Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101105

Financial Crisis
»Germany Accuses US of Breaking Promise on Monetary Policy
»Results of Fed Stimulus Could be ‘Horrendous’
»US Has Lost Its Way, Schäuble Thunders
»Greens Can’t Stop Their Scare Tactics
»Progressives Increase Their Power Over Obama
»Saudi Arms Sale Prompts Questions From U.S. House Panel Leaders
»Speaker Nancy Pelosi Will Seek to Remain Head of the House Democratic Caucus, Aides Say
»The Course & Future of Islamic Feminism
»The U.S. Elections and the Middle East: How Many Barack Obamas Do You Need to Change a Light Bulb?
»U.N. Human Rights Council to Take Aim at New Target: United States
»U.S.-Based Website: Stab Politicians to Death
»Watchdog: ACORN Bankruptcy a ‘Hoax’
»Wind Turbines Jammin’ Jet Radar Signals
Europe and the EU
»Alarm in Spanish Press Over 10-Year-Old Mum
»Belgium: BDW: “As if I Was a Mental Case”
»Belgian Officer Who Criticised ‘Flemish-isation’ Reinstated
»Belgium: Female Circumcision: A Growing Threat Here
»Biggest Number of Asylum Seekers in EU in Cyprus
»‘Completely Genuine and Sincere’: The Shadowy Organisation That Wants to Give the UK Billions for NOTHING
»Denmark: Bomb Threat Called Off
»Europe Under Islam by 2050
»Europe Rights Court Criticises France for Police Brutality
»France: Saudi Royalty Buys Paris’ Crillon Hotel: Source
»France: Woman Sentenced for Attacking Muslim Veil-Wearer
»French Politician Rachida Dati’s Brother Detained for Drugs
»Geneva Study Shows How Light Affects the Brain
»Germany: Police Arrest Islamist Bomb Threat Suspect
»Italy: ‘Mud-Slinging Won’t Stop Me’ Says Berlusconi
»Italy: Government Purchases 22 Finmeccanica Helicopters
»Lego Ready for Blastoff
»Neo-Nazi Takes Seat in Local Swedish Council
»Nightmare Scenario of Dutch Referendum Returns to Haunt EU
»Protesters Rally Against Pope’s Visit to Spain
»Saudis Discuss Buying Tanks From Spain, No Deal Signed
»Spain: Fifa Investigates Pact With Qatar for World Cup
»Spain: Controversy Grows Around 10-Year-Old Mother
»Sweden: King Won’t Sue Publisher Over Tell-All Book
»Switzerland Ups Counter Cyber Terrorism Measures
»The Fear Peddlers Hobbling Europe
»Ticket Fraud in Copenhagen
»UK: ‘Sexual Predators’: Gang of Asian Men Weep as They Are Jailed for 32 Years for Grooming Girls as Young as 13
»UK: “Radicalisation Via Youtube”? It’s Not So Simple
»UK: BAE ‘Held a Gun’ To Prime Minister’s Head Over Aircraft Carrier That Will Never Carry an Aircraft
»UK: By-Election Ordered as Lying Former Labour Minister is Barred From the Commons for Three Years
»UK: Couple Left With a £200,000 Court Bill as Lying Maid Loses Her £750,000 Claim She Was ‘Trafficking’ Victim Kept as Slave
»UK: Muslim Student Leaders Say Changes to Tuition Fees in England Could Breach Islamic Rules on Finance, Which Do Not Permit Interest Charges.
»UK: Sex Convictions: Girls Thought Abuse Was Normal
»UK: Special Report: The ‘DIY Jihadists’ Paid for by Us… Roshonara Choudhry Supporters Are Living on Benefits
»UK: Sex Convictions: 32-and-a-Half Years Jail for “Sexual Predators”
»UK: Why Lambert and Githens-Mazer Are Wrong on Radicalisation
»UK: We Didn’t Win Liberties in Order to Bestow Them on Our Enemies
North Africa
»Egypt: Italy Main Supplier of Sunglasses
»Morocco Alarmed Over Rise in Cocaine Smuggling
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: We Are Not for Sale
»Israel Suspends Strategic Dialogue With UK
Middle East
»Iranian Schools to Encourage “Culture of Martyrdom”
»Islamic Fundamentalists Preventing the Construction of a Church in Kuwait
»Italy’s Deputy Minister, Need to Open to Islamic Finance
»Saudi Arabia: Millionaire Seeks Husband, Company for Love
»Saudi Arabia: Suspect Claimed Stealing Under Spell
»Azerbaijan: Baptist Christians in Prison for Having Gathered to Pray
»OECD Says Germany Needs More Immigration
»Romanian Band Plays Gypsy Rock Against Sarkozy
»UK: Abu Hamza Keeps British Citizenship
»UK: DJs, Kabaddi Players, Comedians and Models Beat Government’s Migrant Cap
»UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Wins Human Rights Bid to Keep UK Passport
»UK: One in, One Out, For Radical Muslim Clerics
Culture Wars
»Germany: Women’s Equality Stronger in Former East, Study Finds
»Tasmania: Rape, Abortion in Church ‘Haunted House’
»Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests
»Web’s Undersea Cables Need Revamp to Prevent Catastrophe

Financial Crisis

Germany Accuses US of Breaking Promise on Monetary Policy

Schauble: ‘We will speak critically about this in bilateral talks’ (Photo: Wolfgang Staudt )

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Germany has accused the US of breaking a promise made at the G20 summit in Toronto in June by injecting a further $600 billion into its economy to stimulate growth.

Speaking on national TV on Thursday (4 November), German finance minister Wolfgang Schauble said that participants at the meeting had agreed to tighten their belts: “That was the common policy, that all developed countries, including the US, at the G20 summit in Toronto … explicitly obliged to undertake.”


Comment article

“We will speak critically about this in bilateral talks with our American friends, but also at the G20 summit in South Korea in the coming weeks.”

The US decision, announced on Wednesday, is to see the US Federal Reserve buy US Treasury bonds in a financial procedure called quantitative easing, which is also known as “printing money” by its critics as the extra liquidity is not necessarily withdrawn.

The US move gave a fillip to stock markets around the world.

But it also caused the value of the dollar to drop sharply against the euro, making EU exports less competitive on world markets..

Germany’s Mr Schauble argued that the US should tackle the underlying economic problems causing unemployment instead. A chorus of German politicians echoed his cries, including economy minister Rainer Bruderle and Liberal party member of parliament Frank Schaeffler.

“Printing money again will trigger a tsunami across the world economy,” Mr Schaeffler said.

The world’s second most powerful central banker, the European Central Bank’s Jean-Claude Trichet, bit his tongue during his regular monthly press conference on Thursday, however.

“No further comments on what is done by other central banks, who have their own responsibility, their own environment,” he said, according to newswires. “I never comment on moves on the market on a day-to-day basis. I have no indication that would change my trust in the fact that the Fed reserve chairman is not playing the strategy and the tactics of the weak dollar.”

“I have no reason not to trust them,” he added.

The ECB has committed itself to a strategy of gradually dismantling the EU stimulus plans put in place in response to the global economic crisis.

But Mr Trichet hinted on Thursday that the bank may have resumed its purchases of euro-zone government bonds in an attempt to reduce tensions in the European debt markets.

Noting that figures out on Monday showed no new bond purchases by the ECB for the third week running, he said: “You have always information that are not real-time. They are addressing what has happened a number of working days before… you will see that the program exists.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Results of Fed Stimulus Could be ‘Horrendous’

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has sharply criticized the US Federal Reserve’s decision to pump a further $600 billion into the country’s ailing economy. He says the move could create problems for the global economy. Others have joined in the condemnation.

Germany is not impressed. One day after the United States Federal Reserve announced that it would pump $600 billion (€423 billion) into America’s banking system over the next eight months, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble sharply criticized the decision.

“I don’t think they are going to solve their problems that way,” Schäuble told German public broadcaster ZDF in a Thursday evening interview. “They have already pumped an endless amount of money into the economy via taking on extremely high public debt and through a Fed policy that has already pumped a lot of money into the economy. The results are horrendous.”

In a separate interview on public broadcaster ARD, Schäuble said that the move by Fed Chair Ben Bernanke would “create additional problems for the world.” He promised to bring up the issue in talks with the US and said that, by following such a monetary path, the US was violating a pledge that all industrialized countries agreed to at the last G-20 summit in Toronto in June.

The Fed’s plan envisions the purchase of US government bonds in an effort to lower long-term interest rates as a way to stimulate borrowing and investment. In a contribution to the Washington Post, Bernanke emphasized that the move was designed to help strengthen the US job market and reduce an unemployment level that has stagnated at 10 percent. “This approach eased financial conditions in the past and, so far, looks to be effective again,” Bernanke wrote, referring to rising stocks and dropping interest rates this week.

Very Few Tools Left

Bernanke acted just a day after the Democrats of President Barack Obama took a beating in Tuesday’s mid-term elections — a vote which cost the party its majority in the House of Representatives. One of the Republicans’ main complaints during the campaign focused on high deficits as a result of Obama’s economic stimulus program. Despite recent hints from the White House that further stimulus measures might be in the offing, Tuesday’s likely eliminates the possibility that Obama can push through further legislation to stimulate the economy.

The Fed, for its part, has very few levers left to stimulate investment and growth. Short-term interest rates have long been close to zero, eliminating that favored monetary policy tool. Buying government bonds, while controversial, appears to be the only route remaining to stimulate demand.

In his Thursday essay, Bernanke emphasized that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own. That will take time and the combined efforts of many parties, including the central bank, Congress, the administration, regulators and the private sector.”

German Economics Minister Rainer Brüderle, of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s junior coalition partners, is likewise skeptical that the Fed’s path is the correct one. “I view the move with concern,” he told reporters in Berlin on Thursday, adding that he doesn’t think that a more liberal monetary policy will necessarily boost the economy. “It isn’t enough to set out the water. The horses have to drink too.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

US Has Lost Its Way, Schäuble Thunders

Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble removed his diplomatic gloves on Friday, blasting the United States’ decision to go ahead with a massive economic stimulus measure that could harm Germany.

Using unusually strong language, Schäuble said that the Federal Reserve Bank’s attempt to stimulate the US economy with a €600 billion cash injection did not make sense.

“With all due respect, my impression is that the United States are at a loss,” he said at a BMW foundation event in Berlin. “To now say, ‘we’re now going to have another $600 billion,’ will not solve the problem.”

The move is expected to push down the value of the already weak dollar, which will make German goods more expensive in the US — one of the key markets for Germany’s export-driven economy. While the Fed hopes it will spur demand and keep interest rates low in the US, it is also likely to hit countries that sell to the US, including Germany and China — which has also expressed anger over the move.

The Fed is using what economists call “quantitative easing” — buying up US government bonds to inject cash, or “liquidity,” into the markets — in an effort to give its spluttering economy a kick start.

But Schäuble said the move did not make sense because the country’s problems did not stem from a lack of liquidity. Europe had good reason to worry about the Fed’s intervention into the US economy, he added.

No other European country has criticised the action in such strong terms. Schäuble began his assault on Thursday night, when he told broadcaster ZDF that the Fed had already pumped “an endless amount of money” into the US economy with “horrendous” results.

In a separate interview with broadcaster ARD, he said the Fed’s move could “create additional problems for the world” and vowed to take the issue up with the US at a G20 meeting in South Korea next week.

His remarks also follow repeated criticism from Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle in recent days of the US policy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Greens Can’t Stop Their Scare Tactics

Last year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared CO2 a pollutant and set about banning such emissions to save the planet. Real scientists tried to point out that nature needs CO2 to thrive. OK, so the Greens kind of heard that logic and quickly sought ways to subvert it into a new Frankenstein-style horror story. The result, headlines in The Washington Post (August 31, 2010) that rising CO2 levels are… wait for it… causing poison ivy to grow more prolifically.

Said the Post article, “According to a report in the journal ‘Environmental Health Prospectives’ last year, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has grown by 22 percent since 1960, which may not be good for humans but is great for poison ivy and other vines.” The fact is, rising CO2 levels are good for all plants (and offer no danger to humans) and there is evidence of plant life responding across the boards. But the Greens don’t tell you that. Instead, they pick the one plant that is dangerous to humans and make a big deal out of it growing like, well, like a weed.

The article went on to quote an obligatory scientific “expert,” Jacqueline Mohan, an assistant professor at the University of Georgia’s Odium School of Ecology, who has been studying poison Ivy since 1998. She, of course, used a computer model to look into the future and found that “Tree seedlings grew 8 — 12 percent more (under the increased CO2). But, “Poison Ivy grew 149 percent more.” Breathlessly she pointed out, “Poison Ivy is getting bigger, faster and nastier.” Of course any botanist could attest to the fact that weeds always grow faster than any other plants, especially trees. That’s why gardeners and lawn care experts hate them.

That’s how the whole green propaganda machine has operated for decades, in particular blowing the global warming issue (later abbreviated to just climate change) all out of proportion, predicting global Armageddon unless man changed his ways.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Progressives Increase Their Power Over Obama

While the Democratic Party suffered a bloodbath on November 2, the progressives who basically run the party and control President Obama came out of the elections stronger than ever. They will keep the political pressure on Obama to pursue a far-left agenda, with the implied threat that if he doesn’t comply, he will have a 2012 presidential primary election challenger. The progressives know Obama’s secrets, having backed him since he joined with them in the Chicago New Party, a means by which they moved the Democratic Party to the left.

Glenn Beck on Fox News says that a few progressives managed to survive somehow. In fact, Karen Dolan of the far-left Institute for Policy Studies proudly notes that “the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members”—Reps. Alan Grayson (Fla.), John Hall (N.Y.) and Phil Hare (Ill.). By contrast, as noted by Jim Dean of Democracy of America, only 47 percent of the so-called conservative Blue Dog Democrats won their races.

All of this means that the Democratic Party has moved further to the left, which is exactly where Obama wants it to go. The electoral “shellacking” he talks about came mostly at the expense of the moderate and conservative elements of the party. He never cared about them.

The progressive victories virtually guarantee that Obama, despite his conciliatory talk at his news conference on Wednesday, will not compromise with the House Republican majority. He will instead count on his base and their media allies to put pressure on the GOP to compromise with their leftist agenda or else be branded as obstructionists.

The lesson is not just that the Democratic Party in the House has become more “liberal,” as media pundits like to say, but more “progressive” in a far-left sense. The new head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus is expected to be Rep. Keith Ellison, the leftist Muslim Democrat from Minnesota. He has already sent a letter appealing for the post.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arms Sale Prompts Questions From U.S. House Panel Leaders

The Obama administration’s decision to sell as much as $60 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia has prompted concerns from the top Democrat and Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to a letter being circulated for lawmakers’ signatures.

California Democrat Howard Berman and Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen are seeking support from other members of the U.S. House of Representatives for a letter outlining concerns and questions to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The letter stops short of opposing the sale, which would be the largest in U.S. history if all purchases are made. The package includes Boeing Co. F-15 fighter jets, attack helicopters and satellite-guided bombs. It also contains helicopters made by United Technologies Corp. and advanced radar from Raytheon Co.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Speaker Nancy Pelosi Will Seek to Remain Head of the House Democratic Caucus, Aides Say

Despite steep losses for her party in Tuesday’s elections, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said on Friday that she would run to remain the leader of the House Democrats, even as some of her colleagues urged her to step down.

In a letter to her caucus, Ms. Pelosi, who engineered the Democratic takeover of the House in 2006 but became a favorite target of Republicans, said that many of the remaining House Democrats had encouraged her to try to stay on as the leader after the new Republican majority replaces her as Speaker — an unusual move in light of the rebuke her party received at the polls.

“Based on those discussions, and driven by the urgency of protecting health care reform, Wall Street reform, and Social Security and Medicare, I have decided to run,” Ms. Pelosi wrote in her letter.

[Return to headlines]

The Course & Future of Islamic Feminism

Wednesday: 13 October 2010

Margot Badran in conversation with Yoginder Sikand

Margot Badran is one of the most widely-known scholars of Islamic feminism. A historian by training, she has authored many books including: Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences (Oneworld Press, Oxford, 2009). She is a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington DC and a Senior Fellow at the Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Georgetown University. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand she speaks about the trajectory of Islamic feminism some two decades after it surfaced as a named phenomenon and where she sees it now headed.

From Ahl-AlQuran

Q: One way to understand Islamic feminism is to know how it differs from secular Muslim feminism about which you have written quite extensively. Can you elaborate on these differences?

A: When secular feminism first emerged in sevral Muslim communities early in the 20th century it articulated women’s rights and gender equality in a composite discourse interweaving of nationalist, Islamic modernist, and humanitarian arguments, and later drew upon human rights and democracy arguments. Islamic feminism, which appeared in the late 20th century, grounded the idea of gender equality and gender justice in the Qur’an and other religious sources. Secular feminisms erupted on the scene as nation-based social movementsin Muslim contexts whereas Islamic feminism surfaced in the form of a discourse in the global arena. It was not long before secular feminists accessed Islamic feminist arguments to strengthen their long-fought and exceedingly frustrating campaigns to reform Muslim personal status codes and in making demands in other areas when Islam was given as a pretext for withholding rights. Women activists in Morocco, for example, mobilized a combination of Islamic and secular feminism in pushing for the reform of the Muslim Family Law or Mudawwana. They did this with great success as we witnessed in the 2004 revision, replacing the patriarchal model of the family with an egalitarian model. It is the only instance of a religiously-backed egalitarian Muslim family law in existence and a shining example of what can be achieved by concerted feminist action. However, we must not forget that political will from on high was a necessary ingredient in translating sound arguments into positive law.

Q: Do you agree with the overall secular feminist critique of the notion of the complementarity of sex roles underlying general Muslim understandings? Might there not be some merit in this notion of gender complimentarity which Western and Western-influenced secular Muslim feminists in general do not acknowledge because of their particular way of conceiving gender equality or sameness?

A: Actually it was Islamic feminists who advanced a stringent critique of the notion of complementary gender roles in the family in favor of an egalitarian model of the family backed by strong arguments grounded in their re-readings of the Qur’an. Earlier, Muslim secular feminists—as was then common among feminists in the West—had argued for gender equality in society but accepted the idea of complimentary or unequal gender roles in the family. Muslim secular feminists were influenced by Islamic modernist thinking of the period around the turn of the 20th century which accepted a patriarchal model of the family, using Islamic modernist arguments to call simply for reforms within this model. Secular feminists, for example, demanded that legal controls to be put on men’s exercise of their power and privileges and insisted that men be legally bound to fulfill their end of the bargain and meet their responsibilities. They also demanded an extension of women’s rights in the context of family, especially in the area of divorce and child custody, and demanded controls on men’s practice of polygamy. It was the new interpretive work of the Islamic feminists that produced the idea of full gender equality within the context of the family—a gender equality that accounted for gender difference—as in keeping with Islam.

Q: Much of the focus of Islamic feminism today centers on promoting gender-just personal status or family laws. Given that Muslim personal status laws weight heavily against women this is, of course, understandable. But do you feel that this intensive focus on these laws is somewhat narrow and restrictive and tantamount to depoliticizing Islamic feminism as a potential project for holistic emancipation?…

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

The U.S. Elections and the Middle East: How Many Barack Obamas Do You Need to Change a Light Bulb?

By Barry Rubin

What effect will the congressional elections have on U.S. foreign policy generally and Middle East policy in particular?

It isn’t a matter of the individual candidates, since nobody lost or won who will have some big influence on U.S. policy in the next couple of years. The important factor is to what extent the White House hears the message being delivered by the electorate, which of course is largely concerned with domestic issues. Even, by itself, will a Republican majority in the House of Representatives force any shift since the White House really does control foreign policy?

And so this brings us to the central issue not only for U.S. policy but also for the world today: Is President Barack Obama both pragmatic and a politician, or is he an ideologue who has no grasp of the real world? After almost two years we are still asking this question because very little is really known about this man.

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

U.N. Human Rights Council to Take Aim at New Target: United States

When the United Nations Human Rights Council, a conclave of 47 nations that includes such notorious human rights violators as China, Cuba, Libya and Saudi Arabia, meets in Geneva on Friday, its attentions will be focused on the human rights failings of a country called the United States.

It will hear, among other things, that the U.S. discriminates against Muslims, that its police are barbaric and that it has been holding political prisoners behind bars for years.

Those allegations, and many more, will come from Americans themselves — especially from a stridently critical network of U.S. organizations whose input dominates the U.N. digest of submissions from “civil society” that are part of the council’s background reading.

Will the occasion be a teachable moment, or an anti-American circus?


But according to the U.S. State Department, which is leading a delegation of high-level American diplomats and government officials to Geneva, the Periodic Review is a major opportunity for Washington to lead the rest of the world by example.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

U.S.-Based Website: Stab Politicians to Death

Islamic group targets British lawmakers who voted for war in Iraq

A U.S.-based website encouraging followers to stab members of British parliament has published a list of U.K. lawmakers who voted for war in Iraq and even giving instructions on where to purchase a knife. last April infamously warned the creators of “South Park” to be “afraid for their lives” after the cartoon depicted the Islamic figure Muhammad.

Now the Washington-based site is praising a British woman, Roshonara Choudhry, who tried to stab a parliamentarian to death in May for voting for the Iraq war.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Watchdog: ACORN Bankruptcy a ‘Hoax’

Analyst says radical group plans to come back under a new name

WASHINGTON — ACORN’s self-reported death has been greatly exaggerated, according to a political analyst who’s been studying the radical community activist group for two years.

CEO Bertha Lewis announced on Election Day that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is declaring bankruptcy, but ACORN is already planning to reorganize under a new name, says analyst Matthew Vadum.

“This is a public relations head fake,” Vadum told WND. “This is a hoax. ACORN did not die and will not die at the conclusion of the bankruptcy proceeding. ACORN thinks Americans are stupid.”


He asserted that sources within ACORN have confirmed that the organization is not really planning to dissolve.


But ACORN is not a benign social welfare organization, in Vadum’s view.

“The group is all about corruption and about promoting big government by any means possible, in accordance with the teachings of the late Saul Alinsky,” said Vadum.


“These are dangerous radical people who don’t believe in the American system,” Vadum asserted.

“ACORN is a shell corporation that runs hundreds of nonprofit affiliates,” Vadum told WND. “It is going bankrupt, but it’s not going away, it is simply changing into a new legal form. ACORN is altering its organizational structure because the ACORN brand has been destroyed.”

ACORN suffered two recent public relations disasters that crippled fundraising efforts, according to Vadum.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Wind Turbines Jammin’ Jet Radar Signals

‘Stealth’ technology adapted to keep defenders from losing airliners in sky

BOSTON — The U.S. military has noticed a problem with the wind turbines environmentalists are fond of installing across the nation’s landscape: they jam military radar and create the possibility that an airplane could be hidden in the sky because of the bounce from those waving blades.

The solution, however, may be soon to arrive. A proposal from Vestas Technologies is offering hope.

Blades on current turbines now tend to bounce radar, causing havoc in military circles. Now Ian Chatting, an official with Vestas, says the material is being modified.

“What we’ve done is modify some of the glass fiber using a process that is confidential to Vestas and we spent quite a lot of research and time creating. So we modified the materials that are actually in the blade and used in the blade in normal circumstances,” Chatting said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Alarm in Spanish Press Over 10-Year-Old Mum

Spain’s press reacted with alarm Wednesday to news that a 10-year-old girl had given birth.

Newspapers expressed shock at the delighted reaction of the mother of the girl, who reportedly moved from Romania to the small southern Spanish town of Lebrija three weeks earlier.

Photographed smiling outside their modest apartment block, the baby’s grandmother, identified only as Olimpia, was quoted telling reporters that she and her only daughter were “very happy” after the birth.

The father of the 2.9-kilo (6.4-pound) baby was 13 years old and had remained in Romania, she said, describing him as her daughter’s former boyfriend.

The young mother “is very well, very well, like the daughter who is very well and very pretty,” Olimpia was quoted as saying.

The 10-year-old, discharged after three days at a hospital in nearby Jerez where she gave birth, “is very happy with her daughter. This is a great joy. It is not a drama,” she reportedly said.

Olimpia could not understand the fuss because “this is the age we get married in Romania,” said the Andalucia daily Diario de Jerez, which broke the story.

National daily El Pais said the number of births to girls aged under 15 in Spain had climbed to 178 births in 2008 from 80 in 1997.

It also cited 2008 national statistics showing 386 abortions performed on 14-year-old girls. In the same year, there was also one abortion for a 10-year-old girl and one for a nine-year-old girl.

According to the paper, experts disagreed on the physiological risks from giving birth so early.

If the mother had not yet completed her development or was malnourished, she could face serious risks, and her own development could even be interrupted, gynaecologist Manuel Alonso was quoted as saying.

Another expert, Javier Martinez Salmean, head of gynaecology at the Severo Ochoa Hospital in Leganes, central Spain, said everything depended on the girl’s development.

“If she has completed her development and the minor has been cared for there is no reason that there should be a complication,” he said.

Giving birth at such a young age presented serious psychological and social risks, El Pais said. “The body of a minor may be ready for a baby but a girl is not ready to be a mother,” child psychologist Carolina Fernandez said.

The daily El Publico quoted legal sources as saying Spain could not take action if the baby was conceived in Romania, outside of Spanish jurisdiction. If the father was only 13, he would not in any case have criminal responsibility for sexual relations with a minor, it said.

Local authorities are considering whether social services should take responsibility of the girl and her baby, or whether they can remain with their family.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: BDW: “As if I Was a Mental Case”

The leader of the Flemish nationalist party, Bart De Wever, is filing a complaint against a Walloon psychiatrist who analysed the N-VA leader’s personality in an article in the daily La Dernière Heure.

The complaint is being filed with the Order of Physicians, the body that is legally responsible for this profession. The psychiatrist had described Mr De Wever as a “child king”, an ego centric personality who seeks supreme power.

The psychiatrist alleged that Mr De Wever wants to be hated by Francophones, a characteristic that also points to his enormous urge to amass power. The doctor added that the Flemish will discover how difficult it is to discuss matters with such a dominant personality.

Mr De Wever feels that these pronouncements are beyond the pale: “The guy concerned has never seen me, never examined me, but he did feel the need to splash his diagnosis in the whole media as if I was a mental case. I routinely get a hard time in the Francophone press. I can take that. I’m not narrow-minded. But there are certain limits which I believe should not be exceeded. Labelling political opponents as “mad” smacks of Soviet practices and I do ask myself the question, when people read this, what do they think.”

As far as the latest political developments are concerned Mr De Wever says that he will not be making any pronouncements that will make the job of mediator Johan Vande Lanotte (Flemish socialist) more difficult. He is pleased that people are once again talking, but does not believe that a breakthrough is guaranteed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgian Officer Who Criticised ‘Flemish-isation’ Reinstated

A French-speaking colonel in the Belgian army, who was relieved of his command after having denounced a “Flemish-isation” of Belgium’s army, was reinstated on Tuesday by a top administrative court.

Luc Gennart, who was prevented from taking part in a military ceremony last week and ordered to relinquish his post four weeks early on November 3, was told he was free to return to his command, Belga news agency reported.

Gennart fanned the flames of longstanding linguistic differences between Belgium’s French-speaking Walloons and Flemings by suggesting that Dutch-speakers controlled the Belgian army.

“The Flemings decide everything,” Gennart told RTBF public television station in unusually blunt remarks for the military, with the French-speakers “shunted aside,” he said, either sent “to schools or overseas.”

His remarks come amid an ongoing political crisis in Belgium, which remains without a new government four months after elections.

Last week, King Albert II tasked a Flemish socialist senator to mediate between French speaking parties and breakaway-minded Flemish hardliners.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Belgium: Female Circumcision: A Growing Threat Here

Some 8,000 women have been circumcised in Belgium or are in danger of becoming a victim of this practice. The figure is an estimate by researchers at the Tropical Medicine Institute in Antwerp.

The largest number of victims live in Brussels and Antwerp.

Female circumcision is a form of mutilation of the female genitalia. The practice is most prevalent in tropical Africa, especially in countries with an Islamic background.

Few reliable figures are available. Belgian research dating from 2003 came to the conclusion that 3,000 women had undergone female circumcision in this country, though the figure did not take account of women who had acquired Belgian nationality and asylum seekers.

The latest research does and also includes the daughters of women who have been circumcised born during the past twelve years. This is because they are at risk of undergoing this form of mutilation.

Researchers have identified 1,190 girls under five years of age who are at risk as well as 1,690 girls in the 15 to 20 age category who are in danger of undergoing the practice during a holiday in their mother’s country of origin.

An estimated 5,000 women are believed to have actually undergone female circumcision in Belgium.

The research at the Tropical Medicine Institute was commissioned by the Belgian Health Ministry.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Biggest Number of Asylum Seekers in EU in Cyprus

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, NOVEMBER 1 — Belgian State Secretary for Migration and Asylum Policy Melchior Wathelet has said that Cyprus has the biggest number of asylum seekers in the EU, in relation to its population. Speaking after talks with Interior Minister Neoklis Sylikiotis, as daily Famagusta Gazette reports, Wathelet said that Cyprus, since it joined the EU in May 2004, has to deal with much bigger challenges than in the past.

He thanked Nicosia for its support of a common asylum system by 2012 and for backing the relevant EU law, adding that these matters are priority issues for the six monthly EU rotating presidency which Belgium now holds. Cyprus, he said speaking through an interpreter, has undertaken many responsibilities and adopted measures to accelerate the asylum procedures for different categories of asylum seekers. The Belgian official also said that he expects that the forthcoming EU ministerial justice and home affairs council will discuss solidarity among member states and distribution of burdens on asylum issues.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Completely Genuine and Sincere’: The Shadowy Organisation That Wants to Give the UK Billions for NOTHING

A mysterious organisation called Foundation X has offered the British Government £5billion and wants nothing in return, according to a Tory peer.

The old saying tells us that there’s no such thing as a free lunch and in these testing economic times, an offer of no-strings cash seems far too good to believe.

Yet Lord James of Blackheath told the House of Lords he had been in discussions with the group and had urged coalition ministers to take accept the multi-billion cash injection.

Scroll down to see video

Though the alleged offer seems more suited to the type of advance-fee fraud found in the spam folders of email addresses across the globe, Lord James claims Foundation X is ‘completely genuine and sincere’.

Lord James, made a Conservative peer by former Tory leader Michael Howard following the 2005 general election, suggested prime minister David Cameron or high-ranking Cabinet ministers such as George Osborne or Liam Fox should contact Foundation X to claim an initial booty of £5bn, with a purported £12bn to follow before the end of the year.

Speaking in the Lords, 72-year-old James said the British government would receive an immediate £5bn and a total of £17bn by Christmas if Foundation X were ‘contacted by someone equal to head of state status or someone with an international security rating equal to the top six people in the world’.

‘There will be no interest charge and if the Government would like it as well, it will put up money for funding hospitals, schools and the building of Crossrail,’ he said.

‘These things can be done but a senior member of the Government has to accept the invitation to a phone call to the chairman of Foundation x.’

Ending his 15-minute address on Monday, Lord James remarked: ‘This is too big an issue. I am just an ageing, obsessive old peer and I am easily dispensable, but getting to the truth is not.

‘We need to know what really is happening here. We must find out the truth of this situation.’

[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Bomb Threat Called Off

Bomb squad called out to German Embassy after suspicious package found

Emergency services immediately gathered at the embassy (Photo:Scanpix)

The German embassy in Copenhagen was evacuated this morning and police sent for the bomb squad after finding a suspicious-looking package.

“It seemed suspicious that the embassy would receive such a package, and with what happened in Athens and the letter to Angela Merkel we are a bit cautious” a police spokesman told Berlingske Tidene newspaper.

The package was reportedly no bigger than a book and contained metal objects.

The scare comes only a few days after Greece stopped all its air freight after authorities intercepted several letter bombs addressed to the European Court of Justice, Europol, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as the Russian and Swiss embassies in Athens.

Police set up barricades around the embassy, which is situated on Stockholmsgade. Ambulances, fire engines and military vehicles were all at the scene.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe Under Islam by 2050

Already, religion has ‘intimidated’ and ‘frightened’ free world

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A senior fellow of the International Strategic Studies Association is warning that political Islam could be in control of Europe by as early as 2050, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The comments come from Assad Homayoun, a senior fellow with the Washington-based association.

“Political Islam, resorting to asymmetrical warfare and terrorism,” he said, “has already intimidated a tired and perplexed Europe and has frightened the U.S.

“It seems that the U.S. and the democratic West do not have a sound strategy to deal with political Islam,” he added. “The West appears to have no strategy or will to prevent a shifting of power, or to guard Western culture, civilization and democracy.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe Rights Court Criticises France for Police Brutality

Europe’s rights court on Thursday criticised France for being too soft on police brutality in a case involving a teenager who suffered physical abuse at a police station.

Yassine Darraj, who was 16 at the time of the incident in 2001, sustained serious injuries including a fractured testicle after being taken to a police station outside Paris for an identity check.

A domestic court in 2004 sentenced two police officers to suspended terms of four and eight months for assault, but their responsibility was mitigated in an appeal to a lesser offence of involuntary wounding and they were fined 800 euros (1,120 dollars).

The applicant’s subsequent request for legal aid was rejected due to lack of any serious ground to appeal.

In its ruling, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) said that Darraj had been treated in such a way as to arouse feelings of fear, anguish and inferiority capable of humiliating and debasing him and possibly breaking his physical and moral resistance.

“Such treatment had thus been unhuman and degrading,” the court said.

The court described the punishment meted out to the two officers as minimal and with little deterrent effect.

The court “had to intervene in cases of manifest disproportion between the seriousness of the act and the punishment in question,” the ruling said.

France was ordered to pay Darraj 15,000 euros in damages and 4,000 euros in expenses.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Saudi Royalty Buys Paris’ Crillon Hotel: Source

The luxury Crillon hotel, a top name in Paris tourism, has been sold to Saudi Arabian investors close to the royal family for about 250 million euros (355 million dollars), sources close to the sale told AFP on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Woman Sentenced for Attacking Muslim Veil-Wearer

A French court Thursday slapped a one-month suspended jail sentence on a retired female teacher who attacked a woman in a shop for wearing a face-covering Islamic veil.

The Paris court heard that the defendant, who had worked in several Arab countries, set upon a 26-year-old Emirati woman in a shop, first trying to tug off her niqab veil and then slapping, scratching and biting her on the hand.

“I knew that I was going to crack one day. This burqa business was beginning to annoy me,” the defendant told police, saying she was fighting for women’s rights, according to evidence heard in court.

France last month passed a law to ban the wearing of the niqab and other face-coverings in public places, a controversial move in a country with Europe’s biggest Muslim population, estimated at nearly six million.

The court ruled Thursday the defendant’s “violent behaviour reveals an intolerance of others that defies explanation and denies cohabitation and dialogue between people who have different ways of life or opposing beliefs.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Politician Rachida Dati’s Brother Detained for Drugs

Jamal Dati, brother of European Parliament member and former French justice minister Rachida Dati, was arrested by Belgian police after being caught at the border carrying drugs, judicial sources said Thursday.

Dati was arrested on Wednesday afternoon when driving across the border from Maastricht in The Netherlands with 30 grammes of heroin and five grammes of marijuana.

The 38-year-old, who was placed behind bars in Liege, is facing charges of “importing drugs”.

The former minister’s younger brother, Jamal was given a one-year sentence in France in August 2007 for drug dealing……

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Geneva Study Shows How Light Affects the Brain

University of Geneva scientists, working with others from England and Belgium, participate in a study that shows how the brain affects emotions in response to different kinds of light. Sophie Schwartz, from the university’s centre for neuroscience, tells Swisster about the significance of the research, which further explains seasonal affective disorder and why bright days can lift our spirits.

With winter drawing on and days getting shorter, many people who usually have normal mental health suffer from depression due to lack of sunlight, particularly in places where grey skies predominate at this time of year.

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a well-known phenomenon, one that disappears on bright days when the sunshine returns, thanks to changes in the brain that have not been well understood — until now.

Researchers at the University of Geneva have concluded a study that shows how the brain responds to blue light, a part of the light spectrum that is often in short supply in the winter, particularly in northern Europe.

The research found that “blue light found in daylight has an immediate effect on the way our brain affects our emotions,” Sophie Shwartz, a neuroscientist from the university, told Swisster.

Such ambient blue light “activates a visual pathway in the brain that is not actually used for vision but for synchronizing all sorts of biological functions such as hormonal secretions and sleep-wake cycles”, Schwartz said.

“This is like a first step in the neural basis for understanding the effect of light on the brain,” she said.

Schwartz, who is trained as both a biologist and a psychologist, works for the university’s Geneva Neuroscience Centre and the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences.

She was among the lead scientists involved in the “light-brain” multi-disciplinary research, which was conducted in conjunction with the Sleep Research Centre of England’s University of Surrey and the Cyclotron Research Centre at the University of Liege in Belgium.

“It was really a collaboration,” Schwartz said.

Data was gathered at the University of Liege from monitoring healthy volunteers whose brains were analysed as they were exposed to blue light and green light.

Brain activity was recorded while the they listened to “angry voices” and “neutral voices”.

“The idea was to test the response of the brain to these emotional stimuli,” Schwartz said.

The findings showed that blue light increased responses to the stimuli in the “voice area” of the brain and in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory processes.

This light also led to a tighter interaction between a part of the brain that regulates emotions and the hypothalamus, which responds to light to regulate biological rhythms.

Under blue light, the brain “reacts appropriately to emotions and activates a network of regions that do not function well in people who are depressed,” Schwartz said.

The same reaction was not found among subjects placed under the green light, which is known for not lifting moods.

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an American scientific journal.

Among the next steps in the research is to find out if there is any scientific basis for believing that blue lights and the use of “light therapy” can keep people who suffer from winter depression in a good mood.

Schwartz noted that lighting in homes, offices and workplaces normally does not have the blue light believed to have a beneficial affect.

Full-spectrum lights are available, but she did not know whether their cost would be prohibitive for workplaces or homes.

SAD was first formally identified less than 30 years ago by scientists at the US National Institute of Mental Health.

Initially, it was a disputed disorder but further studies have buttressed the belief that light can have a significant impact on mental health.

The research conducted by the University of Geneva and its collaborators highlights the need to pay “more attention to our light environment at home and in the work place,” the authors say.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Police Arrest Islamist Bomb Threat Suspect

German police arrested a man on Friday over videos published on the Internet threatening bomb attacks unless an Islamist jailed earlier this year is released, authorities said.

The man, who has not been named, was arrested in Neunkirchen in western Germany. Police were due to release more details at a news conference at around 4:00 pm.

Last month, three videos appeared on the Internet calling for Daniel Schneider to be released or sent to Afghanistan by the end of November. If not, the videos warned of bomb attacks in Germany.

A German convert to Islam, Schneider was one of four members of the so-called Sauerland cell jailed in March for a thwarted plot to attack US soldiers and civilians in Germany.

Schneider, who was jailed for 12 years, released a statement through his lawyer distancing himself from the videos and saying he did not know who was behind them.

News of the arrest came as two people went on trial in Berlin for allegedly disseminating Islamic extremist propaganda on the Internet and raising funds for banned groups.

One of those on trial was Filiz Gelowicz, 29, the wife of another member of the Sauerland cell, Fritz Gelowicz. She appeared in court wearing an Islamic dress covering everything except her eyes.

The other defendant was named only as Alican T., 21. The two were charged in August.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘Mud-Slinging Won’t Stop Me’ Says Berlusconi

Premier offers Fini’s party ‘pact’ to see out term

(ANSA) — Rome, November 4 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi vowed to press on despite mud-slinging he said was whipped up by opponents thanks to allegedly leftist prosecutors, referring to allegations about his private life.

“I want them to know that the campaigns of mud founded on lies won’t stop me,” Berlusconi told the executive of his People of Freedom (PdL) party.

The government’s critics “keep repeating like a rhyme that the government isn’t doing anything and forgetting the country’s interests,” he claimed, but “we have never failed to do our duty,” he said, claiming Italy had “become a protagonist once more”.

Berlusconi cited trade diplomacy, peace-keeping missions and his own performances at international summits, where he has wooed leaders with a less stuffy approach.

Insisting that he would “stay as long as Italians give me their backing,” Berlusconi reiterated the PdL’s rejection of a possible alternative short-term government to take the country to elections with a new electoral law, as mooted by the centre left.

“Italy doesn’t need just any government but one that that is in the fullness of its powers, not a so-called ‘technical’ government that would overturn the popular will.

“To the gentlemen of the left I say: If you want to shelve Berlusconi you’ll have to ask the people, you can’t do it with a palace plot, the Italians wouldn’t allow that”.

The premier said he was ready to forge a pact to see out his term until 2013 with a breakaway group under House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, challenging Fini’s fledgling Future and Freedom (FLI) party to “pull out the plug” if it wanted a snap election.

The term pact would be based on a revamped five-point platform the PdL and FLI backed in September along with his key ally the Northern League, Berlusconi said.

One of the points would be justice reform, where he denied any intention of bringing judges and prosecutors to heel, under the executive.

Keeping an independent judiciary has consistently been one of the issues Fini has held up as a deal-breaker.

Earlier, Berlusconi and Fini were seen to chat in public for the first time in months, and the premier was overheard telling his former heir-apparent that the media storm over a teenage runaway belly dancer and claims of parties with prostitutes was “incredible”.

In other points, Berlusconi promised to open up the PdL to more internal democracy with regular meetings at the local and national level.

One of Fini’s other bugbears, before he was ejected from the PdL in July, was that the premier ran the party “like a barracks”.

Berlusconi again denied this, saying “there is so much democracy in our movement that on no fewer than seven occasions, and I counted them, I went along with decisions taken by the majority on the executive despite not agreeing with them”.

The PdL leader vowed to turn what has sometimes been characterised as a ‘plastic’ or ‘virtual’ party into one with one million paid-up members.

In early reactions, a leading FLI MP, Fabio Granata, called the speech “disappointing” and said his party’s founding convention in Perugia this weekend would open a “new page in Italian politics”.

Analysts said this could mean, the FLI, which has 37 MPs that hold the balance in the House, might have decided to bring the government down.

Or it might just mean they were going to formally pull out of the government while backing it “from outside”, a traditional ploy in the old-school jockeying for position that marked Italian politics before Berlusconi filled the vacuum left by the Tangentopoli (Bribesville) scandals of the early 1990s.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Government Purchases 22 Finmeccanica Helicopters

Rome, 2 Nov. (AKI) — Italy will spend 1.2 billion euros to purchase 22 military helicopters produced by Finmeccanica’s Agusta Westland unit, Italian business daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.

The order will be partly financed by the Italian industry ministry and consists of 10 AW 139 and 12 AW 101 helicopters, the report said.

The purchase was approved by a senate defence committee on 13 Oct.

Finmeccanica is Italy’s biggest military contractor.

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

Lego Ready for Blastoff

Danish toymaker will provide a symbolic link between Earth and space

One of Lego’s iconic figurines will be on board the space shuttle discovery when it blasts off in its final mission from Cape Canaveral next year.

The event marks the signing of a three-year partnership between the Billund-based toymaker and Nasa aimed at inspiring children into science, technology, engineering and math.

The company has invested many years of cooperation and research with educators and child development specialists,” said president of Lego Education Jacob Kragh. “The Lego Group’s mission is to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow. Our partnership with Nasa will help us in this mission,” he added.

In February 2011 more than a dozen Lego activities will be flown to the International Space Station (ISS). Astronauts will build Lego models, complete educational activities, and record the results.

“These projects not only foster creativity but also instill in the young builders a real sense of the engineering and design principles that NASA uses every day,” said Leland Melvin, NASA’s associate administrator for Education. “Fun learning activities like these can help inspire kids to become the next generation of explorers.”

Activities will include the exploration of daily life on the ISS and the effect of microgravity on various simple machines.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Neo-Nazi Takes Seat in Local Swedish Council

A newly elected municipal council representative from a neo-Nazi nationalist party started his first day as an elected official in western Sweden with a lesson on the ABCs of democracy.

Before the lesson, Daniel Höglund, who is also the leader of the Party of Swedes (Svenskarnas parti, SVP), appeared pleased to take part in the class.

“Good,” he said before the lesson on Thursday.

“This is totally new for me.”

In the 2010 general elections, the SVP won 102 votes, or 2.8 percent, in the Grästorp municipal elections in western Sweden’s Västra Götaland county, giving the party its sole seat in any elected office in Sweden.

The Party of Swedes is typically described as a neo-Nazi party and its sees “the current chaos” as a result of democracy. It wants to replace democracy with another governmental system.

In the meantime, Höglund intends to follow all political rules that apply to an elected city council member.

“We have ambitions in the long run,” said Höglund.

The party is formerly known as the People’s Front (Folkfronten) and was founded by members of the former National Socialist Front (Nationalsocialistisk front, NSF), of which Höglund was also one of the two leaders, in November 2008.

At the time it dissolved, NSF was the largest neo-Nazi political party in Sweden. It became a political party on April 20th 1999, the 110th birthday of Adolf Hitler.

The Party of Swedes’ win is its first-ever in party history. The last time an extreme-right white nationalist party held elected office in Sweden was nearly 70 years ago during the Second World War.

In addition to the Party of Swedes, the Sweden Democrats also won a seat in the last election, but its seat remained empty at Thursday’s meeting after the party’s representative resigned.

An extremely discreet level of security was discernable outside the concert hall where the meeting was held, but no protesters were present. The meeting covered only the election. The budget and other decisions will be tabled on November 25th.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Nightmare Scenario of Dutch Referendum Returns to Haunt EU

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — The nightmare scenario of another referendum on a change to the EU treaty in the Netherlands, five years after the country rejected the bloc’s proposed constitution, could return to haunt European leaders, with the hard-right Dutch Freedom Party (PVV) of Geert Wilders on Tuesday (2 November) announcing it is considering proposing just such a vote.

The announcement comes days after the opposition Socialist Party also called for a referendum. The SP was one of the leaders of the successful No campaign in 2005 that defeated the EU constitution in the country.

MP Louis Bontes of the anti-immigrant PVV, which is part of the governing coalition pact, said his faction in the parliament may push for a referendum if the penalties for countries in breach of new EU fiscal rules are not strict enough.

According to the deputy, the PVV is to propose a specific treaty change itself and not wait for EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy to come back to the European Council in December with fresh proposals for changes, as he was tasked to do by EU premiers and presidents last Friday.

The party has yet to outline what changes it will suggest, but they could include specific provisions for tough penalties for spendthrift EU member states going beyond what EU leaders had been willing to countenance.

If the party’s proposals are not accepted, then will then consider pushing for a referendum on the matter.

“Then we will ask the citizens whether they are prepared to impose an obligation for countries like Greece and Spain in return for financial help,” he said, according to Dutch press reports.

The left-wing Socialist Party, one of the leaders of the No campaign in 2005 against the EU constitution, claiming that the dud EU charter had favoured the interests of businesses over citizens, has already endorsed the idea that another referendum should be called.

On Friday, MP Harry Van Bommel, the party’s spokesman for EU affairs and the deputy chair of the parliament’s standing committee on the same subject, said that if a treaty change is approved by the European Council, it will call for a referendum.

“We are very happy to have the support of the PVV in our push for a referendum,” he told EUobserver, “and that they are willing to look into the issue as well.”

Mr Van Bommel was keen to stress that his party’s opposition to the treaty change was for different reasons to that of the PVV.

“They are more concerned that we not pay out to poorer countries whereas we are more worried that the proposed changes limit a nation’s policy space in the social arena,” he explained.

He said that with the two parties backing the idea, the passage of a referendum proposal in parliament hinged on the support of the largest opposition group, the Labour Party, which sits in opposition with the further left SP, both of which have yet to pronounce on the issue.

“It all depends on the Labour party,” Mr Van Bommel said. “If the Labour Party backs us, then we have a parliamentary majority. If they don’t, it’s the opposite.”

He said he does not expect the Labour Party to offer any firm commitment before President Van Rompuy reports back in December.

The governing conservative liberals of the VVD and the centre-right Christian Democrats have rejected the referendum idea.

Under the proposed new EU rules, Brussels will watch over the spending decisions of all EU states to make sure they are “competitive.” Eurozone governments that get into debt too deeply will have stiff punishments meted out to them.

Leaders were petrified that any major change to the EU treaties would set off a chain of referendums in the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and possibly elsewhere, which they are convinced they would lose, as voters have their say on how leaders should have handled the economic crisis.

The Dutch prime minister and the other leaders last Friday signed off on a treaty amendment only so long as the change envisaged was “small, small, small — the smallest possible,” according to a Danish diplomat, “in order to ensure there is no possibility of referendums.”

EU President Herman Van Rompuy has been tasked to go away and come up with a “surgical” — perhaps just two-line — incision to the EU treaty by December.

One national diplomat described to this website the unwritten anti-referendum pact reached at the EU summit: “The move was specifically formulated to ensure that there is no possibility whatsoever that there can be any referendums. Whether this will work or not, I don’t know.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Protesters Rally Against Pope’s Visit to Spain

Thousands of activists rallied Thursday in Barcelona against a weekend visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Spain, attacking the Church on multiple fronts including child sexual abuse by priests.

“Jo no t’espero” (“I’m not waiting for you” in Catalan) declared banners carried by a crowd of more than 2,000 people in the Sant-Jaume Square in the historic part of this Mediterranean port city.

“Children welcome, priests flee,” said one placard carried by a child, referring to the child sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church worldwide but largely spared Spain.

“I am here because this is a secular state and I want to defend it,” said one activist, Nuria Barrachina, a 34-year-old office worker who was there with her husband.

“I don’t like priests,” added 62-year-old Sebastian Carbajal.

“Once and for all the Spanish government should separate Church and state,” he said. Carbajal called on the government to end an option on income tax forms that lets taxpayers give 0.7 percent of their taxes to the Church.

Gloria Lopez, a 35-year-old teacher, said she believed half of the taxes paid in Spain went to the Roman Catholic Church. “There is Catholic propoganda everywhere because they have got the money we give them.”

The pontiff travels to Santiago de Compostela, one of Catholicism’s holiest sites, on Saturday before continuing to Barcelona to consecrate Antonio Gaudi’s iconic unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia church.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Saudis Discuss Buying Tanks From Spain, No Deal Signed

A senior Saudi Arabian official discussed buying Spain’s Leopard 2E tanks here Tuesday but no deal was signed for a contract reportedly worth up to three billion euros, a Spanish government official said.

Visiting Prince Khaled bin Sultan, the Saudi assistant defence minister, discussed the possible contract in a meeting with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, the official told AFP.

Saudi Arabia “showed interest in the acquisition of battle tanks and Spain believes it has the tanks Saudi Arabia needs in terms of quality and competitive price,” the official said.

No decision on the contract would be taken during this visit, however, the official said.

“We hope that the Spanish military industry can meet Saudi Arabia’s needs but other countries are interested (in the Saudi contract),” the official added.

Spain was working to conclude a deal and negotiations could last weeks or months, the source said, adding that another Saudi delegation would visit to assess the tanks’ technical specifications.

Prince Khaled arrived in Spain Monday and met with King Juan Carlos before seeing the Spanish prime minister Tuesday. He is making the trip in place of his father, Saudi Defence Minister and Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdel Aziz, who diplomats say is unwell.

The daily El Pais said last week that the talks could lead to Spain’s biggest-ever military export deal.

El Pais underlined however that signing the contract would be conditional on approval from Germany’s Kraus-Maffei and Rheinmetall group, which holds the patents for the Leopard.

A defence industry union official told AFP last week there was a possibility of a deal on the tanks but nothing concrete yet.

Raul Alvarez, who is in charge of the defence industry sector of the major union Comisiones Obreras, said any sale could involve around 200 of the 2E combat tanks, a variant of Germany’s Leopard adapted by the Spanish army and built in Spain by General Dynamics-Santa Barbara.

The Saudis signed a military cooperation agreement with Spain in 2008, which up to now has mainly been limited to training Saudi pilots on the Eurofighter at its southern air base of Moron.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Fifa Investigates Pact With Qatar for World Cup

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, OCTOBER 28 — The general director of the committee for Spain and Portugal’s bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup, Miguel Angel Lopez, acknowledged that Fifa opened a preliminary investigation to ascertain whether there was a pact with the candidature of Qatar, which is hoping to host the 2022 Word Cup, for a trade of votes, as reported today by daily newspaper Marca.

In statement to the Efe agency, Lopez guaranteed full cooperation to Fifa during the investigation and stated that he fully believed that the investigation “will end in a puff of smoke because there was no wrongdoing, nor any agreement with other candidatures”.

The director of the Spanish/Portuguese candidature minimised the importance of the investigation, which in his opinion does not influence the chances of the two countries of hosting the 2018 World Cup event: “What is important is that we did our work with top level stadiums, communications and transport which are already available and unquestionable organisation skills”. Fifa’s executive Committee, which met today and will finish work tomorrow in the Zurich offices, will decide on December 2 what countries will be awarded the 2018 World Cup. The list of countries also includes England, Russia, and Holland/Belgium.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Controversy Grows Around 10-Year-Old Mother

The Public Prosecutor’s office in Seville has opened an investigation into case of the 10-year-old Rumanian girl, who gave birth on October 26th in a hospital in Jerez de la Frontera.

The family has so far avoided all contact with the social services, but now the authorities want to know exactly how long the girl has been in Spain, whether she has been attending school since she has been here and whether she received the proper medical care during the latter stages of her pregnancy.

José Chamizo, the public defender for Andalusia, with special responsibility for children, said it was important to “inform and advise those of gypsy or Rumanian origin” living in Spain of the risks of a pregnancy at such a young age, which could have been life-threatening to the mother.

Chamizo also believes that the girl will need support from a psychologist to come to terms with the “difficulties” of becoming a mother at such a young age, and said it was important for the social services to remain in close contact with the girl, without separating her from her child.

The Rumanian embassy in Spain has expressed its indignation at claims by the girl’s mother this week that her daughter’s pregnancy was “nothing to get excited about” and that child pregnancies were “normal” in her country. Sources within the embassy confirm that the comments have left them “upset and surprised by the image of Rumania being portrayed” by this family.

On behalf of the Rumanian community in Spain, the embassy spokesperson has explained that the news of a 10-year-old giving birth “has caused as much surprise in Rumania as it has here” in Spain and that it is certainly “not a normal occurrence”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: King Won’t Sue Publisher Over Tell-All Book

Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf and the Royal Court have decided not to sue Lind & Co, the publisher of the book filled filled with previously unpublished details about the King’s private life.

Swedes flocked to bookstores Thursday when the unofficial, tell-all biography “Carl XVI Gustaf — the reluctant monarch” (“Carl XVI Gustaf — Den motvillige monarken”) — the first of its kind in Sweden — went on sale on Thursday, providing details of wild parties and affairs with young women.

“We will not continue to pursue this,” Royal Court press director Nina Eldh told Aftonbladet on Friday.

She added that it was the King’s own choice to address the assembled press corp in Hunneberg outside Trollhättan on Thursday following the end of the elk hunt. In addition, he prepared what he would say by himself.

“The king is a wise man. They were his own words and what he wanted to say about this matter,” said Eldh.

According to Eldh, the court will not open legal proceedings against the authors, adding she believed it was important for the king to speak up about it.

“It shows his strength that he is going about ‘business as usual.’ He held the press conference despite the fact that 58 journalists showed up instead of five. I think it is admirable,” she said.

When asked whether it would have been possible for a member of the King’s large staff to read the book before he spoke, Eldh noted that he only received the book on Wednesday and that he will likely not comment further on the book.

Shelves were empty in a number of bookstores across Stockholm and the publisher reportedly decided to print an additional batch of 20,000 copies.

“We had ordered in 100 copies, but they ran out in an hour or two. “It’s quite unusual to sell so many books in such a short period of time,” Nicklas Björkholm, the head of the Hedengrens Book Store in the heart of the Swedish capital, told AFP.

The three authors of the book, journalists Thomas Sjöberg, Deanne Rauscher and Tove Meyer, claim to provide a picture of what the king “is like as a person and how he is perceived by the people in his entourage.”

They detail his youth and accession to the throne at the age of 27, but a large portion of the book’s 338 pages are dedicated to describing the king and his friends’ constant partying and playing around with young women.

It was “girls à la carte for the king gang,” the authors write, relying largely on anonymous sources to describe numerous indiscretions, including with Army of Lovers lead singer Camilla Henemark, who they say had a year-long affair with the monarch at the end of the 1990s.

“She knew Queen Silvia knew, but also that there was a risk that it wouldn’t stop there. She was afraid she would become Sweden’s most hated woman if her affair with the country’s monarch became publicly known,” the book says of Henemark.

The book also describes how Sweden’s head of state put himself in danger by partying at dubious clubs, one of them in Stockholm owned by an ex-con, reportedly one of the main sources for the book.

Anticipation ahead of the release had been building for weeks in Sweden, with rumours of the book’s scandalous content circulating, but few actual details leaking out in advance.

The authors have hinted to media they withheld the juiciest details from the public eye —- for now.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland Ups Counter Cyber Terrorism Measures

The federal Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) employs a new tool to vet .ch websites used or infiltrated by hackers or foreign governments seeking to steal data for criminal, financial or political gain. A report issued this week by Bern says that MELANI has uncovered 145 infected sites since April, which have since been blocked.

With no respect for frontiers and about as easy as an invisible sniper to pinpoint, cyber espionage has reached a level of sophistication and intrigue that would make John Le Carré’s head spin.

The trend might also be challenging the author’s vocabulary. As hacking continues to rise, so does the lexicon of weapons used to infiltrate computers all over the world.

“Blasters”, “sassers”, “slammers”, “dialers”, “buzus” and “phishing” are just some of the tools used to cripple IT networks, or help themselves to credit card numbers, passwords, business secrets, email accounts, mobile phone numbers, not to mention cash.

In an effort to tackle the growing trend in cyber espionage, Switzerland’s Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) has quietly been vetting .ch sites for signs of hacking.

A “new tool” — similar to anti-virus software, which searches for suspect code fragments — is used to uncover bogus sites or those that have been compromised.

Officials said earlier this week: “A first analysis of the months June to August 2010 shows that MELANI was able to identify 145 infected cases in over 237,000 websites checked.”

“We don’t think that it’s a serious issue for Switzerland overall, but we know that some small companies have problems with their IT security. Sometimes when these websites are hacked, the webmaster doesn’t even know they’ve been hacked,” MELANI deputy head, Max Klaus, told Swisster.

Of the infected sites: “In most of the cases it was a java script that was implemented and if you surf these sites then you might get a Trojan on your machine. ‘Drive by infections’, we call them,” he said.

Suspicion that a Swiss Internet address is being misused to obtain sensitive data or disseminate malicious software allows MELANI the option of blocking the Internet address through SWITCH, the registrar for .ch domains.

Tracking down the perpetrators however, is far more difficult. “Sometimes we are able to find out where the server is, but it doesn’t mean that the hacker is in the same country. It’s one of the major problems that we face,” said Klaus.

MELANI also referred to the increasing concerns of cyber warfare. “Data is often obtained unlawfully for purely financial and criminal interests, but also as part of government-condoned espionage,” the centre said.

And while Klaus declined to reveal which foreign countries were involved, international IT security training company Spy-Ops estimated last year that “some 140 countries and more than 50 terrorist and criminal/extremist groups were developing cyber weapons and espionage capabilities”.

“Business enterprises and public authorities are at special risk,” the centre added, or as one IT security expert working in LA colourfully put it: “We have unsecured companies that are the equivalent of 14-year-olds driving cars.”

Fortunately major companies or state administration in Switzerland appear to have avoided infection in this regard, according to MELANI.

In meantime, prevention remains the best method to protect your individual or business site. Klaus advises that “a serious webmaster has to check his source code frequently and of course you need a well-designed website. Badly designed searching fields for instance, mean that it’s easier for hackers to infiltrate malicious code.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Fear Peddlers Hobbling Europe

The new far right not only exerts a growing influence on national governments, it is also organising at a European level and could soon weigh heavily on the very workings of the EU, warns French columnist Bernard Guetta.

It should have made the headlines, but it didn’t. Meeting on 23 October in Vienna, representatives of five of Europe’s new far-right parties [the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), the Flemish nationalist Vlaams Belang, the Danish People’s Party, the Italian Northern League, the Slovak National Party and the Sweden Democrats] decided to campaign for a referendum on Turkish accession to the EU.

For the moment they have simply announced their intention, and the task they have set themselves will not be easy. Under the terms for citizens’ initiatives in the Lisbon Treaty, the campaign for a referendum has to meet a number of conditions, some of which are very vague. One key requirement is the presentation of a petition with one million signatures from a “substantial number of member countries,” and these signatures have yet to be collected. But if a referendum were to take place now, there is no doubt that a majority of the citizens of the EU would vote “no” to Turkish accession.

The prospect of this initiative will be a comfort to national governments who do not want Turkey to join, and act as an additional brake to enlargement. Negotiations with Turkey, which are almost at a complete standstill, will be further compromised, because at a time when Islam-baiting has become an easy vote-winner, no one wants the extreme right to instrumentalise European direct democracy and hog the limelight on a theme that will garner support from voters across the political spectrum. Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders have broken the mould.

The plan for referendum has not made the headlines, but it should for two reasons. First and foremost, the time has come to evaluate the danger posed by this new nationalist and Islamophobic threat that is gaining ground everywhere in Europe, and which has little in common with the small-time crypto-facists of yesteryear. In some European countries, the extreme right has close to 25% of the vote, and where it has yet to reach this level, it already posts double-digit scores.

Buoyed by a wave of social discontent that has swept across the continent, it is in the process of mounting a platform that brings together the defence of the welfare state, an aspiration for protectionism, and an attachment to liberal values that are supposedly threatened by Muslims. Represented by pleasantly urbane leaders, who appear wholly contemporary, it has attracted a hefty swathe of the working-class and urban youth vote.

It has also demonstrated a significant tactical ability that is no longer confined to brass-knuckle politics: to wit, the clever manoeuvres in Sweden and Italy, the stereotypical moulds broken by Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders, and its appropriation of the procedural innovation offered by Lisbon, which it is the first to use.

In other words, the new extreme right is only just beginning to upset the balance of power in the EU’s 27 member states, and that is not all. The second problem is that it will also seriously complicate how the EU works: in Parliament where it continues to win more seats, and in the Council and the Commission where its increased influence on national governments, which now depend on it to sustain their majorities, will soon be apparent. Not only will it undermine the compromises between left and right, which are essential to the running of the Union, but it will also fight to block any advance towards European federalism, which it wants ditched with a restoration of national borders and the paradise lost of strong protective nation states.

We too can petition to create a European democracy

The plan for the referendum has not made the headlines, but it should, because it will add to a climate of mistrust that could ultimately stymie the development of Europe. Fear of Islam could deprive us of a historic opportunity to build bridges with Turkey, and in so doing demonstrate our support for democracy and secular government in the world’s most dynamic and Muslim country. If it prevails, it will limit our access to an important developing market, and more importantly undermine the credibility of a positive model for Middle Eastern countries, which are increasingly drawn to political Islamism.

Fear which identifies the post-war social compromise with the borders of nation-states is now the main obstacle to the construction of a federal union that will be needed if we are to exert any influence in a century where the mid-sized powers of the past will now be ignored.

Fear has prevented us from recognising that we too can petition Europe’s institutions to create a European democracy where the Commission would be controlled by a parliamentary majority. In so doing, we could re-establish a public power that has the capacity to put an end to the dominance of capital over labour, and transform the eurozone into a political entity that will ensure the continued enlargement of the union. But we are blinded and paralysed by fear, and therefore it comes as no surprise that the parties who have made fear their core business are fast gaining ground.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Ticket Fraud in Copenhagen

Six people arrested and six kiosk owners charged with fraud

Police have unveiled a potentially huge case involving counterfeit tickets for use on buses and trains in greater Copenhagen.

Three people have been arrested in the Turkish city of Izmir, where a printing house is said to have specialised in printing fake Danish two-zone ‘klippekort’ tickets.

“We can’t comment on the magnitude of the case yet, but it looks serious,” police spokesman Flemming Poulsen told public broadcaster DR.

In September, Danish tax officials intercepted a packet sent from Turkey containing 9,600 counterfeit klippekort valued at a total of 1.3 million kroner.

Police have so far raided seven kiosks in Copenhagen and the fake tickets in six of them. The owners of all six kiosks have now been charged with fraud.

Detectives have also arrested one person in Frederiksværk and one in Copenhagen suspected of masterminding the fraud plan. Both reportedly have family ties to Turkey.

The fake cards can be identified by the missing halo above the letter ‘å’ in the word ‘på’ on the back of the card — presumably due to the Turkish printing house having difficulties printing Danish letters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Sexual Predators’: Gang of Asian Men Weep as They Are Jailed for 32 Years for Grooming Girls as Young as 13

A gang of Asian ‘sexual predators’ were jailed yesterday for abusing white girls as young as 12.

The five men preyed on their victims over several months and threatened them with violence if they refused their advances.

One of the men branded his victim a ‘white bitch’ when she resisted, while a second smirked: ‘I’ve used you and abused you’.

The men, all British-born Pakistanis, attacked the four girls in play areas, parks and in the back of their cars, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

They gave them gifts and introduced them to their friends. The girls were abused so frequently that after many months it ‘became a way of life’.

The girls, who were being monitored by social services, were eventually rescued by police and removed from their homes amid growing concerns for their safety.

Two of the men wept in the dock yesterday as they were jailed.

Judge Peter Kelson QC told them: ‘I’ve listened to the backdrop of some of you sobbing — I have to say your weeping cuts no ice with me at all.

‘You had what you regarded as your fun, now you will take your punishment.’

The five, Umar Razaq, 24, Razwan Razaq, 30, Zafran Ramzan, 21, Adil Hussain, 20, and Mohsin Khan, 21, were found guilty of a string of sexually related offences against the girls, one aged 12, two aged 13 and one aged 16.

Ramzan was found guilty of raping the 16-year-old girl in her own home, and the other four were found guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Umar Razaq was jailed for four and a half years, while the judge gave Razwan Razaq 11 years.

Ramzan was jailed for nine years, and Hussain and Khan both received four years. All five were placed on the sex offenders register. Three further men were cleared.

The attacks took place in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, during 2008, the court was told. Khan, a mortgage adviser who owned a BMW, described his victim as a ‘little stick’ who looked as if she had not reached puberty.

Despite this he told her he loved her and would spoil her like a ‘princess’.

During the seven-week trial the jury were told how the men drove around the streets looking for girls. The teenagers believed they were in relationships with the much older men.

On one occasion Umar Razaq tried to pull the clothes off one of the 13-year-olds.

When she resisted he pulled her hair and called her a ‘white bitch’.

On another occasion Umar

introduced the girl to his brother Razwan who had sex with her in his car.

Afterwards he told her: ‘I’ve used you and abused you.’ When Ramzan was asked by police what age he was attracted to he later replied: ‘As long as they are not too young and they’re legal, that’s it.’

The authorities were alerted

after some changes were noted in the behaviour of the victims and they were removed from their homes.

Joyce Thacker, director of Rotherham’s children and young people’s services, said the girls were under child protection plans following family breakdowns or other issues with their behaviour.

‘When we pieced together a map of what was happening we stepped in very quickly to move these girls to a place of safety outside Rotherham,’ she said.

‘It started off as a grooming exercise by the men who became friendly with the girls, gave them gifts and introduced them to their friends.

‘When they got used to being abused it just became a normal way of life for the girls. It is akin to self-harm.

‘It was very dangerous. The girls could have faced death if the men weren’t getting what they wanted.’

She said the girls’ parents bore some of the responsibility but they were in a difficult position and at a loss to do something about their children’s ‘alternative’ lifestyle.

Detective Sergeant Dave Walker, who led the inquiry, said: ‘One was only 12 when she met one of the men and started smoking cannabis and drinking and coming in late at night.

‘As it escalated the defendants were becoming more aggressive to the girls.

‘We basically have a group of young men who think it is all right to abuse young girls and they just groomed them and isolated them from their families.’

All four girls are now back in mainstream education. The three youngest are taking GCSEs and the eldest is at college.

Mr Walker added: ‘We don’t know what the future holds for them but it will be a lot better than it was.’

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: “Radicalisation Via Youtube”? It’s Not So Simple

by Jonathan Githens-Mazer

There are real lessons to take from the Roshonara Choudhry case — but we’re in danger of missing them

The revelations over the stabbing of Stephen Timms MP are shocking. This was a horrific criminal act that must be unequivocally condemned. In its wake, we are left to try to make sense of what it says about “radicalisation”. According to the transcripts published in the Guardian, Roshonara Choudhry carried out the stabbing because she held Timms personally accountable for voting in favour of the Iraq war. Her concern over the war drove her to seek out a website such as RevolutionMuslim and to subsequently download the Anwar al-Awlaki lectures.

Segments of the media and thinktank land have proclaimed that this was ‘radicalisation through the internet’, that Choudhry acted because radical preaching on the internet told her to. This is an oversimplified explanation that offers more populist hot air than meaningful insight. To claim that the lectures ‘radicalised’ her into committing violence makes no sense. She was going down this path to begin with — at most we can say that these resources “buttressed her resolve”, enabled her to continue to thinking along these disastrous lines. If the lectures alone have the power to radicalise, why is it that more people aren’t committing violence after listening to them?

I am not arguing that Awlaki’s lectures should not have been taken down from YouTube — it’s just that this is the kind of political sop meant to make people feel better, rather than an action that actually addresses the problem. There’s a growth industry in “experts” who pontificate about “internet radicalisation” — and fingers will point to this case, along with others such as Nicky Reilly and the Exeter bombing — but this superficial analysis really doesn’t properly capture what’s going on here.

So what are the substantial lessons from this case?

First, we can definitively put to rest Tony Blair’s claims that foreign policy isn’t linked to terrorism at home. We can’t say that Blair’s analysis caused Timms to be stabbed, but we can say that this wishful thinking has been proven inaccurate.

Second, the transcripts elucidate the dangers of internalised political-religious outlooks. It is quite telling that Choudhry said that she only prayed at home, and talked to no one about what she was thinking or planning. For groups that I work with in my research into this area, this is the No 1 danger sign — being political but not participating in politics; not attending large scale gatherings of Muslims with groups that may (or may not) be Islamically inspired in character, but withdrawing from all forms of political engagement. This contradicts many of the claims of those who brand organisations like the MCB and mosques such as East London and North London Central Mosque as dangerous. It is exactly these entities which have been proven to help to channel anger about foreign policy away from this internalised, isolating and potentially dangerous way of thinking about issues into heated, heartfelt, and challenging but ultimately constructive wider political debates. If you cut off these constructive release valves, these problems will only get worse. This was exactly the kind of thinking that sat at the heart of Prevent thinking and the Home Office Channel project when they were first conceived. At the start, Prevent wasn’t about surreptitious traffic cameras in Muslim neighbourhoods. The precursors to Prevent, in activities such as the Muslim Contact Unit, were about empowering, through shared agendas and partnership, Muslim communities to address and tackle exactly these kinds of isolated individuals. Yet many in Muslim communities now doubt the government’s commitment to real and equal partnership. Potential partners are also under the threat of political harassment from those who put about unproven and emotional ideas ahead of realities such as those outlined above.

Lastly, because these individuals are so isolated, it is almost impossible to predict and prevent this kind of incident from happening. Let’s be honest, if it wasn’t Awlaki’s YouTube lectures, it would have been something else. Ultimately, blaming one set of lectures, or modelling from one specific experience, misses the wider question — how do we understand the context in which someone feels that this heinous crime is the right course of action? Unless this point is actually addressed, we can expect occasional lone wolf attacks like this in the future. To this extent, claims of “radicalisation via video” offer little insight but merely act as an easy crutch for those who don’t really deal with the issues at hand.

[From the readers comments section]

Questorade 4 November 2010 6:49pm


Your academic centre at Exeter University, the European Muslim Research Centre, is funded by two bodies.

One is Islam Expo. The other is the Cordoba Foundation

Islam Expo was founded by two men, both of whom were on the Shura Council of the Muslim Association of Britain, a Muslim Brotherhood aligned body. One of those men was named by Panorama as a founder member of Hamas.

The Cordoba Foundation is run by another man who was also on the Shura Council, and who father runs the Muslim Brotherhood in Iraq.

Do you think that this might have any bearing on the message that you peddle with every article: namely that the Government ought to work more closely Islamist groups?

[JP note: Here follow some of the pages from his European Muslim Research Centre at Exeter University which he co-directs with Robert Lambert. Also note a quote in the Times, 4 November 2010, by Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz, which appears to suggest he has funded this centre:

“But my family are very much embedded in the system here, we feel very at home with your traditions, cooked breakfasts, teas, we go on trips to museums, we are going to Windsor Castle. I don’t wear tweed or a kilt, but I have been to Scotland, I have funded two major Islamic centres in Edinburgh and Cambridge and another small centre in Exeter.”

European Muslim Research Centre [About Us]

Our core value is that a growing European Muslim population makes significant and valuable contributions to the safety and cohesion of European communities and countries and to the well being of Europe as a whole.

We reject, as fundamentally flawed, the position currently held by too many commentators: that European Muslims, Islam and strict adherence to Islam poses a threat to the safety, cohesion and well being of communities and countries in Europe.. The research undertaken and sponsored by the EMRC builds upon this value — seeking to highlight and constructively engage with communities, practitioners and policy makers where these contributions seem especially relevant and valuable to the development of 21st century Europe. This means that research conducted by the EMRC is ‘action’ oriented — seeking not only to make methodologically rigorous academic contributions to understandings of the roles that Muslim communities play in European society, but also engaging with practitioners and policy makers to translate this work into practice. The EMRC research agenda is posited on the belief that overly negative or non-constructive analyses of the contribution of Muslim communities to European society, if left unchallenged, may create the conditions necessary by which these pernicious ideas become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

We therefore aim to share with European citizens a far more optimistic and we would argue far better informed analysis of the roles played by their Muslim neighbours. We will do so by contributing research findings that are based on in-depth engagement with Muslims themselves, so that Muslim voices can be heard on their own terms, not relegated or obscured by outside and top-down commentators. We will therefore be joining a small but important body of academics who have been working tirelessly to the same end for a number of years. We acknowledge their influence and have every intention of building partnerships with them and of highlighting the results of research projects they have undertaken.

However, in addition, we have an original contribution to make. EMRC’s core guiding principles derive from the findings of close engagement with Muslim communities in the UK’s capital city over a long period and to a lesser extent with Muslim communities in other UK and European towns and cities. In contemporary London we assess that the overwhelming majority of Muslims who interpret Islam as directing and informing their public political behaviour as well as their personal and private behaviour do so to the benefit of the City and their fellow Londoners. These benefits, in our experience, extend across many fields of civic conduct but most especially in regard to security and social cohesion, in London and beyond. We therefore admit to being ‘London-centric’ and although this is a valuable perspective it is one we aim to expand in the future, not least by working with key partners in other UK and European towns and cities.

As a Centre, we share communities’ concerns with agendas that only view Muslims through lenses of ‘security’ or ‘cohesion’ — agendas which, unchecked, can serve to stigmatise, alienate and isolate inhabitants of the state who happen to be Muslim. The EMRC is particularly concerned about the use of the “War on Terror” and/or counter-insurgency paradigms, as well as the blasé regard to the use of torture and the infringement of civil liberties as blunt and counter-productive tools for tackling terrorist threats. Moreover, we do not accept that Islamically inspired political thought or politics pose inherent threats to the West. In our experience radical Muslim leaders have often played valuable and undervalued roles in support of the values shared by fellow citizens of different faiths and no faith. Just as radical Christians interpret the New Testament as providing a positive framework for their public, political activity so too do many contemporary Muslims regard Islam as a basis for positive political engagement with national and local political institutions. Nor do we insist that all Muslims should feel this way about their religion — merely that there be space for those who do to be politically active.

For these reasons and more, we launch our first research report in January 2010: Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: a London case study . Both the content and the methodology chosen for the report illustrate our central purpose: to produce high quality, long-term empirical research on the experience of Muslims in European towns and cities. We have chosen the topic of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hate crime for our first report because it has become a serious problem in many European towns and cities. In our assessment this topic require the same kind of urgent and thorough attention policy makers, public servants and researchers have afforded to the problems of racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia in recent years. Our starting point is London but we aim to compare and contrast experience here with experience in key towns and cities in the UK and across Europe throughout the new decade.


Dr Jonathan Githens-Mazer, Co-Director

Jonathan first learned about the need for academics and public servants to support underprivileged minority communities from his parents and grandparents when growing up in Baltimore — like London a city with much wealth and more poverty and violence. He lived in a household where a sense of civic duty towards poor, victimised and less well educated neighbours was second nature. If it was his black neighbours who suffered most when Jonathan was growing up his grandparents came from Irish and Jewish immigrant families who had stories to tell themselves about their own experiences of oppression and disadvantage in Europe. For example, when still young Jonathan recalls how when watching a news report concerning Margaret Thatcher’s unyielding response to Bobby Sands’ hunger strike his grandmother was prompted to recount how in her youth she had heard stories from her own parents who vividly recounted being beaten by riding crops, wielded by Anglo-Irish landowners in Ireland who had utter distain for the local Irish population. That family story would give rise to Jonathan’s first research interest which culminated in a PhD awarded at the London School of Economics (LSE), subsequently published as Myths and Memories of the Easter Rising: Cultural and Political Nationalism in Ireland.

Dr Robert Lambert MBE, Co-Director

At the beginning of 2010 Robert was awarded a PhD for The London Partnerships: an Insider’s Analysis of Legitimacy and Effectiveness a dissertation which deals with partnerships between Muslim community groups and the Muslim Contact Unit (MCU), a police initiative in London. Until December 2007 Robert was a London police officer and the MCU was an initiative which he and a colleague conceived and undertook in the aftermath of 9/11. They described it as an antidote to the war on terror because it was a bottom-up grass roots project that ran counter to the global top-down military led ‘with us or against us’ approach adopted by George Bush and Tony Blair. Robert first learned about the benefits of police officers providing support for victimised minority communities from his grandfather who served in London’s Metropolitan Police from 1899 to 1924. Just as his grandfather saw Jewish and Irish Londoners unfairly stigmatised because they were wrongly conflated with terrorists so too did his father, a London printer and a British soldier, witness the outcome of sustained vilification of minorities when he entered the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp to help rescue Jewish survivors at the end of the Second World War. Like many soldiers returning home to London from the horrors of the holocaust Robert’s father was a staunch supporter of a post war reforming Labour government that set great store by social justice and support for the underprivileged.

[Advisory Board]

Anas Altikriti

Anas Altikriti is the Chief Executive of The Cordoba Foundation. Born in Iraq in 1968 to devout Muslim parents, he settled and was raised in the United Kingdom since the age of 2, offering him a unique perspective of a second generation Muslim with an insight into the challenges of being a British Muslim of Arab heritage. He lectured at Post-Graduate Lecturer in Translation and Interpreting Studies for 12 years at Leeds University and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh. He is currently pursuing his PhD in Political Studies at Westminster University in London. Anas Altikriti is a leading figure of the British Anti-War movement and was President of the Muslim Association of Britain in 2004, standing down to fight the European Parliamentary Elections. He succeeded in negotiating the release of three Christian Western hostages in Iraq in 2006, including Briton Norman Kember, and is active in mobilising young British Muslims towards more interaction and engagement with politics, media and social work as an effective means of countering extremism and fanaticism. On the international front, Anas Altikriti advises a number of Arab and Western governments and NGOs on various matters pertaining to dialogue and inter-relation issues, including conflict resolution, hostage negotiation, and general West-East relations. Anas Altikriti often comments in the mainstream and satellite media (both Arabic and English) and presents shows on Islam Channel and Al-Hiwar TV. He also contributes with articles in The Guardian’s Comment is Free, has a column on and writes for a number of other blogs.

Dr Abdul Muhammed Bari MBE

Dr Abdul Bari is Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). Dr Bari is an educationalist with a PhD and PGCE from King’s College London and a Management degree from the Open University. He has worked as an Air Force Officer, Researcher in Physics, Science Teacher and SEN specialist in London. He is former President of Islamic Forum Europe and is Chair of the East London Mosque Trust that includes London Muslim Centre. He is a trustee of Muslim Aid, a patron of the National Youth Agency and Ramphal Centre and a board member of The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG) Ltd. Dr Bari runs parenting courses and occasionally writes in newspapers, journals and community publications. He has authored several books on family and parenting and issues of youth and identity. These include: ‘Building Muslim Families’, ‘A Guide to Parenting’, and ‘Race, Religion and Muslim Identity in Britain’.

Rachel Briggs

Rachel Briggs is a Senior Research Fellow in the National Security and Resilience Department at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI). She is a researcher, writer and policy advisor working on radicalisation, preventing extremism, community tensions, community cohesion and human security. She is also an Associate of the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and a Senior Honorary Research Associate at UCL. Part-time she is Director of the charity, Hostage UK, which is chaired by Terry Waite.

Rachel was formerly Head of International Strategy and Head of the Identity Programme at Demos, after having run the Risk and Security Programme at The Foreign Policy Centre. She writes regularly in the press, and has advised a number of companies and Government departments over the past 10 years. She is on the editorial board of the journal Renewal and RUSI Monitor, is a member of the Advisory Board of Wilton Park (an executive agency of the FCO), is on the Council of the Risk and Security Management Forum and is a member of the Advisory Board of STREET.

Professor Stuart Croft

Professor Stuart Croft joined Warwick University in January 2007 as Professor of International Security. Prior to that, he had been at the University of Birmingham for 18 years, latterly as Professor of International Relations, and he also served for three years as the Head of the School of Social Sciences. His work is in the field of security studies, and his latest book is Culture, Crisis and America’s War on Terror (Cambridge University Press, 2006). He is interested in constructivist and cultural accounts of security, as can be seen in the December 2006 special issue of the journal International Relations, which he guest edited; he also edited the special issue of Government and Opposition in the summer of 2007 on security and terrorism. From 2003, he was Director of the UK Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) New Security Challenges Programme, a £4.5 million, five-year programme that supported 38 research projects based at a variety of UK universities. The latest stage of that work is a follow-on three year, £2.4 million programme of work examining concepts and practices of radicalization, funded by the ESRC, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and the UK Foreign Office, that supports 9 distinct projects. Before that, he worked on a project funded by the ESRC on media representations of the war in Iraq, and with colleagues on an ESRC-funded project on the future of NATO. He has also had a NATO research grant, and grants from Nuffield, the Cadbury Trust and the British Academy. From January 2009, he became Chair of the British International Studies Association. He has been elected as an Academician in the UK Academy of Social Sciences, and as a Fellow at the Royal Society of Arts.

Professor John Esposito

John L. Esposito is University Professor, Professor of Religion and International Affairs, Professor of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Esposito specializes in Islam, political Islam from North Africa to Southeast Asia, and Religion and International Affairs. He is editor-in-chief of the four-volume The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, The Oxford History of Islam, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam and The Islamic World: Past and Present. His more than thirty five books include The Future of Islam, Who Speaks for Islam, Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality?, Islam and Politics, Political Islam: Radicalism, Revolution or Reform?, Islam and democracy (with J. Voll). Many have been translated into Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Bahasa Indonesia, Urdu, European languages, Japanese and Chinese. A former president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and the American Council for the Study of Islamic Societies and member of the World Economic Forum’s Council of 100 Leaders, he is ambassador for the U.N. Alliance of Civilizations, member of the European Commission’s Network of Experts on Radicalization President of the Executive Scientific Committee for Università degli Studi di Napoli “L’Orientale” (UNIOR)

“The Mediterranean, Europe and Islam: Actors in Dialogue.” Esposito is a recipient of the American Academy of Religion’s 2005 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion and of Pakistan’s Quaid-i-Azzam Award for Outstanding Contributions in Islamic Studies. He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and to governments, corporations, universities, and the media. In 2003 he received the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University Award for Outstanding Teaching.

Esposito is widely interviewed or quoted in the media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN and network news stations, NPR, BBC, and in media throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

Andy Hull

Andy has worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research since June 2008. He ran the Secretariat for ippr’s independent, all-party Commission on National Security in the 21st Century. He leads the work on national and international security within ippr’s Global Change programme. Prior to joining ippr, he worked as a policy officer on community engagement and counter-terrorism for the Metropolitan Police Authority. Before this, he worked for the Metropolitan Police Service, managing an award-winning multi-agency project to reduce truancy, exclusion and youth crime in the London Borough of Southwark. As a regular media commentator, Andy has been interviewed on Channel 4 News, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and BBC World Service and has written for The Guardian and The Times. Andy is currently on a short-term secondment to the Ministry of Justice, where he is coordinating the department’s ‘Security and the Legal Domain’ project on the role of legitimacy in national security strategy.

Fatima Khan

Fatima Khan is freelance consultant who has a wide range of experience of engaging with communities on issues of community safety and crime reduction. She has over 10 years of community development and working in the voluntary sector. Fatima is also the Vice Chair of the Muslim Safety Forum (MSF) a charity focusing on issues of security and safety affecting the Muslim community; she also co-leads the MSF’s Islamophobia work strand.

Dr Basheer M. Nafir

Basheer M. Nafi taught Islamic history and Islamic Studies at the Muslim College, London, and Birkbeck College, University of London, and is a senior research fellow at al-Jazeera Centre for Studies. A father of four, he lives with his family in Oxfordshire, U.K. He wrote the text for, and has supervised the making of a major documentary series on political Islam.

Dr Nafi has written extensively (in Arabic and English) on the history of Arab nationalism and the Palestinian Question, as well as modern Islam and Islamic intellectual history, including the history of Salafiyya, in various academic journals, including Islamic Studies, The Muslim World, Journal of Islamic Studies, Middle East Affairs Journal, The Arab Studies Quarterly, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Die Welt de Islams, Islamic Law and Society and Journal of Qur’anic Studies. He is also a contributor to the UNESCO World History project. His books include, Arabism, Islamism and the Palestine Question: 1908-1941 (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1998); The Rise and Decline of the Arab-Islamic Reform Movement (London: ICIT, 2000); Islamic Thought in the Twentieth Century, co-editor, with S. Taji-Farouki (London: I B Tauris, 2005); Iraq: Contexts of Unity and Disintegration, in Arabic (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 2006); The Islamists, in Arabic (Beirut: al-Dar al-’Arabiyya, 2010).

Professor Tim Niblock

Professor Niblock is Emeritus Professor of Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter, having been Professor of Arab Gulf Studies from 1999 to 2008 and Director of the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies (IAIS) from 1999 to 2005. Prior to this he was Director of the Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Durham. His research interests cover a wide range of areas related to the politics, economics and international relations of the Arab and Islamic worlds. Of central concern have been the political economy of the states of the Arab world, the international relations of the Middle Eastern region, Islam and the state, and issues relating to civil society and democratisation in Arab and Islamic states. Most of his teaching in recent years has been at the postgraduate level, and the bulk of this has taken the form of PhD supervision. Geographically, his interests were strongest in North-East Africa at the start of his career, with a strong interest also in Iraq and Libya, but in recent years this has shifted towards the Arabian peninsula. His most recent books are The Political Economy of Saudi Arabia (Routledge, 2007), and Saudi Arabia: Power, Legitimacy and Survival (Routledge, 2006).

Oliver McTernan

Oliver McTernan is the co-founder and director of Forward Thinking, an organisation which empowers individuals and grassroots communities across the UK and to promote an inclusive peace process in the Middle East. Oliver has an established background in conflict resolution and interfaith relationships. He was a Visiting Fellow of the Weatherhead Centre for International Affairs at Harvard University 2000 -2003. He is a Senior Associate Fellow of the UK Defence Academy. He was responsible for initiating the first post-conflict talks between NATO and the former Yugoslav government. His book Violence in God’s Name explores the role of religion in an age of conflict. He broadcasts regularly on the BBC.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: BAE ‘Held a Gun’ To Prime Minister’s Head Over Aircraft Carrier That Will Never Carry an Aircraft

Britain’s leading defence company ‘held a gun’ to David Cameron’s head to force him into buying a white elephant aircraft carrier,according to a damning letter released tonight.

BAE Systems threatened to close three shipyards, axe 5,000 jobs and warned that the UK would never build another major warship if the government axed plans for two new carriers.

A bombshell letter published yesterday revealed how the company held the government to ransom during the recent defence review.

The Prime Minister gave the green light to both carriers but one will be permanently mothballed or sold and the other will not carry strike aircraft for a decade.

Instead the Royal Navy will rely on the French for carrier strike capability until 2020 and will share resources after that.

The letter reveals that Mr Cameron was left with little choice because it would have cost more to axe the second carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, than to build them both.

BAE boss Ian King told the Prime Minister that both carriers would cost £5.2 billion, but buying just one would be £4.8 billion, plus an extra £690 million of ‘rationalisation costs’, bringing the total to around £5.5 billion.

The letter says: ‘The cancellation of Prince of Wales would mean that production in all BAE Systems shipyards would cease at the end of 2012.

‘This means that the business would be unsustainable, and all three yards would have to close by early 2013, with the loss of more than 5,000 jobs in BAE Systems and many more across the UK in hundreds of companies in the supply chain.

‘In practice that means the end of the UK’s capability in complex warships.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: By-Election Ordered as Lying Former Labour Minister is Barred From the Commons for Three Years

Former immigration minister Phil Woolas lost his seat as an MP today after an election court ruled that he knowingly made false statements about an opponent in May’s general election.

The Labour MP is to be barred from the Commons for three years and the election contest for his Oldham East and Saddleworth seat re-run.

A potentially awkward by-election now looms for the coalition which will need to decide if both the Lib Dems and Tories will field candidates in the re-run.

The specially convened election court had heard that the Labour MP stirred up racial tensions in a desperate bid to retain his seat.

His campaign team was said to have set out to ‘make the white folk angry’ by depicting an alleged campaign by Muslims to ‘take Phil out’.

But Mr Woolas said he would fight the ruling — the first of its kind in 99 years — and was seeking a judicial review.

Liberal Democrat candidate Elwyn Watkins mounted the rare legal challenge over the statements made in a pamphlet and two mock newspapers distributed in the final stages of the election.

Mr Woolas won on May 6 by just 103 votes. After today’s ruling, his solicitor, Gerald Shamash, said on his behalf that he was instructing his legal team to seek a judicial review.

‘This election petition raised fundamental issues about the freedom to question and criticise politicians,’ he said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Couple Left With a £200,000 Court Bill as Lying Maid Loses Her £750,000 Claim She Was ‘Trafficking’ Victim Kept as Slave

A maid who claimed she was kept as a slave could face prosecution for perjury after an employment tribunal ruled she made up her tale of appalling abuse, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Yoyoh Binti Salim Udin lost her £750,000 compensation claim after the panel concluded she was treated kindly by her employers and told ‘wicked lies’ to the hearing.

Last night the couple who she lived with said the Indonesian had made up the stories to be allowed to stay in the country.

The 40-year-old claimed she was slapped, strip-searched, made to sleep on the floor and locked up and had her passport confiscated by London-based millionaires Lina and Firas Chamsi-Pasha.

She said that she drank acid in an attempt to kill herself so she could escape 17-hour days as the Syrian couple’s slave.

But an employment tribunal rejected her claim for race discrimination and constructive dismissal and concluded she made up the story because of the ‘shame’ of being caught stealing from her employers.

Yesterday employment law expert Lawrence Davies, of the Equal Justice firm, said: ‘Tribunals are under a duty to report crimes, including perjury, to the police. In the light of their findings that the claimant gave grossly untruthful evidence on oath, that would appear to be the situation in this case.’

It can also be revealed that:

  • Salim Udin is thought to have cost the taxpayer nearly £1million in NHS bills, legal aid, tribunal costs, policing costs, free housing and other hand-outs.
  • As a supposed ‘trafficking victim’, she was given money and housing from a Government-funded project to help such people.
  • Her former employer, Mrs Chamsi-Pasha, remains on bail 18 months after being arrested at her home on suspicion of unlawful imprisonment, assault and threats to kill.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Student Leaders Say Changes to Tuition Fees in England Could Breach Islamic Rules on Finance, Which Do Not Permit Interest Charges.

The coalition government’s plans to raise tuition fees to up to £9,000 also include higher interest rates for repayments of loans.

The Federation of Student Islamic Societies says this will make loans unusable for many Muslim students.

A government spokesman said these were “not commercial loans”.

As well as raising tuition fees, the proposals for university funding include changes to loan repayments — with some students set to pay more than at present.

Interest charges

Repayments will be structured so that higher-earning graduates are paying higher levels of interest rates, up to 3% above inflation.

Only those who earn below £21,000 will remain paying an effective zero rate of interest.

There are concerns that such interest charges are against Muslim teaching on finance and will prevent young Muslims from getting the finance needed to go to university.

“Many Muslim students are averse to interest due to teachings in the Islamic faith — such interest derails accessibility to higher education,” says Nabil Ahmed, president of the FOSIS student group.

According to FOSIS, changes to interest rates on loans “ignore the sensitivities of many Muslim students and greatly restrict their accessibility to higher education”.

There are different opinions within the Muslim community about whether such loans are acceptable under their faith — but Mr Ahmed says a “significant number” would be opposed.


A spokesman for the Business, Innovation and Skills department said student loans were not a form of commercial lending.

“The government heavily subsidises the student support system and will continue to do so — it does not, and will not in the future, make a profit from student support,” said the spokesman.

Mr Ahmed says there is a wider principle about the raising of interest rates and increasing debt for students, which he describes as “unethical”.

“People are already drowning in debt,” he says. “We don’t want people to be priced out of university.”

Under the government’s proposals, the loans to pay for the increased cost of university will be paid off over 30 years.

Mr Ahmed highlighted how this debt would stretch across generations.

Many students will be in their fifties when they finish paying for their degree courses — at which point they might then be expected to support their own children at university.

The government’s plans for university finance, presented to the House of Commons on Wednesday, prompted an occupation by students at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Student union leaders have warned of further protests, particularly against Liberal Democrat MPs accused of failing to keep promises that they would oppose any increase in fees.

But the government has defended the plans as “progressive” — arguing that it will make universities more affordable to poorer students.

Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, said: “Our reforms will give our universities financial stability and the resources to provide a world-class education in an increasingly global market.

“Graduates will pay less each month than they do now. Part-time students will no longer be faced with unfair, upfront fees. And the poorest graduates will pay considerably less than they do today.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Sex Convictions: Girls Thought Abuse Was Normal

BEING at the receiving end of horrific abuse became “a way of life” for the three young Rotherham girls, according to a senior council officer.

Joyce Thacker, strategic director of Children and Young People’s Services at Rotherham Council, told The Star the three teenagers — two aged 13 and one aged 16 at the time — were “groomed” into believing they were in normal relationships.

Ms Thacker said: “The girls were led to believe it’s normal behaviour. It becomes a way of life and it’s really difficult for us to break that. When it becomes more serious, more aggressive, they can’t get out.”

Ms Thacker warned that, if police had not intervened, one of the girls could have been killed.

In late November 2008, when the abuse had been going on for months, one victim became scared after Umar Razaq punched her and pulled her hair. She told her social worker and the police acted fast, moving the girls out of Rotherham.

Detective Sergeant David Walker, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “We had been aware something was going on since the late summer.

“All these girls were subject to child protection plans, for other reasons, and other girls had named them as being involved with older men. But until we moved them out of Rotherham, they just denied it all. “The mentality was, ‘I won’t talk about my boyfriend’. That’s all part of the grooming process.”

The victims are now all in care in other areas, and have started taking their studies seriously.

But Ms Thacker said their experiences would stay with them forever.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Special Report: The ‘DIY Jihadists’ Paid for by Us… Roshonara Choudhry Supporters Are Living on Benefits

They refuse to apologise for their vile rant at the Old Bailey that made a mockery of our justice system.

Nor are they repentant over supporting the radical Muslim woman on trial there for trying to kill an MP in a knife attack.

As 21-year-old London University student Roshonara Choudhry was sentenced to life on Wednesday, they cursed the judge from the public gallery and hurled abuse at a terrified female juror wearing a Muslim headscarf, screaming ‘Shame on you, sister’.

The three agitators were then bundled out of court where, incredibly, were allowed to continue their poisonous rant. With faces twisted in fury, they waved banners saying ‘Islam will dominate the World’, yelled ‘British soldiers must die’, and screamed that the knifed Labour MP, Stephen Timms, should be killed.

Until now, they have been unidentified. But the Mail can reveal their names and that they operate at the centre of a dangerous organisation intent on bringing hard-line Islamic sharia law to Britain and flying the flag of Islam over Downing Street.

They warned me that Choudhry is only one of hundreds of home-grown ‘DIY jihadists’ — many female and some recently converted to Islam — prepared to die as martyrs.

I met two of the protesters in a coffee bar in Ilford, East London, after receiving a call from an intermediary within the fanatical group Islam4uk. I found that both are living on benefits, one claiming to suffer from chronic fatigue disorder, while they orchestrate an Islamic backlash against Britain.

Although both use Islamic pseudonyms — Abu Saalihah and Abu Abdullah — their birth names are Mohammed Shamsuddin and Mohammed Haroon Saleem. As Shamsuddin, 34, told me: ‘The majority of Muslims sympathise with our Sister Roshonara. They view her as their heroine now.

‘The Islamic websites and forums are full of messages of support for her and anger at the Old Bailey judge. Men and women are inflamed by the harshness of the sentence she was given.’

Shamsuddin and Saleem, along with a third radical, East London office administrator Abu Yahya, 27, (who refused to give his birth name) escaped scot free after the Old Bailey outrage despite some MPs’ demands for their arrest for contempt of court.

‘We were told by a police officer outside the court that the judge had sent us a message to say, “Don’t do this again and you’ll be all right”. I would have gone to prison for a week and was surprised I wasn’t sent there. I would happily have done so,’ said Shamsuddin, with a smile playing on his bearded face.

Saleem, 29, added: ‘It is going to happen again, I promise you.

‘We won’t stop. There are plenty of young Muslims who are angry and frustrated. They think they are treated as second-class citizens.

‘They want to take their fight on to the streets of Britain. It isgoing to get worse after this.’


The white working class are ‘riff raff’, they say, and non-Muslim women flaunt themselves as sex objects by putting on make up in the morning to attract men. As for the moderate Muslim Council of Britain, that is the puppet of Government ministers.

So why, I ask, did they shout abuse in a British court room at a woman juror from their own community? ‘It is unacceptable for one Muslim sister to condemn another,’ says Shamsuddin.

They may speak in moderate tones, but it is what they say that shocks.

These two radicals have never, so they say, trained at terror camps in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

They wouldn’t know how to put a bomb together (although they assure me plenty do and it is only a matter of time before one ‘gets through’).

Yet as they walk the streets of Britain with State money in their pockets and time to preach a divisive creed, it is hard not to conclude they are every bit as dangerous.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Sex Convictions: 32-and-a-Half Years Jail for “Sexual Predators”

FIVE Rotherham men who groomed three young girls for sex in car parks, cars and alleyways were today jailed for a total of 32-and-a-half years and branded “sexual predators” by a judge. The men — two brothers, their cousin and two other men — also had sex with the young girls — aged between 12 and 16 — in their homes. They were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court this morning.

Razwan Razaq, aged 30, of Oxford Street, Clifton, was jailed for 11 years after he was found guilty of having sex with two 13-year-old girls.

His younger brother Umar, 24, also of Oxford Street, was jailed for four-and-a-half years after he was found guilty of engaging in sexual activity with a 13-year-old.

Their cousin — Mohammed Ramzan, 21, of Broom Grove, Broom — was sentenced to nine years for raping a 16-year-old girl and two counts of having sex with a 13-year-old.

Adil Hussain, 20, of Nelson Street, Clifton, Rotherham and Mohsin Khan, 21, of Haworth Crescent, Moorgate, were both jailed for four years for sexual activity with a 13-year-old.

Judge Peter Kelson QC branded them sexual predators and said he had no sympathy for them when some of them began weeping.

He said: “Your weeping cuts no ice with me. A few years ago you had what you regarded as your fun and now you are taking your punishment. “All five of you have been convicted of having sexual activity with a child.”

“The clue is in the title — this legislation concerns itself with child protection, perhaps to some extent protection from themselves but particularly from sexual predators like I find all five of you to be.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Why Lambert and Githens-Mazer Are Wrong on Radicalisation

It seems increasingly trendy to believe that ‘non violent’ Islamists can be a bulwark against al-Qaeda in preventing terrorism in the west. Chief proponent of this thesis is Robert Lambert, director of the European Research Muslim Centre (ERMC). Along with Jonathan Githens-Mazer, his co-director at the EMRC, Lambert believes that Salafi and Ikhwani ‘street’ legitimacy and religious knowledge work as a safety valve in reducing the threat.

This is convenient, considering the ERMC receives all of its funding from Ikhwani-sympathetic organisations. The Cordoba Foundation, described by the Prime Minister in March 2008 as a ‘front for the Muslim Brotherhood’, donated £50,000 to the ERMC for the year 2009/10; and Islam Expo, whose registered directors and companies secretaries have a variety of links to the Brotherhood, another £50,000.

Director General of the OSCT, Charles Farr, appears to have bought into ‘Lambertism’. There is little other explanation for Farr’s attempt to reverse the government’s decision to ban foreign advocate of terrorism Zakir Naik coming into the UK (it is also significant that helping him come to this decision was another individual of dubious merits, Inayat Bunglawala, owner of the website domain Muslims4UK).

Yet once Lambert and Githens-Mazer’s ideas are held up to any proper scrutiny, their thesis quickly falls apart — for example, see their recent article for International Affairs titled ‘Why conventional wisdom on radicalization fails’. In an attempt to prove that ‘conventional wisdom’ (defined as either ‘a lack of integration, a lack of secularism, the existential threat posed by Islam to the West, or external influences from Saudi Arabia and the Middle East’ being the root causes) on radicalism has failed, Lambert and Githens-Mazer use a case study of three ideologically extreme brothers — Lamine, Ibrahim and Rahman Adam (aka Anthony Garcia).

According to Lambert and Githens-Mazer, ‘there was little doubt that Lamine Adam was the leader of the three, with Rahman and younger brother Ibrahim tagging along’. Compared to the highly ideological Lamine, who regularly proselytized jihadist rhetoric, the only notable thing about Rahman ‘was his silence…Rahman was far less vocal’. Yet it was Rahman who was sentenced to life for his role in the ‘fertiliser bomb’ cell, which discussed attacking a variety of targets, including shopping centres and nightclubs. Lambert and Githens-Mazer ask:

[W]hy should it have been someone [Rahman]…who was directly implicated in a terrorist plot, rather than his overtly ideological sibling?

It appears that Lamine posed the greatest threat; yet it wasn’t Lamine who would go on to commit a terrorist attack…Lamine could be drawn into lengthy discussions about Islamic practice and belief, whereas Rahman was drawn instead to “doing”, not “talking” or “thinking”…If conventional wisdom cannot properly explain the differences between the Adam brothers, then what explanatory value does conventional wisdom have in understanding terrorist violence?

Clearly then, they regard Lamine Adam as proof that ideology does not cause terrorism. Yet there is a slight problem with all this.

Both Lamine and Ibrahim Adam were placed under control orders in February 2006 because the Security Service assessed that ‘there were reasonable grounds to suspect that they were intending to engage in terrorism-related activities [that] involve assisting in fighting against western forces in Iraq or Afghanistan or training for such fighting’. Both men escaped their control order in May 2007, and neither has been re-captured.

It gets worse. Lamine actually introduced Rahman to Omar Khyam — head of the ‘fertiliser’ cell — and was repeatedly mentioned as an associate of those convicted during the trial. Al-Qaeda supergrass Mohammed Junaid Babar testified that Khyam gave Lamine bomb-making instructions, and that:

[Lamine] said he wanted the formula because he wanted to do an operation himself in the UK. He didn’t know how to make a bomb. He said he wanted to do something with someone else as far as making a bomb and hitting a nightclub. [source available from the author]

Babar also said that Lamine shipped camping equipment to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan in 2003.

So Lambert and Githens-Mazer’s poster-boy turns out to be a suspected terrorist on the run from the authorities, who has been identified by a member of al-Qaeda as connected to one of the largest terrorism plots the UK has ever faced. As far as disclaimers go, these seem like awfully big ones to miss out.

Ibrahim, meanwhile, has turned up again recently — though not in a way that Lambert and Githens-Mazer may hope. He was recently identified by the Security Services as part of a significant terrorist network, and is currently in Pakistan attempting to obtain a false passport to return to the UK. Passport photographs of Ibrahim were discovered in an Oslo flat, following the arrest of an alleged terrorist cell in Norway. Security sources told the Daily Telegraph that they ‘have been aware of his involvement in terrorist circles’ and ‘there are concerns about his desire to return to Britain and engage in terrorist activity’.

Lambert and Githens-Mazer are quick to get excited when others apparently fail to offer ‘no evidence base’ for the argument that ideology may just have something to do with terrorism. But they have a pretty significant ‘evidence base’ problem here themselves. If ‘Lambertism’ is OSCT’s answer to the terrorist threat, it is hard to fathom what the question was.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: We Didn’t Win Liberties in Order to Bestow Them on Our Enemies

The Liberal Democrat manifesto at the last general election said: “The best way to combat terrorism is to prosecute terrorists, not give away any hard-won freedoms.” It sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? But a prosecution can only take place — obviously — once a crime has been committed. First, the would-be terrorist has to be persuaded to do the deed.

Roshonara Choudhry, who was convicted this week of the attempted murder of Stephen Timms MP, was a 21-year-old student at King’s College London. According to the transcripts of her police interviews, she decided to attack Mr Timms because of what she had seen on the internet. Last November, she started to listen to the online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemen-based, American-raised cleric. Al-Awlaki also seems to have inspired the “underpants bomber” (himself a London university student) and the alleged murderer of US soldiers at Fort Hood, and is in league with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the folk who probably brought you the recent cargo bombs.

“I was surprised,” said Choudhry, “how little I knew about my religion.” She regarded al-Awlaki as an “Islamic scholar”. She also studied a US-based website called ReligionMuslim. The result of all this Islamic scholarship was that she decided to go and kill Mr Timms “because I’m a Muslim and all Muslims are brothers and sisters. So if he attacked them [by which she meant that he had supported the Iraq war], then he’s likely to attack me.” She bought a couple of cheap knives and stabbed Mr Timms in his constituency surgery.

After Choudhry’s conviction, I had a look at ReligionMuslim. It has put up a list of all MPs who voted against the Iraq war, details of their surgeries and even a link to a supermarket website where you can buy knives. I watched its video, in which a young man praised Choudhry for “taking the matter into her own hands”, and attacked Muslims who collaborate with the infidel. A similar-looking young man featured in press pictures of demonstrators outside the Old Bailey. In court, after the verdict, his comrades hurled insults at a Muslim female juror. That woman was bravely upholding what the Liberal Democrat manifesto calls “our hard-won freedoms”. The strong suggestion of the website is that she should be made to pay for doing so.

Also on ReligionMuslim appears a sermon by al-Awlaki, illustrated with scholarly scenes of bombs going off and veiled, armed horsemen galloping under the flag of Islam. The video is called “The Final Battle is Coming”. Be a martyr, says al-Awlaki. The martyrs are blessed — “their skulls towers of honour”. According to al-Awlaki, “jihad” does not mean, as is sometimes argued, struggling for good, but “fighting only, fighting with the sword”. He has produced a super-scholarly video collecting all his useful tips, called “44 Ways to Support Jihad”. All over the website is a huge “DISCLAIMER”, saying that the organisers of the site are not advocating violence.

So one can trace — by Choudhry’s own admission — the genealogy of her terrorist act. This young woman was corrupted by the preaching of evil ideas. She was schooled in the belief that her deed was heroically virtuous.

It is surely not an attack on our “hard-won liberties” to say that it is wrong that such material should be published and right that the people who publish it should be punished. It is difficult in the modern world to achieve this, and one should err on the side of permitting people to say nasty things, but my point stands.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Italy Main Supplier of Sunglasses

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 2 — Italy is the main supplier of sunglasses to the Egyptian market with exports totalling 3.6 million USD in 2009. According to a survey carried out by the Italian Trade Commission (ICE) office in Cairo on Italian exports to Egypt between 2007 and 2009, imports by the North African country have risen by 52%, with China and the US taking second and third place. Italy is also leading in “frames for glasses”, with an export worth 2.1 million USD and a 20% market share, followed by China (1.6 million USD) and France (390,000 USD). The Egyptian market is the most important in the region for frames and sunglasses, followed by the Tunisian and Moroccan market.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Morocco Alarmed Over Rise in Cocaine Smuggling

Morocco is alarmed by the rise in the amount of cocaine being smuggled from South America to Europe though its territory, Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri said Wednesday in Spain.

“Today it is not soft drugs that are being trafficked between Africa and Europe. Today we are extremely worried by this flow of hard drugs like cocaine which come essentially from South America,” he told a news conference.

International drug trafficking gangs ship the cocaine from South America by air or sea first to West Africa from where it is then transported to Morocco, the minister said. It is then flown from Morocco to Spain.

“There are planes which regularly come to take cocaine from Morocco and take it to southern Europe, especially Spain,” Fihri told a joint news conference in Madrid with his Spanish counterpart Trinidad Jimenez.

The minister urged Spain and Morocco to boost their cooperation to combat this drug smuggling just as the two nations have stepped up their joint effort against illegal immigration.

“I draw your attention to the danger posed by cocaine not just for the market and consumers but because of the destabilizing factor which it can have in various nations,” he said.

Last month Moroccan authorities announced they had dismantled a drug ring which they said had ties to Al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate as well as Latin American drug cartels and which brought cocaine and marijuana from Colombia and Venezuela to Mali and on to Morocco and Europe.

Moroccan Interior Minister Taieb Cherqaoui said 34 people were arrested as part of the operation, including a Spaniard who led the group from Morocco.

Last week Spanish and French police announced they had smashed a group that smuggled cocaine and hashish from Morocco to southern Spain by helicopter with the arrest of six French citizens.

Morocco has long been a major source of the cannabis which is consumed in the European Union. Most of the cannabis plants, from which hashish is produced, are grown in the country’s rugged and isolated Rif mountains by farmers to stave off grinding poverty.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: We Are Not for Sale

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is playing with fire. And Israel is getting burned.

Over the past week, it has been widely reported that the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government are conducting secret negotiations regarding future Israeli land surrenders to the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem. According to the reports, the Obama administration has presented Netanyahu with a plan whereby Israel will cede its rights to eastern Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley to the Palestinians and then lease the areas from the Palestinians for a limited period.

The reports on the length of the lease vary. Some claim that the White House is offering a seven year rental. Others claim the Americans are offering Israel to lease Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley for several decades before relinquishing them completely.

Netanyahu has reportedly accepted Obama’s proposal in principle. The only remaining dispute is the length of the lease. Netanyahu is demanding that Israel be permitted to lease Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley from the Palestinians for somewhere between forty and ninety-nine years. The Americans foresee a shorter timeframe…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Israel Suspends Strategic Dialogue With UK

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM — NOVEMBER 3 — Israel has suspended strategic dialogue with Great Britain, reports Israeli state radio while today in Jerusalem the official visit by British Foreign Minister William Hague begins. The latter will be received by Head of State Shimon Peres, Premier Benyamin Netanyahu and the Ministers Avigdor Lieberman (Foreign) and Ehud Barak (Defence). According to the broadcaster, the suspension of dialogue is an gesture of discontent against the British government which has not yet modified the law allowing it to arrest foreign leaders and politicians, including Israelis, for “war crimes”. Once more over the past few days Deputy Premier Dan Meridor (Likud) was forced to call off his visit to London after having learnt that once in Great Britain he may have been served an arrest warrant. Hague will instead be trying to convince Israeli leaders to freeze Jewish settlement building in the West Bank in order to foster a resumption of direct peace talks with Palestinians. In Israel, according to the press, Hague will also take stock of international efforts to prevent Iran from getting hold of nuclear weapons. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Schools to Encourage “Culture of Martyrdom”

The decision was announced by the head of the Basij paramilitary group and was taken in concert with the Ministry of Education which announces ten thousand Quran schools. The Basij also want more involvement in scholastic formation.

Teheran (AsiaNews) — The expansion of the culture of martyrdom is the “decision” of General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, head of the Basij paramilitary group — which operates under the command of the Revolutionary Guard and has distinguished itself in the violent repression of opposition demonstrations — taken together with the Ministry of Education.

The general added that he was pursuing the goal adding “values of divine defence of the Iranian nation” into the classrooms and books. The “Divine defense” (defae moghadas) is a term coined to refer to the 8-year war Iran had with Iraq for most of the 1980s, when tens of thousands of children and young people, used as the first wave of attacks, lost their lives.

The “demand” made by Naghdi, reports Rooz, the voice of Iranian exiles, is to confront what he called the “soft war” and promote “the expansion of the culture of selflessness and martyrdom”. Moreover, he expects this in educational programs, particularly from the “research and educational planning organization.”

Previously, the education minister had spoken of the intention to add “selflessness and martyrdom” as a topic in school books and had mentioned the creation of “ten thousand Quran schools, termed “autobahns for martyrdom and humanity “ ..

Naghdi General has also expressed the intention of the Basij to have a “more direct involvement” in the publishing of scholastic texts. Ideological changes in the textbooks entered the program of the Ministry of Education since Ahmadinejad became president, particularly since the start of his second term.

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

Islamic Fundamentalists Preventing the Construction of a Church in Kuwait

The government and the emir have approved the project but the Kuwait City Municipal Council refuses to issue building permits or explain its reasons for doing so. About 460,000 Christians share four official churches, two Catholic, one Evangelical and one Anglican. A Coptic church is under construction.

Kuwait City (AsiaNews/Agencies) — A group of Christians has complained that Kuwait City’s Municipal Council is preventing them from getting land to build a church. “The Municipal Council is the big problem preventing us from getting land; not all of the members, just the Islamic fundamentalists,” said Archimandrite Boutros Gharib, head of the local Greek Catholic Church.

Recently the municipal council blocked an attempt by the Greek Catholic Church to acquire land in Mahboula, an area in the Ahmadi governorate south of Kuwait City. The request has been pending for several years.

A new church would reduce over-crowdedness in a villa currently used for worshiping, Fr Gharib said.

According to the Greek Catholic clergyman, both the government and the country’s leader, Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, have given their approval and blessing to the Church to have its property built. However, the Council has not followed suit. What is more, “The council did not give us any reason,” he added.

“We found the higher levels of government say yes and the lower levels of government say no,” said Rev Andrew Thompson, the Anglican chaplain to Kuwait, who stressed that religious fundamentalists controlled the municipality.

The church said the government had proposed an area of 7,500 m2 with land for buildings and parking.

Greek Catholic Church board member Elian Farah said the government suggested parishioners use the parking facilities of two schools under construction nearby on the weekends and the evenings in addition to their dedicated parking area.

Fr Gharib noted that his church is paying US$ 6,944 a month for a villa that is also shared by two other congregations. If they did not find land soon, the church would have to close, he said. “It’s all excuses. It’s all lies,” he said. “Every time they promise, but all their promises are for nothing.”

The one success the Christian community has had in the past 40 years came when Egyptian Copts secured land for their church, but even they have had trouble getting a building permit.

The Greek Catholic community in Kuwait includes about 650 families, and they are not the only Christian group struggling to find space to worship in the country.

Around 460,000 Christians have to share four official churches—two Catholic, an Evangelical and an Anglican—plus the Coptic church under construction.

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

Italy’s Deputy Minister, Need to Open to Islamic Finance

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 3 — Italy should open itself up to Islamic finance by modifying its regulatory system, said Deputy Development Minister Adolfo Urso at the end of his speech at the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade in Rome where the report “Italia Multinazionale 2010” was presented this morning.

“Arab countries,” said the Deputy Minister, “are interested in investing in Italy and we should be more welcoming to them.” Urso said that legislative reform was needed.

“Islamic finance is nothing other than ethical finance.” The Arab world is an area of high interest for Italian companies, continued the deputy minister, and noted that the next Italian mission would be in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. In the United Arab Emirates, Urso said, “we will be holding a seminar to show our partners the potential of our market.” (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Millionaire Seeks Husband, Company for Love

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, NOVEMBER 3 — A woman who also happens to be a millionaire seeks an affectionate husband: this is the ad published by a Saudi businesswoman who offers “an exciting job” in exchange for “tranquility and stability”, since “money is not everything in life”. The ad, reports thee UAE daily Emirates Business, appeared in the Saudi paper Al Hiyad. The candidate for the “job” must be between 50 and 60 years old and must prove that he does not want to marry the woman for her money. He doesn’t necessarily have to be rich, only “educated, mature and respectful”. She will hand over the reins of her two companies so long as she feels “loved and safe”, and says that she will give “a life of love and comfort”.

The woman, who will reveal her identity only to the candidate she selects, ensured that she is “rich and beautiful”, and added that she had already had been married twice before, a rather negative feature in the ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia. She was first married at age ten but after her four children grew up she got a divorce, while the second time round she married a younger man interested in her money but not in her company. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Suspect Claimed Stealing Under Spell

A recent case in which a judge claimed stealing 100 million while under a spell stirred controversy among lawyers and jurists over the possibility of accepting magic as a legal defense argument and the means to verify the involvement of a jinni in a crime.

A heated debate over committing crimes while under magical influence ensued during the proceedings of a corruption trial that involved several employees in the Medina Court including one of the judges.

A statement by a man who claimed to have performed a roqia (Islamic exorcism) on the suspected judge ignited the controversy. The ‘exorcist’ told the Saudi newspaper Okaz that the judge was possessed by a jinni and was under his influence while taking bribes to cover up for illegal possession of land and real estate.

For legal advisor Saleh al-Khedr, being possessed by a jinni or an evil spirit does not absolve the culprit of blame.

“Human beings are responsible for their actions,” he told “Claiming to be possessed is just an excuse to evade punishment.”

Khedr called upon judges not to include magic in the proceedings of the case even if the suspect insisted or the ‘exorcists’ testified that the suspect was possessed.

“Even if several scholars testified to attending the exorcism, the judge should not make magic a legal argument.”

The exorcist who allegedly forced the evil spirit out of the judge’s body said the process was carried out in the presence of members of the Medina branch of Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

Lawyer Mohamed al-Aseeb argued that possession by evil spirits cannot be considered an excuse since it is not mentioned in the sharia (Islamic law) upon which the Saudi law is founded.

“Islamic law only acknowledges tangible proof,” he told “When the judge claims the jinnis made him commit the crime and that he has witnesses, can he or they prove it?”

Aseeb added that the judge was not the only one involved in the corruption case, which shows it is an organized crime and makes the argument of magic very unlikely.

“It is an entire network of people and there might be other parties that are still unknown. The judge only wanted to get away with his crime through inventing an excuse that some might accept.”

Possible, yet hard to prove

Meanwhile, several jurists argue that it is possible that an evil spirits makes people unable to control their actions, yet it is hard to prove.

Dr. Ibrahim al-Balawi, a lawyer, stated that the judge should consider this possibility if the culprit admitted to being under a spell while committing the crime.

“However, it is very hard to prove that and the court only acknowledges clear and tangible evidence,” he told “But the judge should not ignore it and further investigations have to be carried out.”

Balawi added that there are specialists who are capable of detecting if a person is possessed and they can be consulted in these cases to verify the defendant’s allegations.

Lawyer Badr al-Basees agreed with Balawi and stressed that magic and its effect on people are mentioned in the Quran.

“There is no doubt that magic exists,” he told “It is only proving it that is a challenge.”

The defendant, Basees added, should come up with evidence like the testimony of several trustworthy witnesses who give a detailed account of how the crime was committed under the influence of magic.

“If this is proved, then the defendant should be penalized like drunkards and drug addicts who are also unable to control their actions.”

Basees explained that the case is new to the Saudi society and that is why there are no fixed rules for dealing with it.

“As far as I know, this case is unprecedented and that is why it has been the subject of heated debate.”

False allegations

Lawyer Abdullah Ragab recounted the story of a similar case which proved that allegations of falling under a spell are usually false.

“I had a personal experience with a man who claimed he was robbed by magic then his allegations proved to be false,” he told

Ragab said that a client claimed that someone stole 2.4 million riyals from him by magic and demanded that he gets back the money with interest. Investigations revealed that the client voluntarily gave his money to that man who promised him tempting profit.

“I believe that if somebody has magical powers, he would obtain what he wants without manipulation.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]


Azerbaijan: Baptist Christians in Prison for Having Gathered to Pray

The police raided a private home, a photographer present, cutting electricity and gas. 4 Baptists detained, taken to court and convicted the same night. In the country persecution of Baptists and Jehovah’s Witnesses frequent, to combat “extremism.”

Baku (AsiaNews/F18) — Police burst into a private home and arrested 4 of Baptist Christians “guilty” of praying together, in the northern Qusar. Ilgar Mamedov owner of the house and three other Christians (Zalib Ibrahimov, Rauf Gurbanov and Akif Babaev) , were arrested by police on Oct. 31, and immediately brought before the local tribunal, which sentenced them to five days in jail, in a swift hearing held behind closed doors, without access to a defense.

Forum 18 news agency reports that on November 1, another Christian, went to the police to ask for news of the four arrested the night before, he knew the trial had already taken place. The nature of the offense is not clear, while faithful report that the police threatened them with even harsher penalties.

There were about 80 Baptists gathered in the house for Sunday celebrations. Before leaving, the police also cut gas and electricity to the apartment, to prevent them from preparing a festive lunch. Police took the names of the faithful gathered in the house, photographing and filming those present.

Police say it was a “normal” operation against illegal meetings. In this country religious groups must register and seek authorization for any activity, even to get together to pray. Many groups of Baptist Churches refuse to ask for registration, to avoid state interference. However, others say they have applied for recognition but their applications have been blocked for bureaucratic reasons.

Ilya Zenchenko, head of Azerbaijan’s Baptist community, told Radio Free Europe that the Qusar police frequently arrest and charge members of religious groups, saying they must fight “extremism.”

In the country are frequent condemnations of Baptist Christians. In May 2008, the pastor Zauer Balaev was sentenced to two years in prison for a crime based on evidence denounced as false. He ‘was released in March 2008 following a formal protest by the World Baptist Alliance and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Baptist pastor Hamid Shabanov was arrested in 2009 on charges of having weapons found by police during a search, although those who know him guarantees that he never had them.

In another case, the court of Baku sentenced a Jehovah’s Witness to a hefty fine for offering religious publications to passers-by on the street.

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


OECD Says Germany Needs More Immigration

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says that Germany is facing a drastic labor shortage. The country is dead last among industrialized countries in the ratio of those entering the job market versus those leaving it. Immigration, the OECD says, might be the only hope.

Germany, says Bavarian Governor Horst Seehofer, doesn’t need more immigration. The head of the influential Christian Social Union (CSU) — the Bavarian sister party to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats — argued in October that the country should instead focus on reintegrating the country’s long-term jobless back into the labor market. In particular, he said, immigration from “alien cultures” should be stopped.

There are many in Germany who would disagree. And now, they have a powerful new ally: the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The OECD has found that in just 10 years, the number of people leaving the labor market in Germany will be up to 75 percent higher than the number entering the labor market. Among the 28 industrialized countries surveyed, Germany wound up dead last.

The reasons listed by the OECD are simple. On the one hand, German society is aging quickly. Its birth rate is nowhere near high enough to replace the number of people entering retirement age. On the other, immigration to Germany has stagnated, with the country having experienced a net population loss in recent years as a result of emigration.

According to the OECD, it is not a trend that will be easy to reverse. The organization says that raising the retirement age and reducing unemployment will not be enough. Instead, the group says, increasing immigration — from both within and outside of the European Union — might be the only solution.

28,000 Unfilled Jobs

Already, there are indications that the German labor market is short of highly qualified workers. As the economy rapidly recovers from the economic crisis — the country’s economy is forecast to grow by 3.4 percent this year — several branches have been complaining of difficulties in finding qualified applicants for job vacancies. According to the Federal Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media, Germany’s leading high-tech industry organization, some 28,000 jobs in the tech field are currently unfilled.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Romanian Band Plays Gypsy Rock Against Sarkozy

Romania’s famous rock band Vama, accompanied by ethnic Roma musicians, released Thursday a single in English criticising French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s crackdown on the Gypsies.

The song “Sarkozy versus Gypsy” — featured on the YouTube website — aims to denounce “with humour” what Vama calls “the absurd solution found by the French president to resolve the Roma issue,” the band’s lead singer Tudor Chirila told AFP.

Chirila is a star in Romania and the former Liberal candidate for the presidency, Crin Antonescu, named him as his model last year.

France has faced an international uproar since Sarkozy’s July clampdown against illegal traveller camps and the expulsion of thousands of Romanian and Bulgarian Romas back to their country of origin.

The UN human rights chief warned that France’s new policies can only exacerbate the stigmatisation of the Roma.

“We’re looking for the better way, but you decide we cannot stay”, Vama and French slammer Ralflo sing in the name of the Roma before asking the French president: “Hey, hey, Sarkozy why don’t you like the Gypsies?”.

“The world belongs to all the people. Gypsy people is not people?”, the singer goes on, surrounded by gorgeous Gypsy dancers and Roma musicians.

“We also want to show that it is dangerous to generalise when talking about certain groups of people,” Chirila added.

The French linked the crackdown on Gypsies to rising crime figures.

“If all the Gypsies were to steal, the Tour Eiffel would disappear,” Vama sings with irony before underlining the links between France and the Roma: “Gypsy groove and French chanson. We all play l’accordeon”.

Chirila acknowledges that the Roma issue is “complex” but he pleads for a massive effort to improve education among Roma children “from all European countries not only the countries of origin”.

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

UK: Abu Hamza Keeps British Citizenship

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruled that Hamza could not be made stateless and if he also succeeds in blocking his extradition to the US, he will be freed to live in Britain next October.

David Cameron was said to be “disappointed” with the decision but a Downing Street spokesman said it would not affect the extradition proceedings. The Home Office said they would consider it closely and added: “British nationality is a privilege and the Home Secretary has the ability to remove it from dual nationals when she believes it to be in the public good.”

The Special Immigration and Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled that Hamza could not be stripped of his citizenship because the Egyptians had got there first.

The commission was told that Egypt acted after finding out that Britain wanted to take away Hamza’s passport in 2003, after passing a new law.

While the British case dragged on through the courts, the Egyptian authorities issued a decree behind closed doors.

An article appeared in an official Egyptian newspaper in May 2004 saying Hamza was no longer an Egyptian national but no government documents were produced for the commission and the Egyptian authorities refused to appear.

The case hinged on a sphinx-like response from the Egyptian authorities when asked by the British embassy in Cairo for confirmation that Hamza retained his Egyptian nationality.

They told the diplomats “I have the honour to inform you that the relevant Egyptian authorities have advised that no conclusion was reached which could be provided to you on this matter”.

A former Egyptian official called General Afify told the commission the response had “no colour or taste or smell” but added that it meant Hamza’s nationality had been stripped.

The commission concluded that the general “has a very well-informed understanding of how the Egyptian Government works in immigration and nationality matters and has open to him channels of communication to serving officials to help inform his opinion.”

It said that “on balance of probabilities” a decree had been issued to deprive Hamza of his Egyptian nationality.

Hamza is currently serving a seven year sentence for incitement to murder, stirring up racial hatred and possessing a document useful for terrorism.

The preacher is wanted in the US in connection with a plot to kidnap western tourists in Yemen, helping recruits travel to Afghanistan, and set up a training camp in the US.

The European Court has ruled that if he faces life in jail without parole it will breach his human rights and is currently considering further submissions.

Hamza, real name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, arrived in Britain in 1979 at the age of 21 on a six month Egyptian passport.

He bigamously married his first wife the following year, despite the fact she was already pregnant by another man and was still married to the man she had met when she was 16.

He was granted citizenship in May 1986, when he was studying civil engineering at Brighton polytechnic, on the basis that he had lived in Britain for more than five years.

SIAC heard that he successfully applied for an Egyptian passport in 1988 before he was involved with radical Islam, but that position had changed by 2004.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: DJs, Kabaddi Players, Comedians and Models Beat Government’s Migrant Cap

Magicians, disc jockeys, waitresses, comedians and models have all benefited from a route into the UK excluded from the Government’s immigration cap.

The revelations intensified the row over the Coalition’s decision to exempt intra-company transfers from the annual cap on non-EU economic immigrants.

As the furore continues, Home Secretary Theresa May will today make her first major immigration speech.

She will announce a crackdown on foreign students and a new salary limit for economic migrants.

On Wednesday it emerged that Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable had successfully argued that intra-company transfer of ‘skilled workers’ from abroad was crucial to the competitiveness of British business.

But internal government figures show the route has been exploited by companies seeking to bring in entertainers or — in some cases — traditionally low-paid staff.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Wins Human Rights Bid to Keep UK Passport

Hate preacher Abu Hamza has won his appeal against the Government’s attempts to strip him of his British passport, a special tribunal ruled today.

The radical cleric argued that such a move would render him ‘stateless’ as he had already been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship.

Delivering its 12-page ruling today, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) allowed his appeal.

The hook-handed cleric, who acquired a British passport through marriage, is serving seven years in maximum security Belmarsh Prison after being convicted for inciting murder and racial hatred in 2006.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: One in, One Out, For Radical Muslim Clerics

Today the UK courts have made two decisions in relation to radical Muslim clerics. The score card reads: Abu Hamza can keep his passport and stay (for now), but Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian preacher who was excluded from the UK by the Home Secretary in June, will remain unwelcome.

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission has ruled that Abu Hamza can keep his UK passport as if a deprivation order were made, he would be made stateless, as he claimed he had already been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship. By section 40 of the British Nationality Act 1981, the Secretary of State cannot make a person stateless. The UK is trying to deport him altogether, but his claim is being heard at the European Court of Human Rights (see our post).

Meanwhile, the High Court has ruled that the exclusion of Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian television preacher and president of the Islamic Research Foundation, was lawful and was a proportionate interference with his freedom of expression rights. He was blocked by the Home Secretary from giving a lecture in June as a result of his alleged support for Islamist terrorism, Osama Bin Ladin as well as his comment that Jews are the “staunchest enemy” of Islam. He denies that he supports terrorism.

In any event, the High Court rejected his challenge to the exclusion on legitimate expectation, procedural fairness and freedom of expression grounds. The substance of the decision is from paragraph 60. The judgment is wide-ranging and interesting. In respect of the Article 10 argument, the judge held that Dr Naik was himself excluded from protections under the Human Rights Act for territorial reasons, but that his supporters, who would have come to hear him speak, were not (para 79). His supporters’ rights to receive information, a lesser spotted aspect of Article 10, was engaged. The interference with that right was, however, justified. Mr Justice Cranston concluded:


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Germany: Women’s Equality Stronger in Former East, Study Finds

People in the former East German states have more progressive views of working mothers than their counterparts in the west, and eastern women are more likely to juggle work and family successfully, a study has found.

Row over Sachsenhausen concentration camp work resolved — National (11 Oct 10)

Twenty years after reunification, the differences in attitudes to “career women” between the former communist east and democratic west remain stark. A study presented this week in the eastern city of Leipzig found that mixing work, marriage and children was considered a much more natural life to women in the former east than the west.

Women in the east were more likely to have husbands who supported them in their choice to work and did not want a “housewife” as a partner once children arrived, the study found.

The report, “The Full Life! Women’s Careers in Germany,” was compiled by the Interior Ministry on the request of Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière. The data came from online surveys of 655 men in eastern and western Germany as well as figures drawn from previous studies.

Every second working woman in eastern Germany (53 percent) whose youngest child was under the age of 15 worked full-time in 2008. That was more than double the rate in the western states, where 22 percent worked full-time.

“The view in the study makes clear: the great majority of women in the eastern German states have made a new start without great fuss and despite structural problems,” de Maizière said.

Better child care in the east was an important factor, the study concluded, but different ideas about the role of women were also significant. Just 16 percent of east German women aged between 17 and 29 were ready to give up work for their children, compared with 37 percent in western Germany.

In the communist German Democratic Republic, family planning polices, child care and notional equality meant that working women and mothers became more common than was the case in the west.

The share of households in which each partner contributes roughly the same amount to the household income is nearly twice as high in the east as the west — 44.5 percent compared with 27.9 percent.

Equal partnerships between men and women are considered normal in the east, the study concluded. By comparison, nearly a quarter of young men in the west cling on to a conservative image of themselves as the “family breadwinner” and the woman as the “housewife” — twice the proportion of men in the east.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tasmania: Rape, Abortion in Church ‘Haunted House’

A Tasmanian church group has been slammed for luring members of the public into a Halloween “haunted house” depicting abortion, rape and murder.

The 45-minute performance also included scenes of suicide and drug use, and ended with a pastor telling the audience that “the devil’s children” needed to give their lives to God to be saved from Hell.

Ads for the RIOT Theatre’s Haunted House event indicated the performance was MA-rated but did not include mention of religious content or the Pentecostal church Potter’s House, whose members staged the show.

Childcare worker Emma Pennington attended the show on Sunday night with her sister-in-law and mother-in-law, who had dressed as witch.

“We just saw it in the paper and it said that it was a haunted house and that all proceeds would go to the City Mission,” Ms Pennington said.

“It was nothing like what we thought.”

Ms Pennington entered the “haunted house” with about 25 other people.

In one scene, a woman was pushed on the ground in a simulated rape while the show’s narrator encouraged the activity by shouting: “If you’re not going to offer it then don’t put it on sale”.

In a later scene, a drunken doctor was depicted as laughing while performing an abortion on a woman without painkillers.

The show ended in a room filled with white curtains, where church members pressured the tour group to partake in prayer.

Ms Pennington immediately left the haunted house to warn the next group of patrons, but was too late to stop them going in…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Beer Lubricated the Rise of Civilization, Study Suggests

May beer have helped lead to the rise of civilization? It’s a possibility, some archaeologists say.

Their argument is that Stone Age farmers were domesticating cereals not so much to fill their stomachs but to lighten their heads, by turning the grains into beer. That has been their take for more than 50 years, and now one archaeologist says the evidence is getting stronger.

Signs that people went to great lengths to obtain grains despite the hard work needed to make them edible, plus the knowledge that feasts were important community-building gatherings, support the idea that cereal grains were being turned into beer, said archaeologist Brian Hayden at Simon Fraser University in Canada.

Ads by GoogleSodom and GomorrahFound, the Infamous Biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ! www.accuracyingenesis.comIs Jesus Really God?Scholars Examine the Facts About Jesus’ Claims to be God”Beer is sacred stuff in most traditional societies,” said Hayden, who is planning to submit research on the origins of beer to the journal Current Anthropology.

The advent of agriculture began in the Neolithic Period of the Stone Age about 11,500 years ago. Once-nomadic groups of people had settled down and were coming into contact with each other more often, spurring the establishment of more complex social customs that set the foundation of more-intricate communities.

The Neolithic peoples living in the large area of Southwest Asia called the Levant developed from the Natufian culture, pioneers in the use of wild cereals, which would evolve into true farming and more settled behavior. The most obvious explanation for such cultivation is that it was done in order to eat.

Archaeological evidence suggests that until the Neolithic, cereals such as barley and rice constituted only a minor element of diets, most likely because they require so much labor to get anything edible from them — one typically has to gather, winnow, husk and grind them, all very time-consuming tasks.

Hayden told LiveScience he has seen that hard work for himself. “In traditional Mayan villages where I’ve worked, maize is used for tortillas and for chicha, the beer made there. Women spend five hours a day just grinding up the kernels.”

However, sites in Syria suggest that people nevertheless went to unusual lengths at times just to procure cereal grains — up to 40 to 60 miles (60 to 100 km). One might speculate, Hayden said, that the labor associated with grains could have made them attractive in feasts in which guests would be offered foods that were difficult or expensive to prepare, and beer could have been a key reason to procure the grains used to make them.

“It’s not that drinking and brewing by itself helped start cultivation, it’s this context of feasts that links beer and the emergence of complex societies,” Hayden said.

Feasts would have been more than simple get-togethers — such ceremonies have held vital social significance for millennia, from the Last Supper to the first Thanksgiving.

“Feasts are essential in traditional societies for creating debts, for creating factions, for creating bonds between people, for creating political power, for creating support networks, and all of this is essential for developing more complex kinds of societies,” Hayden explained. “Feasts are reciprocal — if I invite you to my feast, you have the obligation to invite me to yours. If I give you something like a pig or a pot of beer, you’re obligated to do the same for me or even more.”

“In traditional feasts throughout the world, there are three ingredients that are almost universally present,” he said. “One is meat. The second is some kind of cereal grain, at least in the Northern Hemisphere, in the form of breads or porridge or the like. The third is alcohol, and because you need surplus grain to put into it, as well as time and effort, it’s produced almost only in traditional societies for special occasions to impress guests, make them happy, and alter their attitudes favorably toward hosts.”

The brewing of alcohol seems to have been a very early development linked with initial domestication, seen during Neolithic times in China, the Sudan, the first pottery in Greece and possibly with the first use of maize. Hayden said circumstantial evidence for brewing has been seen in the Natufian, in that all the technology needed to make it is there — cultivated yeast, grindstones, vessels for brewing and fire-cracked rocks as signs of the heating needed to prepare the mash.

“We still don’t have the smoking gun for brewing in the Natufian, with beer residues in the bottom of stone cups or anything like that,” Hayden said. “But hopefully people will start looking for that — people haven’t yet.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Web’s Undersea Cables Need Revamp to Prevent Catastrophe

The massive set of undersea cables that makes up the infrastructure of the Internet needs to be revamped to ensure security during a crisis, according to a top security expert.

“At the national level, it’s been implemented — the most important communications get through. But other countries don’t have the capability to communicate across borders” in an emergency, explained Karl Rauscher, a Distinguished Fellow at the EastWest Institute, who was instrumental in forming the U.S. strategy for communications-infrastructure protection following the calamity of Sept. 11.

This bottlenecking comes partly as result of the spectacular — and speedily growing — amount of bandwidth consumed throughout the world every day, Rauscher told SecurityNewsDaily.

While it’s common to think of the Internet as an amorphous entity that’s always available, Rauscher said there are actual “geographical choke points” — physical locations where the undersea cables that make up the global Internet infrastructure receive such heavy volumes of information that Web traffic literally gets backed up or stopped, like a freeway that narrows to a single lane.

Rauscher identified three major choke points as the Luzon Strait near Taiwan, the Strait of Malacca and the Red Sea. If any of those sets of cables were compromised by either natural disaster or malicious attack, worldwide Internet and phone communication would be highly jeopardized, he said.

To decrease the competition for a “limited amount of bandwidth” and to make these chokepoints less attractive targets for attack, Rauscher strongly advocates diversifying: building more undersea networks throughout the world to “avoid single points of failure.”

Rauscher detailed these points in the Reliability of Global Undersea Communications Cable Infrastructure study he led for the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), of which he is a member.

“Nearly 100 percent of the world’s inter-continental electronic communications traffic is carried by the undersea cable infrastructure,” the ROGUCCI report stated. “The probability of a global or regional failure is very low; however, it is not zero. The impact of such a failure on international security and economic stability could be devastating.”

Rauscher wrote about the need to be prepared for a “hostile maritime crisis” that, through physical damage to the undersea cables, could compromise the Internet on a worldwide scale.

Global policy surrounding the Internet infrastructure needs to be revamped before such an emergency, Rauscher told SecurityNewsDaily. Top-priority communications — police, fire, emergency networks — need to be able to travel across the Web from one country to another, a practice inhibited by current policy.

Other factors affecting the unseen cables powering the Internet are deep-sea mining, aquaculture development, and the increasing numbers and sizes of ships. Vessel anchors are significant causes of cable faults, Rauscher explained.

All the issues need to be addressed in order to ensure an Internet infrastructure that is, as Rauscher put it in the ROGUCCI report, “highly available, highly reliable, highly robust, highly resilient and highly secure.”

Currently, Rauscher is working on an International Priority Communications Policy, which would allow for critical Internet and phone communication to get across the world in the event of an emergency.

He is scheduled to present his findings in London Nov. 16, as a pre-presentation to the Worldwide Cybersecurity Summit to be held June 1-2.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]