Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101117

Financial Crisis
»“There Will be a World War Over Currency”
»Australia Wages Turn Higher, Ominous for Rates
»Barroso Says Netherlands Damages EU for Rejecting Budget
»Brüderle: EU Can’t ‘Throw Money’ At Debt Crisis
»Felix Salmon: The Case Against QE
»G.M. Shares Said to be Priced at $33, Raising More Than $22 Billion in Biggest U.S. Initial Offering
»Government Employees Owe Billions in Delinquent Taxes
»Greece’s Toothless Battle Against Corruption
»Greek Rescue Frays as Irish Crisis Drags on
»Real Perils: Debt Limit, EPA’s GHG Rule, ‘Green’ California
»‘The Irish Should Stop Bashing Those Who Want to Help Them’
»The Fed is There to Serve the US, Not China
»The Horrible Truth Starts to Dawn on Europe’s Leaders
»Dolan Chosen as President of U.S. Bishops’ Group
»House Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi as Their Leader
»Religion Offers No Break on Airport Screening, TSA Says
»Right of the Boom
»Terror Suspect Cleared of All Charges Except for One Count of Conspiracy
»The Big Disconnect: D.C. Elites Think Obama Will be Reelected, But the Public Doubts it
»The New American Citizen
»Will “Buy Fresh”; “Buy Local” Survive the FDA?
Europe and the EU
»Britain Extends the White Flag of Surrender to Islamist Radicals
»Clinton Critical of Religious Freedom in Europe
»Germany: Politician Demands More Police in Muslim Areas
»Germany: De Maizière Warns of Imminent Terror Attacks
»Germany Tightens Airport Security Over Attacks Threat
»Italy: Mafia Writer-Minister Row Escalates
»More and More Greeks Seek Work in Turkey
»Netherlands: Discontent Within Christenunie on Leftwing Course
»Pope: Episcopal Conferences Do Not Strip Bishops’ Role
»Ryanair Crew Lock Toilets, Turn Out Lights and Leave Plane as Re-Routed Passengers Stage Four-Hour Sit-in
»Sweden: Chlamydia ‘Refuseniks’ Face Police Round Up
»Sweden Green Lights ‘Fingerprint Time Clocks’
»UK: Five Muslim Boys and White Girl, All 12, Excluded Over Facebook Death Threats to Classmate Who Supported British Troops
»UK: Religion is Seen as ‘Irrelevant, Old-Fashioned and Violent’, Warns Former Met Chief
Mediterranean Union
»Algerian Writer Shows Different Side of Italy
North Africa
»CBN Exclusive Video: Al Qaeda Training in North Africa
»Egypt: Christian Girls Forced to Convert, Luxor Bishop
»Egypt: Vodafone Drops Muslim Scientist Ad After Complaints
»Muslims Torch Christian Homes in Egypt
Middle East
»BBC Series on Rafiq Al-Hariri Pulled as Tension Rises in Lebanon
»Stakelbeck on Terror Show Exclusive: The Iran/Venezuela Axis
»The Left’s Delusion Over Islam is Baffling to Middle Eastern Christians
»Turkish Journalist Charged With Insulting Prosecutor by Calling Him ‘Postmodern’
»US Writer Shows Her Love for Turkey With New Book
»From AEI: Putin’s Agenda and Medvedev’s Dilemma
South Asia
»Pakistan Mosque Shootout Wounds 18 Over Dispute Which Cleric Should Lead Holiday Prayers
Far East
»China’s African Safari Strictly Business
»Meeting Decline Face-to-Face
»France Sees Tensions Rise Five Years on From Paris Riots
»Spain: PP Candidate is Anti-Immigrant Heroine in Videogame
»Sweden Stops Plane of Deported Iraqis
Culture Wars
»Canada: Carleton Student Association Bans Anti-Abortion Club
»New Forbidden Word in School
»The World Must Not Allow Islam-Muslim Murder Decrees in a Civilized Society

Financial Crisis

“There Will be a World War Over Currency”

The great dissident looks at the impact of the disastrous G20 on the currency issue. The existing economic system has favoured financial interests and Chinese capitalists, but has impoverished the peoples of China and America. Wei warns that if “the big capitalists of both China and the USA” are not stopped, disaster could follow.

Washington (AsiaNews) — The so-called G-20 Summit opened in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, on 11 November. Expectations for this meeting by the international community were very high, because it was considered as an important opportunity to solve the current economic crisis. Almost all the major news media in the world gave their unanimous pre-summit assessment of the need to solve the issue of the Chinese currency, the renmimbi (yuan). Otherwise, the summit would be considered as a failure.

Renmimbi and labour costs

Why is the renmimbi exchange rate so important? Why is this issue related to the recovery of the global economy? To answer these questions, we need to start from the reasons for the global economic recession. Now we all see the global economic recession started from the economic recession in the United States and Europe. The economic recession in developed countries started from the huge trade deficit year after year. There are many reasons for this huge trade deficit, but two stand out. One is cheap labour; the other is that the Chinese currency renmimbi is far lower than the market price.

Cheap labour causes increased competition. This is acceptable to all. With the accumulation of capital and the increase of skill levels, the labour costs should also gradually increase. Gradually, the whole society would enjoy the fruits of economic growth and the extraordinary competitive advantages would become more balanced. This situation is not only a normal and sustainable development model, but also a model, which is conducive to global economic development.

Brazil, India, and a number of developing countries use this type of development model. Therefore, while their economy develops, their national standard of living also grows, synchronized to expand the domestic market. This development is a positive factor for the economies of these developing countries. We could call this is a win-win development model.

However, this development model also has drawbacks. The disadvantage is that wages increase in synchrony with the economy, which is not favoured for big capitalists to make excess profits, and is not favoured for the growth of billionaires. As a government for the big capitalists using “the few to get rich first” model, the Chinese government under the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership took a totally different path: the so-called “China model.”

The “China Model”

The “China Model” is to maintain the lowest possible labour costs and not to develop the domestic market, while maintaining economic development. This approach sacrifices the national income of the people in an effort to guarantee the price gap with the international market, and so create the best conditions for the big capitalists. One cannot reach such a goal by simply suppressing the labour movement. That is because the market will automatically adjust the exchange rate along with the economic development, thus resulting in the rise of real wages. That is to say, if the government does not interfere with the rising of the Chinese currency renmimbi, people’s real purchasing power will keep rising. The benefits created by economic growth will automatically be delivered to the pockets of every member of society as it balances.

But this way will not only result in the pockets of the big capitalists shrinking, but also make it more difficult to buy major Western enterprises. To unite with the big capitalists in the world in an effort to defend the dictatorial regime of the Chinese Communist Party has become basic national policy of the Communist Party. Thus, the policy of keeping a super-low price for the renmimbi by manipulating the exchange rates comes into play. This is the so-called the “China model.” By the way, this policy is not the invention of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, but a policy started all way back in the Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang era.

Decline of Western economies

This policy of manipulating the price of the renmimbi is very effective. In particular, after China obtained free export rights, or say after it received the so-called most favoured nation treatment, a large number of low-quality goods flooded the developed countries markets with super low prices. As it destroyed the industries of the Western countries, it did not increase export to China, nor create a market for the superior industrial products of the Western countries. Therefore, naturally, the West’s economy gradually declined, while financial capital was in constant growth. The result is the characteristic of this global economic crisis: as the money seemed to be growing, the market has been rapidly shrinking. The big capitalists have their wealth and numbers increased, while the number of the poor people is also rapidly growing.

Due to the lobbying of Western big business, the Western politicians have been afraid to talk about this very obvious problem. However, the Western countries are democratic after all and they have freedom of speech, and the ultimate decision-making power rests in the hands of the people. In the past decade, this serious problem has been discussed more and more by the ordinary people and the media, to the extent that the politicians cannot avoid it.

With this year’s US mid-term elections as a turning point, the issue of the Chinese currency renmimbi exchange rate resulted in a miserable defeat of the Democratic Party. Finally, the US government felt compelled to address this fundamental issue, which has a serious impact on the global economy. To Western politicians, campaign contributions are important, yet of less importance and less direct than votes. Also, while democracy does not guarantee the selection of the most caring politician, it does ensure that the people can control the politicians, can force the politicians to care more for the people. This is the reason that the Obama administration has to address seriously the renmimbi exchange rate issue. In this situation, the Chinese Communist government’s policy of buying the Western big capitalists is not very useful.

Before the mid-term elections in the United States, all sectors expected the defeat of the Democratic Party. After the election, the US government immediately took measures to create a weaker dollar. In the past, the Obama administration has collaborated with the Chinese Communist government like a two-man show. As it faced an increased pressure of public opinion, it continued to send officials to China for negotiations seeming to be very concerned about the renmimbi exchange rate issue. Then, China’s Premier Wen Jiabao would pretend to be overbearing, thus the issue did not get solved. The result was that the big capitalists of both China and the United States could continue to make big money, while the ordinary people of both China and the USA have continued to be poor and the global economic recession has continued.

“Third World War”

Now, the American people have forced the Obama administration to choose between campaign contributions and votes. All of a sudden, the US government seems capable of working toward a solution. Indeed, while the renmimbi is under Premier Wen’s control, control of international finance remains in the United States. The control of the Chinese Communist Party really is not as great as they showed in the two-man show. Therefore, as soon as the US government started action, the dollar depreciated immediately. Exports are expected to increase immediately while imports are expected to slow down quickly, and employment should increase rapidly. A sensational French newspaper called it World War III. This time, it is not a nuclear war, but the currency war.

We can already predict the outcome of this war. The still most powerful United States, united with the majority of countries, will defeat the alliance of economic Fascists. These bumptious big capitalists in China are absolutely not an opponent to Western democracy. The G20 meeting is the last negotiation before the war. The United States has laid out the battlefield: there will be an appreciation of the renmimbi if the Chinese government is willing to negotiate; there will also be an appreciation of the renmimbi if it is not willing. However, the consequences of “with negotiation” and “without negotiation” are totally different.

If Chinese government takes the initiative to raise the value of the renmimbi, and opens up China’s domestic market to imports, then the trade war between China and the United States will subside, the global economy will start to recover, and domestic inflation in China will rapidly subside. This trade balance would be of great value, and will not cause any harm not only to China, but also to the world. Of course, the wealth of the big capitalists will shrink, while the gap between the rich and poor will narrow. However, it is very likely that Wen Jiabao will continue to resist this path.

The result of his resistance is that while there will be a world war on currency, countries will also begin to take measures like put up trade barriers. Then China’s exports will decrease and its economy will slow down while inflation will continue to rise until people cannot bear it any more. China itself will experience civil strife. When it is no good for the people, will it be good for the Communist Party?

I hope people with breadth of vision inside the Chinese Communist Party will think carefully, with a cool and clear mind. Which is more important, the immediate wealth of the big capitalists or the continued survival of the country?

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

Australia Wages Turn Higher, Ominous for Rates

The government’s measure of total hourly pay excluding bonuses, known as the wage price index, rose a seasonally adjusted 1.1 percent in the third quarter from the previous quarter. That topped forecasts for a 1.0 percent increase and was the biggest rise since the last quarter of 2008.

The annual pace of wage growth picked up to 3.5 percent, from 3.0 percent, the fastest pace in over a year. That should be a boon to household incomes and consumption, but it could also add to cost pressures at a time when a mining boom is already heating up the economy.

“This acceleration in wages will get the Reserve Bank’s attention — it underlines everything they’ve been saying about future inflation pressure,” said Brian Redican, a senior economist at Macquarie.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) took a pre-emptive strike against inflation this month by lifting its cash rate 25 basis points to 4.75 percent, and further gradual tightening is expected over the coming year.


Some of the immediate pressure on wages could be lessened by a sharp rise in the number of people looking for work, which lifted the participation rate to a record peak of 65.9 percent in October.

As a result the jobless rate actually climbed 0.3 percentage points last month to 5.4 percent, even as employment grew at a blistering annual pace of 3.4 percent.

Analysts, however, doubt the participation can stretch much higher and expect unemployment to dip under 5 percent next year, lows that have fuelled inflation in the past.

“With the economy heating up and business investment surging, unemployment is certain to fall to 5 percent and lower next year,” said Felicity Emmett, an economist at RBS.

“That means the RBA has further to tighten, though the extent will depend greatly on what the banks do with their lending rates,” she added.


[Return to headlines]

Barroso Says Netherlands Damages EU for Rejecting Budget

BRUSSELS, 17/11/10 — The European Commission says that the Netherlands has inflicted damage on the EU by rejecting the EU budget for 2011. The Hague is responding with a shrug of the shoulders.

Commission President José Manuel Barroso said yesterday that he “regrets that a small number of member states was not prepared to negotiate in the spirit of Europe.” Those that believe they achieved a victory over ‘Brussels’ have shot themselves in the foot, the EC president declared. “They must know that they have inflicted a blow on people throughout Europe.”

Due to the opposition of the Netherlands, the UK and Sweden, the European Parliament failed to reach agreement with the EU member states on the EU budget for 2011 during a meeting in Brussels on Monday. Following this failed final mediation effort, the European Commission is forced to draw up a new budget, decision-making about which could take months.

The European Parliament wanted more say in the EU budgets. The MEPs were pushing for a greater role in the discussions about the financing of the EU over the long term, as part of which a European tax is being considered. In exchange for this, the MEPs wanted to accept the demand by the member states to raise the budget next year by a maximum of 2.91 percent to 126.5 billion euros.

“The budget increase of 2.91 percent was already a big concession from our side,” said EU Affairs State Secretary Ben Knapen yesterday. The Hague was originally for a zero increase, like the UK, he recalled. The state secretary said it was no disaster that the budget for 2011 is now not finalised. “The world will not come to an end.”

Finance Minister also rejected Barroso’s criticisms. “I am really not going to blow hot or cold about this criticism. The Netherlands has been a generous partner, but we do have a limit: thus far and no further,” he said.

“If you are against something as a country, you must always be able to be against it, without pressure,” added De Jager. “This was very important for the Netherlands, that the EU budget should not continue to go up enormously. If we have to tighten our belts here, then this also has to happen in Europe.”

According to the Dutch centre-left (D66) MEP Gerben Jan Gerbrandy, the Netherlands has taken the most “rabid” position of all EU member states. “The Netherlands led the resistance, the United Kingdom and Sweden followed.” He bases this on information from a fellow-MEP who was involved with the talks with the member states.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Brüderle: EU Can’t ‘Throw Money’ At Debt Crisis

German Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle warned on Tuesday that the EU cannot simply “throw money” at the spiralling debt crisis within the 16-nation eurozone.

“You can’t just throw money from helicopters … You have to create confidence in institutions, in the state, in public authorities,” Brüderle told reporters while visiting Rome, speaking in German with an Italian translation.

Brüderle said it was up to the Irish government to ask for assistance from the International Monetary Fund or from European funds.

He called on eurozone economies like Greece and Ireland to engage in deficit-reducing reforms “in order not to require assistance any more. The European community as a whole has an interest in finding a way to have guarantees of a solution when there are difficulties,” he added.

He said the situation in Italy was less dramatic.

The European Commission on Tuesday said it was holding talks with the IMF and the European Central Bank to resolve the Irish banking crisis.

EU President Herman Van Rompuy warned early that the 27-nation bloc’s very future could be at stake.

“If we don’t survive with the eurozone we will not survive with the European Union,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Felix Salmon: The Case Against QE

An impressive group of right-leaning technocrats has signed an open letter to Ben Bernanke, objecting to his adoption of QE2. And it’s hard to disagree with what they have to say:

We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued. We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances. The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment.

It seems clear that the G20 meeting in Seoul achieved absolutely nothing largely because of the unfortunate timing of Bernanke’s QE2 announcement. It overshadowed everything else, it put Obama on the defensive, and it made it impossible for the G20 to agree on anything. I don’t think that the FOMC anticipated the volume of the international criticism of U.S. policy, and that alone is reason to reconsider what they’re doing. After all, if a policy designed to increase confidence only serves to increase mistrust, it probably isn’t working.

QE isn’t necessary: there’s no immediate and obvious harm which will befall the U.S. if it’s discontinued. If it doesn’t increase employment or decrease unemployment, there’s certainly no reason to do it. And so far the evidence that QE has any effect on employment is slim at best. So yes, there’s a case to be made that QE should be discontinued.

The letter continues:…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

G.M. Shares Said to be Priced at $33, Raising More Than $22 Billion in Biggest U.S. Initial Offering

General Motors has set the offering price for its shares at $33 each, raising more than $22 billion and setting a record for the largest initial public offering in American history, people briefed on the matter said on Wednesday.

The offering will cut the government’s stake in the company by more than half, to about 26 percent, and speed up the Obama administration’s efforts to remove itself entirely from the company, a goal that G.M. has also avidly sought. Strong demand for the company’s shares allowed a larger amount of the government’s stake to be sold than originally expected.

G.M. will return to the stock market as a public company on Thursday morning, almost 18 months after it filed for government-directed bankruptcy protection to shed billions of dollars in debt and reshape its business. The government’s stake in the company stemmed from that intervention, which injected $49 billion in public money into the company; $7 billion has since been repaid.

[Return to headlines]

Government Employees Owe Billions in Delinquent Taxes


The federal agency with the largest back-tax bill? The US Postal Service, where hundreds of thousands of employees owed a total of more than $283 million, said the report.

Also high on the list is the Department of Veterans Affairs, where employees had more than $156 million in back taxes.

The biggest group, though, is retired military personnel. That group owed more than $1.5 billion dollars.

And even the White House folks are behind in their taxes. Employees in the executive office of the president, which includes nearly 2,000 employees, owed more than $831,000 to Uncle Sam, the IRS found.

The large agency with the highest delinquency rate per employee was the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, where more than 11 percent of employees owed back taxes, followed by the Government Printing Office, where nearly seven percent were in arrears.


[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Toothless Battle Against Corruption

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is doing his best to ward off national bankruptcy. But not all government agencies are cooperating. The country’s justice system refuses to file charges in hundreds of prominent corruption cases.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greek Rescue Frays as Irish Crisis Drags on

The clash caught markets off-guard and heightened fears that Europe’s debt crisis may be escalating, with deep confusion over the Irish crisis as Dublin continues to resist EU pressure to request its own rescue.

Olli Rehn, the EU economics commissioner, said escalating rhetoric in Europe was turning dangerous. “I want to call on every responsible European to resist the centrifugal tendencies and existential alarmism.”

Swirling rumours hit eurozone bond markets, while bourses tumbled across the world. The FTSE 100 fell 2.4pc to 5681.9, and the Dow dropped over 200 points in early trading. The euro slid two cents to $1.3460 against the dollar as the US currency regained its safe-haven status.

Austria’s finance minister Josef Proll said he was “very critical” of Greece’s performance, saying Athens had failed to meet the tax revenue targets agreed under the EU Memorandum.

Credit default swaps on Greek debt rocketed 97 basis points to 950 as investors woke up to the awful possibility that the EU could turn its back on Athens, which will run out of money by mid-January without loans. A Greek default would trigger $300bn (£188bn) worth of CDS contracts.

A ‘Troika’ of EU-IMF inspectors is currently in Greece but has not indicated whether the next €6.5bn (£5.5bn) tranche will be approved. German influence is crucial, yet Greek premier George Papandreou courted fate on Monday when he accused Chancellor Angela Merkel of driving the weaker EMU states into bankruptcy by scaring investors with talk of “haircuts”.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Real Perils: Debt Limit, EPA’s GHG Rule, ‘Green’ California

Catch up quickly: Read these summaries on Raising the Debt Limit, the similarities between the US and Weimar Germany, urgent necessity to rein in the job-killing EPA:


Of course, the overarching priority must be the defanging of Obamacare through the appropriations process, followed by its repeal.

The Tea Partiers, in our experience, are primarily concerned about the restoration of freedom. As Mark Steyn reminds us: “Government health care would be wrong even if it ‘controlled costs.’ It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.”

These are four (counting Obamacare) serious and exigent challenges to which Tea Partiers and conservatives will want to give serious thought and then URGE APPROPRIATE ACTION…

[Return to headlines]

‘The Irish Should Stop Bashing Those Who Want to Help Them’

The Irish government insists it does not require a bailout, even as a team of EU and IMF experts heads to Dublin for talks. Yet aid could also come from another quarter, in the form of Ireland’s neighbor Britain. Meanwhile, the German press is divided on whether Berlin shares some of the blame for Ireland’s woes.

On Tuesday, embattled Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan fended off pressure from other euro-zone member states to seek a bailout package from the stability fund established by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund earlier this year. Yet Dublin may not be able to hold out for much longer.

The imminent arrival of IMF and EU experts in Dublin for what are being described as “short and focused discussions” starting on Thursday could see Ireland eventually tap into the fund, though on Tuesday night, following a meeting of euro-zone foreign ministers in Brussels, Lenihan was still insisting that such a bailout was “not inevitable.”

Speaking to public broadcaster RTE on Wednesday morning, Lenihan said Ireland would accept EU support if the banking crisis was too big for the country to fix on its own. “Ireland is a small country and if the banking problems in the country are too big for this small country to manage, Europe is making it clear that they will help and help in every possible way to secure the system,” Lenihan said.

Dublin’s preferred option is to confine any rescue deal to help with the enormous costs of propping up the Irish banking sector, which has been practically demolished by huge losses incurred from the collapse of the real estate bubble. A wider bailout would be regarded as a humiliation for an already deeply unpopular government which, due to its wafer-thin majority, is unlikely to survive a full legislative period.

Not Just a Bank Bailout

Speaking to the Dáil, the Irish lower house of parliament, on Wednesday, Prime Minister Brian Cowen again denied that the government was in negotiations for a bailout. “What we want to concentrate on now is in a focused way, over the coming days, to sit down and see in what way can assistance be provided to ensure that these issues can be dealt with properly and appropriately in present circumstances.”

However, euro-zone sources have told Reuters that once the joint mission completes its work there is an agreement in principle that aid would be triggered — and that this would not just be for the banks. French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde has already said a decision would be taken in days not months and that help needed to be seen in a broad context. “We should not qualify this as a plan to help the banks,” she said.

The fateful decision by Lenihan in 2008 to guarantee all deposits and debts in the Irish banking sector and the subsequent nationalization of three banks has already cost the state €45 billion ($ 61 billion) and pushed the nation’s 2010 deficit to a staggering 32 percent of gross domestic product. The government has already slashed public spending and the country is braced for another tough budget on Dec. 7, when a further €6 billion in tax hikes and public spending cuts are to be announced. In addition, the government is to present a four-year budgetary plan next week to Brussels.

Yet the Irish commitment to tough austerity measures has not placated the markets, and concerns over the costs of rescuing the banks have pushed up the borrowing costs not just for Ireland but for other vulnerable nations such as Portugal and Spain, and threatens to destabilize the common currency. On Tuesday, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy even warned that the EU was in a “survival crisis” due to the difficulties facing the euro.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Fed is There to Serve the US, Not China

As ye sow, thus shall ye reap. The mercantalism of Chinese economic policy in pegging the yuan to the dollar is rebounding, as eventually it was bound to, in now quite serious levels of Chinese inflation. Overnight, Wen Jiaboa, the Chinese premier, hinted at price controls and further rises in interest rates to stem the tide.

Yet he’s really only got himself to blame for what’s going on. The downside of pegging the yuan to the dollar is that China has to accept the influence of ultra-loose US monetary policy, which is plainly wholly inappropriate for an economy racing away at 10 per cent per annum growth rates.

It’s no wonder the Chinese have been the biggest complainants about the Fed’s latest bout of quantitative easing. It’s the very last thing that China needs right now. Yet there is a very simple solution to China’s troubles. All they have to do is disengage from the dollar and let the yuan appreciate. But they won’t, because they worry that this will destroy the competitiveness of their export industries, and with it, millions of jobs.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Horrible Truth Starts to Dawn on Europe’s Leaders

The entire European Project is now at risk of disintegration, with strategic and economic consequences that are very hard to predict.

In a speech this morning, EU President Herman Van Rompuy (poet, and writer of Japanese and Latin verse) warned that if Europe’s leaders mishandle the current crisis and allow the eurozone to break up, they will destroy the European Union itself.

“We’re in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union,” he said.

Well, well. This theme is all too familiar to readers of The Daily Telegraph, but it comes as something of a shock to hear such a confession after all these years from Europe’s president.

He is admitting that the gamble of launching a premature and dysfunctional currency without a central treasury, or debt union, or economic government, to back it up — and before the economies, legal systems, wage bargaining practices, productivity growth, and interest rate sensitivity, of North and South Europe had come anywhere near sustainable convergence — may now backfire horribly.

Jacques Delors and fellow fathers of EMU were told by Commission economists in the early 1990s that this reckless adventure could not work as constructed, and would lead to a traumatic crisis. They shrugged off the warnings.

They were told too that currency unions do not eliminate risk: they merely switch it from currency risk to default risk. For that reason it was all the more important to have a workable mechanism for sovereign defaults and bondholder haircuts in place from the beginning, with clear rules to establish the proper pricing of that risk.

But no, the EU masters would hear none of it. There could be no defaults, and no preparations were made or even permitted for such an entirely predictable outcome. Political faith alone was enough. Investors who should have known better walked straight into the trap, buying Greek, Portuguese, and Irish debt at 25-35 basis points over Bunds. At the top of boom funds were buying Spanish bonds at a spread of 4 basis points. Now we are seeing what happens when you build such moral hazard into the system, and shut down the warning thermostat.

Mr Delors told colleagues that any crisis would be a “beneficial crisis”, allowing the EU to break down resistance to fiscal federalism, and to accumulate fresh power. The purpose of EMU was political, not economic, so the objections of economists could happily be disregarded. Once the currency was in existence, EU states would have give up national sovereignty to make it work over time. It would lead ineluctably to the Monnet dream of a fully-fledged EU state. Bring the crisis on.

Behind this gamble, of course, was the assumption that any crisis could be contained at a tolerable cost once the imbalances of EMU’s one-size-fits-none monetary system had already reached catastrophic levels, and once the credit bubbles of Club Med and Ireland had collapsed. It assumed too that Germany, The Netherlands, and Finland would ultimately — under much protest — agree to foot the bill for a ‘Transferunion’.

We may soon find out whether either assumption is correct. Far from binding Europe together, monetary union is leading to acrimony and mutual recriminations. We had the first eruption earlier this year when Greece’s deputy premier accused the Germans of stealing Greek gold from the vaults of the central bank and killing 300,000 people during the Nazi occupation.


My own view is that the EU became illegitimate when it refused to accept the rejection of the European Constitution by French and Dutch voters in 2005. There can be no justification for reviving the text as the Lisbon Treaty and ramming it through by parliamentary procedure without referenda, in what amounted to an authoritarian Putsch. (Yes, the national parliaments were themselves elected — so don’t write indignant comments pointing this out — but what was their motive for denying their own peoples a vote in this specific instance? Elected leaders can violate democracy as well. There was a corporal from Austria … but let’s not get into that).

Ireland was the one country forced to hold a vote by its constitutional court. When this lonely electorate also voted no, the EU again disregarded the result and intimidated Ireland into voting a second time to get it “right”.

This is the behaviour of a proto-Fascist organization, so if Ireland now — by historic irony, and in condign retribution — sets off the chain-reaction that destroys the eurozone and the European Union, it will be hard to resist the temptation of opening a bottle of Connemara whisky and enjoying the moment. But resist one must. The cataclysm will not be pretty.

My one thought for all those old friends still working for the EU institutions is what will happen to their euro pensions if Mr Van Rompuy is right?


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Dolan Chosen as President of U.S. Bishops’ Group

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to be its president on Tuesday in a surprise move that reaffirmed the conservative direction of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

The vote makes Archbishop Dolan the most visible face of the church in the United States. It also suggested that the bishops were seeking a powerful and reliably orthodox voice to reassert the church’s teaching in the court of public opinion and to disarm critics who insist that the bishops have lost their moral authority as a result of their role in the sexual abuse scandals.

For the first time, the bishops overlooked tradition and passed over a vice president who was running for the presidency, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Bishop Kicanas represents the more liberal “social justice” tradition of the American church and is known for advocating dialogue between Catholic liberals and traditionalists. Archbishop Dolan is considered a moderate conservative.

Archbishop Dolan said in a news conference after the vote that he would carry on the forceful opposition of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, to the recent health care overhaul because the bishops believed it would permit expanded government financing for abortion.

“My major priority would be to continue with all vigor I can muster what’s already in place,” Archbishop Dolan said. “It’s not like we’re in crisis; it’s not like all of a sudden we need some daring new initiatives. Thank God for the leadership of Cardinal Francis George, things are going well.”

Archbishop Dolan also suggested that he would not countenance other Catholic leaders and organizations when they take public positions that contradict the bishops. That is what happened this year when some groups representing Catholic hospitals and nuns came out in support of the health care overhaul bill, despite the bishops’ staunch opposition.

“We’re pastors and teachers,” Archbishop Dolan said of the bishops’ role, “not just one set of teachers in the Catholic community, but THE teachers.”


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House Democrats Re-Elect Pelosi as Their Leader

Representative Nancy Pelosi was re-elected as the House Democratic leader on Wednesday despite a striking show of unrest among members of her caucus following the Democrats’ heavy losses in the midterm elections.

Meeting in private, House Democrats voted 150-43 to leave in place a woman who, as Speaker of the House, became a lightning rod for public anger over some of the sweeping and costly legislation passed during the past two years.

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Religion Offers No Break on Airport Screening, TSA Says

WASHINGTON — The Transportation Security Administration says airline passengers won’t get out of body imaging screening or pat-downs based on their religious beliefs.

TSA chief John Pistole told the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday that passengers who refuse to go through a full-body scanner machine and reject a pat-down won’t be allowed to board, even if they turned down the in-depth screening for religious reasons.

“That person is not going to get on an airplane,” Pistole said in response to a question from Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., on whether the TSA would provide exemptions for passengers whose religious beliefs do not allow them to go through a physically revealing body scan or be touched by screeners.

Civil rights groups contend the more intensive screening violates civil liberties including freedom of religion, the right to privacy and the constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.

The issue is getting new attention after a man posted an item online saying he was thrown out of the San Diego airport for rejecting a full-body scan and pat-down groin check and instead insisting on passing through a metal detector.

Pistole acknowledged the incident was drawing wide attention but told the committee an officer involved was “very cool, calm, professional” in dealing with the passenger.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center is among several civil liberties groups suing the TSA in federal court to stop use of the full-body scanners. Their lawsuit says the machines are overly intrusive and violate civil rights, and that it is questionable whether they can detect powdered explosives such as those used by a passenger in last year’s attempted Christmas airliner bombing. They also question whether the machines pose a health risk.

“There’s a very strong sense right now that the public attitude on the airport body scanner program has swung dramatically,” said Marc Rotenberg, director of EPIC. There is growing opposition from civil rights groups, religious organizations, libertarians, airline passengers and pilots, he said.

EPIC is urging air travelers to take part in a national opt-out day the day before Thanksgiving, refusing to go through the full-body detectors and insisting that any pat-down they receive as a result take place in full view of other passengers.

Several senators asked Pistole to address public criticism of the body-imaging machines and more intrusive pat-downs the agency is using. Pistole said the tougher screening is necessary, and that the FDA has found the imaging machines to be safe. Going through the whole-body scanning machine is similar to getting about three minutes of the radiation that passengers receive at 30,000 feet on a typical flight, he said.

Pistole said his agency was working to address pilot and flight attendant concerns about the screening.

           — Hat tip: LS[Return to headlines]

Right of the Boom


Wired argues that the problem with a “National Opt Out Day” is that it might actually work. “Some travel writers have expressed concern that the protest, called for the busiest air-travel day of the year, could cause backups and delays for all travelers.” If it works, not only will it short out the air traffic system but it will a message. The problem is: what message is that? That the public is willing to accept some amount of risk for the privilege of hassle free flying? Or the message that the government is going about security in the wrong way?


Airport security is last-ditch point defense. It is like armor on a troop carrier or the ECM that it carries. In both Afghanistan and Iraq the US military learned from hard experience that fighting roadside bombs was both expensive and comparatively ineffective…


In the end, CAIR may exempt all Muslims from pat-downs. And in the perverse nature of Washington politics that outcome will somehow solve the problem in the manner once described by a Belmont commenter as “Kick the Can Down the Road”.


Ultimately the only way “National Opt Out Day” can succeed is if it becomes transformed into WTF Day…Until then, just fly the friendly skies. And bend over.

[Return to headlines]

Terror Suspect Cleared of All Charges Except for One Count of Conspiracy

The first former Guantánamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court was acquitted on Wednesday of all but one of more than 280 charges of conspiracy and murder in the 1998 terrorist bombings of the United States Embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The case has been seen as a test of President Obama’s goal of trying detainees in federal court whenever feasible, and the result may again fuel debate over whether civilian courts are appropriate for trying terrorists.

The defendant, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, 36, was convicted of one count of conspiracy to destroy government buildings and property.

The attacks, orchestrated by Al Qaeda, killed 224 people, including 12 Americans, and wounded thousands of others.

Mr. Ghailani faces a sentence of 20 years to life in prison.

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The Big Disconnect: D.C. Elites Think Obama Will be Reelected, But the Public Doubts it


This big difference can partially be explained by the different ways that the two groups see the economy and the world today.

Seventy percent of D.C. elites admit that they have been affected less than the average citizen when it comes to the economic downturn. The elites see the tea party as purely a fad (70 percent).

In contrast, those who say that the president will not be reelected see the country as headed in the wrong direction by 82 percent, see the economy as headed in the wrong direction by 81 percent and overwhelmingly want repeal of the health care law at the top of the agenda.

The quarter of the public who consider Obama’s reelection probable see the economy turning around by nearly 3-to-1. They are the outliers of the electorate, suggesting that the president has a lot more work to do to get back on track for a second term.


[Return to headlines]

The New American Citizen

We are at the dawn of a new age in America. The old ways are proving less and less viable. Sustainability is not a new word, it is the word for what came before. Now, there is unsustainable debt, unsustainable regulations, unsustainable oppression, unsustainable ignorance, unsustainable leisure, unsustainable inattention. Common sense tells us all we need to know about the future of America. It is up to us.

What we used to do can no longer be done…


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Will “Buy Fresh”; “Buy Local” Survive the FDA?

Senate Bill 510 the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act may come up for vote sometime this week, this bill which makes it easier for the Food and Drug Administration to issue recalls and which adds numerous new regulations will adversely affect small farms and businesses.

Food born illnesses that have recently made the news has once again spurred our federal government to over react in a way that will do harm to those who are not responsible for the problem.

Problems which resulted from inadequate enforcement of current regulations are now being addressed by imposing even more regulations. These added regulatory burdens which will be easily dealt with by the large corporations will cost time and money for the small local operations that are barely surviving as it is.

Businesses such as Archer Daniels Midland a fortune 500 company whose 2009 revenues were $69.2 billion will certainly have no problem absorbing the extra cost of these regulations. As a matter of fact large corporate farms, the same farms that receive most of the federal farm subsidies, are supporting more regulations which they believe will help eliminate their smaller local competition [emphasis added]

If this bill sees the light of day without some serious exemptions for small local farms and businesses we can forget about the by fresh buy local movement. Call your senators and urge them to vote no on this bill or at the very least to agree to attach the Tester Amendment (named after Sen. Jon Tester) which would exempt smaller food producers from some of the bill’s regulations.


[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Britain Extends the White Flag of Surrender to Islamist Radicals

by A. Millar

“If we know anything,” former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, once observed “we know that weakness is provocative.” Mired in political correctness, Britain’s “elites” apparently prefer to think of displays of weakness as “outreach.”

Britain’s “elites” seem not to notice Islamism, but prefer to believe that if those protesting against Islamism could be silenced, the problem of radical Islam would disappear. It was this mindset that saw parliament introducing a religious hate speech law, aimed at silencing criticism of Islam and Islamism, in the aftermath of the 7/7 bombings. Britain’s establishment, in other words, has busied itself clearing a very large space in which the Islamists can operate.

Last month, the British coalition government unveiled The Strategic Defense and Security Review [pdf]. The defense budget will be slashed by 8% over the next four years. Britain’s flagship HMS Ark Royal, Harrier jump jets, replacement Nimrod spy planes will be axed, as will 42,000 jobs in the armed forces and the Ministry of Defense .

The cuts are so severe that top military officers are said to be considering threatening resignation if the budget cuts go ahead as planned. US Secretary if Stare Hillary Clinton has also aired the US administration’s concern over the size of the cuts.

The scrapping of the flagship aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal must surely have caused top navy brass to reflect on the decommissioning of the HMS Intrepid in 1982: only four months after decommissioning had begun, Argentina invaded the British territory of the Falklands Islands. In the ensuing 74-day war, Britain lost more than 250 servicemen, before reclaiming the territory.

Prior to the outbreak of conflict, it was almost universally believed that Britain could not defeat the Argentine forces. The HMS Intrepid had to be hurriedly brought back into commission, and sent to the Falklands to defend the islands.

Since British companies began oil exploration off the islands early in the year, Argentina has once again made clear its intention to bring them under Argentine sovereignty.

There is also the Spanish and British dispute over the British territory of Gibraltar.

Both are potentially serious situations, even if they do not rank very highly in the concerns of the British public. To them, unsurprisingly, terrorism is considered “a Tier One risk,” if not the major threat to British security.

In the words of the Strategic Defense and Security Review: “The most significant terrorist threat to the UK and its interests overseas comes from the Al Qaeda senior leadership based in the border areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and their affiliates and supporters.”

The risk sounds reassuringly far away.

It was, of course, intended to.

The sense that terrorism is a distant threat, however, is not only created by invoking the hinterlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan and “Al Qaeda senior leadership,” but by the complete absence of an acknowledgment of the ideology behind the threat. Nowhere in the report is Islamism, or political Islam, mentioned.

Much of Europe is now openly, if reluctantly, acknowledging the problems wrought by political multiculturalism, not least of all how it has facilitated the rise of Islamic radicalism in European states…

[Return to headlines]

Clinton Critical of Religious Freedom in Europe

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Wednesday the state of religious freedom in Europe, as Washington highlighted policies and attitudes toward Muslim veils and Islam as a whole.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized Wednesday the state of religious freedom in Europe, as Washington highlighted policies and attitudes toward Muslim veils and Islam as a whole.”Several European countries have placed harsh restrictions on religious expression,” Clinton said, without elaborating as she unveiled the State Department’s report on international religious freedom for the last year.Her assistant secretary for human rights, Michael Posner, cited France’s ban on wearing the niqab and other face coverings in public places and a Swiss motion passed last year that bans building new minarets.Both measures have been criticized as intolerant moves stigmatizing Europe’s growing Muslim population.

Posner acknowledged “growing sensitivity and tension in Europe” over Islam.

“What we are urging our European friends to do is to take every measure to try to alleviate that tension,” he added.The different attitudes toward Muslims in Europe and the United States are the source of frequent tensions and misunderstandings between both sides of the Atlantic.

“We have gone to court in the United States to enforce the right of Muslim women and girls to wear a burqa, and on the streets, in schools, et cetera,” said Posner.”That’s our position. It’s a position we articulate when we talk to our European friends.”

France’s law banning veils — passed last month — was considered an especially controversial move in a country with Europe’s biggest Muslim population, estimated at nearly six million. The Netherlands is expected to follow suit.

Clinton defined religious freedom as the ability for people to freely practice their faith, raise their children within those traditions, publish religious texts without censorship and to be able to either change religion or practice none.

She noted strong US opposition to any legislation condemning religious libel because of freedom of expression concerns.

The State Department’s annual report — covering a period from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010 — found that respect for religious freedom deteriorated in Afghanistan and Iran while China and Indonesia earned mixed scorecards.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Germany: Politician Demands More Police in Muslim Areas

Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann on Wednesday said more police were needed in predominately Muslim districts in Germany and Islamists should be banned from using mobile phones and computers to combat terrorism.

“A mobile and computer ban for Islamist agitators would hinder their communication,” Schünemann told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung

Speaking ahead of a meeting of German state interior ministers in Hamburg this week, Schünemann also said known Islamists should be forbidden from visiting radical Mosques and problem areas.

He said state police should be given the authority to monitor the e-mails and telephone calls of such suspects before they had committed a crime.

Schünemann is likely to find more support for his other initiative for the interior minister conference — ending the deportation of well-integrated young refugees and immigrants.

“With a unanimous resolution, preliminary protection against deportation could be achieved,” he told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung.

His counterpart for the city-state of Bremen, Ulrich Mäurer, a centre-left Social Democrat, also supported such a move.

Meanwhile federal Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the Free Democrats said clear rules on residency for underage immigrants was overdue.

At the conference on Thursday, the states of Lower Saxony and Hamburg hope to convince other states that well-integrated refugees and immigrants who came to Germany as children deserve residency status.

Currently these children and teens are dependent on their parents’ visas, regardless of how well they’ve settled in to German society.

Lower Saxony’s Schünemann vowed to change this.

“We’re giving the girls and boys affected by this a new chance to stay long-term in Germany if they have honestly tried to gain a foothold in German society,” he said, adding that until their children are grown, their parents must be allowed to remain too.

According to Schünemann’s plan, a preliminary agreement would protect the young people concerned until federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière could push a new law through parliament.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: De Maizière Warns of Imminent Terror Attacks

5 German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière on Wednesday warned the government had indications Islamists were planning terrorist attacks in Germany later this month.

“There is information from our foreign partners that planned attacks are allegedly to be carried out at the end of November,” he said in Berlin, describing a “new situation” regarding the Islamist threat towards the nation.

“There’s reason to be worried, but no reason to panic,” he said, mentioning “concrete leads” being followed by the authorities.

De Maizière said he had put federal police on alert and ordered heightened security at German airports and train stations.

“From today, there will be a more visible police presence. I thought it should be explained to citizens,” he said.

The announcement is a marked departure from the German government’s warnings in recent weeks of an abstract terrorist threat.

Only last month, de Maizière criticized reports Islamists were planning imminent attacks in Germany as “alarmist” and said there was no reason to change the country’s security threat level.

But the minister said on Wednesday security services had noticed growing signs that the terrorist network al-Qaida was planning attacks in the United States, Europe and Germany since mid-2010.

“We now have more details and indications of danger,” he said. “It is the unanimous assessment of the security services that we are currently dealing with a new situation.”

He said Berlin had been tipped off by overseas authorities following the discovery of two US-bound parcel bombs originating from Yemen last month. One of the packages travelled undetected through Cologne-Bonn Airport before being stopped in Britain.

Daily newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported the United States had warned German officials that between two and four al-Qaida operatives were on their way to Germany and Britain to attempt attacks.

Security sources cited by the paper named Germany’s popular Christmas markets among potential targets and said the terrorists were expected to arrive in the country on November 22 via India or the United Arab Emirates.

But de Maizière said Germans should not be cowed by the threat of possible attacks.

“We will not allow international terrorism to limit our way of life or our liberty,” he said.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Germany Tightens Airport Security Over Attacks Threat

Germany is increasing security at airports and railway stations in light of “concrete indications” of terrorist attacks being planned for the end of November.

Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it followed a tip-off from another, unnamed country.

Germany had information on “sustained efforts” by Islamist extremists to carry out attacks, he said.

He said the extra security would remain in place “until further notice”.

“There are grounds for concern, but not for hysteria,” Mr de Maiziere told a news conference in Berlin.

The federal police force has been ordered to step up checks at airports and train stations, he added.

Yemen connection Mr de Maiziere said Germany had received a tip-off after two parcel bombs were intercepted en route from Yemen to the United States last month. One of the bombs was despatched via the German city of Cologne but was intercepted in the UK.

The Yemen plot showed “the adaptability and the persistence of terrorists in pursuing their aims,” Mr de Maiziere said, and also underlines “the reliability of some leads”.

Germany would not allow international terrorism to constrict its way of life or liberal culture, he said.

Last year, twelve militants vanished from Hamburg, some to resurface in Northern Pakistan where at least one, but not all were killed in an American drone attack.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Mafia Writer-Minister Row Escalates

Maroni demands denial after comments compared to Mob lawyer’s

(ANSA) — Rome, November 17 — A huge row between Interior Minister Roberto Maroni and anti-Mafia writer Roberto Saviano escalated Wednesday when the author compared a turn of phase used by the minister to comments made by an infamous mobster’s lawyer.

The furore exploded on Monday when Saviano said Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta syndicate had spread outside their southern base and was ‘talking” to the Northern League on a controversial hit show on state broadcaster RAI.

Northern League heavyweight Maroni said the comments were slanderous and demanded the right to reply on the show, adding: “I’d like a face-to-face with him to see if he has the courage to say those things looking me in the eye”.

The row heated up further when Saviano, whose 2006 book Gomorra (Gomorrah) on the Neapolitan Camorra mafia was an international bestseller, claimed that the lawyer of jailed Camorra boss Francesco ‘Sandokan’ Schiavone had once said something similar to him.

“Certain words are truly disturbing coming from the mouth of the interior minister,” Saviano told Wednesday’s edition of left-leaning daily La Repubblica.

Maroni said he was flabbergasted at that and suggested he was considering legal action.

“I’m astounded. I hope it was a mistake and therefore I ask Saviano for a denial, reserving the right to take any necessary action (if it is not forthcoming),” the minister said.

He added that if RAI did not allow him the right to reply on the show, Vieni Via Con Me, it would be “a sort of gag or censorship”.

Maroni had said on Tuesday he would appeal to President Giorgio Napolitano if he was not granted time on the show, after one of the chiefs of the RAI channel it is broadcast on said he could reply elsewhere. Saviano, who spends much of his time in hiding and is under 24-hour police protection after enraging mobsters with Gomorra, a play on the word ‘Camorra’, had justified his comments by saying they were based on the results of judicial probes into mafia attempts to penetrate northern Italy’s political environment. He cited the example of a local League councillor who met a man linked to ‘Ndrangheta, while stressing that the councillor had never been put under investigation. Maroni responded that he was well aware that ‘Ndrangheta were trying to infiltrate northern Italy’s political and economic spheres, pointing out that he had taken several initiatives to counter this.

These measures include a special commission he set up to watch out for mafia attempts to muscle in on contracts for the 2015 Milan Expo.

“But here we are talking about something else — it was said that ‘Ndrangheta talks to the League in the North,” said Maroni Wednesday.

“I reject that statement. It’s a serious falsehood”. The minister reiterated that the current government has fought hard against organised crime, saying a string of recent operations against ‘Ndrangheta, the Camorra and their Sicilian cousins Cosa Nostra have put the clans on the back foot.

Saviano’s comments also sparked indignation from other members of the League and of Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, their government allies.

“The results the government and the interior minister have achieved in the fight against the Mafia are plain to see,” said Foreign Minister Franco Frattini of the PdL.

“We are witnessing a poisonous, slanderous attempt to discredit this effort, the minister behind it and the party he belongs to”. But Saviano, whose book Gomorra was made into a successful film of the same name, also had supporters.

“Saviano was not mudslinging, as the League says, he was simply showing things as they are,” said Francesco Ferrante of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD), the biggest opposition group.

On Wednesday the Antimafia Investigative Directorate (DIA) said ‘Ndrangheta’s presence in Lombardy was in “constant, progressive development” and that the syndicate “interacts” with the northern region’s business sphere in its latest report to parliament.

Monday’s edition of Vieni Via Con Me, which Saviano co-hosts, had already sparked polemics before going on air and attracting over nine million viewers, more than 30% of the overall audience share.

The PdL were furious at being excluded after PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani and House Speaker Gianfranco Fini were invited to give monologues on the values of the Left and the Right respectively.

Fini appeared on the same day he pulled his ministers from the government, leaving it on the brink of collapse, having split earlier this year from the PdL he founded with Berlusconi and forming his own party, Future and Freedom for Italy (FLI).

The appearance of euthanasia-supporting relatives of two deceased people at the centre of high-profile right-to-die cases also caused controversy.

Berlusconi was among the targets of Oscar-winning Italian director Roberto Benigni’s satire when he starred on the first episode of the show last week.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More and More Greeks Seek Work in Turkey

Fifty years ago, Greek workers moved to Germany when Greece was unable to offer them an adequate standard of living. Now a new wave of emigration is building up, as many Greeks are looking for work abroad.

The search is no longer confined to Western Europe and includes Turkey. Dozens of requests from jobless Greeks are being sent to the Greek consulate in Istanbul each week. Applications are also being made at the Greek-Turkish Chamber of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki.

“At this time last year, our consulate had not received a single request for work. They started coming at the start of the year and have been building up gradually,” Yiannis Karkanis, head of the consulate’s commercial section, told Sunday’s Greek daily Kathimerini. “The Greeks who approach us are, for the most part, couples and heads of families. They come from all parts of Greece. Most of them don’t have special skills, nor do they speak Turkish. But when they look for a job as a laborer in Turkey, where salaries start at 300 euros per month, they are either desperate or they don’t know anything about the country that they want to emigrate to.”

On the other hand, young people who have approached the chamber in Thessaloniki are highly educated, with university degrees and post-graduate degrees and knowledge of the Turkish language. “This began in the last six months and continues on a daily basis, with at least one request each day,” the chamber’s president, Zano Apikyan, told Kathimerini. “What’s impressive is that quite a few Greeks speak Turkish. The Turkish departments of language schools are blooming.”

The fact that more than 400 Greek companies are active in Turkey is playing a key role in this growing interest. “Every foreign investment in Turkey is welcome. They believe that this helps in the fight against unemployment,” Apikyan said.

Istanbul brimming with opportunities

Dimitris Sourvalis, a criminologist, offered the viewpoint of someone who is interested in working in Turkey. “In the past year, there is growing interest in Istanbul. The bad economic climate in our country and the lack of opportunity for young people are creating a climate of despair,” he said. “This cannot be absorbed either by the academic establishment or by private business. On the other hand, in Turkey we see there is potential for us.”

Sourvalis is currently a post-graduate student in Thessaloniki’s Balkan Studies department, specializing in Turkey’s social, political and cultural structures. His choice has a practical side: Istanbul is the closest Balkan metropolis to northern Greece and it is a hub brimming with opportunities.

Medea Tsartsidou, 29, has been trying to find a job in Greece for the past six years. She graduated from the Balkan Studies department in Florina and has worked occasionally as a translator for businesses operating in Turkey. “The potential for finding a steady job in Greece is diminishing. Now, with the crisis, all hope is being lost,” she said. As the child of Russian-speaking ethnic Greeks, she chose a postgraduate degree in Turkish studies.

Twenty-five-year-old Georgia Yiambouri knows Turkish and Serbian and has studied Turkey’s culture, history and language at the postgraduate level. “Theoretically, we have specialized in the Balkans, but, in practice, in Greece there are no opportunities for work. Istanbul is a solution. I have been trying, sending my CV to companies, to universities. I’ll even consider further studies there,” she said.

Athens daily Kathimerini is a strategic partner of the Hürriyet Daily News.

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

Netherlands: Discontent Within Christenunie on Leftwing Course

ZWOLLE, 17/11/10 — Members of Christian party ChristenUnie have complained at a meeting with party leader Andre Rouvoet that the party has become too leftwing.

A delegation from Urk, a ChristenUnie bulwark, set the debate in motion. “We have a strong idea that ChristenUnie is GroenLinks with a Christian dressing,” said branch spokesman Albert Woord. “This causes me concern. I also experience it as an insult. We are suffering from this in Urk. I sometimes almost do not dare to say that I am from ChristenUnie.”

Others joined in. “ChristenUnie must not stand in the choir of the leftwing opposition by the intervention microphones,” said a member from Meppel. “Then you contribute to the picture of the party being leftwing.” And a farmer complained that “ChristenUnie supports everything that helps to get rid of farmers,” Christian newspaper Reformatorsich Dagblad reported.

A broad call was made to Rouvoet no longer to describe the party as ‘Christian-social’. He rejected the suggestion. “Christian politics is by definition social politics: defending the vulnerable, the position of families.” Leftwing the party is not, he said. “We consider that the government has a limited task. This is certainly not left. Nor do we form any bloc with leftwing parties.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pope: Episcopal Conferences Do Not Strip Bishops’ Role

(AGI) Vatican City — “The Episcopal Conferences must not become parallel or substitute realities to the ministry of bishops.” This was part of Benedict XV’s his speech to a group of bishops from Brazil today, where the Episcopal Conference is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary. He went on to say that “Episcopal Conferences are born of the concrete application of the communion of love between the bishops and the Pontiff. They also constitute an effective and affective communion tool among its members.” They are, therefore, a precious institution because they “promote a coming together of the efforts and intentions of bishops, becoming an instrument that enables its commitment to be shared.” . ..

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

Ryanair Crew Lock Toilets, Turn Out Lights and Leave Plane as Re-Routed Passengers Stage Four-Hour Sit-in

More than 100 furious passengers staged a mutiny aboard a Ryanair flight last night by refusing to get off a plane that was re-routed to Belgium.

The jet carrying mainly French travellers from Fez in Morocco was supposed to have landed at Beauvais airport near Paris on Tuesday night but was delayed by weather.

But because it took off three hours late, by the time it reached Beauvais, the airport had closed.

When it landed at the southern Belgian city of Liege, the militant travellers staged a four-hour sit-in, demanding to be taken back to France.

Passengers claimed that when they refused to get off the plane, Ryanair cabin crew locked the toilets, turned off the lights and left them on the tarmac for four hours.

Reda Yahiyaoui, travelling with his wife, three-year-old daughter and two-month old baby, said: ‘We were all tired after a long journey and angry at being dumped 200 miles away in Belgium.

‘We just wanted to get back home so we sat on the plane asking to be flown to France.

‘But they just parked the plane then turned off the lights and locked the toilets and left us with no food or water.

‘The pilot also got off and even left the cockpit door open.’

Another passenger Mylene Netange said: ‘We were staging a legitimate protest but what they did was unacceptable.

‘They just walked off and left us there.’

A Liege airport spokesman said they tried to coax the passengers off the plane by offering them food and drink in an airport lounge, then free buses back to Beauvais.

He added: ‘We said they could sit in comfort in a transit lounge but it was a difficult negotiation and they refused to budge.’

It was not until 3.30am, four hours after the plane touched down, that the passengers finally agreed to get off the plane, he added.

The passengers were said to have all finally agreed to board coaches for the three-hour drive back to Beauvais in the early hours of Wednesday.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said in a statement: ‘Due to the weather related (fog) closure of Paris Beauvais Airport on 16th Nov four Ryanair flights were forced to divert to Liege.

‘The majority of passengers followed crew requests to disembark for onward coach transportation to Paris Beauvais. Passengers on one flight, FR5222 (Fez — Paris Beauvais), ignored crew instructions and remained on the aircraft until requested to disembark by Airport Police.

‘Ryanair thanks the majority of passengers who followed crew advice and apologises to them for the inconvenience of these weather related diversions. All passengers were coached onward to Beauvais.

‘This is now a matter for the police.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Chlamydia ‘Refuseniks’ Face Police Round Up

Eight people in northern Sweden who have refused to submit to a test for the sexually transmitted disease chlamydia could be forcibly collected by police, reported the local Norrländska Socialdemokraten (NSD) daily.

After the refusal of repeated requests to submit to tests, the matter was referred to the administrative court (Förvaltningsdomstolen) which ruled on Monday to authorise the forcible examination of eight, of a total of eleven suspected cases, under provisions in the Communicable Diseases Act.

“They are fuss pots and refuseniks,” said the county medical officer Anders Österlund to the newspaper.

Österlund told NSD that it is unusual that cases go as far as forcible collection by the police, but that the county health authority felt obliged to act in response to tougher guidelines from the Swedish Health and Welfare Board (Socialstyrelsen).

“We haven’t changed the regulations. But the general understanding of monitoring these types of cases has been clarified. We have to trace the infection,” said Agneta Holmström at the Health and Welfare Board to The Local on Wednesday.

The group of people, all resident in Norrbotten in the far north of Sweden, have repeatedly ignored requests, summonses, and even resisted police visits to advise them of their obligation to take a urine test.

The Communicable Diseases Act (1988) allows for a doctor to enact forcible measures to ensure the control of infectious diseases. If a person continues to have unprotected sex despite being under suspicion of carry an infection, then isolation can be enforced as a last resort.

“They (the doctors) are their own authority. But the measures have to be in proportion to the risk of infection,” Holmström said, explaining that the law allows measures can be taken with respect to HIV, chlamydia and syphilis.

During the first half of 2010 17,253 case of chlamydia were reported to the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet — SMI), a decline of 8 percent on the corresponding period of 2009.

Despite the decline, the disease remains a priority for health authorities and SMI together with the Health and Welfare Board have recently published a joint guidance report on infectious diseases and the law, and the rights and obligation of infected individuals.

“We want to hinder the spreading of the diseases,” Agneta Holmström told The Local.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden Green Lights ‘Fingerprint Time Clocks’

Swedish employers have been authorised to use fingerprints to track worker’s job attendance following a review of the practice by the Data Inspection Board (Datainspektionen).

After receiving a complaint, the agency launched an investigation into a system in place at telephone and electronics retailer The Phone House which replaced a traditional time clock with a fingerprint scanner.

The system involved used employees fingerprints to track when workers came to work in the morning, when they took lunch, and when they left at the end of the work day.

In giving its approval to the system, the Data Inspection Board emphasised that employees must give their consent to the practice and be allowed to refuse to use the system.

In addition, the agency said that employees were entitled to receive “clear and detailed information” about what the fingerprint scanning system entailed.

The agency received an anonymous complaint, which led to a review of practices at The Phone House.

The company told the Data Inspection Board that it implemented the system at several of its retail outlets to protect against employees punching time cards for other workers.

“We think that it’s okay under the condition that this company receives consent from employees. It’s important to emphasise that the employees not be subject to any direct or indirect pressure to choose the system,” said Data Inspection Board lawyer Lars Söderberg to the TT news agency.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Five Muslim Boys and White Girl, All 12, Excluded Over Facebook Death Threats to Classmate Who Supported British Troops

Six pupils have been excluded from school for making death threats to a classmate on Facebook after he admitted supporting British troops.

Five Muslim boys and one white girl, all aged 12, have been disciplined following the incident.

The yobs threatened to attack attack terrified Darius Gill, 13, with knuckle dusters and knives in revenge for not supporting Islamic extremists.

The chilling threats came hours after Darius — whose father is Asian — posted a touching tribute to the thousands of squaddies who have lost their lives defending Britain.

But a gang of pupils at a Coventry school in a predominantly Muslim area expressed outrage at Darius’s patriotism.

One message, littered with spelling mistakes, said: ‘Fight on Monday gonna be heavy knuckle dusters nd knifes hopefully I don’t die.’ His pal added: ‘ill bang him ma slef am a terrorist.’

One of the thugs also posted a chilling picture of himself holding a rifle.

Shockingly, other pupils — who have set up a Muslim Defence League which celebrates British deaths in Afghanistan — also added comments condemning Darius.

The boy’s mother Clare Allington read the comments on Monday morning — the day of the promised attack — and immediately pulled her son out of school.

Today Clare, 42, from Coventry, said: ‘I logged on and it broke my heart. I was reading all sorts about knuckle dusters, knives and death. They were planning to attack him at school that day so I rang the school straight away.

‘I usually keep an eye on what Darius posts on Facebook. I usually check it every day but didn’t last weekend until I was at the Warwick University campus on Monday.

‘If I hadn’t read the threats and pulled my son out of school he could be dead.

‘They might just be school children but they are fanatical and dangerous. The threats have to be taken seriously.

‘My son wrote supporting the British troops in Afghanistan and also said he was sad so many soldiers had died.

‘The so-called Muslim Defence League which has been set up in the school by a number of pupils believe Darius should join them in hating British soldiers.

‘It’s appalling and extremely upsetting for him.’


The two boys now face expulsion from the school.

The school principal said: ‘Two boys are going to be excluded until we are able to meet with the parents and resolve the issue.

‘We will also be in contact with each and every pupil who also posted offensive comments to say they will not be allowed to return to school until they remove the comments from Facebook.

‘What the children have done is unacceptable.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Religion is Seen as ‘Irrelevant, Old-Fashioned and Violent’, Warns Former Met Chief

Religion is regarded by most people as ‘irrelevant, old-fashioned and violent’, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner claimed last night.

Lord Blair, who led Scotland Yard during the July 7 bombings in 2005, said faith leaders were losing the struggle to prove that religion is a force for good.

In particular, he said Islam is being ‘demonised’ as a result of atrocities carried out in the name of a ‘distorted’ version of the creed.

He described Islam as one of the ‘great’ Abrahamic religions and a ‘faith of peace’ which had suffered as a result of atrocities carried out by individuals.

The religious impulse should be recognised as a source of goodness in spite of the ‘horrors’ inflicted by organised religion, he said at the Theos think-tank annual lecture in central London.

Religious people were losing the struggle to make it ‘clear’ that faith impels them to do good deeds, he said.

To most people faith looks ‘irrelevant, clannish, prejudiced, old-fashioned and violent,’ he said.

But the greatest achievements of history, such as the abolition of slavery and the provision of education or free health care for all had their origins in the religious impulse, he said.

‘Religion should be the most peaceful of all the agencies of social cohesion,’ he said.

‘Its infinite number of unseen and unsung acts of charity and love are not known individually but in total they are part of public consciousness.

‘They should be and remain the glue that permits modern society to exist, particularly in an increasingly urbanised age — in other words, they are a bulwark of public order, in the sense of orderliness and tranquility.’

In his lecture, Lord Blair, who is an Anglican, emphasised the importance of doubt in religious faith.

He said certainty of being in the right had fuelled religiously-inspired violence.

‘Doubt is part of the mortar of a building faith,’ he said.

‘Unless your faith has been tested by doubt, it is not faith but just an attitude, a retreat from the modern world.

‘Doubt in the very nature of faith can surely be a useful companion to a necessary lack of shrill conviction that our own faith is more valuable than that of another.’

He added that, as an Anglican, he did not understand the ‘obsession’ in his own church over women priests and bishops or the way the Anglican Communion was ‘tearing itself apart’ over homosexuality.

He also failed to understand the Catholic Church’s insistence on priestly celibacy, he told his audience.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

Algerian Writer Shows Different Side of Italy

Novelist Amara Lakhous on immigration and identity

(by Romina Spina).

(ANSA) — Rome, November 16 — Rome-based writer Amara Lakhous had no luggage when he arrived in Italy from Northern Africa fifteen years ago.

At the time, his native Algeria was imploding into civil war and he was forced into exile. The only thing the young author carried with him was the final draft of his first novel. “It was my real passport”, he told ANSA of the manuscript that would launch his career.

Today, the 40-year-old Lakhous is considered nothing short of a literary sensation in Italy.

In a country that has difficulties adapting to its growing multicultural society, his lyrical yet satirical stories revolving around immigration offer readers food for thought and raise important questions about identity. His third book, which he describes as “a real comedy born out of a great frustration”, has just been published to rave reviews.

In chapter-long monologues sprinkled with engaging scenes, Lakhous paints essentially sad pictures of everyday life in Rome’s Arab-Muslim community, an immigrant reality that he experienced first-hand for over a decade. His latest effort is set to repeat the great success of its predecessor, ‘Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio’, a black comedy populated by a melting pot of characters living in a run-down palazzo in Piazza Vittorio, Rome’s most multiethnic neighbourhood.

Based on an earlier version written in Arabic, Lakhous entirely rewrote the book in Italian and published it in 2006. The bestseller has been translated into English, Dutch, German and even Korean.

It won him numerous awards in Italy and abroad and was turned into a movie released last spring. Lakhous, who became an Italian citizen two years ago, is by no means the only former immigrant writing about issues related to identity in a multicultural environment.

Other authors of so-called migrant literature emerged in recent years aiming to challenge existing boundaries within the controversial debate on immigration in Italy, a country with a long history of emigration but relatively unaccustomed and ill-prepared to accept foreigners who arrive from Africa or the Middle East to settle in its cities.

Like his fellow writers, Lakhous invites Italian readers, often inhibited by racial stereotypes, to look at today’s world around them through the eyes of an immigrant in their country. “It’s like being a film director who arrives from the outside and sets up his camera to shoot the scene; he decides what to show and how to show it, and ultimately he shows reality”, said the author. Words like “integration” or “assimilation” hardly find their way into Lakhous’ books.

For the award-winning novelist and anthropologist they are double-edged swords as they presume that there is a correct way to integrate, when the real question is: “What is ‘Italian’? In which Italy does a foreigner have to integrate?” Paradoxically, it’s not only the immigrants’, but also the Italians’ identity that is at stake, he said.

An Italian reviewer noted that rather than talking about immigrants, Lakhous talked about Italians in his novels.

Written in two languages and dotted with expressions in both Arabic and Italian, his books are mirrors that critically reflect Italian society and force readers to question their own beliefs when debating issues like immigration, identity, culture and religion.

“Rather than asking themselves who they are, people have to ask themselves what they do”, Lakhous told ANSA.

The Algerian-Italian author’s work even goes a step further. While his books may be set within Rome’s immigrant community and reproduce lights and shadows of Italian society, the same stories about multicultural coexistence could also take place in Paris, London or New York. The stories’ authenticity and their ability to transcend borders are the result of Lakhous’ deep understanding of immigration issues, developed through personal experience and postgraduate studies.

By writing about what he knows best, the author is never afraid of being honest throughout his friendly satire so his protagonists can break cultural, racial or even religious taboos.

“I don’t write to comfort people and I don’t care how they react. I tell it as it is.” photos: Stills from the film ‘Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio’ directed by Isotta Toso.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

CBN Exclusive Video: Al Qaeda Training in North Africa

CBN has acquired exclusive, never-before-seen footage of Al Qaeda’s North African branch training in the Sahara desert for new attacks against the West.

You can watch it by clicking on the viewer here:

The group is known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb—or AQIM.

North African intelligence officials tell CBN News that AQIM has an extensive network in Western Europe. They are concerned that the Obama administration’s attention is being diverted by Pakistan and Yemen as a gathering al Qaeda storm brews in the Sahara.

Come next week, I will be available for interviews—with video—about this emerging front in the global jihad.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Christian Girls Forced to Convert, Luxor Bishop

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY, NOVEMBER 17 — “There are attempts to force Christian girls to convert to Islam”. This is happening in Egypt, according to Monsignor Joannes Zakaria, bishop of the Coptic Catholics bishops of Luxor, whose diocese includes al-Nawahid village in Qena, in the Qena (southern Egypt) province, where Muslim extremists burnt down the houses and businesses of Christian Copts after rumours of flirting between a Christian boy and a Muslim girl. “Fortunately, in this case the police acted swiftly and brought in a curfew immediately, preventing the incidents from causing more serious damage”, said Monsignor Zakaria to Fides. “A matter between a couple of young people was transformed into a pretext to lash out at Christians. We have reason to believe instead that there is a plan to force Christians to convert, with especial focus on girls who are the weakest,” he continued. “We are aware of a several episodes of Muslim young people who have been eyeing Christian girls and trying to kidnap them to force them to convert to Islam,” noted the Luxor bishop. “Similar episodes have occurred all the way from Alexandria to Aswan.” “As Egyptian Christians we feel very close to other brethren persecuted in Iraq,” said Monsignor Zakaria, who on Sunday in Luxor celebrated a mass of intercession for those who died on October 31 in an attack on the Syriac-Catholic church of Baghdad. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Vodafone Drops Muslim Scientist Ad After Complaints

The Egyptian unit of telecom giant Vodafone has dropped an advertisement depicting an early Muslim scientist, Abbas Ibn Firnas, as a dim man who fell off a cliff when trying to fly with feathered wings.

The Britain-based company made the decision after receiving complaints from viewers, who took to the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to complain about what they said was an insult to the historic Islamic figure.

Vodafone said the advertisement was supposed to be funny but “due to the fact that some of our customers perceived (it) as offensive, we decided to remove this ad from YouTube and from our official Facebook fans page.”

In the statement, posted on its Facebook page, the company added however that due to the Eid al-Adha holidays, the complete removal of the advertisement from all TV channels “will take place gradually over the next few days.”

Ibn Firnas, a Muslim Berber scientist who died in 887, is said to have jumped from a height, wings attached and covered head to toe in feathers, in a failed attempt at flying, although he survived the jump.

The advertisement, for Vodafone’s USB internet service, shows three young men, who starred in an Egyptian time travel comedy, materialising before Firnas with a laptop and a USB stick to try talk him out of the experiment.

He grunts his refusal, even after they show him a Wikipedia entry on the Wright brothers, who pioneered aviation in the 20th century, and hurtles himself down the cliff.

In another advertisement, the trio try to persuade an imperious Richard the Lionheart, the medieval English king and crusader, not to battle the Muslim leader Salahuddin, by offering him a war game on a laptop.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Muslims Torch Christian Homes in Egypt

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Coptic Christians in the Upper Egyptian village of el-Nowahed, Abu-Tesht, in Qena Province, were victims of an attack by a Muslim mob of nearly one thousand on Monday, November 15. The attack started at nearly 10:00 pm on Monday evening and lasted until the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The large mob of Muslims from el-Nowahed and the surrounding villages besieged and waged an attack against Coptic homes amidst cries of “Allah is the greatest” and other Islamic Jihadist slogans. They threw fireballs, gasoline and stones at Coptic homes and detonated Butane Gas cylinders. Christian-owned homes were looted and shops were broken into, plundered and burned. There were no reported casualties.

The attack resulted in the burning of twenty-two Coptic-owned homes (video), two commercial shops, a bakery, as well as livestock. The sound of automatic weapons fired in the air was heard, to terrorize and intimidate the Copts, according to Ra’fat Samir, who heads the Luxor branch of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights.

Coptic News Bulletin aired a recording of phone calls made to several Copts from inside the burning village. Terrorized Copts were hiding on the roof tops of their homes, afraid to venture in the streets, could only cry out: “help us, save us, they are burning us.” None of them could concentrate enough to tell the reporter the reason behind the sudden Muslim attack, they just kept pleading for help.

Security forces were able to impose order a few hours later, and a curfew was imposed on el-Nowahed village and the city of Abu-Tesht.

The rampage against the Coptic inhabitants of the village came in the wake of a story which circulated in town three days earlier, about an affair between 19-year-old Copt Hossam Noel Attallah and a 17-year-old Muslim girl, Rasha Mohamed Hussein, a relative of the village mayor. According to Anba Kyrillos, Bishop of the Diocese of Nag Hamadi, some witnesses saw the teenage couple walking together towards the graveyards, after which it was rumored in the village that he raped her, “although a Muslim woman confirmed that Hossam did nothing wrong to the girl,” he said.

A Police report was issued and both were brought before the public prosecutor, after which the young man was detained by State Security, fearing an escalation of events similar to what took place in Farshout last November in which Copts were attacked over a three days period by Muslim mobs, due to an accusation of a Coptic man having allegedly raped a Muslim girl (AINA 11-22-2009, 11-23-2009). No one knows the whereabouts of the Coptic teenager Hossam after State Security detained him.

An eyewitness who was himself beaten by Muslims said the mob blocked the fire brigade from reaching the burning homes and one fire engine arrived hours late, reported activist Miriam Ragy. He also said that security forces went into the houses of Copts and arrested them.

Copts accused the authorities of severe inadequacy, because although being aware of the incident of the Copt and the Muslim girl, they only stationed three security cars at the entrances of the village. “But when the security officers saw the large mobs entering the village from all sides and attacking it, they fled, leaving it unprotected to operations of terrorism, sabotage, arson and looting of Coptic property,” said activist Ra’fat, adding that security forces were only guarding St. George’s Church.

Activist Attorney Mamdouh Nakhla of Al-Kalema Human Rights Center condemned the Muslim attack, stressing the collusion of State Security with the offenders, by failing to arrest any of the perpetrators so far and even chasing the Copts and arresting them, “because of their interviews with some Coptic websites in relation to the incident.” Nakhla said that his Center will send a fact-finding committee to the village.

Bishop Kyrillos said that the present estimates of the damage to the Coptic property is approximately 250,000 Egyptian pounds.

Dr. Naguib Gobrail, President of the Egyptian Union of Human Rights, said “We all reject that Copts would become a “Whipping-boy,” where every time an individual Copt is accused of committing some crime, the entire Coptic community should be made to pay the price and be punished by waging attacks on their lives and property. He asked if Muslims would accept the same treatment if circumstances were reversed.

Dr. Ghobrial said he will file a compensation lawsuit against the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister and the Governor of Qena, on behalf of all the Coptic victims of el-Nowahed for moral and material damage.

Ghobrial accused the authorities of failing in its duty of protection and complicity with the perpetrators, adding that it was completely unacceptable that security would arrest Copts, as was the case in el-Nowahed. “Has the victim become the perpetrator or are they afraid of the opponents?”

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Middle East

BBC Series on Rafiq Al-Hariri Pulled as Tension Rises in Lebanon

The BBC has suddenly pulled a documentary film series about the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri as tensions mount in Beirut over expectations that Hezbollah operatives are about to be accused of involvement in the killing.

The first of three parts of Murder in Beirut was scheduled to be broadcast on BBC World this Saturday, but the producer was told without warning on Tuesday that it was being delayed.

The BBC said the film had not yet complied with its editorial guidelines. No new date has been set. But the decision to postpone it was taken after a Lebanese newspaper described how it accused the militant Shia group of the 2005 assassination, in which Hariri and 22 others were killed by a massive car bomb.

The point of the film, al-Akhbar claimed in a front-page article on Monday, was “to implicate Hezbollah in the crime”, with one image showing partial details of a man described as a former member of the organisation’s foreign operations unit. Today extracts were broadcast on al-Jadeed TV, a pro-Syrian channel.

Tension has mounted sharply in Lebanon in recent weeks amid expectations that a UN-backed international tribunal will shortly issue indictments in the case, the country’s equivalent of the Kennedy assassination. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned last week that he would “cut off the hand” of anyone who tried to arrest its members. Hezbollah, the most powerful military and political force in Lebanon, is supported by Iran and Syria and has repeatedly accused the tribunal of serving US and Israeli interests.

Sa’ad Hariri, the dead man’s son and current prime minister, has insisted that he, Nasrallah and other leaders will not let Lebanon “explode” over the issue.

The series was made by ORTV, a British-Saudi production company, and originally commissioned by al-Arabiyya TV, the Saudi-owned satellite channel. The first version was completed last summer but never broadcast as Saudi Arabia sought to improve relations with Syria. BBC World then commissioned a re-edited version.

Initially Syria was widely blamed for the killing but it has become clear in recent months that Hezbollah is suspected of involvement, fuelling fears that Lebanon’s rivalries will escalate dangerously if indictments are issued.

The tribunal, based in a suburb of The Hague, began work in March 2009. In a new twist, Lebanese media reported that Alireza Asghari, a former Iranian revolutionary guard general who defected to the US, provided information about the role of Hezbollah’s Imad Mughniyeh, who was assassinated in Damascus in 2008.

The films include interviews with decision-makers in Beirut, Damascus, Washington and Paris, promising to tell “the gripping inside story of what’s really at stake in the struggle for power in the Middle East”. The BBC has not been warned specifically not to screen the series, but insiders admit there is nervousness about its impact in the current volatile climate.

Nadim Shehadi, a Lebanon expert at the Chatham House thinktank in London, said: “There is an atmosphere of terror in Beirut. It may be a deliberate campaign to apply pressure to the tribunal. It is almost as if there is a communications strategy.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck on Terror Show Exclusive: The Iran/Venezuela Axis

The latest episode of the Stakelbeck on Terror show is a special 30-minute expose of the growing Iran/Venezuela axis in our hemisphere.

Watch as former high-ranking State Department official Roger Noriega and leading Iran expert Ilan Berman provide exclusive evidence that Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez is providing heavy assistance to Iran on virtually every level: militarily, economically and in the nuclear realm.

We reveal how Iran is mining for uranium in venezuela. We also feature never-before seen-photos that show how Venezuela is working closely with Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah.

And we analyze how Hugo Chavez may be working on a nuclear weapons program of his own—in our backyard—as the U.S. government fails to respond.

You won’t get this information anywhere else. watch it by clicking the link above.

Breakdown by segments:

Top of the show: Venezuela helping Iran get around UN Sanctions

Second segment: Iran mining for uranium in Venezuela. Chavez Seeking his own nuclear weapons program? (6:48 into the show)

Third segment: Iran training Venezuela security forces? Plus, Iran/Venezuela military and nuclear cooperation grows (11:43 into the show).

Fourth segment: Exclusive aerials of covert Iranian military installation in Venezuela. Plus, never-before-seen photos of Venezuelan officials meeting with Hezbollah in Lebanon (17:14 into the show).

Fifth segment: What, if anything, is the U.S. government doing about this growing threat in our hemisphere? (23:31 into the show).

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

The Left’s Delusion Over Islam is Baffling to Middle Eastern Christians

Two more Christians murdered in Iraq on Monday night and another three yesterday, as the community is driven to extinction.

And on the Today programme earlier this week there was yet another segment about this persecuted minority, perhaps suggesting that the media are waking up to what many Iraqis themselves call “genocide” (the word, incidentally, was coined in 1936 after a previous massacre of Iraqi Christians).

However the Left largely remains in denial about the situation faced by Middle Eastern Christians, despite widespread evidence by various human rights organisation. The Guardian had a piece on Friday in which the writer argued that this was part of a ‘clash of civilisations myth’:

One article in Foreign Policy went so far as to suggest the

church attack might spell “the end of Christianity in the Middle

East” altogether. Yet such generalisations play into the hands

of radicals wanting to perpetuate the clash-of-civilisations

myth. Though anti-Christian feeling may be rising on the extreme

radical fringe of some Arab societies such as Iraq, this should

not obscure the harmony that has long been a characteristic of

other parts of the Arab world.

However, as Robert Fisk has suggested declining Christian

numbers could also be largely due to demographics and favourable

immigration conditions rather than increased persecution.

In fact, large parts of the Arab world remain tolerant and

display deep inter-communal harmony. The fact that most of

Iraq’s displaced Christians have fled not to the west but to

other Arab states, notably Syria and Jordan, seems to illustrate


Moreover, at a broader societal level across the region, it

seems wholly unjust to suggest Arab Muslims are suddenly turning

on their Christian compatriots. A radical fringe in each state

may share the extremist views of al-Qaida, but that does not

mean they are accepted by mainstream society. Even Islamists

such as Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood expressed their disgust at

the Baghdad bombings, and called for Cairo to protect its

churches. This issue varies across the region more than

generalist commentators are allowing for.

Christian numbers may be diminishing and the radical fringe may

sadly be gaining the upper hand in certain pockets such as Iraq,

which the international community should rightly condemn.

However, the Arab world in general remains a place where

Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for centuries,

and look certain to continue doing so. Perhaps we should be

celebrating this fact rather than exaggerating the extent to

which the whole region is suddenly becoming anti-Christian.

Yes, cynical old British media. There we are focusing on the one unfortunate incident where dozens of people happened to be slaughtered in a church, when we could have focused on literally dozens of Iraqi churches where no one was murdered by Islamists that weekend.

It is understandable that the writer might believe this line, as his expertise is in Syria and Jordan, two countries where Christians are protected. Jordan is ruled by a benign monarchy and Syria by a secular dictatorship famed for its poor human rights record. They don’t tolerate Islamism in Damascus, which is probably why it’s so pleasant and the women’s famed beauty is generally not imprisoned behind the veil; in fact the current debate about torturing jihadis in the West must be baffling to Syrians, for whom waterboarding is probably considered the equivalent of being sent on safari by a misguided liberal judge.

Christians in Jordan and Syria are protected. But despite the Left’s “myth of the myth” of the clash of civilisations, the simple fact is that almost nowhere in the Islamic world are Christians free in the same way Muslims are free in Europe.

Deniers of this essential truth usually fall back on historical arguments about Islam’s famed tolerance, but this is deceptive. During the high middle ages, the Islamic world was far more tolerant than Christendom, but it couldn’t be otherwise. North of the Alps Europe was 95-99 per cent Christian, so minorities faced persecution; the “Muslim world” had enormous Christian minorities throughout this period and in some cases majorities, and this goes for modern-day Iraq, Syria, Egypt (probably majority Christian until the 18th century), Lebanon and Palestine.

That they slowly became Islamic was largely down to two facts of life which make a mockery of the tolerance myth: Muslims could not generally become Christians, and Christians had to pay a special tax, and so the class of people who subsidised the rest of the population gradually shrank over generations (a system that bears more than a passing resemblance to the modern British welfare state). From the 19th century a third factor arose when it became possible for Christians to emigrate to the West.

An Iraqi-British acquaintance of mine called Mardean Isaac says about the Guardian article:

“Using the word ‘tolerance’ here is slippery and insidious: ‘tolerate’ in the contemporary west means ‘see as at the least completely acceptable, at the most, equal or superior to’. See homosexuality, plurality of religion, lifestyle, modes of thought and being.

“Contrast with Islam’s historical ‘tolerance’, which has been apparently in continuous operation for centuries: see the jizya tax; see the requirement to wear distinctive clothing to demarcate non-Muslims; see the massive incentives to convert; see the economic and social marginalisation of the communities of subjugated peoples, from constraints on the social aspects of religious practice to building restrictions; see the barring of non-Muslim men from marrying Muslim women.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkish Journalist Charged With Insulting Prosecutor by Calling Him ‘Postmodern’

Accusing someone of being “postmodern” is as much of an insult as claiming he is a jihadist, according to the latest lawsuit filed against daily Radikal reporter Ismail Saymaz for his book “Postmodern Cihat” (Postmodern Jihad).

Saymaz was notified last week about the case, filed last month by Erzurum Prosecutor Osman Sanal, who has demanded damages of 7,000 Turkish Liras.

The journalist is accused of “Insulting [Sanal] by drawing an image [of him in the book] as pro-postmodern, belonging to post-modernity and engaging in jihad.”

Saymaz is currently embroiled in 12 legal cases, carrying a total potential prison term of 97 years. Many of them, including the suit filed by Sanal, deal with the case against Ilhan Cihaner. The former chief prosecutor of the eastern province of Erzincan was detained Feb. 16 and later arrested on accusations of forging official documents and being a member of the alleged Ergenekon gang’s Erzincan branch. He was released June 23 pending trial.

Sanal was the prosecutor leading the investigation against Cihaner, whose arrest sparked many debates and a conflict within the judiciary. The former Erzincan prosecutor had been leading an investigation against alleged religious communities in the region, and some alleged that his arrest was a way to threaten him because of this work.

As part of the same investigation, Sanal had ordered the detainment of three National Intelligence Organization, or MIT, members in Erzincan. When he went with police to arrest them, a conflict almost erupted between the police and the MIT, according to media reports. On the same day Cihaner was arrested, the Supreme Board of Judges and Prosecutors, or HSYK, stripped Sanal of his special authorities.

One probe for terror-related crimes

The Erzurum prosecutor with special authorities meanwhile initiated a probe late last month into Saymaz’s book after receiving a complaint about it Oct. 22. That same day, the prosecutor’s office asked for a copy of the book from the publishing house.

Saymaz said he wrote a story about Sanal on that date, in which he said the prosecutor made a decision about Cihaner’s case even though he had been stripped of the special authorities necessary to make the decision. The journalist said he believes the probe and the story about Sanal are related to each other.

“As prosecutors with special authorities look into terror-related crimes, I can only be judged for crimes such as being a member of a terrorist organization, making propaganda for a terror organization, making judges and prosecutors targets of terror organizations or disclosing secret state documents,” Saymaz told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Monday.

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

US Writer Shows Her Love for Turkey With New Book

Katharine Branning, a US researcher and writer, has been traveling to Turkey for 30 years and has published her experience in a new book: ‘Yes, I Would Love Another Cup of Tea,’ which has already been translated into Turkish. ‘I want people in the US to understand Turkey better. I want to show how peaceful, right-minded and modern Turkey is,’ she says.

U.S. researcher-writer Katharine Branning has published a book about her 30 years of experience traveling to Turkey, titled “Yes, I Would Love Another Cup of Tea,” saying she wanted to show people in the U.S. how peaceful, right-minded and modern Turkey is.

Becoming Turkey’s volunteer ambassador with her book, which has been translated into Turkish under the title “Bir Çay Daha Lütfen,” Branning spoke about her observations of Turkey.

She said she had previously written many articles on Turkey, but the idea to write a book came up thanks to her poet friend Muhsin Ilyas Subasi. “One day when I went to visit him, he said Turks would be interested in my observations of their country. I said no at first, doubting that people would be interested in my travels. But later on I thought he was right because I have spent 30 years in Turkey and they were not travels with a tourist purpose only. I have been interested in Turkey for a long time. And then I started writing.”

She said the main reason she decided to write the book was to thank the Turkish people for their warm attitude and also to educate people in the U.S. about Turkey. “I want people in the U.S. to understand Turkey better. I want to show how Turkey is a peaceful, right-minded and modern country,” she said.

Turkey 20 years later

Branning said Turkey had a political role to provide dialogue among the Middle Eastern countries. “I am looking forward to the next 20 years, because Turkey will play a huge role in providing dialogue between countries that have conflict today.”

Mentioning the economic and social problems that Turkey had 30 years ago, Branning said Turkey was a magnificent success story. “It is wonderful that it is such a modern and developed country right now. I can’t even imagine what will happen 20 years later and can’t wait to see it.”

Branning said Turkey would never turn its back on the West. “Perhaps the U.S. people think Turkey turned its back on the West because it wants to carry out trade with Iran or develop gas lines with Russia. But no, Turkey is looking for new enterprises. This is why it will never turn its back on the U.S. or the West. Because this is what makes Turkey strong. It knows what democracy means. This is what also makes Turkey different from other countries in the Middle East.”

Positive reactions from Turks

Branning said the reactions of Turks to her book were very positive. “Turks liked that I wrote about my observations of their simple behaviors and their courtesy to each other in daily life. Such things seem normal to you, but in my opinion, these are wonderful behaviors. What I write in my books causes Turks to realize their richness and it makes me proud,” she said.

She also said U.S. people should read more about Turkey and learn about its cultural development. “I am very impressed by Turkey’s efforts to establish dialogue with its partners in the Middle East. Such things show that the Middle East has a peaceful country like Turkey. This is the most important point that should be highlighted in the U.S.”

Branning said she was currently preparing to write a second book about Turkey, adding that it would feature a love story from the 13th century in the time of the Seljuks. “Turks always ask me if my new book would be a love story. They are very romantic people. My new book will be a love story, but it is not only between men and women but also the love between the sultan and his country,” she said.

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


From AEI: Putin’s Agenda and Medvedev’s Dilemma

Russian president Dmitri Medvedev’s sacking of Yuri Luzhkov, the powerful mayor of Moscow, and the spate of interviews given by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in September have been thoroughly analyzed by Russian and foreign experts and journalists in search of clues to the million-dollar question of Russian politics: will Putin run for president in 2012, or will he let his protégé Medvedev serve another term? There has been no “smoking gun,” but several strong hints have emerged. First, Putin has articulated, openly and proudly, what amounts to a strategic agenda. Second, this agenda negates virtually every key element of Medvedev’s “modernization” and liberalization, including the “reset” in U.S.-Russian relations. Third, with the policy disjoint this wide, it is almost certain that Putin will run, while Medvedev will face a stark dilemma: be a Khrushchev or a Gorbachev?

[URL gives link to full PDF]

[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Pakistan Mosque Shootout Wounds 18 Over Dispute Which Cleric Should Lead Holiday Prayers

QUETTA, Pakistan — A shootout inside a mosque in southwestern Pakistan wounded 18 people Wednesday in a dispute over who should lead prayers for one of Islam’s most important holidays, police said.

Followers of the two rival religious leaders pulled out weapons and started shooting Wednesday morning after arguing over which one should start the prayers at a small mosque in remote Khuzdar district of Baluchistan province, police official Javed Ahmed said. The district is about 550 miles (900 kilometres) southwest of Islamabad.

Many of the region’s ethnic Pashtuns typically carry rifles in daily life.

Millions of other Pakistanis peacefully celebrated Eid al-Adha on Wednesday, joining Muslims the world over for the three-day festival, known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, that involves slaughter of sheep and cattle in remembrance of Abraham’s near-sacrifice of his son.

Pakistan kicked off the holiday a day later than many other countries because of local authorities’ interpretation of when the new moon was sighted.

Celebrations were muted in some areas of Pakistan because of devastating floods that affected 20 million people, of whom 7 million remain homeless.

Most mosques also added additional security Wednesday to guard against attacks by the Taliban and other Islamist extremists. Earlier this month, at least 70 people died when a suicide bomber hit a mosque frequented by anti-Taliban elders and a grenade exploded at another place of worship in the country’s northwest.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s African Safari Strictly Business

By Kent Ewing

HONG KONG — Read China’s state media and you will learn that, thanks to projects financed by Chinese companies and the central government, Africa is booming while the continent’s political leaders trip over one another to express their appreciation for Beijing’s helping hand. And it’s all true.

Bridges, dams, roads, railroads and airports are rapidly multiplying. Oil refineries and zinc, copper and cobalt mines are going at full tilt. Beijing is even catering to Africa’s favorite sport as Chinese-designed and Chinese-built football stadia sprout up across the continent.

By all accounts , it’s an impressive tally. No wonder praise for China in the state houses and parliaments of Africa is also a boom industry these days. Gross domestic product (GDP) in many African nations is on the rise, with China playing a big role in spurring this growth. But these impressive GDP figures come with a nagging and potentially explosive problem that African leaders are loath to acknowledge: the economic benefits of China’s huge push into Africa are not trickling down to the more than one billion people who live on the continent. And rank-and-file Africans are not echoing the praise that African leaders have been heaping on Beijing. Perversely, as Chinese investment grows in Africa, so does resentment of the Chinese.

Indeed, China’s ventures into Africa are proving as self-serving and exploitative as anything perpetrated by Europeans during Africa’s colonial period. But there is also a big difference that is much appreciated by the continent’s political elite.

The Europeans brought with them a hypocritical moral justification for their greed, famously captured in Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden”. Written after the United States had joined the colonial party by taking over the Philippines through the Treaty of Paris in 1898, the poem exhorts Europeans and their descendants to perform their moral duty — despite the sullen resistance and benighted ignorance that they should expect to encounter — to civilize the darker races of the world:

Take up the White Man’s burden

Send forth the best ye breed

Go bind your sons to exile

To serve your captives’ need;

To wait in heavy harness,

On fluttered folk and wild

Your new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child.

No 21st-century Western poet worth his salt would dare write such a racist rant. That said, however, the condescending conditions attached to Western aid often read like bureaucratic paeans to democracy and clean governance that, in the eyes of leaders in the developing world, continue to presume the superiority of Western institutions and to treat the people of their nations as second-class citizens…

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

Meeting Decline Face-to-Face

By Juan Cole

Blocked from major new domestic initiatives by a Republican victory in the mid-term elections, President Barack Obama promptly lit out for Asia, a far more promising arena. That continent, after all, is rising, and Obama is eager to grasp the golden ring of Asian success.

Beyond being a goodwill ambassador for 10 days, Obama is seeking sales of American-made durable and consumer goods, weapons deals, an expansion of trade, green-energy cooperation, and the maintenance of a geopolitical balance in the region favorable to the United States. Just as the decline of the American economy hobbled him at home, however, the weakness of the United States on the world stage in the aftermath of president George W Bush-era excesses has made real breakthroughs abroad unlikely.

Add to this the peculiar obsessions of the Washington power elite, with regard to Iran for instance, and you have an unpalatable mix. These all-American fixations are viewed as an inconvenience or worse in Asia, where powerful regional hegemons are increasingly determined to chart their own courses, even if in public they continue to humor a somewhat addled and infirm Uncle Sam.

Although the United States is still the world’s largest economy, it is shackled by enormous public and private debt as well as fundamental weaknesses. Rivaled by an increasingly integrated European Union, it is projected to be overtaken economically by China in just over a decade. While the president’s first stop, India, now has a nominal gross domestic product of only a little over a trillion dollars a year, it, too, is growing rapidly, even spectacularly, and its GDP may well quadruple by the early 2020s. The era of American dominance, in other words, is passing, and the time (just after World War II) when the US accounted for half the world economy, a dim memory.

The odd American urge to invest heavily in perpetual war abroad, including “defense-related” spending of around one trillion dollars a year, has been a significant factor further weakening the country on the global stage. Most of the conventional weapons on which the US continues to splurge could not even be deployed against nuclear powers like Russia, China and India, emerging as key competitors when it comes to global markets, resources, and regional force projection.

Those same conventional weapons have proved hardly more useful (in the sense of achieving quick and decisive victory, or even victory at all) in the unconventional wars the US has repeatedly plunged into — a sad fact that Bush’s reckless attempt to occupy entire West Asian nations only demonstrated even more clearly to Washington’s bemused rivals.

American weapons stockpiles (and copious plans for ever more high-tech versions of the same into the distant future) are therefore remarkably irrelevant to its situation, and known to be so. Meanwhile, its economy, burdened by debts incurred through wars and military spending sprees, and hollowed out by Wall Street shell games, is becoming a B-minus one in global terms.

A superpower with feet of clay

Just how weakened the United States has been in Asia is easily demonstrated by the series of rebuffs its overtures have suffered from regional powers. When, for instance, a tiff broke out this fall between China and Japan over a collision at sea near the disputed Senkaku Islands, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered to mediate…

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


France Sees Tensions Rise Five Years on From Paris Riots

Violence in the ghettos brought an outcry over racism — but President Sarkozy is now putting immigrants under even more pressure

Norwegian Infidel: Five years ago these estates in Clichy-sous-Bois on the edge of Paris exploded in riots that spread across France and led to a state of national emergency. The trigger for the violence was the death of two young boys electrocuted in a power substation while hiding from police. But the root cause was the hopelessness of a generation of young French people, ghettoised in dismal suburbs, marginalised and jobless because of their skin colour or their parents’ immigrant origins. Since then discrimination against the third- and fourth-generation children of immigrants has worsened, tension is rife and Nicolas Sarkozy’s rightwing anti-immigrant rhetoric is blamed.

Allili, 21, shared a school desk with one of the boys who died in Clichy. He witnessed the nights of rioting firsthand. The fourth child of an Algerian cafe-owner, he’s one of the few youths on his estate who have managed to carve out a future, training in IT. But he doesn’t feel accepted as French. “Sarkozy’s constant talk of immigration and national identity chips away at you, but worse is the perpetual police stop and searches. Cops insult us, saying ‘Get back to your own country’, ‘you’re not welcome here’. That’s pretty hard to stomach when you’re French.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: PP Candidate is Anti-Immigrant Heroine in Videogame

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, NOVEMBER 16 — Alicia Sanchez Camacho, a People’s Party candidate in the November 28 regional elections of Catalonia, is the main character of an electoral videogame in which, acting as Lara Croft, she clears out, among others, illegal aliens and the independence movement.

The videogame ‘Rescue’, launched by Catalonia’s youth movement of the People’s Party on its website, sees the heroine, renamed Alicia Croft, fly in the skies of Barcelona on the back of her seagull Pepe and launce “decisive ideas” in the shape of a light bulb to “transform and solve the problems of Catalonia”. Imitating the famous Lara Croft, the hero of the videogame can feed on “the elements that unite us”, such as the bull or the donkey, to gain points and shoot against her true targets: an aircraft parachuting two “illegal aliens”, an independence movement blimp or a mouth that wants to represent the imposition of language in Catalonia. With each light bulb strike by Alicia Croft the emphasised problems vanish and are replaced by the writing “proud to be Catalan and Spanish”. At the end of the game seagull Pepe appears for congratulations and to invite the Catalan people to go and vote on November 28 to transform the fiction into reality.

Many sectors in Catalonia sees the idea of the People’s Party as a further step in the fight against illegal immigration, which Camacho adopted as her battle cry in the election. In recent days the candidate proposed the signing of a contract of integration for foreigners, with the duty of learning the local language and customs, in order to reside in Spain, and of returning to their country of origin should they not find work.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden Stops Plane of Deported Iraqis

A flight carrying deported Iraqi asylum seekers from Sweden back to Iraq has been cancelled following a request from the European Court of Human Rights that Sweden delay around 150 forced deportations.

The Court’s request, received Tuesday night by the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket), covered a number of deportees who were set to board the plane, which had been scheduled to depart on Wednesday morning.

The Migration Board has said previously it can’t stop all planned deportations of Iraqis who have had their asylum requests denied, a decision which has been roundly criticised.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, singled out Sweden in speaking out against reports that member states were preparing to return Iraqi citizens to Iraq in violation of a decision of the European Court of Human Rights.

“The Court has clearly asked Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom not to proceed with forced return of Iraqis in view of the recent deterioration of the security situation there. All Council of Europe member states must respect the decisions of the Court,” Jagland said in a statement.

The European Court of Human Rights is currently investigating if it’s safe for Iraqis, and in particular Iraqi Christians, to be sent back to certain parts of the country, including Baghdad.

As long as the investigation is ongoing, the Court has said that all Iraqis who so desire can have their deportation orders delayed and should be allowed to stay in the countries in which they are seeking refugee status.

“We’re doing this as a precautionary measure so that these people don’t get in a jam because the Court of Human Rights hasn’t had a chance to review their applications,” said Migration Board spokesperson Johan Rahm to the TT news agency regarding the cancellation of Wednesday’s flight.

The cancellation of the flight doesn’t mean the Migration Board has made a general decision to stop all deportations.

Migration minister Tobias Billström said each case must be assessed individually, even in decisions about whether or not to delay carrying out a deportation ruling.

“To go from individual reviews to collective reviews could result in every person in a group getting rejected or approved. And the question is how just that would be,” he told TT.

According to Billström, the Migration Board has delayed the deportation of Iraqis every time the European Court of Human Rights has requested the agency do so.

As a result, he has a hard time understanding criticism lodged against Sweden by the Council of Europe.

“Sweden has never acted in violation of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights,” said Billström.

The minister also rejected reports that many Iraqis haven’t been informed that they can request to have their deportation rulings delayed.

“Several Swedish agencies provide information on how and where people can complain to the Court of Human Rights; it’s not like we’re withholding information,” he said.

The Migration Board said on Tuesday that it had stopped the forced deportation of 61 Iraqis who had filed complaints with the European Court of Human Rights.

According to the agency’s chief legal officer Mikael Ribbenvik, about half of the Iraqi’s who seek asylum in Sweden are allowed to stay.

He also pointed out, however, that Sweden’s Migration Court of Appeals ruled in 2007 that there is no longer an armed conflict in Iraq and that the situation has improved since then.

“We’re waiting to see how the Court of Human Rights reacts to information about the country we’ve submitted to them, Ribbenvik told TT.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Canada: Carleton Student Association Bans Anti-Abortion Club

Carleton University’s official student association has banned the Ottawa institution’s anti-abortion club, offering it just one way to get back into good graces: support abortion rights.

On Monday, the Carleton University Student Association (CUSA), decertified Carleton Lifeline for its anti-abortion views. It told the club that being against abortion violated CUSA’s anti-discrimination policy, but that it could get recertified in a day or two.

“We invite you to amend your constitution to create one that respects our anti-discrimination policy as laid out above,” wrote Khaldoon Bushnaq, CUSA’s vice-president of internal affairs. “If you are able to resubmit a constitution that meets our criteria by Thursday, November 18th we will be able to certify your club for this semester.”

Ruth Lobo, the president of Carleton Lifeline, said CUSA assumes all students are “pro-choice,” which is not necessarily the case. Its policy, she said, smacked of hypocrisy.

“It’s very ironic that they have a discrimination policy that allows them to discriminate against pro-life groups,” she said. “CUSA claims to be representative of all students. As a pro-life student I am not represented by an organization I am forced to pay dues to in my tuition. Either they should create a policy in which students can opt out of fees or get rid of the discrimination policy,” Ms. Lobo said.

“Pro-choice should also mean that a woman has the right to not have an abortion, so I think CUSA is being anti-choice by not allowing people to hear the other side.”

CUSA did not return phone calls on Tuesday. The Canadian Federation of Students, an umbrella group for student associations, said it does not get involved with local matters on specific campuses.

The letter from Mr. Bushnaq noted Carleton Lifeline believes in the “equal rights of the unborn and firmly believes that abortion is a moral and legal wrong.” Therefore, because of CUSA’s commitment to the pro-abortion-rights position, Carleton Lifeline can no longer promote its views on campus or lobby in any way that would oppose that position.

It can no longer book space for advocacy or events, nor is it eligible for funding.

Ottawa lawyer Albertos Polizogopoulos, who is defending the Lifeline students, said CUSA’s “appalling” decision goes against all principles of free speech.

In a letter to CUSA, Mr. Polizogopoulos noted that CUSA’s own constitution, which overrides all bylaws and policies enacted by CUSA, calls for “maintaining an academic and social environment free from prejudice, exploitation, abuse or violence on the basis of, but not limited to, sex, race, language, religion, age, national or social status, political affiliation or belief, sexual orientation or marital status.”

Mr. Polizogopoulos continued: “Since the Discrimination on Campus Policy explicitly calls for the discrimination [against] individuals on the basis of their political belief that life begins at conception, [therefore] it cannot, according to CUSA’s Constitution, continue to be in effect.”

Late on Tuesday Carleton University said in a statement: “CUSA is an independent, incorporated organization; they operate independently of the university and the university plays no role in and has no standing with regard to CUSA’s decision making.”

The Carleton Lifeline became certified in 2006 after a failed attempt by CUSA to keep the club off campus.

Ms. Lobo said she can only speculate why CUSA decided to ban them now but she assumes that it is related to an incident involving the club last month.

On Oct. 4, Ms. Lobo and four other students were arrested on campus by Ottawa police for attempting to display graphic anti-abortion posters. The police were called in by the school administration and the students were charged with trespassing. The case is still pending.

John Carpay, a civil liberties lawyer from Calgary, who has dealt with similar bans on anti-abortion groups, said CUSA’s offer to reinstate the club if they agree to endorse abortion rights can only be laughed at.

“That’s awfully generous of them to offer an opportunity for repentance,” said Mr. Carpay. “But it is truly alarming that CUSA would so easily suppress free speech. It’s tragic.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

New Forbidden Word in School

On one side, a Wayne Valley High school student claims that his use of the word “Taliban” was innocent, mentioned in a conversation about a video game, according to his mother.

But to a Muslim student who overheard it at school on Thursday, it was upsetting. And she had perceived that he had looked at her when he said it, Principal Robert Reis said.

Now the boy is facing a one-day suspension on Monday, because, Reis said, he continued to talk about the incident and it got back to the girl and upset her. Reis said she felt the boy was boasting that he’d gotten away with something.

“This has nothing to do with the fact that the boy used a word,” Reis said. “This has everything to do with the boy hurt a girl’s feelings.” And after the boy was told by administrators not to discuss what happened, Reis said, “He went back and hurt her feelings a second time.”

But the boy’s mother, Rosa Giordano, said the incident “is totally being blown out of proportion” and she plans to fight the disciplinary action.

The incident has unfolded during a time of heightened sensitivity about bullying in schools. Reis said the school takes a “no nonsense” stance and coincidentally had been planning a December forum to discuss the issue.

Giordano said her son was not being a bully and is himself bi-racial.

“He never saw this girl before,” she said. “It was an innocent thing. How does she know he was not talking about a newspaper story?”

She said she plans to go to the district offices early Monday morning to fight for her son to be allowed to attend school that day.

“I don’t want this on his record as a racial slur and bullying,” she said. “I am sorry the girl got offended by the world ‘Taliban.’ I will make sure my son never says the word again … the poor kid is so upset he doesn’t want to go to school.”


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The World Must Not Allow Islam-Muslim Murder Decrees in a Civilized Society

The patent absurdity and unfairness of Islam is beginning to reach the critical stage of survival of ALL religions.

Islam deserves to receive from ALL other religions the same edict that they themselves issue to those other religions. Just because their god tells them to eliminate by death those of all other religions who choose not to convert to Islam, it is not international legal justification for the action. Those who perpetrate such an action of killing should be brought to trial in some international or World Court on the charge of murder in the first degree. It is unquestionably premeditated.

Yes it is a radical concept for peoples of ALL other religions who possess the grace and intelligence to be able to live with each other and to tolerate the other religions’ needs as long as they do not inflict suffering or death on another. This is acknowledgment that all people are entitled to believe as they wish, unharmed and unchallenged, including Islam-Muslim.

But those who would go against this position of fairness to all by insisting on creating a single belief with punishment by death to those who choose not to accept that belief, deserve to meet the same fate as they would bestow on their detractors.

Does this represent advocacy of mass mayhem? Perhaps, but the only options available is to give in to the unfair demands of this maniacal force of bigoted and murderous thugs and become Muslims or face sure death.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]