engineering graduate Muhammad Atta (and his eighteen 9/11 accomplices) can testify what happens when even products of sophisticated, privileged families become too deeply entangled in Muslim fundamentalism.

The spiritual leader of the proposed Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero insists that the true problem is extremism, not Islam itself. “The real battlefront today is not between Muslims and non-Muslims,” declared Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to the Council on Foreign Relations, “but between moderates of all faith traditions against the extremists of all faith traditions.” This ignores the huge differences — both quantitative (Islamic radicals are vastly more numerous) and qualitative (Muslim fanatics endorse uniquely murderous rhetoric and deeds) — between extremists in one faith tradition and all others.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

How to Opt Out of the TSA’s Naked Body Scanners at the Airport

(NaturalNews) I encountered my first airport naked body scanner while flying out of California today, and of course I decided to “opt out” of the scan. You do this by telling the blue-shirted TSA agents that you simply wish to opt out of the body scanner. Here’s what happened after that:

A TSA agent told me to step to the side and stay put. He then proceeded to shout out loudly enough for all the other travelers and TSA agents to hear, “OPT OUT! OPT OUT!” This is no doubt designed to attract attention (or perhaps humiliation) to those who choose to opt out of the naked body scanner. I saw no purpose for this verbal alert because the same TSA agent who was yelling this ultimately was the one who patted me down anyway.

For the pat down, first I was required to walk through the regular metal detector. From there, I was asked if I wanted to be patted down in a private room, or if I didn’t mind just being patted down in full view of everyone else. Not being a shy person in the first place, I told the agent I didn’t need a private room.

[Return to headlines]

NAACP Releases Report Accusing Tea Party Groups of Links to Bigots

Three months ago in Kansas City, the NAACP first raised charges of racism within the tea party movement. Today a report is being released accusing tea party groups of providing platforms to anti-Semites and other bigots.

“These groups and individuals are out there, and we ignore them at our own peril,” said NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous in a statement announcing the report. “They are speaking at tea party events, recruiting at rallies, and in some cases remain in the tea party leadership itself.”

The 94-page report is being released by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in a teleconference today.

In July, NAACP delegates passed a resolution at their national convention in Kansas City condemning racism within the tea party movement, creating a national furor. The NAACP board of directors ratified the resolution last week.

Tea party leaders condemned the report on Tuesday.

“Here we go again,” said Judson Phillips, founder of Tea Party Nation. “This is typical of this liberal group’s smear tactics.”

A Kansas City Star article in July found ties between several racist groups and tea parties, but tea party leaders said such incidents were not widespread.

The new report describes what it calls links between tea party factions and white supremacist groups, anti-immigrant organizations and militias, according to a news release issued by the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which wrote the document.

Not only have tea parties given platforms to extremists, the news release said, the movement is a recruiting ground for hard-core white nationalists who are “hoping to push these (white) protesters toward a more self-conscious and ideological white supremacy.”

The report, “Tea Party Nationalism: A Critical Examination of the Tea Party Movement and the Size, Scope, and Focus of Its National Factions,” was written by Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Zeskind and Burghart examined government documents and databases, including court cases, campaign finance reports and corporate filings.

“This is the first data-driven report of this type on the tea parties,” Burghart said. “Understanding their membership structures was the crucial first step that enabled us to understand the complexity of the tea party movement and to be able to specify the role of racists and bigots in the movement.”

The report cites numerous examples of what it said were racism and extremism within the tea party movement. Some of them, according to the news releases:

•The St. Louis-based Council of Conservative Citizens, the largest white nationalist group in the country, has both led and promoted tea party protests. Roan Garcia-Quintana, a member of ResistNet who served as media spokesman for a 2010 Tax Day Tea Party in South Carolina, is on the national board of directors for the Council of Conservative Citizens.

•Clayton Douglas, a former information officer for the New Mexico Militia, is a member of the ResistNet tea party. He uses his profile on the ResistNet website to advertise his own “Free American” website, on which he promotes anti-Semitism.

•The Wood County Tea Party in Texas is led by a woman who used to be involved with the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

•The 1776 Tea Party — also known as — is led by Stephen Eichler, executive director of the Minuteman Project, an anti-immigrant border patrol group often referred to as vigilantes.

Those tea parties could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

But Sal Russo, a California political consultant and chief strategist for the Tea Party Express, called the report ridiculous.

“To attack a grassroots movement of this magnitude with sundry isolated incidents only goes to show the NAACP has abandoned the cause of civil rights for the advancement of liberal Democrat politics,” Russo said.

“The Tea Party Express has publicly and explicitly repudiated racism.”

One political expert said he doubted the report would have much effect on the November elections.

“It’s a lot to digest,” said Burdett Loomis, political science professor at the University of Kansas. “Unless there’s something super dramatic in it, I just don’t see people’s minds being changed very much now.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The 9-11 Emergency Wake-Up Call

We must stop hitting the snooze button again and again, and wake up to the threat that radical Islam poses to Democratic way of life.

For just over 42 years, Americans have dialed 9-1-1 to summon police, fire and emergency medical services. Ironically, Muslim jihadists created a great new national emergency in the US on that very date (9/11), nine years ago. They notified all Americans, in no uncertain terms, that radical Muslim terrorists were on a quest to take down the mighty United States.

On 9/11, they commandeered four commercial airplanes and crashed two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, America’s primary financial symbol, killing thousands of innocent civilians in the process. Another one hit the Pentagon in Washington, DC and another crashed into a field in Pennsylvania after passengers heroically attacked the hijackers.

Altogether, the number of innocent Americans killed was more than 3,000. The Muslim terrorists created an indelible emergency that Americans will never forget. Yet many people who know absolutely nothing about the teachings of the Koran claim that Islam, when practiced in complete adherence, is a peaceful religion. 9/11 proves otherwise.

Now, while we have still not fully recovered from that worst single-day loss of civilian lives in American history, a Muslim imam wants to construct a 13-story Islamic mosque and community center close to Ground Zero, the site of the destroyed Twin Towers in New York City. What is dismaying (and, perhaps, a warning to the world) is the near-total insensitivity of those Muslims toward the families of the 9/11 victims, as well as other Americans who oppose the construction of the mosque in that area. They have announced that they want to call it the Cordoba Mosque, named for the Muslim conquest of Spain. At that time, the Muslims built a giant mosque over the site of a Christian church in Cordoba to celebrate their conquest and demonstrate the superiority of Islam over Christianity. Do they have the same purpose in mind for this new mosque — to celebrate Muslim superiority?

They claim that the mosque and community center will help heal the wounds opened by the terrorist atrocity, yet something is strange about their thinking and their values. Does it not also tell us something when the Islamic cleric in charge of the project charges that America created the conditions that provoked the 9/11 attacks? Furthermore, he endorses Islamic sharia law that greatly suppresses individual liberties, shamefully discriminates against women, and savagely punishes transgressors. That sounds like a grossly traitorous attitude toward our country and our way of life, yet somehow he enjoys favor with President Barack Obama and with the Jewish mayor of New York City.

It seems incomprehensible that these officials are okay with the idea of the construction of the proposed 13-story mosque so close to Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center towers stood. Of course, our American president has made overtures to Muslim royalty, given apologetic speeches to Muslim leaders, and castigated our Israeli allies for building on their own real estate. But how can he now ignore the desperate calls of the 9/11 victims’ families and friends, and approve the erection of such an offensive mosque near Ground Zero?

Interestingly, the same kind of Muslim arrogance and insensitivity has been demonstrated in Israel, where Muslims have built mosques right next to sacred Jewish and Christian sites, obviously to provoke. There is now a mosque right next to Golgotha Hill, which Christian pilgrims from around the world visit as possibly the sacred place where Yeshua was crucified. At regular intervals, the loud, amplified Muslim prayer calls effectively disturb the Christian visitors (by design). The Muslims also built a mosque right on top of the graves of the revered Jewish patriarchs in Hebron. And recently, they tried hard, albeit unsuccessfully, to build a new mosque right next to the revered Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Why We’re All Going to Drink Pee, Eventually

PHOENIX — It almost rained here this morning. Looked like rain. Smelled like rain. A few sprinkles hit my windshield in the short drive to my son’s school, but then it petered out and now it’s sunny. That’s typical. It’s a desert. And that’s why millions of us down here rely on Lake Mead and other reservoirs to our north for water. But it seems increasingly likely that before long, the tap is going to run dry, or nearly so, and we’ll all be rationing. Serves us (and by us, I mean governments, home builders, home buyers, farmers, and everyone else who relies on snow in Utah and Colorado to provide water hundreds of miles away) right.

Over the weekend, Lake Mead hit its lowest level since it was filled 75 years ago. Figuring out why is not rocket science, nor should it be any surprise. Studies find the West is drying up. That’s not “will,” but “is.”

In general, the Southwest can expect drought condition to prevail for the next century or so, scientists say. And in fact, the construction boom down here, and all the agricultural use of Colorado River water from here to California, was predicated on water flows nearly a century ago, amid an unusually wet period that we can no longer count on. I noted back in 2006 that agreements to allocate water from the Colorado River were made in 1922, during an historically wet period, and there just is not as much water as has been promised.

In 2008, we reported that Lake Mead could be dry by 2021. And last year we reported there is a one-in-two chance that the water reservoirs of the Colorado River will dry up by 2050 if water management practices remain unchanged.

The term “drought” has lost its meaning. The truth is, we consume more water than what Nature provides. There are just as many buckets of water on Earth as ever, but those buckets tend not to be where the people are, or the buckets are full of yucky water. [How much water is there on Earth?]

Many communities will likely turn to drinking recycled sewage. Our town already waters all its common areas with sewer water, which we’re warned to stay away from, but I suppose if astronauts can drink their pee, so can we. Desalination, a potential savior, is still too expensive to be practical on large scales, but it holds promise for many locales.

Meanwhile, Lake Mead is “still eight feet above the level at which a shortage is officially declared and limited rationing could go into effect for users in Nevada and Arizona,” NY Times reports. Drink up!

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Lorne Gunter: If Islam Were Truly Equal, Wouldn’t Muhammad be Fair Game, Too?

During the controversy over cartoons of Mohammed that appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2005, I received an email from a reader insisting, “This is about treating Islam equally! I am a Muslim and all we want is for our religion to be treated with the same respect as other religions.”

The problem with his demand is that the cartoonists in question did treat Islam in the same way Western culture treats Christianity, Judaism and other faiths. The media typically reserves no special reverence or respect for the major Western religions (including their Prophets). And so if Islam were treated “equally,” then Mohammad would be fair game, too.

For instance, how many times in the past decades can you remember lib-left media commentators disparaging the way Christian fundamentalists propped up George Bush — typically in language and tone that implied Christian voters were less intelligent and sophisticated than most?

Read the Toronto Star on any given day and there will be two or three references to Christians and the Harper government that drip with sneering disdain for the views and brains of both.

Of course there are also Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ photograph and Chris Ofili’s Holy Virgin Mary, made in part out of dung, among other artworks that have challenged Western notions of faith and perception.

Few Western media outlets would censor cartoon or artistic depictions of Christ. Danish publishers merely wanted the same lack of courtesy extended to Islam and its prophet.

Muslims in the Netherlands who are pushing for the prosecution of Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders are drawing the same mistaken parallel between Mr. Wilders’ criticism of Islam and what they falsely perceive as the special regard paid to Western faiths.

Outside the Dutch court this week, where Mr. Wilders is on trial for spreading hatred toward an identifiable group, several Muslim protestors held up placards saying “Don’t Insult Islam.” Why? Is Islam more special than Christianity or Judaism under Dutch law? Have the Dutch courts used the same hate-speech laws trained on Mr. Wilders to haul in other Dutchmen who have called Christianity a superstition or uttered other “hurtful” portrayals of a belief system revered by nearly a billion people around the world?

No, nor should they. And these laws should not be used for politically correct ends by attempting to silence Mr. Wilders.

To be sure, Geert Wilders says harsh things about Islam. He has said it is more of an ideology than it is a religion. He also compares it with totalitarian ideologies such as Communism and Nazi fascism. He has equated the Koran with Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. That is a serious insult of Islam — but no more serious than many of the insults against Christianity launched by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and other mainstream Western commentators.

In a 2007 letter to the editor of a Dutch paper, Wilders declared, “enough is enough.” He called for a ban on the Koran in the Netherlands, demanded all sermons be preached in Dutch, and added: “I have had enough of Islam in the Netherlands; not one Muslim immigrant more.”

That’s nasty, xenophobic stuff. But many Dutch citizens clearly agree with it. In the June elections there this year, Mr. Wilders’ Freedom Party won 24 of 150 seats, making it the third party in the Dutch parliament.

Moreover, if one uses the reverse test, no court would ever prosecute Mr. Wilders for saying similar things about Christianity and the Bible. Why, then, should courts, governments or human rights commissions accept Muslims’ outrage or hurt feelings as the trigger for prosecutions and investigations, when those institutions (rightly) would never dream of doing the same to protect Christians, Jews or others from offence?


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

No Evidence Khadr ‘A Good Kid, ‘ Doctor Says

NEW YORK — There is no evidence Omar Khadr has ever independently sought to promote peace with the West and renounce Muslim jihad, the internationally acclaimed psychiatrist who pioneered efforts to quantify evil reveals ahead of testifying about his examination of the Canadian-born terror suspect.

In an exclusive interview, Dr. Michael Welner says Khadr is known to have expressed peace-loving intentions only to “those advancing his public image” from behind the razor wire at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Dr. Welner also discounts much-cited comments by some U.S. guards at Guantanamo that the Toronto native is a “good kid” and “salvageable” — calling them “shallow in their prognostic significance.”

“When one leaps to the conclusion about Omar Khadr’s future because he is friendly, one might recall that Osama bin Laden has always been described as gentle, likable and charming,” New York-based Dr. Welner told Postmedia News.

“There is no record of [Mr. Khadr’s] publicly repudiating al-Qaida, as civilized Muslims should, not even a letter composed for him by Dennis Edney,” he added in a reference to one of Mr. Khadr’s two Canadian lawyers. There is “no call . . . to radical Islamists to mature beyond their elemental intolerance.”

Dr. Welner, 46, spoke as the Canadian government faces the prospect of soon receiving a call for Mr. Khadr to be transferred to a Canadian jail in the event he is convicted of war crimes charges he faces in a Guantanamo military commission.

Fifteen when captured, but now 24, Mr. Khadr could plead guilty as early as Monday if he sticks with a deal sources say has been put together by the U.S. government. It would see him sentenced to eight years imprisonment, with Washington’s pledge he could serve seven of them in Canada after the first year in one of the Guantanamo camps.

Mr. Khadr is accused in the fatal wounding of a U.S. serviceman during a 2002 firefight in Afghanistan, and faces up to life imprisonment if convicted without any plea deal being effected.

Dr. Welner, whose bid to achieve a scientific-legal standardization of evil led him to develop a Depravity Scale (, spent seven to eight hours over two days interviewing Mr. Khadr during videotaped sessions at Guantanamo, and has studied mounds of documented material.

Though engaged by the prosecution after Mr. Khadr’s defence brought in a psychiatrist and two psychologists to boost their case, Dr. Welner insisted the U.S. government had no access to his questions.

“The U.S. government’s decision to retain me reflects their willingness to risk my arriving at an unhelpful opinion in order to gain the bottom line on Khadr,” Dr. Welner said. “Many who reach out to me walk away because they choose not to take that risk.”

Dr. Welner has not only played influential roles in high-profile U.S. cases such as the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, but was asked to develop a psychological autopsy in the tragedy involving the late Canadian wrestler Chris Benoit, and has testified before the Ontario Supreme Court in the case of Romeo Phillion, who recanted his confession to the 1967 murder of an Ottawa firefighter.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks he was reportedly the first mental health expert to liken al-Qaida to a movement of traditional destructive cults rather than a product of poverty. He was also the first to denote last year’s shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas as ideological in origin.

Dr. Welner insisted he would reveal his interview — and evidence-based conclusions about Mr. Khadr only when called before Khadr’s Guantanamo military commission — but offered a parallel profile he said anyone could draw from the public record.

Because the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has always resisted any repatriation, Canadian officials are expected to be keenly interested in the testimony Dr. Welner is scheduled to give at Mr. Khadr’s sentencing hearing, if he solidifies the deal by admitting guilt, or trial, if he doesn’t.

The picture that emerges could influence any degree to which Canada opposes any repatriation bid, which would be made according to a prisoner exchange treaty between Canada and the United States.

“There is no doubt Omar Khadr is socially agile, charming and more sophisticated than most of the other detainees,” he said. “When you combine those qualities with his fluency in English, it’s easy to see how he can connect with guards better than do his peers.”

But Dr. Welner also issued a potentially prescient warning with a reference to the alleged al-Qaida involvement of Khadr’s now-dead “aid worker” father, Egyptian-born Ahmed Khadr.

“Lest we forget,” Dr. Welner said, “Omar Khadr’s university-trained father, for whom Omar translated, was ‘good’ enough that others would give him their money for his orphanage — yet he was raising money for al-Qaida, and [was] a high-ranking member” of the terror group.

By July 2010, Dr. Welner had prepared a still-sealed 65-page report on Khadr that reflected a review of 100 sources of material including, he said, “notes from defence witnesses that supplemented my own.”

“In search of goodness, I have sought out any input documenting righteous and selfless deeds of Omar Khadr from inside custody, in particular toward non-Muslims, and will speak to what I found in my testimony,” he said.

Dr. Welner revealed that he questions the chorus of criticism from many on the Canadian and U.S. political left that the Canadian government has all but abandoned Mr. Khadr, saying that Canada has been “very good” to him.

“Publicly available records reflect that members of the Canadian foreign ministry have made visits to Guantanamo to check on Khadr’s every comfort, and Omar Khadr, not surprisingly, appreciated those visits,” he said.

“His family lives in Canada, and he is close to them. As for how Omar Khadr is, it is clear that he would rather live in Canada than Afghanistan or Pakistan. Who wouldn’t?”

It was a report by one of the Canadian officials visiting Khadr that included the U.S. guard comments he was “salvageable.”

“I think the comments reflect more instructively on the openness of the guards than on Khadr,” Dr. Welner explained. “In my experience, I consistently heard American military personnel guards speak of Khadr with respect and in human terms. That is a refreshing contrast to how subhuman [the] U.S. military captors have been portrayed by critics.”

Dr. Welner also appeared to express a degree of incredulity at the way Canada has received Mr. Khadr’s immediate family who, following the patriarch’s death in a Pakistani aerial anti-terrorist raid in Pakistan, has lived in Toronto.

“Canada repatriated his terrorist father after Ahmed Khadr’s arrest in Pakistan for collaborating on an Egyptian embassy bombing,” he said in reference to Pakistan’s 1998 claim. “Canada continues to provide public assistance to the Khadr family that they would not get elsewhere, including a pension to Ahmed Khadr while he was raising funds for al-Qaida; and a Canadian court released Omar Khadr’s brother Abdallah, notwithstanding that he is an admitted terrorist,” Dr. Welner added, drawing on his research beyond Guantanamo, which he said included review of more than “110 sources of information, plus pertinent academic literature.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Clueless British Children Think Spanish Armada is a National Dish and Sir Walter Raleigh Invented the Bicycle

British children reckon the Spanish Armada is a national dish, Walter Raleigh invented the bicycle and 18th Century explorer Captain Cook was the helm of Starship Enterprise, according to research released today .

Frighteningly, a new survey also reveals that many also think that the Battle of Waterloo was fought at the London rail terminal, Horatio Nelson captained the French football team in the Nineties… and that thousands have never set foot in the sea.

The worrying statistics emerged from a study of 2,000 schoolchildren which found most of them are clueless when it comes to Britain’s nautical history.

One in 20 believe the Spanish Armada is a tapas-style cuisine, not the fleet of ships that sailed against the English.

One in six thought Raleigh was the brains behind the Chopper, not the adventurer responsible for bringing tobacco and potatoes back to our home shores.

And 14 per cent believe Captain James Cook instead of Captain James T Kirk uttered ‘Beam me up Scotty’ in Star Trek rather than command the Endeavour in his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand.

Captain Mark Windsor, of the Sea Cadets, said: ‘These findings highlight that for a lot of young people, being part of a maritime nation is something they do not connect with or have much understanding of.

‘As an island nation our relationship with the sea is a critical one since much of our food and trade passes over the oceans and our place in the world largely stems from our maritime heritage.

‘But it seems children are very confused when it comes to what key historical events occurred on the sea which helped shape the world in which we live.

‘Horatio Nelson wouldn’t be impressed to learn kids think he was a football captain and Columbus’s discovery of America went completely unnoticed.

‘By picking up a book, exploring the UK and getting involved with activities on the sea, children can become much more clued up.’

The research was carried out to mark Trafalgar Day tomorrow and the Sea Cadets’ National Trafalgar Day parade on Sunday.

Trafalgar Day celebrates Admiral Lord Nelson’s defeat of the combined might of the French and Spanish 205 years ago.

The report found six in ten youngsters didn’t know the Battle of Waterloo was fought in Belgium, with one in six opting instead for the London’s railway station.

Three quarters didn’t realise Trafalgar Square is home to Nelson’s Column, with eight per cent reckoning it’s from Eastenders, while 15 per cent thought it was a shopping centre or chocolate biscuit.

And a worrying one in ten said Horatio Nelson was the captain of the French national football team in the Nineties and the same number said Christopher Columbus discovered gravity.

Only 58 per cent could identify Blackbeard as the feared real-life pirate, with one in ten believing it was Johnny Depp’s Pirates of the Caribbean character Jack Sparrow.

Nine per cent thought Francis Drake wrote The Wind in the Willows, a shocking 22 per cent believed ships evacuated soldiers from Dover rather than Dunkirk, and one in six reckoned Nelson’s Column commemorates Mandela’s release from captivity.

Only three quarters could identify the English Channel as the body of water between England and France, with one in ten naming the North Sea and six per cent saying the Atlantic.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Geneva Expats Worry About Housing and Crime

Local crime remains a major concern for expatriates in Geneva, behind finding a flat and ahead of transport hassles, a new poll has revealed.

The Geneva police says expats’ perception of the worsening crime situation “matches the reality on the ground”. But recent police operations in the centre of town seem to be making a difference and preventive and reorganisation measures should help.

According to the survey carried out at the end of 2009 by canton Geneva and Geneva police, in collaboration with the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the United Nations, 51.8 per cent of expats say housing is their main concern, ahead of insecurity (17 per cent) and transport (14.3 per cent).

The survey presented on Monday found that around 33 per cent of the 1,082 people questioned at diplomatic missions, international organisations and multinationals in Geneva felt there had been a “substantial deterioration” in security in recent years, while 45 per cent said it had “worsened slightly”. Most had lived in Geneva for more than two years and were from a range of different countries.

Yet Geneva remains an excellent place to live and work, the poll added, with around 92 per cent of people saying they would recommend Geneva to their family and friends and 77.3 per cent saying the quality of life was good. Only 18.7 per cent said it was “average” and four per cent “bad”.

“Geneva is relatively safe,” said Victor, an American who has lived and worked in Geneva for the past six years after stints in New York, Tokyo, London and Nairobi. “But there are notorious spots like the Paquis district [between the main station and Lake Geneva] and the Cornavin train station.”

The security situation has worsened noticeably over the past five years and you have to pay more attention to your security and surroundings, he admitted.

But Jovana Carapic, a Canadian research assistant at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute, was surprised by the poll results.

“I’ve lived here for two years and never had a single problem,” she said. “As a young woman I don’t feel unsafe anywhere. I’ve walked in the city in the middle of the night and the day and I felt the same.”

“Frankly worrying”

For Didier Froidevaux, who led the survey on behalf of the Geneva police, the expat results and concerns are similar to those of Geneva locals from a 2007 survey and match the reality on the ground.

“The crime figures have not improved recently. They were stable for two years but last year they went back up due to burglaries,” he told

In March 2010 the new Geneva councillor in charge of the police, Isabel Rochat, described the security situation in Geneva as “frankly worrying”.

Geneva has the highest crime rates in the country, mainly due to burglaries, petty crime, drug dealing and other incivilities.

Some 12.4 per cent of expats reported having been burgled during the past three years and 11.6 per cent said they had been robbed in the street.

Precious asset

Olivier Coutau, a delegate in charge of International Geneva relations, said crime and insecurity in Geneva came up from time to time in talks with foreign diplomats and other expats.

“But the fact we’ve done this poll means that we think it’s an important subject,” he noted. “International Geneva is a precious asset and we have good security that has existed for a long time; we need to preserve it.”

“What is important is what the police do with this poll,” he added.

Police, politicians and local residents have been trying to get to grips with persistent insecurity in the centre of town — especially in the popular lakeside districts of Paquis, Eaux-Vives, Rive and the station — for a number of years.

“Operation Figaro”

But it appears that “Operation Figaro”, launched in April to reduce petty crime in the city centre comprising additional police patrols, is starting to bear fruit.

Thieves and dealers may still be busy in the middle of the night when there are fewer police around, but the level of theft is down by five per cent in the centre and 12 per cent in outer-lying districts compared with 2009, the police claim.

Alain Bittar, owner of the Arab bookshop L’Olivier in the Rue de Fribourg, agreed that proximity policing seemed to have had an impact.

“Something important happened with Figaro,” he said. “From being a lawless zone or jungle, Paquis is now controlled; we have the impression that we were listened to.”

After Figaro, the police intend to keep up the pressure via a greater visible presence on the streets, Froidevaux said.

Next January a new “integrated” police station will be created in the Paquis district bringing together more officers with special skills for tracking thieves and dealers — and more English speaking officers.

And major changes are also planned next month to make investigations into burglaries more efficient, as well as preventive security initiatives with estate agents, housing agencies and owners.

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

German President’s Criticism of Turkey Was Also Aimed at Germans

German President Christian Wulff told the Turkish parliament on Tuesday that Christianity belongs to their country, just as a few weeks ago he insisted that Islam belongs to Germany. The German press is impressed by a president who sticks up for what he thinks is right.

It was the first time a German president had ever addressed the Turkish parliament. But coming as it did just a few weeks after his remarks on the anniversary of German reunification that “Islam belongs to Germany,” it was inevitable that there would be even more than the usual interest in Christian Wulff’s speech on Tuesday in Ankara.

And he lived up to expectations: “Christianity undoubtedly belongs to Turkey” he said and called on Turkey to be more tolerant of its own Christian minority, while reiterating the positive aspects of immigration in Germany, which is currently in the throes of an at times ugly debate about Muslims and integration. “Religious freedom is part of our understanding of Europe as a community of values,” he told the Turkish parliamentarians.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Wulff Wins Praise for Bridge-Building Speech

President Christian Wulff has won praise from Turkish leaders and German politicians for his Ankara speech about integration, while Education Minister Annette Schavan broke ranks and called for more optimism on the issue.

Leaders were impressed by Wulff’s carefully chosen words on Tuesday that aimed to build bridges with Turkey while also reminding the predominantly Muslim nation of its obligations to protect its own religious minorities such as Christians and Jews.

Education Minister Schavan, meanwhile, sought to drag the recent, acrid debate about the integration of Germany’s Muslim communities onto more constructive territory, insisting the news was not all bad.

“Integration is also a success story in Germany,” she told the Passauer Neue Presse. “We should speak about that more and with greater confidence.”

The remarks followed a weekend speech by Angela Merkel in which the chancellor declared that multiculturalism had “completely failed” and calls by Bavarian Premier Horst Seehofer for Germany to consider ending immigration from Muslim nations.

President Wulff also won applause in Turkey. The country’s President Abdullah Gül described himself after the speech as president also for the Christians in Turkey.

Greens parliamentary leader Jürgen Trittin described Wulff’s address to the Turkish parliament as “an important speech.”

The head of the Turkish Community in Germany, Kenan Kolat, was also full of praise.

“The President has spoken out for a close business and scientific co-operation with Turkey. He has made clear that Islam is compatible with democracy. And with his emphasis on Turkey’s role as a bridge (between east and west), he has established the foundation for the country’s entry to the European Union,” Kolat told the Berliner Zeitung.

He called on Wulff to now meet also with Turkish community representatives in Germany.

The Central Council of Muslims in Germany also reacted positively.

Chairman Aiman Mazyek told the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung that Wulff’s words had been “cleverly chosen.”

He contrasted the integration debate in Germany with that of the religious minorities in Turkey: “Just as Turkish Christians are regarded as a danger for the country’s unity by ultranationalists, the right-wing in Germany sees behind every Muslim the downfall of the Christian West.”

The head of Turkish Studies and Integration Research at Essen University, Haci Halil Uslucan, praised the way Wulff had stressed the common ground between Germans and Turks, rather than “letting an unnecessary distance arise between the majority and minority.”

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

German “Heatball” Wheeze Outwits EU Light Bulb Ban

BERLIN (Reuters) — A German entrepreneur is bypassing a European Union ban on light bulbs of more than 60 watts by marketing his own brand as mini heaters.

Siegfried Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law have come up with a legal way of importing and distributing 75 and 100 watt light bulbs — by producing them in China, importing them as “small heating devices” and selling them as “heatballs.”

To improve energy efficiency, the EU has banned the sale of bulbs of over 60 watts — to the annoyance of the mechanical engineer from the western city of Essen.

Rotthaeuser studied EU legislation and realized that because the inefficient old bulbs produce more warmth than light — he calculated heat makes up 95 percent of their output, and light just 5 percent — they could be sold legally as heaters.

On their website (, the two engineers describe the heatballs as “action art” and as “resistance against legislation which is implemented without recourse to democratic and parliamentary processes.”

Costing 1.69 euros each ($2.38), the heatballs are going down well — the first batch of 4,000 sold out in three days.

Rotthaeuser has pledged to donate 30 cents of every heatball sold to saving the rainforest, which the 49-year-old sees as a better way of protecting the environment than investing in energy-saving lamps, which contain toxic mercury.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German President Calls for Tolerance

Turkish immigrants “belong in Germany” and deserve “high praise” for their contribution to society, Germany’s president has said in an appeal for cultural and religious tolerance.

Addressing Ankara’s parliament on Tuesday at the start of a weeklong visit to Turkey, Christian Wulff’s comments will resonate at home, where debate is raging over immigration and the place of Islam in German society.

Mr Wulff, who fuelled controversy in his first major speech by contending that “Islam is now part of Germany”, also called on his hosts to ensure freedom of worship for Christians and other religious minorities in Turkey.

He is the first German president to address Turkey’s parliament, on the first state visit for a decade. But his arrival was overshadowed by the statement of Angela Merkel, chancellor, to her party members that the vision of a multicultural Germany had “absolutely failed”.

Both Mr Wulff and the chancellor are trying to contain a strong public backlash against immigration, inflamed when Thilo Sarrazin, a former central banker, published a book warning about the threat to Germany from an “underclass” of Muslim immigrants who refused to integrate.

“We certainly do not tolerate extremism. But we must also not let ourselves be drawn into a false confrontation,” Mr Wulff said, underlining that problems such as crime or reliance on benefits were “by no means only problems of immigrants”.

The community of Turkish-origin in Germany numbers more than three million, and their problems with integration lie behind widespread public hostility towards Turkey’s bid for European Union membership.

Mr Wulff sidestepped that issue, simply referring to Berlin’s policy that talks should be fair but “open ended” and underlining the importance of strengthening ties between Turkey and the EU.

He told parliament that Turkish immigrants were “heartily welcome”, but must learn the German language and act in keeping with the country’s laws and values. In an earlier press conference, his counterpart Abdullah Gül also stressed the need for Turkish immigrants and their children to learn German and respect German lifestyles.

But Mr Gül noted that migration flows to Germany were not high at present, and warned it was “unacceptable” to speak of clamping down on economic migrants. “Integration is an important issue in your country … rather than using this issue, we should be making efforts to solve it,” he said.

Mr Wulff appealed to his hosts to help combat European fears of fundamentalism, saying: “Turkey can show that there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy, Islam and the rule of law, Islam and pluralism. Your country combines a modern understanding of the state with a living Islam.”

He is also using his visit — in which he will attend a church service in Tarsus and meet with the Greek patriarch in Istanbul — to press Turkey on religious freedom for its own minorities, on which it has often been criticised by the European Union.

“Muslims in Germany can practise their beliefs … the growing number of mosques testifies to this. So we expect Christians in Islamic counties to have the same rights to practise their beliefs openly, train young clerics and build churches.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany: Anxiety Sparked by Ignorance

Headscarf discussions, battles about newly built mosques and the Islam-critical best-seller by Thilo Sarrazin. At the same time that German Federal President Christian Wulff is declaring that Islam is part of Germany. But he has by no means been able to persuade the Germans to agree with him. The debate on Islam is arousing more controversy than ever. A report by Kersten Knipp

Thilo Sarrazin, former state senator for finance in Berlin and just a short time ago on the executive board of Germany’s central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, has written a best-seller: “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (Germany Does Away with Itself). He blames the dire future he predicts for the country above all on Islam and the uncontrolled immigration of Muslims. Most Muslims have different values than the Germans, he writes. They ostensibly hold God higher than the constitutional state and democracy. This is the reason, he claims, why Germany will gradually do away with itself if it doesn’t carry on an active immigration and integration debate.

Germany as a land of immigrants

These theses are meeting with a great deal of approval. But at the same time Sarrazin is also encountering opposition. Michael Bommes, for example, a sociologist teaching at the University of Osnabrück, notes that the debates currently being conducted on the subject of Islam indicate primarily one thing: that most people have yet to grasp the fact that Germany has long since become a country of immigrants with a correspondingly complex diversity of values and viewpoints.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islam Part of Germany, Christianity Part of Turkey — Wulff

When German President Christian Wulff recently declared that Islam “belongs to Germany,” Christian Democratic politicians there howled and Muslims living in Germany and Turkey cheered. Now Wulff, on an official visit to Turkey, has told the Turkish parliament that “Christianity too, undoubtedly, belongs to Turkey.” This time there was applause in Germany, and silence from the Turkish deputies listening to him in Ankara on Tuesday.

In both cases, Wulff’s words could not have come at a better time.

Germany is in the grip of an emotional debate about Islam and Muslim integration. When Wulff said in his Oct. 3 German Unity Day address that Islam was now part of German society, given the large number (about 4 million) of Muslims living there, it was demographically obvious and politically risky. Several of his fellow Christian Democrats have challenged his view and insisted Germany had a “Judeo-Christian heritage” that Islam did not share. But Wulff, who was considered something of a lightweight for the ceremonial role when he was elected last July, has taken a clear stand on a political and moral issue — just like Germans want their head of state to do. He is, as the Financial Times Deutschland entitled its editorial on Wednesday, “Finally A President.”

The overwhelmingly Muslim but officially secular state of Turkey is slowly reconsidering the tight restrictions it has long imposed on its tiny Christian minority. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s government has made a small and cautious opening to Christians, allowing religious services at a historic Greek Orthodox monastery and Armenian Orthodox church, allowing an art show at a forcibly closed Orthodox seminary and helping the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch’s succession problem with citizenship for foreign prelates.

Despite this, Christians in Turkey — one of the historical cradles of the faith — fear their communities are dying out. One of the names often cited at the current Synod on the Middle East at the Vatican is that of Luigi Padovese, the Italian-born Roman Catholic bishop for Anatolia who was murdered at his home in southern Turkey last June.

So it was interesting to see that the Christian minority issue came up at the news conference that Wulff and Turkish President Abdullah Gül held after the German leader’s address to parliament. A journalist referred to Wulff’s comment that he was also the president of Muslims living in Germany. Gül responded: “We have non-Muslim citizens, we have Christian and Jewish citizens. I am also their president. There is no discrimination. We respect our citizens’ religion and identity. I don’t believe there is a problem here.”

Further progress in loosening restrictions on Christians in Turkey would provide concrete proof of whether Gül’s answer was sincere or spurious. Wulff’s itinerary on his first official trip abroad includes another opportunity to highlight the issue — an ecumenical Christian service on Thursday in the Saint Paul church in Tarsus that was seized by the state in 1943 and turned into a museum. German religious and political leaders have been especially active supporting a request by the Roman Catholic Church in Turkey to have it returned to its original status as a house of prayer.

Wulff’s call for more religious freedom in Turkey was covered in the Turkish press (see here and here), but another religion-linked story seems to have trumped it on the front pages. The official welcome for Wulff in Ankara was the first time that Gül’s headscarf-wearing wife Hayrünnisa walked down the red carpet behind her husband at such an official ceremony.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi’s Approval Rating Falls to New Low

Premier’s party no longer enjoys most favor among Italian voters

(ANSA) — Rome, October 29 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s approval rating fell to a new low this month while his People of Freedom (PdL) party has been overtaken by coalition partner the Northern League as the party which enjoys the most favor among Italian voters.

In its monthly survey, the IPR Marketing group found that Berlusconi’s approval rating sank from 39% to 37%, its lowest ever, while his disapproval rating climbed three percentage points to a new record high of 58%.

When he took office in May 2008 the premier enjoyed an approval rating of 53% which climbed to 62% the following October.

The approval rating for Berlusconi’s government held at last month’s 30% while its disapproval rating was also steady at 64%.

The executive began its term with an approval rating of 49% which rose to 54% in October 2008.

Although it remained stable at 33%, the Northern League this month became the party with the highest approval rating after the PdL tumbled five percentage points to 29%.

The opposition centrist UDC remained third with a rating of 30%, despite losing three percentage points, while the Italy of Values (IdV) party of ex-Clean Hands prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro lost two points to 27% and was joined in fourth place by the Democratic Party (PD) which inched up a percentage point.

The fledgling Future and Freedom (FLI) center-right party of House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, who was ousted from the PdL this summer, climbed two percentage points to 22% after making its debut in the IPR poll with a healthy approval rating of 20% last month.

None of the 22 ministers in Berlusconi’s government saw their approval rating rise this month while 13 saw it fall and for nine it remained the same.

Only seven had an approval rating of 50% or more. The minister with the highest approval rating, 61%, was again Welfare Minister Maurizio Sacconi, although he lost three points; followed by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano and Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, both unchanged at 60%; while Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti was again fourth with 52%, down two points from September.

Three ministers had a rating of 50%: Equal Opportunities Minister Mara Carfagna, down two points; Reforms Minister Umberto Bossi, down a point; and Government Program Minister Gianfranco Rotondi, unchanged.

Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta slipped two points this month to 49%.

The minister for relations with parliament, Elio Vito, and Regional Affairs Minister Raffaele Fitto again had the lowest approval ratings, 23%, two points below last month, just below Tourism Minister Maria Vittoria Brambilla who saw her rating also drop two points to 25%.

The IPR poll was commissioned by the La Repubblica daily and taken between October 15 and 17 on a cross-section of 1,000 resident Italian voters.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Norwegians Find Perfectly Preserved Stone Age Site

A Norwegian camping ground is the site of what may become one of Europe’s most significant archeological discoveries. Archeologists have found an almost perfectly preserved Stone Age settlement which may have been buried by a sandstorm over 5,000 years ago.

In Norway archeologists have found what is being described as a kind of “mini-Pompeii.” The well-preserved site is by the sea shore at Hamresanden in southern Norway and was discovered when excavators began digging there, prior to the construction of retirement homes.

The “sealed” Stone Age settlement, near the city of Kristiansand’s airport, is thought to have been covered by a sandstorm, possibly in the course of a few hours. Under about a meter (three feet) of sand, excavations uncovered an almost perfectly preserved example of a settlement from what is known as the Funnel Beaker Culture, so called because of the distinctive clay beakers used by the first Stone Age farmers, with a funnel shaped rim. This was the major culture in north-central Europe between around 4000 BC to 2700 BC. Archeologists estimate that the Hamresanden settlement was buried by sand around 3500 BC — that is, around 5,500 years ago. At the time, Norway’s climate was much more arid and geological formations have shown that sand storms were not uncommon.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Police See Over 1,000 Militant Islamists in Germany

Germany is probably home to more than 1,000 potentially violent Islamists and the number of identified militants has risen constantly in the past few years, the Federal Crime Office (BKA) said on Wednesday.

The number of investigations into Islamic terrorism in Germany, where the 9/11 attacks on the United States were planned, has risen continually since 2001 according to the BKA. A total of 352 investigations were now under way, they said.

“Security officials in Germany believe there are more than 1,000 Islamists ready to commit violence,” the BKA, a nationwide police agency, said in a statement for its autumn congress.

Authorities in the European Union’s most populous state had classified 131 Islamists in Germany as “instigators” of terrorism and held files on a further 274 individuals deemed relevant, the BKA said.

Radical Islam has been under the spotlight in Germany again over the past few weeks since security officials said a plot to stage attacks in Europe had been disrupted thanks to information from a suspected German militant captured in Afghanistan.

Recent reports suggest a rise in Islamic militancy could be occurring in tandem with an increase in xenophobia.

A study by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, which is close to the center-left opposition Social Democratic Party (SPD), showed 58 percent of those surveyed said Muslims’ rights to practice their religion in Germany should be considerably limited.

The group agreeing with the statement “I don’t like Arabs” rose from 44 percent in a 2003 poll to 55 percent this year, the study said. It also showed opinions once limited to the neo-Nazi scene were now spreading across German society more widely.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror Show: The Islamization of Britain

The new episode of Stakelbeck on Terror is now available to watch online—I think this might be our strongest show yet. We have a number of exclusives, including on-the-ground reports from London and Jerusalem.

You can watch it by clicking the link above.

Here is the rundown of the segments:

Top of the show: Video: Al Qaeda Cleric Anwar al-Awlaki Led Prayers at the U.S. Capitol

2:25 in: Exclusive Report: Pennsylvania College Professor Calls for Israel’s Destruction, Denies Holocaust

6:52 in: My exclusive interviews with two members of Britain’s House of Lords on the Islamization of their country.

12:26 in: My exclusive interviews with wanted, Al Qaeda-linked Islamic terrorists in London.

20:05 in: Exclusive report from Jerusalem: Palestinian Muslims Build Over Jesus’ Garden Tomb

24:04 in: Report: Al Qaeda Magazine Calls for Attacks on Washington, D.C. restaurants

26:41 in: Shocking Video: Manassas, Virginia Imam Blames 9/11 on “the Zionists”

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Shooter Targeting Immigrants: Police

Police in Malmö now believe that a dozen or so unexplained shootings which have taken place in the city this year may be connected.

In nearly every case, the shootings have taken place just after nightfall and have targeted people with immigrant backgrounds, Skåne County police spokesperson J-B Cederholm told reporters during a Wednesday morning press conference.

“The two most recent shootings look exactly alike: men of colour have been shot from behind near a bus stop,” said Cederholm, according to the TT news agency.

A criminal profiling unit from Sweden’s National Investigation Department (Rikskriminalen) has been brought into the investigation and is now working in parallel with the county police in Skåne.

The 28-year-old man who was shot near a bus stop in Malmö on Tuesday night has had the bullet removed.

“It landed 5 centimetres from the spine,” said Cederholm.

The man was among three victims who were shot within within the course of just a few hours Tuesday night in Malmö. Each of the victims was seriously injured.

A 19-year-old suspect was detained later on suspicions of attempted murder for the shooting of the two victims around 12.30am Wednesday morning in the city’s Lindängen neighbourhood.

The shootings involving the 19-year-old are not believed to be related to the shooting of the 28-year-old man who was waiting for a bus.

During their press conference, police focused on the possible connections between the shooting of the 28-year-old and other, similar shootings in the city in recent months.

The shooting incidents have taken place throughout the city and none of the victims had any known threats directed against them.

Each victim has no understanding of why they were suddenly and inexplicably shot. Nor have they been able to make any observations of what may have transpired in the moments before they were shot.

The county police now believe that the fatal shooting of a women in her twenties in October 2009 in Västra Skrävlingevägen, near the Rosengård neighbourhood, may be the first in a series of related shootings.

The woman sat in her car together with a 21-year-old man who was injured, but survived.

“One theory is that a single assailant, or several, are focused on people with immigrant backgrounds,” said Cederholm.

Swedish criminology professor Jerzy Sarnecki expressed concern about the ramifications of the police’s new theory about the shootings.

“It’s extremely disconcerting, really nasty and it’s really urgent that the police arrest the perpetrator as quickly as possible. These sorts of people don’t stop until they are arrested,” he told TT.

He drew parallels between the Malmö shootings and the “lasermannen” (‘Laser Man’), shootings which kept Sweden on edge in the early 1990s.

“Even then there was a heated debate in society about immigrants, similar to the one we’re having now about the Sweden Democrats. This is naturally speculation on my part, but there are people with mental illnesses, on the verge of a breakdown, who can be affected by such a debate which can then unleash (an outbreak),” said Sarnecki.

The ‘Laser Man’, John Ausonius, received his moniker because his victims were targeted with a red dot from a ‘laser’ scope fitted on his weapon.

Ausonius targeted his first immigrant victim at the end of the summer of 1991. Two Eritreans saw a circle of red light rest on their compatriot’s body before he was hit.

The man survived but Laser Man terrorized Stockholm’s immigrant population for a further eighteen months.

In November 1991 he shot his fifth victim, Jimmy Ranjbar, an Iranian student. Ranjbar did not survive the attack.

In all Ausonius shot eleven immigrants in the Stockholm and Uppsala areas. Many of his victims were shot in the head and experts believe further casualties were only prevented by Ausonius’s incompetence when modifying his weapon.

Ausonius was convicted in 1995 for one case of murder and ten attempted murders of immigrants, as well as eight bank robberies.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

The Debate About Islam in Germany Heats Up

Germany’s top-selling non-fiction bestseller is a book that attacks Islam — and the German president can’t get the public to agree with him when he says that Islam is part of Germany.

Thilo Sarrazin, former state finance minister in Berlin and just a short time ago on the board of the German central bank, has written a bestseller: “Deutschland schafft sich ab” (“Germany is Doing Away with Itself”). He predicts a dire future for the country and he blames it above all on Islam and the uncontrolled immigration of Muslims. Most Muslims have different values than the Germans, he writes. They ostensibly hold God higher than the constitutional state and democracy. This is the reason, he claims, why Germany will gradually do away with itself if it doesn’t carry out an active immigration and integration debate.

Sarrazin’s arguments are meeting with a great deal of support. But he is also encountering opposition.

Michael Bommes, a sociologist teaching at the University of Osnabrueck, notes that the current debate about Islam shows that most people have still to grasp the fact that Germany has long since become a country of immigrants, with a correspondingly complex diversity of values and viewpoints.

“Through modern international immigration, world religions such as Islam have now arrived in Europe,” says Bommes. He argues that Muslims have to adjust to this situation, as do the citizens of other European nations. The relationships between politics, law and religion have to be rethought, he says. People have always had to find compromises over these three elements. And Islam is making this necessary once more in today’s world.

Fear of headscarves and mosques

Many Germans are worried because they see their way of life being called into question by the presence of Islam. They find the headscarves and veils worn by Muslim women particularly offensive. They raise the possibility that these women are being oppressed.

Such concerns are also evident in the results of a study recently published by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. Oliver Decker, who led the study, speaks of a “very distinct increase from 34 percent to over half the population who agree with statements hostile to Islam.” Many Germans are also skeptical with regard to the building of new mosques, he says.

Where do these negative appraisals of Islam come from? Islam scholar Navid Kermani believes that Germans see their identity being threatened. Identity, he explains, is formed when we distinguish ourselves from other groups. Every social group defines itself by how it differs from other groups. That’s why, he argues, it seems logical to keep one’s distance from Islam. After all, Westerners tend to be unfamiliar with Islamic symbols, making the religion seem especially alien. The process of differentiation itself is then only natural. But it becomes problematic when those who are different are declared to be the enemy.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkish PM Bitter About EU Talks

On a visit to Helsinki on Wednesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blamed the EU for delays in his country’s EU membership negotiations.

Talks which began five years ago are stalled, largely because of issues related to Cyprus. Erdogan said that the word ‘disappointed’ was too mild a word to describe his feelings about the EU process.

Erdogan held talks with his Finnish opposite number, Mari Kiviniemi, about boosting bilateral trade, economic and energy questions and Turkey’s hopes of joining the Union.

Kiviniemi praised the Turkish government for the reforms it has carried out and said Finland is committed to Ankara’s EU membership.

Erdogan also met with President Tarja Halonen, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb and members of Finland’s Turkish community.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

UK: £9billion Worth of Council Homes Are Inherited by 90,000 People Who Don’t Need Government Help

Tax-payers are funding more than 90,000 people to live in council houses which they have merely ‘inherited’ from family members.

New figures indicate more than £9billion of council homes have fallen into the hands of people who have not qualified for Government aid themselves.

The public purse is funding an estimated £300 million in annual rent subsidies for those who have inherited the cheap tenancy arrangements.

A loophole in the guidelines means those living in council housing can ‘bequeath’ tenancies when they die.

It means that local authority tenancies can survive beyond the tenant’s death, benefiting their offspring also.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Concern for Margaret Thatcher as She is Rushed to Hospital: Friends’ Fears as Former PM Fights Flu Bug

Margaret Thatcher has been admitted to hospital by ambulance for tests after failing to recover from flu.

The former Conservative Prime Minister was running a high temperature and her family and friends did not want to take any chances with her health.

Baroness Thatcher was forced to miss a Downing Street reception to mark her 85th birthday last week because of flu.

Friends became concerned yesterday that her temperature had not returned to normal and she was still feeling ‘groggy’.

A consultant was called in during the day. He could not find the cause of the problem but suspected Lady Thatcher was suffering from an infection.

She was admitted to Bupa’s Cromwell Hospital in West London from her Belgravia home.

A friend said: ‘The flu she has had has not cleared up and doctors want to run some tests. At the end of the day, she is frail and they want to keep an eye on her.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Hardliners Call for Deaths of Surrey Muslims

Islamic extremists have started openly calling for the destruction of a controversial Muslim sect in a major escalation of sectarian conflict within British Islam, an investigation by The Independent has revealed.

Members of the Ahmadiyya Community have seen a significant upsurge in threats and intimidation over the past four months, sparked by an extremist attack on two of their largest mosques in Pakistan earlier this year.

Hardline Islamists in Britain have been distributing leaflets calling for the murder of AhmadiMuslims in Kingston-upon-Thames whilst mosques have been vandalised in Newham and Crawley. Preachers in south London have also been orchestrating a boycott of Ahmadi businesses and Ofcom has had to reprimand an Islamic satellite channel for repeatedly calling the sect “Wajib-ul Qatal” — an Arabic phrase used to describe those who digress from mainstream Islam that translates as “liable for death”.

Community leaders say the upsurge in animosity towards Ahmadis is directly linked to violence in Pakistan where local Taliban militants have declared war on sects that they deem to be heretical such as the Ahmadis and the Shi’a.

Although the Ahmadis have been targeted by extremists in the past, the combined attacks on two mosques in Lahore in May was the most brazen assault on their community yet, with 93 worshippers killed as they gathered for Friday prayers, including a number of Britons.

Since the mid 1980s the Ahmadi community has been headquartered in Morden, south London, after their leaders were forced to flee Pakistan, the only country in the world that legally forbids them from declaring themselves Muslims. They claim to have 70 million adherents worldwide although detractors say the number is closer to two million. An estimated 15,000 live in Britain including their spiritual leader Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

The Ahmadi leadership had hoped the attacks in Lahore would prompt an outpouring of sympathy among British Muslims. Instead, they say, it has emboldened a minority of extremists to openly target them in an upsurge in intimidation.

Rafiq Hayat, national president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK, told The Independent: “Through leaflet distribution, posting of hate material on websites and via programmes on satellite TV (often in Urdu and other south Asian languages) our community is being made a target of hatred and hostility by preachers of hate. The perpetrators of this act are Muslims and whilst they are certainly not representative of the vast majority of Muslims in this country, they are creating hatred in society.”

Police in Kingston-upon-Thames have opened a hate crime investigation earlier this summer when an Ahmadi woman was handed a leaflet by a man which stated: “Kill [an Ahmadi] and the doors to heaven will be open for you.” In Tooting, meanwhile, some mainstream Sunni preachers have urged follower to boycotts Ahmadi businesses.

To many orthodox Muslims, the Ahmadis are considered heretical because they believe that their 19th century founder was none other than the Mahdi — Islam’s equivalent of the messiah — and the successor to the Prophet Mohamed.

Islamic satellite channels, a rapidly expanding but largely unregulated section of the broadcast media, have played an instrumental role in recent anti-Ahmadiyya campaigning. This week Ofcom criticised the Ummah Channel for a string of three programmes broadcast shortly before and after the Lahore massacre in which clerics and callers alike said Ahmadis should be killed.

In one programme “Seal of the Prophethood” a cleric declared: Until now, whenever one has claimed to be a prophet the Muslim nation has issued fatwa that he should be killed. It is only that at present Muslims are weak and they do not have the power to slice such a man in two parts.”

On 21 May the Ummah Channel broadcast a in which Islamic scholars debated the status of Ahmadis within Islam.

When a caller named Asim asked for a scholar to explain whether Ahmadis were legitimate Muslims the imam replied: “Since the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) the Sahiba [knowledgeable scholars] have confirmed that anyone who believes in a prophet after the Holy Prophet is a kafir [unbeliever], murtad [apostate] and Wajib-ul Qatal [liable for death].”

He later added: “Until now, whoever has claimed prophethood, the Muslim Ummah has issued the fatwa for them to be killed. And all these false prophets have always been killed. It is only now that Muslims have become weak and they do not have the strength that they should cut such people into two.”

Ahmadis were also frequently referred to as “filth” who should be avoided by mainstream Muslims.

Ofcom ruled that the Ummah Channel breached broadcasting regulations with its “abusive treatment of the religious views and beliefs of members of the Ahmadiyya community”.

A representative of Ummah Channel said the station has now broadcast apologies for the programmes. “The Ummah Channel would like to express their sincere apologies for any offence caused,” the spokesperson said. “It was never the intention of the Ummah Channel to support or condone these opinions that were delivered by independent scholars during ‘live’ phone in shows.”

The Ahmadis say that doctrinal opposition towards their community is being spearheaded by Khatme Nubawwat Academy, a British offshoot of a Pakistani group that is dedicated to confronting Ahmadi beliefs..

The group, whose name translates to “The Finality of the Prophet”, has close connections to the Pakistani establishment and met Pakistan’s high commissioner in the UK earlier this summer.

They also held a conference in Newham on 18th June in which one of their speakers claimed that the attacks on the two mosques on Lahore were an Ahmadi conspiracy.

Imam Suhail Bawa, a leading Khatme Nubbawat preacher, told worshippers: “This will become apparent very soon to you all that Qadiani [a derogatory term for Ahmadis] themselves are behind this whole conspiracy. [They] are responsible for whatever has happened in Lahore. This is all Qadiani conspiracy. They now come to television programs to try to “falsely” demonstrate their victimisation.”

He then went on to warn that any attempt to try and change laws in Pakistan which forbid Ahmadis from calling themselves Muslims would be met with violence on a similar scale to a previous massacre of Ahmadis in 1953 in Lahore.

“If the anti-Qadiani laws or the blasphemy laws are touched by anyone in Pakistan,” Imam Bawa said, “then the 1953 Lahore agitation against the Qadianis will be repeated in the streets once more. The streets and roads of Lahore were filled with blood in that agitation.”

Khatme Nubbawat preachers have also given anti-Ahmadi speeches in Tooting Islamic Centre.

On the website for the group’s east London offices in Forest Gate, Ahmadis are described as “nothing but a gang of traitors, apostates and infidels”. The term Wajib-ul Qatal is not used although their preachers in Pakistan often use the term.

Akber Choudhry, a spokesperson for the Khatme Nubawwat Academy, said: “[We are] an independent UK organisation that is loosely affiliated with other such organisations around the world, and one of their major goals is to counter Qadiani (Ahmadiyya) propaganda within the laws of the jurisdiction in which each such organisation is based. We condemn all atrocities being committed in Pakistan and it is our wish and desire that Pakistan be free from all war, foreign intervention and attacks on civilians.”

Asked whether he thought it was acceptable to describe a religious group as a “gang of traitors, apostates and infidels” Mr Choudhry replied: “The words ‘apostates’ and ‘infidels’ are understood differently in English than in their Islamic theological sense, especially within the Urdu-speaking Muslims, and can be replaced by terms more sensitive to the current climate in which the connotations of these words have changed quite rapidly in the past few years.”

But Mr Hayat said he believed groups like Khatme Nubawwat create an atmosphere that encourages ordinary Muslims to be hostile towards Ahmadis.

“Freedom of speech is one thing, but incitement of hatred is another matter altogether,” he said. “We appeal to the authorities to nip this in the bud; otherwise this campaign of hatred against Ahmadi Muslims today will tomorrow grow into a threat against other moderate Muslims and indeed the wider society.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

UK: Taliban Taking Over University Life?

Secret report details campaign of intimidation, threats

LONDON — Undercover agents of the United Kingdom’s MI5 Security Service have discovered that Islamic extremists have created a “Taliban-type culture” in Britain’s universities that is dedicated to installing Islamic law and intimidating faculty, staff and students, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

This week a top-secret report detailing the attempt to radicalize the campuses has been sent to vice-chancellors across the nation by Jonathan Evans, the head of the security service.

The document contains a stark warning from the MI5 chief that in the past year there has “been sewn on campuses in England and Wales the seeds of Shariah law which has intimidated students and staff.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Under Pressure David Cameron Faces Calls for a New EU Vote

In a surprise move, German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy called for a new EU treaty to be agreed within two years.

In a joint statement the two leaders said it was ‘necessary to revise the (Lisbon) Treaty’ in order to deal with the fallout from the financial crisis.

Ministers have pledged to introduce a ‘referendum lock’ which would require the Government to hold a public vote on any treaty changes affecting Britain.

But privately they are desperate to avoid a referendum on a subject which could split the coalition partners. Douglas Carswell, a senior Eurosceptic Tory, last night warned that right-wingers would use any move to renegotiate the Lisbon Treaty to press for a referendum.

And Mats Persson, of the think tank Open Europe, said: ‘A new EU treaty would have huge implications for the UK.’

France and Germany want to change the Lisbon Treaty to bring in tough penalties for eurozone countries such as Greece, which break the rules of the euro pact.

The development came as the European Commission tabled plans to levy direct taxes on all EU citizens.

Proposals include taxes on flights and energy — or even a new VAT charge on almost all goods, which would be paid directly to Brussels.

EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski is also pressing for an end to Britain’s £3.1billion budget rebate.

Timothy Kirkhope, Tory leader in the European Parliament, said: ‘Our rebate is fully justified.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Headscarf Issue Resurfaces in Turkey

Renewed efforts to end a ban on students and civil servants wearing the Muslim headscarf have triggered fresh confrontation between Turkey’s government and its political opponents over the place of Islam in public life.

The ruling Justice and Development (AK) party, led by observant Muslims, met opposition parties on Wednesday seeking support for a commission to solve an issue that has divided Turkish society and paralysed political life in the past.

Immediately after the meeting, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals issued a statement warning that allowing the headscarf in state universities would “violate the principle of secularism”, citing previous constitutional court rulings and noting its authority to investigate political parties for such offences.

A statement from the AK party branded the judges’ intervention a “direct blow to the democratic, parliamentary regime”. The swift riposte suggests the government is ready to test its strength against the judiciary after winning a referendum on reforms that change the composition of the constitutional court and the rules on party closure.

The AK party failed in a previous attempt to end the ban in universities, narrowly escaping being closed down by the constitutional court for “anti-secular activities”.

In the intervening two years, the issue had lost much of its political sting. Hardline secularists maintain that the headscarf — especially when worn in the wraparound “turban” style seen as an expression of political Islam — has no part in public life in the secular state founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

But, in practice, many university lecturers already turn a blind eye to covered students. The Higher Education Board has now advised universities not to expel those breaking the dress code. Even Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the People’s Republican Party (CHP) founded by Ataturk, appears likely to support an end to the ban for students.

But secularists fear that Reçep Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister, whose wife and daughter wear the turban, also wants to ease restrictions in other areas of public life.

Newspapers carried stories on Wednesday of a 13-year-old schoolgirl allowed to attend primary school in a headscarf, while other front pages showed photos of Hayrunnisa Gul, the president’s wife, appearing in her turban for the first time in an official ceremony, as she received a state visit from the German president.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Parties, Court Draw Lines Over Headscarf

Turkey’s ruling party won limited support from rivals on Wednesday for ending a ban on women students and civil servants wearing the Muslim headscarf, while a court warned against violating the secular constitution.

The ruling AK Party, led by conservative Muslims, failed to persuade the secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) to join a commission to resolve one of most divisive issues in Turkey ahead of elections expected next June in the EU candidate state.

“We demanded a commission be formed without any preconditions or prejudices. The CHP’s attitude is aimed at influencing the people, not at a solution,” Bekir Bozdag, chairman of the AK parliamentary group, told a news conference.

The headscarf issue cuts to the heart of national identity in an overwhelmingly Muslim nation of 75 million people that has lived with a secular constitution since modern Turkey emerged from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire after World War One.

A bid by the AK government to lift the headscarf ban three years ago was blocked by the Constitutional Court, and almost led to the party being closed for anti-secular activities.

Immediately after Wednesday’s meeting of the political parties, the Supreme Court of Appeals issued a statement on its website warning against meddling with the secular principles of the modern Turkish state founded by Kemal Ataturk in 1923.

“Recognition of headscarf use on the basis of religious convictions when regulating the dress codes for university students violates the principle of secularism by using religious fundamentals as a basis for a regulation concerning public space,” the court said.

The wearing of headscarves is prohibited at universities, though some began taking a more permissive stance with the new academic year in September, and at state schools, though pupils at religious schools outside the state sytem can wear them.

Civil servants are also banned from wearing the headscarf, which is otherwise commonly worn by many Turkish women, including the wives of Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul.

Critics suspect AK of harbouring an Islamist agenda. The party denies such plans and likens itself to Europe’s socially conservative, economically liberal Christian Democrat parties.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

U.S. Announces Massive Arms Deal With Saudi Arabia

Washington (CNN) — The Obama administration has notified Congress of plans for a multiyear, multibillion-dollar weapons deal with Saudi Arabia, a State Department official said Wednesday.

The sale is meant to further align the Saudi military relationship with the United States and enhance the ability of the kingdom to defer and defend threats to it and its oil structure, which “is critical to our economic interests,” said Andrew Shapiro, assistant secretary for political and military affairs, at a State Department news conference.

The deal, worth up to $60 billion over 20 years, will include the sale of 84 F-15 aircraft, the upgrade of 70 older-model F-15 aircraft and almost 200 helicopters.

Congress has 30 days to raise any objections to the deal.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

US Confirms $60bn Plan to Sell Saudi Arabia Arms

US officials have confirmed they intend to sell $60bn (£38bn) of arms to Saudi Arabia, including helicopters and jets.

The state department said details of the deal had been sent to Congress, which now has 30 days to object.

If completed, it could be the most lucrative single arms deal in US history and could support 75,000 jobs.

The state department said Israel, traditionally wary of arms deals involving Arab states, was not expected to raise objections.

‘Strong message’ Announcing the plan, state department official Andrew Shapiro said it had a “tremendous significance from a strategic regional perspective”.

“It will send a strong message to countries in the region that we are committed to support the security of our key partners and allies in the Arabian Gulf and broader Middle East,” he said.

Analysts say the sale — which includes more than 80 F-15 fighters, and dozens of Apache, Black Hawk and Little Bird helicopters — is unlikely to face much opposition in Congress.

The plan was leaked last month, when officials were quoted as saying anti-radar missiles, precision-guided bombs, and Hellfire missiles would also be included.

But officials did not mention the missiles during Wednesday’s news conference.

The Pentagon said the Saudis were expected to initially select about $30bn worth of aircraft. Delivery of the weapons is expected to be spread over 15 to 20 years.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Chechen Leader Urges End to Bride Kidnapping

MOSCOW (Reuters) — The head of Russia’s Muslim Chechnya region Monday urged followers to “eradicate” the age-old practice of bride kidnapping, a tradition outlawed by Russian law, but still practiced in the region.

Analysts say the region’s powerful leader Ramzan Kadyrov is facing increased pressure from his backers in the Kremlin to curb local traditions that violate federal laws, including what critics say are moves to introduce religious-based rules.

“I declare … that we will root out once and for all from our society the kidnapping of young women,” Kadyrov said, according to Russian state-run news web site

“This is the Russian Federation, where kidnapping is a crime,” he added.

The ancient practice of bride kidnapping, although now widely associated in Russia with Islam, was taking place in the Caucasus prior to its conversion to Islam, some 250 years ago.

The tradition is also practiced in post-Soviet central Asia.

The Kremlin is heavily dependent on Kadyrov to staunch an Islamist insurgency in the region, and rights activists say he is taking advantage of his position to exceed his legal authority.

Kadyrov has combined support of a relatively mild version of Islam with strong-arm police tactics against extremists in a bid to control powerful Islamist sentiment.

Critics say the measures are inching the Chechen Republic closer toward autonomy from Moscow. Kadyrov says the claims are attempts to blacken his name.

Chechnya fought two separatist wars with the Russian army since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Kadyrov fought Russian forces during the first Chechen separatist war in the early 1990s but switched to Moscow’s side when the conflict reignited in 1999.

Kadyrov’s condemnation of bride kidnapping, which is already outlawed in Russia, demonstrates the autonomy which Chechnya already enjoys.

“We follow Islam, which unequivocally condemns such a practice and which does not recognize marriage without the true consent of the girl,” Kadyrov was quoted as saying.

In August Chechnya’s spiritual leader successfully ordered the shutting down of all eateries during Ramadan, the holy Muslim month of fasting.

Separately, many women said they had been harassed by men for not wearing headscarves in what some of the assailants said were instructions from religious authorities.

The Ramadan orders followed words of praise from Kadyrov who told state TV he was grateful to attackers who targeted women with paintball pellets in June for not wearing headscarves.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pictures: Six Dead After Suicide Bomber and Gunmen Storm Chechen Parliament

At least six people died after Islamic militants stormed the Chechen parliament and blew themselves up.

Shouting Islamist slogans, they launched the attack as officials arrived for work at the building in the capital, Grozny.

Two guards and one government official were killed, it was reported. A further 17 were injured.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Suspected Islamists Kill Another Police Officer in Nigeria

Suspected Islamist sect members have killed a policeman on the outskirts of a Nigerian city where troops have deployed over attacks blamed on the group, authorities said Wednesday. Motorcycle-riding gunmen killed the officer on Tuesday night as he was walking home, said police spokesman Abdullahi Lawan, in the latest in a spate of such shootings around the northern city of Maiduguri. “We lost one of our men to assailants believed to be members of Boko Haram,” Lawan said, referring to the Islamist sect. “He was off duty on his way home from a private outing.” He said two people on a motorbike shot him, with the police officer unarmed because he was off-duty. The attack occurred despite military patrols in the city and a nighttime ban on motorbikes, and Lawan said it appeared the gunmen had been tracking the officer for some time. Such shootings along with other attacks in recent months in northern Nigeria, including a prison raid and the torching of a police station, have raised alarm over the sect, which launched an uprising last year.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Abu Hamza’s £2m Fight to Keep British Passport

By John Twomey HATE preacher Abu Hamza yesterday launched a new bid to keep his ­British passport in a legal battle that has so far cost £1.4million.

Hamza is fighting attempts to strip him of his citizenship arguing it is a breach of his human rights.

The hook-handed cleric says that he has been disowned by his native Egypt and that taking away his British passport would leave him “stateless”.


Hamza, 52, is in high-security ­Belmarsh prison, south London, where he is fighting an attempt by the Home Office to extradite him to the US where he is wanted on terror charges.

The cleric’s legal battle has run for more than six years. Legal experts ­predict the final bill will top £2million. The latest court hearing got underway yesterday at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in central London. It is expected to last three days at a cost of £120,000.

‘We say the UK has an obligation to prevent statelessness’

Hamza’s publicly funded legal team includes the eminent barrister, Ed ­Fitzgerald, QC, whose previous clients included child killers Myra Hindley and Jon Venables. The Home Office has its own barrister, junior and lawyers.

One of Hamza’s team, Amanda ­Weston, told the court that her client would have no state to call home if his passport was removed. She said: “We say that the international convention places an obligation on the UK to prevent statelessness.”

Hamza was jailed for seven years in 2006 for inciting murder and race hate. He first came to Britain in the 1980s on a student visa. He got a UK passport after marrying a British woman. Hamza later embraced a radical form of Islam and travelled to Afghanistan where he lost both hands and an eye in a land mine explosion.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: ‘Muslims Threaten Christians in Asylum-Seeker Centres’

THE HAGUE, 21/10/10 — Christians are threatened or maltreated by Muslims in many asylum-seeker centres in the Netherlands, TV programme Uitgesproken EO has reported. The Lower House is demanding clarification.

Uitgesproken EO bases its report on a study carried out by Gave, a Christian organisation that helps asylum-seekers. It says that Christians experiene discrimination in 75 percent of the asylum-seeker centres in the Netherlands. In 67 percent of the centres, threats of violence or death occur, and in 33 percent, there is physical violence.

According to the staff of the foundation, which surveyed 28 asylum centres, Muslims are mostly responsible for the violence and the threats made to the Christian asylum-seekers. Apostates from Islam also face violent Muslims.

Small Christian party ChristenUnie MP Joel Voordewind is shocked by the results of the survey. According to Voordewind, this is a matter of “religious persecution of Christians within the borders of our own country.”

A broad Lower House majority is at the initiative of ChristenUnie urging a halt to the asylum procedure for asylum-seekers repeatedly guilty of serious threats or physical violence. Parliament also wants Immigration and Asylum minister Gerd Leers to investigate the exact size of the problem and set up an independent reporting point where asylum-seekers can report threats or assaults by other asylum-seekers anonymously.

The Central Body for the Reception of Asylum-seekers (COA) denies the problems. COA said in a written statement that it “absolutely does not recognise the picture sketched.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey Concerned With Immigrant Rights After Dutch Coalition Deal

Turks, along with Moroccans, make up a large part of the Netherlands’ one million Muslims.

Turkey has called in a Dutch diplomat to explain an agreement on forming the new Netherlands government, which relies on an anti-Islam party for support, but the Dutch Foreign Ministry denied any rift in relations.

Turks, along with Moroccans, make up a large part of the Netherlands’ one million Muslims.

A minority Dutch coalition made up of Liberals and Christian Democrats took office last week, aiming to curb immigration in exchange for support for its austerity agenda from the anti-immigration Freedom Party.

In Ankara, a Turkish Foreign Ministry official said it had invited the acting Dutch ambassador to a meeting on Monday night as “an exchange of general opinions” and to explain the new coalition government agreement.

A Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman described the meeting as a “friendly conversation” and said there had been no “hiccup in relations”, playing down a newspaper report that the diplomat had been “summoned” to give answers.

“Rights of immigrants”

Ankara also urged the Netherlands against stripping Turkish immigrants of the right to Dutch social security benefits if they return to Turkey.

“It is expected that the Netherlands will not take any backward steps on certain rights acquired by the Turkish community,” the Turkish ministry official said.

The Dutch Foreign Ministry spokesman said these policy proposals had yet to be enacted in the country, whose new government has unveiled plans to tighten immigration laws and ban face covering veils such as the burqa.

He added the talks on Monday night also focused on a legal battle initiated by two Turks who have objected to compulsory Dutch integration courses imposed on immigrants.

A Dutch court ruled in August that compulsory classes do not comply with the EU Association Agreement dealing with Turkey’s EU accession hopes, ruling that no distinction can be made between Turkish and EU citizens.

Two Dutch cities, supported by the national government, have since appealed against that ruling.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Failing Boys and the Powder Keg of Sexual Politics

In 1998, when stories about schools short-changing girls still played in the press, and research continued to chronicle the gender bias against females in the classroom, some of Canada’s leading educational publishers began revising their standard science textbooks for Grades 7 through 10.

Several studies had faulted textbooks for pushing sexist stereotypes of Dick and Jane, driving girls away from certain subjects, science in particular. Mindful of that, publishers instructed their contributors to feature girls prominently in the revised editions.

“If you had a picture of a person doing something positive, winning a race, performing an experiment successfully, etc., [you had to] make sure it was of a girl,” said one of the consultants involved in the revisions. “If you had to have a picture of someone doing a bad thing — bullying, making a mistake, being unsure which course of action to take, etc. — the image was invariably of a boy.”

The consultant, who asked that his name be withheld to protect his employment, said the intentions were good but perhaps the pendulum swung too far. “The side effect was to show the boys that they are rarely winners and we expect less of them,” he said. “The unstated assumption was that boys did not need the same degree of encouragement.”

Just 12 years later, the assumption seems as dated as the strap. Boys have been recast as the underdogs of academics. It’s a controversial shift — fuelling a complex battle of the sexes — but these days boys are the ones making news, for falling behind and flunking out, from the U.S. to China, from the U.K. to the Philippines, from New Zealand to Canada.

Here, a hill of data suggests that boys, as a group, rank behind girls by nearly every measure of scholastic achievement. They earn lower grades overall in elementary school and high school. They trail in reading and writing, and 30 per cent of them land in the bottom quarter of standardized tests, compared with 19 per cent of girls. Boys are also more likely to be picked out for behavioural problems, more likely to repeat a grade and to drop out of school altogether.

While men and women are enrolling in university in record numbers, the proportion of women attending is significantly higher. Men make up just 40 per cent of university undergraduates, and they’re much less likely than women to graduate from the college or degree program they start.

Yet the phenomenon can be as puzzling as it is polarizing. Some see it as proof of society’s forgotten boys — that while diligent efforts went into helping girls learn, boys were disregarded, left to find their own way in a feminized education system.

“I’ve been accused of being a dinosaur and anti-feminist when I bring it up. But it’s the elephant in the room — the classroom,” said Jon Bradley, a professor of education at McGill University in Montreal, where the dropout rate is as high as 60 per cent in some urban schools. “We’ve got all the data, and still we don’t really want to admit there is a problem.”

Others, however, feel the current concerns over education statistics smack of smoke and myopia. They argue girls have always earned better grades and that it’s the marketplace that’s changed, making young men without good marks less competitive in a knowledge-based economy. They balk at the notion that boys now need special measures to get ahead.

After all, despite the giant strides women have made in higher education — outpacing men with their degrees and grade point averages — boys grow up to be men and, as The Globe documented in its series on Women in Power last week, it is still a man’s world. Men run the vast majority of countries and companies, and even when women have the same level of education, men still bring home more bacon.

“It’s hard to argue that boys are being short-changed. Even with the generation difference, it’s very doubtful that today’s girls will be ascending into positions of power and today’s boys will be in a minority in business and politics,” said Paula Bourne, head of women’s studies at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

[Return to headlines]

Officers Denied Immunity for Strip-Searching Protesters

Court affirms cops must face music for treatment of pro-life teens

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has denied police officers immunity from a lawsuit alleging they violated the rights of two young women who were arrested, put in leg irons and strip-searched for conducting a pro-life demonstration.

As WND reported, Angela Swagler and Elizabeth Walsh were among 18 demonstrators arrested on Aug. 1, 2008, charged with loitering and other minor crimes for standing along a roadside in Harford County, Md., bearing pro-life T-shirts and signs, some of which showed pictures of aborted fetuses.

Though all charges were later dropped against the demonstrators, they allege officials cast the pro-life participants — two of whom were teenage girls — in leg irons, denied them permission to call parents until after midnight, conducted non-private “sexually invasive” strip-searches and jailed them until the next day.

Furthermore, the case contends, the demonstrators were not arrested for lawful reasons, but because of the content of their signs, a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘Pedophile Ping-Pong’ Permeates Sex Horror

Accusations of failing to report assaults on kids cling to researcher despite denials

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

It sounds too horrible to be true — that America’s most famous sex researcher, widely considered the “father of the sexual revolution” — not only relied on serial pedophiles for “research data” on childhood sexuality, but actually protected and even encouraged those who committed such heinous crimes.

And yet, despite years of official denials from the Kinsey Institute that Dr. Alfred Kinsey encouraged pedophiles with stopwatches to molest children for the “data” thus obtained, Kinsey’s own colleagues tell the awful truth.


Kinsey and his colleagues also refused to report to law enforcement the ongoing child molestation while compiling data for Kinsey’s 1948 and 1953 books on human sexual behavior, according to Gebhard.

“It was illegal and we knew it was illegal and that’s why a lot of people are furious,” said Gebhard in 1998. “They say we should have turned him in instantly … [but] if we had turned him in it would have been the end of our research project.” Gebhard assumed leadership of the Kinsey Institute after Kinsey died in 1956.

Kinsey and his colleagues admit to protecting the identities of at least two pedophiles, an Arizona government employee and a Nazi, because the men were producing data on childhood sexual response that was valuable to their research on prepubescent orgasm.


While being interviewed for the 1998 BBC documentary, Gebhard acknowledged off-camera that the Kinsey researchers obtained information not only from individual pedophiles, but a pedophile organization which preceded the present-day North American Man Boy Love Association.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

University of Winnipeg Stung by Its Own Viper

For decades the University of Winnipeg has been teaching students hatred and intolerance for those who hold traditional values. On Sunday this policy stung them.

Vic Toews, the Federal Minister of Public Safety, was humiliated in front of the Convocation which included many MPs and his 93-year-old mother. He was receiving an Honorary Doctorate, the only kind the University of Winnipeg is eligible to confer.

Referring to Toews’ opposition to gay marriage, Erin Larson, 22, the Valedictorian said she wasn’t proud to share the stage with him.

“I feel the University of Winnipeg has recently suffered a profound loss of integrity due to the actions of the administration,” she said. “The decision to give an honorary doctorate to someone who is best known among my generation of students as a vocal opponent of the expansion to human rights is questionable at best.”

This unlikely story was the lead item on the CBC TV National News Sunday night.

Toews is the Senior Federal Minister for Manitoba. As such he is responsible for millions in funding which the university desperately needs to complete its ambitious building program. University President Lloyd Axworthy understands this very well. He used to hold Toews’ position in former Liberal Governments.

Obviously Axworthy was maneuvering for more federal handouts. But now it’s unlikely that the University will see a dime.


The University of Winnipeg is one of Canada’s foremost producers of feminist zealots and lesbians. For decades, the student council has been run by homosexuals. Female summer students are instructed on how to use zucchinis rather than have relationships with men. The womyn’s center takes plaster casts of co-eds breasts. Orientation activities encourage lesbianism.

“Diversity” i.e the subversion of European Christians and their values is drummed into student’s heads. In Erin Larson’s words: “We are known as the liberal college. You go to the U of Manitoba to be the man and you go to the U of W to fight the man and I wanted to uphold that on behalf of my student body.”

[Return to headlines]


Ban-Ki Moon Warns Against Intolerance to Muslims

UN SECRETARY GENERAL Ban Ki-moon yesterday warned of a “politics of polarisation” emerging in Europe over immigration, and he accused some politicians of invoking “liberal values for illiberal causes”.

Addressing the European Parliament, Mr Ban noted that while immigrants in Europe suffered a “disproportionate share of ills” including unemployment and discrimination, “an even more dangerous trend is emerging, a new politics of polarisation”.

This was illustrated by those who seek to invoke “liberal values for illiberal causes” and tempt “otherwise reasonable people into being governed by fear, or falling prey to siren songs of suspicion”.

“They hide behind citizenship to accuse immigrants of violating European values, when too often it is the accusers who are subverting these values and thus the very idea of what it means to be a citizen of the union. “Europe’s darkest chapters have been written in language such as this,” he said.

Mr Ban, whose speech prompted much applause, said Muslim immigrants were the “primary targets” of such accusations.

“Europe cannot afford stereotyping that closes minds and breeds hatred. And the world cannot afford a Europe that does,” he added. The UN chief spoke about the need for “tolerance from within”. He said “a united continent has to give everyone the same chances for success, irrespective of their ethnicity”.

In a separate address to the Council of Europe, Mr Ban said “growing anxiety” over immigration and “economic hard times” was being used to “justify policies of discrimination and exclusion”.

He added: “Human rights are not a menu, from which we can pick and choose. When it comes to human rights, there should be no selectivity.” Mr Ban has been criticised for what some have described as his “mealy-mouthed” response to the awarding of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Asked by the Irish Times to comment on this, and reports that Chinese authorities have confined Mr Liu’s wife Liu Xia to her home since the award was announced, Mr Ban insisted his statement on the prize had “received wide support” and criticism amounted to “some very small part”.

He reprised much of his previous statement, describing the award as “a recognition of a growing international consensus for improving human rights practices and culture around the world” and noting China’s achievements in “lifting millions of people out of poverty and . . . trying to broaden political participation and steadily join the international mainstream in its adherence to recognised human rights rules, and the framework and instruments”.

Mr Ban said he hoped that “any difference on this decision” would not “detract [from] our attention and our commitment to advancing human rights” and the “high prestige and inspirational power” of the prize. He did not address the issue of the continuing house arrest of Mr Liu’s wife.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]