Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101208

Financial Crisis
»Drastic Cuts and Punitive Interest Rates: the EU is Pushing Ireland to the Brink of Ruin
»Islamic Finance Searches Its Soul
»Juncker Blasts Berlin for ‘UN-European’ Behaviour
»One Chart to Rule Us All
»The Battle Over the Euro-Bond: Juncker Calls German Thinking ‘Simple’
»Blue Collar Corner ‘Move the GZ Mosque Campaign’ Creates Tsunami Through Social Media
»Gitmo Will Not Close
»‘Ground Zero’ Mosque Out of Unions’ Hands
»Hitler’s Dream of New York in Flames
»Jihad Chic: Imam Rauf’s Gift
»More States Enter Debate on Sharia Law
»Newt Gingrich Wants Conservatives to Hablar Espanol, Or at Least Show They Care About Latinos
»NYC Litter Cops Copy UK Trash Police
»Officials: Man Who Spoke of Jihad Arrested in Plot
»Orlando Airport Considers Dumping TSA Screeners
»SpaceX Launches, Lands Capsule for NASA
»The ‘Islamophobia’ Myth
»The FCC Pushes to Include More Diversity in News Programs
»Waiting for a Home in Paradise
Europe and the EU
»Austria: Darabos Hits Back Over Leaked US Dispatches
»Copenhagen Climate Cables: The US and China Joined Forces Against Europe
»Counter-Terrorism: Pakistani Politics in Britain
»Defence: Italy’s Arms Firm MBDA Seeks Partnership With Turkey
»Ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: Spokespersons of US Right ‘In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant’
»Germany: O, Cannabis Tree! Police Find Decorated Plant During Bust
»German Schools Embrace Islam
»Islamists in Europe: A ‘Clash of Cultures’ Looms
»Italy: Pope Joins Thousands in Mourning Seven Killed Cyclists
»Julian Assange Rape Allegations: Treatment of Women ‘Unfair and Absurd’
»Julian Assange Extradition Attempt an Uphill Struggle, Says Specialist
»Majority of Austrian Turks Refuse Assimilation
»Scotland: Muslim MP’s Son in Fraud Bid
»Two Swedes Jailed for Plotting Somalia Attacks
»UK: Bungling Petrol Bomber Jailed for Broadfield Pub Attack
»UK: Caught on CCThe Bungling Petrol Bomber Who Tried to Burn Down a Pub… And Then Ran Into a Lamp Post
»UK: Caught on CCTV: The Sickening Moment Diplomat’s Son Battered Labrador Puppy 20 Times Because He Was ‘Having a Bad Day’
»UK: Café Owner’s ‘Poisoned Packed Lunches’ Knocked Out 47 Riot Police Before English Defence League March
»UK: Dentist Who Refused to Treat Muslim Women Who Weren’t Wearing Headscarf in Clear Over Lost Files
»UK: Great News: Islamists Lose Their Parliamentary Foothold
»Wikileaks Cables: Whitehall Told US to Ignore Brown’s Trident Statement
North Africa
»Libya: 75 Billion Euros for New Infrastructure Since 2007
»Libya Threatened UK Over Jailed Bomber
»Libyan Agency Says Shuts Down Reporting Operation
»Math Puzzles’ Oldest Ancestors Took Form on Egyptian Papyrus
»‘Tunisian Premier Predicts Muslim Brotherhood Takeover’
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israeli Rabbis Ban Home Sales and Rentals to Non-Jews
»Middle East Peace Talks Stall as US Fails to Sway Israel Over Settlements
»Obama Administration Gives Up on Pointless “Freeze” Diplomacy
»Will There Ever be an End to the Demonisation of Israel?
Middle East
»Archeologist: Persian Gulf Sites Hint at Prehistoric People
»In Iran, A Christian Pastor Faces Death Sentence
»Partying Saudi Style: Elite, Boozy and Secret
»Qatar: Property Boom, 75 Million Dollars in One Week
»S. Arabia Will Produce Atomic Energy Within 10 Years
»Saudi King, Religious Police, Islam and Donkeys — Via Wikileaks
»Syria: Members of Parliament Ask for Pay Raise
»Trial of German-Turkish Author Slammed as ‘Revenge’
»Turkey Scrambles to Protect National Anthem
»Turkish PM Tough on Israel Despite Fence-Mending Talks
»Wikileaks Reveals Sex, Drugs, And Rock & Roll in Saudi Arabia
»Personality Rights Are Used in Russia to Stop Historians Doing Their Job
South Asia
»Father-in-Law of Time’s Disfigured Afghan Cover Girl is Arrested for Cutting Off Her Ears and Nose
»Indonesia: Giant Storks May Have Fed on Real Hobbits
»Indonesia: Giant Fossil Bird Found on ‘Hobbit’ Island of Flores
»Pakistan Snubs Cameron: Leaders Refuse Visit From British PM on Afghanistan Trip
»US Cable: Hungarian Forces in Afghanistan Ineffective
»Wikileaks Reveals That Military Contractors Have Not Lost Their Taste for Child Prostitutes
Far East
»Did Collision Cause Japanese Probe to Miss Venus?
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Wikileaks Cables: Rampant Corruption ‘Could Push Kenya Back Into Violence’
»Wikileaks Cables: Shell’s Grip on Nigerian State Revealed
»Can Topless Women Keep Muslim Extremists Out of Denmark?
»Greek Migrants Plan to Go Back to Turkey, Press
Culture Wars
»Racial Profiling of Taxi Passengers
»Assange’s ‘Martyr Status’ Further Damages US Reputation
»Chandrasekhar’s Role in 20th-Century Science
»Food: A Taste of Things to Come?
»Gitmo Recidivism Rate Soars
»Operation Payback Cripples Mastercard Site in Revenge for Wikileaks Ban
»Pew Poll: Majority of Muslims Supports Death for Anyone Leaving Islam
»The Curious Life of the US Diplomat, Uncloaked
»The Radical Loser
»Zoo Illogical: Ugly Animals Need Protection From Extinction, Too

Financial Crisis

Drastic Cuts and Punitive Interest Rates: the EU is Pushing Ireland to the Brink of Ruin

The Irish government has just passed its fourth budget in two years. But the drastic savings measures it contains will not help the country’s massive debt problem. Some economists are now predicting it is only a matter of time before Ireland defaults.

The sum is enormous: €6 billion ($7.9 billion) is how much the Irish government wants to cut from the public finances next year. The drastic course of treatment, the fourth budget in two years, was passed by the Irish parliament late on Tuesday night. It will be a huge test of strength for the small country: The average Irish household will be €7,500 worse off by 2012, according to the Irish Independent.

The Dublin government has been congratulated and encouraged from across the European Union for being so brave in sticking to its austerity goals. The unemployed, low-income workers, pensioners, students — hardly any sector of society has been left unscathed.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islamic Finance Searches Its Soul

On the face of it, the Islamic finance industry has enjoyed a decent crisis. While some financial institutions that adhere to Islamic law, or sharia, have teetered, the industry as a whole has continued to expand in terms of assets under management.

Yet in spite of the apparently rosy outlook, the industry is now engaged in a heated internal debate on the future of Islamic finance.

At stake is the shape and nature of a $1,000bn industry that has seen tremendous growth and innovation during the past decade, with products ranging from Islamic hedge funds to complicated bond structures.

However, many industry figures have become increasingly concerned that rampant growth and hasty innovation have caused the sector to lose its way and imitate conventional finance too closely — adhering to the form but not the substance of sharia.

“The industry is at a crossroads,” concedes Harris Irfan, head of Islamic products at Barclays Capital. “We can either continue to mimic conventional finance in an Islamic way, or we can move towards more purely Islamic structures that more closely adhere to the spirit of Islam.”

One of the first signs of concern came in early 2008 when Sheikh Taqi Usmani, one of the industry’s leading clerics, condemned several prominent Islamic bond structures. Since then, other industry figures have condemned products, such as Islamic derivatives, as inherently incompatible with the principles of sharia — such as requirements for risk-sharing and asset-based transactions.

Even simple, well-established products, such as Islamic current accounts, have been criticised by stricter Islamic finance figures. In theory, depositors in Islamic banks share in the risk of the loans made by the bank using their money, and should make a return or loss according to the bank’s results.

In practice, depositors are often guaranteed a fixed return because of “profit buffers”, and most governments act as an additional backstop. During the crisis many Islamic banks lost money, but not one depositor has lost anything — anathema to some experts.

“I disagree with industry participants who try to Islamically re-engineer and simulate everything in western and conventional finance,” says Jawad Ali, Middle East managing partner and deputy global head of Islamic finance at King & Spalding, the law firm.

“If we just continue to mimic conventional products, the Islamic finance industry will probably fail in the long term as this is simply not a viable industry,” he argues. “This is the time to ask whether the Islamic finance industry is a sham, or whether we should change, and perhaps cater to fewer people but offer a genuine alternative financial industry.”

Outside critics are sometimes even sharper. In a recent book, Ali Allawi, an academic and former minister of defence in Iraq, lambasted the “artful delusion” of Islamic banking.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Juncker Blasts Berlin for ‘UN-European’ Behaviour

Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg prime minister and Eurogroup chairman, launched a blistering attack on Germany on Wednesday, calling its flat rejection of proposals for eurozone bonds “un-European.”

Juncker told German weekly Die Zeit in an interview that Berlin had not even properly looked at his proposal, which was aimed at helping weaker eurozone members raise money, before deciding to oppose it.

“Germany’s thinking was a bit simplistic on this,” he said. “They are rejecting an idea before studying it. This is very strange. This way of creating taboo areas in Europe and not dealing with others’ ideas is a very un-European way of dealing with European matters,” he said.

Merkel responded by urging for “calm” ahead of next Friday’s summit of EU leaders, where discussions will focus on creating a permanent crisis mechanism for the eurozone and what the chancellor called “narrow” changes to EU treaties.

“I think that we should work in a calm and goal-oriented manner towards what awaits us next Friday. This calm manner is my contribution to making sure we are successful next Friday,” Merkel told reporters.

But Merkel’s spokesman accused Juncker of unsettling markets unnecessarily.

“It doesn’t help anyone in Europe if European figures call each other un-European,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government briefing.

“It is exactly this talking against other people and about other people which should stop, because the markets definitely see this finger-pointing as a sign of discord.”

Such collective “E-bonds” could help eurozone members seen by investors as having shaky public finances lower their borrowing costs, since the bonds would be backed by other countries and therefore seen as less risky.

Sky-high interest rates for Irish and Greek bonds contributed to both countries having to go cap-in-hand to the European Union and the International Monetary Fund this year for bailouts worth tens of billions of euros.

Painful yields or interest rates on bonds sold by other members of the 16-nation currency union, including Portugal and Spain, have raised fears that they too will need help.

But at a meeting of eurozone finance ministers this week, Germany was adamant that it thought Juncker’s idea, which won backing from Italian Finance

Minister Giulio Tremonti, was not the way forward.

And ahead of a crunch EU summit next week, Germany has also put its foot down over increasing the size of the €750 billion bailout fund operated by the EU and the IMF, despite fears it would be too puny if Spain threw in the towel.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said joint eurozone bonds would weaken states’ rigour in bringing their finances in order, something she sees as key to preventing another crisis. Spain and the Netherlands are also opposed.

“Interest rate competition is a way of getting (eurozone members) to stick to stability criteria,” Merkel said earlier this week.

Germany, whose finances are seen as so solid that it currently enjoys among the lowest borrowing costs in Europe, fears that joint eurozone bonds could push its bond yields higher.

Berlin also worries that issuing such bonds would be blocked by Germany’s highest court for being in breach of the “no-bailout clause” of the European Union’s governing treaties.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said the bonds were impossible “without fundamental changes” to these agreements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

One Chart to Rule Us All

Using data from the Office of Personnel Management, I generated the following graph that depicts the number of federal employees, year by year, since 1940. I purposely omitted the Department of Defense, which it turns out is actually a legitimate function of the federal government.

[See Chart at URL]

Some striking observations:

• The raw growth in bureaucrats during Barack Obama’s first year in office appears to be the largest since WWII.

• How did we ever survive before the Department of Transportation was created in the sixties?

• Are there really 100,000 Agriculture Department employees and, if so, what the hell are they doing?

• It would appear that we now have about 175,000 Homeland Security employees, yet we can’t seem to secure the border with Mexico.

• Is anyone else curious about the roughly 300,000 employees marked “Other”?

A federal employee, fully loaded, runs about $100,000 annually — more in the DC area. In rough terms, every 100,000 federal bureaucrats excised from the federal trough would cut $100 billion annually from the deficit. As Martin Lawrence used to say: “get to steppin’“.


[Return to headlines]

The Battle Over the Euro-Bond: Juncker Calls German Thinking ‘Simple’

Germany has resisted calls for a joint Euro-Bond to help the euro zone’s weaker members, but the chairman of the euro zone finance ministers says they need to study his proposal. Merkel’s spokesman says they have.

The chairman of euro zone finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, challenged the German government on Wednesday to take a closer look at his proposal for issuing joint bonds for reducing weaker euro-zone states’ borrowing costs.

Juncker’s plan for creating “Euro-bonds” or “E-bonds” has met stiff resistance from Berlin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “Germany is thinking a little simply,” he told the German newspaper Die Zeit, adding that his plan was “rejected” before it was even studied. He told the paper that the German government handled European business in an “un-European manner.”

The German government was swift to respond. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said it didn’t help anyone to characterize the other as “un-European.” He said that Juncker’s proposal was not new, and had been studied by the German officials.

The proposal would include developing a new “European Debt Agency” to issue the Euro-Bonds. The bonds would be jointly put on the market by euro-zone states and would have advantages for the less-solvent nations because of their lower interest rates. For countries like Germany, which has solid credit-worthiness, it could mean paying higher rates than what they pay now.

Jitters over Policy Differences

Juncker, who is the prime minister of Luxembourg, told the German weekly that his proposal would “by no means” involve a single interest rate, which has been criticized by Merkel, but instead would bundle part of the national debt on a European level and service it with Euro bonds. “The largest portion of the debt would be paid at national interest rates,” he told the paper.

On Wednesday, yields on German government bonds, the 10-year German Bund, rose to over 3 percent for the first time in seven months. Analysts attributed the rise, at least in part, to jitters over policy differences within the EU. Euro zone finance ministers have been unable to come to agreement this week to stem the euro crisis, in advance of an EU Summit to be held next week.

In the past, Juncker has made comments wary of Germany’s European economic policies. “That in Germany federal and local authorities are slowly losing sight of European public good, that does worry me,” Juncker told the newspaper Rheinischer Merkur last month.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Blue Collar Corner ‘Move the GZ Mosque Campaign’ Creates Tsunami Through Social Media

NEW YORK, Dec. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Andy Sullivan, founder of Blue Collar Corner, and other opponents of the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero use, a new media site, to urge for a boycott of the project’s attorney, architect and a cast of characters that includes … John Cusack.

Crain’s New, reported today that opponents of the proposed Islamic community center and mosque near Ground Zero have taken their fight to Facebook, using new media to launch an old-fashioned boycott.

The newly established Facebook page, entitled “Boycott companies who support Ground Zero Mosque (starting with GQ),” so far lists five targets for its followers to avoid: GQ magazine, Soma Architects, real estate attorney Adam Leitman Bailey PC, actor John Cusack and musical star John Legend. There is also a proposal to add Matt Lauer and NBC to the list.

The page’s founder, construction foreman and first-responder Andy Sullivan, said he set up the page in August after the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission declined to grant landmark status to the site of the proposed mosque, bringing the project one step closer to fruition.

The page is part of a wider campaign he started called the 9/11 Hard Hat Pledge, which he’s been circulating around job sites. “Essentially, it says that I pledge not to contribute to the construction of that mosque in that present location,” Mr. Sullivan explained.

Mr. Sullivan’s pledge and accompanying blog caught the attention of radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, who immediately had Mr. Sullivan on the air for an interview. “After that, the support just came pouring in,” Mr. Sullivan said, claiming that nearly 45,000 people have joined the pledge and support the boycott.

The Facebook page had just 171 fans Friday morning.

Mr. Bailey, who represents the project’s developer, Sharif El Gamal of Soho Properties, and the mosque’s leader, Imam Faisal Rauf, said that so far he has not felt any impact from the campaign.

Not that it would matter, he explained: “I am fighting to make sure that persons of every religion are never again denied the right to practice their religion. If my fight results in companies boycotting my services, then that is the sacrifice that I will have to make.”

Soma Architects, a Manhattan firm designing the project, did not return calls.

The opposition group singles out men’s magazine GQ for “Honoring Mayor Bloomberg for supporting the mosque,” and Messrs. Cusack and Legend for their vocal support of the project.

While the controversy has been brewing for months, Mr. El Gamal’s decision last month to apply for a $5 million federal grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. seemed to be the main driver of this particular Facebook page, whose headline reads, “No federal funding for Victory Mosque.”

Mr. El Gamal said the money would be used for social services and programs.

Hard Hat Andy Sullivan is a 9/11 Survivor his blog can be followed on Mr. Sullivan’s compelling 9/11 survival story is featured in the new documentary film Sacrificed Survivors, premiering this month in NYC.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Gitmo Will Not Close

This year’s omnibus spending bill refuses to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and would block the transfer of any suspected terrorist detainees to the United States in what appears to be the final blow for President Obama’s campaign pledge to shutter the facility.

The massive spending bill Democrats released early Wednesday morning would prohibit the Obama administration from spending any money either to transfer detainees to the United States or to buy a replacement prison in the United States, as Mr. Obama had planned.

Prohibiting spending effectively stops the administration from acting over the next year, and with Republicans about to take control of the House in January, his chances are virtually zero that Congress will relent any time before the president stands for re-election in 2012.


[Return to headlines]

‘Ground Zero’ Mosque Out of Unions’ Hands

A New York City construction worker who witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks is not confident that a boycott from New York City-based union workers will prevent the construction of an Islamic “victory mosque.”

As previously reported on OneNewsNow, the developers of what is now being called the Park51 project sparked outrage when they applied for $5 million to be taken from a fund set aside to rebuild the area surrounding the 9/11 attacks to go toward their controversial mosque project.

Andy Sullivan is a lifelong New York City construction worker and founder of the 911 Hard Hat Pledge, which is one of several groups opposed to the proposed Islamic “victory mosque” developers plan to erect on the site where debris from the 9/11 terrorist attacks has been found. He has been part of a petition drive aimed at heading off the project.

“It’s not a law-binding petition; it’s more of a symbolic outcry from the people saying, ‘This is something we absolutely, definitely do not want. If anything, you’re building on top of the ashes of our dead loved ones.’“

But unfortunately, he is not confident union workers in New York City will ultimately be able to prevent the mosque from being built.

“They could bring in an outside force to do the actual construction. And believe me — I could not imagine the toxic environment that would ensue after such a thing,” the construction worker notes. “But New York is a right-to-work state, and even though they’re located right in the middle of union town, they could actually do it legally.”

But the 911 Hard Had Pledge founder believes God — not the unions — will stop the mosque’s construction.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Hitler’s Dream of New York in Flames

Even before World War II, Nazi strategists came up with a number of plans to strike New York City — whether with super missiles, kamikaze pilots, long-range bombers or secret agents. Some were ambitious and some were foolish, but all of them failed.

Captain Hans-Heinz Lindner was gradually losing his nerve. As dawn broke on June 13, 1942, the first cars were already driving along the waterfront in the village of Amagansett, Long Island. But the U-202 was stuck. The gray steel colossus lay perched on a sand bank in shallow water less than 200 meters (656 feet) from the shore, as helpless as a beached whale. In just a few hours, anyone who walked by would be able to see the German U-boat sticking up out of the Atlantic.

Lindner, though, managed to break free. Running the engines at full power, he was able to maneuver the submarine in a rising tide back out into the open sea. The U-202 slipped beneath the waves before anyone saw it. Below deck, the sailors celebrated their last-minute rescue.

That near-loss of one of the German submarines operating off America’s East Coast was the prelude to one of Germany’s most bizarre World War II military operations: the infiltration of a group of saboteurs onto American soil. The Third Reich aimed to hit America on the home front and Nazi strategists came up with a number of plans for costly attacks designed to rattle the bustling metropolis of New York to its core — whether with super missiles, kamikaze pilots, long-range bombers or secret agents. But the German spies brought to the enemy coast by the U-202 in the daring “Operation Pastorius” made little headway on their ambitious mission. Despite the German military’s best efforts to select and train eight members of the terrorist team, the Nazi infiltration proved to be a spectacular failure. Although all of the men had spent t had had any experience working for an intelligence service. In April 1942, they were sent to Gut Quenzsee, a town 75 kilometers (47 miles) due west of Berlin, for a crash course in sabotage. For 18 days, military experts drummed into them how to use explosives, timed detonators, guns and hand grenades. To stay fit, they practiced Jiu-Jitsu. Then, in June, two groups of four freshly minted secret agents each were dropped off on the coasts of Florida and Long Island, one by the U-584, the other by the U-202. A Colossal Failure The teams had been sent to America to blow up railroad bridges, power plants and tunnels, to paralyze industrial facilities vital to the American war effort and to demoralize the American civilian population. One historian has dubbed it “the most daring sabotage plans in history.” But it turned out to be a major headache for their German superiors. The German agents blew their cover after a mere two days in the field, and prompted the FBI to launch its largest manhunt to date.

Primary responsibility for the espionage disaster lay with Georg John Dasch, the 39-year-old leader of the Long Island group. After having almost drowned during the effort to get on land with an inflatable raft, he was soon discovered among the dunes by the flashlight-wielding, 21-year-old Coast Guardsman named John Cullen. When Cullen first came upon the sopping wet Dasch, the latter pretended to be a fisherman. Then, Dasch grabbed Cullen by the collar, threatened him and eventually jammed $260 of would-be hush money into his hand. In return, Cullen was supposed to immediately forget about the four men he’d seen on the beach.

Of course, the suspicious Coast Guardsman did nothing of the sort. He immediately informed his comrades, who would eventually dig up four crates of explosives and some German uniforms that had been hastily buried in the wet sand. The FBI was also alerted, and a feverish search for the four strangers began.

The four took a train to New York asch traveled to Washington, D.C. where he turned himself in on June 19. To prove he was a spy, Dasch showed FBI agents tissues on which he had written down his targets in invisible ink. Later described by the interrogating police officer as “neurotic,” Dasch divulged every last detail of “Operation Pastorius” to the Americans. Using the information, FBI agents rounded up the three spies in the New York hotel as well as the four German saboteurs who had landed in Florida.On August 8, 1942, the short careers of six German spies came to an end in the electric chair of the District of Columbia jail. The sentences of the other two, Dasch and Ernst Peter Burger, were commuted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to 30 years and life in a US prison, respectively…

           — Hat tip: DonVito[Return to headlines]

Jihad Chic: Imam Rauf’s Gift

by Prof. Phyllis Chesler

A profile titled “A Gift of Reconciliation” in the New York Times Style Magazine is about none other than the man behind the mosque at Ground Zero. Brainwashing? You bet.

The propaganda campaign in favor of Islam is intense, subtle, clever, elegant, vulgar, massively well-funded, and incredibly well coordinated, synchronous, just like suicide bombings often are.

This “war by other means” is even more important, partly because it continues to “gentle” the West into submission by misinforming the public and partly because this kind of stealth warfare remains curiously and stubbornly below the radar of our intelligentsia and our media.

Let me say, as I always do, that most Muslims are not terrorists and are, themselves, in the clutches of very corrupt and evil leaders who are either old-fashioned tyrants or comprise a new form of totalitarian jihad. Some of the bravest Muslims in the world have been murdered by Muslim tyrants and terrorists, are sitting in Muslim jails, or are living in exile. However, the majority of Muslims have either been brainwashed or simply do not wish to risk their lives or those of their families by taking a stand against Islamic imperialism, colonialism, and intolerance.

They are like the Germans, Austrians, Poles, who did not wish to die in an attempt to assassinate Hitler or his henchmen; or, like many Europeans, who profited, personally, financially, from the Nazi extermination programs aimed at the mentally ill and retarded, the gypsies, the homosexuals, the “politicals,” and above all, the Jews.

Acts of omission are as important as acts of commission. People collaborate with evil by refusing to resist it.

Here is an example of the kind of pro-Islamic propaganda I am talking about-and I saw it only by accident.

I rarely read a fashion magazine. This time, I did. In an idle and desperate moment, I picked up a glossy, glitzy magazine dedicated to expensive clothing, jewelry, and perfume, filled with ads of half-naked and incredibly slender young white girls and female celebrities and a few short pieces about Great Men of an uncertain age. Mick Jagger, 67, is on the cover. Julian Assange, of Wikileaks fame, is profiled in a piece titled “The Gift of Information.”

Yes, I am talking about the current New York Times Style Magazine.

And then, to my astonishment and annoyance (I was off duty, trying to find a moment of escape), I saw another profile titled “The Gift of Reconciliation.” It is about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind Mosque 51, the Ground Zero Mosque, or as Rauf would have it, the Cordoba Initiative. The piece is written by James Carroll and the Imam is photographed by Todd Eberle.

It is a dreamy, romantic photo of a smiling, white-haired Rauf at an unidentified friend’s house, one which was taken in October, 2010. The “pull quote” is as follows:

“We wanted to change the thinking that made 9/11 possible; we wanted a harmonious, tolerant world”. And then Feisal Abdul Rauf wanted a pulpit mere blocks from Ground Zero. James Carroll on the Imam and his interfaith dream.

The pull quote is all in large, capitalized block letters. The piece quotes Rauf as saying that, at even at a young age, when he first came to America from Kuwait, he “had an intuition that my work would involve introducing Islam to America.”

He says nothing about introducing American values or ideals to Muslims or to Islam.

Rauf arrived here in 1965, when he was 17 years old. He is quoted as having been awed by the “majesty” and “beauty” of the image of the Statue of Liberty.”

Ah, another young immigrant coming to America-just as countless generations of immigrants have done before him. Well-perhaps not. If you know anything about historical Islam you will know that Muslim immigrants mainly colonize, conquer, convert, and/or take over all the countries where they live and that historically, they have been intolerant towards any and all other religions, as well as towards free thought.

If one does not know this-if one has been otherwise informed, then one will not understand all the ramifications of Rauf’s next statement, namely that “America made it possible for me to freely and deliberately choose to be religious and a Muslim.”

His point is well taken: One cannot make such a “free” choice in the Muslim world where a Muslim is still persecuted and honor murdered for leaving Islam or for converting to Christianity or to atheism. But, the reporter does not ask Rauf what kind of Islam he is bringing to America-is it one that maintains historical Islam’s traditional intolerance? Could Rauf “reform” Islam in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan? Does Rauf believe that doing so might be an even more important project-especially since the master propagandists hail from such countries ?

Why is reporter James Carroll as dreamy about his subject as is photographer Todd Eberle?

And who is James Carroll?

Why none other than the author and ex-Catholic priest whose well-known record of misrepresenting both Israel and Arabs is well-known. Carroll attacked Israel’s “security fence,” and when challenged, then only partially corrected his mistakes; he viewed Israel’s right to defend its citizens as morally equivalent with Hamas’ right to attack those very citizens. Earlier this year, he misrepresented and sympathetically exaggerated the eviction of Arab squatters in Jerusalem who refused to pay rent for homes on Jewish-owned land.

Yes, of course: The NY Times would choose someone with this kind of track record to interview Rauf.

While I am cautiously in favor of “interfaith” dialogue (it all depends on with whom, exactly, one is dialoguing) as an American, how can I possibly believe anything that Imam Rauf and the New York Times say on this point? Read Mohammed Zuhdi Jasser’s brave and brilliant piece about the Cordoba Initiative/Park 51/The Ground Zero Mosque/the interfaith cultural center (the name is an ever-changing one).

James Carroll tells us that, as a long-time participant in interfaith dialogue, that Imam Rauf cofounded the “multi-faith Cordoba Initiative, named for-and taking its mission from-the Iberian (Spanish) city that was a medieval center of Jewish-Christian-Muslim reconciliation.” Rauf is directly quoted as saying, “There is a perception that Jews and Muslims and Christians must be each other’s existential enemies…to defeat that is an act of reconciliation.”

Sounds good-but what if it is a bald-faced lie, what if such peaceful co-existence never existed? The Cordoba Mosque was once the Cordoba Church. Historically, Muslims have either destroyed, desecrated, or built over churches, temples and synagogues.

Utterly disingenuously, Rauf and Carroll take us back to Rauf’s arrival in America. It was Christmas time. When asked what he most remembers, Rauf does not use the word “Christmas” or “Hannukah” but rather describes “the seasonal displays … a season for wishing people peace, but also of gift giving for the needy. Peace and good will to all. It struck me as familiar.”

Is this something Rauf became acquainted with in Kuwait? Or in neighboring Saudi Arabia? It is definitely not something the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) knows anything about; this Hamas-supporting organization has just gotten a course on Islam canceled in Oregon because the teacher, Barry Sommer, does not share their politically correct view of Islam.

The New York Times should profile Mohammed Zuhdi Jasser, who is also a religious Muslim, as often as they profile Rauf and his wife and partner Daisy Khan. In the last year, the Gray Lady has featured one or both of them in positive puff pieces 15 times.

Here’s what worries me. Someone is paying for all this positive publicity. Who might that be? And, whoever it is, is targeting not only western students, professors, media, government, and international organizations-they are now funding soft-core pieces for the fashion-conscious.

What kind of money can do this 24/7 around the globe? Can any lesser financial effort on behalf of the truth even begin to hold its own?

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

More States Enter Debate on Sharia Law

Muneer Awad’s opponents label him “a foreigner” trying to change Oklahoma’s laws.

Awad, 27, a recent University of Georgia law school graduate born in Michigan, says he’s standing up for the U.S. Constitution. “I’m trying to defend the First Amendment,” says Awad, director of Oklahoma’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

At issue is an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution passed overwhelmingly on Election Day that bars judges from considering Islamic or international law in Oklahoma state courts. Awad sued, and last week a federal judge temporarily blocked the law from taking effect while she determines if it violates the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits establishment of a state religion.

Muneer Awad is challenging an Oklahoma constitutional amendment that bars judges from considering international law in state courts.

While Oklahoma’s law is the first to come under court scrutiny, legislators in at least seven states, including Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah, have proposed similar laws, the National Conference of State Legislatures says. Tennessee and Louisiana have enacted versions of the law banning use of foreign law under certain circumstances.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House, is pushing for a federal law that “clearly and unequivocally states that we’re not going to tolerate any imported law.”

Based on Quran

Islamic law or sharia, which means “path” in Arabic, is a code of conduct governing all aspects of Muslim life, including family relationships, business dealings and religious obligations. It is based on the Quran, or Muslim holy book, and the teachings of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. Islamic countries operating under the guidance of sharia may have varying interpretations of the code.

Awad says the Oklahoma law would prohibit a judge from probating his will, written in compliance with Islamic principles, or adjudicating other domestic matters such as divorces and custody disputes involving Muslims.

Supporters of sharia bans, including Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, say Islamic law is creeping into U.S. courts.

Earlier this year, for example, an appeals court in New Jersey overturned a state court judge’s refusal to issue a restraining order against a Muslim man who forced his wife to engage in sexual intercourse. The judge found that the man did not intend to rape his wife because he believed his religion permitted him to have sex with her whenever he desired.

The case “presents a conflict between the criminal law and religious precepts,” the appeals court wrote. “In resolving this conflict, the judge determined to except (the husband) from the operation of the State’s statutes as the result of his religious beliefs. In doing so, the judge was mistaken.”

Gaffney’s think tank recently published a book that argues jihadists who want worldwide Islamic rule try to establish sharia courts to weaken democracies. “I think you’re seeing people coalesce around legislation of the kind that was passed in Oklahoma,” Gaffney says.

South Carolina legislators proposed a resolution in April that says state courts “shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider Sharia Law” or other international laws.

In Utah, Rep. Carl Wimmer, a Republican from Salt Lake County, withdrew his bill to ban foreign law after he learned that it could harm banking and international businesses. “My bill was just too broad,” he says.

Wimmer says he’s concerned about “increasing amount of judges who continue to look to foreign law and foreign courts to make their decisions.”

“It’s not an issue in Utah,” he says, “but I wanted to make sure it doesn’t become an issue in Utah.”

‘Just fear mongering’

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for CAIR, sees the laws as an indication of growing anti-Muslim sentiment. “I’ve never seen it like this, even after 9/11,” Hooper says. “In another time, this would be laughed out of the Oklahoma Legislature.”

Islamic principles are interpreted differently in different parts of the world, Hooper says. “We have not found any conflict between what a Muslim needs to do to practice their faith and the Constitution or any other American laws,” Hooper says. “We are, in fact, relying on the Constitution as our last line of defense.”

Americans have no reason to fear sharia law in America, says Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which advocates for religious freedom. However, he expects to see more attempts to ban sharia law regardless of the outcome in Oklahoma.

“It’s just fear mongering tinged with anti-Islamic sentiment,” Lynn says.

Oklahoma’s attorney general will ask an appeals court to lift the injunction and allow the law to take effect.

Constitutional expert Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the law school at University of California-Irvine, says the Oklahoma law won’t stand because it discriminates against one religion and violates the requirement for “full faith and credit,” which requires Oklahoma courts to enforce judgments from other states and countries.

“There is no blossoming of sharia law in Oklahoma,” says Randall Coyne, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. “There’s no risk of Oklahoma falling under the sway of sharia law or any other law other than American law for that matter. It’s fear mongering at its worst.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Newt Gingrich Wants Conservatives to Hablar Espanol, Or at Least Show They Care About Latinos

Mid-morning on a recent Sunday, pausing between the studios of C-SPAN and Mass at the National Shrine, Newt Gingrich is in mental overdrive, as usual, merrily riffing on a not-so-usual theme: all things Latino.

He segues from what to do with 11 million illegal immigrants — “We’re not going to deport all of them,” he says — to security in Mexico, identity in Brazil, the economy in Argentina and back to the state of Hispanic America.

While he’s on the subject, one would be remiss not to request a command performance of the Spanish he has been studying assiduously. Gingrich is game.

“Estoy cansado porque viajar para seis de los siete dias de esta semana,” he says. (“I’m tired because I traveled for six of seven days this week.”)

Hmm. He used the infinitive instead of the past tense, among the peccadillos.

But hey. He gets an A for effort. Gingrich is trying his darndest to reach out to Latinos — linguistically, culturally and ideologically. And that’s his advice to fellow conservatives, some of whom have not seemed so embracing.

On Thursday in Washington, Gingrich’s curious, intense, occasionally gaffe-prone relationship with Latinos and their language comes into full bloom with the opening of an unusual two-day forum he is hosting at the Washington Hilton…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

NYC Litter Cops Copy UK Trash Police

An elderly Manhattan woman living on Social Security was slapped with a $100 ticket — just for throwing away a newspaper in a city trash can.

Delia Gluckin, 80, tossed the paper in a bin right outside her Inwood apartment building Sunday morning, only to be ambushed by an overzealous Department of Sanitation agent wielding a citation book.

“I was walking to take the subway downtown and dropped it in a trash can, and this lady in a blue uniform ran up to me,” Gluckin told The Post.

“I thought she was going to ask for directions. She said, ‘You just dropped garbage in there,’ “ according to Gluckin.

Sanit cop Kathy Castro wrote Gluckin the summons for putting “improper refuse” in a city litter basket.

“She acted as if I had a committed a crime,” said the outraged octogenarian.

“I said, ‘Look, lady, I’m a senior citizen . . . I’ll just take it back.’ I even said to her, ‘Am I your first customer of the day? I really felt intimidated . . . I have a feeling she just wanted to make her quota.”

The green mesh can, at the corner of Beak Street and Seaman Avenue, is marked with signs that read “litter only” and “no household trash.”


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Officials: Man Who Spoke of Jihad Arrested in Plot

A 21-year-old construction worker who had recently converted to Islam and told an FBI informant he thought about nothing but jihad was arrested Wednesday when he tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb at a military recruitment center, authorities said. Antonio Martinez, a naturalized U.S. citizen also known as Muhammad Hussain, faces charges of attempted murder of federal officers and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, according to court documents filed Wednesday. The bomb he is accused of trying to detonate was fake and had been provided by an undercover FBI agent. It was loaded into an SUV that Martinez parked in front of the recruiting center, authorities said, and an FBI informant picked him up and drove him to a nearby vantage point where he tried to set it off. It was the second time in less than two weeks that a young man was arrested trying to detonate what he thought was a bomb during a sting operation. “There was never any actual danger to the public during this operation this morning,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Wednesday after a hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. “That’s because the FBI was controlling the situation.” Martinez appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held until a hearing Monday. According to court documents, he has been on the FBI’s radar screen since October, when he told a confidential FBI source he wanted to attack and kill military personnel. Investigators believed Martinez posed a genuine threat and that he came up with the plan by himself. “The investigation was undertaken only because experts had made the determination that there was a real risk,” Rosenstein said. The case is similar to one in Portland, Ore., where authorities said they arrested a Somali-born teenager the day after Thanksgiving when he used a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van. He intended to bomb a crowded downtown Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, but the people he had been communicating with about the plot were in fact FBI agents. After Martinez found out about that case, he called the FBI informant he had been plotting with and expressed reservations about their plan, according to court documents. “I’m not falling for no b.s.,” court documents quote him as saying. But he ultimately decided to continue with the plot. On Wednesday he drove an SUV with the dummy bomb to the recruiting center and parked outside the building, authorities said. When he attempted to detonate the device, he was arrested. During Wednesday’s hearing, Martinez told the judge he could not afford an attorney. He said he works in construction, is married and understood the charges against him. Asked to identify himself, he said he was Muhammad Hussain but confirmed Antonio Martinez is still his legal name. Afterward, Joseph Balter, the public defender assigned to represent him, cautioned against a rush to judgment. “It’s very, very early in this case,” he said. Authorities did not say where Martinez was born or what prompted his conversion to Islam. According to court documents, he explained to the FBI informant that his mother did not approve of how he had chosen to live. His wife, he said, accepted his lifestyle. “I told her I want to fight jihad … and she said she doesn’t want to stop me,” he said, adding that he was glad he was not like other people his age, going out or going to school. “That’s not me … that not what Allah has in mind for me.” Martinez lives in a working-class northwest Baltimore neighborhood in a tidy, three-story yellow house that’s been divided into apartments. No one answered the door Wednesday afternoon. George Jackson, 77, a retired truck driver who lives in the neighborhood and works part-time at a church across the street, said he did not know Martinez. “Unbelievable, right here in the neighborhood, living next to us. It’s a shame,” Jackson said. A man who identified himself as Martinez’s brother-in-law responded to a Facebook message from The Associated Press by referring questions to Balter. White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the arrest underscores the need for vigilance against terrorism and illustrates why the Obama administration is focused on addressing “domestic radicalization.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Orlando Airport Considers Dumping TSA Screeners

Leaders at Orlando International Airport (OIA) could start taking steps to replace TSA screeners with a private company during a meeting Wednesday.

WFTV has been following the uproar over the TSA’s controversial full body screens and intrusive pat downs.

Orlando Sanford International Airport is already making the switch to a private screening company. It would bring about a huge change at OIA, but passengers might not even notice.

Transportation Security Administration officials say the controversial full-body scanners are here to stay. They will be the primary security screening for “as many people as possible” by next year.


Meanwhile, TSA screeners could be getting the boot at OIA. In a memo, the airport confirmed it is now considering hiring a private company to do the job just like the Sanford airport.

Congressman John Mica is spurring the change across the country. He believes the new scanners are a symptom of sluggish bureaucracy and may not even be constitutional.

“We’re shaking down old women, veterans, pilots crew and others,” Mica said.

Even if security at OIA were privatized, little would change for passengers; they would still have to go through the same security measures.

However, advocates believe customer service could improve, and the cost for airport security could also drop significantly…


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SpaceX Launches, Lands Capsule for NASA

A privately owned company put a spacecraft into orbit and brought it back on Wednesday in a groundbreaking test flight NASA hopes will lead to cargo runs to the International Space Station after the space shuttles are retired next year.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The ‘Islamophobia’ Myth

By Jeff Jacoby

Globe Columnist /When that provocative question appeared on the cover of Time in August, the accompanying story strained to imply, on the basis of some anecdotal evidence, that the answer might be yes. The FBI’s latest compendium of US hate-crimes data suggests far more plausibly that the answer is no.

“Where ordinary Americans meet Islam, there is evidence that suspicion and hostility are growing,” the Time article said. “To be a Muslim in America now is to endure slings and arrows against your faith — not just in the schoolyard and the office but also outside your place of worship and in the public square, where some of the country’s most powerful mainstream religious and political leaders unthinkingly (or worse, deliberately) conflate Islam with terrorism and savagery.”

Time published that article amid the tumult over plans to build a Muslim mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in New York, and not long after a fringe pastor in Gainesville had announced that he intended to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The piece noted that a handful of other mosque projects nationwide have run into “bitter opposition,” and it cited a Duke University professor’s claim that such resistance is “part of a pattern of intolerance” against American Muslims. Yet the story conceded frankly that “there’s no sign that violence against Muslims is on the rise” and that “Islamophobia in the US doesn’t approach levels seen in other countries.”

In fact, as Time pointed out, while there may be the occasional confrontation over a Muslim construction project, “there are now 1,900 mosques in the US, up from about 1,200 in 2001.” Even after 9/11, in other words, and even as radical Islamists continue to target Americans, places of worship for Muslims in the United States have proliferated. And whenever naked anti-Islamic bigotry has appeared, “it has been denounced by many Christian, Jewish, and secular groups.”

America is many things, but “Islamophobic” plainly isn’t one of them. As Time itself acknowledged: “Polls have shown that most Muslims feel safer and freer in the US than anywhere else in the Western world.” That sentiment is powerfully buttressed by the FBI’s newly released statistics on hate crimes in the United States.

In 2009, according to data gathered from more than 14,000 law enforcement agencies nationwide, there were 1,376 hate crimes motivated by religious bias. Of those, just 9.3 percent — fewer than 1 in 10 — were committed against Muslims. By contrast, 70.1 percent were committed against Jews, 6.9 percent were aimed at Catholics or Protestants, and 8.6 percent targeted other religions. Hate crimes driven by anti-Muslim bigotry were outnumbered nearly 8 to 1 by anti-Semitic crimes.

Year after year, American Jews are far more likely to be the victims of religious hate crime than members of any other group. That was true even in 2001, by far the worst year for anti-Muslim incidents, when 481 were reported — less than half of the 1,042 anti-Jewish crimes tabulated by the FBI the same year.

Does all this mean that America is in reality a hotbed of anti-Semitism? Would Time’s cover have been closer to the mark if it had asked: “Is America Judeophobic?”

Of course not. Even one hate crime is one too many, but in a nation of 300 million, all of the religious-based hate crimes added together amount to less than a drop in the bucket. This is not to minimize the 964 hate crimes perpetrated against Jews last year, or those carried out against Muslims (128), Catholics (55), or Protestants (40). Some of those attacks were especially shocking or destructive; all of them should be punished. But surely the most obvious takeaway from the FBI’s statistics is not that anti-religious hate crimes are so frequent in America. It is that they are so rare.

In a column a few years back, I wrote that America has been for the Jews “a safe harbor virtually without parallel.” It has proved much the same for Muslims. Of course there is tension and hostility sometimes. How could there not be, when America is at war with violent jihadists who have done so much harm in the name of Islam? But for American Muslims as for American Jews, the tension and hostility are the exception. America’s exemplary tolerance is the rule.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

The FCC Pushes to Include More Diversity in News Programs

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) pushed back on Monday against a contention by a Democratic FCC commissioner that the government should create new regulations to promote diversity in news programming.

Barton was reacting to a proposal made last week by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who in a speech suggested that broadcasters be subject to a new “public values test” every four years.

“I hope … that you do not mean to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the [FCC], to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume,” Barton wrote Monday in a letter to Copps.

Copps had suggested that the test would make a broadcaster’s license renewal contingent upon proof that they meet a prospective set of federal criteria.

He said outlets should be mandated to do the following: prove they have made a meaningful commitment to public affairs and news programming, prove they are committed to diversity programming (for instance, by showing that they depict women and minorities), report more to the government about which shows they plan to air, require greater disclosure about who funds political ads and devote 25 percent of their prime-time coverage to local news.


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Waiting for a Home in Paradise

Fifteen years ago Anchorage was home to fewer than 200 Muslims. Today, the city boasts three Halal grocery stores, a Halal-by-request pizzeria and a population of more than 3,000 Muslims who hail from places like Albania, Somalia, Pakistan and Malaysia.

In October the community realized a long-held goal by breaking ground on Alaska’s first mosque, which will occupy a lot off of the Old Seward Highway with sweeping views of the Chugach Mountains. The mosque, according to a building permit filed with the city in August, will be 16,523 square feet and carry a construction value of about $2.9 million. Leaders have said they hope to open doors in 2011.

The Islamic Community Center of Anchorage Alaska, as it will be called, will be one the farthest north mosques in the world. A mosque that went up recently in Inuvik, a village in the Northwest Territories, Canada, claims to be the world’s most northern mosque. It’s also historic: Alaska currently doesn’t have a formal Muslim place of worship.

It’s also ambitious. A 3-D rendering of the planned building shows a gleaming white building with a dome and minarets that organizers say will house an Islamic and secular school, prayer and event spaces, a library, nursery and center for interfaith dialogue that will offer classes on Islam to non-Muslim community members.

But in the wake of bruising national controversy over a mosque in Lower Manhattan, the leaders behind the mosque are wary of talking about it.

A community without a home

For years, the Islamic Community Center of Anchorage Alaska, the city’s predominant Islamic group, has gathered its members in borrowed places.

Prayer services and lectures are held in a small storefront on West International Airport Road, a strip mall space sandwiched between a party supply store and a Spanish-language academy. The rented space has just enough space for prayer carpets and a small speakers’ podium. At most, it can accommodate 200 people.

For bigger celebrations, the community rents space at recreation centers in Spenard or Fairview. At a recent potluck celebrating Eid-Al-Adha, an important religious celebration following the end of the Hajj pilgrimage, tables at the rented Asian Alaskan Cultural Center were heavy with lamb curries and fragrant spiced rice dishes.

It’s time for Alaska’s Muslims to have a permanent home, says Umal Samatar, who owns Juba Halal Market, one of three markets in the city that specialize in Islamic groceries and goods. Her East Anchorage shop is stocked with colorful headscarves, phone cards, spices like fenugreek and whole cardamom pods and freezers full of specially-prepared Halal meat. In her few years in Anchorage she’s seen a steady flood of Muslim migrants, many of whom come from her home country of Somalia.

“I (opened the store) to feel at home,” she says.

She thinks the mosque will help others to feel at home, too.

“They will gather and enjoy,” she says. “Just like other people do. In Anchorage we have all different people — Samoans, Native — it’s the same thing. This will be a place for church.”

Alaska a welcoming home for Muslims

Lamin Jobarteh, the current president of the ICCAA and a longtime champion of the mosque, owns one of the city’s other Halal grocery stores. Alaska Halal Grocery sits across the parking lot from the strip mall rental currently used for prayer space. On this winter afternoon, it’s warm and cozy inside and “Judge Judy” is on the TV.

Jobarteh says the leadership of the mosque project would rather not comment for the story, citing a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment in the Lower 48. Alaska has been a welcoming and tolerant home for Muslims, says Jobarteh, who left the West African nation of Gambia during a time of political instability and first came to Alaska to attend graduate school. In the wake of controversy over the Park51 mosque in New York, people have called and left messages on the Islamic Community Center’s answering machine voicing support and “just letting us know they were there,” he says.

The Anchorage Police Department even checked in to make sure everything was fine

But that hasn’t been the case everywhere. Just a day earlier a mosque in Corvallis, Ore., where a terror suspect had attended services was firebombed, he says.

The Alaska Muslim community has long decried extremism. When Paul Rockwood Jr., a King Salmon meteorologist and Muslim convert who had attended Friday prayers was arrested for allegedly lying to the FBI about a jihadist hit list earlier this year, Jobarteh told an Alaska Dispatch reporter that Rockwood wasn’t representative of the community.

“He’s not part of our community here,” he said at the time.. “If what they’re saying is true, nobody should have any sympathy for this guy.”

Opposition has blocked mosques in other states

Still, Islamic community leaders’ fears of backlash are justified, says Heather L. Weaver, a lawyer with the ACLU’s Program on Religious Freedom and Belief. In the past five years there have been more than 50 anti-mosque incidents nationwide: From Washington to Florida, Muslim places of worship have been firebombed, vandalized and threatened. Meanwhile, recent controversy over Park51, a planned 13-story Islamic and interfaith community center near the World Trade Center site in New York, reached a fever pitch during the fall election cycle.

Planned mosques and community centers have also increasingly been the target of efforts to block or deny construction permits. In a recent Mayfield, Ky., case, the town’s zoning board refused to permit an Islamic prayer space proposed by a group of Somalis, citing “inadequate parking” while 250 local residents looked on and cheered, according to the Paducah Sun newspaper. The ACLU intervened, and the zoning board ultimately couldn’t legally justify denying the permit.

Unchecked, such incidents could lead to a chilling effect on Muslims’ efforts to build houses of worship, Weaver said.

“One additional consequence of these efforts to block mosque construction has been that some Muslims have been fearful to be involved more in the community,” Weaver said. “There have been several instances where a group obtained land or made plans and because of opposition didn’t follow through with those plans.”

For their part, Anchorage’s Muslim leaders say they they’ll welcome the community to their new mosque — when the project is a just bit further along. Today the lot is snow-covered and quiet. And the Islamic center still has money to raise to make the mosque reality. For now, they’re reaching out with their latest fundraising video, “A House in Paradise,” which features photos of fireweed-and-mountain vistas and an appeal to help Alaska’s Muslims, at long last, build their own house in paradise.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: Darabos Hits Back Over Leaked US Dispatches

Social Democratic (SPÖ) Defence Minister Norbert Darabos has said the USA’s criticism of Austria’s foreign policies is “inexplicable”.

Darabos pointed out today (Mon) that around 1,200 Austrian soldiers are currently participating in international peacekeeping missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and other regions. The former SPÖ Burgenland General Secretary, however, added he considered the decision not to sent troops to Afghanistan as “100 per cent correct”. Austria’s only participation in the war-stricken country are five police officers tasked with educating local security officials.

The defence minister’s statements come one day after German magazine Der Spiegel claimed that US American diplomats criticised the Austrian government for “acting hesitantly” when it comes to sending soldiers abroad. The weekly magazine referred to 1,700 confidential cables transferred to the US government by diplomats in Europe. Online platform WikiLeaks reportedly got hold of the top secret dispatches. The website previously embarrassed the USA by revealing what diplomats and representatives of its government think about political decision-makers and global political developments.

The leaked telegrams also denounce SPÖ Chancellor Werner Faymann as “personally not interested in foreign policies”, while accusing People’s Party (ÖVP) Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger of concentrating on helping Austrian companies to do business abroad as the main part of his agenda.

The Austrian defence minister announced today he did not expect the revelations to harm the bilateral relationship between Austria and the United States. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton only recently pointed out she considered the partnership between her country and Austria as well as her cooperation with Spindelegger as “excellent”.

Darabos caused a stir last year by accusing American and British officials of putting “indecent” pressure on Austria to send troops to Afghanistan.

The Social Democrat said in an interview that attempts by army officials and diplomats to get Austria to send more than its current three officers to the war-torn central Asian state were “relatively strong and partly indecent”.

“Austria is a sovereign country and we will not wilt under this pressure,” Darabos said at that time, adding that increasing the number of soldiers in Afghanistan would not solve the country’s problems.

Austria — a member of the European Union (EU) since 1995 — had been neutral since the 1955 State Treaty in which the country pledged not to join international military alliances such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Meanwhile, Austrian Greens MP Peter Pilz has suggested Austria should offer political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Interpol has issued an European arrest warrant on the Australian after he failed to turn up for interrogations in Sweden where a woman pressed sex crime charges against him. Some reports, however, suggest that his presence on Interpol’s red notice list of wanted persons could also have something to do with the website’s controversial claims and revelations.

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

Copenhagen Climate Cables: The US and China Joined Forces Against Europe

Last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world’s top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement.

Last year’s climate summit in Copenhagen was a political disaster. Leaked US diplomatic cables now show why the summit failed so spectacularly. The dispatches reveal that the US and China, the world’s top two polluters, joined forces to stymie every attempt by European nations to reach agreement.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Counter-Terrorism: Pakistani Politics in Britain

December 8, 2010: Last May, elections in Britain removed the Labor party, which had ruled since 1997, from power. This was a big boost for counter-terrorism efforts, since Labor had been dependent on, and beholden to, the million strong Pakistani community in Britain. Labor had been reluctant to move to aggressively against pro-terrorist attitudes in the Pakistani community, although Labor did go after anyone identified as an Islamic terrorist (before or after carrying out an attack). However, the counter-terrorism was more complicated than that. There were some disturbing attitudes among the Pakistani origin Britons when it came to Islamic terrorism. For example, three years ago, an opinion survey revealed some 60 percent of British Moslems believed that Moslems were not responsible for the July 7, 2005 terror attacks in London. Over 20 percent of British Moslems believed that the British government was behind those attacks, despite the positive identification of the attackers as three men of Pakistani descent and one a Jamaican who had converted to Islam. Where did British Moslems get these ideas? Like most people everywhere, they get such information from mass media. But in the last two decades, cable TV news has become available for overseas audiences in many parts of the world. Thus migrants can move to the West, make lots more money, live better lives, and continue to get TV newscasts from the old country. As most web users now know, news media in different parts of the world, report the same events very differently. In the Moslem world, the news media likes to push the idea that all their economic and social problems are caused by the West, mainly the Christian West. The general idea is that there’s this vast conspiracy by the West to keep the Moslems down and destroy Islam. Since most Moslem states are run by dictators or monarchs, there is often official support for this fantasy. It distracts the people from the real source of their problems. While many Moslems figure out that this myth is, well, a myth, they learn to keep quiet about it, lest they be condemned (and physically harmed) for being a “Western spy.”

In the past, migrants would change their attitudes as they were exposed to Western media (which has its own set of myths, but is vastly more open to different ideas.) No more. Moslem migrants get off the plane from the old country, and within a short time, they are looking at the same newscasts they consumed back home. When they attempt to discus world affairs with the locals, they quickly find a vast difference of opinions. Most Moslems recoil and retreat into an insular migrant mind set. This is why you have Moslems in places like Britain, or anywhere else in the West, clinging to old country myths, even with a lot of contradictory evidence confronting them daily.

Many Moslems do move away from these fantasies. Thus we had 40 percent of British Moslems acknowledging that Moslems were responsible for the July 7 attacks. But many of those respondents did not consider the Moslem world responsible. Moslems tend to migrate from parts of the world where civic responsibility is not taken as seriously as in the West. Islam, an Arabic world, means “submission,” and that has eroded the sense of personal responsibility over the centuries…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Defence: Italy’s Arms Firm MBDA Seeks Partnership With Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 7 — World giants in the defense industry are vying for the 4 billion US dollars long-range missile system tender launched by Turkey. The US is competing for the tender with its Patriot missiles, Russia with S-400s, China with the FD-2000, and the French-Italian partnership Eurosam is competing with its Samp/T model missiles. Italian defense industry professionals frequently visiting Turkey ahead of the tender have promised Turkey “technology transfers,” as Today’s Zaman writes.

Eurosam’s Italian partner MBDA Vice President in charge of export operations Sergio Cavicchi said they were targeting a strategic partnership with Turkey, adding that in the past companies in the Italian defense industry saw Turkey as just a purchaser of products. “We have a different strategy now. The Turkish defense industry is developing, and overall competition in the world is getting fiercer. If we get the tender, we will carry our technology and know-how in this regard to Turkey, and we will market these missiles to the world together,” Cavicchi said to a group of journalists from Turkey during a tour of his company’s facilities. Turkey plans to procure four defense systems under the Long Range Regional Air and Missile Defense System Project. However, the country may decrease the number of missile batteries if a large number of missiles are placed in Turkey under a planned NATO missile shield project. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski: Spokespersons of US Right ‘In Most Cases Stunningly Ignorant’

Former US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski says that US diplomacy will continue as before despite the leak of diplomatic dispatches by WikiLeaks. He spoke with SPIEGEL about how US President Obama should react and how the American right sees the world.

SPIEGEL: Will American foreign policy ever be the same after this embarrassing leak of US diplomatic dispatches?

Brzezinski: Absolutely. There was a saying once in Vienna during the good old days of the Habsburg Empire that when things went wrong and people were asked for comment, the comment usually was: “Well, it’s catastrophic but not serious.” And that’s the way this is.

SPIEGEL: The US government sounds more alarmed.

Brzezinski: Most of the cables revealed consistency with what the United States said publicly. There may be some embarrassing things, but basically, business will go on as usual. Our cables aren’t very different from the cables the German ambassadors send or Russian ambassadors or Chinese or French.

SPIEGEL: These nations are deeply offended by the indiscretions, though. Could the Americans recall ambassadors to mend fences?

Brzezinski: I would think not, unless there is something in the cables that an ambassador has said about a senior statesman of the country to which he’s assigned, which would preclude any degree of personal relationship between the ambassador and that senior statesman.

SPIEGEL: The US Ambassador in Berlin, Philip Murphy, wrote a very unflattering report on German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. He called him “arrogant” and “opportunistic” and concluded: He is no Genscher.

Brzezinski: That may make it more difficult, although Murphy probably deals more seriously with the chancellor than the foreign minister, given the nature of the German arrangements.

SPIEGEL: So it will return to business as usual? Really?

Brzezinski: There are slightly mystifying aspects to this whole operation. I do see some strange degree of emphasis on some issues.

SPIEGEL: For example?…

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

Germany: O, Cannabis Tree! Police Find Decorated Plant During Bust

Hippies enjoy celebrating Christmas too, police in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate said on Wednesday after they were stunned to find a two-metre marijuana plant decked out in twinkling lights during a drug bust.

“A hippie celebrates Christmas too … just differently,” read the report, which was entitled “All you need is love,” because it fell on the 30th anniversary of John Lennon’s death.

Narcotics detectives stumbled on the unusual Christmas tree while searching the home of an “old 68er,” a reference to the groups of young students and workers who participated in political protests across Germany in 1968.

The man “more or less willingly” handed over 150 grammes of marijuana to the officers, but a further look around the apartment in the tiny town of Montabaur near Koblenz revealed a “peculiar ‘Christmas tree’.”

The man had put a two-metre tall pot plant in a tree stand and adorned it with Christmas lights.

“In response to questions by the dumbfounded officers, the hashish fan confirmed that the ‘tree’ would be decorated further and, on Christmas, gifts would be arranged underneath according to tradition,” the statement said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

German Schools Embrace Islam

There is little doubt west European governments are engaged in a form of social suicide. Rather than increased efforts to integrate Muslims into German society, to cite one example, German students will be taught about Islam. In a sense German educators will be engaged in proselytizing for Islam.

The German state of Lower Saxony will start including Islam in its schools’ core curriculum as part of an initiative to counter growing anti-Islam sentiment in Europe. Dr. Bernd Althusmann, Minister of Education in Lower Saxony, announced that schools in the state will start including Islamic education in their main curriculum. “I think we will be able to start implementation by the academic year after the next,” Althusmann said during a visit to an elementary school in the city of Hanover which offers an Islamic education class.

Justifying this approach, Juergen Zoeliner, Berlin Minister for Education, Science and Research, notes, “For years, society and schools have been faced with a variety of new duties and challenges. One of these big challenges is to have people from different traditions, cultural and religion affiliations living together peacefully and respectfully.”

Of course, whether the program in question leads ultimately to a peaceful result is questionable. One might well ask why did the armies of Europe turn back the Turks at the gates of Vienna 500 years ago when programs, like those instituted in Germany, are handing Islam the keys to the future.

German shame over Nazi atrocities has made Hitler’s heritage the end of German history and identity. But should this shame be replaced by preemptive capitulation to a religion with a relentless imperial impulse?

To be sure the Salafists, with Saudi funding, will follow up on their efforts in the schools. But will the full story of Islam be told including the stoning of adulterers, the execution of homosexuals, polygamy, apostasy as a capital offense and the belief that Jews are the offspring of apes and pigs?

It is instructive that “diversity education” is predicated on the belief that we in the West have on obligation to understand Islam. However, the reverse doesn’t follow. One might presume that Muslims in the West should come to know and appreciate Western Civilization. Moreover, students who are not versed in the history and customs of the polity they find themselves in will be handicapped. Yet curiously integration, that was once the overarching strategy for dealing with immigrants, has been replaced by cultural pluralism, “from the one, many” instead of “from the many, one.”

In Germany and throughout western Europe there is an effort to bend over backwards to accommodate the Islamic population. In the process, this effort produces results that counter good intentions. First, the Islamic population believes, with considerable confirmation, that Europeans do not possess the will to assert the importance of their own culture and traditions. Second, the insertion of Islam into German schools suggests tacitly that Islam is on the rise and cannot be denied even in non-Islamic nations…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islamists in Europe: A ‘Clash of Cultures’ Looms

It is a Sunday night in London’s East End and the self-styled “most hated man in Britain” is holding court, reveling in his vision of a Taliban victory over America and a world under Islamic Shariah law. The crowd of about 250 listens intently as Anjem Choudary issues a call to arms in the pristine surroundings of the newly refurbished art deco conference center, built to host weddings and business meetings. “There are many battlefields,” he says calmly into a microphone. “There’s a battlefield outside 10 Downing Street [home to Britain’s prime minister] and in the mountains of the Tora Bora [in Afghanistan].” Any man who fails to fight, he warns, will face difficulty when the “angel of death” arrives and he is forced to explain to Allah why he did not raise his hand “against the oppressor” out of fear. “Allah will say to him, ‘Am I not more worthy to be feared than them?’“ Choudary says. “Allahu Akbar!” the men shout out in unison, as if a war cry, during his speech. “Allahu Akbar.” God is great.

A group of women, all heavily veiled and sitting in a screened-off area, remain quiet throughout. As former leader of the banned Islamist organizations al-Muhajiroun and Islam4UK, Choudary was kept off the bill and appeared as the surprise star speaker at the rally.

His groups may be outlawed but, unlike his female followers, Choudary will not be silenced. His message is one that echoes across Europe, which experts say is home to thousands of people who would wholeheartedly support Choudary’s “ultimate objective” — the “domination of the world by Islam.” The majority of Muslims are not Islamists, who believe in a society based on Islamic law, and not all of the latter are seeking world domination or are willing to use violence. But fear of another Islamist-inspired atrocity after Madrid in 2004 — 191 dead — and London in 2005 — 53 dead — remains high…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italy: Pope Joins Thousands in Mourning Seven Killed Cyclists

Allegedly drugged Moroccan motorist mowed down riders

(ANSA) — Lamezia Terme, December 7 — Pope Benedict XVI sent a message of condolence to Tuesday’s joint funeral of seven cyclists killed here by a Moroccan motorist allegedly under the influence of drugs, a ceremony attended by thousands.

The 21-year-old driver also injured three other riders, one of whom is in a critical condition, after losing control of his car in this city in the southern Italian region of Calabria on Sunday.

Several of the devastated relatives of the deceased were assisted by Red Cross volunteers as they arrived at the D’Ippolito stadium for a funeral mass held by the city’s bishop, Msgr. Luigi Antonio Cantafora.

“The pontiff wishes to express his deep sorrow and give spiritual support to family members and the whole community, who are extremely distressed by the loss of their loved ones,” said a statement the pope sent to the funeral by telegram. The coffins were carried on the shoulders of other cyclists and a huge banner at the stadium read: “they tore you from the Earth, but they will not tear you from our hearts”.

The incident came on the same day a Moroccan man was detained for the alleged kidnapping and murder of a missing 13-year-old girl near Brescia in northern Italy, sparking controversial comments by some Northern League figures about alleged links between migrant workers and crime. Much of the fury was taken out of the backlash when the second Moroccan man, a 22-year-old, was released from prison Tuesday after it turned out he had been detained largely on the basis of a phrase in a wiretapped call that had been mistranslated. The Moroccan community in Lamezia Terme, meanwhile, said they were mourning with the families of the dead cyclists and asked not to be judged by the deeds of one man.

Msgr. Cantafora agreed that the tragedy should not be allowed to feed intolerance.

“This is not the moment to point the finger or to resort to stereotypes,” he said.

Several commentators said that, rather than uncovering migration-related problems, what the incident really highlighted was how dangerous Italy’s roads are for cyclists.

The poor condition of some roads, the scarcity of cycle paths and many Italian motorists’ lack of respect for the highway code mean travelling on two wheels can be hazardous, they said.

After attending the funeral Interior Undersecretary Michelino Davico said that 295 cyclists were killed in road accidents in Italy last year, according to national statistics agency Istat.

“This is a picture of a country that is still too insensitive to a form of transport that is healthy, ecological and within everyone’s means,” Davico said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Julian Assange Rape Allegations: Treatment of Women ‘Unfair and Absurd’

The process of taking a rape allegation to court is notoriously hard for the victim. When the accused assailant is a high-profile campaigner with thousands of active and vocal supporters, it becomes acutely fraught.

Claes Borgström, the lawyer for the two women whose complaints of sexual assault triggered Julian Assange’s arrest, said his clients had been assaulted twice: first physically, before being “sacrificed” to a malevolent online attack. The women were having “a very tough time”, he said.

A wealth of hostile material attacking the two women has appeared on the internet since August, when they took their complaints to the police. Their right to anonymity has been abandoned online, where enraged bloggers have uploaded dossiers of personal photographs, raked through their CVs and tweets, and accused them of orchestrating a CIA-inspired honeytrap operation. These online rumours were a convenient way for Assange to divert suspicion from the actual allegations, the women’s lawyer said.

Keen to set some of the more outlandish rumours to rest, Borgström, a highly respected Swedish lawyer with 30 years of experience, today rebutted the claims and counter-claims that Assange’s arrest has unleashed. He said his clients were “the victims of a crime, but they are looked upon as the perpetrators and that is very unfortunate”.

In an interview at his fifth-floor office in central Stockholm, he continued: “What is going on now is very, very unfair to them because they are being pointed at as if they have started a conspiracy against Assange and WikiLeaks, and that is not true. There is nothing wrong with their reputation and they have done nothing wrong in going to the police. What they are going through is unfair and absurd.”

He questioned whether the women would have pressed charges had they known in advance how their reputations would be attacked. “If they had known what was going to happen, maybe they would not have gone to the police at all … I would not have done it,” he said.

His own involvement in the case has not been without complications. On Monday night his firm’s website was hacked and shut down. “We have never experienced anything like this before,” he said.

In today’s London Evening Standard, Assange’s UK lawyer, Mark Stephens, repeated his conviction that the affair was politically motivated. “The honeytrap has been sprung. Dark forces are at work. After what we’ve seen so far you can reasonably conclude this is part of a greater plan,” he said.

But Borgström rejected the notion that the rape case and the extradition demand form part of a conspiracy to damage the reputation of the WikiLeaks founder. “It has nothing whatsoever to do with WikiLeaks or the CIA and I regret very much that Julian Assange does not publicly say that himself. That would be a way of leaving all these rumours,” he said. “There are no political ingredients in this at all, but I quite understand that there are rumours.

“WikiLeaks is headline news all over the world at this time and Assange is suspected of a sexual crime in Sweden, so of course people think there is connection. There is nothing, zero.”

The women were “very credible” witnesses, he said. “They have given very detailed stories about what they have been through.”

Assange’s reputation is less the focus of scrutiny online, but an acquaintance who met him and both women in Stockholm around the time of the alleged assaults told the Guardian he had warned Assange that his behaviour towards women was going to get him into trouble.

“I don’t think it was a conspiracy, but this provided a golden opportunity for the enemies of WikiLeaks to use the situation to neutralise him,” said the man, who wanted to remain anonymous. “A personality like Assange, who is known throughout the world, in the media every day, has a huge attraction to women. A lot of women invited him to their beds and he took that opportunity too much … all the time.

“I spoke to him about this. I warned him that it was not a good way to behave ethically and also in terms of his security. His weakness was — is — women. I warned him it would cause him trouble.”

He said women responded to him in the way they might respond to meeting Mick Jagger. “When you attract that many women you have to think about how you behave,” he said.

The unusual circumstances surrounding the initial handling of the alleged assault have been used by Assange’s online supporters to fan suspicions about the case. Why was an investigation launched by the Swedish prosecutors before being dropped and then revived? Why did the women, who had not previously known each other, go together to the police to report the assaults? Why was an extradition required when Assange had earlier been allowed to leave Sweden?

Borgström attempted to refute this speculation point by point today. He would not say where the women were, only that he was in daily contact with them. He had advised them not to read what was being said about them on the internet, he said. “But they do …”

There was nothing unusual about different prosecutors, of varying seniority, coming to different conclusions about whether a crime had occurred, he said. Rape was rarely a clear-cut case of an unknown man pouncing on a woman, he said, and this case, like most, was nuanced and complicated.

He refused to reveal sensitive details of the evidence provided to him by the women. “It is important for the future investigation that the suspect himself does not know more than necessary before he is interrogated by the Swedish police,” he said.

But he gave a concise summary of the key allegations…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Julian Assange Extradition Attempt an Uphill Struggle, Says Specialist

A former extradition specialist for the Crown Prosecution Service today predicted it would be “very difficult” for Sweden to get the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, sent back to face sexual assault allegations.

Raj Joshi, a former head of the European and International Division at the CPS, said Sweden’s lack of a formal criminal charge against Assange increased his lawyers’ chances of success in blocking the extradition attempt.

Assange’s lawyers are scheduled to visit him tomorrow in prison for the first time since he was jailed on remand yesterday after Sweden requested his extradition.

Swedish prosecutors say they want to interview Assange about allegations of sexual assault against two women. His lawyers say they fear the US will attempt to extradite him to face charges over the release of hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables though Washington has not so far taken any legal action against him.

Today, a British group campaigning for more rapists to be punished questioned the “unusual zeal” with which Assange, an Australian citizen, was being pursued over the allegations of sexual assault in Sweden.

In a letter to the Guardian, Katrin Axelsson from Women Against Rape said it was routine for people charged with rape in the UK to be granted bail. Assange is yet to be formally charged by the Swedes. Axelsson also said Sweden had a poor record bringing rapists to justice: “Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued for rape allegations … There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s safety.”

Assange is due to appear before City of Westminster magistrates’s court next Tuesday where his lawyers will attempt to secure his release on bail, a request the court rejected this week.

Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan police’s extradition squad on a European arrest warrant issued at the request of Sweden. But Joshi, who headed the CPS’s international division for five years, said Sweden faced an uphill battle.

“On what we know so far, it is going to be very difficult to extradite. The judge has to be satisfied that the conduct equals an extraditable offence and that there are no legal bars to extradition.

“Assange’s team will argue, how can the conduct equal an extraditable offence if the [Swedish] prosecutor doesn’t think there is enough evidence to charge, and still has not charged.”

Joshi said other bars to extradition would be Assange’s rights under the European human rights legislation.

Assange is being held in Wandsworth prison, south London, where he has limited communication with the outside world. He has no internet access and today was allowed one three minute telephone conversation with his solicitors.

WikiLeaks volunteers today sent him a parcel containing clothes, letters of support, toiletries and a selection of books including one by his barrister Geoffrey Robertson.

Amid suggestions that the US is examining ways to take legal action against Assange, one of his lawyers, Mark Stephens, repeated his claims that Sweden’s actions were politically motivated, perhaps as a stalling tactic while the Americans bring a charge: “If there are talks between Sweden and the US for his rendition, we have every reason to be concerned.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Majority of Austrian Turks Refuse Assimilation

As reported previously for The New American, a recent poll of public opinion in Germany revealed that only approximately one-third of Germans have a positive view of Muslims. In addition, only 30 percent of those living in western Germany and 20 percent of the residents in the eastern portion of nation favor permitting more mosques to be built.

The negative assessment which Germans have made regarding Islam is not due to a lack of contact with Muslims; at this time, Germany has the second largest Muslim population in Europe, with 3.2 million Muslims residing in their country. Germany is now home to 2.4 million Turks, and if the views of Turks living in Germany are similar to those of Turks residing in neighboring Austria, the negative assessment of Islam uncovered in the recent poll is given some further context.

An post entitled “The Turkish Mentality in Austria” to the “Gates Of Vienna” blog presents a translation of an article from The Bavarian Courier which reveals the mentality of unassimilated Islamists living in the heart of Europe. Detlef Kleinert’s article for The Bavarian Courier — “Islam More Important Than Democracy” — demonstrates that many of the Turks residing in Austria have little interest in adopting European culture or adhering to a Western notion of a separation of secular and ecclesiastical authority. In short, according to Kleinert, a clear majority of Turks living in Austria believe that adherence to sharia law must take first place in the Austria’s legal system: A study by the Gfk Austria (offshoot of the Society for Consumption Research based in Nuremberg) authorized by the Austrian interior ministry and recently published — “Integration in Austria” — confirms the extent to which Turkish immigrants are different from immigrants from other countries. More than half of the approximately 220,000 ethnic Turkish immigrants — 2.65% of the entire Austrian population of 8.3 million — in all seriousness demand that the Austrian justice system introduce Islamic law, i.e., sharia. For almost three-quarters (72%), following religious commandments is more important than democracy. For 57%, religious laws and regulations are more important than Austria’s. And almost half of the Turkish immigrants believe the many criminals in Austria show where democracy leads.

Although the population of Austria is roughly a tenth that of Germany, and the Turkish population proportionally smaller, the study cited by Kleinert has disturbing implications for the future coexistence of Muslims within European civilization. The future of any nation faces a profound challenge to its continued existence if any significant portion of its population fundamentally rejects of its most basic understanding of the rule of law.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments in October, stating that multiculturalism (or “multikulti”) had “utterly failed” received a predictable response from the ranks of the political correctness police, but what was often missed in her comments was her continued belief that there was a place for Muslims within German society; it was simply necessary that they assimilate into German society. As the BBC reported:

In her speech in Potsdam, however, the chancellor made clear that immigrants were welcome in Germany. She specifically referred to recent comments by German President Christian Wulff who said that Islam was “part of Germany,” like Christianity and Judaism. Mrs Merkel said: “We should not be a country either which gives the impression to the outside world that those who don’t speak German immediately or who were not raised speaking German are not welcome here.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Scotland: Muslim MP’s Son in Fraud Bid

THE son of Scotland’s first Muslim MP returned to court yesterday to appeal against a conviction for money laundering. Athif Sarwar, 32, got three years in May 2007 after being found guilty of using his family’s wholesale firm to conceal £845,000 of VAT frauds.

But Sarwar, of Mearnskirk, Glasgow — freed in January 2008 pending his appeal — claims he was wrongly convicted as judge Lord Carloway made errors at the trial.

Sarwar’s dad Mohammad, who quit as an MP at the last election, was at the appeal court yesterday for the start of the hearing, which continues.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Two Swedes Jailed for Plotting Somalia Attacks

Two Swedish citizens of Somali origin, members of the Islamist movement al-Shabaab, were sentenced by a Swedish court on Wednesday to four years in jail for “planning terrorist crimes” in Somalia.

“The prosecutor proved that the accused had taken it upon themselves and decided with the Somali islamist militia al-Shabaab to commit terrorist crimes in the form of suicide attacks,” the court said.

Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström had sought a sentence of three years each for Mohamoud Jama, 22, and Bille Ilias Mohamed, 26, who were arrested in Gothenburg and Stockholm in May and June this year following an investigation by the Swedish security police.

The court said both men are members and sympathisers of al-Shabaab, which has declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network and controls most of southern and central Somalia.

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

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

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

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Bungling Petrol Bomber Jailed for Broadfield Pub Attack

A would-be petrol bomber who was caught by police after he ran into a lamp post and needed medical treatment has been jailed for eight years.

Amir Ali, of Ridge Road, Crouch End, north London, tried to set fire to the Imperial pub in Crawley, West Sussex.

He broke a window while another man threw a petrol bomb which hit Ali and burst into flames in May 2008, Hove Crown Court heard.

The 28-year-old panicked and hit his head on a lamp post as he fled.

Ali, who was linked to the attack by police when he sought treatment for his head injury, was found guilty in August of criminal damage.

Sussex Police said he had consistently denied being involved in the attack despite it being caught on CCTV.

Police are still trying to seek the identity of the second man involved.

The petrol bomb attack on the pub was caught on CCTV.

           — Hat tip: GB[Return to headlines]

UK: Caught on CCThe Bungling Petrol Bomber Who Tried to Burn Down a Pub… And Then Ran Into a Lamp Post

A bungling petrol bomber who was caught by police after he ran into a lamp post was today jailed for eight years.

Amir Ali, 28, and another unidentified man attempted to fire bomb the Imperial Arms pub in Crawley, West Sussex, in the early hours of May 28, 2008.

People were sleeping inside the property at the time.

Father-of-two Ali threw two bricks, breaking a window.

The other man then threw the petrol bomb, which accidentally hit Ali and burst into flames.

The flames died away almost immediately, but the panicked pair had already fled.

Ali then sprinted straight into a lamp post, hitting his head and falling to the ground.

In CCTV footage of the incident, he can be seen limping off.

He then went to the Crawley walk-in medical centre for treatment to his head injury and was linked to the attack by investigating officers.

Ali, of Crouch End, north London, denied the offence but forensic and CCTV evidence helped bring him to justice.

The landlord of the pub was woken by banging noises at 3.30am and came downstairs to find the front door had been smashed.

Two bricks and the remains of the petrol bomb that had failed to ignite were lying on the ground outside.

Alit was found guilty of attempting to, without lawful excuse, damage by fire the pub in August.

He was jailed for eight years imprisonment at Brighton Crown Court yesterday.

Recorder John Hardy QC told Ali his offence was at the top end of the scale, despite the fact his ineptitude had thankfully meant it was doomed to failure.

He said: ‘On that day, for whatever reason, you became embroiled in a planned and calculated attack which was part of a campaign of violence and intimidation by the local drug lords in Crawley against the licensees of this pub.’

The attack was described as ‘amateurish and comical’ by prosecutors.

Recorder Hardy said: ‘Had you succeeded and the pub had caught fire, damage to it and the neighbouring buildings would have been massive and the risk to life obvious.’

After sentencing Detective Constable Craig Allan said: ‘This was a prolonged and difficult investigation during which the defendant consistently denied being responsible.

‘However, gradually we were able to piece it all together.

‘Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness with which the courts take this kind of behaviour.’

The second man has not been identified and Sussex Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward.

           — Hat tip: GB[Return to headlines]

UK: Caught on CCTV: The Sickening Moment Diplomat’s Son Battered Labrador Puppy 20 Times Because He Was ‘Having a Bad Day’

A diplomat’s son who viciously kicked and punched his puppy because he was ‘having a bad day’ after being turned down for a job has narrowly avoided being locked up for the horrific attack.

Mohammed Abou-Sabaa, whose father is a prominent Tunisian official, was caught on CCTV raining down more than 20 blows on his labrador, Poppy, as she cowered in terror.

In a final, sickening, attack, the 21-year-old student was filmed kicking the blameless pet down a flight of steps outside his luxury city centre flat.

But despite his behaviour being branded ‘despicable’ by RSPCA inspectors, magistrates agreed to let him walk free from court, imposing a suspended prison sentence and banning him from keeping animals for four years.

They told him they were letting him off because he was in full-time education — however it emerged yesterday he is likely to face disciplinary action from the authorities at Manchester University over his conviction for animal cruelty.

Brazen Abou-Sabaa punched and kicked the dog outside the entrance to his building, stopping when a fellow resident went indoors before resuming the unprovoked assault.

An investigation was launched after the appalled caretaker saw the attack on CCTV and contacted the RSPCA.

When he appeared in court, shocked magistrates asked for the gruelling six-minute video footage to be stopped because they couldn’t bear to sit through it all.

It shows the uncomprehending, mild-mannered pet cowering while Abou-Sabaa beats it ferociously, stopping only to mop his brow.

At one stage he yanks the puppy up by its neck then slaps it to the ground, also standing on the terrified dog with his full weight.

Finally he uses his knee to launch her down a stairwell.

Poppy was seized by RSPCA inspectors and has made a full physical recovery from the attack in July.

Abou-Sabaa told investigators he had been having a bad day after learning he had failed with a job application and was training the dog.

But David McCormick, prosecuting for the RSPCA, told Manchester magistrates it was a sustained and brutal attack — a ‘wanton and deliberate act of cruelty.’

‘The defendant was seen wiping sweat from his brow and only stopped the assault when people entered the building and then carried on when they had gone,’ he added.

John Hera, defending, said Abou-Sabba had acted out of character. ‘Something clicked inside him and there was lots of anger. He is full of remorse.’

Abou-Sabaa, from Manchester, pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering to Poppy.

Magistrates decided not to jail him immediately because of his age, his guilty plea, and because he was in full-time education.

Jane Dyson, chairwoman of the bench, said: ‘This is simply a terrible demonstration of cruelty to a vulnerable puppy. None of us have seen anything like it — you have just avoided prison.’

He was instead given a six-week sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

He was also banned from keeping animals for four years and told to pay £1,000 costs.

Afterwards RSPCA inspector Paul Heaton said: ‘It was a despicable act. I was incensed when I saw the video — it just went on and on.

‘He said he had applied for a job apparently and had not got it and he was having a bad day.

‘I do not know of any training school that says that smacking a dog is a way of training it.’

Abou-Sabaa’s father, a Tunisian diplomat, travelled from his home country to hear the case.

He said afterwards: ‘I have had words with my son and my family and I want to apologise for what he did.’

Abou-Sabaa is studying mechatronics — a combination of engineering and electronics.

While a criminal conviction for animal cruelty doesn’t automatically bar him from the course, he could be suspended for bringing the university into disrepute.

A spokesman for Manchester University said: ‘We are looking into this case.’

Poppy is being looked after by the RSPCA and is likely to be rehomed in the new year after the court signed her over to their care.

Mr Heaton added: ‘Poppy is fine now. She is doing okay.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Café Owner’s ‘Poisoned Packed Lunches’ Knocked Out 47 Riot Police Before English Defence League March

[Perhaps the police should have ordered halal instead. — BB]

A pensioner who poisoned 47 police officers with contaminated chicken and tuna sandwiches has been ordered to wear an electronic tag.

Muriel Morris, 70, prepared packed lunches for the officers before they were due to police an English Defence League demonstration in Birmingham.

Some of the victims were taken to hospital feeling so ill they feared they were going to die and others were left ‘mentally scarred’, magistrates heard.

Morris admitted four charges of breaching food hygiene regulations at Birmingham Magistrates Court on Monday.

She was tagged and ordered to obey an overnight curfew after District Judge Robert Zara accepted she could not pay a large fine.

He also imposed a four-month suspended sentence on her.

She was hit with the punishment after she served up contaminated chicken and tuna sandwiches to officers.

‘Had this been a more vulnerable group it could have resulted in fatalities,’ the judge told Morris.

The officers were taken ill after more than 100 lunches were ordered by West Midlands Police from Morris’s Meal Machine cafe, in Nechells, Birmingham, during demonstrations between the EDL and anti-fascism groups in Birmingham on July 3 last year.

She has since sold the business, the court heard.

The court was told some of the officers were left mentally scarred and even feared they would die because of the staphylococcus aureus infection.

Others passed out and required oxygen as they were taken to hospital by ambulance and another said he lost eight pounds in weight and suffered symptoms for a week.

In a statement, one officer said: ‘I thought my life was coming to an end.’

A Birmingham City Council investigation revealed ‘filthy’ conditions at the cafe, including mouse droppings found yards from where the police order had been prepared.

Forensic swabs from the premises and from Morris confirmed the bacteria which infected the officers came from the cafe.

Barry Berlin, prosecuting, said: ‘Officers were very sick, the cafe was filthy and equipment was filthy. This was a preventable incident and the result was a serious food poisoning outbreak.’

Richard Tyrrell, defending, said Morris was horrified by the suffering caused to the officers.

‘She takes this matter very seriously and apologises unreservedly to the officers, she is totally distraught.’

Morris, from Great Barr, Birmingham, has no previous convictions and was well thought of by the officers.

The pensioner was also ordered to pay £16,482 costs, which were thought likely to be paid through her insurers.

After the hearing, a West Midlands Police spokesman said: ‘Following a successful operation in Birmingham city centre, a number of officers were taken ill as a result of food poisoning with several requiring hospital treatment for dehydration.

‘None were admitted overnight.

‘Contingency planning measures were implemented to ensure normal police business as the protest came to an end and officers were recovering.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Dentist Who Refused to Treat Muslim Women Who Weren’t Wearing Headscarf in Clear Over Lost Files

A dentist who lost 10,000 confidential patient files has been told he can work freely.

Omer Butt, 33, moved out his filing cabinets and computer during refurbishment work at the Unsworth Smile Clinic in Prestwich.

But a hire van containing the records was stolen from Cheetham Hill, in July 2008.

Last December, a medical watchdog ruled he had shown a ‘complete disregard for patient confidentiality’.

The General Dental Council placed conditions on his practice and ordered him to complete a personal development plan to address information security.

But the watchdog has now ruled he is now fit to practise freely again — even though he has not completed the plan.

Mr Butt was given a warning in 2007 for refusing to treat Muslim women patients who refused to wear a headscarf.

Responding to the recent case, committee chairman Julie Macfarlane told him: “The committee considered that you have learnt a salutary lesson and have shown insight into the seriousness of your impairment.”

Ms Macfarlane noted there had been ‘significant difficulties’ in the completion of the personal development plan, which went ‘above and beyond’ the conditions imposed by the GDC.

Effective action

She said: “Despite these difficulties, this committee has seen evidence of prompt and effective action to address the crucial aspects that gave rise to the conditions being imposed at the original hearing.”

The panel heard that Mr Butt had worked with a security consultancy on risk management and data protection, and was persuaded that ‘there are now sound procedures embedded in the whole practice’.

Ms Macfarlane told the dentist: “Your fitness to practise is no longer impaired and there is no danger to the public in revoking the conditions previously imposed on your registration and concluding the case.”

Mr Butt has previously appeared before the dental watchdog for refusing to treat women unless they wore traditional Islamic dress.

He even turned a whole family away without treatment after a man refused to ask his wife to conform to his demands.

In September 2007 Mr Butt was formally reprimanded by the GDC for similar behaviour and found guilty of serious professional misconduct.

He then appeared before the council in January last year for failing to declare driving convictions to his employer.

Mr Butt, of Sheepfoot Lane, Prestwich, has not worked since February 2008.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Great News: Islamists Lose Their Parliamentary Foothold

Two weeks ago I reported how Islamists had established a bridgehead in Parliament. A group called Engage (or iEngage) got itself appointed as the secretariat of a new all-party parliamentary group on Islamophobia. Islamophobia is rapidly emerging as the Islamists’ favoured new front — they have taken to conflating themselves with the entire Muslim community and damning any attacks on their tiny minority reading of Islam as an “Islamophobic” assault on the whole faith. Engage is at the heart of this process, an organisation which specialises in defending fundamentalist bodies such as the East London Mosque and the Islamic Forum of Europe and attacking all criticism of them as “Islamophobic.” It attacked the BBC’s recent Panorama documentary on racist Muslim schools — showing that some children are being taught anti-Semitism and Sharia punishments — as a “witch-hunt.” Typically, it launched its attack before even seeing the programme. It attacked me for writing about the East London Mosque’s hosting of the terrorist preacher, Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2009 — advertised with a poster showing New York under bombardment. It peddled the straightforward lie told by the mosque that no-one had realised Awlaki was a bad egg at that stage. It wrote to the Home Secretary to protest against the ban on the extremist preacher, Zakir Naik, who has stated that “every Muslim should be a terrorist.” It attacked the Independent columnist, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, one of the country’s major voices of moderate Islam, for her opposition to the niqab and the burka. Today, I am delighted to say, Engage has been dropped as the secretariat to the all-party group. I understand that a number of parliamentarians on the group threatened to resign once they were made aware of its true views and links. Congratulations to the Harry’s Place blog, Conservative Home and the former MP Paul Goodman for drawing attention to the issue, and keeping up the pressure. As we have seen with the East London Mosque, Islamists have in the past won access to power by being dishonest about their objectionable views. Today’s news is the latest evidence that now that their tactics are being exposed, and the truth about them is being told, they are being consistently pushed back.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wikileaks Cables: Whitehall Told US to Ignore Brown’s Trident Statement

Two senior Whitehall officials assured US diplomats that the renewal of Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent would go ahead, apparently contradicting then prime minister Gordon Brown’s public statements proposing some disarmament by the UK, according to leaked US embassy cables.

The London embassy sent a secret cable back to Washington last autumn reporting conversations with the two civil servants, Richard Freer and Judith Gough, in which they cast doubt on the significance of Brown’s announcement at the UN general assembly that Britain might cut the number of planned new Trident submarines from four to three.

It is not clear from the cables whether or not the Britons were speaking to the Americans on Brown’s authority. In the dispatches, US embassy officials describe them as “HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] sources” and mark that their identities should be protected.

Freer is one of Whitehall’s most influential officials and a member of David Cameron’s small team of private secretaries at Downing Street.

According to the leaked cables, US anxiety about the future of Britain’s Trident missiles followed Brown’s speech at the UN in September 2009 on global nuclear disarmament.

In London, Freer and Gough told the Americans that Brown’s words came as a surprise to them because there was no actual change of British nuclear policy under way. There would continue to be “no daylight” between the US and the UK on the existing £20bn Trident replacement scheme, the Americans were assured.

One US dispatch, classified “secret … noforn”, meaning only for US eyes, says: “[Brown’s] announcement of a proposed fleet reduction caught many in the MoD, FCO and Cabinet Office by surprise.”

It continued: “Dr Richard Freer (strictly protect) head of defence and security policy … told Poloff [political officer] September 23 that ‘in an ideal world we’d have done a bit more pre-vetting [of the speech]’. One of Freer’s Cabinet Office deputies was blunter, telling Poloff that the announcement was ‘unexpected’ …

“Both Freer and Judith Gough (strictly protect), deputy head of the security policy group at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stressed to Poloff that HMG has not formally decided to scale back the deterrent but would only do so if a government defence review determines, in Freer’s words, that it would be ‘technically feasible’ to maintain ‘continuous deterrence patrols’ with three submarines …

“Freer criticised media for exaggerating the significance of Brown’s announcement, opining that it was ‘not really a major disarmament announcement’.”

The cable added: “Julian Miller, the deputy head of the foreign and defence policy secretariat at the Cabinet Office, assured the political minister counsellor September 24 that HMG would consult with the US regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure there would be ‘no daylight’ between the US and UK.”

A Foreign Office spokesman refused to say yesterday whether or not the two officials had authority to talk to the US.

US concern about the future of Trident had first surfaced a few weeks earlier, before Brown’s speech to the UN, when British media carried unattributed political briefings which suggested the Labour government intended to defer crucial Trident replacement decisions.

The nuclear-armed French, like the Americans, initially believed this news was significant, with one French official telling the US: “The UK is starting to seem really convinced that disarmament is possible, since it may abandon its Trident submarine-launched ballistic missile programme.”

The French were so upset they protested to US diplomats that Labour ministers were acting like “demagogues”. Brown’s stance that nuclear weapons in general were immoral was, by implication, threatening “an essential part of French strategic identity”, they complained. British civil servants said the hints of disarmament were confined to the Cabinet Office…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: 75 Billion Euros for New Infrastructure Since 2007

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI, DECEMBER 7 — Since 2007, Libya has spent 125 billion dinars (nearly 75 billion euros) on new infrastructure, said Jamal Lamouchi, the Director of the Libyan Committee for Investment and Privatisation at the opening of the Investment and Development Exhibition which began yesterday in Tripoli. Investments were focussed in particular on “building residential homes, roads and on building and updating airports,” reported Lamouchi. A second phase of investments will start during 2012, explained Lamouchi, and will last for 5 years. Meetings on investment opportunities in Libya that are guaranteed by a new law (number 9) are taking place as part of this exhibition. According to Lamouchi: “there is no better place to invest than Libya, especially for Europeans, because Libya is a stable and safe country and is the main gateway to Africa,” he said. Italian, British, French, German and American companies are all attending the exhibition. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya Threatened UK Over Jailed Bomber

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi threatened to cut trade with Britain and warned of “enormous repercussions” if the Lockerbie bomber died in jail, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said on Wednesday, citing U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, jailed for life for his part in blowing up Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988, was freed by Scottish authorities in August 2009 on compassionate grounds, as he had prostate cancer and was thought to have just months to live.

The release fueled anger in the United States, because 189 of the 270 victims were American, and the fact he remains alive today has stirred suspicion over the reason for his release.

“The Libyans have told HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) flat out that there will be ‘enormous repercussions’ for the UK-Libya bilateral relationship if Megrahi’s early release is not handled properly,” U.S. diplomat Richard LeBaron wrote in a cable to Washington in October 2008.

Libya “convinced UK embassy officers that the consequences if Megrahi were to die in prison … would be harsh, immediate and not easily remedied,” the U.S. ambassador to Libya was quoted as saying in another cable in January 2009.

“Specific threats have included the immediate cessation of all UK commercial activity with Libya, a diminishment or severing of political ties, and demonstrations against official UK facilities,” said U.S. Ambassador Gene Cretz.

Libyan officials had implied the welfare of British diplomats and citizens in Libya would be at risk. “The regime remains essentially thuggish in its approach,” he added…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Libyan Agency Says Shuts Down Reporting Operation

The news agency Libya Press, caught in apparent infighting within Libya’s ruling elite, said on Tuesday it had closed its operations in Libya because a police crackdown threatened its reporters’ safety.

The news agency, part of the Al Ghad media group founded by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s reform-minded son Saif al-Islam, said it had told its reporters in Libya “it cannot offer them protection because of the intensified police harassment”.

“Libya Press’s officials have decided to close the agency and its main operation in Tripoli and leave the country definitively to work from several European capitals,” it said in a statement.

“Security authorities have told Al Ghad’s officials they do not want a presence of the agency inside Libya,” it said.

“The agency’s managers expressed their shock at the security escalation, the deliberate restrictions against Libya Press and the way its reporters were treated as if they were members of a terrorist cell,” the agency said.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment.

Libya’s reformist and conservative camps have clashed on several occasions in the past over the country’s political direction, and the Al Ghad group has at times been drawn into their disputes.

Early last month, police arrested 22 Libya Press reporters after newspapers in the group published articles critical of the government. They were later released after Muammar Gaddafi intervened.

Early this year the newspapers Oea and Quryna, both part of the group, said they were forced to suspend publication by officials unhappy with their reporting. They returned to newsstands in July.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Math Puzzles’ Oldest Ancestors Took Form on Egyptian Papyrus

“As I was going to St. Ives

I met a man with seven wives. …”

You may know this singsong quiz,

But what you might not know is this:

That it began with ancient Egypt’s

Early math-filled manuscripts.

It’s true. That very British-sounding St. Ives conundrum (the one where the seven wives each have seven sacks containing seven cats who each have seven kits, and you have to figure out how many are going to St. Ives) has a decidedly archaic antecedent.

An Egyptian document more than 3,600 years old, the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus, contains a puzzle of sevens that bears an uncanny likeness to the St. Ives riddle. It has mice and barley, not wives and sacks, but the gist is similar. Seven houses have seven cats that each eat seven mice that each eat seven grains of barley. Each barley grain would have produced seven hekat of grain. (A hekat was a unit of volume, roughly 1.3 gallons.)

The goal: to determine how many things are described. The answer: 19,607.

The Rhind papyrus, which dates to 1650 B.C., is one of several precocious papyri and other artifacts displaying Egyptian mathematical ingenuity. There is the Moscow Mathematical Papyrus (held at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow), the Egyptian Mathematical Leather Roll (which along with the Rhind papyrus is housed at the British Museum) and the Akhmim Wooden Tablets (at the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo).

They include methods of measuring a ship’s mast and rudder, calculating the volume of cylinders and truncated pyramids, dividing grain quantities into fractions and verifying how much bread to exchange for beer. They even compute a circle’s area using an early approximation of pi. (They use 256/81, about 3.16, instead of pi’s value of 3.14159.) …

           — Hat tip: Hullah Ballou[Return to headlines]

‘Tunisian Premier Predicts Muslim Brotherhood Takeover’

The moderate Arab states’ fear of Iran and Islamic radicalism continued to pour forth from documents released by WikiLeaks Tuesday night, with the Tunisian President predicting in a conversation with a senior US diplomat two years ago that the Muslim Brotherhood would take over Egypt sooner or later.

According to a cable written on March 3, 2008 by Robert Godec, the US ambassador in Tunisia, Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali told Assistant Secretary of State David Welch that “Tunisia was happy it was part of the Maghreb, and not part of Levant or Gulf.”

The dispatch said Ben Ali “opined that the situation in Egypt is ‘explosive,’ adding that sooner or later the Muslim Brotherhood would take over. He added that Yemen and Saudi Arabia are also facing real problems. Overall, the region is ‘explosive.’“

Ben Ali said that Syria was a source of concern in the region, since it is “acting for Iran, and the later is fueling regional problems.” Ben Ali, according to the dispatch, said “he ‘does not trust’ the Shia.”

Ben Ali also did not guard his tongue regarding Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, saying he “is not a normal person,” according to the dispatch.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israeli Rabbis Ban Home Sales and Rentals to Non-Jews

Rabbi Eliyahu has said those who rent to Arabs should not read from the Torah

Amnesty International today condemned a religious ruling signed by dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis that bans the renting or sale of homes to non-Jews.

“This ruling issued by religious leaders employed by the state of Israel, whose salaries are paid by public funds, clearly targets the Palestinian citizens who make up 20 per cent of Israel’s population, and highlights the continuing discrimination they face in housing and other areas,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

While the ruling is not official government policy, the rabbis issuing it include the influential Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, and his counterparts in a number of other Israeli cities and municipalities, all of whom are essentially government employees.

In October, Rabbi Eliyahu had written a letter urging Jews not to sell or rent apartments to non-Jews, apparently in response to Arab students seeking accommodation in order to attend a local college. It was signed by 18 other rabbis.

“The message these calls send to Palestinian citizens throughout Israel could not be clearer — that discrimination against Palestinian citizens seeking housing is backed by religious authorities,” said Philip Luther.

Rabbi Eliyahu’s October letter also called for action to be taken against Jews who rent or sell homes or apartments to Israel’s Palestinian citizens.

“The neighbours and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed,” the letter reads.

In November, the Israeli Minority Affairs Minister requested that the Justice Minister investigate Rabbi Eliyahu for incitement, with a view to suspending him from his post as municipal rabbi.

As far as Amnesty International is aware, the Justice Minister has yet to take action on the matter.

“The Israeli government, as a party to international human rights treaties that prohibit discrimination on grounds of race, ethnicity, and religion, must repudiate this call by leading rabbis, take disciplinary measures against Rabbi Eliyahu and other state employees advocating racism, and work to facilitate access to housing and higher education for Palestinian citizens in Israel,” said Philip Luther.

[Return to headlines]

Middle East Peace Talks Stall as US Fails to Sway Israel Over Settlements

Palestinians and Israelis were tonight blaming each other for sabotaging peace talks after the US admitted it had failed to persuade Binyamin Netanyahu to freeze West Bank settlements to allow stalled negotiations to resume.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, who had insisted on a new moratorium on settlements before returning to direct negotiations, agreed the peace process was now “in crisis”.

Abbas is due in Cairo on Thursday to consult the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, and the Arab League. Egypt’s foreign minister, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said discussions should now shift to an “endgame” for resolving the issue.

Palestinian spokesmen expressed dismay at the news that the Obama administration had formally decided to abandon its efforts to persuade Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to ignore rightwing critics and back down over settlements.

The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, is expected to insist in a speech in Washington on Friday that the US will not walk away from attempts to secure peace and the Obama administration remains committed to seeking a solution.

In the Middle East, Mustafa Barghouti, a member of the Palestinian parliament, told al-Jazeera TV: “If the US fails to pressure Israel to abide by what … the international community demands — a complete freeze to settlement activities — then there is no peace process and the reason for this is Israel.”

Yasser Abed Rabbo, of the PLO executive committee, said: “The policy and efforts of the US administration failed because of the blow it received from the Israeli government.”

But Israel’s cabinet secretary, Tzvi Hauser, warned: “The Palestinians need to understand, as the Americans do, that it is unacceptable for either side to set pre-conditions.”

Tony Blair, representing the Quartet of United Nations, United States, European Union and Russia, called the US decision “sensible … in the light of the impasse that we reached.”

Abbas had insisted there should be a halt to building outposts in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — with Israel seeking to exclude the latter from any freeze — before agreeing to resume direct talks.

But there was no immediate sign that the PLO was preparing to pull out of talks, as its Islamist rival Hamas insisted it should. The US Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, is reportedly planning to meet separately with PLO and Israeli negotiators in the coming days. “We have been pursuing a moratorium as a means to create conditions for a return to meaningful and sustained negotiations,” Philip Crowley, the state department spokesman, told reporters in a televised press briefing in New York City. “After a considerable effort, we have concluded that this does not create a firm basis to work towards our shared goal of a framework agreement.”

Crowley denied that the US had been distracted by the WikiLeaks release of diplomatic cables.

Aaron David Miller, a Washington-based Middle East analyst who advised six secretaries of state, said he expected Clinton to concentrate in her speech mainly on the background to the US peace efforts rather than a new blueprint.

Miller, author of The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace, said: “The administration now has some pretty bad options. One is walking away and the other is laying out your own policy. Neither is possible. The middle way is to talk quietly to both sides on borders and security, and you might get traction and then conceivably work on Jerusalem and refugees.”

He said domestic problems for the Israeli government, the Palestinians and the Obama administration do not bode well for a deal. “The Obama administration has so many headaches: jobs, the Republican party will have more senators, bogged down in two wars. The question for the administration is how important is this and are they ready to risk a high-profile failure,” Miller said.

David Makovsky, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East policy, said it would be a mistake either to think the US is going to let the effort drop or to see it as a sign of failure on the part of the Obama administration. He expected the focus to shift away from settlements and the future of Jerusalem to issues on which agreement might be easier, namely security and borders.

“I see it as a refocusing and not a retreat,” Makovsky said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Gives Up on Pointless “Freeze” Diplomacy

By Barry Rubin

As I predicted here ten days ago, the Obama Administration has now given up attempts to get Israel to agree to a three-month freeze of construction on existing settlements.

Here is the most fascinating sentence in the New York Times’ coverage:

“Officials said the administration decided to pull the plug because it concluded that even if Mr. Netanyahu persuaded his cabinet to accept an extension — which he had not yet been able to do — the 90-day negotiating period would not have produced the progress on core issues that the administration originally had hoped for.”

Translation: They decided that a three-month freeze wouldn’t do any good. In other words, as I’ve been saying since October, the administration put forward a policy that made no sense, offering big concessions in exchange for getting something worthless.

It is good that the U.S. government has recognized the silliness of what it has been doing the last six months.

Of course, the Times tried to blame Israel exclusively:…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Will There Ever be an End to the Demonisation of Israel?

Le Point 02.12.2010 (France)

Will there ever be an end to the demonisation of Israel?” asks Bernard-Henri Levy in his Bloc notes, and lists two current examples: the Israel boycott in France and the success of the documentary film “Tears of Gaza”, by Norwegian filmmaker Vibeke Lokkeberg, which shows the Israeli bombardment of the territory in 2008 to 2009. Levy accuses her of not sticking to the most basic rules of the difficult genre of the war documentary and of taking images out of context. But worst of all, that “the film team never even set foot in Gaza and contented themselves with the film footage shown to them under strict supervision by Hamas militias. A film like this which unfortunately is about to do the rounds at festivals across the world — is not a documentary, but a propaganda film. A film, which by demonising Israel, promises war not peace.”

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

Middle East

Archeologist: Persian Gulf Sites Hint at Prehistoric People

Emerging archeological evidence points to early human habitation 100,000 years ago in a Persian “Gulf Oasis” now underwater, suggests one archeologist.Map of southwest Asia depicting exposed landscapes during the Last Glacial Maximum as well as ancient and modern drainage systems. Numbers indicate Pleistocene and Early Holocene sites mentioned in the study.

In the upcoming Current Anthropology journal study, Jeffrey Rose of the United Kingdom’s University of Birmingham, points to stone tools from 40 archeological sites throughout the Middle East to suggest that modern humans left Africa earlier than many model suggest (typically around 60,000 years ago), and populated Arabian coastal areas now underwater.

“The emerging picture of prehistoric Arabia suggests that early modern humans were able to survive periodic hyperarid oscillations by contracting into environmental refugia around the coastal margins of the peninsula,” begins the study. The end of an Ice Age flooded today’s Persian Gulf around 8,000 years ago, Rose notes, as sea levels rose. “There is a noticeable spike in settlement activity around the shoreline of the Gulf between 8,500 and 6,000 years ago,” Rose says.

Archeologist Geoffrey Bailey of the United Kingdom’s University of York, says the study’s suggestion that Arabian continental shelves served as good environments for human during Ice Ages, “and served as a source of population expansion in the early Holocene (last 10,000 years), is an attractive one.”

However, Robert Carter of the UK’s Oxford Brookes University, questions the links that Rose sees between ancient stone age tools and the later Sumerian civilization, in a commentary accompanying the report.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

In Iran, A Christian Pastor Faces Death Sentence

(CNN) — A Christan pastor in Iran has been sentenced to death for allegedly renouncing his Muslim religion and another faces a possible indictment on the same charge of apostasy, according to a prominent activist group working for human rights in Iran.

Youcef Nadarkhani, a 32-year-old member of the Church of Iran ministry and pastor of an approximately 400-person congregation in the northern city of Rasht, faces death, according to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.

In the southern city of Shiraz, another Christian pastor, Behrouz Sadegh-Khanjani, 35, is facing a possible indictment for apostasy.

“This is part of a greater trend of persecution against Christians,” said Firouz Sadegh-Khanjani, brother of Behrouz and member of the Church of Iran’s Executive Council.

Christians are feeling the heat in other parts of the Muslim world as well.

In Iraq, Christians have been attacked and many have fled their homes for other lands. In Pakistan, a Christian woman faces a death sentence for blasphemy for allegedly defiling the name of the Prophet Mohammed.

On September 22, Iran’s 11th Circuit Criminal Court of Appeals for the Gilan Province upheld the death sentence and conviction of Nadarkhani for apostasy. More and more, the Iranian judiciary is departing from any recognized form of due process, issuing arbitrary judgments based on vague, open-ended laws…

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Partying Saudi Style: Elite, Boozy and Secret

The DJ had the dance floor rocking. The bartender served up a special vodka punch. The host was a prince — complete with his own entourage. An A-list LA party? Fashion week in Paris? Try Saudi Arabia, home of roving Islamic morality police enforcing the most austere codes in the Middle East. That’s the insider account by a U.S. diplomat, whose night on the town in the Red Sea city of Jiddah (mission: to observe “social interaction” of rich Saudi youth) was summarized in a confidential memo released Wednesday by WikiLeaks. “The underground nightlife of Jiddah’s elite youth is thriving and throbbing,” the memo said. “The full range of worldly temptations and vices are available — alcohol, drugs, sex — but all behind closed doors.” Wait, this is Saudi Arabia they are talking about? The place where women are banned from driving and can be jailed for socializing with men outside their family? The land whose brand of Islam, known as Wahhabism, is perhaps best known in the West for beheadings and its role as somber guardian for the holy pilgrimage cities of Mecca and Medina? To those unfamiliar with the undercurrents of the Middle East, it all could seem a bit hard to fathom. But the U.S. cable touches on a basic lesson for understanding the region: public mores and private passions can be very far apart. It’s a bit like a cultural version of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Wild parties rage behind closed doors in Tehran even as Iran’s hard-liners tighten their grip. Conservative Gulf sheiks make sure their wine cellars are well stocked. Outside Saudi Arabia, it’s not unusual to see a traveler from the desert kingdom hunkered down at an airport bar or letting loose in Bahrain — a favorite party haunt for Saudis who can simply drive over a causeway and, sometimes, weave their way home. “What one quickly realizes about the Middle East is that there are layers upon layers in society,” said Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. But he does not believe that Saudi officials will face much fallout from the disclosure. “There’s certainly the potential for some embarrassment, but a closed society like Saudi is based on a series of social deals,” he said. “It’s really not in anyone’s interest to call attention to these deals or try to tear them up.” Saudi government officials could not immediately be reached for comment. The American diplomat who wrote the January 2009 cable added just enough flourish to give the invitation to a Halloween party an intrepid feel. It’s a look, he writes, “behind the facade of Wahhabi conservatism in the streets.” It begins by clearing the prince’s security detail. Next up was a coat-check area where women pulled off their head-to-toe black abayas. Inside, Filipino bartenders served up a cocktail punch using moonshine vodka. An American “energy drink company” — whose name was blacked out on the WikiLeaks release — helped bankroll the bash that included, the diplomat was told, some prostitutes mingling in the crowd. “Not uncommon for such parties,” the cable said. “The scene resembled a nightclub anywhere outside the kingdom: plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables and everyone in costume,” the message continued. Bottles of name-brand booze were behind the bar, but apparently only for display. A black market bottle of Smirnoff, the cable said, can cost up to $400 “when available” compared with about $26 for a bottle of home-brewed vodka. That appeared even too irresistible a savings for the well-connected host, a prince whose family ties go back six generations to dovetail with the lineage of Saudi King Abdullah, who is currently in New York recuperating after two back surgeries. The prince’s name was redacted from the cable posted by WikiLeaks. But it gave a sense of his privilege. “Although … not in line for the throne, he still enjoys the perks of a mansion, luxury car, lifetime stipend and security entourage,” the cable said. It’s apparently also enough political juice to keep the feared morality police at bay. Their power — always strong — has further increased in recent years as Saudi clerics and others push back harder against what’s perceived as threatening liberal trends among the young. The American cable said the religious police were “nowhere to be seen” near the party. “Saudi youth get to enjoy relative social freedom and indulge fleshly pursuits,” the cable said, “but only behind closed doors — and only the rich.” Wajeha al-Hawaidar, a Saudi activist who has been banned from writing or appearing on Saudi TV because of her support for women’s rights, said the private, Western-style indulgences are “well known outside and inside Saudi Arabia.” “When you put much pressure on a society, people will still go on with their life,” she said. “We are not rocks. We are human beings.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Qatar: Property Boom, 75 Million Dollars in One Week

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 8 — There has been a record turnover for Qatar’s property sector, which registered a figure of 274 million Qatari riyals (75 million dollars) between November 28 and December 2. This is according to the property register office, which was quoted by the Al Hayat newspaper.

Property buying and selling concerned land, villas, apartments and shops and mainly occurred in central areas of the country. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

S. Arabia Will Produce Atomic Energy Within 10 Years

(ANSAmed) — RIYADH, DECEMBER 7 — Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest crude oil producer, is counting on producing nuclear power for civil use within 10 years in order to diversity its supplying sources. So said in Riyadh yesterday the US Trade Undersecretary, Francisco Sanchez, after a meeting with several Saudi leaders. “They want this diversification with nuclear for civil use fairly soon, I would say within ten years from what I understood,” Sanchez told journalists. Power stations in Saudi Arabia are currently run exclusively with oil and gas. In 2008, Riyadh signed a deal with the US on technology for nuclear power for civil use and last year it carried out negotiations with France and Russia. Sanchez is in Riyadh with a delegation of businesspeople.

According to what he stated, in the period 2009-2014, the Saudi Arabians intend to invest between 500 and 700 billion dollars for energy infrastructure and the development of sources that are alternative to fossil fuels. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Saudi King, Religious Police, Islam and Donkeys — Via Wikileaks

WikiLeaks has come up with an interesting insight into the way King Abdullah views his own kingdom’s religious police, the mutaween who enforce Islamic behaviour in public. A cable from the Riyadh embassy entitled IDEOLOGICAL AND OWNERSHIP TRENDS IN THE SAUDI MEDIA and dated 11 May 2009 mentions what appears to be a U.S. diplomat’s visit to a Saudi newspaper editor whose name is XXXed out. The Saudi says the king had visited the office and complained about how ignorant the religious police were about Islam and how they treated people like donkeys:…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Syria: Members of Parliament Ask for Pay Raise

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER — Several Syrian MPs have asked the government for a raise that corresponds to the increase in prices in the country. The request was made immediately after the results of a study were published on the average spending by Syrian households, according to Al Hayat. The monthly average is 31,000 Syrian pounds (663 dollars), while the average salary is 200 dollars. The average monthly household spending in 2009, according to a study carried out by the Syrian statistics office, was 30,900 Syrian pounds, a 20% increase compared to 25,900 pounds in 2007. Food items account for most of household expenses, reaching an overall 60%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Trial of German-Turkish Author Slammed as ‘Revenge’

After living in exile in Germany for 19 years, German-Turkish writer Dogan Akhanli flew to Istanbul to visit his dying father, but was arrested at the airport. The Turkish state has a score to settle with the author, who is accused of involvement in a robbery and a murder. Akhanli’s supporters claim the trial, which begins Wednesday, is politically motivated and a judicial disgrace.

Akhanli deals at length with the question of why violence, torture and despotism are still a reality in Turkey today. The author is convinced that the reasons lie in Turkey’s denial and repression of the Armenian genocide. In the third volume of the trilogy, the only one that has been translated into German so far, “Kiyamet Gunu Yargiclari” (“The Judges of the Last Judgment”), Akhanli describes the first genocide of the 20th century. In doing so, he commits an egregious violation of a Turkish taboo.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey Scrambles to Protect National Anthem

The Turkish government is rushing to legally protect the country’s national anthem after realizing Turkey does not actually own the copyright on the work. The move is apparently a reaction to a dispute over a performance of the anthem in a German school.

Who owns the copyright on a country’s national anthem? It’s a question that the Turkish government is scrambling to clarify after realizing that the state does not actually own the rights to the Turkish anthem.

The government is now trying to fast-track legislation to secure the copyright for the Turkish state. At a meeting in Ankara on Monday, the cabinet discussed a bill to legally protect the national anthem.

The move was apparently motivated by a dispute in Germany involving GEMA, the German copyright society that collects royalties when music is performed — although it seems Ankara may have got the wrong end of the stick.

The news agency AFP quoted Turkish government spokesman Cemil Cicek as saying the legislative efforts were a reaction to an attempt by GEMA to collect fees from a school in Germany for the performance of the Turkish national anthem. GEMA disputes this, however. A spokeswoman for the society told AFP that it does not administer the rights for the piece and, therefore, could not collect any fees.

The spokeswoman explained that GEMA had filed a claim against the parents association of a Turkish school in the German state of Baden-Württemberg because copyrighted music had been performed during a public event in 2007. GEMA was not, however, referring to the Turkish national anthem but to other pieces that had been performed, the spokeswoman said. The parents association apparently claimed that no copyrighted music had been performed, only the Turkish anthem.

‘Things That Not Even the Devil Would Think Of’

According to the Turkish daily Hürriyet, the matter came to Ankara’s attention when school administrators contacted the Turkish Culture Ministry for help in the dispute with GEMA. When ministry officials reviewed the relevant laws and regulations, they discovered to their surprise that Ankara had never actually officially secured the copyright for the country’s national anthem.

Commenting on the perceived attempt by GEMA to collect royalties for the Turkish national anthem, government spokesman Cemil Cicek said: “Sometimes people think of things that not even the devil would think of.”

The text and music of the Turkish national anthem, titled “Istiklal Marsi” (“Independence March”), date back to 1921 and 1922 respectively, making the song older than the Republic of Turkey, which was established in 1923 by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, after the break-up of the Ottoman Empire.

The heirs of the score’s composer, who died in 1958, could theoretically own the copyright to the anthem, according to Hürriyet. Under Turkish intellectual property law, a work is protected for 70 years after the death of the author. It is not clear if the law covers national anthems, however.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkish PM Tough on Israel Despite Fence-Mending Talks

Turkey’s prime minister on Tuesday said there can be no “new era” in ties with Israel until it apologizes and offers compensation for its deadly raid on a Gaza Strip-bound aid flotilla.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told lawmakers on Tuesday that Israel must also end its blockade of Gaza.

A fierce critic of Israel, Erdogan spoke after Turkish and Israeli diplomats met for two days in Geneva in a bid to salvage bilateral ties, in deep crisis since the May 31 raid in which eight Turks and one American of Turkish descent were killed.

Turkish officials say demands for an apology and compensation were discussed during the meeting. No statement, however, was issued, and it was not clear if any progress was made.

“If anyone wants to turn a new page, they must first admit their crime … apologize and pay compensation,” Erdogan said in a speech to deputies in a parliamentary Justice and Development Party, or AKP, group meeting. “And we are also saying that the embargoes — which have been relaxed but that’s not enough — must be lifted.”

“If we see these steps being taken, then we will evaluate the situation,” he said. “We are not acting with feelings of grudge and hatred.”

Hopes for a thaw between the one-time allies emerged last week when Ankara sent two firefighting planes to battle a deadly forest fire in Israel and the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, telephoned Erdogan to thank for the help.

Senior diplomats from the two countries met on Sunday and Monday in Geneva in an effort to mend fences.

The two sides are reportedly seeking a deal, under which Israel would apologize for the raid and compensate the families of victims, while Turkey would agree to send back its ambassador to Tel Aviv.

“If they are saying they want a friendly solution to the problem, we will not turn that down. … But this will not change our expectations” from Israel, said a Turkish diplomat, who asked not to be named.

U.S. cables disclosed by WikiLeaks revealed U.S. and Israeli unease over Turkey’s close contacts with Iran and Erdogan’s criticism of Israel.

Erdogan “hates Israel” on religious grounds, one cable from Ankara said, including also the Israeli ambassador’s description of Erdogan as “a fundamentalist.”

In response to the flotilla raid, Ankara recalled its ambassador from Tel Aviv and canceled joint military drills. It also twice denied permission to Israeli military aircraft to use its air space.

Turkey and Israel had enjoyed a decade of close ties since 1996 when they signed a military cooperation agreement.

Compiled from AP and AFP reports by Daily News staff.

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

Wikileaks Reveals Sex, Drugs, And Rock & Roll in Saudi Arabia

After the initial reaction to WikiLeaks’ “mega-dump,” the conversation shifted from the content of the cables to “meta” issues such as Julian Assange’s supposed sex offence and the meaning of transparency and privacy in the internet age.

But there’s still some interesting stuff, albeit sometimes superficial, to be found in the cables. A confidential memo from late 2009, released on Tuesday December 7, informed the State Department that Saudi youth love to party with “alcohol, prostitutes, and drugs.” (The cable was accessed through a mirror site as is offline due to increased DDoS attacks and problems with its hosts, this prompted so-called hacktivists to attack sites which denied service to Assange’s WikiLeaks).

The memo, classified by Consul General for Jeddah Martin Quinn, notes that behind the “façade of […] conservativism,” Jeddah’s underground nightlife offers “the full range of worldly temptations and vices.” Jeddah, a thriving port city considered to be the “principal gateway to Mecca, Islam’s holiest city,” is Saudi Arabia’s second largest city after the capital. Considered cosmopolitan and tolerant, Jeddah gives refuge to the vices of the Kingdom’s lower royalty. Princes, which according to the cable exceed 10,000 in population, are shielded from the religious police/CPVPV (Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice) because of their connection to the royal family.

Members of the U.S. consulate in Jeddah attended an underground Halloween Party at a Prince’s residence hosted by “a U.S. based energy-drink company.” Rich young Saudi’s party like anywhere else in the world, their Halloween event included “plentiful alcohol, young couples dancing, a DJ at the turntables, and everyone in costume.” They probably weren’t drinking Four Loko.

While the country is ruled by Sharia, or Islamic law deriving from the Quran, the party didn’t seem to lack in the strictly prohibited pleasures of the night and flesh. Party-goers drank local moonshine called sadiqi served by Filipino barmen out of bottles of top-shelf liquor, which had been “already consumed and replaced by sadiqi.” While the country boasts some of the world’s largest oil reserves, younger Saudi royalty doesn’t want to spend the big bucks on their guests, as a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka costs about 1,500 riyals (about $400) on the black market, while moonshine’s available for only $26 bucks. One can only imagine the hangover from Saudi moonshine if it’s that much cheaper than Smirnoff.

Our partying diplomats got word that some of the ladies were actually “working girls,” something they called “not uncommon for such parties.” Under Sharia, adultery by married men or women is punished by stoning to death. If they are unmarried, they receive the lesser punishment of 100 lashes.

Parties in Jeddah had all the components to make anyone a rock star. Added to the hookers and booze, our curious diplomats found that “cocaine and hashish use is common in these social circles and has been on other occasions.” Reportedly, it wasn’t witnessed directly at the Halloween party. Let’s hope they didn’t inhale.

The cable points at the modernizing forces that underlie Saudi Arabia’s progress onto the world stage. Jeddah’s youth, like those of many other countries, experiment with sex, drugs, and rock & roll. The only difference is that they have to do it behind closed doors. I’ll give our exhausted diplomats, after a night of “soft diplomacy,” the last word.

“Saudi youth get to enjoy relative social freedom and indulge fleshly [in] pursuits, but only behind closed doors — and only the rich. Parties of this nature and scale are believed to be a relatively recent phenomenon in Jeddah.”

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Personality Rights Are Used in Russia to Stop Historians Doing Their Job

openDemocracy 01.12.2010 (UK)

This story barely got a mention in the German press last year. Historian Michail Suprun and police colonel Alexandr Dudarev were arrested for printing a book charting the fate of Russian-Germans and Russian-Poles in the Gulag, on charges of violating the victims’ rights, under Article 137 of the Russian Criminal Code, for “exposing the personal or family secrets” of victims without their consent. Catriona Bass looks more closely at this case which continues to drag on. Memorial researchers “had faced increasingly restrictive access to information on Soviet repression. Indeed, in Magadan, in the far east of Russia where many of the Gulags were situated, Article 137 has also for the first time been cited as a reason for refusing access material on Soviet deportees. “

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

South Asia

Father-in-Law of Time’s Disfigured Afghan Cover Girl is Arrested for Cutting Off Her Ears and Nose

The father-in-law of a young Afghan woman who said her nose and ears were sliced off at gun-point to punish her for running away from her violent Taliban fighter husband has been arrested.

The 20-year-old woman, simply known as Aisha, gained worldwide attention when she appeared on the August 9 cover of Time magazine.

And now — against the odds — the man who committed the horrific disfigurement has been tracked down and being held in jail in Uruzgan province, the Afghan Interior Ministry said today.

Under orders from a Taliban commander acting as a judge, she was disfigured last year as punishment for fleeing her husband’s home.

Just 18 years old at the time, Aisha said she ran away from the small village to escape her in-laws’ beatings and abuse.

A child bride, Aisha was captured and returned to the village, where her husband, father-in-law and brother-in-law carried out the mutilation, after approval by the local Taliban mullah.

Aisha’s father-in-law, Sulaiman, ‘pointed a gun at her head while the other men, his sons, sliced off her nose’, alleged Brigadier General Juma Gul Himat.

‘Sulaiman then took her amputated nose and proudly showed it off around the village.’

Under orders from a Taliban commander acting as a judge, she was disfigured last year as punishment for fleeing her husband’s home.

Left for dead, she said, she then fled to the safety of a women’s shelter in Kabul run by Women for Afghan Women, which publicised her plight a year later.

Thanks to support from aid groups and the American Embassy in Kabul, and the charity of a hospital in Southern California, Aisha was whisked off to the United States for reconstructive surgery — though there was little hope of finding the perpetrators.

In September, she was fitted with a temporary, prosthetic nose so she could visualise what she would look like and to help build her confidence.

It is rare for the police in Afghanistan to intervene when local villagers impose punishments for social crimes, even severe ones such as flogging and stoning, which are allowed under Sharia law, the legal code of Islam based on the Koran.

There is no Sharia law provision, however, for cutting off nose and ears of a runaway child bride.

‘This is against Afghan-ism, against Afghan and Shariah laws, against every principle in the world, against humanity, so that’s why we wanted to bring him to justice,’ said General Himat.

‘He made a big mistake,’ the general said. ‘He disfigured a creature of God, and he was proud of what he had done.’

District police chief Mohammed Gul said: ‘It would have taken 100 armored vehicles to go in there to that village.’

Sooner or later, though, everyone in the area goes to the bazaar in the Chora district, in south-central Oruzgan Province.

And when Sulaiman showed up, the police were waiting.

According to Mr Gul’s account, the suspect spotted the police at the same time as they spotted him, and made a run for it.

Officers chased him on foot and ran him down after a mile and a quarter, he said.

Mr Sulaiman, who like many Afghans has one name, confessed to participating in the disfigurement.

Aisha is now living in Brooklyn, New York, while she gets treatment for emotional problems from her ordeal.

Doctors at the Grossman Burn Foundation in California said they felt that was necessary before she could have reconstructive surgery there, according to Manizha Naderi, the head of Women for Afghan Women, which has offices in Brooklyn and Kabul.

So far, Aisha has been given a prosthetic nose as a temporary measure.

‘She’s not coming back to Afghanistan to testify,’ Mrs Naderi said. ‘We won’t put Aisha in danger like this.

‘Nobody will guarantee her security in Afghanistan if she comes back.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Giant Storks May Have Fed on Real Hobbits

In the “Lord of the Rings” books, hobbits were rescued by giant eagles, but real-life hobbits might have been hunted by giant storks, scientists find.

The fossil remains of what may have been a hobbit-like species of human were discovered in 2003 at the Liang Bua cave on the Indonesian island of Flores. In that cave, scientists also unearthed a large number of bird fossils — including 20,000- to 50,000-year-old wing and leg bones from what appears to have been a stork nearly 6 feet tall (1.8 meters).

“From the size of its bones, we initially were expecting a giant raptor, which are commonly found on islands, not a stork,” said Hanneke Meijer, a vertebrate paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The carnivorous giant (Leptoptilos robustus) was a hitherto unknown species of marabou stork, among the largest birds alive on the planet.

Meijer and her colleague, Rokus Awe Due, detailed their findings online Nov. 24 in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

“Flores lacked any large-bodied mammalian predators — no hyenas, lions, wolves or dogs — so we think, in their absence, birds like storks moved in to fill that role,” Meijer told LiveScience. It was likely a ground-bound hunter, as its bones were thick, giving the bird an estimated weight of 35 pounds (16 kilograms).

The extinct predator could have fed on fishes, lizards and birds, “and possibly in principle even small, juvenile hobbits, although we have no evidence for that,” she said. “These birds are opportunistic carnivores — if you give them plenty of prey items, they’ll hunt all of them.”

There are no signs yet of whether hobbits returned the favor by hunting these birds. “No cut marks are seen on any of its bones,” Meijer said…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Giant Fossil Bird Found on ‘Hobbit’ Island of Flores

A giant marabou stork has been discovered on an island once home to human-like ‘hobbits’. Fossils of the bird were discovered on the Indonesian island of Flores, a place previously famed for the discovery of Homo floresiensis, a small hominin species closely related to modern humans. The stork may have been capable of hunting and eating juvenile members of this hominin species, say researchers who made the discovery, though there is no direct evidence the birds did so.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan Snubs Cameron: Leaders Refuse Visit From British PM on Afghanistan Trip

David Cameron attempt to mend fragile relations with Pakistan have been dashed after the Prime Minister was snubbed by Pakistan’s leader.

Mr Cameron wanted to visit the country to try and patch up contact with Pakistan, after he said the country ‘faced both ways on terror’ during a visit to India — its mortal enemy.

The Prime Minister had asked to go to Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, on his way to Afghanistan.

But his attempt to invite himself ended in a firm refusal, as Prime Minister Syed Gillani said he did not want to be ‘tagged on’ to a visit to Afghanistan.

Mr Cameron often tries to squeeze several countries into a single foreign visit, as the busy PM has to try and deal with the recession and cuts agenda at home.

More… British troops ‘could withdraw from Afghanistan by 2011’ says David Cameron during surprise visit to Helmand Province Cameron laughs off WikiLeaks scandal and insists Britain’s ‘special relationship’ with U.S. remains strong His last trip to the region ended with Mr Cameron causing great offence: first to Pakistan for casting doubt on its commitment to fighting terror, and second to Israel for criticising their treatment of the Palestinians while he was addressing Turkey, which is also a Muslim country.

Mr Cameron tried to arrange the visit a month ago. At a press conference in the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Mr Cameron failed to repeat his controversial remark that Pakistan faced ‘both ways on terror’.

He hailed its ‘progress’ in clearing up terrorism camps in the Swat valley adding the government.

Whitehall sources admitted that: ‘They said the timing wasn’t great for them. They were not sure the Prime Minister would be there.’

Mr Cameron also had to sidestep embarrassing questions over the Wikileaks files, in which President Karzai had questioned the effectiveness of British forces in the Helmand province.

The British PM shrugged off the comments as not relevant and referring to a time when British troops were deployed too thinly across the region.

‘If you look back to 2006, 2007, 2008, it’s clear now that we didn’t have enough troops in Helmand to deliver the security that was necessary, Mr Cameron said.

‘Of course there are frustrations… but the relationship between the last prime minister, this prime minister and Hamid Karzai is strong.’

Mr Cameron also raised the possibility of troops being withdrawn from early next year.

He said: ‘We are cautiously optimistic we have the right strategy. We are now a year or so into that strategy.

‘We have put in the resources to back up that strategy which has a very clear focus, a focus on national security and we are on the right track.’

The PM was also questioned by Afghan media about how the British could use its influence with Islamabad to stop the radical Islamic schools — madrassas — and the training of suicide bombers.

Mr Cameron said: ‘We do have a very long term relationship with Pakistan. One of our largest embassies anywhere in the world is in Islamabad.’

President Karzai, in the meantime, had to sidestep questions over why he had been disparaging over British troops in the WikiLeaks cables.

He said that Britain remained a ‘steadfast supporter’ of Afghanistan.

‘The WikiLeaks documents are having some truths and some not so truths in them,’ he said.

‘Britain has contributed in its sacrifice of its soldiers… for which the Afghan people are grateful.’…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

US Cable: Hungarian Forces in Afghanistan Ineffective

The United States views Hungarian soldiers stationed in Afghanistan as ineffective, according to diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks and picked up by Hungarian media reported here Tuesday.

A undated cable signed by Washington’s ambassador in Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, said the Hungarian Provincial Reconstruction Team, or PRT, did little to combat the escalating violence, drug problems and power struggles in the northern province of Baghlan.

When insurgents caused a “security situation,” New Zealand troops from the neighboring Bamyan province had to cross the border to deal with it, the cable said. “The Hungarian PRT does little to address any of these problems. They are not permitted to fire their weapons except in self-defense, do little more than patrol the main roads and undertake no counter-narcotics activities. When two Hungarian de-miners were killed doing their work, Budapest stopped sending mine clearers,” Eikenberry wrote.

“When the security situation in northeastern Bamyan Province was threatened by Baghlan-based malefactors, it was the New Zealanders who had to cross into Baghlan to address the problem.”

The cable alleged that locals in Baghlan were hiring themselves out to the Taliban insurgency, but Hungarian forces, currently numbering 360, were focused on “getting home unscathed” after doing short stints of small-scale development work in the area.

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

Wikileaks Reveals That Military Contractors Have Not Lost Their Taste for Child Prostitutes

Anything interesting to be had at the intersection of the WikiLeaks cache of diplomatic cables and those military contractors that cart off many millions of taxpayer dollars to facilitate their profit-seeking misadventures in the world’s zones of forever war? Glad you asked! Here on these pages is the latest news of one of my favorite private military contractors, courtesy of David Isenberg:

Now, courtesy of Wikileaks, DynCorp can look forward to a new round of ridicule and denunciations.

As first reported by the British Guardian newspaper, on June 24, 2009 the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan sent a cable to Washington, under the signature of Karl Eikenberry, U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, regarding a meeting between Assistant Chief of Mission Joseph Mussomeli and Afghan Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar. Among the issues discussed was what diplomats delicately called the “Kunduz DynCorp Problem.” Kunduz is a northern province of Afghanistan.

The problem was this:

1. In a May 2009 meeting interior minister Hanif Atmar expresses deep concerns that if lives could be in danger if news leaked that foreign police trainers working for US commercial contractor DynCorp hired “dancing boys” to perform for them.

“Dancing boys!” Just how concerned/disturbed should you be about this? As it turns out, very: these “dancing boys” are part of a very sick tradition called “Bacha Bazi.” Isenberg links to an excellent “Frontline” documentary about the practice in his post, but if you’re looking for something succinct, let’s send you over to John Nova Lomax at the Houston Press:

Bacha boys are eight- to 15-years-old. They put on make-up, tie bells to their feet and slip into scanty women’s clothing, and then, to the whine of a harmonium and wailing vocals, they dance seductively to smoky roomfuls of leering older men.

After the show is over, their services are auctioned off to the highest bidder, who will sometimes purchase a boy outright. And by services, we mean anal sex: The State Department has called bacha bazi a “widespread, culturally accepted form of male rape.” (While it may be culturally accepted, it violates both Sharia law and Afghan civil code.)

Of course, the lawless antics of private military contractors are legion. But it should be noted that once again, we have DynCorp implicated in the practice of child prostitution. Let’s flashback to 2002, once again:

Ben Johnston recoiled in horror when he heard one of his fellow helicopter mechanics at a U.S. Army base near Tuzla, Bosnia, brag one day in early 2000: “My girl’s not a day over 12.”

The man who uttered the statement — a man in his 60s, by Johnston’s estimate — was not talking fondly about his granddaughter or daughter or another relative. He was bragging about the preteen he had purchased from a local brothel. Johnston, who’d gone to work as a civilian contractor mechanic for DynCorp Inc. after a six-year stint in the Army, had worked on helicopters for years, and he’d heard a lot of hangar talk. But never anything like this.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Far East

Did Collision Cause Japanese Probe to Miss Venus?

A Japanese probe that failed to enter orbit around Venus Monday night (Dec. 6) may have been damaged by an impacting object, according to news reports. Alternately, a problem with the spacecraft’s engine nozzle could also be to blame for the probe’s wayward journey. The Akatsuki spacecraft, whose name means “dawn” in Japanese, is currently speeding away from Venus after failing to insert into the hellishly hot planet’s orbit. But the probe will come close enough to make another attempt in late 2016 or early 2017, and officials with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said they hope to try again.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Wikileaks Cables: Rampant Corruption ‘Could Push Kenya Back Into Violence’

Kenya could descend into violence worse than the 2008 post-election crisis unless rampant corruption in the ruling elite is tackled, the US ambassador to Kenya has warned in a report to Washington.

Michael Ranneberger’s cable, written in January, is scathing about efforts to reform the political system in the country. “While some positive reform steps have been taken, the old guard associated with the culture of impunity continues to resist fundamental change,” he wrote.

That culture has existed since independence, he said, adding that President Mwai Kibaki, prime minister Raila Odinga and “most members of the cabinet and leaders of the political parties” are part of it.

He cited, but did not name, “a person at the Kenya Anti Corruption Commission … [who] blocks progress on high-level investigations and has ties directly to State House. He also described a senior policeman as having close links with the president but “allegedly closely associated with the ‘kwe kwe’ death squad responsible for extrajudicial killings.”

“Failure to implement significant reforms will greatly enhance prospects for a violent crisis in 2012 or before — which might well prove much worse than the last post-election crisis,” he wrote.

In 2008, chaos followed the release of election results which many claimed were rigged by the government. About 1,500 people died in the ensuing violence and more than 300,000 were forced to flee their homes. After weeks of talks between Kibaki’s ruling party and Odinga, the opposition leader, a deal was struck which left Kibaki as president and made Odinga prime minister. However, most of Kenya has remained a divided society, with thousands of people still unable to return to their homes and very little justice for the perpetrators.

Describing Kenya as an important strategic partner of the US, Ranneberger described the battle against the ruling elite as a game of chess. “While we are no mean chess players ourselves, it is very difficult to anticipate their next move or the motives behind ‘reform’ steps.”

He said that although “the grip of the old guard political elite on the levers of state power and resources remains largely intact, hairline fractures are developing in their edifice which — if we continue to work them intensively — will develop into broader fractures and open up the potential for a peaceful process of implementation of fundamental reforms.”

Meanwhile, other documents, which indicate how closely the US is watching China’s rise in Africa, claimed Beijing was providing military and intelligence support to Kenya with the help of a corrupt official. A 17 February memo from the US embassy in Nairobi said China was providing weapons to Kenya “in support of its Somalia policies”, and computers and telecommunications equipment to the Kenyan National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS).

The memo said that, in January, China provided “weapons, ammunition, supplies, and textiles for making uniforms” via the Chinese military import-export corporation Catic. The goods were to in support of the GOK’s Kenya’s “Jubaland initiative”, Jubaland is being the southern-most Somali province on the borderng with Kenya.

In August last year, a telephone monitoring equipment contract was awarded to a Chinese company, the cable claims. It alleged the deal was done after the Kenyan telecoms company was pressured to do so by the intelligence services.

The cable goes on to allege that one senior intelligence service officer received kickbacks from the Chinese company while on a visit to China. Another “received monthly payments of over $5,000 [£3,000] from [the Chinese company] which were used to pay medical bills.”

The memo’s conclusion made clear the potential for antagonism between America and China, which has been multiplying its investment in Africa in return for mineral resources. “Collaboration between the USG [US government] and China in Kenya should be approached cautiously as there appears to be little dovetailing of our interests to date,” it said.

The Chinese government was criticised for not addressing the “reform agenda”, which was essential to Kenya’s future stability and prosperity. “The GOC [government of China] turns a blind eye to the flooding of the Kenyan market with Chinese counterfeit goods, such as batteries, which directly damage US market share here; and the GOC has not demonstrated any commitment to curb ivory poaching.”

The cable said China’s involvement in Kenya was expected to grow given its strategic location. “If oil or gas is found in Kenya, this engagement will likely grow even faster. Kenya’s leadership may be tempted to move ever closer to China in an effort to shield itself from western, and principally US, pressure to reform.

“Given the possibility of a backlash by the Kenyan people against China, perhaps over the issue of imported Chinese labour or mishandling of natural resources, there may be benefits to keeping our distance, at least publicly, from China.”

Another memo, from the US consulate in Lagos, Nigeria, on 23 February this year , was even more blunt in its assessment of the potential rival superpower…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wikileaks Cables: Shell’s Grip on Nigerian State Revealed

The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians’ every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company’s top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew “everything that was being done in those ministries”. She boasted that the Nigerian government had “forgotten” about the extent of Shell’s infiltration and were unaware of how much the company knew about its deliberations.

The cache of secret dispatches from Washington’s embassies in Africa also revealed that the Anglo-Dutch oil firm swapped intelligence with the US, in one case providing US diplomats with the names of Nigerian politicians it suspected of supporting militant activity, and requesting information from the US on whether the militants had acquired anti-aircraft missiles.

Other cables released tonight reveal:…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Can Topless Women Keep Muslim Extremists Out of Denmark?

A few weeks ago, Peter Skaarup had a novel idea for how to keep violent Muslim extremists out of Demark: greet them at the border with topless ladies. Skaarup, the foreign policy spokesman for the right-wing Danish People’s Party, wants to include shots of sunbathing women in a video that will be screened as part of an immigration test for potential citizens. According to Skaarup, footage of topless women would help emphasize the point that Denmark is an open, free, liberal-minded society, and that hard-line Muslims may want to reconsider their decision to move there. Skaarup’s proposal recently drew fire from a columnist at The Daily Telegraph, who argued that Skaarup is misreading the very nature of religious extremism. Have a look at this bizarre debate:

This Is Just What We Do Here Al Arabiya quotes Skaarup as saying: “Topless bathing probably isn’t a common sight on Pakistani beaches, but in Denmark it is still considered quite normal. I honestly believe that by including a couple of bare breasts in the movie, extremists may have to think twice before deciding to come to Denmark.” Skaarup also said that “if you’re coming from a strict, religious society that might make you stop and think, oh no, I don’t want to be a part of that.”

This Wouldn’t Actually Work, says Naser Khader, a member of the Danish parliament and founder of the Moderate Muslims movement. “A pair of naked breasts is no protection against extremism,” Khader wrote on his Facebook page. “It’s quite the opposite, fundamentalists are so obsessed with sex that they will be pouring in over the borders. Maybe we should try with naked pigs.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Greek Migrants Plan to Go Back to Turkey, Press

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, DECEMBER 8 — Many of the Greek residents of Istanbul who migrated to Greece more than 50 years ago were making plans to return to Turkey, as Turkish daily Milliyet reports today. The paper says that 10 to 20% of the 100,000 Turkish Greeks in Athens were making plans for going to Turkey to escape from economic hardships in Greece. According to Milliyet, the intensity of the reverse migration depends on the willingness of Turkey to welcome the Greek minority back.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Racial Profiling of Taxi Passengers

Fernando Mateo, president of the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers, is telling cab drivers that for their own protection they should profile potential passengers who are black and Latino.

Mateo, who identifies himself as both black and Hispanic, made his comments this week after a livery cab driver was shot several times by a man police describe as Hispanic. The suspect was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, which Mateo has said is a red flag.

The private cab driver was fighting for his life after being shot at least four times by a robber who ended up getting less than $100.

Dramatic video released by New York police showed the struggle between the gunman and a driver.

Trevor Bell, 53, was working a late shift in Queens Friday, when he picked up a passenger on Merrick Boulevard just after 9:00pm and dropped him off at 122nd Street and Sutter Avenue in South Ozone Park.

The shooter had negotiated the fare before climbing into the car, police said but opened fire when he reached his destination.

Mateo’s comments have been denounced by many…(yadda, yadda…)


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Assange’s ‘Martyr Status’ Further Damages US Reputation

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been arrested in London and denied bail on charges of rape and sexual molestation. German opinion makers are split on what the arrest really means. One thing they agree on: The reputation of the US continues to suffer.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Chandrasekhar’s Role in 20th-Century Science

Chandra lectured and wrote about nontechnical themes, about the works of Shakespeare and Beethoven and Shelley, and about the relationship between art and science. A collection of his lectures for the general public was published in 1987 with the title Truth and Beauty. During the years of his retirement, he spent much of his time working his way through Newton’s Principia. Chandra reconstructed every proposition and every demonstration, translating the geometrical arguments of Newton into the algebraic language familiar to modern scientists. The results of his historical research were published shortly before his death in his last book, Newton’s “Principia” for the Common Reader (Clarendon Press, 1995). To explain why he wrote the book, he said, “I am convinced that one’s knowledge of the Physical Sciences is incomplete without a study of the Principia in the same way that one’s knowledge of Literature is incomplete without a knowledge of Shakespeare.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Food: A Taste of Things to Come?

Researchers are sure that they can put lab-grown meat on the menu — if they can just get cultured muscle cells to bulk up.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Gitmo Recidivism Rate Soars

150 former Guantanamo detainees are either “confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities,” according to a new intelligence assessment released by the Director of National Intelligence’s office on Tuesday. In total, 598 detainees have been transferred out of U.S. custody at Guantanamo. 1 out of every 4, or 25 percent, of these former detainees is now considered a confirmed or suspected recidivist by the U.S. government.

The DNI’s latest assessment is a significant increase over previous estimates. In June 2008, the Department of Defense reported that 37 former detainees were “confirmed or suspected” of returning to terrorism. On January 13, 2009 — seven months later — Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said that number had climbed to 61. As of April 2009, the DoD found that same metric had risen further to 74 — exactly double the Pentagon’s estimate just 11 months before.

In February 2010, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, confirmed that the estimated number of recidivists had increased to 20 percent. At that recidivism rate, and based on the total number of detainee transfers at that time, between 110 and 120 former Guantanamo detainees were on the U.S. government’s recidivist list in early 2010.

Thus, the DNI’s latest assessment of the Gitmo recidivism rate is higher than all previous estimates by an appreciable margin.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Operation Payback Cripples Mastercard Site in Revenge for Wikileaks Ban

The websites of the international credit card MasterCard and the Swedish prosecution authority are among the latest to be taken offline in the escalating technological battle over WikiLeaks, web censorship and perceived political pressure.

Co-ordinated attacks by online activists who support the site and its founder Julian Assange — who is in UK custody accused of raping two Swedish women — have seen the websites of the alleged victims’ Swedish lawyer disabled, while commercial and political targets have also been subject to attack by a loose coalition of global hackers.

The Swedish prosecution authority has confirmed its website was attacked last night and this morning. MasterCard was partially paralysed today in revenge for the payment network’s decision to cease taking donations to WikiLeaks.

In an attack referred to as Operation Payback, a group of online activists calling themselves Anonymous appear to have orchestrated a DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on the financial site, bringing its service to a halt.

Attempts to access have been unsuccessful since shortly after 9.30am.

The site would say only that it was “experiencing heavy traffic on its external corporate website” but insisted this would not interfere with its ability to process transactions.

But one payment service company told the BBC its customers were experiencing “a complete loss of service” on MasterCard SecureCode. The credit card company later confirmed that loss.

MasterCard tonight said in a statement it was “working to restore normal service levels” after “a concentrated effort to flood our corporate web site with traffic and slow access.” The company added: “It is important to note that our systems have not been compromised and there is no impact on our cardholders’ ability to use their cards for secure transactions globally.”

MasterCard announced on Monday that it would no longer process donations to WikiLeaks, which it claimed was engaged in illegal activity.

Visa, Amazon, Swiss bank PostFinance and others have also announced in recent days that they will cease trading with the whistleblowing site…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Pew Poll: Majority of Muslims Supports Death for Anyone Leaving Islam

In a new poll by Pew, a majority of Muslims in many of the world’s Islamic countries says they are very much in favor of killing any person who converts from Islam to any other religion. The new poll also exposed mainstream Muslim attitudes regarding other aspects of their life. For instance, the poll found that a majority in the Muslim world are in favor of cutting off hands for theft, stoning people to death for adultery, and insisting that Islam play a major role in politics. This recent Pew poll was conducted over the course of a month and asked Muslims in several countries about what was going on in their heads. Many of the respondents were also questioned face to face.

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The Curious Life of the US Diplomat, Uncloaked

A diplomat’s life is not just caviar and coattails. It’s rubbery fish in Brussels, a nauseating revolving restaurant in Kazakhstan and an epic three-day Muslim wedding featuring “stupendous” quantities of booze, a golden pistol, dancing women, the scent of danger and cauldrons of cows boiled whole. It’s not all receptions and speeches. It’s also the psychological terror of getting a phone call saying your spouse has died in an accident — but not really. A diplomat’s life can also be a rather exasperating bull session with a British prince who lords it over everyone in the room. The secret cables surfacing in the WikiLeaks disclosures offer myriad glimpses into the world of diplomacy, that oh-so-guarded enterprise. American diplomats, it turns out, are not stuffy at all. They are raconteurs, adventurers and under-the-radar operatives. Some may even be spies. Think of the rapier wit of James Bond, the gravity of John Adams in the Court of St. James’s and the groovy antics of Austin Powers. Together, the cables suggest the former Soviet Union is party central. Oil wealth, corruption, an intimidating security service, oligarchies and hearty appetites for hedonism make for a potent brew in Russia and the republics that split away. And U.S. Embassy officials, known in cable-speak as emboff, are flies on the wall. They shadowed the Kazakh prime minister as he danced with abandon at a nightclub (“Emboff lingered close to Masimov’s group”). They reported having “eyes on” a defense minister who liked to loosen up in the “‘homo sovieticus’ style — i.e., drinking oneself into a stupor.” They strolled not just the palaces and villas of those in government but the hideaway mansions of the political elites who really pull the strings. For sheer voyeurism, it is hard to top a cable signed by William J. Burns, now a top State Department official, when he was ambassador to Russia. The cable reported from a lavish August 2006 wedding at the summer home of the chief of Dagestan’s oil company in Russia’s North Caucasus region — a compound where the entire floor of a grotto is the glass ceiling of a massive aquarium. (No word on sharks circling underneath.) In marrying his son to a classmate, the oilman Gadzhi Makhachev presided over a bizarre affair drawing together revelers from the wilds and from the establishment — “the slick to the Jurassic,” as the cable put it. The pro-Kremlin Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who came with a small army, danced “clumsily with his gold-plated automatic stuck down in the back of his jeans” and joined the host in showering children with $100 bills before disappearing into the night. The unidentified U.S. diplomats in attendance inadvertently insulted a drunken security service colonel when they would not let him add cognac to their wine, despite his protestation that “it’s practically the same thing.” “We were inclined to cut the Colonel some slack,” says the cable. “He is head of the unit to combat terrorism in Dagestan, and Gadzhi told us that extremists have sooner or later assassinated everyone who has joined that unit.” It was all in a day’s work for diplomats seeking to understand the politics of clan, alliance, land and ethnicity, as the cable described the currents coursing through the party. Just as an army marches on its stomach, food is the fuel of diplomacy. In Dagestan, that meant watching fragments of boiled carcasses dumped on a table for the guests. For Richard E. Hoagland, ambassador to Kazakhstan, it meant meeting his Chinese counterpart for dinner in a fancy hotel built by China’s national petroleum company in Astana. The Chinese ambassador preferred to talk in a public place or the U.S. Embassy because he feared his own quarters were bugged. America’s eyes and ears at that June 2009 meeting soaked up the architecture, the menu and much else. America’s belly, though, was a bit wobbly that day. “The marble lobby is impressive, if a bit too totalitarian-austere,” said the cable signed by Hoagland. “We were the only guests in the restaurant, although an untouched full buffet was laid out. The revolving restaurant provides a spectacular panorama of Astana, and the empty steppe beyond, but it seems to revolve at varying speeds and sometimes can be a bit too fast on a full stomach and after a few glasses of wine.” In Kyrgyzstan, the top U.S. diplomat joined a hotel brunch in October 2008 to brief British royalty, Prince Andrew, before his meetings with local officials. Ambassador Tatiana Gfoeller’s cable barely conceals annoyance with the prince. “Astonishingly candid, the discussion at times verged on the rude (from the British side),” it says. As with the other cables, it is signed by the ambassador but appears to have been written by a lower-level diplomat at the event. Andrew is diplomatically described as “super-engaged” as he rails about British anti-corruption investigators interfering with business deals, curses journalists for poking their noses into everything and displays “almost neuralgic patriotism” whenever the U.S. and Britain come up in the discussion. “The Americans don’t understand geography,” the cable quotes him as saying. “Never have. In the U.K., we have the best geography teachers in the world!” The prince talked so much the meeting went twice as long as planned. ___ The life of a diplomat is one of risk, too. More than 200 Americans have died in diplomatic service, starting with William Palfrey, lost at sea in 1780. They have perished from disease, murder, natural disasters and trying to save others. Danger always lurks in the age of terrorism, just as in all times of war and calamity. But diplomats have to watch their backs everywhere. A November 2009 cable signed by John Beyrle, now ambassador to Russia, set the scene for FBI Director Robert Mueller before his visit with law enforcement and security counterparts. It sketched a growing climate of harassment of U.S. diplomats by elements of the Federal Security Service, or FSB. “Family members have been the victims of psychologically terrifying assertions that their USG (U.S. government) employee spouses had met accidental deaths,” the embassy reported. “Home intrusions have become far more commonplace and bold, and activity against our locally engaged Russian staff continues at a record pace. “We have no doubt that this activity originates in the FSB. Counterintelligence challenges remain a hallmark of service at Embassy Moscow.” Decades earlier, the cables show, U.S. diplomats in Tehran tried to comprehend the Iranian revolution in its earliest throes and explain to Washington the near impossibility of reasoning with Iranians. Bruce Laingen, charge d’affaires, signed a biting critique of what he saw as the Iranian mindset, contending “statements of intention count for almost nothing,” “the single dominant aspect of the Persian psyche is an overriding egoism,” “cultivation of goodwill for goodwill’s sake is a waste of effort,” and the “almost total Persian preoccupation with self … leaves little room for understanding points of view other than one’s own.” Laingen was on to something — impending trouble. A few months after, ideologues overran the embassy and diplomats lived the lives of hostages for 444 days.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Radical Loser

Hans Magnus Enzensberger looks at the kind of ideological trigger required to ignite the radical loser — whether amok killer, murderer or terrorist — and make him explode

I. The isolated individual

It is difficult to talk about the loser, and it is stupid not to. Stupid because there can be no definitive winner and because each of us, from the megalomaniac Bonaparte to the last beggar on the streets of Calcutta, will meet the same fate. Difficult because to content oneself with this metaphysical banality is to take an easy way out, as it ignores the truly explosive dimension of the problem, the political dimension.

Instead of actually looking into the thousand faces of the loser, sociologists keep to their statistics: median value, standard deviation, normal distribution. It rarely occurs to them that they themselves might be among the losers. Their definitions are like scratching a wound: as Samuel Butler says, the itching and the pain only get worse. One thing is certain: the way humanity has organized itself — “capitalism”, “competition”, “empire”, “globalization” — not only does the number of losers increase every day, but as in any large group, fragmentation soon sets in. In a chaotic, unfathomable process, the cohorts of the inferior, the defeated, the victims separate out. The loser may accept his fate and resign himself; the victim may demand satisfaction; the defeated may begin preparing for the next round. But the radical loser isolates himself, becomes invisible, guards his delusion, saves his energy, and waits for his hour to come.

Those who content themselves with the objective, material criteria, the indices of the economists and the devastating findings of the empiricists, will understand nothing of the true drama of the radical loser. What others think of him — be they rivals or brothers, experts or neighbours, schoolmates, bosses, friends or foes — is not sufficient motivation. The radical loser himself must take an active part, he must tell himself: I am a loser and nothing but a loser. As long as he is not convinced of this, life may treat him badly, he may be poor and powerless, he may know misery and defeat, but he will not become a radical loser until he adopts the judgement of those who consider themselves winners as his own.

Since before the attack on the World Trade Center, political scientists, sociologists and psychologists have been searching in vain for a reliable pattern. Neither poverty nor the experience of political repression alone seem to provide a satisfactory explanation for why young people actively seek out death in a grand bloody finale and aim to take as many people with them as possible. Is there a phenotype that displays the same characteristics down the ages and across all classes and cultures?

No one pays any mind to the radical loser if they do not have to. And the feeling is mutual. As long as he is alone — and he is very much alone — he does not strike out. He appears unobtrusive, silent: a sleeper. But when he does draw attention to himself and enter the statistics, then he sparks consternation bordering on shock. For his very existence reminds the others of how little it would take to put them in his position. One might even assist the loser if only he would just give up. But he has no intention of doing so, and it does not look as if he would be partial to any assistance.

Many professions take the loser as the object of their studies and as the basis for their existence. Social psychologists, social workers, social policy experts, criminologists, therapists and others who do not count themselves among the losers would be out of work without him. But with the best will in the world, the client remains obscure to them: their empathy knows clearly-defined professional bounds. One thing they do know is that the radical loser is hard to get through to and, ultimately, unpredictable. Identifying the one person among the hundreds passing through their offices and surgeries who is prepared to go all the way is more than they are capable of. Maybe they sense that this is not just a social issue that can be repaired by bureaucratic means. For the loser keeps his ideas to himself. That is the trouble. He keeps quiet and waits. He lets nothing show, which is precisely why he is feared. In historical terms, this fear is very old, but today it is more justified than ever. Anyone with the smallest scrap of power within society will at times feel something of the huge destructive energy that lies within the radical loser and which no intervention can neutralize, however well-meaning or serious it might be.

He can explode at any moment. This is the only solution to his problem that he can imagine: a worsening of the evil conditions under which he suffers. The newspapers run stories on him every week: the father of two who killed his wife, his small children and finally himself. Unthinkable! A headline in the local section: A Family Tragedy. Or the man who suddenly barricades himself in his apartment, taking the landlord, who wanted money from him, as his hostage. When the police finally gets to the scene, he starts shooting. He is then said to have “run amok”, a word borrowed from the Malayan. He kills an officer before collapsing in the shower of bullets. What triggered this explosion remains unclear. His wife’s nagging perhaps, noisy neighbours, an argument at the pub, or the bank cancelling his loan. A disparaging remark from a superior is enough to make the man climb a tower and start firing at anything that moves outside the supermarket, not in spite of but precisely because of the fact that this massacre will accelerate his own end. Where on earth did he get that machine pistol from?

At last, this radical loser — he may be just fifteen and having a hard time with his spots — at last, he is master over life and death. Then, in the newsreader’s words, he “dies at his own hands” and the investigators get down to work. They find a few videos, a few confused journal entries. The parents, neighbours, teachers noticed nothing unusual. A few bad grades, for sure, a certain reticence — the boy didn’t talk much. But that is no reason to shoot dead a dozen of his schoolmates. The experts deliver their verdicts. Cultural critics bring forth their arguments. Inevitably, they speak of a “debate on values”. The search for reasons comes to nothing. Politicians express their dismay. The conclusion is reached that it was an isolated case.

This is correct, since the culprits are always isolated individuals who have found no access to a collective. And it is incorrect, since isolated cases of this kind are becoming more and more frequent. This increase leads one to conclude that there are more and more radical losers. This is due to the so-called “state of things.” This might refer equally to the world market or to an insurance company that refuses to pay.

But anyone wishing to understand the radical loser would be well advised to go a little further back. Progress has not put an end to human suffering, but it has changed it in no small way. Over the past two centuries, the more successful societies have fought for and established new rights, new expectations and new demands. They have done away with the notion of an inevitable fate. They have put concepts like human dignity and human rights on the agenda. The have democratized the struggle for recognition and awakened expectations of equality which they are unable to fulfil. And at the same time, they have made sure that inequality is constantly demonstrated to all of the planet’s inhabitants round the clock on every television channel. As a result, with every stage of progress, people’s capacity for disappointment has increased accordingly.

“Where cultural progress is genuinely successful and ills are cured, this progress is seldom received with enthusiasm,” remarks the philosopher Odo Marquard (book): “Instead, they are taken for granted and attention focuses on those ills that remain. And these remaining ills are subject to the law of increasing annoyance. The more negative elements disappear from reality, the more annoying the remaining negative elements become, precisely because of this decrease in numbers.”

This is an understatement. For what we are dealing with here is not annoyance, but murderous rage. What the loser is obsessed with is a comparison that never works in his favour. Since the desire for recognition knows no limits, the pain threshold inevitably sinks and the affronts become more and more unbearable. The irritability of the loser increases with every improvement that he notices in the lot of others. The yardstick is never those who are worse off than himself. In his eyes, it is not they who are constantly being insulted, humbled and humiliated, but only ever him, the radical loser.

The question as to why this should be so only adds to his torment. Because it certainly cannot be his own fault. That is inconceivable. Which is why he must find the guilty ones who are responsible for his plight.

But who are these omnipotent, nameless aggressors? Thrown back entirely on his own resources, the answer to this nagging question is beyond the isolated individual. If no ideological program comes to his aid, then his search is unlikely to extend to the wider societal context, looking instead to his immediate surroundings and finding: the unjust superior, the unruly wife, the bad neighbour, the conniving co-worker, the inflexible public official, the doctor who refuses to give him a medical certificate.

But might he not also be facing the machinations of some invisible, anonymous enemy? Then the loser would not need to rely on his own experience: he could fall back on things he heard somewhere. Few people have the gift of inventing a delusion for themselves that fits their needs. Consequently, the loser will most often stick to material that floats freely within society. The threatening powers that are out to get him are not hard to locate. The usual suspects are foreigners, secret services, Communists, Americans, big corporations, politicians, unbelievers. And, almost always, the Jews.

For a while, this kind of delusion may bring the loser relief, but it will not be able to actually pacify him. In the long term, it is hard to assert oneself in the face of a hostile world, and he can never entirely rid himself of the suspicion that there might be a simpler explanation, namely that he is responsible, that his humiliation is his own fault, that he does not merit the esteem he craves, and that his own life is worthless. Psychologists call this affliction “identifying with the aggressor”. But what is that supposed to mean? It certainly has no meaning for the loser. But if his own life is worthless, why should he care about the lives of others?

“It’s my fault.” — “The others are responsible.” These two claims are not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, they reinforce each other. The radical loser is unable to think his way out of this vicious circle, and it constitutes the source of his terrible power.

The only way out of the dilemma is to fuse destruction and self-destruction, aggression and auto-aggression. On the one hand, at the moment of his explosion, the loser for once experiences a feeling of true power. His act allows him to triumph over others by annihilating them. And on the other, he does justice to the reverse of this feeling of power, the suspicion that his own existence might be worthless, by putting an end to it.

As an additional bonus, from the moment he resorts to armed force, the outside world, which has never wanted to know anything about him, takes notice of him. The media make sure he is granted an enormous degree of publicity — even if it is for just 24 hours. Television spreads propaganda for his act, thus encouraging potential imitators. For minors, as shown by events in the United States in particular, the temptation this represents is hard to resist.

The logic of the radical loser cannot be grasped in terms of common sense. Common sense cites the instinct of self-preservation as if it were an unquestionable fact of nature, to be taken for granted. Whereas in fact, it is a fragile notion, quite young in historical terms. Self-preservation is referred to by the Greeks, by Hobbes and Spinoza, but it is not considered as a purely natural drive. Instead, according to Immanuel Kant, “the… first duty of the human individual towards himself in the quality of his animalness is self-preservation in his animal nature.” Only in the nineteenth century did this duty become an inviolable fact of natural science. Few deviated from this view. Nietzsche objected that physiologists should avoid, “fixing the instinct of self-preservation as the cardinal instinct of an organic being.” But among those who would always rather survive, his words have always fallen on deaf ears.

The history of ideas aside, humanity never seems to have expected individual lives to be treated as the supreme good. All early religions set great store by human sacrifice. Later, martyrs were highly valued. (According to Blaise Pascal’s fatal maxim, one should “only believe witnesses who allow themselves to be killed.”) In most cultures, heroes acquired fame and honour for their fearlessness in the face of death. Until the mass slaughter of World War I, secondary school pupils had to learn the notorious verse from Horace according to which is sweet and honourable to die for one’s fatherland. Others claimed that shipping was necessary, but not staying alive; during the Cold War there were those who shouted “Better dead than red!” And what, under perfectly civilian conditions, are we to think of tightrope walkers, extreme sports, motor racing, polar exploration and other forms of potential suicide?

Clearly, the instinct of self-preservation is not up to much. The remarkable fondness of the human species for suicide, down the ages and across all cultures, is proof enough of this. No taboo and no threat of punishment have been able keep people from taking their own lives. This tendency cannot be quantified. Any attempt to grasp it by means of statistics will fail due to the huge number of unrecorded cases.

Sigmund Freud tried to solve the problem theoretically, on an unstable empirical basis, by developing his concept of the death drive. Freud’s hypothesis is expressed more clearly in the familiar old wisdom that situations may arise in which humans prefer a terrible end to (real or imagined) terror without end.

II. The collective…

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

Zoo Illogical: Ugly Animals Need Protection From Extinction, Too

Zoos have helped save endangered species that have lost their habitats with captive breeding and other programs, but are they only saving the poster-species that zoo-goers find aesthetically pleasing?

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]