Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101107

Financial Crisis
»Bankruptcy of U.S. Is ‘Mathematical Certainty, ‘ Says Former CEO of Nation’s 10th Largest Bank
»Germany Attacks US Economic Policy
»QE2 — the Day After: Entire World Blasts Deranged Madman’s Uncheckable Insanity
»CIA Traitor Set to Become the First Man Convicted of Betraying America Twice
»Clintonite: Obama Needs OKC Bombing to “Reconnect With the American People”
»GOP Rep. West to Join Congressional Black Caucus
»Judge Ruled Prosecutors Should Not Have Publicly Released Holy Land Unindicted Co-Conspirators List
»Liberal Mass. State Senator Jamie Eldridge Working With & Raising Money From Muslim Coalition Tied to Pro-Terrorism, Jihad, Anti-Semitism
»Mother Convicted of ‘Cooking’ Her Month-Old Baby to Death in a Microwave Oven Has Ruling Overturned
»The Irony: Former Weather Underground Leader Worries About ‘Armed’ Tea Parties
»US Senator Sees ‘Confrontation’ With China, War With Iran
»We Won — Now What?
»White House: Obama Conducting Reign of Terror
Europe and the EU
»A Farewell to Arms?
»Border-Workers Are Like Rats, Revolt Against the Swiss Campaign
»Islamic Forum Head: Islamophobia Like 1930s Anti-Semitism
»Italy: Poll Puts Berlusconi’s Party on Top
»Italy: Trash crisis: Berlusconi urges Neapolitans to get recycling
»Political Centre Moves to the Right
»Swedes Arrest Man Suspected of Shooting Immigrants
»Swedes in Shock at King Carl Gustaf Sex Scandal
»UK: Did Union Go Too Far With Islam Debate?
»UK: Five Britons Sue Over ‘Fatal Fault in Heart Implant’
»UK: The Solar Panel Gold Rush That Threatens to Ruin Our Countryside…and Make Millions for the Germans and Chinese
»Wilders Accuses Merkel of Copying His Politics
North Africa
»Libya Orders U.S. Diplomat to Leave: Reports
Israel and the Palestinians
»Arab Villagers Declare ‘Jews Out!’
»Zahar: Jews Will Soon be Expelled From Palestine
Middle East
»Alevis Set to Rally Against Turkish Education Council’s Decisions
»Civil War That Islam Will Have to Settle
»Commission for Education Proposes Mandatory Islamic Values in Turkish Schools
»Ehud Barak: Iran is Trying to Deceive the World
»Saudi Arabia: Prince in Spain for Weapons Contract
»Syrian Government to Step Up Internet Censorship
»Turkey Has Only Itself to Blame if it is Shunned by the EU
»UAE: F1 Arrives at Amusement Park With ‘Ferrari World’
»Understanding the Middle East: One Day’s Survey
»Yemen: Authorities Plan to Prosecute Militant Cleric
»Nuclear Bomb Material Found for Sale on Georgia Black Market
South Asia
»13 Year Old Christian Girl Raped by Young Pakistani Muslim
»Burmese Defector Reveals Truth About Junta’s Nuclear Ambitions
»India: Not Everyone’s Going Gaga Over the Obamas in Mumbai
»Indonesian Muslims Protest Obama’s Planned Visit
»‘Not Again!’: Hero Superjumbo Pilot and His Crew Among Passengers as a Second Qantas Engine ‘Explodes’
»Pakistan: Kashmir Students Trained to Wage Jihad on India
»US Officials Worry Indonesian Militants Are Regrouping, Eyeing Western Targets in the Country
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somali Pirates Receive Record Ransom
Latin America
»Brazil: Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button in Machine-Gun Ambush
»Dutch Government Says Immigrants Must Pay for ‘Integration’
»How Sarrazin’ s Immigration Views Touched a German Nerve
»Migrants Must Pay for Integration — Dutch Govt
»Time to Sound the Alarm on Canada’s Immigration Policy
Culture Wars
»Public Debate: Multiculturalism at Its Limits?
»Refugees Flee the Tyranny of Social Workers
»Al Qaeda’s Chief Bomb Maker Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri is Understood to be Planting Explosives in Gifts Bound for Britain, Europe and the US. They Would be Timed to Explode Once the Toys Are in Stores.
»The West is Turning Against Big Government — But What Comes Next?
»Why Do Western Leaders Support Muslim Brotherhood?

Financial Crisis

Bankruptcy of U.S. Is ‘Mathematical Certainty, ‘ Says Former CEO of Nation’s 10th Largest Bank

John Allison, who for two decades served as chairman and CEO of BB&T, the nation’s 10th largest bank, told it is a “mathematical certainty” that the United States government will go bankrupt unless it dramatically changes its fiscal direction.

Allison likened what he sees as the predictable future bankruptcy of the United States to the problems at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose insolvency he also said was foreseeable to those who studied their business practices and financial situation.

“I think the first thing we have to realize is where we’re going and to face it objectively,” Allison told, when asked about the trillion-dollar-plus deficits the federal government has run for three straight years, the more than $13 trillion in federal debt, and the $61.9 trillion long-term shortfall the government faces (according to the analysis of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation) if the government is to pay all the benefits it has promised through entitlement programs.

“If you run the numbers, on all those numbers that you just talked about, which I think are accurate, very accurate, in 20 or 25 years, the United States goes bankrupt,” said Allison. “It’s a mathematical certainty.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany Attacks US Economic Policy

Germany has put itself on a collision course with the US over the global economy, after its finance minister launched an extraordinary attack on policies being pursued in Washington.

Wolfgang Schäuble accused the US of undermining its policymaking credibility, increasing global economic uncertainty and of hypocrisy over exchange rates. The US economic growth model was in a “deep crisis,” he also warned over the weekend.

His comments set the stage for acrimonious talks at the G20 summit in Seoul starting on Thursday. Germany has been irritated at US proposals that it should make more effort to reduce its current account surplus. But Berlin policymakers were also alarmed by last week’s US Federal Reserve decision to pump an extra $600bn into financial markets in an attempt to revive US economic prospects through “quantitative easing”.

On Friday, Mr Schäuble described US policy as “clueless”. In a Der Spiegel magazine interview, to be published on Monday, he expanded his criticism further, saying decisions taken by the Fed “increase the insecurity in the world economy”.

“ They make a reasonable balance between industrial and developing countries more difficult and they undermine the credibility of the US in finance policymaking.”

Mr Schäuble added: “It is not consistent when the Americans accuse the Chinese of exchange rate manipulation and then steer the dollar exchange rate artificially lower with the help of their [central bank’s] printing press.”

Germany’s export success, he argued, was not based on “exchange rate tricks” but on increased competitiveness. “In contrast, the American growth model is in a deep crisis. The Americans have lived for too long on credit, overblown their financial sector and neglected their industrial base. There are lots of reasons for the US problems — German export surpluses are not part of them.”

There was also “considerable doubt” as to whether pumping endless money into markets made sense, Mr Schäuble argued. “The US economy is not lacking liquidity.”

On the future of the eurozone, Mr Schäuble confirmed in the same interview that Berlin will push for a greater private investor involvement in future bail-outs. To ensure German taxpayers faced the smallest possible burden it was important to have the possibility of an orderly debt restructuring with the participation of private creditors, he said.

Germany’s proposals for a planned new rescue mechanism have run into resistance from the European Central Bank, which fears they will add to investor uncertainty at a crucial time for Europe’s 12-year old monetary union. Mr Schäuble said the new mechanism would apply only to new eurozone debt but argued the European Union “was not founded to enrich financial investors”.

Mr Schäuble envisaged a two-stage process in a future crisis. The EU would put in place the same sort of saving and rescue programme as imposed this year on Greece. In a first stage, the term structure of government debt could be extended. If that did not work, then in a second stage, private creditors would have to take a discount on their holdings. In return, the value of the remainder would be guaranteed, Mr Schäuble said.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

QE2 — the Day After: Entire World Blasts Deranged Madman’s Uncheckable Insanity

Yesterday’s Ben Bernanke penned an Op-Ed in which he essentially said: “I am doing whatever I interpret my mandate to be, which right now means only thing: Dow 36,000. I am only accountable to the private bank that is the Federal Reserve, a few Wall Street CEOs, and no one else. Congress has no power over me. Try to stop me.” And while the stock market is so far in love with this exhibition of outright hubris which promises record bonuses even as a record number of Americans subsist on foodstamps and real, not BLS, unemployment is over 20%, putting the Chairman in a long-overdue strait jacket will ultimately require an outright clash between those who still believe in that piece paper called the constitution and the kleptocratic cartel to whom the trade-off between a senior bond impairment and their first born is never all that clear. And while more and more try to educate a hypnotized, strategically defaulting US society what QE2 means to their future, the rest of the world is already rising in a tidal wave of disapproval aimed at the Federal Reserve. As the FT reports, Brazil, China, German, and Thailand, and soon everyone else, have already voiced thighest criticism and their condemnation of this escalation in FX wars.

China, Brazil and Germany on Thursday criticised the Fed’s action a day earlier, and a string of east Asian central banks said they were preparing measures to defend their economies against large capital inflows.

Guido Mantega, the Brazilian finance minister who was the first to warn of a “currency war”, said: “Everybody wants the US economy to recover, but it does no good at all to just throw dollars from a helicopter.”

Mr Mantega added: “You have to combine that with fiscal policy. You have to stimulate consumption.” Germany also expressed concern.

An adviser to the Chinese central bank called unbridled printing of dollars the biggest risk to the global economy and said China should use currency policy and capital controls to cushion itself from external shocks.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


CIA Traitor Set to Become the First Man Convicted of Betraying America Twice

A CIA double agent could become the first person ever convicted of betraying his country twice.

Jim Nicholson, 59, will plead guilty to a federal indictment accusing him of conspiring to act as an agent of a foreign government and laundering money, it has been revealed.

The government accused Nicholson of orchestrating a plot to use his son to sneak messages from a federal prison in Oregon to Russian intelligence officials and collect a ‘pension’ for his illicit service to Russia in the 1990s.

Nicknamed ‘Batman’ early in his 16-year career with the CIA, Nicholson has been kept in a lockdown unit known to inmates as the ‘hole’.

He is the highest-ranking CIA officer ever convicted of espionage.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Clintonite: Obama Needs OKC Bombing to “Reconnect With the American People”

Former Clintonite and Democrat operative Mark Penn says Obama needs an OKC bombing to regain his popularity.

“Remember, President Clinton reconnected through Oklahoma, right?” said Penn on Chris Matthews’ Hardball show on Thursday. “And the president right now seems removed. It wasn’t until that speech [after the bombing] that [Clinton] really clicked with the American public. Obama needs a similar” defining moment, according to Penn.

[Return to headlines]

GOP Rep. West to Join Congressional Black Caucus

Congressman-elect Allen West (R-Fla.) said he plans to join the Congressional Black Caucus next year.

West, one of two black Republicans elected to Congress in Tuesday’s election, said he plans to join the Democratic-dominated bloc, to challenge, in West words, the CBC’s “monolithic voice.”

“I plan on joining, I’m not gonna ask for permission or whatever, I’m gonna find out when they meet and I will be a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and I think I meet all of the criteria and it’s so important that we break down this ‘monolithic voice’ that continues to talk about victimization and dependency in the black community,” West said on WOR radio.

[Return to headlines]

Judge Ruled Prosecutors Should Not Have Publicly Released Holy Land Unindicted Co-Conspirators List

One of the most widely circulated documents from Dallas’ Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing case should never have been released publicly and violated the Fifth Amendment due process rights of a prominent Islamic organization, according to a federal judge’s ruling recently ordered unsealed by an appeals court.

The finding by U.S. District Judge Jorge Solis is a bittersweet victory for the North American Islamic Trust.

The trust, along with the Council on American Islamic Relations and the Islamic Society of North America, have for years said that their inclusion among Holy Land’s unindicted co-conspirators — a list of 246 individuals and groups — amounts to guilt by association.

Despite the Fifth Amendment violation, Solis denied NAIT’s request to have its name taken off the government’s list, finding “ample evidence” linking it to Holy Land.

He also ordered the list sealed, although, in the three years since it was released by prosecutors, untold copies have circulated on the Internet, particularly on conservative counterterrorism sites that often cite it to link individuals and groups to alleged extremism.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Liberal Mass. State Senator Jamie Eldridge Working With & Raising Money From Muslim Coalition Tied to Pro-Terrorism, Jihad, Anti-Semitism

Group brags about meeting with Senator on Internet posts

Massachusetts State Senator Jamie Eldridge, who is currently running for re-election, has been meeting with and is soliciting donations (and volunteer help) from a Muslim group with a long history of support of terrorism, jihad, and anti-Semitism. Its Massachusetts chapter is run by the well-known Muslim leader Tahir Ali, who has been working personally with Eldridge…

[Return to headlines]

Mother Convicted of ‘Cooking’ Her Month-Old Baby to Death in a Microwave Oven Has Ruling Overturned

An Ohio woman who was convicted of ‘cooking’ her month old baby to death in a microwave had the ruling dramatically reversed today.

China Arnold, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2008 for killing 28-day-old Paris Talley in August 2005.

But the 2nd District Ohio Court of Appeals in Dayton ruled that the woman should be freed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Irony: Former Weather Underground Leader Worries About ‘Armed’ Tea Parties

A former leader of a ‘70s protest group responsible for bombing the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, police stations and other targets is worried that “racist, armed, hostile, crazy-making” tea parties pose an “unspeakable” threat to America.

Bernardine Dohrn, who with her husband William Ayers were leaders of the communist revolutionary Weather Underground, had been tied to so many acts of protest violence in the ‘70s that she was placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List and was described by J. Edgar Hoover as the “most dangerous woman in America.”

Her association with Barack Obama notably led to Sarah Palin’s famous comment during the 2008 presidential campaign that Obama had been “palling around with terrorists.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

US Senator Sees ‘Confrontation’ With China, War With Iran

The United States faces a possible war with Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions and a “period of confrontation” with China over its currency, a top US lawmaker warned Saturday.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said his fellow conservative, fresh from their historic elections romp this week, support “bold” action to deal with Iran.

If President Barack Obama “decides to be tough with Iran beyond sanctions, I think he is going to feel a lot of Republican support for the idea that we cannot let Iran develop a nuclear weapon,” he told the Halifax International Security Forum.

“The last thing America wants is another military conflict, but the last thing the world needs is a nuclear-armed Iran… Containment is off the table.”

The South Carolina Republican saw the United States going to war with the Islamic republic “not to just neutralize their nuclear program, but to sink their navy, destroy their air force and deliver a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guard, in other words neuter that regime.” [emphasis added]

[Finally, a whiff of sanity is coming from Capitol Hill. This time around, follow the Army’s motto of “we break things” as in; break the bad boys’ toys and get out! No more nation building in Islamic countries. Not ever. That crap is over with once and for all time. — Z]

He spoke just days before expected nuclear talks will see US and Iranian officials sitting at the same table for discussions on Tehran’s nuclear drive. The two countries have lacked diplomatic ties since the Iran hostage crisis of 1979.

World powers led by Washington suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is aimed at making nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

US Democratic Senator Mark Udall, who joined Graham during a panel discussion at the forum in Halifax, Nova Scotia, urged continued sanctions against Iran. But he also noted that “every option is on the table,” a thinly veiled reference to possible military action.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said negotiations were still at “the stage of diplomacy and sanctions.”

“It’s not clear if this will work at the end,” he cautioned.

“Iran is a major threat to any conceivable world order.”

[Ya think?!? — Z]

The electoral defeat of four Democrats who sat on the powerful US House Armed Services Committee bolsters the Republican’s position.

But Democrats may gain surprise support for continued diplomacy from some ultra-conservative Tea Party newcomers to Washington who diverge on foreign policy matters with their Republican brethren.

Various UN resolutions and sanctions have sought to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment activities, so far having little effect.

Graham also warned of a forthcoming “period of confrontation” with China over its “cheating” currency manipulation.

[Some more refreshingly plain language, especially in dealing with the snot-nosed Chinese. Using the work “cheating” ought to put a twist in their knickers. — Z]

US and European lawmakers have called for a stronger Chinese currency as their economies struggle to recover from the global financial crisis. US lawmakers claim the yuan is grossly undervalued and causes global trade imbalances.

Several countries ranging from Japan to Colombia have intervened in recent weeks to make their currencies cheaper in the hope of exporting their way out of the downturn, fueling fears of a global currency war.

Currency tensions boiled over at the recent annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, with China rejecting calls for a quick revaluation.

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

We Won — Now What?

The Republican win on Tuesday was far larger than the historic takeback of 1994, the stunning rebuke of Bill Clinton that subsequently forced a chastised president to enact welfare reform (a flying-pig moment). On Tsunami Tuesday, the Republicans won more seats in the House than at any time since 1948 — 65 seats, the biggest swing by either party in the 62 years since then, along with another six seats in the Senate. We changed the world at the state level, completely flipping 18 state legislatures, including North Carolina, which hasn’t seen a Republican majority since 1870. The Republicans gained over 500 legislative seats. Republicans picked up at least 10 governorships, giving them more than 30. Think about that.

Even the sparse wins the subversive left managed to pull out on Tuesday were riddled with chicanery, cheating, union payoffs, and the buying of votes with “free lunches.” Harry Reid’s systemic corruption garnered a win funded by millions of dollars from public-sector unions. It was all in the game. Same for California — a state from which decent, hardworking Americans (aka Republicans) have been fleeing, a state destroyed by a union chokehold.

The stakes could not have been higher or more serious in the triumph of the rational on Tuesday. But despite the voter fraud, the SEIU/ACORN thugocracy, and the illegitimate tactics, the people spoke, and the people won. Now what? We are done with big government. We are done with recklessly stealing huge private sector wealth. We are done being taxed half to death, our future leveraged and our competitive edge destroyed.

Obama still doesn’t get it. Obama’s tone at his press conference on Wednesday was still contemptuous of the American people and shocking in terms of simple math. He had the audacity to say this: “We should be able to agree now that it makes no sense for China to have better rail systems than us, and Singapore having better airports than us. And we just learned that China now has the fastest supercomputer on Earth. That used to be us. They’re making investments, because they know those investments will pay off over the long term.”

Singapore and China are free market economies — laissez faire capitalism (though China is politically repressed, which is why they will ultimately fail). So here we have Obama whining about more successful countries that are successful because of capitalism, while driving America to the failed European model of socialism, Marxism, and serfdom.

In Obama’s big government America, the conditions in which free men produce, invent, and prosper quickly deteriorate due to government taxation and regulation. Big government has been encroaching on our lives for decades now, and with Obama, the bottom falls out.

Higher taxes imposed on the rich (and the semi-rich) come out of their investment capital (i.e., their savings). These taxes mean less investment, i.e., less production, fewer jobs, higher prices, etc. By the time the “rich” lower their standard of living, those who work in their companies or subcontract with them will be gone, along with their savings and their spouses’ jobs — and no power in the world (no economic power) will be able to revive the dead industries: there will be no such power left. (In this I am paraphrasing Ayn Rand’s words from decades ago.)

The Concorde was going to be the future of air travel, in which we’d bop from place to place in half the time. Now the Concorde is defunct. Kaput. Much like the environment for producers and businessmen, who are the “villains” of Democrats, statists, collectivists, moochers and looters.

This is the price of force. This is the price of coercion. This is the price of statism. This is the price of big government. The very idea of America has been subsumed by an enslavement mentality.

Every dollar the government robs from business, from the individual people, is a dollar that won’t be invested in the private sector. Wealth won’t be created, jobs won’t be created, entrepreneurs and businessmen will be deprived of capital, etc. The United States was founded on the principle of individual rights — government was designed to be small. The objective of the government was defense — protection of individual rights.

What has the government done with the untold wealth they looted from the American people, other than sucking much-needed capital out of our free society to pay off their thugs, crooks, and corrupt organizations, and get-out-the-vote community organizations?

Government is not the answer — it destroys everything it touches. We must take back the culture, because politics is merely a reflection of the culture. The left has the culture in a chokehold. They demonize the successful and hardworking and exalt failures, moochers and looters — an inverted moral priority.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

White House: Obama Conducting Reign of Terror

President Obama was urged by the few White House insiders from whom he still takes advice to leave the country on his ten-day Asian trip, his longest trip abroad since becoming president, in order to not inflict any more damage to the Democratic Party in the wake of one of the worst electoral defeats for the party of an incumbent president in recent history. According to sources close to the White House, who put themselves in great danger by even talking to members of the media, the plans to have Obama leave for a visit to India, Pakistan, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan are an attempt to get Obama out of the country while top Democrats can sort through the political disaster created for the party by Obama’s increasingly detached-from-reality presidency.

Virtual political guerrilla warfare has broken out between Obama’s inner circle on one hand and senior Democratic officials, including outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Party strategist James Carville, former Demcratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean, and, behind-the-scenes, Vice President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton, on the other.

Top Democrats are still reeling from Obama’s bizarre behavior at a $7500-a-plate fundraiser at a stately mansion at Brown University in Rhode Island on October 25.


Some staffers have said on deep background that the revelations by the ex-White House official to “Ulsterman” are not even half of the story about what is actually occurring in the White House.

However, Biden and other Democratic and adminstration do believe that if Obama were to display some of the same reckless behavior publicly as many White House personnel have witnessed privately, there may be wide support for enactment of the provisions of the 25th Amendment.

Such a public display by Obama that could trigger succession action might involve a public outburst, including the use of foul language or a statement that Obama believes there is a conspiracy against him.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A Farewell to Arms?

The crisis is forcing European states to make unprecedented cuts in their defence budgets, leaving their armed forces short on men and means — and eventually eroding their technological edge.

Andrea Bonanni

After having served for centuries as the world’s barracks, its premier military hegemon and then as its battlefield, “soft-power” Europe, especially now in the grip of the crisis, is succumbing to the disarming charms of a farewell to arms. It is cutting defence budgets right and left, disbanding glorious regiments, dismantling ships and aircraft carriers, and retiring tanks and planes.

As always, the alert came from the other side of the Atlantic. In the run-up to November’s NATO summit in Lisbon, which is to proclaim the Alliance’s “new strategic concept”, the US is alarmed by Europe’s dwindling defence budgets.

Europe has never spent less on its armed forces

This time around, however, those in charge of the Old Continent’s defence share that concern. “While the US keeps putting massive resources into defence, there’s no doubt that European spending won’t reach the 2% of GDP target,” admits Admiral Giampaolo Di Paola, current Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, which is now looking to contain the impact of a disarmament race.

Here’s the paradox: Europe has never spent less on its armed forces — at a time when it is more committed on the ground than ever before in postwar history, with tens of thousands of soldiers in Afghanistan, Lebanon, the Balkans, and on various missions in Africa. These missions have taken a heavy toll on human life, but on the economy as well. Now the financial crisis, followed by the public debt crisis, has forced Europe to retrench defence spending radically.

Back in 2002, all the Alliance members had targeted spending “at least” 2% of GDP every year on defence. But in 2009 only Greece (3.1%), Albania (2.0%), France (2.1%), Great Britain (2.7%) and the United States (4.0%) made good on that pledge. Italy and Germany spent 1.4%, Spain 1.2%. Next year, in all likelihood, the US will be the only one still over the 2% mark.

Cameron leads the cutbacks

The first austerity measures came in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown. And now, British PM David Cameron has just announced 8% in cutbacks on military spending for the next four years. London is going to do without its sole aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, whilst waiting for two new ones currently being built, and drastically pare down its purchase orders for the new American-made Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) planes. It will keep its nuclear programme going on the Trident submarines, while downsizing the Royal Navy. The defence sector will shed 42,000 employees by 2015.

France, on the other hand, has confirmed its budgetary commitments for this year, but military experts expect the axe to fall next year. France and Britain have already drafted deals to manage their nuclear arsenal jointly, and share the expense — likewise for the new fleet of A400 Airbus military transport planes. Germany, which is now switching from a conscript army to a professional army, smaller in size but more costly to run, is likewise bracing to chip away at defence spending.

And over in the Netherlands, the new government has already said it won’t be buying any JSFs. Italy is tightening its belt too: after opting out of NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capabilities (SAC) programme, which involves buying and sharing C130 military transport craft, it is now going to order 25 fewer Eurofighter planes than planned.

Disarmament has not compromised our security yet

All the analysts concur that, despite the cuts, not a single country has reduced the pay for men in uniform in Afghanistan or anywhere else — but they are feeling the pinch there, too. And Europe’s shilly-shallying on the American request to send 10,000 more men to Kabul last year was not only caused by political indecisiveness, but by financial shortfalls as well.

For the time being, at least, European disarmament has not compromised our security yet, although Europeans would have a hard time mounting another major military operation in the event of a crisis. The idea of sending a peacekeeping force to Somalia was shelved partly for political reasons, but partly owing to financial straits. And sending in a buffer force in the event of a Middle East peace deal would not be possible without revising the defence budgets. Admiral Di Paola points out that “major arms development projects are under way in other parts of the world.

We might lose our technological edge very soon. Our qualitative superiority needs to be maintained at all costs, even if it means quantitative sacrifices.” So once again the cuts will impact the economy and the competitiveness of the “European system” more than our security. Still, Europe may be shooting itself in the foot at the very moment it is struggling to get its economies up and running again.

Translated from the Italian by Eric Rosencrantz

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

Border-Workers Are Like Rats, Revolt Against the Swiss Campaign

The controversial advertisement against border-workers. Two politicians are asking authorities to intervene to protect the workers, who have long been at the heart of controversies and tension.

The advertisement against border-workers has become a government matter. Already two politicians have raised the issue; one is the Mayor-MP for Verbania, Marco Zacchera, and the other is the Senator for Como, Alessio Butti, both of the “Popolo della Libertà”. The two MPs are asking for action to protect the Italian workers in the Swiss Canton Ticino, who are the subject of a nasty advertising campaign, on the Internet, and on roadside billboards, depicting them as rats taking from a round of cheese, or rather, from the coffers of Switzerland. The group “Bala i ratt” (this is the name of the website and of the campaign) has more than 540 friends on Facebook (only last Monday, there were few more than 100), and it has attracted the attention of the Italian and Swiss media.

The creators of this bright idea are still unknown, although a few names did emerge yesterday; like that of Pierre Rusconi, the leader of the UDC party in Canton Ticino (this party has very different positions from those of the Italian UDC), and of the company Ferrise Comunicazioni in Locarno (which is already known to the Italian press because of another controversial advertisement), but other people are also involved.

“We know the people responsible for this ‘pleasant’ provocation, whose purpose is to raise a few of the issues that are most important to the people.” This is what appeared on the website of Il Mattino, which is close to the Ticino League. “What are the names? Is it a political party? We’ll tell you tomorrow. In the meantime, we’re sending it to everyone that was immediately offended, to make it clear that employment and reduced salaries are topics that are important to most of the people from Canton Ticino.

“Of course,” the article continues, “we are not seeking to condemn or criminalise border-workers (as the Socialists are trying to make out), we are highlighting objective data. We haven’t just invented the number of 45,000 border-workers! And the fathers of families in Canton Ticino, including foreign residents who live, work and pay taxes in this country, know perfectly well what we’re talking about! This is not racism, but a pure and simple description of the situation!” However, the Ticino State Council issued an official note yesterday saying that there is nothing “pleasant” about this story, that its contents are “offensive”, and reiterated the importance of border-workers to the local economy. The Ticino trade unions agree, including the OCST, who defined the message as “disconcerting”, as do the Italian trade unions, who have spoken of a wretched attack against honest workers.

For a long time, harsh judgements have been made by some political forces in Canton Ticino against border-workers. The worst moment was reached a few months ago, when the tax shield came into force, when the border-workers found themselves in a situation that was confusing with respect to the Italian inland revenue, that culminated with a protest in Lugano, and subsequently resolved, albeit with “retaliation” threatened by the Ticino League.

Maria Carla Cebrellimaria

Translated by Prof. Rolf Cook

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

Islamic Forum Head: Islamophobia Like 1930s Anti-Semitism

Growing Islamophobia echoes the rise of anti-Semitism in the 1930s with US leaders resisting it but Europeans abetting the trend for political gain, the head of the world’s largest Islamic group said.

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, or OIC, said xenophobia directed at Muslim immigrants was taking hold, especially in Europe. Vote-seeking politicians were advancing extremist groups behind the anti-Muslim sentiment.

“This issue has become a political agenda item,” the Turkish head of the 58-member OIC told AFP in an interview, while stressing that Islam was also a European religion. “What worries me is that political authorities or political parties, instead of stopping this, or fighting this, some of them are using this for their political ends, to gain more popular support in elections,” he said.

“I’m afraid that we are going through a process like the beginning of the ‘30s of the last century, when an anti-Semitic agenda became politically a big issue [together with] the rise of fascism and Nazism ….. I think now we are in the first stages of such a thing.”

A “pandemic of Islam vilification” is rising steadily, he warned, as documented by the OIC’s newly-established office to monitor Islamophobia around the globe.

Ihsanoglu pointed to the protests in the United States against the “Ground Zero” Islamic centre in New York City, to the anti-burqa movement in Europe, to physical attacks on Muslims on both sides of the Atlantic.

The problem which most concerned him was the institutionalization of anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe, citing Switzerland’s ban on minarets atop mosques and the movement to ban Muslim women’s “burqa” full-face covers.

“This burqa business is really a sad story, it’s only a few people who are doing this [wearing the burqa]. … It’s just part of old habits of certain tribes in certain countries, it’s not at all to do with Islam.”

Yet countries like France, Spain and Holland were reacting with legislation. The OIC chief from secular Turkey predicted that time would take care of problem issues such as the burqa, as Muslims from less-developed cultures reach “a modern way of life.”

But focusing on assimilation was the wrong approach. “Why assimilation? If Europe and the West are advocating the rights of minorities all over the world, why then when it comes to Europe do we speak about assimilation? Again, that shows the double standard.”

“Europe has to understand the reality of Islam today, and the reality that Islam is not an alien religion of Europe. Islam is a European religion, and Europe has to come to terms with Islam.”

Mustachioed, with the erudite bearing of a scholarly British diplomat, Ihsanoglu is an expert in Islamic cultural history and the history of science, with a long career as a professor and department head at Istanbul University.

Born in Cairo in 1943, he has led the Jeddah-based OIC since 2005 through a period when the Islamic world has been mired in cultural wars with itself and with the West. Ihsanoglu spoke to AFP before the massacre of more than 50 Christians by al-Qaeda Islamists in a Baghdad church on Oct. 31. In an official statement, he has vehemently condemned the killings as a “criminal and terrorist act.”

While such violent attacks feed anti-Islamic hate, he argued Islamophobia arised separately from them. “I think we have to keep extremism out of this discussion, which is a different topic.” The real issue, he insisted, was how anti-Muslim sentiment was included in high-level policy debate in some European countries.

In the United States, he said, Islamophobia was not as virulent. One reason was that Muslim immigrants to the U.S. were better-educated and fitted in more easily. A key difference was how Washington had consistently resisted admitting anti-Islamic emotions into public policy.

“For instance, this marginal pastor who wanted to burn Korans. The [U.S.] government took responsibility and talked to him and convinced him not to do that.”

While he advocates cultural compromise, Ihsanoglu draws the line at certain things, like the Danish cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that sparked outrage among Muslims worldwide after they first appeared in 2005.

“Asking us to accept the cartoons is asking to accept insults as a norm. How can people ask us to accept the cartoons? This is indecent,” he said, adding a warning that radicals on both sides should not be allowed to set the agenda. “We are getting held hostage by the marginal groups on the European side and on the Muslim side,” he said.

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

Italy: Poll Puts Berlusconi’s Party on Top

Rome, 3 Nov. (AKI) — Embattled Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative People of Liberty Party (PDL) is still Italy’s most popular political party, according to a new poll published Wednesday by financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore.

The PDL would win 29.5 percent of votes if elections were held at the time of the survey. The Democratic Party (PD), the next most popular party, would get 24 percent of the votes, according to the Ipsos Srl survey, held between 10 October and 28 October.

Last week Berlusconi came under fire for his murky relationship with teenage Moroccan runaway and belly dancer, Karima Keyek, known by her stage name ‘Ruby’.

The 74-year-old premier is accused of abuse of power for allegedly intervening to obtain Keyek’s release from police custody when she was arrested in May on suspicion of stealing cash and valuables from a female acquaintance in Milan.

Keyek, who was then 17, claims to have been a guest at his villa in Arcore near Milan, where sex games were played, and to have received thousands of euros in cash, jewellery and a car from the premier, according to reports in several Italian dailies.

Berlusconi said on Tuesday that his government will complete its 5-year mandate which expires in 2013.

No margin of error was given for the Ipsos poll of 8,500 adults.

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

Italy: Trash crisis: Berlusconi urges Neapolitans to get recycling

Government plans will work with local help, says premier

(ANSA) — Rome, November 5 — Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi urged Neapolitans to start recycling to help solve their city’s trash crisis Friday and said government plans for Naples refuse problems will work if local authorities do their bit.

Last week Berlusconi said it would take just three days to clear thousands of tonnes of uncollected refuse, but trash is still piled up on the southern city’s streets. The efforts have been hampered by violent protests by demonstrators opposed to dumps situated on the outskirts of Naples and in the surrounding area.

“According to our studies, only 15% of rubbish in Naples is separated for recycling,” Berlusconi told a press conference after a cabinet meeting.

“The public must make an effort to increase this to reduce the amount of rubbish taken to dumps”.

He said local authorities in the area were to blame if the problem had returned after his administration ended a similar crisis in 2008.

“The opposition has found an opportunity to say our plan was not effective, but that plan works and it will work if the local institutions do their duty and proceed with the opening of new landfill sites and the construction of new incinerators,” Berlusconi said.

The Premier added that a decree on the creation of new incinerators, including some in the Naples area, will be presented at the next cabinet meeting.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Political Centre Moves to the Right

Rightwing parties across Europe have claimed the high ground, stirring fears of Islamicisation and demanding the deportation of foreign criminals.

Austrian political scientist Reinhold Gärtner tells that Switzerland, which has already voted to ban new minarets and is expected to demand tougher measures against foreigners committing serious offences, is no different to the rest of continent.

Last November, the Swiss decided unexpectedly that minarets did not have a place on the skyline, a proposal backed by the rightwing People’s Party. The same party is now pushing for automatic deportation of foreigners committing serious crimes, an issue that goes to a nationwide vote in a few weeks’ time.

Reinhold Gärtner: I think you can put it like that. Switzerland is an example for many people in Europe. Here in Austria there are also initiatives demanding that new minarets be banned. That has already been pushed through in the provinces of Carinthia and Vorarlberg. And in Cologne, Germany, there was massive opposition to a planned mosque.

Other countries are also discussing deporting foreign residents who have committed crimes. In Switzerland, that means up to 350,000 people could be potentially affected. In Austria, there are 120,000 people born here but who don’t have an Austrian passport. So what do we do with them? Deportation doesn’t seem to be the right way to go about this.

R.G.: It’s true that the centre is shifting to the right. It’s happened in France with Sarkozy and with the Austrian People’s Party. But it’s wrong for them to think they can seize the high ground from the rightwing parties by moving even further to the right.

The centre-right needs instead to clearly state its position and differentiate itself from all this agitation and smear campaigns. That is our approach. The centre-right would be much stronger than if it keeps on veering to the right.

R.G.: In every society there are — objectively speaking — real problems that are considered subjectively as either not having been resolved or only partially resolved. For a long time, political structures remained frozen. This is no longer the case: voters are more mobile, and a large number of them respond to the seemingly simple solutions proposed by rightwing parties.

These parties use fear, negative emotions, to get their message through. They have realised that voters respond to that, especially those who harbour their own subjective fears.

A lot of those people are in fact afraid of losing something. These fears are stoked and help make these parties successful. We live in a time of globalisation. Many people suffer because of this, because they fear for their jobs and are afraid they will not be able to maintain their standard of living.

The economic crisis could also bolster social conflicts and help boost the stocks of rightwing parties.

Reinhold Gärtner believes rightwing parties have not peaked yet (zVg)

R.G.: I would say so. There have always been bogeymen and scapegoats. And right now, especially after the September 11 attacks, Muslims or Islam have taken on this role.

Islam is being equated with crime and terrorism, foreigners with Turks and Muslims. Islam is seen as a monolithic religion, a simplification that is as untrue for Islam as for other religious groups.

The truth is Islam is a fact of life in many European countries. In Austria, it was recognised in 1912 and is probably the second-biggest religious group in Europe. There are even Muslim states in Europe, such as Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

R.G.: It’s hard to say. If you look at the most successful parties, such as the Swiss People’s Party, with 29 per cent of votes at the last federal elections, more gains seem possible. But it won’t go on climbing forever, because there are other political opinions and our society is heterogeneous. These parties will eventually peak, but I cannot say when.

R.G.: Switzerland’s power-sharing government is based on a different political culture [to most other countries’]. In Austria, the Freedom Party failed as a cabinet partner. In Italy, the Lega Nord is still in the coalition. There is no recipe. But it is difficult for rightwing parties to push through their programme in a coalition government. Because the simple answers they preach don’t exist.

Gabriele Ochsenbein,

(Adapted from German by Scott Capper)

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

Swedes Arrest Man Suspected of Shooting Immigrants

MALMO, Sweden — Police have arrested a man suspected of shooting randomly at immigrants in a yearlong rampage that terrorized Sweden’s third-largest city as tensions over immigration rose across the Nordic nation.

The suspect, a 38-year-old Swede with a gun license and no criminal record, has denied the allegations, investigators said Sunday.

He was taken into custody at his home Saturday in the southern city of Malmo, questioned then arrested on suspicion of one murder and seven attempted murders, police spokesman Borje Sjoholm told reporters.

“The reason we became interested in this man was tip-offs from the public,” he said in Malmo, adding that two weapons were also seized. He would not confirm whether either weapon was used in the shootings.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Swedes in Shock at King Carl Gustaf Sex Scandal

Five months ago, the Swedish royal family was the toast of Europe. All eyes were trained on Stockholm as the glamorous Crown Princess Victoria wed her long-time boyfriend in a fairy-tale ceremony, and the world’s press clamoured for a glimpse of the elegant Swedish royals and their regal guests.

Now the international media is again camped outside the gates of Stockholm’s Drottningholm Palace — but this time for far less congratulatory reason.

Revelations last week that the King of Sweden once enjoyed romps in seedy nightclubs owned by shadowy underworld figures have eclipsed the sparkle of July’s wedding. King Carl XVI Gustaf, the stern-looking, bespectacled monarch who is honorary chairman of the World Scout Foundation, has found himself thrust uncomfortably in the spotlight following the publication of an unflinching book, Carl XVI Gustaf — Den motvillige monarken(Carl XVI Gustaf — The reluctant monarch) which catalogues his past predilection for wild, alcohol-fuelled orgies and naked jacuzzi parties with models.

The book has caused uproar and dominated the country’s media, leading to nationwide soul-searching about the 64-year-old King’s role, reputation and right to privacy.

“Strip clubs, illegal clubs, rented ladies who are naked under their fur coats. Women were simply desserts, used as sweets to be served with the coffee,” wrote Katrine Kielos in the daily Aftonbladet newspaper.

“The royal family has always been viewed as an august, fabulous family. But these allegations are so grave that our trust in them is seriously damaged,” said Jenny Madestam, a political analyst. “The King is not even denying it.”

Indeed, the King’s bizarre press conference on Thursday — held in a forest after an elk hunt — only served to fan the flames of interest.

“I have spoken with my family and the Queen and we choose to turn the page and move forward because, as I understand, these are things that happened a long time ago,” he said — standing in a field, still dressed in his wax jacket and hunting clothes, among a sea of camera crews and reporters.

His handling of the book’s publication has shocked some observers.

“Now is the time for the King to be quiet and give no comments. Instead, he says yes to a press conference in the middle of the forest where anything can happen. It is like playing Russian roulette,” said Paul Ronge, a PR expert, in the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper.

“His statement can be interpreted as a confession. It is beneath his dignity to even comment a gossip book about his private life. Now the plug is gone and the papers can print page after page with material from the book.

“For the royal court to handle the issue like kindergarten behaviour, without responsibility is very serious”.

Indeed, the allegations that the king frequented Mafia-run clubs and used the state police to hide the evidence are extremely serious.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Did Union Go Too Far With Islam Debate?

As the oldest student society in the world, the Cambridge Union debating society has a long history of courting controversy.

Debates on issues as diverse as prostitution, abortion, gay rights, the media, asylum seekers, Iraq, pornography and tuition fees have all taken place over the last few years.

Since it was founded in 1815, it has welcomed speakers from across the globe, and leading figures appearing just this term include comedienne Jo Brand, BBC journalist Andrew Marr and former Scotland rugby union international Gavin Hastings.

But the society has come under fire over an ill-tempered debate on Thursday on the motion: “This house believes Islam is a threat to the West”.

The union has been accused of giving the debate an inflammatory motion title to stir up controversy, and speaker Stephen Gash — from pressure group Stop the Islamification of Europe — was described by the society as considering “the ideology of religious Islam hateful and incompatible with freedom and democracy”.

He was heckled by members of the audience, and stormed out before the end of the debate.

The other speakers were Stephen Green, director of conservative Christian pressure group Christian Voice, writer Idris Tawfiq, who converted to Islam after being a Roman Catholic priest, and Muhammad Abdul Bari, chairman of the East London Mosque, and former secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Madeleine Fresko, a Cambridge student who attended the debate, said some Muslim students had been “very scared” by its title.

She said: “It’s an inappropriate title to be put forward. Only one of the speakers, Stephen Gash, spoke for the motion — the other two actually argued that all religions are a threat to the west, or that it is political Islam which is a threat.

“At one point Gash said to one of the other speakers: ‘You’re acting like a typical Muslim’.

“He was heckled quite a bit during the debate. He had someone shouting: ‘Get him out, he’s a racist’ at one point. He just walked out half-way through the last speech.

“It was the sensationalism of the title I have a problem with, it was designed to get people in the door, and in that respect it worked.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Five Britons Sue Over ‘Fatal Fault in Heart Implant’

A heart implant used by almost 7,000 UK patients has been linked to a fault that can trigger electric shocks and cause fatal cardiac arrests.

The Sprint Fidelis defibrillator device has been blamed for 13 deaths.

Now five patients have launched a multi-million-pound legal claim through UK courts after a £165 million compensation payout in the US.

One of those suing, company director Chris Pitt, says he was temporarily paralysed by 35 electric shocks to his heart in a single day.

The defibrillators are implanted under the skin near the shoulder and provide shocks to the heart to try to stop potentially deadly rhythm disruptions.

They are different from pacemakers, which provide lower-voltage stimulation to maintain proper heart rhythm.

The problem appears to lie with the extra-thin metal lead which connects the device to the heart.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Solar Panel Gold Rush That Threatens to Ruin Our Countryside…and Make Millions for the Germans and Chinese

Farmers are being offered up to £50,000 a year to fill fields with solar panels under a Government-backed green initiative that threatens to change the face of the British countryside.

More than 100 planning applications have been submitted and work on a large-scale installation in Wiltshire is due to begin later this month.

But with a 30-acre farm able to accommodate up to 18,000 of the 2ft-high panels, campaigners fear some rural areas could be submerged by a sea of black silicon slabs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Wilders Accuses Merkel of Copying His Politics

Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders says German Chancellor Angela Merkel is copying his politics. In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, the anti-Islam MP said Chancellor Merkel is scared that a charismatic figure able to attract 20 percent of the vote, will emerge in Germany.

He said traditional parties feel threatened by his movement and that is why they are copying him. He pointed out that Merkel recently declared the multicultural society a failure and CSU leader Horst Seehofer said he does not want any more Turkish or Arabic immigrants.

The controversial politician criticises a pattern he also sees in the Netherlands; he thinks the political elite is in disarray.

In October, Mr Wilders accused Chancellor Merkel of taking the leadership in anti-Islam criticism. She retorted that her criticism was not directed at a religion but at individuals that had failed to integrate.

Chancellor Merkel said earlier that she regretted that the Dutch government could not be formed without the support of an anti-Islamic party, when the new Dutch minority conservative VVD-Christian Democrat coalition took office.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya Orders U.S. Diplomat to Leave: Reports

Libya has ordered a diplomat at the United States embassy in Tripoli to leave the country within 24 hours for breaching diplomatic rules, two Libyan newspapers reported on Sunday.

The Libyan authorities gave no confirmation of the reports while a spokesman for the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, contacted by Reuters, said he had no comment. In Washington, the State Department said it had no immediate comment.

“The Libyan authorities asked the Political Affairs Secretary at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli to leave Libya within 24 hours,” the Internet edition of the Oea newspaper reported.

Citing what it called informed sources, the newspaper said the expulsion followed the diplomat’s visit to the city of Ifrane, 130 km (80 miles) south-west of the capital.

The was “considered by the Libyan authorities to be contrary to the rules and norms of diplomacy,” the newspaper said, without giving any more details.

A second Libyan newspaper, Quryna, also reported that a U.S. diplomat had been ordered to leave the country.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Arab Villagers Declare ‘Jews Out!’

Kochav Segal HaLevi, a Jewish security guard, legally bought a house in the mixed Muslim-Christian Arab village of Ibillin in northern Israel, east of Haifa. Upon moving in, however, he discovered that the locals are unwilling to let Jews live there.

It is a well known fact in Israel that Jews who try to live in Arab villages risk their lives, while Arabs live freely in Jewish neighborhoods. While leftist journalists and politicians, inside Israel and out, portray Israeli Jews as racist for fighting Arab invasions of their cities, stories like this one — which show Arabs’ zero tolerance for Jews in their neighborhoods — appear almost exclusively on Arutz Sheva.


           — Hat tip: Vito[Return to headlines]

Zahar: Jews Will Soon be Expelled From Palestine

The Jews will soon be expelled from Palestine that same way they were kicked out by France, Britain, Belgium, Russia and Germany, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said over the weekend.

“The only nation that received the Jews after they were expelled was the Islamic nation, which protected them and looked after them,” Zahar said in a speech in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip over the weekend.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Alevis Set to Rally Against Turkish Education Council’s Decisions

An Alevi organization will stage a sit-in Saturday in Istanbul to protest continuing mandatory religion classes, as well as a recent National Education Council decision to ignore the community’s demands to eliminate compulsory religious courses.

“On one hand the government has launched the Alevi initiative to solve the Alevi community’s problems, but on the other, the council headed by the education minister has rejected a proposal voiced by Alevis. They are not sincere,” Fevzi Gümüs, head of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association, a leading Alevi organization, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Friday.

“We will organize a sit-in to protest the move from the council and the mandatory religion classes on Saturday in Kadiköy at 11:30 a.m. with the participation of Alevi organizations from all around Turkey,” Gümüs said. “The decisions taken in the council are not independent of the government’s will.”

Adopting the most controversial proposals of the government-affiliated education union Egitim Bir-Sen, the council made controversial decisions at the end of its final day of discussions Thursday, including a move to change the current system of eight years of uninterrupted primary education to 13 compulsory years that will be divided into four tears.

The formula “1 plus 4, plus 4, plus 4” will consist of one year of pre-school education, four years of primary education, four years of orientation and four years of preparation for secondary education.

Despite the Alevi community’s continuing objections to compulsory religious education at schools, a proposal reflecting their demand to make mandatory religious courses optional was rejected.

In addition to compulsory classes in schools, parents who wish can enroll their children in additional, elective religious classes under a proposal from Egitim Bir-Sen.

The council also determined that religious education should be provided more efficiently in education institutions.

The council decisions are not binding and are seen merely as recommendations to the Education Ministry. Decisions need the approval of the Education Ministry to take affect but the ministry may implement all or some of them.

“The move in council is the reflection of the government’s assimilative and two-faced policy. It simply applies the Turk-Islam Synthesis by ignoring Alevis and their demands,” Gümüs said.

‘We weren’t invited to council’

“The decisions didn’t surprise us. A majority of the participants were representatives affiliated to the ruling party,” Gümüs said.

Citing the EU Human Rights Court decision in 2007 in which the court ruled against mandatory religion classes, Gümüs said the government was pursuing an illegal policy.

Ali Balkiz, chairman of the Alevi-Bektasi Federation, said President Abdullah Gül invited their federation to Oct. 29 Republican Day receptions for the past two years and added that the US Embassy also invited them to Parliament when U.S. President Barack Obama delivered a speech there in 2009.

“But the Education Minister didn’t invite us to the council, Balkiz said. “We didn’t expect a government that has this sort of mentality to make the compulsory religious classes optional. It is a council where even a proposal to separate schools for girls and boys was discussed,” he said, adding that even the minister tasked with handling the Alevi initiative said mosques should be constructed in Alevi towns.

“Look at other decisions. Religion is simply politicized in line with the ruling party’s ideology,” he said.

Tiered education also controversial

There are also contrasting views on the council’s decision to recommend tiered education from union leaders.

“The decisions are a project to convert every school into a Quran course. Once primary education is converted into a four-stage tiered system, then it will be easy for younger students to have a religious education after the fourth grade,” said Yüksel Adibelli, chairman of the Education and Science Employee Union, or Egitim Is.

“It is also a move to reopen the secondary education of the religious Imam Hatip schools and a revenge for the Feb. 28, 1997, unarmed military intervention process, which brought an uninterrupted eight-year system, which led to the closure of secondary education at Imam Hatips.”

Adibelli also said the meeting’s results could lead to religious courses beginning in preschool and during the first three years of primary school.

Ahmet Gündogdu, head of Egitim Bir-Sen, defended the tiered system, saying they proposed it so as to orient younger students toward vocational training earlier.

“Otherwise, the students weren’t given an opportunity until they turned 15 to make their choice without completing their eight-year uninterrupted education. This system gives them an opportunity to make their choice and direct them to the discipline they desire, including religion, at earlier ages,” he said.

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

Civil War That Islam Will Have to Settle

IT’S been a bad week for Islam. It’s a religion that has plenty of bad weeks, but last week was a corker.

And it goes to show we were almost certainly reckless to have invaded Iraq as a partner in the Coalition of the Willing.

The then prime minister John Howard was willing; his successor, Kevin Rudd, less so. Rudd brought the troops home and I hope it wasn’t just because they couldn’t find any weapons of mass destruction.

That’s not our fault; neither could anyone else. And they had a good scout around.

The irony, I suppose, is that the weapons of nuclear mass destruction are being constructed in Iran with the almost certain goal of trying to, or threatening to, destroy Israel, our ally.

Iraq may never have been a real front of the War on Terror. Iran is the front.

But complicating any simple assessment of the situation is the civil war that has been going on in Islam since 632 — that’s the year 632. Not much more than half a millennium after Christ tried to sort things out in the region.

Many Muslims will tell you that the various branches of their faith can cohabit peacefully.

They are the people who can’t explain to you why an al-Qaida-backed group — in support of the Sunni population, who are in a minority in Iraq — launched a string of attacks in Baghdad’s Shi’ite districts that claimed 91 lives the other day.

Those Sunnis are grumpy with Christians too, and killed dozens of them at a Baghdad church days earlier.

A few weeks back, Sunnis in Iran launched double suicide bombing attacks against a Shi’ite mosque, and 27 died.

The delusional Iranian Government said the Sunni group received backing from the US. Actually, it said the Great Satan, but we got the point.

But why would American Satans, of any stature, help the Sunni Muslims who brought down the Twin Towers? Saddam Hussein was a Sunni and long before the genocidal maniac’s countrymen rearranged his neckwear, he’d dropped off any Western Christmas card lists.

We need to try to subdue the threat of Muslim supremacists, wherever they may live, especially the homegrown variety. But last week proved that we are best to remove our troops from the dangerous crossfire of an internal war Islam must sort out.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Commission for Education Proposes Mandatory Islamic Values in Turkish Schools

The unions are opposed to the proposal that will be debated by the National Board of Education, the majority of which is linked to the government, because it will lead to the legitimization and spread of Islamic education in the early grades.

Ankara (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The values taught in Turkish schools should be based on “faith in God” and delivered using the terminology of Islam, said a committee of the Board of Education, creating concern among educators in the country. Several committees within the Council have announced proposals for reform that would affect the length of compulsory education, and the fact that classes are or are not mixed. Although the proposals must then be adopted by the General Council, many fear the tendency to impose an Islamic ideology on the national education system.

Among the various proposals under discussion is one to change the current system (eight years of uninterrupted primary education) into one divided into two parts, to allow younger students to attend religious vocational school (iman-hatin).

The current system of eight years of uninterrupted compulsory education is a consequence of the unarmed military intervention, 28 February 1997, which led to the closure of schools for religious vocations. If this proposal passes the General Assembly of the Council for national education and is approved by the Ministry of Education it will return the situation to its former structure, breaking it in two the periods of compulsory education. Ministry officials have defended the proposal, saying it could solve the problem of having of a very different age students in the same class. But critics argue that by breaking it in two the period of compulsory education, it will be possible to argue in future that in reality only the first five years will be obligatory”.

The representatives of the teachers union have left the Council in protest because the time given to trade unions to submit their views was too short, and because they claim that the reforms will lead to a greater spread of the ideology and legitimisation of Islamic education. The unions also complain that the Council is dominated by representatives of the ruling party. “We left because the Council did not meet in a democratic, participatory and democratic manner,” said one trade unionist. On the division between male and female he added: “The suggestion to create schools and classes divided according to sex are made by people close to the ruling party.”

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

Ehud Barak: Iran is Trying to Deceive the World

Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed little optimism on Saturday about a proposed round of talks between global powers and Iran, which is under pressure over its nuclear ambitions.

Iran says it will not discuss its nuclear program at the next set of negotiations with the P5+1 group, which comprises the permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany.


“Based on experience and looking at the example which they (the Iranians) are using, which is probably the North Korean example, you can easily see … the objective is to defy, decei(ve) and deter the whole world,” he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Saudi Arabia: Prince in Spain for Weapons Contract

(ANSAmed) — ROME, NOVEMBER 1 — The deputy Saudi minister of Defence, prince Khaled bin Sultan, arrived in Madrid on an official visit to negotiate, according to a recent report by El Pais, the sale of more than 200 “Leopard 2E” combat tanks worth approximately 3 billion dollars. Afp reported that the finalisation of this deal would mark the largest order ever placed by the Spanish military industry. The “Leopard 2E” is a variation of the German “Leopard 2” combat tank which has been adapted to the needs of the Spanish army and which is manufactured in Spain by the General Dynamics-Santa Barbara group. During his visit the Saudi prince will meet King Juan Carlos and prime minister Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero.

The preparation of the contract was determined in 2008 during the visit of the Spanish King in Saudi Arabia. Should the contract meet with success, the first 50 tanks should be delivered by the end of 2011. In any event the signing of the agreement will be conditioned by the approval of German groups Kraus-Maffei and Rheinmetall, which hold the patent rights of the Leopard. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syrian Government to Step Up Internet Censorship

This is the first law regulating online activities and enables the police access to editorial offices of Internet sites and to arrest journalists who violate censorship rules. One of the main sources of information in the nation it has so far enjoyed a limited freedom with respect to newspapers and television stations that instead undergo a strict state control.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) — In Syria, a law to regulate the web will allow police to penetrate Internet sites and to arrest journalists who violate the rules of censorship. Journalists say that it was approved by the government last week and is awaiting Parliamentary approval. They argue that the law could seriously limit the means of online media which today enjoy greater freedom of press. Although the Internet is often slow and access to websites often blocked for certain periods of time, previously there had been no existing law regulating online activities.

In recent years, the Internet has made great progress in Syria, becoming one of the main sources of information more so than newspapers and television stations which instead undergo a strict state control. News and reports on sensitive issues such as the prohibition in Syrian universities of wearing the niqab or veil, have had extensive coverage on the Internet, but were not touched on at all by print media. “The approval of the new law is “ very serious, “says Ayman Abdel Nour, director of, a web site with editorial offices in Dubai, but with numerous collaborators in Syria. “It makes it possible for the police to enter editorial offices — he says -, arrest journalists and seized their computers. Those arrested can be dragged before a criminal court. “ Although the law has yet to be approved by parliament, Abdel Karim Rihawi, head of the Syrian League for the Defence of Human Rights (Sldhr), says that online censorship is worsening. For some time the government has targeted the websites of opposition parties, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Kurdish minority and human rights groups, but also regarded as politically hostile other websites including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. To date, about 240 sites have been closed by the authorities. Last July, the Association for Press Freedom, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called Syria one of the most repressive countries in terms of Internet censorship.

RSF cited the case of Karim Arbaji, a blogger arrested in 2007 by the Syrian secret services, who was sentenced to three years in prison for publishing information against the national morale. by military intelligence agents in July 2007 and held in custody before being sentenced to three years in prison in September 2009 for “ publishing mendacious information liable to weaken the nation’s morale”. Arbaji was released in January 2010 only after the intervention of the Syrian Catholic Church, which sent a request to President Bashar al-Assad.

Instead in 2008, police arrested Firas Saad for writing articles critical of the government.

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

Turkey Has Only Itself to Blame if it is Shunned by the EU

Martin Kettle’s claim that Turkey is “held hostage by the atavistic parochialism of a Greek Cypriot statelet of fewer than one million people and with a declining GDP of $23bn” is far from the truth.

Kettle concerns himself with “the big issues” facing Europe such as its shrinking population and integration as well as energy and security. But it is frequently stated that Europe is a community of values, and on this basis the Cyprus question must be seen as a principle issue.

Kettle mentions that Europe and Turkey have common interests, agreements worth making and promises to keep. However, it is precisely because Turkey has reneged on its commitment in July 2005 to extend the customs union to the Republic of Cyprus that the European Council in December 2006 decided to block the opening of eight negotiating chapters.

In 1965 Turkey ratified the Hague convention of 1954 for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict, but nevertheless after its intervention and subsequent occupation of Cyprus in 1974 it has been responsible for the devastation, vandalism and looting of the island’s cultural heritage on a scale unworthy of any civilised nation, let alone a prospective member of the EU.

Despite UN security council resolutions calling on Turkey to withdraw its forces from northern Cyprus — and that of the European parliament in February this year — Turkey has stubbornly refused to do so. In fact, Turkey has declared on more than one occasion that if it has to make a choice between its accession to the EU and Cyprus, it will choose Cyprus. So far, this intransigence has been rewarded, for example, with a seat on the UN security council as a non-permanent member and both the US and Europe are prepared to turn a blind eye to Turkey’s depredations. The security issue looms large for many European politicians, and the fear is that Europe will do to Cyprus what it did to the Sudetenland in 1938.

Turkey’s justification for retaining control is legally indefensible, as it constantly refers to the treaty of guarantee from 1960, which gave it the right to take unilateral action after the Greek junta’s coup against Archbishop Makarios in 1974. However, the exercise of this right is limited by the aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the treaty — that is, to recognise and guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus. This Turkey has manifestly failed to do but has instead created a Turkish state in northern Cyprus not only to the detriment of the Greek Cypriots, whose property was confiscated by the self-styled “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, but also the Turkish Cypriots, who have suffered under Turkish rule.

In violation of Article 49.6 of the Geneva convention of 1949, which stipulates that the occupying power shall not transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, Turkey has transferred several hundred thousand settlers from Anatolia to northern Cyprus. The 90,000 or so Turkish Cypriots who remain are, according to Mehmet Cakici, chairman of the Turkish Cypriot Social Democracy party (TDP), “facing the danger of being annihilated, both with their demographic structure and their culture and social structure”.

For example, the Turkish Cypriot primary school and secondary school teachers’ unions (KTOS and KTOES) have protested against the imposition of Sunni Islam and Qur’an classes, which reflect the ideology of the current Turkish government. There is also the fact that over the past years more mosques than schools have been constructed in northern Cyprus (there are 162 schools and 181 mosques). The crime rate has soared because of the uncontrolled immigration from Turkey and education and health services are overburdened.

Northern Cyprus is de facto Turkey’s 82nd province, and the TRNC is regarded by the European court of human rights as “a subordinate local administration” under Turkish jurisdiction. The TRNC’s economy is also underpinned by Turkey and in a once fertile area 80% of the need for fruits and vegetables is met by Turkey. As a Turkish commentator put it last year: “[Northern] Cyprus is like a water mill that cannot run without hand-carried water.”

This is why Turkey is desperate to open direct trade with northern Cyprus, both to relieve its financial burden and as one step towards international recognition of the separatist state. Turkey perennial self-justification for maintaining its presence on the island is to consolidate the security of the Muslim Turkish community but this excuse is wearing thin.

The most convincing reason has been advanced by the architect of Turkey’s multi-dimensional foreign policy, the present foreign minister, Professor Ahmet Davutoglu, in his book Strategic Depth from 2001. Here Davutoglu states clearly: “Even if there was not one single Muslim Turk over there, Turkey would have to maintain a Cyprus question. No country could possibly be indifferent to an island like this, placed in the heart of its vital space.”

This is why reunification talks are getting nowhere, however hard Dimitris Christofias, the Greek Cypriot president, tries. The new Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu, unlike the former leader, Mehmet Ali Talat, is simply not interested that they should go anywhere, and takes his orders directly from Ankara. As Martin Kettle writes about the prospect of Turkey’s EU membership: “the failure is predictable, disgraceful and incredibly shortsighted”. And it’s Turkey’s fault.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UAE: F1 Arrives at Amusement Park With ‘Ferrari World’

(ANSAmed) — ROME, OCTOBER 21 — Formula One will provide fun for all under the Ferrari banner. On October 28 in the UAE, the new ‘Ferrari World’ theme park will open, the first amusement park of its kind. According to reports today in UAE daily Al Bayan, it is also the largest entirely covered theme park of its kind. The architectural design of the park, which is located on the island of Yas in Abu Dhabi, mimics the design of a Ferrari automobile. The covered part of the theme park, whose construction was completed in November 2009, extends over an area of 200,000 square-metres and has an enormous Ferrari symbol at its centre. In addition to the interactive sites, the park will offer more than 20 attractions to the public, including the fastest roller coaster in the world, which is capable of reaching speeds of 240km per hour, allowing passengers to experience the sensation of riding a Formula One racer. Another attraction will be the challenge against gravity with the “G Force” vehicle, in which the visitor will be “strapped into” the seat of a Ferrari and will make a 62-metre-high jump, be suspended in midair and descend back to the point of departure. Several restaurants will offer traditional Italian cuisine. Visitors will be able to take a trip into the “heart” of a Ferrari engine, in a gigantic reconstruction, or to the most beautiful places in Italy, which have been reconstructed inside of the park. Ferrari World’s opening will represent, according to Mohammed Al Mubarek, the President of Farah Company, which manages the park, “a great increase in quality” in the theme park sector in the region. “The park,” continued Al Mubarket, “is proof of the ability of Abu Dhabi to become a top notch tourist attraction.” The advanced attractions will mainly be based on speed. Ferrari World will also provide a virtual visit to the factory in Maranello for visitors, where, although they will be in Abu Dhabi, visitors will be able to get a close look at all of the phases of production of a Ferrari. Furthermore, visitors will have a chance to take a virtual flight to Italy’s most well-known tourist sites, from Portofino to the Amalfi Coast, the Monza Autodrome, the Colosseum and Venice. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Understanding the Middle East: One Day’s Survey

By Barry Rubin

—The UN annual Human Development Report for 2010 ranks Israel at number 15 of 169 countries in the world in terms of the health, education, freedom, and income of its citizens.

—Well worth reading, Steven J. Rosen, “The Arab Lobby: The European Component.” Despite the title, it also includes new information on the history of U.S.-Israel relations and on Arab lobbies in the United States.

—Danny Seaman, director of the Foreign Press Office, discusses the Western media and Israel in a long interview. But the article also includes what might be the best succinct statement I’ve ever seen on the development of Israeli worldview and perceptions:

“There were certain ‘truths’ that we were told: That if we adopt UN resolutions, there’ll be peace. If we recognize the Palestinian right to self-determination, there’ll be peace. If we remove settlements, there’ll be peace. And over the past 25 years, there’s been a progression in the Israeli position: Israel recognized the PLO as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people; relinquished territory; removed settlements.Regarding Lebanon, Israel fulfilled all the UN resolutions.

“Yet the end result was not the peace that we were promised. In no way am I criticizing the efforts for peace. Peace is a strategic necessity for the State of Israel. But here, in this case, these ‘truths’ that we were promised never came about. On the contrary, it only increased violence, increased extremism. Yet there was a failure by a lot of the media to be intellectually honest, to say ‘maybe we need to reevaluate….’“

—Speaking of intellectually honesty, here’s the New York Times’ evaluation of the U.S. elections. It begins:

“The Democrats’ loss of control of the House of Representatives and their reduced majority in the Senate have left many outsiders pondering whether the open hand of the newly inaugurated president-extended to Iran, Russia and the Middle East in 2009-will close, replaced by an introspective and distracted White House….”

The article’s main theme is that people abroad are worried that President Barack Obama’s wonderful policies will be limited or sidetracked by his defeat in mid-term elections. There is no mention whatsoever about the widespread concerns that Obama’s weak policies and focus on conciliation with enemies have upset many leaders throughout the world. This information is being largely kept from the American public.

Fully 30 percent of the article is devoted to Israel and how Obama’s defeat may be “enabling Israel’s right-wing government to continue to resist pressure to freeze the expansion of settlements in the West Bank.” This is a measure of how that issue is ridiculously overblown, being treated as if it is the most important question in the world. by the left-wing elements in the mass media and by this U.S. government itself.

In fact, Israel’s government is a left/right coalition based on a national consensus (see Seaman’s quote above). Moreover, even if Israel did adapt a two-month freeze—an issue on which the mid-term U.S. elections will have no effect—that isn’t going to change anything.

There is no hint of how Obama’s policies have themselves sabotaged the possibility of negotiations by making the freeze the centerpiece of his strategy, nor of how his policy has strengthened Hamas. There is not a word about the deep-seated concerns of relatively moderate Arab forces about the president’s actions: too slow in countering Iran, too eager to engage Syria, downplaying the need to battle against revolutionary Islamist groups…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Authorities Plan to Prosecute Militant Cleric

Sanaa, 2 Nov. (AKI) — Yemen intends to prosecute cleric Anwar al-Awlaki for fomenting violence aimed at foreigners, according to news reports.

An unnamed Yemeni official in Washington told CNN that authorities request to put the cleric on trial “will be hopefully officially issued” on Tuesday.

Yemen forces are reportedly intensifying their hunt for Al-Awlaki, who is allegedly a high-ranking member of Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch.

In the United States, American-born al-Awlaki has been linked to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan and the man accused in the Christmas Day bomb attempt.

US authorities have linked al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni cleric, to Fort Hood shooting suspect Maj. Nidal Hasan and the man accused in the Christmas Day bomb attempt.

American officials also accuse al-Qaeda of plotting to ship bombs to the US from Yemen aboard airplanes.

The discovery of the packages prompted Yemen to tighten security at all of its airports, the country’s National Civil Aviation Security Committee said Monday.

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


Nuclear Bomb Material Found for Sale on Georgia Black Market

High enriched uranium which could be used to make a nuclear bomb is on sale on the black market along the fringes of the former Soviet Union, according to evidence emerging from a secret trial in Georgia.

At the centre of the case are two Armenians, a businessman called Sumbat Tonoyan and a physicist, Hrant Ohanyan. Both have pleaded guilty to smuggling highly enriched uranium (HEU) into Georgia in March, stashing it in a lead-lined package on a train from Yerevan to Tbilisi.

Georgia’s president Mikheil Saakashvili informed other heads of state of the sting operation at a nuclear summit in Washington in April, but no details about the case have been made public until now. The trial has been conducted behind closed doors, Georgian officials say, to protect the operational secrecy of the country’s counter-proliferation unit.

But investigators have given the Guardian an exclusive first-hand account of the case.

It reveals that the critical ingredient for making a nuclear warhead is available on the black market and is reasonably easy to smuggle past a ring of expensive US-funded radiation sensors along the borders of the former Soviet Union. What is not clear is how much nuclear material is in circulation and whether any has already been bought by extremist groups.

The US has made the prevention of nuclear terrorism its national security priority. To that end, Barack Obama persuaded 50 world leaders at the April summit to pledge to secure all vulnerable nuclear material within four years.

Billions of dollars have been spent upgrading security at nuclear sites around the globe, particularly in Russia, which has an estimated 700 tons of HEU in hundreds of facilities. But it is unclear how much has already been stolen.

“The question is: Of what iceberg are seeing the tip?” said Matthew Bunn, a Harvard expert and former White House science adviser, who compiles an annual assessment of the nuclear terrorism threat titled Securing the Bomb.

The sample that Tonoyan and Ohanyan were peddling is thought to have been stolen several years ago. US nuclear laboratories have confirmed it is 89.4% enriched, usable in a nuclear warhead. The amount the Armenians had was small, 18 grams, but they had been told by their supplier in Armenia that much more would be available if they made a sale.

They smuggled it into Georgia by train, stuffing into a cigarette box lined with lead strips to fool radiation sensors at the border. Tonoyan, a 63-year-old who once ran a successful dairy business but gambled away his fortune, and Ohanyan, a 59-year-old scientist at the Yerevan Institute of Physics, had arranged to meet their buyer in a hotel room in the Georgian capital on 11 March. They were under the impression they were selling their 18g sample to a representative of an Islamic jihadist group as a precursor to a bigger consignment. But the buyer was a Georgian undercover police officer.

The sting operation marks the third time in seven years that HEU has been intercepted on Georgia soil. Altogether, there have been 21 seizures or attempted thefts of weapons grade material, uranium or plutonium, in the region since the Soviet Union collapsed.

In every case where such material has been seized, its absence had not previously been noticed. And subsequent investigations found that in almost every case, the theft was carried out by an insider.

“There has never been a good physical inventory. Accounting rules in the Soviet Union were not designed with an internal threat in mind,” said Elena Sokolova, a non-proliferation expert at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

“No one registered that this material was missing and we still don’t know whether other material went missing.”

In the three Georgian cases, there is some evidence linking the stolen HEU to a nuclear fuel plant in Novosibirsk, Siberia. An investigation by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) found that Garik Dadayan, the smuggler involved in the first case in 2003, had gone to Novosibirsk, before trying to smuggle about 200g of HEU into Georgia.

In the second case, the smuggler, Oleg Khintsagov initially told investigators he acquired his HEU from business acquaintances in Novosibirsk although he later changed his account. Onhanyan and Tonoyan say they got their sample from Dadayan, who was released from prison in Armenia in 2005.

The tense state of Georgian-Russian relations since the two states fought a short war in 2008, has meant it is impossible to trace the material to its source.

“Most likely, the materials were stolen in the mid- or early 90s when a big amount of material disappeared. It’s hidden somewhere and from time to time, someone is trying to find new buyers,” said Archil Pavlenishvili, the head of Georgia’s radioactive materials investigation team.

“We think that the game is not over. There will be more attempts.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

13 Year Old Christian Girl Raped by Young Pakistani Muslim

It has been revealed that a 13 year old Christian girl became pregnant after being raped by a young Muslim in Pakistan.

This revelation is contained in a statement by Catholic News Service (CNS) ( published on their website adding that Christian girls have become targets for violence in the country.

It noted that the Christian community in Pakistan is shocked at the increasing violence and abuse targeted at young Christian girls and that two Christian girls were abducted, raped and murdered by a group of Muslims.

“Violent abuse is “part of daily life” in Pakistan. There are increasing numbers of violent abuse incidents against Christian and Hindu girls. Christians are targeted because they are considered on a lower social level, and often abductions of young girls involve intent to force marriage and religious conversion or to trap them into prostitution rings,” it said.

It added that the latest tragic abuse is part of a larger phenomenon of violence against women in Pakistan, which often meets with indifference and impunity. There were 1,198 kidnappings, 352 rapes and 1,052 murders of women in 2009 alone.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Burmese Defector Reveals Truth About Junta’s Nuclear Ambitions

In his extraordinary first interview, on the eve of elections, a former major in the secretive regime tells of chaos at the core of the state’s weapons programme

Sai Thein Win’s revelations since he left the country have been described by a former International Atomic Energy Agency head as “truly extraordinary information”. Burma’s army is closed to the outside world and Sai Thein Win is the main source, and in some cases the only source, for a case with major political implications. Can he be trusted?

International observers fear that the junta has tried to obtain nuclear weaponry as part of its strategy to retain power. But evidence from Sai Thein Win suggests that the programme is so mired in incompetence, corruption and delays that it would take years to develop a nuclear programme.

[Return to headlines]

India: Not Everyone’s Going Gaga Over the Obamas in Mumbai

Much of South Mumbai wore the look of a forced curfew as American president Barack Obama arrived in the city on Saturday afternoon. Parts of Colaba, where the Taj Mahal hotel — the venue of the 26/11 memorial function and the president’s night halt — is situated was virtually shut down.

The roads towards Taj were blocked and even pedestrians walking to Colaba market had to take a detour to reach their homes.

Several foreigners, who were visiting India, got disappointed as popular tourist spots like the Gateway of India was off limits. “I had planned my India visit much in advance and may not be able to wait for three more days to get a look at the Gateway. I think I am going to miss my Gateway visit,” Francis Turen, a German tourist said.


One irritated man vented his anger on journalists who asked him for a reaction. “What do you want me to say? We waited for half-an-hour for a bus that never came. Taxis have been stopped from coming to this area. We had to get out of our offices from the rear door. Is this democracy?” he asked.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Indonesian Muslims Protest Obama’s Planned Visit

Muslims staged rallies across Indonesia on Sunday to protest U.S. President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the southeast Asian nation this week.

The protests — organized by Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir — included women and children.

“We don’t see the differences between Obama and Bush, they both oppress Muslims, they both have blood on their hands,” said Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for the Muslim group in Indonesia.

“That’s why we reject Obama and we don’t believe that he’s reaching out to Muslims.”

The spokesman said about 20,000 people attended the rallies.

With about 205 million Muslims, Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in Washington, D.C.

More than one in 10 of the world’s Muslims live there.

Although it has a reputation for being home to a relatively tolerant and easy-going brand of Islam, a Pew Forum analysis rates it as having high levels of legal restrictions on religion and religious social tension.

Government restrictions on religion are tighter in Indonesia than in Russia or Turkey, and social tensions are higher than in Nigeria or Egypt, the think tank says.

Obama is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta on Tuesday as part of a 10-day visit to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.

He is expected to finalize a comprehensive partnership with Indonesia.

Obama spent part of his childhood in Indonesia.

On Wednesday, the president will visit Istiqlal mosque. He will also address the biggest Muslim nation from an undetermined location.

However, Muslims in Indonesia remain pessimistic.

“Obama can talk all he wants in Cairo and in Jakarta, the fact is that he still has his troops in war with Muslims,” Yusanto said. “It’s all lip service.”

Protesters chanted “No Obama” and held up posters that said “Stop oppressor.”

Obama’s visit to Asia started Saturday with a three-day visit to India.

His visit to India — the third largest economy and one of the world’s few growth markets — also includes meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi and addressing the nation’s parliament.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

‘Not Again!’: Hero Superjumbo Pilot and His Crew Among Passengers as a Second Qantas Engine ‘Explodes’

The hero pilot and cabin crew involved in a dramatic jet failure this week were forced to return to Singapore again yesterday after a second Qantas flight was hit by engine trouble.

Passengers screamed and air crew shouted for them to adopt the crash position after flames or sparks were seen coming from the engine of a Qantas flight leaving Singapore airport with 431 passengers and crew onboard.

After calmly landing an A380 superjet that experienced a dramatic mid-air explosion earlier this week, Captain Richard de Crespigny again failed to travel to Sydney yesterday, as he and his cabin crew witnessed a second Qantas explosion, this time as passengers.

[Comments from JD: Quantas aircraft engine maintenance used to be done in Australia.]

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Kashmir Students Trained to Wage Jihad on India

Islamabad, 4 Nov.(AKI) — Hundreds of university students are being trained in militant camps in Pakistan-administered Kashmir to wage jihad, or holy war, against India, according a report by the BBC’s Urdu-language service.

A 25-year old engineering student from Lahore told the BBC that training is taking place in the Kashmir capitol of Muzaffarabad.

“A large number of young Pakistani and foreign university students are receiving training Pakistan occupied Kashmir, under supervision of a group that conducts jihad against India,” the student said, underlining that most of the students in the camps come from Punjab while 20 percent come from Kashmir, with the remaining ten percent foreigners.

The student’s statements contradict recent statements by Pakistan’s interior minister Rehman Malik who denied reports about the existence of such camps.

Pakistan-administered Kashmir is claimed by India. The countries in 1947 fought a war over the area, which is referred to as Pakistan Occupied Kashmir by India.

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

US Officials Worry Indonesian Militants Are Regrouping, Eyeing Western Targets in the Country

The discovery of a militant training camp in Indonesia, along with persistent terrorist attacks there, have increased U.S. concerns that extremists are regrouping and eyeing Western targets in a country long viewed as a counterterrorism success story.

With President Barack Obama set to begin a visit Tuesday to the world’s most populous Muslim country, there is renewed attention on terrorists in Indonesia who in the past year appeared to be banding together into a new al-Qaida-influenced insurgency.

Recent Pentagon moves to renew a training program with Indonesia’s special forces and bolster military assistance show that the Obama administration believes the country needs more help tracking and rooting out insurgents, particularly those who rejoin the fight once they are released from jail.

The U.S. has praised Indonesia’s efforts to crack down on terrorists. Government police and military authorities have captured or killed more than 100 terrorists over the past year.

U.S. defence officials, however, worry about the overall threat. They’re watching for any signs of movement or increased communications between Indonesian extremists and al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Obama’s long-promised visit to the nation where he lived from age 6 to 10 comes as U.S. defence officials said Indonesia has exhibited both the will and the ability to pursue extremists.

That includes developing an aggressive rehabilitation program, as well as a consistent string of arrests, these officials said. Several U.S. defence and counterterrorism officials spoke about the threats on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence information.

But they also are concerned that some jailed militants have returned to the fight after their release. That raises questions about how effective the rehabilitation program is and how well authorities are tracking militants once they are free.

“There is a hard core that are not reformable,” agreed Sidney Jones, an expert on the region and analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

The discovery of a terrorist training camp in Aceh Province this year heightened U.S. fears that there may be other emerging threats in the country’s remote regions that Indonesia has failed to ferret out.

According to Indonesian authorities, the Aceh group was plotting assassinations or attacks similar to the one in Mumbai, India, in 2008. While recent attacks in Indonesia have focused on government and law enforcement, several high profile strikes in the past eight years have targeted Western interests.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somali Pirates Receive Record Ransom

Somali pirates are reported to have received a total of $12.3m (£7.6m) in ransom money to release two ships.

They are believed to have been paid a record $9.5m (£5.8m) for Samho Dream, a South Korean oil tanker, and nearly $2.8m (£1.7m) for the Golden Blessing, a Singaporean flagged ship.

“We are now counting our cash,” a pirate who gave his name as Hussein told Reuters news agency. “Soon we shall get down from the ship.”

All crew are believed to be unharmed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Brazil: Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button in Machine-Gun Ambush

The driver credited his driver for speeding away from six men who had trained their weapons on his car after he left the Interlagos track, scene of today’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Button, 30, was on his way back to his luxury hotel after leaving the Interlagos track in San Paulo when his bullet-proof Mercedes was attacked in a shanty town.

His driver — an armed Brazilian policeman — sped away hitting a number of cars during the dramatic escape.

Button, who was travelling with his father John, manager Richard Goddard and trainer Mike Collier said: ‘My driver was a legend.

‘He bounced off about five cars. We were driving over the top of them. It was very scary.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Dutch Government Says Immigrants Must Pay for ‘Integration’

Moroccan-born Rahmouna Lakdhari was still living as an outsider after 13 years in her adopted home, the Netherlands, prevented by language and cultural barriers from working and making new friends.

But last year, the life of the 33-year-old who followed her husband to the land of windmills, bicycles and tulips changed dramatically thanks to a state-sponsored integration course — a privilege the new, rightist government plans to take away.

“Only now am I learning what one needs to know about the Netherlands,” Lakdhari told Agence France-Presse in halting Dutch at the school where she spends 10 hours a week on lessons in language and socialization — how government works, how to befriend neighbours, open a bank account and register a birth.

The Netherlands was long seen as a land of multi-cultural tolerance. But the Dutch, like their neighbours in Germany, have shifted towards promoting greater social integration as European Union states rethink their response to continued waves of immigrants.

The country introduced integration courses in 2007, obliging all non-European adult immigrants — workers and their family members — to attend classes and pass an exam. Those who fail to do so do not qualify for permanent residence and cannot claim social benefits.

As Lakdhari arrived before 2007, her course was not compulsory but she took it voluntarily at the government’s expense. About 40,000 people successfully completed the course last year, according to the Dutch Center for Foreigners, or NCB.

“I can now go to the doctor and explain what is wrong with me. I no longer need my husband, my child or a neighbour to help me,” Lakdhari said proudly as her classmates — mostly women in headscarves from Turkey and Morocco — nodded in agreement as they copied grammar from a black board.

“I can look for work, I can talk to people, I can help my children with homework.”

The new minority coalition, which took over in October backed by a controversial anti-Islam party, is bent on halting rising public debt and aiding long-term recovery after the global economic crisis.

One target is slashing the integration budget of about half-a-billion euros in incremental amounts, to culminate in an annual savings of more than 300 million euros as of 2014.

The plan must still be put to parliament, where a coalition of the Christian Democratic Action, CDA, and conservative liberal VVD, backed by the Party for Freedom of anti-Islam deputy Geert Wilders, hold a joint majority.

“Immigrants and asylum seekers are responsible for their own integration in our country,” states a policy document of the CDA-VVD coalition.

It wants newcomers to foot the bill for the compulsory course, which training centres told AFP costs up to 5,000 euros ($7,000) for up to 18 months of lessons.

‘We teach people how to live together’

Under the plan, those who fail the exam will lose their temporary residence permit — meaning they must leave the country.

Today, about 3.4 million of the Netherlands’ 16.6 million inhabitants are of immigrant origin — 1.8 million from “non-Western” countries.

“We cannot continue to allow so many people without prospects to come to the Netherlands,” Prime Minister Mark Rutte said after last month’s inauguration.

NCB director Ilhan Akel, for one, opposes making immigrants pay for the course, calling it “short-sighted” and indicative of a “broad shift to the right”.

“It is imperative that as many people as possible complete these courses,” he said.

“With our ageing workforce, we need more young people to work in the care and production sectors. But if they have no language skills and sit on the margins of society, they will cost us money instead of contributing to the economy.”

Ahmet Azdural, director of the non-governmental organisation Turkish Participation in the Netherlands (IOT), argued that most immigrants “don’t have this kind of money”.

“Most people who move to a new country do so exactly because things are not great where they come from,” he said.

People like Azdural fear the harsher measures will break up families — forcing people moving to the Netherlands for work to live apart from loved ones who cannot afford the integration.

Others fear the changes will drive a deeper wedge between people in a country where Wilders’ anti-immigrant rhetoric has found increasingly fertile soil.

“We teach people how to speak to each other and live together,” said integration teacher Corine Kobes. “Without it, I fear that attitudes on both sides will harden; there will be less understanding for each other.”

For Geert de Vries, a sociologist at the Free University of Amsterdam, “the message is clear: the government only wants highly skilled immigrants with money in their wallets.”

“Immigrants will be made to feel more and more unwelcome,” he said. “This can only add to the tension.”

Lakdhari said she was grateful to have taken the course.

“I am sorry for those people who will not have the same opportunity. It’s a pity.”

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

How Sarrazin’ s Immigration Views Touched a German Nerve

Thilo Sarrazin is not charismatic but he has become a man of influence. He has changed the debate over immigration in Germany. In his view “suppressing emotion is even more dangerous” than broaching subjects that were recently largely off limits. Others, like analyst Prof Klaus Kocks, have issued a note of caution. “As a German,” he told me, “you have to be more careful than others. You have to accept our history.” I met Thilo Sarrazin at his old school in Recklinghausen. He was there to promote his book Germany Does Away With Itself. He is both reviled and admired for its controversial thesis. Outside the school were a handful of protesters. One banner accused Mr Sarrazin of acting like the Nazis. There were many more, however, who had bought tickets to hear him. His book has sold close to a million copies.

His essential message is that Muslims are either “unwilling or unable to integrate” into Western society. “If the majority of migrants from non-Muslim countries don’t have any obvious problem integrating,” he told a packed hall, “then the failure to integrate on behalf of migrants from Muslim countries can’t be due to a fault on behalf of us — because all are treated equally. It has to be because of a characteristic of Muslims themselves.”

He is not a great speaker. He deals in statistics. He recognises that some Muslims have integrated but he believes that Germany has gone too far in trying to accommodate them. “People who obey laws are welcome to live here,” he told me but he wants to end Muslim immigration.

For those already in Germany, welfare payments would be dependent on learning German and acquiring language skills. Parents who do not send their children to school (for religious reasons) should be fined. Forced marriages should be forbidden. His message is that Muslim migrants must accept German laws, the constitution and the values of their new society.

His comments have set off a huge debate. “We have a very serious shift in discussion,” Prof Kocks told me. What makes his book sales even the more extraordinary is that Thilo Sarrazin said, as part of the publicity for the book, that Jews had a certain gene. He was condemned by mainstream politicians and the remark led to his resignation from the board of the Bundesbank. Even so, the public made his book a best-seller.

Last month, Chancellor Angela Merkel said multiculturalism had “failed utterly”. What she meant was that some immigrants and others who had lived in Germany for some years were not integrating. Last week at a regional conference for her party in Essen she said: “Of course integration has changed our society but not at the expense of our core values… We are Christians and this informs everything we do… We are for diversity but we will not abandon our basic beliefs.”

What seems to be changing is what is expected from immigrants. The past idea of multiculturalism was that migrants could live in their new societies much as they had done previously in their home countries. Now the emphasis is on them adapting. The fear is that otherwise there will be separate, parallel communities.

So mainstream politicians are speaking out. Joachim Herrmann is the interior minister in Bavaria. His party, the conservative CSU, is in coalition with that of Angela Merkel. He told us in an interview: “You have to accept our laws… Just because you come from a different culture where a man can treat his wife differently, you can’t do that here. There can be no compromise.”

The premier in Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, has called for an end to immigration from “Turkey and other Arab countries”.

Muslims are fearful of where this new tone is heading. Nurhan Solkan is general secretary of the Council of Muslims. She says that the views of the far right have now entered the political mainstream. She points out that many immigrants have integrated well. Many will tell you how when they first came to Germany, no one wanted them to integrate. They were guest-workers. They were barred from citizenship. Nurhan Solkan said more and more people of Turkish origin were moving back to Turkey.

Dr Kocks told me: “I don’t want to go back to nationalism again.” He does not think that is happening. There is no growth in far-right parties. But he says there is a deep anger in society over stories, for instance, that some female teachers have been shown disrespect by Muslim boys.

Prof Jurgen Habermas, writing in the New York Times last week, said Germany was being roiled by “waves of political turmoil over integration, multiculturalism and the role of the ‘Leitkultur’, or guiding national culture.” He said it was reinforcing trends towards xenophobia. He sees clear dangers in getting immigrants to assimilate “the values of the majority culture and to adopt its customs”.

But that is the new mood and, judging by the success of Thilo Sarrazin’s book, it seems that many Germans want minorities to positively embrace being German.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Migrants Must Pay for Integration — Dutch Govt

The Netherlands — Moroccan-born Rahmouna Lakdhari was still living as an outsider after 13 years in her adoptive Netherlands, prevented by language and cultural barriers from working and making new friends.

But last year, the life of the 33-year-old who followed her husband to the land of windmills, bicycles, and tulips changed dramatically thanks to a state-sponsored integration course, a privilege the new, rightist government plans to take away.

“Only now am I learning what one needs to know about the Netherlands,” Lakdhari told AFP in halting Dutch at the school where she spends 10 hours a week on lessons in language and socialization—how government works, how to befriend neighbors, open a bank account, and register a birth.

The Netherlands was long seen as a land of multi-cultural tolerance. But the Dutch, like their neighbors in Germany, have shifted toward promoting greater social integration as European Union states rethink their response to continued waves of immigrants.

The country introduced integration courses in 2007, obliging all non-European adult immigrants—workers and their family members—to attend classes and pass an exam. Those who fail to do so do not qualify for permanent residence and cannot claim social benefits.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Time to Sound the Alarm on Canada’s Immigration Policy

While Cordoba House might not be an appropriate name for the Muslim cultural centre and mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, “Mayday! Mayday!” is the perfect name for Lowell Green’s new book.

As most people know, Mayday is an international emergency distress signal used in radio communications. It comes from the French and in translation means “come to my help.” It is always given three times.

When we hear that Sweden has been divided over “xenophobes,” that neither of the two main parties managed to get a majority, and that the Sweden Democrats—the anti-immigration party—won enough seats to get into Parliament, one starts to wonder what is happening. In fact, the Swedish author of a study on the Swedish Democrats defines the party as a populist party with a xenophobic worldview, very similar to other “parties of discontent” across Europe.

There are opposing views about immigration. The Conference Board of Canada study released last week stated that this country falls behind most industrialized countries when it comes to innovation. Diana MacKay, the Conference Board’s director for education and health stated: “Immigrants tend to be motivated individuals willing to take risks in search of greater opportunities, which should predispose them to be innovative.”

The Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, which has some very influential people as directors and friends, believes that while immigration “is having a major impact on the lives of Canadians, there is a serious lack of accurate information about its benefits and liabilities.” The Centre believes that immigration is not a practical means of “providing enough workers to pay the taxes needed to support our aging population.”

And Lowell Green bravely steps into the fray with his new book, whose full name is “Mayday! Mayday! Curb immigration, stop multiculturalism, or it’s the end of the Canada we know.”

Green is onside with the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform when it comes to disagreeing with the belief that immigration is the answer to our low fertility rate and aging workforce. He states that in 2008, during the worst recession since the “Dirty Thirties” when we had “more than two million Canadians unemployed, we still opened our borders to more than 250,000 immigrants, 257,000 temporary workers, 79,000 foreign students, and approximately 35,000 refugees.”

The book describes what Green calls the New Canada in which, since 1945, this country has received about 10 million immigrants of diverse origins. He states that there is “a strange absence of national political or public debate on the subject…” especially when Canada is “evolving into a global suburb” for people whose roots are in another country.

For example Te, the owner of the hair salon I go to, is from Egypt. His wife and children lived here long enough to get Canadian passports, but now live in Egypt for the most part and only come to Canada to keep their Canadian citizenship alive.

According to Statistics Canada, by 2031, 63 percent of Toronto’s population will be visible minorities while in Vancouver the ratio will be 59 per cent. Lowell wants us to think about low productivity and mass immigration. And according to the Centre for Immigration Policy Reform, we no longer have “a centrally coordinated national immigration policy.” There is an urgent need for reform.

Perhaps it is time to say Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Public Debate: Multiculturalism at Its Limits?

“Multiculturalism undermines the very opportunity that diversity offers: to enter into a dialogue about citizenship.” In the fifth debate in Eurozine’s series “Europe talks to Europe”, Kenan Malik and Fero Sebej discussed an issue back at the top of the European political agenda.

Multiculturalism, up to now the default strategy in western Europe to manage cultural diversity, is increasingly under attack both from the anti-immigrant Right as well as the pro-Enlightenment Left. In the fifth debate in the series “Europe talks to Europe”, held in Bratislava on 30 September, British writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik met Slovak journalist and politician Fero Sebej to discuss whether multiculturalism has reached its limits. The event was co-hosted by Eurozine, the Bratislava International School of Liberal Arts and the journal Kritika & Kontext, in cooperation with the ERSTE Foundation.

A distinction needs to be made between multiculturalism as “lived experience” of diversity and multiculturalism as a political programme, began Malik. He defined multiculturalism as the “institutionalization of ethnic and cultural difference”, or “policy predicted on the ethnic box to which one belongs”. The opportunity to break out of these cultural and ethnic boxes and to enter into a dialogue about citizenship is precisely why diversity is to be welcomed, yet it is also the very thing that multiculturalism undermines. How did it end up this way?

The notion of multiculturalism is irrational, continued Malik: it posits a society in which cultures relate to one another externally, and where diversity ends at the edges of minority communities. Yet the idea that communities are internally homogenous is absurd. This is a fairly new development: being “black” in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s was a political rather than an ethnic-cultural identity. Back then there was no such thing as a “Muslim community”, which is a creation of multicultural policies.

Slovak society is not multicultural but multi-ethnic, said Fero Sebej: in terms of cultural patterns, religious faith or attitudes towards authority, nothing separates the ethnic Hungarian minority from the Slovak majority. Still, racism does exist, above all towards the Roma. The Roma, he said, must be encouraged to believe that the Slovak state is their state; Slovaks need to treat the Roma as “one of us”. Malik saw the problem being not so much that the Roma feel excluded from Slovak society, but that majority society sees them as a distinct group. Rather than giving them rights based on group affiliation, Roma should be treated as individual citizens.

The debate then moved to the question as to how far the rise of Islamic fundamentalism has thrown the multiculturalist approach into question. Islamic fundamentalism is a reaction to political corruption in Islamic nations, said Sebej: modernizing movements failed to provide their citizens with the fruits of modernity and instead developed into authoritarian-style regimes. The only place for resistance and opposition has been the mosque. Nevertheless, the decision to oppose modernity in the form of the West is a sign of weakness.

The fact that Islamic extremists cite the Koran in justification of their violent actions tells us nothing either about the Koran or about fundamentalists’ real motivations, added Malik. Fundamentalism tends to be seen as a “traditional” form of religion when in fact it breaks with tradition. Literalist interpretations of the scriptures — here Malik was talking as much about Christian fundamentalism as its Islamic counterpart — is a result of the fragmentation of religion and its institutions’ loss of authority. Meanwhile, global scandals like that over the Mohammed cartoons confers upon fundamentalists a spurious moral authority.

The dangers of free speech are exaggerated, he continued: the real threat is not Islamism, but the idea that it is morally wrong to give offence. The argument has become almost axiomatic that in a plural society we need a greater restraint of free speech in order to minimize friction and encourage respect. But it is because we live in plural society that we need the most robust defence of free speech possible. A ban on giving offence is wrong in principle: free speech becomes important only at the point at which it includes the right to express bigoted opinions. A ban is also wrong in practice: legislating against causing offence only forces hate speech underground. Racism and bigotry need to be out in the open in order to be confronted.

On the other hand, no law is necessary that would make threats to free speech illegal. Arguments in favour of “tolerating” the Swiss minaret ban are nonsense, according to Malik: if we stand up for freedom, we also stand up for the freedom of everybody, including the freedom of worship. Censorship always serves those in power, he reminded the audience, while it is the powerless that benefit from free speech.

Among the questions from the audience was one that referred to the recent Swedish election results, which saw the far-right Sweden Democrats enter parliament for the first time. The situation has brought to light the failure of “respectable” party politics to respond to xenophobic movements: they are either beyond the pale or incorporated — or both at once. Again, Malik located the crux of the problem in the discourse of multiculturalism itself, which turns racism into another form of diversity: the identity-oriented language of the far-Right is borrowed from multiculturalism. The Left is to blame for having developed a particularist approach, where certain values are seen to be more suitable for some than for others. We must regain the universalist aspirations of an Enlightenment-style public sphere, he concluded.

A full text based on the discussion will appear in Eurozine soon.

           — Hat tip: ESW[Return to headlines]

Refugees Flee the Tyranny of Social Workers

Cyprus has proved a haven for a family fleeing forced adoption, reports Christopher Booker.

There was a time when Britain took pride in offering a safe haven to the victims of tyrannies in other countries. Today we see this in reverse, with scores of families each year fleeing this country as the only way to escape a vicious system bent on seizing their newborn children for no good reason. Last week I heard two more such horror stories and this week I will relate the first, in which I am legally compelled to disguise the names.

Roger and Carol lived happily in Doncaster with their five-year-old daughter. One day last November they had a marital disagreement, involving no more than raised voices. They were overheard by a neighbour who called the police. The couple were arrested and held for nine hours before being released without charge. But the police had summoned the social workers to remove the child, who had not been harmed in any way other than hearing her parents having a row — as countless children do every day.

The social workers obtained an interim care order, on the grounds that the child was “at risk of emotional harm”, and gave her to Roger’s parents, both of whom have worked for the police. Relations were amicable, but the grandparents insisted on working closely with the social workers. The parents were only allowed contact with their daughter in a filthy little “contact room” in the local social services office. As is usual, the parents were told that if they showed any emotion their contact would be stopped. In February, under this strain, Carol had a miscarriage.

Last June, puzzled at why the interim care order had not been renewed as the law requires, Carol called the court. She was told that the order had lapsed three months earlier. When her husband confirmed this by a second call to the court, Carol drove to her in-laws’ home to explain that there was no longer any legal reason why her daughter could not be returned to her. Her mother-in-law protested, but the child was so overjoyed to go home that she ran to get into her mother’s car. The mother-in-law stood in front of the car but Carol reversed and drove off.

When her daughter said she was hungry, they stopped at a motorway service station. The grandmother had alerted the police, the car number was picked up by a camera and before long Carol (who was pregnant again) was arrested, handcuffed and pushed into a police van. At the police station, she collapsed and was taken to hospital. Next day she was driven back to Doncaster and interviewed four times. The police confirmed there was no care order in place but, to her astonishment, Carol was told she would be charged with assaulting her mother-in-law, although there had been no physical contact between them. She was released after midnight.

When the social workers applied for a new care order, the judge reproved their “slipshod work” but granted the order on the grounds that Carol had taken back her child “without thought”.

Before the next hearing, the parents’ solicitors advised them to undergo psychological assessments. The psychologist found nothing wrong with Carol, but Roger had “narcissistic personality traits”. They then underwent a second assessment, based on “true or false” responses to 170 statements (such as: “Last week I flew the Atlantic eight times”). This time, Roger was normal, but Carol showed “high probability of being a borderline alcoholic” — though she hardly ever drinks.

Eventually, the court ruled they could have no further contact with their child. In September, Carol was in court to face the assault charges. The magistrates found, by two to one, that though there was no direct evidence she had assaulted her mother-in-law, she had been “emotional” in court which indicated the “possibility” that she might have been similarly emotional during the confrontation. They therefore found her guilty, ordering her to return for sentencing in October.

Two days later, it transpired that the hospital she had visited for ante-natal tests had told the social workers she was pregnant. Her daughter’s guardian told her that, when the baby was born, the social workers would seize it. At this point, Carol decided she could take no more. “I had already lost one child,” she says. “I had suffered a miscarriage of justice. After all I had been through, there was no way I was going to lose another child.”

She did her homework on the internet, not least through the Forced Adoption website run by Ian Josephs, a businessman living in the south of France, where she read many stories similar to her own. She discovered that a possible escape route was Northern Cyprus, which has no extradition agreement with the UK.

Without telling her husband, she sold one of her cars to raise money for the journey, and travelled overnight in a coach down the motorway, passing the place where her daughter’s last sight of her mother had been of her being bundled into a police van. At Heathrow she waited hours for her plane, terrified she might be arrested. After 24 hours she arrived in Cyprus in the middle of the night, alone in an unknown land. But she had made it. The next day, being a resourceful woman, she began to find her feet, amazed at how friendly and helpful everyone was, including the authorities. Two days later, her husband flew out to join her.

Now, after a month, set up in a spacious villa, surrounded with friends, they cannot believe their good fortune. A scan in the efficient local hospital confirms that they can expect the birth of a healthy son. As they begin to build a new life, Carol told me last week: “We feel we have escaped from hell into heaven. The only thing that matters to us is that we have managed to protect our baby and future children from an outrageous, heartless business, built around treating children as a commodity. Any other family in our situation really needs to take heed and get out. I don’t feel proud to be a British citizen any more because of what happened to us.”

Meanwhile, back in Britain, The Sun and ITV’s This Morning were celebrating National Adoption Week by advertising a row of available children, complete with names and winsome pictures. What neither would be allowed to do, though, is to report how those children came to be parted from their parents. In some cases it may genuinely have been in the child’s interests. But in too many others the reality of how cruelly children in Britain can be snatched from loving parents might make The Sun’s readers very angry indeed.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Al Qaeda’s Chief Bomb Maker Ibrahim Hassan Al-Asiri is Understood to be Planting Explosives in Gifts Bound for Britain, Europe and the US. They Would be Timed to Explode Once the Toys Are in Stores.

Intelligence chiefs believe Al Qaeda warlords in Yemen plan to smuggle in their deadly cargo aboard freight ships after airport security was tightened following the failed ink cartridge bomb attacks 10 days ago.

British surveillance experts in Afghanistan and their American colleagues uncovered the latest threat last week.

They intercepted conversations between terrorists from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group responsible for the ink bombs, revealing they were planning a spectacular hit for the festive season. Its leader, American- born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, and his right-hand man al-Asiri are aiming to use sea ports because they believe security there is more relaxed.

With so much Christmas stock arriving in the UK, they are confident their toy bombs can remain undetected.

An MI5 officer told the Sunday Express: “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula see the festive season as their ideal time to strike because of its importance in the Christian calendar.

“The bombs found at East Midlands Airport and Dubai escaped scrutiny until the last moment. It would be much easier to plant a similar bomb inside a Christmas toy.”

The Metropolitan Police have plans to deal with terror attacks but a spokesman said yesterday: “We never discuss matters of security.”

Al Qaeda is rumoured to have control of at least 23 ships, nicknamed “Osama bin Laden’s navy”, registered in the names of companies that support the terror group. MI5 and MI6 agents fear the vessels could be used to ferry toys filled with the same powerful explosive used in the ink bombs and last year’s failed Christmas Day underpants bomb plot on an airliner.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

The West is Turning Against Big Government — But What Comes Next?

The struggle to curtail the social democratic state could have ugly consequences, says Janet Daley.

There seems to be only one political argument of interest left in the Western democracies: how “big” should the state be, and what are the proper limits of its responsibilities? Abstract as it may sound, this question has had a quite startling impact on the everyday experience — and voting habits — of people in the most advanced countries of the world.

In the United States, the electorate’s considered answer to it has humiliated a president and swept an extraordinary number of neophytes — whose primary attraction was their loathing of government power — into the most powerful legislature in history. In Britain, it has become the dominant theme (in fact, the raison d’être) of a coalition between a Left-of-centre party and a Right-of-centre one, which has managed to achieve a remarkable degree of agreement on the need to reduce — or, at least, to examine rigorously — the role of government intervention in all areas of social life…

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Why Do Western Leaders Support Muslim Brotherhood?

The reign of terror of the Muslim brotherhood can only be described as a malignant cancer that threatens every corner of the globe. As most know, the MB evolved in Egypt in 1928. The chronology below details the growth and far reaching impact of the MB.

Today the MB is an outlawed radical sect in Egypt. The Mubarak Regime has over the last 29 years attempted to control and regulate this terror organization. In 2005, the Mubarak regime took their eye off the ball, and the MB infiltrated parliament under the guise of independents, gaining 88 seats. Here we are in 2010, and the Mubarak regime is working tirelessly to round up the MB.

Again we have elections on November 28, 2010, and the MB are again attempting to circumvent laws by running as independents. The MB is an identified terror organization that has sprouted many radical off shots all over the world. Their off spring include some of the most radical and fundamental Islamic terror groups in the world. More alarming is their affiliate branches in over 70 countries, that pose as moderate organizations, such as CAIR.

The irony been, whilst Mubarak is attempting to eradicate the “nucleus” of the MB, western leaders are working directly against him by accepting these organizations and repeating the same mistake Egypt initially made when dealing with the MB. It is true Mubarak has the benefit of understanding the mindset of the MB, and understands the MB can NOT be negotiated with. The MB are banned and outlawed in Egypt for this very reason.

The naive western leaders are pussy footing around with a volatile time bomb they know very little about. All western countries need to stop working against the Mubarak regime, The support of any group directly, indirectly, affiliated with the MB is undermining the Mubarak effort. The affiliates of the MB provide tremendous financial support to the MB in Egypt and guarantee their survival.

Western leaders that engage in any rhetoric with any associate of a terror organization MB, are betraying their own. The world needs Politicians such as Geert Wilders, Sarah Palin, Pamela Geller and Hosni Mubarak. These people have the fortitude, conviction, courage, determination and good will to pursue righteousness and oppose any off spring or affiliate associate with MB or any other Islamic sects.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]