Friday, January 10, 2003

News Feed 20101228

Financial Crisis
»Central Bank Ups Bond Purchasing Over Christmas Period
»China’s Real-Estate Frenzy
»EU Industry Chief Voices Need to Block Chinese Takeovers
»GAO Sees Problems in Government’s Financial Management
»No Jobs for More Than Three Out of Four Unemployed Workers
»Re-Evaluating ‘Free Trade’ With China
»UK: Big Brother Town Halls Squander £315m on CCTV in Three Years, Despite Massive Job Cuts
»20 Police Surround, Slam, Arrest Unarmed Man
»Andrew G. Bostom: Bill O’Reilly’s Mindslaughter
»Colorado State Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora) Quote of the Day
»DNA Test Urged to See if Lincoln’s Assassin Escaped Death
»Eden Prairie Oks Changing School Lines
»Frank Gaffney: the Denuclearizers’ Dangerous Agenda
»Indiana Grandmother, A Muslim Convert, Being Investigated for Possible Terror Link
»Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame?
»Shock Audio: New Black Panther Leader & Farrakhan Colluded With Ahmadinejad to Overthrow America
»Weighing Untapped Market Against Terror Fears
»Dying Man’s Access to Life-Saving Drug Soon Ends
Europe and the EU
»Dreams and Nightmares of Europe in the 2040s
»France: Scandal of the Deadly Diabetes Drug Subsidised by French State
»Germany: Celtic Tomb Hailed as Great Archaeological Find
»Germany: Airports Demand Racial Profiling to Fight Terror
»Heavy Rains in Italy, Landslips in Liguria
»Hungary’s ‘Orbanization’ Is Worrying Europe
»Ireland: Stampede to Grab €900 ($1,200) Bags at BT
»Italians Seek Car Alternatives, But Not to Save Planet
»Italy Bans Plastic Bags, France Postpones Tax
»Occult Business Hooks 12.5 Million Italians
»Opposition to the Euro Grows in Germany
»Sweden: Blasts in Stockholm: Muslims to be Affected Most
»UK: Big Freeze Presents Old Problem for Modern Boilers
»UK: David Cameron Must Face the Challenge of Islamisation
»UK: Islam Takes Over Catholic School
»UK: London is Home to Hamas Hub, Says Israel
»UK: Labour MP Condemns Petition Plans
»UK: Man and Woman Charged With Murder of 15-Year-Old Boy Found Dead in a Bath on Christmas Day
»UK: Online Petition Plans to Go Ahead
»UK: Paedophile Dressed as Policeman Tried to Abduct Schoolboy by ‘Taking Him for Questioning’
»UK: PCSO: £1.2m Per Crime: The Cost of Just One Force’s ‘Plastic Plods’
»UK: Political Views ‘Hard-Wired’ Into Your Brain
»UK: Top Gear Stars Cause Religious Storm After Dressing Up in Burkas on Boxing Day Special
»Wales: Neighbours Left Shocked by Arrests of Terror Suspects
»The Demolition of the Yugoslav Tribunal
»Two Nations Under Islamic Duress — Serbia and Israel
North Africa
»Morocco: 6 Arrested for Planning Attacks Abroad
Israel and the Palestinians
»Appeal by Netanyahu, No Violence Against Foreigners
»Britain Risks Israeli Anger by Extending Diplomatic Recognition to Palestinians
»Palestinians Reject Interim Peace Deal
»Xenophobic Alarm Over Sudanese House Fire
Middle East
»Britain Forms Plan for Gulf Evacuation in Event of War With Iran
»Caroline Glick: The Wars of 2011
»Dubai: Mother Gives Birth in Airport Toilet, Strangles the Baby, Dumps Its Corpse in a Bin… Then Catches Flight Out
»Iran Hangs ‘Mossad Spy’ For Relaying Military Secrets to Arch-Enemy Israel
»Love the Vuvuzela and Don’t Take a Nap: Muslim Scholars Issue 350,000 New Year Fatwas
»Sheikh Confirms SARG Involvement in Escalating Situation in Days Prior to Rioting 8. 2. 2006
»Syria: Country’s First Casino Opens in Damascus
»Syria Helped Orchestrate 2006 Mohammed Cartoon Riots, WikiLeaks Cables Reveal
»World Traveler: Scholar and Convert to Islam Now Calls Turkey Home
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Clash of Cultures
»Football: Indonesians Cry Foul on Twitter After Losing Match to Malaysia
»India Issues Nationwide Terror Alert
Far East
»China Has Carrier-Killer Missile, U.S. Admiral Says
»China Cuts Rare Earth Export Quotas
»China Moving Closer to Deploying Ballistic Missile That Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier
Australia — Pacific
»Why Did a Stranger Shoot Me, Daddy? — Mariam Alkadmani’s Aguish Over Attack
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ivory Coast on the Brink
»Sudan: Lawrence Solomon: Birth of an (Oil) Nation, Loss of an Islamic Prize
Latin America
»Leak: Mexican Army Mistrusts Other Gov’t Agencies
»Sixty ‘Gazans’ Reach Shores of Southern Italy
»Turkish-Germans Struggle With Dilemma of Double Identity
»UK: The Muslim Population Has Grown From 1.65 Million to 2.87 Million Since 2001, Say Researchers. What Does This Mean for Liberal Britain?
Culture Wars
»Law School Gagging Speech
»Turkish Academic Women Discuss Glass Ceiling for Their Gender
»UK: Why Does Dr Rowan Williams Never Stand Up for Christianity?
»Delaying Sex Makes Better Relationships, Study Finds
»English Doomed as Global Language, Academic Says
»Future Shock? Welcome to the New Middle Ages
»Keep Universal Human Rights Intact
»Political Leanings Revealed by the Eyes
»See No Sharia
»The Metal Marvel That Has Mended Brains for 50 Years

Financial Crisis

Central Bank Ups Bond Purchasing Over Christmas Period

The European Central Bank on Monday announced that its purchase of eurozone government bonds jumped to €1.121 billion over the past week.

The increase, almost twice the previous week’s purchase of €603 million in government bonds, comes despite the low level of trading over the Christmas period, as Frankfurt maintains its eurozone vigilance in Frankfurt even amid turkey dinners and carols.

Total government debt purchases by the ECB amount to €73.5 billion since it began a buying programme in May when the Greek government hit the wall in its attempts to sell public debt to investors.

The ECB debt purchase scheme is intended to ease pressure on government borrowing costs.

Despite the jump in the last week, purchases still remain far below the scale of similar actions in May, when the central bank was intervening with buys of sometimes over €10 billion each week.

Since the height of the Greek crisis, the purchasing programme had been significantly reined in.

However, with the return of eurozone turbulence, the ECB in December upped its public debt acquisitions.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

China’s Real-Estate Frenzy

Rising property prices and a torrid pace of lending are signals of an inflationary bubble

Last week I sold an apartment in Beijing for more than 2.5 times what I paid for it five years and three months ago. When I asked the buyer why he was optimistic about real estate, he explained that land was limited in Chinese cities and government policies would keep the market going up.

So far that argument has proven right. Understanding government policy has long been the key to making money in China’s property and stock markets. The atmosphere at the Beijing tax and land bureaus brought to mind California during the gold rush.

It’s impossible to say definitively that a market has strayed into bubble territory until after the collapse. But prices rising out of the reach of average buyers is one indicator. Housing prices in the U.S. peaked at 6.4 times average annual earnings this decade. In Beijing, the figure is 22 times.

If the froth is confined to housing, as it was more or less in the U.S., China can muddle through. But it is not. Consider the problem of leverage.

Those who doubt that Chinese housing is in a bubble often point to the lack of leverage. And it’s true that on paper Chinese banks only lend a prudent amount to buyers, so that if the market falls by a third, they will still be “above water.”

Many buyers, such as the one who bought my apartment, pay in cash. Even given the probability that banks sometimes break the rules, it’s clear that leverage as traditionally understood doesn’t drive Chinese home sales. But there is still plenty to be worried about, because the leverage comes from elsewhere.

Real estate is just the preferred way to store wealth. There are no property taxes, so an empty apartment doesn’t cost a lot to maintain. Registered in the name of a family member, it also doesn’t attract a lot of attention from the authorities who try to track down income, not all of it legal, that is not reported for tax purposes.

The wealth itself comes from the credit machine that drives China’s investment-led economy. Fixed-asset investment grew 23.5% this year, and it is forecast to grow 20% next year. After 2008, Beijing paid lip service to the need to rebalance the economy in favor of consumption instead of investment. Meanwhile it doubled down on investment, with a stimulus package for 2009, equivalent to 15% of GDP, that was made up mostly of bank loans. The torrid pace of lending continued this year…

           — Hat tip: Zenster[Return to headlines]

EU Industry Chief Voices Need to Block Chinese Takeovers

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — Europe should establish a new authority with powers to block foreign takeovers of strategic European businesses, EU industry commissioner Antonio Tajani has argued.

The authority is particularly necessary as Chinese companies increasingly look to grow their overseas investments, the Italian politician said in an interview with German business daily Handelsblatt on Monday (27 December).

“Chinese companies have the means to buy more and more European enterprises with key technologies in important sectors,” remarked Mr Tajani.

“It is a question of investments but behind that there is also a strategic policy, to which Europe should respond politically,” he said.

As a result, Europe should establish “an authority tasked with examining foreign investments in Europe” using the the Committee on Foreign Investment in the US as a model.

Under the proposal, the European authority would determine “if the acquisition (of a company) with European know-how by a private or public foreign company represented a danger or not.”

A number of European and American firms have been frustrated in recent years by the speed at which their Chinese competitors have acquired new technologies developed outside the Middle Kingdom.

For its part, China has gradually sought to remove its own restrictions on foreign investment but considerable limitations still apply.

Reacting to the EU suggestion for a new authority, German economy minister Rainer Bruederle warned against overly quick decisions.

“Of course one can have an evaluation procedure taking into account security and public order concerns. But we shouldn’t take hasty actions,” Mr Bruederle told the Handelsblatt paper on Tuesday.

“Europe profits from the openness of its markets and offers attractive conditions for foreign investors,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

GAO Sees Problems in Government’s Financial Management

The U.S. Government Accountability Office said it could not render an opinion on the 2010 consolidated financial statements of the federal government, because of widespread material internal control weaknesses, significant uncertainties, and other limitations.

“Even though significant progress has been made since the enactment of key financial management reforms in the 1990s, our report on the U.S. government’s consolidated financial statement illustrates that much work remains to be done to improve federal financial management,” Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro said in a statement. “Shortcomings in three areas again prevented us from expressing an opinion on the accrual-based financial statements.”

The main obstacles to a GAO opinion were: (1) serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements unauditable, (2) the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and (3) the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

No Jobs for More Than Three Out of Four Unemployed Workers

This morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a mildly encouraging October report from the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS), showing that job openings increased by 351,000 in October, while revisions to earlier data reveal that there were 82,000 more job openings in September than previously reported.

The total number of job openings in October was 3.4 million, while the total number of unemployed workers was 14.8 million (according to the Current Population Survey). This is the highest number of monthly job openings since August 2008. The ratio of unemployed workers to job openings improved to 4.4-to-1 in October, an increase from the revised September ratio of 4.9-to-1. The trend in the job-seekers ratio has been improving over the last few months, but it is important to remember that the current ratio is still over 50% higher than its peak (2.8-to-1) during the early 2000s recession.

It is important to note that the job-seekers ratio does not measure the number of applicants for each job. There may be a mass of applicants for every job posting, since job seekers apply for multiple jobs. Instead, the 4.4-to-1 ratio means that for every 4.4 unemployed workers, there is only one job available—or for about every three out of four unemployed workers, there simply are no jobs.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Re-Evaluating ‘Free Trade’ With China

Although China is called a major trading partner, it treats U.S. companies like suckers, cheating them coming and going. Beijing even intimidates U.S. businessmen so they don’t dare criticize China’s unfair trade tactics.

Take, for example, the attitude of CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt of General Electric, the company now laying off hundreds of U.S. workers and giving those jobs making light bulbs to Chinese workers. He won’t comment about the current U.S. case in the World Trade Organization accusing China of giving illegal subsidies to Chinese wind-turbine makers.

A few years ago, GE caved in to the Chinese government’s demand that it build a large wind-turbine factory in China. Since GE owns a crucial patent for wind turbines, this demand was based on the Chinese anti-free trade policy called indigenous innovation (which China expert James McGregor calls “a blueprint for technology theft on a scale the world has never seen before”).

China then developed its own wind-turbine manufacturers and is now directing purchasers to buy from those Chinese firms instead of from GE. That’s the reality in what free traders naively believe is the world’s fast-growing market for U.S. goods.

China wants to be the world’s biggest exporter based on stealing U.S. know-how and subsidizing local manufacturers. It blatantly violates international trade laws and has no plans to be a market for U.S. products; China’s principal imports are and will continue to be U.S. jobs.


In 2010, after GE had handed over technology in everything from rail locomotives to antipollution equipment to gain access to the Chinese market, Immelt was singing a different tune: “I really worry about China. I am not sure that in the end they want any of us to win, or any of us to be successful.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Big Brother Town Halls Squander £315m on CCTV in Three Years, Despite Massive Job Cuts

Councils have spent £315million on spy cameras — despite slashing jobs and public services.

Their commitment to keep the streets under surveillence seems undiminished by the cuts being made to bring the nation’s finances back into check.

A survey of 336 councils shows why Britain has been dubbed the ‘big brother’ capital of the world.

They spent a total of £314,835,170 on installing and operating CCTV cameras from 2007 to 2010.

Campaigners for civil liberties branded the findings ‘scandalous’ and said the money would have been better spent on schools, hospitals and other vital services.

However, Britain’s largest police force says that CCTV helps its officers solve six crimes every day by identifying suspects from it.

The hundreds of millions spent on CCTV is the latest sign that the march of Britain’s ‘Surveillance Society’ seems virtually unstoppable.

Surreptitious and unaccountable surveillance practices — aided by weak legal protection — have mushroomed faster than anywhere else in the world.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


20 Police Surround, Slam, Arrest Unarmed Man

Neighbor’s claim of crossbow shot sparks bloody front-porch melee

Twenty police officers surged into a mobile home neighborhood in Lincoln, Neb., and slammed an unarmed man to the ground because a neighbor reported he was shooting a crossbow, and the resulting melee left two officers hurt, the man’s wife and 4-year-old tossed out of their home and the Internet forum pages aglow with the flames of argument over weapons rights.

“Why the need for 20 cops? What’s with America and overcompensation through excessive force?” wrote one participant at Fark.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Andrew G. Bostom: Bill O’Reilly’s Mindslaughter

It is somewhat ironic that immensely popular Fox News host Bill O’Reilly epitomizes willful blindness to Sharia, or Islamic Law, encroachment in the US. Mr. O’Reilly has been pilloried by the left for both his undeniably accurate statements that the cataclysmic acts of jihad terrorism on 9/11/2001 were committed by Muslims and, more broadly, his commonsensical recognition of the global plethora of jihad-related “Muslim problems” outside the U.S.

Nonetheless, Mr. O’Reilly is in lockstep with his media and political antagonists when it comes to glib, ignorant denial regarding the pervasive support for Sharia by mainstream Islamic religious organizations, and Muslim religious leaders, in America.

Mr. O’Reilly’s uninformed statements illustrate the contemporary equivalent of what Robert Conquest, the preeminent scholar of Soviet Communist totalitarianism, appositely characterized as “mindslaughter” — a brilliantly evocative term for delusive Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. Conquest, in his elucidation of Western vulnerability to totalitarian ideologies, wrote that democracy itself is “far less a matter of institutions than habits of mind” — the latter being subject to constant “stresses and strains.” He then notes the disturbingly widespread acceptance of totalitarian concepts amongst the ordinary citizens of pluralist Western societies.

Many in the West gave their full allegiance to these alien beliefs. Many others were at any rate not ill disposed towards them. And beyond that there was…a sort of secondary infection of the mental atmosphere of the West which still to some degree persists, distorting thought in countries that escaped the more wholesale disasters of our time.

But Conquest evinces no sympathy for those numerous “Western intellectuals or near intellectuals” of the 1930s through the 1950s whose willful delusions about the Soviet Union “will be incredible to later students of mental aberration.” His critique of Western media highlights a tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades and through to the present.

O’Reilly’s personal see-no-Sharia-mindslaughter was displayed vividly when he offered to wield a hammer on behalf of the Ground Zero Mosque project. His statement revealed a basic ignorance of mosque promoter Feisal Rauf’s expressed ideology, including the imam’s Sharia-based conception of “peace” itself — more accurately, a global Pax Islamica. Subsequently, O’Reilly has reiterated his brazen — albeit clueless — denial of aggressive Sharia promotion in the U.S. He hectored courageous victims of Sharia-promoting jihadism such as Brigitte Gabriel and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser on this specific point (“They are not getting anywhere in the U.S. …. The Muslim Brotherhood is making no inroads in the U.S.”) and later repeated this empty-headed pronouncement as a putative “rebuttal” to Dr. Monica Crowley’s concern about stealth jihadism:…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Colorado State Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora) Quote of the Day

You’d think after your car swerves into the oncoming lane, you get into a head-on collision, you kill a pregnant woman and the baby (delivered by C-section) is currently in critical condition, your public statement wouldn’t be all about yourself.

Colorado State Sen. Suzanne Williams (D-Aurora) was injured in a head-on crash Sunday in Texas. The passenger in the other car died. The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) says Williams’ Honda CRV veered into on-coming traffic for an unknown reason.

“It’s a tragedy that I now have a personal experience with a highway accident,” Williams told 9NEWS over the phone from Texas. “It’s been very traumatic.”

It may be a meaningless observation from someone who wasn’t there, but I think it was more traumatic for Brianna Michelle Gomez and her baby.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

DNA Test Urged to See if Lincoln’s Assassin Escaped Death

Descendants of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin are pushing for a DNA test finally to resolve whether John Wilkes Booth escaped his well-recorded shooting death and lived for 40 years in Texas and Oklahoma.

Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathiser, shot the 16th President of the United States in the back of the head during a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC.

The shooting took place on April 14, 1865, just days after the surrender of Confederate General Robert E Lee, as the American Civil war approached its end.

Booth fled on horseback but was tracked down 12 days later to a farm in northern Virginia where he was shot dead by Union soldiers while hiding in a barn.

However, like the assassination of President John F Kennedy a century later, the Lincoln shooting has its own conspiracy theory, that Booth was not the man in the barn and escaped to live for nearly four more decades under a pseudonym.

Booth’s descendants now want that theory tested using modern DNA techniques.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Eden Prairie Oks Changing School Lines

The move, closely watched by other metro districts, addresses integration. Summary.

The Eden Prairie School Board on Tuesday endorsed a plan to move as many as 1,100 elementary school children to new schools next fall, largely to desegregate the increasingly diverse district.

In a gymnasium packed with 200 people, the board voted 4-3 to let district administrators, led by Superintendent Melissa Krull, move the children to address capacity issues as well as disparate concentrations of students with economic needs. It’s expected to result in the district’s most extensive boundary changes in a decade.

Eden Prairie’s decision has been widely anticipated by metro-area districts facing similar changes in student demographics, as they address the segregation of poverty and race in their schools.

The plan has been strongly opposed by many parents who fear the loss of neighborhood K-4 schools. While voicing public protests, they had urged school leaders to come up with a better plan.

At the meeting, board member Chuck Mueller addressed calls to delay approval of a plan, saying, “Our kids are the ones to ultimately suffer. To not act and consider this, I would think, is irresponsible.”

Board members who voted against the district’s evidence backing the plan said it wasn’t because they were against a plan to integrate schools, but rather that they don’t believe this is the right way to do that. Some also questioned if the changes will be sustainable.

“There are other options out there,” said board member Ranee Jacobus, who voted against it.

Board member John Estall said, “I don’t think this is going to fix our problems.”

The school district expects to release a new boundary map by Jan. 15.

In Eden Prairie, home to 9,700 students, district administrators say they need to balance uneven capacity in schools and reduce a more than 33 percent gap among elementary schools in the number of low-income students.

The plan, championed by Krull, would move grades five and six from an intermediate school into K-4 elementary schools. Boundary lines would be redrawn to balance concentrations of poverty, which aligns with race.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, two petitions were presented to the board — one in favor of the plan, the other against it.

Parent Ahmed Jama was the only person to speak on behalf of the plan. “We need to change in order to educate all of our students,” he said.

About six parents spoke against it, pleading with the board to rethink other options to integrate the district and close the achievement gap while keeping schools K-4. “There’s many other things we could do to close the gap,” said parent Lora Peterson. “Please listen to the community now. All kids in Eden Prairie deserve a better plan.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Frank Gaffney: the Denuclearizers’ Dangerous Agenda

Hold on to your hat. No sooner had the Senate finished approving the so-called New START Treaty by the closest margin of any bilateral arms control agreement with Moscow than the accord’s principal architect served notice of her ambitious plans for further denuclearizing the United States. Unfortunately, the disarmament agenda Assistant Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller is helping President Obama pursue will make the world more dangerous, not safer for America and its interests.

As with Mr. Obama, who reportedly first espoused the idea of ridding the world of nuclear weapons while a radical undergraduate at Columbia, Ms. Gottemoeller is no newcomer to the idea of “global zero.” In the 1990s, she even lent her name to a report recommending that the United States engage in nuclear disarmament unilaterally, if necessary. During the Clinton administration, then-Secretary of Defense William Cohen declined to give her a top Pentagon post in the face of intense controversy about her views. She subsequently secured a consolation prize in the form of a succession of senior positions in the Department of Energy…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Indiana Grandmother, A Muslim Convert, Being Investigated for Possible Terror Link

A 46-year-old Indiana grandmother is under investigation for her possible ties to suspected and convicted international terrorists, has learned.

Muslim-convert Kathie Smith, 46, a U.S. citizen living in Indianapolis who has blogged about her granddaughter, last year married a suspected German jihadist, and has been flying back and forth between the U.S. and Germany as recently as two weeks ago.

A pro-jihadist video featuring Smith and her husband — alongside photos of members of the Islamic Jihad Union charged with plotting failed terror attacks against U.S. targets in Germany — is being investigated by the Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center. The center is a counterterror intelligence clearinghouse staffed by law enforcement officers from local and federal agencies, including the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.

“Certainly, it’s being looked at and evaluated by Indiana State Police, which runs Indiana Intelligence Fusion Center, “ Indiana Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Emily Norcross told, adding that the video would be passed along to appropriate law enforcement for further investigation.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame?

Ignore the recent excuses. Henry Kissinger’s entire career was a series of massacres and outrages.

Until the most recent release of the Nixon/Kissinger tapes, what were the permitted justifications for saying in advance that the slaughter of Jews in gas chambers by a hostile foreign dictatorship would not be “an American concern”? Let’s agree that we do not know. It didn’t seem all that probable that the question would come up. Or, at least, not all that likely that the statement would turn out to have been made, and calmly received, in the Oval Office. I was present at Madison Square Garden in 1985 when Louis Farrakhan warned the Jews to remember that “when [God] puts you in the ovens, you’re there forever,” but condemnation was swift and universal, and, in any case, Farrakhan’s tenure in the demented fringe was already a given.

Now, however, it seems we do know the excuses and the rationalizations. Here’s one, from David Harris of the American Jewish Committee: “Perhaps Kissinger felt that, as a Jew, he had to go the extra mile to prove to the president that there was no question of where his loyalties lay.” And here’s another, from Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League: “The anti-Jewish prejudice which permeated the Nixon presidency and White House undoubtedly created an environment of intimidation for those who did not share the president’s bigotry. Dr. Kissinger was clearly not immune to that intimidation.” Want more? Under the heading, “A Defense of Kissinger, From Prominent Jews,” Mortimer Zuckerman, Kenneth Bialkin, and James Tisch wrote to the New York Times to say that “Mr. Kissinger consistently played a constructive role vis-à-vis Israel both as national security adviser and secretary of state, especially when the United States extended dramatic assistance to Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.” They asked that “the fuller Kissinger record should be remembered” and, for good measure, that “the critics of Mr. Kissinger should remember the context of his entire life.” Finally, Kissinger himself has favored us with the following: At that time in 1973, he reminds us, the Nixon administration was being pressed by Sens. Jacob Javits and Henry Jackson to link Soviet trade privileges to emigration rights for Russian Jews. “The conversation at issue arose not as a policy statement by me but in response to a request by the president that I should appeal to Sens. Javits and Jackson and explain why we thought their approach unwise.”

But Kissinger didn’t say something cold and Metternichian to the effect that Jewish interest should come second to détente. He deliberately said gas chambers! If we are going to lower our whole standard of condemnation for such talk (and it seems that we have somehow agreed to do so), then it cannot and must not be in response to contemptible pseudo-reasonings like these.


So our culture has once again suffered a degradation by the need to explain away the career of this disgusting individual. And what if we did, indeed, accept the invitation to “remember the context of his entire life”? Here’s what we would find: the secret and illegal bombing of Indochina, explicitly timed and prolonged to suit the career prospects of Nixon and Kissinger. The pair’s open support for the Pakistani army’s 1971 genocide in Bangladesh, of the architect of which, Gen. Yahya Khan, Kissinger was able to say: “Yahya hasn’t had so much fun since the last Hindu massacre.” Kissinger’s long and warm personal relationship with the managers of other human abattoirs in Chile and Argentina, as well as his role in bringing them to power by the covert use of violence. The support and permission for the mass murder in East Timor, again personally guaranteed by Kissinger to his Indonesian clients. His public endorsement of the Chinese Communist Party’s sanguinary decision to clear Tiananmen Square in 1989.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Shock Audio: New Black Panther Leader & Farrakhan Colluded With Ahmadinejad to Overthrow America

On September 27, 2010, New Black Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz and Louis Farrakhan met with illegitimate Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to build an alliance, secure raw materials and overthrow America.

The Blaze posted this shocking audio:

In September is was reported that Louis Farrakhan met with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in New York City at the Warwick Hotel’s banquet hall.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Weighing Untapped Market Against Terror Fears

Companies find opportunity in marketing to U.S. Muslims, but some face ugly reaction

In the ballroom of an upscale hotel a short train ride from New York, advertisers, food industry executives and market researchers mingled — the men in dark suits, the women in headscarves and Western dress. Chocolates made according to Islamic dietary laws were placed at each table. The setting was the American Muslim Consumer Conference, which aimed to promote Muslims as a new market segment for U.S. companies. While corporations have long catered to Muslim communities in Europe, businesses have only tentatively started to follow suit in the U.S. — and they are doing so at a time of intensified anti-Muslim feeling that companies worry could hurt them, too. American Muslims seeking more acknowledgment in the marketplace argue that businesses have more to gain than lose by reaching out to the community.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Dying Man’s Access to Life-Saving Drug Soon Ends

Ontario’s health ministry has yet to decide if it will pick up the cost of a $500,000-a-year drug that is keeping a dying Guelph-area man alive.

Lucas Maciesza has a deadly, extremely rare blood disorder. The disease causes the body to attack oxygen-rich red blood cells and leaves patients prone to internal bleeding.

The American-made drug Soliris has been hailed as a near cure for the disorder but the costs are prohibitive — $500,000-a-year — and patients are on it for life.

After a series of Star stories and public outcry that reached the Ontario Legislature, the London Health Sciences Centre stepped up to the plate and decided to pay for Maciesza’s Soliris as a temporary measure until the health ministry made a funding decision.

LHSC has purchased approximately $75,000 to date for Soliris.

In a maddening twist, Ontario did agree to cover the costs of Soliris for a North Bay woman, Norma Metz, on compassionate grounds. She suffers from the same disorder, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH).

Meanwhile, as the province takes its time deciding, the hospital can only afford to pay for the drug until mid-January, according to Lucas’ father, Rick Maciesza.

“Then we are back to we either take him off it or we figure out how to fund it,” said the senior Maciesza. “The drug is working fantastic. But we are on pins and needles.”

This issue is something the ministry is continuing to work on actively over the holidays, said Neala Barton, press secretary for Health Minister Deb Matthews.

In a statement, Matthews said when it comes to deciding what drugs are paid for by the public, the province works “very hard to find the right balance between being compassionate and being responsible.”

Medical experts, not politicians, make the final decisions on what drugs to cover, Matthews added.

“The ministry is looking carefully at all the available evidence related to Soliris and will respond to the family’s request as quickly as possible,” she said.

But Maciesza’s life hangs in the balance…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Dreams and Nightmares of Europe in the 2040s

“She’s training to wear a burqa,” says my husband looking tenderly at our six-month-old daughter, who has pulled her security blanket up to her eyes. We like to joke about a future Europe, and the absurd details of a world inhabited by a generation of children born in 2010. What will life be like when the internet has become a symbol of a bygone age, like telegrams and faxes are today, when current notions of the future will be as comical as science-fiction scenarios from the era of silent film? And once you start, you can’t stop.

Try it and see how it feels! You might even say it’s an obligation. Isn’t every responsible European supposed to prepare for the future? Responsible Europeans are not primitive, nor are they fatalists who live from day to day. They have internet access, bicycles and toilets that flush, but that is not to say that if you don’t have these things you are some kind of inferior being.

Some Europeans even wear burqas, and that does not make them backward or fatalistic, but if it seems that way, perhaps that is just because we live on a continent that is not always supportive of Muslims. However, if you look at the internet, you can see that Muslims are fully integrated in the virtual world, and often more at home there than they are in their native countries — especially if their native country happens to be France or Germany.

Today, you can’t open a newspaper without coming on yet another contribution to the “debate on Muslims”, even in my native Czech Republic where the disciples of Islam are so thin on the ground you would be hard pressed to bump into one on the streets of a major city. “And what of it?” ask our homegrown rightwing windbags. “All these Muslims can go to the devil!” In fact, in my country we have such a shortage of Muslims that the demagogues have been forced to project their ire into attacks on the Roma, the Vietnamese and occasionally on women.

Even the most conformist magazines, the ones with the pretty pictures and the homes and gardens features, will tell you that the future of Europe belongs to women. Read it and weep. There is nothing outlandish in this assertion and anyone who gets hot under the collar about it either has a problem with women, or they imagine that female politicians in the future Europe will all be wearing burqas — a dress code that will present a major obstacle to effective government. But all of this presupposes that there will be something left to govern. Perhaps the question of clothing will turn out to be a side issue.

The European subspecies is slowly dying out, according to some, and the blame should be laid firmly on the shoulders of emancipated women. As soon as they get educated and as soon as you give them decent financial conditions, what do these bitches do? They decide they don’t need to have so many children. Some feminists claim that men are to blame, because they invented the pill, so they could separate the pleasures of the flesh from any risk of procreation. But would a collective return to condoms reverse this trend? Not likely.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

France: Scandal of the Deadly Diabetes Drug Subsidised by French State

French politicians of both the right and left are facing severe embarrassment and legal recriminations with the forthcoming publication of an official report on what could become the worst health scandal in the country’s history.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has promised “the most complete transparency” on how a drug which is now suspected to have killed up to 2,000 people was officially approved, and subsidised, for 33 years by the French health service.

Despite repeated warnings from scientists in France and abroad, the Mediator drug was prescribed to 5,000,000 French people, originally to fight diabetes and later as an appetite-suppressing, slimming pill. A report from the French health inspectorate, due in mid-January, will investigate why successive French health ministers, of the left and right, failed to heed advice that the drug — produced by the French pharmaceutical giant, Servier — was at best useless, and at worst highly dangerous.

Separate French press investigations have focused on an alleged campaign of intimidation and disinformation by the Servier company to keep the drug — and a lucrative predecessor, eventually banned in the US in 1997 — on the market.


Mediator contains a substance called benfluorex, which has been alleged in a series of scientific investigations to attack the cardio-vascular system and, in particular, to damage the valves of the heart. Despite a series of warnings, the drug remained legal — and its use was even officially subsidised by the French health service — until late last year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: Celtic Tomb Hailed as Great Archaeological Find

In a discovery described as a “milestone of archaeology,” scientists have found a 2,600-year-old aristocratic burial site at the Celtic hill fort at Heuneburg in Baden-Württemberg.

The noblewoman’s tomb, dating from early Celtic times, measures four metres by five metres, and is exceptionally well-preserved. It contained gold and amber jewellery that makes possible for the first time the precise dating of an early Celtic grave.

Using heavy cranes, the excavation team lifted the entire burial chamber out of the ground as a single block of earth and placed it on a special truck so that it could be carried off for further analysis.

The dig leader and state archaeological chief Dirk Krausse labelled the find a “milestone of archaeology.”

Judging by the ornamentation in the chamber, the archaeologists believe the tomb was built for a woman from the nobility of the Heuneburg fort, though this couldn’t be said with certainty until further investigations could be made under laboratory conditions.

Click here for a photo gallery of the dig.

This will be done by the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments in Stuttgart. Initial results are expected to be announced in June 2011.

The Heuneburg hill fort site is considered one of the most significant archaeological sites in central Europe and possibly the oldest settlement north of the Alps.

It has been the focus of intense interest because it reflects socio-political developments in early Celtic Europe when, after about 700 BC, wealth, population and political power began to be concentrated in small areas.

It was the area of a large settlement from about 700 BC and became one of the key centres of power and trade in southern Germany.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Airports Demand Racial Profiling to Fight Terror

The incoming head of Germany’s main airport lobby group is demanding the nation’s transit authorities use racial profiling to weed out terrorists at security checks.

Christoph Blume, the head of Düsseldorf Airport, told daily Rheinische Post on Tuesday that air passengers should be divided into different risk categories, meaning they would be subject varying degrees of scrutiny by airport security.

“That way, the security system could become more effective to everyone’s benefit,” said Blume, who will take the helm of the ADV airport association next month.

He said profiling passengers according to characteristics such as race, religion and country of origin would allow German airports to avert a further tightening of security.

While highly controversial because of its discriminatory nature, racial profiling has also found growing support in some quarters. However, critics fear it would stigmatize entire groups of passengers simply on their looks, faith or from where their trip originated.

“Such suggestions sound too much like the wish to save some time,” said Bernhard Witthaut, the head of the GdP police union, in Berlin on Tuesday. “But it’s better to spend half an hour in line than end up dead.”

But Blume said airports would soon no longer be able to cope with the threat of terrorism.

“Each new incident leads to extra checks and security measures. This creates a security escalation that will eventually hit its technical and operational limits,” Blume told the paper.

However, Blume still supported the introduction of so-called “naked scanners” that can reveal dangerous objects under clothing at German airports. Currently, backscatter scanners are being tested only in Hamburg before officials decide this spring whether to expand their use nationwide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Heavy Rains in Italy, Landslips in Liguria

(ANSAmed) — ROME, DECEMBER 24 — Bad weather has been hitting Italy since early this morning and is creating great disturbances. The Veneto region has been particularly affected and has caused several watercourses to swell, including the Bacchiglione River, which nearly swept two people away in the province of Padua, who were saved by fire-fighters. The same river is also causing concern in Vicenza, where it has returned to below its banks. Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands, has seen heavy seas bring water to the streets of the centre, creating problems for both pedestrians and business owners. Maritime connections with Milazzo have also been stopped. There are also problems with travel between Naples and the islands. Heavy rains have also hit Liguria, where in the province of Savona there has been a large landslip that cut through a provincial road in Murialdo. Also in Liguria, in Lerici, a landslip hit the sea front, threatening a home.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Hungary’s ‘Orbanization’ Is Worrying Europe

The move by Hungary’s right-wing government to muzzle the media is the most recent example of a disturbing political trend in the country that was once hailed as a model for post-commununist development. Should Europe impose sanctions just as Hungary is about to assume the rotating EU presidency?

The Hungarians have been Europe’s heroes twice in the last few decades. The way they fearlessly faced off against Soviet tanks in 1956 and fought for their ideals remains unforgotten. In 1989, they courageously opened the borders that separated Eastern Europe from freedom. And in the initial years following the fall of communism, many saw Budapest as a possible model for the successful development of a democracy and market economy. Hungary, the land of the Magyars, was also a land of hope.

But that seems long ago now. The rotating chairmanship of the European Union, which Hungary assumes on Jan. 1, will not represent the culmination of a successful story. In fact, the opposite could be the case. Because of its policies, Budapest could now “be in for some serious problems,” Martin Schulz, the parliamentary leader of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament said last Tuesday. Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn went a step further, accusing the Hungarian government of violating “the spirit and text of the EU treaties.” “The question arises,” he continued, “as to whether such a country deserves to lead the EU. If we don’t do anything, it will be very difficult to talk to China or Iran about human rights.”

A great deal of anger has been building up. The fact that Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has just cold-bloodedly pushed through a law that muzzles the press, only a few days before he steps onto the pan-European stage, is just the final straw. It has been a last, and possibly decisive step towards autocracy.

No other European politician will have as much power to implement such drastic measures against critical media as Orbán, whose right-wing populist Fidesz Party has a two-thirds majority in parliament. The new, 170-page law attempts to regulate all television and radio stations, newspapers and Internet sites. It even applies to blogs and foreign media available in Hungary.

At the center of the control mechanisms is a new government agency staffed exclusively with Fidesz members. It has the power to impose fines of up to €750,000 ($983,000) for articles with objectionable content — and it alone will decide what is deemed objectionable. The staff of public media organizations will be placed under government supervision.

Outraged opposition politicians demanded to know how this differs from censorship in the days of former Communist Party General Secretary János Kádár, and demonstratively taped their mouths shut in parliament. Some Hungarian newspapers have published empty front pages in protest at the law.

Government representatives assured critics that the new law would not be applied in a restrictive manner. But when a journalist of government-owned radio station MR1-Kossuth Radio used a minute of silence to protest the change in the treatment of the press, he was suspended.

There are many reasons for Hungary’s descent into the ranks of countries that are only partially democratic, but archconservatives and the radical right wing are not the only ones responsible for this adverse development. The Hungarian left has committed a form of gradual suicide. For several parliamentary terms it had the chance to shape Hungary, most recently between 2006 and the spring of 2010. But hopeful steps were quickly abandoned as corruption and nepotism shaped the political scene. Former Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsány highlighted the dilemma in a 2006 speech, when he said: “No European country has done something as boneheaded as we have … We have lied in the morning, at noon and at night.” It was only the failure of the Socialists that enabled the triumph of the conservative challenger, a seducer of the people.

A Populist Who Learns Fast

Viktor Orbán, 47, is seen as an exceptional political talent. The son of lower middle-class parents from the provinces, he studied law in Budapest and spent a year studying the history of English liberalism at Oxford. He dabbled in journalism and later worked for a government-run management-training institute. A free thinker, Orbán did not think much of the church and despised the communist political establishment. When he and a few fellow students founded Fidesz (“League of Young Democrats”) in 1988, he initially wanted the new party to admit no one older than 35.

He won a seat in parliament in 1990, but then suffered a setback in the next election. Orbán took it in his stride and aligned the party more closely with the national conservatives and those who did not benefit from the fall of communism. He took advantage of the inferiority complexes of his fellow Hungarians and pandered to their dreams of the return of a greater Hungary. In 1920, the Treaty of Trianon had deprived Hungary, one of the losers of World War I, of two thirds of its former territory.

Orbán, a master of the art of power politics, quickly learned lessons from his first, relatively unimpressive stint as prime minister, from 1998 to 2002. Colleagues say he is obsessed with the media and wants to become another Silvio Berlusconi, but without the scandals. However, Orbán, a control freak, insists on installing loyal supporters in all posts, even those of only moderate importance. He is able to gauge public opinion and sense the moods of voters — anti-American, anti-Zionist and anti-capitalist.

During the election campaign at the beginning of 2010, he almost completely abandoned any attempt to distance himself from the xenophobic Jobbik Party, which agitates against the Roma. The radical right-wing party won close to 17 percent of votes, or almost as many as the discredited Socialists. Orbán’s Fidesz Party won the election with 52.8 percent of votes, which is enough for a two-thirds majority in parliament…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland: Stampede to Grab €900 ($1,200) Bags at BT

SHOPPERS IN Dublin made up for lost time yesterday as Brown Thomas on Grafton Street opened its doors for the start of its winter sale at 9am — 24 hours late.

Within minutes Miu Miu handbags, circa €900 a pop, were being whisked off to new homes and the accessories department — read handbag department — was thronged with women seeking that 50-per-cent-off dream purchase.

The store had to postpone the opening of its sale after a malfunctioning sprinkler system on the second floor had flooded and damaged a significant proportion of the ceilings and floors over the second, first and ground floors.

Managing director Stephen Sealey said his staff had been brilliant and had worked through Sunday night into yesterday morning to clean up, while contractors had been magnificent in completing a job that could have taken a week, in 24 hours.

Ceilings had to be repaired, temporary lighting installed and new carpets laid to ensure the whole store opened at 9am. It appeared totally unblemished by the experience. Mr Sealey described a “stampede” for the handbags when the doors opened yesterday, and said one table of Miu Miu handbags was stripped bare in 30 seconds.

By lunchtime the store was uncomfortably busy, with hundreds of people, mainly women, inspecting DKNY handbags down from €234 to €140.40 and Alexander Wang leather bags reduced from €860 to €516.

One woman expressed her disappointment that a €1,200 Miu Miu handbag was not in the sale. “It is this season but the woman said it’s being ‘carried forward’,” she frowned to her companion.

The ladies’ shoe department was busier than Dublin airport’s departures floor and there were queues of up to half an hour for a changing room on some floors.

Outside, those clutching the signature carrier bags declared themselves not really disappointed the store had to postpone its sale. Evelyn Murray, from Dublin, was carrying two large BT bags, having bought cosmetic bags and a handbag. “The handbag I wanted wasn’t reduced, so I’m a bit sad about that. I wouldn’t have come in anyway on St Stephen’s Day. It’s not a day for shopping.”

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Italians Seek Car Alternatives, But Not to Save Planet

Over a quarter of drivers reducing mileage

(ANSA) — Rome, December 21 — Italians are looking for more ecological transport alternatives to traditional, gas-driven cars, but not to save the planet, a report presented Tuesday said. A snapshot of automobile use in Italy by the social and economic research think tank CENSIS said the trends are driven by hard economic times, expensive gasoline and expedience.

The study presented at the Touring Club in Rome, Automobile 2010, found drivers who reduced car use in 2010 grew by 5.6% over 2009 to 26.6%.

Instead they are using public transport, motorcycles, bicycles and their own two feet more.

Use of public transport grew 8.3% over 2009 to 49.5% of respondents, whereas two-wheeled transport, motorized or not, crept up in the low single digits. Nearly 18% of Italians use motorcycles or scooters and 18.7% use bicycles.

The report warned the trend away from car use does not indicate new, altruistic or healthier preferences among Italians, but expediency, albeit ill-conceived according to CENSIS.

Short-distance city driving consumes more gasoline per kilometer than highway travel, yet 90.4% of respondents still prefer the car for daily commutes.

“The perception that gasoline costs too much fuels an absurd paradox,” the report stated. “For moving the shortest distances, people don’t forgo the car, whereas for long journeys, which require more gasoline, they take public transport (more). “(People) are not renouncing their daily use of the automobile. “(They are) showing it an affection and trust that no other means deserves, and one that not even the economic crisis and the increased cost of gasoline manage to scratch,” said the report.

Gasoline prices irk people far more than other automobile costs, with 68% of respondents complaining that they are too expensive — an increase of 4.5% over 2009. Insurance comes next with 55.8% of respondents unhappy, a decline of 1.5% over 2009. The cost of fuel has boosted the popularity of diesel, now favored by 20.2% of respondents.

Meanwhile, demand for new cars remains weak, with just 3.9% of respondents intent on buying a new model in 2011. Nearly 8% are contemplating a new scooter or motorcycle. Reintroducing government economic incentives to encourage new car purchases finds favor with 47.5% of respondents, whereas eliminating road tax strikes a chord with 24.3%.

Respondents say they are more interested in value than discounts, with 41.1% saying the price-quality ratio motivates their purchases compared to 31% who said they were determined by price alone.

Italian men and women have very different ideas on what constitutes value, however. Women want cars to be maneuverable and practical, whereas men want them powerful and luxurious.

Foreign cars have found favor over Italian, almost entirely represented by Fiat. A little over 42% of respondents said they own Italian cars, versus 54.7% who own foreign makes.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Bans Plastic Bags, France Postpones Tax

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, DECEMBER 23 — While Italy is declaring war on non-biodegradable plastic bags, confirming a ban set to take effect in January 2011, France is still running behind schedule, with the Senate postponing a tax from 2011 to 2014. Recently, the French Senate voted on an amendment setting a 10 euro per kilo tax starting in 2014 to be levied on supermarkets, while the Chamber of Deputies had already asked for the same measure to be taken already next year as part of the 2011 Budget. Initially, at the end of November, the Senate asked not to tax plastic bags, but then did an about-face at the last minute. French President Nicolas’ Sarkozy’s government has always stated that it is against the tax.

The WWF have asked MPs not to allow this “schizophrenia” to hinder the measure. After abandoning the carbon tax and the environmental label for products, criticised the WWF, “this policy of environmental regression marks another triumph of the versatility of coherence,” said the WWF. Major retailers say that they “greatly disapprove of the Senate’s decision”. For the MPs, the tax on non-biodegradable bags is a “purely dissuasive device”: the threat to levy new taxes will lead to their progressive elimination. According to a study, the number of plastic bags in France has already decreased.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Occult Business Hooks 12.5 Million Italians

Around six billion per year spent on psychics, faith healers

(ANSA) — Rome, December 21 — More than 12.5 million Italians flock to psychics, faith healers and clairvoyants every year, roughly 35,000 per day, a study by a consumer group that helps the occult industry’s victims said on Tuesday. Telefono Antiplagio’s annual report, Magic and Occultism 2011, found Italians spend at least six billion euros per year, much of it under the table, on advice, insights into the future and solutions from roughly 120,000 purveyors of occult services.

The group added that these estimates are conservative. “This data refers only to regional estimates based on 20,000 operators who advertise. The (real) numbers are actually higher,” said Giovanni Panunzio, the founder of Telefono Antiplagio. “There are another 100,000 operators who work through word-of-mouth”. Telefono Antiplagio said it receives about 1,000 calls annually on a helpline it has run for 17 years for people who have been swindled or damaged by the industry. Fifty-one percent of the users are adult women, while 38% are adult men and the rest are teenagers or even children. Clients have an average age of 42 and most do not hold a high-school diploma.

Sentimental troubles drive 52% of people to turn to occult practitioners, while economic issues account for 24%, health problems 13%, and trouble with the law and requests for protection generates the rest, the survey said. “A crisis is the main reason a person turns to magic,’ explained psychiatrist Paolo Cianconi. “There is a physical, psychological, social need, which is also tied to an attraction toward powers alternative to (normal) human ones, to find support in the mysterious to resolve problems”.

Lombardy residents are particularly susceptible to the sector’s allure, the study found. About 180,000 Milan residents shell out 90 million euro per year to magicians of various types, it said.

The most skeptical region seems to be Valle d’Aosta, which is on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, where around 2,000 people spend about one million euro on the occult per annum. The Telefono Antiplagio report warns Italians intent on using occult practitioners “not to speak with charlatans about one’s private life, not to meet them alone and to record any conversations with them”. The group alleged that psychics and other occult consultants frequently commit fraud, extortion and medical malpractice, as well as exploiting the mentally handicapped and violate clients’ privacy. The report also advises against cash transactions and encourages victims to have the courage to file criminal charges.

Panunzio went as far as to call on publishers who sell advertising space to occult operators to stop doing so. “We understand it’s a business, but if they’d renounce this income, it would be a noble gesture,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Opposition to the Euro Grows in Germany

Surveys show that many Germans are worried about the future of the euro, but the country’s political parties are not taking their fears seriously. The number of grassroots initiatives against the common currency is increasing, and political observers say a Tea Party-style anti-euro movement could do well.

As a playwright, Rolf Hochhuth knows how to use timing to achieve the greatest possible impact. In the 1960s, he criticized the pope for remaining silent about the Holocaust. When everyone in the world was talking about globalization, he took to the theater stage and unmasked consulting companies like McKinsey as exploitation machines.

Now Hochhuth is campaigning against the euro — and his stage is Germany’s Constitutional Court. “Why should we help rescue the Greeks from their sham bankruptcy?” he asks. “Ever since Odysseus, the world has known that the Greeks are the biggest rascals of all time. How is it even possible — unless it was premeditated — for this highly popular tourist destination to go bankrupt?”

In the spring, he joined a group led by Berlin-based professor Markus Kerber that has filed a constitutional complaint against the billions in aid to Greece and the establishment of the European stabilization fund, which was set up in May 2010. Hochhuth wants the deutsche mark back. “I don’t know if this is possible. I only know that Germany lived very well with the mark.”

It’s an opinion that suddenly places this nearly 80-year-old man in a rather unusual position, at least for him: on the side of the majority of Germans.

Better Off with the Mark

Unnerved by shaky, debt-ridden countries and bailout packages worth billions, the majority of Germans want the mark back. In a survey conducted in early December by the polling firm Infratest dimap, 57 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that Germany would have been better off keeping the mark than introducing the euro. Germans, it seems, are gripped once again by their historic fear of inflation: According to the Forschungsgruppe Wahlen polling institute, 82 percent of the population is worried about the stability of their currency.

Now, a network of euro critics is capitalizing on this atmosphere. A group consisting of an aging playwright, a recalcitrant professor, a frustrated member of parliament with the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP), the grandson of a former chancellor and a former top manager have decided they don’t want the euro anymore — at least not the way it is now. They are still only united by little more than a common issue, but it wouldn’t be the first loose association of individuals that ended up becoming a political party.

“The return of the mark? I can imagine that we could see the rise of a German Tea Party focusing on precisely this issue,” says Thomas Mayer, chief economist at Deutsche Bank, referring to the conservative American political movement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) faces a dilemma as to how to deal with ordinary Germans’ concerns about the euro. If she takes their fears seriously, she will have to assume a hard-line stance toward countries that are drowning in debt like Greece and Portugal. But if she plays the iron chancellor, she will have no choice but to break with the Europe-friendly traditions of former CDU chancellors like Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl.

Scope for a Protest Movement

For the time being, no political party has focused on the currency concerns. In reaction to the crisis, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who is also a member of the CDU, has urged closer cooperation in European politics — which is precisely the opposite of what many people want. The center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), which stylizes itself as the party of the common man, is a strong proponent of euro bonds — joint European government bonds that critics say would place the burden primarily on German taxpayers.

By contrast, the conservative Christian Social Union, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party, can’t make up its mind as to which of two party members it should take inspiration from: Theo Waigel, who paved the way for the euro when he was Germany’s finance minister, or Peter Gauweiler, who has challenged its constitutionality in court.

Pollsters like Matthias Jung from Forschungsgruppe Wahlen say that they can imagine the formation of a protest movement coalescing around euro-related fears. “The government has to prove that the bailouts for Greece and Ireland serve our own needs in Germany,” says Jung. “If the billions in aid are not convincingly justified, it will lead to a legitimation crisis.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Blasts in Stockholm: Muslims to be Affected Most

Almost two weeks have passed since the Swedish people for the first time realized the real threat of radical terrorism reaching their country as well as their northern neighbors. “A Christmas gift” for “Sweden and Swedish people” was sent by a 28-year old Swedish citizen with an Iraqi background, Taymour Abdelwahab, who exploded a car and himself on central Stockholm’s streets. The attack was a clear signal that terrorism is not just for the United States and Great Britain but even relatively liberal and neutral countries such as Sweden. Full of police and security posts, and nervous, suspicious pedestrians — this is how Stockholm, one of the most ecological cities in the world, is looking before Christmas this year.

Despite the fact that no terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the attack, the Swedish newspaper “Aftonbladet” quoted a terrorism expert saying that Abdulwahab didn’t act alone and had allies — likely in Iraq, who supplied him with explosive materials and training for the attack. The Swedish security police (SÄPO), however, is still mostly silent on the details, stating that the investigation is continuing. Nevertheless, it remains unclear why Sweden was chosen as a first target for an attack in Scandinavia.

The Swedish approach towards Muslims and Islamic countries in particular is now exposed. Scrolling through European countries’ policies towards Muslims, Sweden deserves to be much higher up the list in comparison with her Danish neighbor or numerous other Western European countries for its relations with followers of the Muslim faith. The fact is recognized by Muslims themselves who believe that instead of “saving Muslim brothers and sisters” lives, Taymour Abdelwahhab has complicated the situation much more.

“Sweden is the best country for Muslims compared with other European states. The explosions will be a turning point for social relations between Muslims and Swedes: They will look at Muslims as a source of danger and fear” stated Imam Mahmoud Khalfi, a representative of the Islamic Association of Sweden. The Imam is sure that the Muslims will suffer not less than Swedes after the failed terror attack in Stockholm. “It will open the door for new troubles for Muslims who live here and Muslims themselves will be the offer,” Imam Khalfi thinks. “For Muslims it was a big surprise and, for sure, the reaction [in the Swedish community] will be negative.”

Like many others, Imam Khalfi does not see the justification the suicide bomber talked about in his voice message to “Sweden and Swedish people” sent to the central news agency TT and security police twenty minutes before the blasts. First, the bomber cited the presence of the Swedish military contingent within the ISAF in Afghanistan. The Swedish government since autumn has been discussing the withdrawal of the soldiers after 2014 — and restricting its involvement to civil affairs and police and armed forces training. On the other hand, the Green Party of Sweden together with their colleagues from the Left Party and Social Democrats have been calling to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan from 2013.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Big Freeze Presents Old Problem for Modern Boilers

British Gas records 100,000 broken boiler call-outs as extreme cold stalls even most modern condensing boilers

Amid what is likely to be the coldest December for a century the last thing you need — or expect — is for your modern, expensive boiler to grind to a frozen halt. For thousands of people in recent weeks that is what has happened.

The second extremely cold winter in a row has exposed what plumbers say is a flaw with condensing boilers, the only sort permitted to be installed since 2005 under government regulations. These are significantly more energy-efficient than traditional boilers because rather than expelling hot waste gases from a flue they use some of this energy to heat water.

However, this process condenses moisture in the gases. The waste liquid is usually expelled into the drains via a slim plastic pipe running down an external wall — a pipe which is prone to freezing in particularly cold weather, stalling the entire system.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: David Cameron Must Face the Challenge of Islamisation

The leader of Ukip, Nigel Farage MEP, must have groaned when he learned that the French National Front is now modelling itself on his party. Marine Le Pen, who is poised to take over leadership of the Front National (FN) from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, describes it as a “patriotic” party that has more in common with Ukip than the BNP. Given the sinister resonances that the words “National Front” have in Britain, Miss Le Pen has presented Ukip’s opponents with a seasonal gift. “Ukip — backed by the French National Front” is a rhetorical swipe worthy of David Cameron’s description of the party’s supporters as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

We should not, however, be too quick to dismiss reports that a sanitised Front National has succeeded in reaching out to a new constituency. The FN’s selling point is its opposition to the “Islamisation” of French public life — but not, it is careful to add, to Islam itself. Miss Le Pen claims that pork is being taken off the menu in French schools and that state funds are being used to build “ostentatious mosque cathedrals”. She may never be elected president, but over a quarter of French voters approve of her; at no point in the history of the Fifth Republic has an aggressive Right-wing party enjoyed such support among the middle classes.

It may seem inconceivable that British politics could move in the same direction. But we should not be too relaxed about the fact that populist Right-wing parties have never broken into the mainstream of our politics. Two points need to be made.

First, that Muslims have migrated to Britain in enormous numbers over the past 40 years; one of the heaviest waves of immigration was encouraged by the last government. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented. The second point is that — different political traditions notwithstanding — Britain is beginning to experience French-style anxiety about Islamisation. The fact that many terrorists are Muslims may lead to unfair assumptions about the loyalty of British Muslims. But, at a time when — according to some surveys — around 40 per cent of the Muslim community support the establishment of Sharia, fears of social fracture are understandable. Meanwhile, government attempts to ease tension by empowering to unelected “community leaders” have caused huge resentment. It is worth noting that the Oldham and Saddleworth by-election next month was caused by the disqualification of a Labour MP caught stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Islam Takes Over Catholic School

A CATHOLIC school faces being taken over by a mosque after it was revealed that 95% of its pupils are Muslim.

It is believed to be the first case of its kind in Britain.

Church leaders say it is no longer “appropriate” for them to run Sacred Heart RC Primary School which has just six Christian pupils.

Just 10 years ago more than 90% of pupils were Catholic. But now most are of Asian origin, do not speak English as their first language and follow Islam.

The school in Blackburn, Lancs, could be handed to the nearby Masjid-e-Tauheedul mosque.

Harry Devonport of Blackburn with Darwen Council Children’s Services, said the decision to abandon the school was made by the Diocese of Salford.

Diocese education director Geraldine Bradbury said: “We have never experienced a change to this extent before. We would not be serving the local community by insisting that we run the school. It brings things like having a Catholic headteacher and devoting 10% of the timetable to RE.

“It would be wrong of us to insist on putting a school community through that.”

The mosque runs an Islamic girls’ secondary school. Head Hamid Patel said: “Given that almost all of the pupils are Muslim, it makes sense.”

Other organisations are in the race to run the school — in a predominantly Asian populated area of the town — including the Church of England diocese.

But the Tauheedul mosque is favourite to take over. A report to the local council said any attempt to turn Sacred Heart into a non-religious community school would be rejected because of the Coalition Government’s “stated preference for new faith schools and free schools”.

Mr Devonport added: “There will be no disruption for children at the school.”

           — Hat tip: TSJ[Return to headlines]

UK: London is Home to Hamas Hub, Says Israel

Israel’s defence ministry has accused a London-based Palestinian centre of “terror-affiliated activities” and being the organisational arm of the militant Islamic Hamas movement in Europe. Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and advocates violent opposition to the Jewish state, is designated by the European Union as a terrorist organisation.

An Israeli defence ministry statement issued on Tuesday said that the Palestinian Return Centre in Ealing, north London, organises conferences in Europe at which it plays taped speeches by Hamas leaders who are banned from entering the EU.

“The centre is involved in initiating and organising radical and violent activity against Israel in Europe, while delegitimising Israel’s status as a nation among the European community,” the statement said. “Among other terror-affiliated activities, the centre organises many conferences in various European countries for Hamas and Muslim Brotherhood activists from all around the world,” it added. On its website, the centre describes itself as “an independent consultancy focusing on the historical, political and legal aspects of the Palestinian Refugees.”

Israel however, says it is is “part of the broader Hamas activism and support network within Europe, which is especially strong in England.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour MP Condemns Petition Plans

Moves to give the public a say on what new laws are debated in Parliament would put power in the hands of “the obsessed and the fanatical”, a Labour MP has said.

“This seems to be an attractive idea to those who haven’t seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it’s tried. If you ask people the question ‘do you want to pay less tax?’, they vote yes,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If we get the e-petitions in there will be some asking for Jeremy Clarkson to be prime minister, for Jedi and Darth Vader to be the religions of the country. The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward.”

Ministers are examining how to ensure support is not artificially boosted by repeat votes and how best to incorporate social networking sites and other websites in the process.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Man and Woman Charged With Murder of 15-Year-Old Boy Found Dead in a Bath on Christmas Day

A man and woman were today charged with the murder of a 15-year-old boy who was found dead in a bath on Christmas Day.

Eric Baikubi, 27, of Newham, East London, and a 27-year-old woman of the same address will appear before magistrates in London later today.

Officers discovered the badly-injured teenager at a flat in Newham, East London, about lunchtime on Saturday, after being told he had drowned in a bath.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Online Petition Plans to Go Ahead

Moves to give the public a say on what new laws are debated in Parliament would put power in the hands of “the obsessed and the fanatical”, a Labour MP said today.

The Government is pressing ahead with plans to allow petitions attracting significant voter support to be debated in Parliament — with those attracting the most signatures even translated into Bills.

Details of the system — which was among promises set out in the Tory/Lib Dem coalition agreement in May — are yet to be set out or agreed with Commons business chiefs including Speaker John Bercow.

But it is expected that the new backbench business committee will be asked to co-ordinate the timetabling of debates on public-inspired demands for action submitted via the DirectGov website.

It could also be asked to help find backbench MPs willing to lead the cause of any legislation drafted on the basis of the most popular cause.

The guarantee of a formal debate for any petition securing 100,000 or more signatures and the chance of seeing a proposal put into law was among ideas suggested by David Cameron while in opposition to improve voter engagement in the wake of the expenses scandal.

It was strongly criticised however by Paul Flynn, a Labour member of the Commons public administration committee.

“This seems to be an attractive idea to those who haven’t seen how useless this has been in other parts of the world when it’s tried. If you ask people the question ‘do you want to pay less tax?’, they vote yes,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“If we get the e-petitions in there will be some asking for Jeremy Clarkson to be prime minister, for Jedi and Darth Vader to be the religions of the country.

“The blogosphere is not an area that is open to sensible debate; it is dominated by the obsessed and the fanatical and we will get crazy ideas coming forward.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Paedophile Dressed as Policeman Tried to Abduct Schoolboy by ‘Taking Him for Questioning’

A shopkeeper stopped a convicted paedophile as he tried to abduct a schoolboy while posing as a police officer.

Brandon Cunningham, 20, put on a stab vest and impersonated a CID detective when he approached the 15-year-old boy as he bought sweets from a newsagents.

He searched the teenager and ‘arrested’ him before taking his house keys and marching him away for questioning.

Harekrishna Patel, the quick-thinking shopkeeper who knew the boy, stepped in when he became suspicious.

He confronted Cunningham and when he was unable to produce a police ID badge he called for the real police who came and arrested him.


‘As the youth was searched and taken away, Mr Patel had a feeling something was not right and set off in pursuit, confronting Cunningham who was unable to produce police ID, so he intervened by holding on to the bogus officer until the police arrived.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: PCSO: £1.2m Per Crime: The Cost of Just One Force’s ‘Plastic Plods’

Police community support officers cost up to £1.2m for each crime they detected last year, shocking new figures reveal.

In Nottinghamshire £7m was spent on paying 265 PCSOs’ wages — with the team detecting just six crimes in 2009/10.

Meanwhile 311 support officers with a wage bill of £9.3m in South Wales only detected eight crimes in 2009.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Political Views ‘Hard-Wired’ Into Your Brain

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.

On the otherhand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.

The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.

However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Top Gear Stars Cause Religious Storm After Dressing Up in Burkas on Boxing Day Special

Jeremy Clarkson and his Top Gear co-stars have sparked religious outrage after dressing up in burkas on the Boxing Day special.

Clarkson and Richard Hammond decided to dress in niqabs, a form of the burka where everything but the eyes are covered, in order to disguise themselves on the road.

They also got James May in on the act when they greeted him from hospital after he fell and hit his head on rocks in the Syrian desert.

But their joke backfired after they were slammed by Muslims for mocking their religion.

Islamic extremist Anjem Choudary, said: ‘The burka is a symbol of our religion and people should not make jokes about it in any way. ‘It would have been equally bad even if they’d not been in a country mainly populated by Muslims.’

On the Boxing Day episode of the show, the trio were driving across the Middle East to follow the path of the Three Wise Men.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wales: Neighbours Left Shocked by Arrests of Terror Suspects

NEIGHBOURS of the charged trio yesterday spoke of their shock.

The accused were described by residents in Riverside as Muslim family men who generally kept to themselves.

Gurukanth Desai, Omar Sharif Latif and Abdul Malik Miah all lived within a few minutes’ walk of each other in the city suburb.

Police returned to the men’s homes on Boxing Day and in the early hours of yesterday morning, but it is understood the properties have been empty since last Monday’s arrests.

Neighbours of 26-year-old Desai, who lived at Albert Street, said he had moved into the terrace house five months ago with his wife and three young children.

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said. “When they came here we thought they were good family people. He was a really nice guy and spoke very politely.”

Another Albert Street resident added: “I know he was a family man and I just thought they were a normal family.”

Neighbours of Omar Sharif Latif said the 26-year-old lived at Neville Street with his parents, brother and sister.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


The Demolition of the Yugoslav Tribunal

Edward S. Herman

A review of Germinal Chivikov’s book Srebrenica: The Star Witness (orig. Srebrenica: Der Kronzeuge, 2009, transl. by John Laughland) — “a devastating indictment of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY).”

The book shows that the Tribunal “does not behave according to the traditions of the rule of law”—it is a political rather than judicial institution, and has played this political role well. It is not the first work to effectively assail the Tribunal—Laughland’s own book Travesty (Pluto: 2006), and Michael Mandel’s How America Gets Away With Murder (Pluto: 2004) are powerful critiques. But Civikov’s book is unique in its intensive and very effective focus on a single witness, Drazen Erdemovic, and the ICTY’s prosecutors and judges handling of that witness. Erdemovic was the prosecution’s “star witness,” the only one in the trials of various Serb military and political figures to have claimed actual participation in a massacre of Bosnian Muslim prisoners. It is therefore of great interest and importance that Civikov is able to show very convincingly that this key witness was a charlatan, fraud, and mercenary, and that the ICTY’s prosecutors and judges effectively conspired to allow this witness’s extremely dubious and contradictory claims to be accepted without verification or honest challenge.

Erdemovic was a member of a Bosnian Serb military unit, the “10th Sabotage Unit,” an eight-man team of which he claimed shot to death 1,200 Bosnian Muslim prisoners at Branjevo Farm north of Srebrenica in Bosnia on July 16, 1995. Erdemovic confessed to having personally killed 70-100 prisoners. He was initially arrested by Yugoslav authorities on March 3, 1996, and quickly indicted, but was turned over to the ICTY at pressing U.S. and ICTY official request on March 30, 1996, supposedly temporarily, but in fact, permanently. He was himself eventually tried, convicted, and served three and a half years in prison for his crimes. This was a rather short term for an acknowledged killer of 70-100 prisoners, but longer than he had anticipated when he agreed to testify for the ICTY—he had expected complete immunity, as he told Le Figaro reporter Renaud Girard (“Bosnia: Confession of a War Criminal, “ Le Figaro, March 8, 1996). He claimed to have an agreement with the ICTY whereby “in return for his evidence he will be allowed to settle in a Western country with his family. He will enter the box as a witness, not as an accused, and will thus escape all punishment.” But his earlier arrest, indictment and publicity in Yugoslavia may have made some prison term necessary for the ICTY’s credibility. He ended up after his prison term in an unknown location as a “protected witness” of the ICTY. But even before his own sentencing he had begun his role as star witness in the ICTY’s (and U.S. and NATO’s) trials of accused Serbs. He appeared in five such trials, and from beginning to end was taken as a truth-teller by prosecutors, judges, and the mainstream media.

One of the most remarkable and revealing features of the Erdemovic case is that although he named seven individuals who did the killing with him, and two superiors in the chain of command who ordered or failed to stop the crime, not one of these was ever brought into an ICTY court either as an accused killer or to confirm any of Erdemovic’s claims. These co-killers have lived quietly, within easy reach of ICTY jurisdiction, but untroubled by that institution and any demands seemingly imposed by a rule of law. The commander of his unit, Milorad Pelemis, who Erdemovic claimed had given the order to kill, made it clear in an interview published in a Belgrade newspaper in November 2005, that the Hague investigators have never questioned him. He had never gone into hiding, but has lived undisturbed with his wife and children in Belgrade. Nor have ICTY investigators bothered with Brano Gojkovic, a private in the killer team who Erdemovic claimed was somehow in immediate command of the unit (a point never explained by him or prosecutors or judges). Civikov points out that only once did the judges in any of the five trials in which the star witness testified ask the prosecutors whether they were investigating these other killers. The prosecutors assured the judges in 1996 that the others were being investigated, but 14 years later the Office of the Prosecutor had not questioned one of them. And from 1996 onward the judges never came back to the subject.

As these seven were killers of many hundreds in Erdemovic’s version, and the prosecutors and judges took Erdemovic’s version as true, why were these killers left untouched? One thing immediately clear is that the ICTY was not in the business of serving impartial justice even to the point of arresting and trying wholesale killers of Bosnian Muslims in a case the ICTY itself called “genocide.” But ignoring the co-perpetrators in this case strongly suggests that the prosecutors and judges were engaged in a political project—protecting a witness who would say what the ICTY wanted said, and refusing to allow any contesting evidence or cross-examination that would discredit the star witness. Civikov points out that the only time Erdemovic was subject to serious cross-examination was when he was questioned by Milosevic himself during the marathon Milosevic trial. And Civikov shows well that the ICTY presiding judge in that case, Richard May, went to great pains to stop Milosevic whenever his questions penetrated too deeply into the area of Erdemovic’s connections or credibility…

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

Two Nations Under Islamic Duress — Serbia and Israel

In the 14th century, the Byzantine Empire began to crumble, finally falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. But in 1389, the Ottoman Turkish sultan, Murad, 1, began to lead his forces against the armies of the Serbian prince Lazar.

The Serbian prince had already been active in resisting increasing Muslim raids against Christian lands in the Balkans and had called his barons, knights and warriors together to ask them if they should fight or become slaves, dhimmis, to the Muslims. The decision was made to fight although their forces would number some 35,000 against a Turkish Muslim host of 100,000. But better to fight than to be enslaved.

The place chosen to make a stand against the Muslim Turks was at Kosovo Polje (the Field of Blackbirds) in Kosovo — the heartland of the Serbian nation. It was in June, 1389, on St. Vitus Day, (Vidovdan), that the rival forces met.

Prince Lazar reviewed the serried ranks of his foot soldiers and the mass of his cavalry, but he saw facing him a Muslim horde with a sea of waving flags upon which were emblazoned the Islamic crescent. He called upon all Serbs on that day saying: “Whoever is of Serbian descent and fails to come and fight in Kosovo, may his name be cursed for as long as his lineage should last.”

The battle began at first with Serbian successes and the great Serbian hero, Milos Obilic, killed the Turkish Muslim sultan, Murad. For a while the Turks were in disarray but they managed to recover and by their sheer weight of numbers ground down and defeated the Serbian army.

It was not a mere military defeat but the end of Serbian independence and the beginning of 500 years of Christian suffering under the Muslim yoke. But worse still, the Serbian heartland of Kosovo was lost. For the Serbian people, the blood shed at the Battle of Kosovo in the Field of Blackbirds marks Kosovo as eternally Serbian.

Another year in history that haunts the memory of a different people, who also suffered the loss of their heartland, is the year 70 AD. It was in that terrible year that the Roman general, Titus, finally came with overwhelming force against the people of Judea and the Jewish capital city, Jerusalem.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Morocco: 6 Arrested for Planning Attacks Abroad

(ANSAmed) — RABAT, DECEMBER 27 — Moroccan security forces have arrested six Moroccans who are suspected of planning terrorist attacks in the Maghreb country and abroad. The news was announced today by the country’s Interior Minister, who did not specify when and where the arrests were made.

The six are experts in the fabrication of explosives. They had planned to use explosives for attacks in non further specified countries and against foreign interests in Morocco, as well as Moroccan institutions and security structures.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Appeal by Netanyahu, No Violence Against Foreigners

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, DECEMBER 22 — Today Israeli premier Benyamin Netanyahu invited his people to abide by the laws, not attack foreign workers and not to raise animosity against minorities. The appeal was made in the wake of repeated manifestations of xenophobia and hostility against Arabs and clandestine African workers in recent weeks.

In his message, which was also broadcast on YouTube and Facebook, Premier Netanyahu stated: “I ask the Israeli people, and I insist on it, not to take justice into their own hands and not to resort to violence or incitement. We are a State that respects people as such. On our behalf we will act to solve the problem of abiding to the law. It is what we do and it is what I ask the Israeli people to do”.

The premier assured that his government is actively committed to solve the problem of the presence of thousands of African clandestine people by building a wall along the border with Egypt, by sending them back to their countries of origin, and in other ways that have not been specified.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Britain Risks Israeli Anger by Extending Diplomatic Recognition to Palestinians

Britain is expected to risk Israeli protests by upgrading the status of the Palestinians’ diplomatic representation in London in response to the progress made in state-building preparations by its leadership in the West Bank.

Although the move would be symbolic rather than practical, it is being contemplated at a sensitive time because of deepening Israeli unease over Palestinian efforts to achieve international recognition ahead of negotiations or peace agreement.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Palestinians Reject Interim Peace Deal

Mr Netanyahu publicly endorsed a fallback alternative to a comprehensive peace agreement for the first time in an interview on Monday night. Avigdor Lieberman, his far-Right foreign minister, says an interim agreement would avoid having to reach a deal on the most divisive core issues, such as sovereignty over Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees.

But Nabil Abu Rudeina, an aide to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, made it clear that an interim agreement was not an option as far as the Palestinians were concerned.

“Jerusalem is a red line as it is to be the capital of a future Palestinian state,” he said. “Going back to talk about a state without determining its borders is unacceptable, and it will not lead us to a true peace.”

With the Middle East peace process currently at an impasse, Mr Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 10 television that he was ready to “go all the way” if the Palestinians were serious, but other options were possible. “There could be a situation in which talks with the Palestinians hit a brick wall over the issues of Jerusalem and the right of return [for refugees], and in that case the result would be an interim agreement.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Xenophobic Alarm Over Sudanese House Fire

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, DECEMBER 20 — A fire believed to be a case of arson in an flat in Ashdod (south of Tel Aviv) in which five Sudanese suffered smoke inhalation has raised alarm among Israeli activists involved in the defense of Africans in Israel.

According to reports in the daily paper Yediot Ahronot, unknown individuals attacked the flat over the night between Saturday and Sunday by hurling a flaming tyre which had been filled with highly flammable liquid. The newspaper added that the flat soon filled with thick smoke which forced its Sudanese occupants to flee. The incident (the first of its kind so far) immediately alarmed the organisation Anu Plitim (We Are Refugees), which provides assistance to workers and refugees from Africa that are attempting to put down roots in Israel. According to the organisation’s director, Shira Penn, the attack in Ashdod might be the consequence of a xenophobic campaign launched over the last few months by nationalistic Israeli rabbis. Yediot Ahronot said that some estimates put the number of Sudanese inhabitants in Ashdod — a city with over 100,000 overall — at about 2,000. There was recently a protest staged in disapproval of their presence in the city.

In order to put an end to illegal immigration of Africans to Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu’s government has recently started building a 240km barrier along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

Every month about 1,200 people enter Israel illegally through this border.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Britain Forms Plan for Gulf Evacuation in Event of War With Iran

The Coalition government under David Cameron ordered an immediate review of British military planning in the Gulf after the election last May. The Daily Telegraph can reveal that new proposals are being drawn up to coordinate military activity in the region with local allies hostile to Iran, particularly the United Arab Emirates.

Planners have realised they had to tear up existing emergency plans for local British residents. Since the previous review in the 1990s, the expatriate population has grown to more than 100,000 in the UAE alone, while a million British tourists, from businessmen on stopovers to England footballers with marital problems, come to Dubai every year. It is feared they might be at risk if, as it has promised, Iran retaliates for any military strikes on its nuclear sites with missile attacks on “western interests” in the Gulf.

Royal Navy warships, along with their American and French counterparts, regularly patrol the Gulf and tie up in UAE ports, while Iran has also threatened to mine the strategically crucial Straits of Hormuz. The region’s gearing up for the possibility of a war stands in contrast to the relaxing tourists on beaches or the opulent expat villa compounds.

In the last year, the United Nations, the US and Europe have all imposed heavy sanctions on Iran. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, was one of a number of regional Arab leaders revealed in Wikileaks cables to have been pressing for even tougher action. Diplomats say he has also been the key mover, along with William Hague, the foreign secretary, in demanding an upgrading of Britain’s traditional military ties with its former colonial protectorates in the Gulf.

He has also personally raised the issue of the safety of the foreign population, which makes up 70 per cent of the UAE’s 4.5 million residents.

The new military co-operation plan, whose full terms remain secret, will be signed off in the first half of 2011, when Mr Cameron is expected to visit. It is regarded as such a priority that it is being protected from defence cuts.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Wars of 2011

On Sunday thousands of Israel haters gathered in Istanbul to welcome the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara to the harbor. Festooned with Palestinian flags, the crowd chanted “Death to Israel,” “Down with Israel” and “Allah akbar” with Hizbullah-like enthusiasm.

The Turkish protesters promised to stand on the side of Hamas when it next goes to war with Israel. They may not have to wait long to keep their promise. Over the past two weeks Hamas has steeply escalated its missile war, launching over 30 missiles at Israel. Last week, a missile that narrowly missed a nursery school wounded a young girl.

Since Operation Cast Lead two years ago, Iran has helped Hamas massively increase its missile and other military capabilities. Today the terror group that rules Gaza has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv. It has advanced antitank missiles. As Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida said Saturday, “We are now stronger than before and during the war, and our silence over the past two years was only for evaluating the situation.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Dubai: Mother Gives Birth in Airport Toilet, Strangles the Baby, Dumps Its Corpse in a Bin… Then Catches Flight Out

The mother — believed to be Ethiopian and in her thirties — caught a flight before the infant’s body was discovered by a cleaner at Dubai International Airport.

She was identified using security camera footage and is being hunted by police.

The woman allegedly severed the baby boy’s umbilical cord with her bare hands and strangled him with a cloth before dumping him.

The infant was discovered when a woman passenger informed one of the airport’s cleaners about a pool of blood in the bathroom.

Traces of blood led to the bin where the baby was found, soaked in blood, tied up with his umbilical cord in a tightly wrapped plastic bag.

The boy was still gasping for breath but a rescue team and volunteers could not revive him.

‘At around 3.35am I went to the toilet to clean up the blood around a toilet bowl,’ the cleaner told the Khaleej Times newspaper.

‘After that I decided to empty the waste bin which was covered with paper rolls.

‘When I lifted it I found it to be a little heavier, so I got curious and started removing the tissue papers.

‘I was stunned to see a baby all blue on the face and gasping for breath.’

It is unclear whether the woman was a UAE resident, tourist or passenger in transit.

A security source said it appeared the woman had strangled the infant, whose body was undergoing further tests.

‘Most likely the woman wanted to get rid of the baby as it was a child outside wedlock,’ said the source. ‘It seems that the woman had intended to leave the UAE before the delivery but was faced with a different reality in the airport.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Iran Hangs ‘Mossad Spy’ For Relaying Military Secrets to Arch-Enemy Israel

Ali Akbar Siadat, an Iranian, was found guilty of relaying sensitive data to Mossad, having worked for the Israeli intelligence agency since 2004.

He was arrested four years later when he tried to leave Iran with his wife.

Iran and Israel have been enemies since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran and Tehran periodically announces the arrest of people suspected of spying for Israel, which Iran refuses to recognise.

‘Ali Akbar Siadat, who spied for Israel’s Mossad, was hanged inside the Evin prison (in Tehran) this morning,’ the official IRNA news agency quoted a statement from the judiciary as saying.

‘He was convicted of corruption on Earth, confronting the Islamic Republic and strengthening the Zionist regime (Israel).’

‘Siadat confessed receiving $60,000 for transferring classified information to Mossad on Iran’s military activities,’ said IRNA. He is also said to have been given $7,000 each time he met with his handlers.

The statement said he had been given ‘special equipment including a laptop’ to contact Mossad.

IRNA said Siadat met Israeli agents in Turkey, Thailand and the Netherlands among other countries. He is said to have given them information on Iran’s military drills, military bases, military aircraft as well as missile systems operated by the Revolutionary Guards.

A convicted Iranian, Ali Ashtari, was hanged in Iran in 2008 for working with Mossad. The electronics salesman was convicted of relaying information on the country’s nuclear programme. Israel denied any links with the case.

And in 2000, a court convicted 10 Iranian Jews of spying for Israel in a closed-door trial and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. All were released before serving out their full sentences after international pressure.

Over the past decade, Iran has stepped up its domestic military production, including missiles capable of reaching Israel and beyond — aiming, Tehran says, to defend the country from Israel and the U.S. amid Iranian concern they might strike its nuclear facilities.

Iran often accuses Israel and the United States of trying to destabilise the Islamic Republic.

Israel, believed to be the only country in the Middle East with nuclear weapons, sides with the United States and its allies in accusing Iran of seeking to build atomic weapons of its own.

Iran denies this, saying it wants to use nuclear power to generate electricity.

Israel has not ruled out military strikes on Iran if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the stand off over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Iran has vowed to retaliate to any strikes with missile salvoes on Israel and U.S. targets in the Gulf.

IRNA also said Ali Saremi, a member of the exiled opposition group the Mujahideen Khalq Organisation, was hanged for various offences, including ‘moharebe’ or waging war against God.

Under Iran’s penal code, imposed since its 1979 Islamic revolution, espionage and waging war against God can carry the death penalty.

IRNA also reported that another Iranian, identified as Ali Sarami, was hanged on Tuesday in Evin after being convicted of membership in an exiled opposition group, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq Organization.

It said he had been arrested several times since 1982 for membership in the group but had continued his activities each time. He was detained in 2007 for the last time and was sentenced to death, IRNA reported.

MEK in a statement Tuesday claimed Sarami’s wife and daughter as well as two other supporters were arrested while protesting outside Evin prison after his execution.

It said Sarami, 63, has spent a total 24 years in prison from various incarcerations under the shah and clerical rule. Though arrested in 2007, his death sentence came after mass opposition protests that were held in December 2009, the group said.

The MEK said that before his arrest, Sarami visited a son who is staying at Camp Ashraf, an MEK base in neighboring Iraq. Iranian authorities have arrested other people in the past in part for visiting relatives in the camp.

Amnesty International reported in August that in addition to Sarami, six others in Iranian prisons are facing execution after being sentenced to death for MEK links.

The MEK is a bitter opponent of Iran’s ruling clerics. It was founded in the 1960s and opposed the rule of the U.S.-backed shah, but then after his fall in the 1979 Islamic Revolution, it carried out attacks against the cleric-led government that came to power.

MEK and its affiliates were deemed foreign terrorist organizations by the U.S. State Department in 1997.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Love the Vuvuzela and Don’t Take a Nap: Muslim Scholars Issue 350,000 New Year Fatwas

The monotonous drone of vuvuzelas that irritated almost all football fans during the World Cup is OK, and it doesn’t matter how much noise a donkey makes, it musn’t be touched.

But buy a car raffle ticket and you could be in big trouble, and taking an afternoon nap gets the thumbs down.

That’s according to 350,000 Islamic religious decrees, called fatwas, being issued by Muslim scholars on their Website in Abu Dhabi.

They cover a vast range of personal and religious questions submitted online, over the phone or via text to the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.

Vuvuzelas are permissible in soccer stadiums providing they don’t exceed 100 decibels which could damage people’s hearing, and it is illegal to kill a noisy donkey, bird or other animal, no matter how annoying they are.

Body paint, henna and make-up are allowed because they are deemed to be temporary, but tattoos are ruled out because they are permanent.

Car raffles are out because they are ‘a kind of gambling’, and a afternoon nap is banned because the time could be used more productively.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sheikh Confirms SARG Involvement in Escalating Situation in Days Prior to Rioting 8. 2. 2006

[SARG = Syrian Arab Republic Government]

1. (C) Summary: An influential Sunni sheikh provided details February 6 that seem to confirm SARG involvement in escalating the situation that led to the violent rioting in Damascus two days earlier, including communications between the PMs office and the Grand Mufti. He also noted that SARG authorities now seem intent on identifying a few scapegoats to be blamed for the incidents. The Danish Ambassador confirmed to us separately that the Minster of the Awqaaf had inflamed the situation the day before the rioting, with his remarks at Friday prayers in a mosque. End Summary…

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Syria: Country’s First Casino Opens in Damascus

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, DECEMBER 27 — The first casino in Syrian history opened near Damascus on December 25, though the news was given only today, according to reports in the Lebanese An Nahar this morning. Citing well-connected Syrian sources, the authoritative Beirut-based daily noted that the first casino authorised in Syria was inaugurated Saturday evening in a building along the road leading to the airport (30 km south of the capital) near a luxury hotel complex built near the international airport. An Nahar reports that the Damascus casino, managed by the joint Syrian-international company Ocean Club, and currently “open on an experimental basis”, offers the most common games used for gambling, such as Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and slot machines. Entrance to the new structure costs nine dollars (just over 6 euros) per person, with the fee inclusive of an alcoholic drink, and the aim is to attract wealthy local clients as well as those from Iraq and Jordan who for years have crowded round the green tables of Lebanon’s casino, the most famous one in the entire Middle East. An Nahar noted that in the 1970s the wealthy Syrian family of entrepreneurs Hububati had managed a gambling house in Damascus which was “similar to a casino”, and that Khaled Hububati had reportedly renewed the old administrative permit, becoming the “main partner” of Ocean Club.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria Helped Orchestrate 2006 Mohammed Cartoon Riots, WikiLeaks Cables Reveal

The government of Syria was active in organizing the 2006 riots that erupted across the Arab world following the publication of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, Oslo daily Aftenposten reported Monday, quoting US diplomatic cables released by website WikiLeaks.

The cartoons were originally published in neighboring Denmark in 2005. Their publication resulted in violent protests, including attacks on several embassies in Damascus in early February 2006. Embassies targeted included those of Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

A US diplomatic cable published by Aftenposten said the Syrian premier had, “several days before the demonstrations, instructed the Grand Mufti Sheikh Hassoun to issue a strongly worded directive to the imams delivering Friday sermons in the mosques of Damascus.”

The riots ended when Syria “felt that ‘the message had been delivered’,” the cable said, quoting a Sunni sheikh whose name was blacked out.

The incident resulted in the evacuation of Norwegian diplomats and demands for compensation.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

World Traveler: Scholar and Convert to Islam Now Calls Turkey Home

A practicing Muslim since the age of 12, Isa Kocher claims to have gone through all the religions before finally settling on Islam due to its philosophy based on peace. A Swiss national but a New Yorker at heart, said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York were the most difficult days of his life, noting that the World Trade Center held great meaning for him in an artistic sense.

The World Trade Center held great meaning for him in an artistic sense, says Isa Kocher, who now lives in Istanbul’s Ikitelli district, an industrial quarter at the periphery of the city.

A Swiss national but a New Yorker at heart, Isa Kocher is a scholar, U.S. war veteran and self-declared eccentric now living in Istanbul’s Ikitelli, an industrial quarter on the periphery of the city.

A practicing Muslim since the age of 12, Kocher claims to have gone through all the religions before finally settling on Islam due to its philosophy based on peace.

“I chose to believe in Islam because the word stands for peace. Not the peace obtained from smoking marijuana — peace is a struggle. I get angry everyday so I’m not a pacifist by nature, but by choice. It’s not easy but it’s the only choice, you can’t win by fighting because there’s always someone bigger than you,” he said.

Isa Kocher was exposed to Islam by reading the works of Washington Irving and made the proclamation of faith (shahada) for the first time at the 12. Later, he attended prayers at a mosque in Tribeca, New York, where he made tea and rice every night.

Kocher’s belief in Islam is based on the idea that all human beings have their own unique and personal relation to the divine. “I have no right to stand between anyone and the divine. God is God — whatever color you paint Him,” he said.

As a Muslim, Kocher said the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York were the most difficult days of his life, noting that the World Trade Center held great meaning for him in an artistic sense. Moreover, however, he described the event as the day democracy collapsed.

“It was the end of the world and everything that I believed in. I’m still a practicing Muslim but my beliefs are not based on anybody’s system,” he said.

Artist and a Democrat

Kocher has lived and traveled in countries around the world and has adopted several children scattered across the globe.

Just in Turkey alone, he said his varied CV includes having worked on Internet public relations for the Democrats Abroad, as well as teaching positions at a variety of private Turkish universities in a variety of positions.

Kocher has also exhibited his works of art three times at Istanbul’s Akbank Sanat Gallery and is also continuing to work on various photography projects and poetry publications.

Apart from his global journeys, Kocher said he has also traveled widely in Turkey, commenting on the hospitality of the Turks he encountered, claiming that he had never stayed in a hotel during his voyages.

“Every time I attended prayer in a mosque, I found that my bags had been moved from the mosque to somebody’s home,” he said.

He also commented on his profound love of Turkish culture and said one of his favorite hobbies was visiting saints’ tombs and building constructed by Ottoman master Mimar Sinan.

He also said living in Istanbul was hard if one was not rich and described how some locals in Ikitelli did not know how to react to him when he first started living in the area.

“They feel more reassured when they know that I’m a professor and that I’ve been to hajj and that I speak many languages. During the Muharram feast [a feast commemorating the beginning of the Islamic year] I made some Ashure [a traditional dessert] for everyone in the neighborhood. There’s about 25 kilos of it, so there was enough to go around,” he said.

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: Clash of Cultures

The struggle in Afghanistan has turned into a clash of cultures different from what had generally been expected. Both the NATO effort and the Taliban opposition have changed significantly in the course of the last nine years, resulting in a much changed situation.

NATO forces moved into Afghanistan to crush the Taliban and oust al Qaeda from its strongholds and training camps. These forces quickly took control of the country, but strongly rejected any suggestion of “nation building,” though NATO was instrumental in setting up democratic political institutions. But the results were a big disappointment to the Afghan population, to the Muslim World, and, indeed, to the NATO governments. NATO effectively empowered a corrupt, ineffective government that was widely despised by the population and served as a focal point for a resurgent Taliban. NATO has come to realize that Afghan stability does in fact demand nation building, or at least something like it. The threat of al Qaeda in Afghanistan has long ago faded into insignificance. The task has shifted into an effort to bring Afghanistan into the modern world, setting an example of Western support for Muslim development.

The Taliban have also changed significantly. Initially they were a medieval theocracy, reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition, ruthless and uncompromising defenders of ascetic, medieval religious tenets. The widespread disappointment with the NATO transformation provided an opening for their resurgence. In the process, the Taliban have shifted from a claim of authority based on religious purity to authority based on force and intimidation. They live off opium production which they once sternly suppressed. They extensively employ suicide tactics alien to mainstream Muslim beliefs and to Afghan traditions. They have carried out widespread killings of respected community leaders and often innocent bystanders. They have turned into religious thugs opposing the movement of society into the modern world. Their reliance on terror tactics provides a vivid demonstration that their religious tenets have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of Afghans.

Afghanistan has become a focal point of the interaction between the West and the Muslim World. It is the embodiment of the Clash of Civilizations foreseen by Samuel Huntington. But the clash has turned out to be different from what was envisioned. It is not a clash between religious cultures. Rather, Afghanistan starkly demonstrates that it has become a clash

between medieval fundamentalism and modern civilization.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Football: Indonesians Cry Foul on Twitter After Losing Match to Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, 27 Dec. (AKI/Jakarta Post) — Furious Indonesians have flooded Twitter with accusations that Malaysia unfairly won a key regional football match after fans in Kuala Lumpur apparently distracted Indonesian players with laser beams.

At least four of the top 10 words and phrases most popularly used on the social network site were linked to tirades against Malaysia soon after the home team beat Indonesia 3-0 Sunday night in the first leg of the ASEAN Football Federation Cup final.

The match was halted for five minutes shortly after halftime when Indonesia’s goalkeeper and another player complained that bright green lights were directed at them from laser pens used by an unidentified few among the 85,000-strong crowd.

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

India Issues Nationwide Terror Alert

Indian authorities have deployed thousands of security personnel following warnings that Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Pakistan-based militant group, is planning an attack over the New Year weekend.

Police officers and paramilitaries were on high alert across the country, including in India’s financial capital, Mumbai, Indian officials said. House-to-house searches were under way in some areas of the city, which was attacked by Lashkar-e-Taiba in November 2008. Airports and railway stations, the city of Ahmedabad in the western state of Gujarat and the popular beach resort state of Goa were also on high alert following the warning, said to be based on “human” intelligence and received in recent days.

Most of the locations covered by the alert had been visited by David Headley, a Pakistani-American and member of Lashkar-e-Taiba who travelled widely in India before the Mumbai attack, one official told the Guardian. Headley was tasked by the extremist group with surveillance of targets in Mumbai itself but also visited Goa and the city of Pune, where there was a blast in February.

According to a secret report by Indian investigators of their interrogation of Headley in June, the undercover militant brought back film and notes on potential targets in India such as Jewish centres and tourist resorts favoured by Israelis which he passed on to his handlers.

In his interrogation, Headley claimed that he frequently combined missions for Lashkar-e-Taiba with missions for the main Pakistani spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI). His last trips to India before his arrest in Chicago in October last year were on behalf of a veteran Pakistani militant with links to al-Qaida called Ilyas Kashmiri, he said.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Far East

China Has Carrier-Killer Missile, U.S. Admiral Says

China’s military is deploying a new anti-ship ballistic missile that can sink U.S. aircraft carriers, a weapon that specialists say gives Beijing new power-projection capabilities that will affect U.S. support for its Pacific allies.

Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, disclosed to a Japanese newspaper on Sunday that the new anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) is now in the early stages of deployment after having undergone extensive testing.

“An analogy using a Western term would be ‘initial operational capability (IOC),’ whereby I think China would perceive that it has an operational capability now, but they continue to develop it,” Adm. Willard told the Asahi Shimbun. “I would gauge it as about the equivalent of a U.S. system that has achieved IOC.”


The new weapon, the “D” version of China’s DF-21 medium-range missile, involves firing the mobile missile into space, returning it into the atmosphere and then maneuvering it to its target

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

China Cuts Rare Earth Export Quotas

BEIJING (Reuters) — China announced on Tuesday it will cut its export quotas for rare earth minerals by more than 11 percent in the first half of 2011, further shrinking supplies of metals needed to make a range of high-tech products after Beijing slashed quotas for 2010.

China produces about 97 percent of rare earth elements, used worldwide in high-technology, clean energy and other products that exploit their special properties for magnetism, luminescence and strength.

The rare earth issue may further strain relations between China and the United States, which have been battered this year by arguments over everything from Tibet and Taiwan to the value of the Chinese currency. Chinese President Hu Jintao is due to visit the United States next month.


China slashed the export quota by 40 percent in 2010. The export restraints on rare earths has inflamed trade ties with the United States, European Union and Japan in particular.

In Washington, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office expressed concern over the latest announcement.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

China Moving Closer to Deploying Ballistic Missile That Can Sink an Aircraft Carrier

China aspires to become a global military, according to the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

The nation is developing a ballistic missile designed to sink an aircraft carrier, which could spell the end to the U.S.’s naval supremacy.

But China’s Foreign Ministry insists his military is one of peace, saying: ‘We pose no threat to other countries.’

The Chinese military are also expected to launch their first aircraft carrier next year — a year earlier than anticipated by US experts.

Admiral Robert Willard told Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper he believes the Chinese anti-ship ballistic missile program has achieved ‘initial operational capability.’

This means a workable design has been settled on and is being further developed.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Why Did a Stranger Shoot Me, Daddy? — Mariam Alkadmani’s Aguish Over Attack

SCHOOLGIRL Mariam Alkadmani was last night struggling to understand how she became the target of a gunman who knocked on the door of her family home and sprayed it with bullets.

One minute she was cooking potatoes with her mother, the next she was lying on her kitchen floor with a gunshot wound to her leg.

In what her family can only assume was a terrible case of mistaken identity, one of the bullets ricocheted and struck Mariam in the right thigh as she stood in the kitchen of the family’s Greenacre home, in Sydney’s southwest, on Monday night.

Speaking from her bed at The Children’s Hospital, Westmead last night, Mariam told The Daily Telegraph: “I didn’t understand what was happening or why. It all felt like one big nightmare.

“I didn’t even feel any pain when I was hit because we were all panicking. I was in shock. None of us ever want to go back home.”

Mariam was in shock after the shooting, in which a man fired 11 bullets into the house she shares with her parents and seven brothers. Her father Mouhamad said his daughter was in pain after surgery to have the bullet removed.

As his relatives cleaned blood from the kitchen floor yesterday, Mr Alkadmani, a travel agent, said he was glad Mariam was recovering well and would be released from hospital in a few days. “But the shock, I don’t know, this will take a long time to recover from,” he said.

Mariam’s 16-year-old brother Karem — who was standing next to his father when he answered the door — said he had to tell his sister she had been shot: “She didn’t know she got shot, so I told her to sit down and gave her a cloth and wrapped it.”

Mr Alkadmani said he did not see the shooter, who had hidden as he demanded to see a person named “Zach” or “Zachary”.

He began shooting after he was told he had the wrong address and Mr Alkadmani closed the door. The bullets ricocheted off walls, one hitting Mariam.

His 16-year-old son Karem saw his sister bleeding and crawled on the ground toward her.

“He keeps shooting, shooting, shooting until he finished the magazine and that’s it,” Mr Alkadmani said.

He said the gunman then ran from the house.

He said he could not understand why the gunman, a man described as being large to obese and of Pacific Islander appearance, had terrorised his family, which police have described as being respectable and the apparent victims of mistaken identity.

“Why, why just tell me, I’m asking the killer why he shoot at us without any reason,” he said.

Mr Alkadmani said there was no way he or his family could return to the home and would now live with relatives.

“If he (the gunman) got kids, he want someone to kill his kids? Just tell me why,” Mr Alkadmani said.

“I’ve been in Australia for 18 years and I haven’t been in touch with any type of trouble.”

Bankstown Police are hunting for the gunman and have made a public appeal for information…

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ivory Coast on the Brink

By Elizabeth Kendal

AUSTRALIA (ANS) — Like Sudan and Nigeria, Ivory Coast sits atop a volatile ethnic-religious fault-line. Whilst the less-developed North has long been predominantly Muslim, the South — Ivory Coast’s economic and political engine — has historically been predominantly Christian and African Traditional Religion (ATR). Decades of mass immigration (1960-1993) from the neighbouring Muslim states of Burkina Faso, Mali and Guinea might have been great for the economy, but they have tipped the demographic balance so that Ivory Coast — officially about one-third Muslim — is actually majority Muslim.

The civil war that erupted in September 2002 was portrayed by the international media as a crisis of democracy and human rights caused by Southern xenophobia and Islamophobia. In reality, Ivory Coast’s crisis is the consequence of decades of mass Muslim immigration coupled with political ambition and an internationally-sponsored Islamic agenda. The civil war was fought essentially between those who want all Ivory Coast’s Muslim immigrants naturalised — giving Ivory Coast a Muslim majority overnight — and those who do not. Though he denies it, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, a Northern Muslim, was doubtless behind the September 2002 failed coup that triggered the war. Ouattara and his party, the Rally of the Republicans (RDR), have been playing the race and religion cards for political gain. Ouattara’s intent has been to have all the Muslim immigrants naturalised (over 4 million: estimated to comprise between 30 and 40 percent of the total population) so that he (their champion) can dragnet the Muslim vote. Ouattara has long had his eye on the presidency.

The civil war left Ivory Coast totally polarised, split between a virtually ethnic-religiously cleansed, rebel-controlled Muslim North and a government-controlled predominantly Christian, non-Muslim South. Since the war the North has been in serious decline with AIDS, poverty and lawlessness increasing exponentially. In November 2004 Ivory Coast’s Christian president, Laurent Gbagbo, launched surprise airstrikes against rebel positions in the North in an attempt to reunify the country. However, former colonial power France (which backs the rebels for economic gain) intervened, razing all IC’s airforce planes, destroying runways and sending tanks against the Presidential Palace, around which loyalists formed a human shield.

The West had insisted that Ivory Coast could be reconciled, reunified and essentially saved by means of democratic elections, such is their faith in ‘democracy’ and the inherent goodness of man. In reality, the divisions are so profound and the stakes are so high that, unless genuine reconciliation occurred first, elections could only trigger conflict. Elections were held on 28 November 2010, with both Gbagbo and Ouattara claiming victory. The US, European Union and African Union have recognised Ouattara as the winner and called for Gbagbo to respect democracy and step down. Russia meanwhile is blocking a UN statement that would recognise Ouatarra, saying that this is not the UN’s role. Ivory Coast’s non-Muslims are traumatised, fearing that their homeland — once the most prosperous ‘Christian’ nation in West Africa, home to the region’s largest cathedral, home-base to most of West Africa’s regional Christian ministries — is about to come under Muslim political domination.

(COMMENT: Ivory Coast’s crisis — the consequence of decades of Muslim mass immigration — is a foretaste of what several states in democratic Europe may be facing in a generation or two.)

           — Hat tip: RB[Return to headlines]

Sudan: Lawrence Solomon: Birth of an (Oil) Nation, Loss of an Islamic Prize

South Sudan votes for independence on January 9th, potentially touching off wars between Africa’s Islamic North and Christian south

In January, the Western world will welcome a new nation, South Sudan. The Islamic world will not. The coming independence of South Sudan, which holds most of the oil in the country now called Sudan, marks a loss of territory and of wealth for the Islamic world. Worse for Islam and Sudan, more losses may follow in black African areas that refused to become Islamicized.

Sudan, Africa’s largest country, is Islamic and Arabic in the north, Christian or animist and black in the south. Following an independence referendum January 9, the black south, an area the size of France, is expected to secede, taking with it 80% of Sudan’s five-billion barrels of oil and thus most of Sudan’s foreign exchange. Under the terms of an existing agreement, the revenue from oil, which is now being piped north through Sudan for export, is being split 50-50 between north and south. But Sudan, which many expect to declare war on South Sudan after the referendum, has good reason to worry that the existing agreement will be scrapped.

For one thing, South Sudan will be building a southeast oil pipeline, through neighbouring Kenya to a port on the ocean. Once built, South Sudanese oil need not flow north through Sudan, and Sudan will lose its ability to take its share. To add to Sudan’s worry, China — Sudan’s chief financier and the destination for 65% of Sudanese oil exports — has reversed its opposition to South Sudan’s independence and is now bidding to build the new pipeline.

More significantly, the West is hostile to Sudan because of its alliances with Iran and other radical Islamic regimes and because of its atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region. It is the West that engineered South Sudan’s secession by arranging a referendum under UN auspices and it is the West that has secretly helped arm South Sudan. Last week, Russia joined the club of non-Islamic nations aligned against Sudan, reversing its opposition to South Sudan’s independence and, seeing an opportunity for its own oil industry, bringing combat helicopters to South Sudan to help provide the fledgling country with security. Others aiding South Sudan include Christian Kenya, through which most of its arms arrive, Christian Ethiopia, and Israel, which has played an outsized role in establishing South Sudan.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Leak: Mexican Army Mistrusts Other Gov’t Agencies

A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable published Saturday depicts the leader of Mexico’s army “lamenting” its lengthy role in the anti-drug offensive, but expecting it to last between seven and 10 more years.

The cable says Mexican Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan mistrusts other Mexican law enforcement agencies and prefers to work separately, because corrupt officials had leaked information in the past.

The copy of the Oct. 26, 2009 cable describes a meeting between Mexico’s top soldier and former U.S. national intelligence director Dennis Blair.

Mexico’s Defense Department “runs the risk of losing public prestige and being criticized on human rights issues as its mandate is extended,” the cable quotes the general as saying, “but he (Galvan Galvan) nevertheless expects the military to maintain its current role for the next 7 to 10 years. Galvan did suggest that increased U.S. intelligence assistance could shorten that time frame.”

The cable published Saturday by The New York Times also quotes the general as saying that Mexico’s army “would be willing to accept any training the U.S. (government) can offer,” and noted that two Mexican army officers had been posted to the El Paso, Texas Intelligence Center, to speed the sharing of information.

Galvan Galvan is quoted in the cable as saying Mexican authorities are pursuing fugitive drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, but noted the capo moves between 10 to 15 locations to avoid arrest and has a security detail of up to 300 men.

The Mexican president’s office was not immediately available for comment on the cable’s release. Contacted about another cable earlier, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Lawrence Payne said the agency cannot comment about the WikiLeaks cable, because such cables are considered classified.

In a joint statement Saturday, the Defense Department and civilian law enforcement agencies said they were pursuing Guzman’s Sinaloa cartel “equally intensely and systematically” as any of Mexico’s other four major drug cartels.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in drug violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a crackdown against powerful cartels in late 2006.

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


Sixty ‘Gazans’ Reach Shores of Southern Italy

Rome, 27 Dec. (AKI) — A boat carrying 60 people claiming to be Palestinians landed early Monday on Italy’s Adriatic coast about 60 kilometres north of Bari.

Members of group that arrived on the beach in the city of Barletta said they were fleeing the Gaza Strip.

The police intercepted them after being altered to their presence by local residents.

All 60 were males and said they reached Italy’s porous shore after leaving a larger vessel in groups of 10 aboard a dingy.

Police have detained the men in a local detention centre to confirm their identities.

Immigrants have in the past claimed to be Palestinians fleeing persecution in Gaza as a way of being granted refugee status. In some cases, immigrants have been found to be from other areas like Egypt.

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

Turkish-Germans Struggle With Dilemma of Double Identity

The son of Turkish parents who migrated to Germany in the 1960s, Aydin Bilge grew up caught between two worlds. Raised by his grandmother in Turkey, Bilge moved to Germany once his parents had become financially stable enough to send for him.

“It was hard for me to adapt to Germany. I was subjected to xenophobia here,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review. But when Bilge, who described himself as “both Turkish and German,” traveled to Turkey in 2005 to search for his identity, he did not receive a much warmer welcome. He had married a Turkish woman, but his mother-in-law did not approve of him because he was “Almanci” (a Turk who works in Germany).

“I was seen differently just because I was dressed differently and wore earrings. I returned to Germany. I lost my happy marriage,” Bilge said.

This sense of belonging to nowhere, of struggling with a double identity that sometimes feels like a lack of one at all, haunts many Turkish-Germans, particularly members of the second generation of Turks living in Germany, the most sizeable Turkish migrant group in Europe. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of mass immigration of Turkish workers, mostly from rural areas, to meet the additional labor demand during the economic restructuring of Germany known as the “economic miracle.”

Nearly half a century after West Germany signed a bilateral recruitment agreement with Turkey in 1961 to create a formal guest-worker program, many Turks still feel labeled due to their cultural background in Germany, where they are the subjects of ongoing integration debates.

The meaning of integration and an integrated immigrant are not easy to define, however. One official explained integration as speaking the language, having the ability to participate in education, social life and the job market and accepting German laws and basic values. “We are not talking about assimilation,” the official said. “But there are certain basics that immigrants should comply with.”

Even the word “integration” is enough to rile some members of the Turkish community. “People are telling us about integration. What does it mean? What do they expect us? Shall I go out in the street and shout ‘I am German’?” said Dursun Sahin, the vice president of the Turkish-German Businessmen’s Association.

“Integration is not a one-way street. We are coming from a different culture. If they want to send the Turks back, then they should not talk about integration,” he said. “Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Turks living in Germany. We have been paying taxes for 50 years.”

Some Turkish immigrants say they are discriminated against in German society because of their backgrounds and names, even if they speak very good German and dress like everyone else. “Many Turkish-origin people are sending out CVs for jobs but although they meet the required qualifications, they are not called for interviews. It has been discovered that their CVs were not even looked at by German employers because of their Turkish names,” said Ilknur Gümüs from the Intercultural Center for Counseling and Meeting in Berlin.

Debates over integration

“One out of four people in Germany has a migration background,” said Barbara John, a lecturer at Humboldt University in Berlin. “The door for guest workers opened in 1955. It was assumed they would come and stay for two years and then go, but that was not the case.”

The assumption that Turkish migrants would work in Germany temporarily and then return to Turkey was also shared by the guest workers themselves, who centered their life plans around their eventual return. A recent study carried out by the Istanbul-based Koç University’s migration department revealed that second-generation Turks were affected personally and emotionally by their families’ plans to return.

“The return orientation of the ‘guest worker’ generation had consequences not only for the persons directly concerned but also for their families and especially for their children, the so-called 1.5 and second generations,” the study read.

Today immigrant groups in Germany are mostly associated with debates over integration, a policy prioritized by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government. Saying language is the primary obstacle before foreigners’ integration, German officials have allocated 10 percent of Germany’s GDP to education in 2011, versus a global average of 4.9 percent, and migrants will benefit from the increase significantly. Since 2005, the German government has spent a total of 1 billion euros on education but lingered below the global average each year.

“We have done a lot for the integration of foreigners. A comprehensive effort began a few years ago,” said one German official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We are late but not too late. I would have preferred earlier, of course.”

The integration debate was rekindled recently when a former member of the German Central Bank, Thilo Sarrazin, wrote a book saying foreigners — especially Muslims — were coming to Germany to take advantage of the German welfare system. Sarrazin’s book, which is on its way to being the most successful political book in the country since World War II, is seen as “very insulting,” “humiliating” and “biased” among German government circles, but it has at least brought the issue of integration back to the agenda again.

One immigrant’s story

Aydin Bilge’s story is in many ways a typical one. His family migrated to Germany in the 1960s as part of the guest-worker program, but since his parents did not speak any German, his mother did not want to give birth in a German hospital and instead returned to Turkey in her ninth month of pregnancy. When Bilge was three weeks old, his parents left him in Turkey, in the care of his grandmother. Speaking about the identity problems he faced after his parents brought him back to Germany, Bilge said there were no incentives at that time for immigrants to learn the language or integrate socially. He said he also holds the Turkish government responsible for not defending the rights of the Turkish community in Germany. “But I don’t blame anybody,” he said. “I have a problem with my own identity. I’ve been suffering for 30 years.”

Germany’s integration paradox

As the German government keeps the integration issue high on the agenda and generates policies to avoid the creation of parallel societies, or “ghettos,” German society is growing more xenophobic, making it harder to accept differences.

The bad consequences of migration were related to bad management of the issue, according to Professor Ahmet Içduygu, director of the Migration Research Program at Istanbul’s Koç University, who claimed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States marked a breaking point that encouraged the return of assimilation policies amid rising Islamophobia not only in Germany but across Europe.

“In this new century, there has been a return to old policies. German laws are becoming conservative; they include culture and language tests and do not allow double citizenship,” he said. “But you cannot ignore the realities of life. People communicate, which is different from the past. Assimilation is no longer easy.”

German officials admit integration is a two-way street, meaning that while Turks try to adapt themselves to German rules and laws, German society should also show more readiness to accept differences.

“We will not make concession on our culture. Integration does not mean assimilation. We do not want to get assimilated,” said Aydin Bilge, a member of the second generation of Turks living in Germany. “The Germans should also move closer to us and explore our culture. We need to find a middle road. In the end we are all in the same boat.”

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

UK: The Muslim Population Has Grown From 1.65 Million to 2.87 Million Since 2001, Say Researchers. What Does This Mean for Liberal Britain?

There is a remarkable statistic in today’s main Daily Telegraph leader: The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life estimates that there are 2,869,000 Muslims in Britain, an increase of 74 per cent on its previous figure of 1,647,000, which was based on the 2001 census. No demographic statistics are reliable in an era of open borders, but such an expansion is unprecedented.

The figure of 2.87 million was first published by Pew in a little-noticed press release last September, announcing a report on Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe. The Pew Centre, based in Washington DC, is one of the most respected demographic research bodies in the world; its methodology is scrupulous and its approach non-partisan. The new total for British Muslims means that, so far as this country as concerned, Pew’s major 2009 report Mapping the Global Muslim Population is already spectacularly out of date. Here’s a map showing the updated distribution of the Muslim population in Europe:

The material about global Islam in the 2010 report is fascinating, but it’s the revision of British figures that took me by surprise. Why was it not more widely reported in the autumn? And what are the implications for society? For an analysis that puts the statistics in context, let me recommend this article from the British Religion In Numbers website, which makes the point that the 2001 figure was probably an underestimate.

Pew’s UK figure for 2010 is 2,869,000, which is equivalent to 4.6% of the population. In absolute terms, the UK has the third largest Muslim community on the continent, after Germany (4,119,000) and France (3,574,000).

In percentage terms, the UK is in ninth position, after Belgium (6.0%), France, Austria and Switzerland (5.7%), The Netherlands (5.5%), Germany (5.0%), Sweden (4.9%) and Greece (4.7%). UK Muslims account for 16.8% of all Muslims in Western Europe.

There have been other indications of a dramatic increase in the numbers of British Muslims: the UK Labour Force Survey recorded a rise from 1,870,000 in 2004 to 2,422,000 in 2008. So Pew’s findings aren’t unsupported by independent data. Common sense suggests explanations for the increase: a high Muslim birth rate and large-scale immigration. But I’m not sure that common sense tells us what this demographic earthquake means in practice for British public life.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Law School Gagging Speech

A Law student at Syracuse University is facing possible expulsion for “harassment,” but he doesn’t know who his accusers are or even why he’s in trouble.

The source of all the trouble is a fake news blog called SUCOLitis. It’s like The Onion, but it focuses on making fun of life in law school. In one post, the “Faculty Committee on Aesthetic Standards” names the Class of 2013 “Most Attractive in History.” In another, a beer bong is elected class president.

Harassment? Far from it. Very far, under any meaningful definition.

Humor, parody and satire are huge parts of our culture, and our society benefits from a wide range of social criticism, even when it’s anonymous.

That’s right: Nobody has taken responsibility for the anonymous blog. But one student, Len Audaer, appears to be facing prosecution anyway.

Law professor Gregory Germain (the “prosecutor” of this case in the school’s judicial system) began investigating Len two months ago, and has kept Len completely in the dark for the whole two months. Who are the accusers? Which blog post was harassing? Len doesn’t know. How could he even start to defend himself?

Knowing that universities can’t defend in public what they try to do in private, Len sought to draw attention to these abuses. But Germain is now seeking a gag order that would severely hurt Len’s efforts to publicize his situation. Germain wants to require any journalist reporting on the case to sign away the right to publish any case document unless the document is published whole. No excerpts, no quotations.

Germain knows full well that this would essentially prevent Audaer from appealing to the court of public opinion, leaving him no choice but to silently accept the findings of a campus judiciary that seems determined to get him.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) has stepped in to protect Len’s rights. While Syracuse is a private university not bound by the First Amendment, it promises students “the right to express themselves freely on any subject.” It also promises students “the right to fundamental fairness.”

It’s fundamentally unfair to threaten a student with expulsion for his protected speech for months while refusing to give him any of the evidence or name his accusers. We’ve asked Syracuse’s chancellor, Nancy Cantor, to honor Syracuse’s promises — but thus far she has done nothing.

Syracuse is teaching the next generation of lawyers that the right not to be offended trumps the rights of free speech and due process. Such bad lessons about fair procedure and free speech undermine some of the most important values in our democracy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkish Academic Women Discuss Glass Ceiling for Their Gender

Women are expected to become more masculine and suppress problems in their domestic life if they have any desire of advancing in their academic career, according to an expert speaking on gender issues in academia.

“Women in academia spend more time in positions ranked lower than professor because of their domestic labor load waiting for them outside of school. Let alone academic publishing, they hardly find time for research in this ‘publish or perish’ world,” Sibel Kalaycioglu, an associate professor at Middle East Technical University, or ODTÜ, said during a conference hosted in Ankara by Hacettepe University Women’s Research and Implementation Center, or HÜKSAM. The event was organized to raise awareness about the problems and gender issues women face in academia.

“Also, these women tend to feel like they have to postpone marriage and children, or even decide not to have children at all, if they want to achieve success in their career,” she said.

Women are underrepresented in every aspect of working life, Kalaycioglu said. “Only with a quota granted to them can women be fully represented in political life or in non-governmental organizations, which is very insulting.”

Turkey’s patriarchal society is the reason stereotypes exist regarding women’s roles, Kalaycioglu said.

“We learn our gender role from the beginning of our life. Even in primary school textbooks, some stereotyped roles are determined for women and men. For example, the picture of an idea family features a working father and a mother doing housework,” she said.

“Such stereotypes are so engrained in our culture that even young people consider jobs as feminine or masculine,” said conference visitor Aslihan Ögün Boyacioglu, from Hacettepe University’s sociology department, adding that all university students should take courses on gender issues.

Professor Seza Özen, from Hacettepe University’s Medical Faculty, said she was concerned most about role models on television. “People are continually exposed to role models created according to patriarchal culture norms.”

Özen said creating more effective role models and even implementing positive discrimination for women in the workforce would contribute to increasing women’s participation in Turkey’s workforce.

“Female and male academics may publish the same number of articles and they may be equal in some terms, but there is a glass ceiling for women. They have the chance for advancement, but they also have responsibilities other than work,” said Professor Sevkat Bahar Özvaris, from Hacettepe University’s Medical Faculty. “Giving birth is the main reason women take time off work. Men usually take time off for reasons such as career development.”

Kalaycioglu said Turkey ranked 126 out of 134 countries in the Gender Gap 2010 index in terms of the economic contribution of women and equal opportunities between the genders. “For a country like Turkey, which granted the right to elect and to be elected to women for the very first time among Western countries, this is a pity,” she said.

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

UK: Why Does Dr Rowan Williams Never Stand Up for Christianity?

The narrative of victimhood comes easily to followers of Islam. They constantly bemoan the prejudice they have to endure and the oppression they suffer in the bigoted western world, where Islamophobia is supposedly rampant. Every terrorist atrocity, every blood-soaked massacre is justified by reference to imagined grievances. But by far the greatest persecutors of other faiths are Muslim hardliners themselves. The great Caribbean writer VS Naipaul once described Islam as “sanctified rage”. The proof of those words has been graphically illustrated by a growing catalogue of barbarities committed by Islamic militants against Christians, none of them more shocking than the mass murder committed in a Catholic Church in Baghdad at the end of October, when 58 people were gunned down during an act of worship. “All of you are infidels,” said one of the killers before opening fire on the congregation.

This kind of lethal oppression against Christians is happening all over the Muslim world. In Nigeria there has been a spate of attacks on Christian churches and clerics. In the Philippines, 11 people were injured this week in the bombing of a Catholic chapel. The totalitarian nature of Islam, which is as much a political ideology as a religious creed, means that freedom of worship is drastically restricted for other believers.

One Pakistani woman, Asia Bibi, is now facing the death penalty for the crime of blasphemy after she allegedly insulted the prophet Mohammed. Asia Bibi says she did no such thing but only tried to defend her faith when Muslim co-workers on a farm accused her of being “unclean” and tried to convert her to Islam.

Yet western political leaders, through a mixture of cowardice and denial, have refused to challenge the Islamic culture of persecution. In any other sphere, they make an absolute fetish of their devotion to the causes of equality and anti-discrimination.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Delaying Sex Makes Better Relationships, Study Finds

Delaying sex makes for a more satisfying and stable relationship later on, new research finds. Couples who had sex the earliest — such as after the first date or within the first month of dating — had the worst relationship outcomes. “What seems to happen is that if couples become sexual too early, this very rewarding area of the relationship overwhelms good decision-making and keeps couples in a relationship that might not be the best for them in the long-run,” study researcher Dean Busby, of Brigham Young University’s School of Family Life, told LiveScience.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

English Doomed as Global Language, Academic Says

British linguist Nicholas Ostler says the English language’s days as the global lingua franca are numbered despite even as it enjoys unheard-of global dominance. In his recent book “The Last Lingua Franca: English until the Return to Babel” he reaches the conclusion after tracing the rise and fall of one-time international languages Aramaic, Phoenician, and Persian. Ostler majored in Latin at Oxford University and has a doctorate in Sanskrit from MIT. The reasons are what he calls the “Three Rs” — ruin, relegation and resignation. Language is surprisingly easily influenced by political factors, he says, and the influence of English will weaken with the diminishing power of the world’s sole superpower, the U.S.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Future Shock? Welcome to the New Middle Ages

Imagine a world with a strong China reshaping Asia; India confidently extending its reach from Africa to Indonesia; Islam spreading its influence; a Europe replete with crises of legitimacy; sovereign city-states holding wealth and driving innovation; and private mercenary armies, religious radicals and humanitarian bodies playing by their own rules as they compete for hearts, minds and wallets.

It sounds familiar today. But it was just as true slightly less than a millennium ago at the height of the Middle Ages.

In recent years it has become conventional wisdom that the post-cold-war world will see rising powers such as China and Brazil create what international relations experts call a “multi-polar” order. Yet for the next 10 or 20 years, it not at all clear that the future many imagine will come to pass — namely that the relative US decline will continue, Europe will muddle along, China and India will grow ever stronger, and other straight-line projections.

In fact, the world we are moving into in 2011 is one not just with many more prominent nations, but one with numerous centres of power in other ways. It is, in short, a neo-medieval world. The 21st century will resemble nothing more than the 12th century.

You have to go back a thousand years to find a time when the world was genuinely western and eastern at the same time. Then, China’s Song dynasty presided over the world’s largest cities, mastered gunpowder and printed paper money.

At around the same time India’s Chola empire ruled the seas to Indonesia, and the Abbasid caliphate dominated from Africa to Persia. Byzantium swayed and lulled in weakness both due to and despite its vastness. Only in Europe is this medieval landscape viewed negatively.

This was a truly multi-polar world. Both ends of Eurasia and the powers in between called their own shots, just as in our own time China, India and the Arab/Islamic community increasingly do as well.

There is another reason why the metaphor is apt. In medieval times, the Crusades, and the Silk Road, linked Eurasia in the first global trading system — just as the globalised routes of trade are doing today.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Keep Universal Human Rights Intact

December 10th, 1948, can be viewed as a milestone in the history of humankind. On that day, the United Nations proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was mainly a reaction to the total disdain for these rights during World War II.


Article 1 of this declaration underlines its fundamental point: that all people are born free, and have equal rights and dignity. This equality is legally specified in article 7, saying that all people, without exception, have the right to equal protection from the law. It was the conviction of the UN that these principles of equal and permanent rights for all would form the basis for justice and peace in the world.

This declaration was independent of any religious or cultural context since human nature, despite religious and cultural differences, is seen as one. This inter-cultural consensus gave the declaration its universal value, and made it binding under international law.


The universal value of human rights, however, has come increasingly under open scrutiny in the past few decades. In the post-war optimism of 1948 there was a conviction that the permanence of human rights worldwide could be implemented in order to lay the basis for a peaceful and just society.

In 2010, however, it is unfortunately increasingly clear that exactly the opposite has taken place, and that the principles of freedom and equality are gradually being torn down in the free world where they originated. Under the absurd motto that freedom and human rights are a bad match.

Since 1980, the attack on human rights has come from two sides: from the so-called non aligned countries, and from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which represents 57 Islamic countries. Especially the latter has been trying for years to weaken the declaration, or to fundamentally change it.

A bad match

This attack is based on challenging the universal validity of human rights, as specified in the declaration. This is interpreted as a western secular concept with Judeo-Christian origins, matching badly with Islamic tradition. The west thus supposedly takes advantage of its hegemony to force this concept upon other cultures. On this basis, a process has been ongoing to systematically revise the UDHR in the light of Islamic law, or the Sharia.

This process kicked off on September 19th, 1981, when the Islamic Council of Europe came out with a general declaration of human rights of Islam. This declaration started off by saying that “Islam codified human rights 14 centuries ago by law (sharia).” Thus, Islam in fact invented human rights. Then the 57 OIC countries further worked out this principle in 1990 in their “Declaration of Cairo on Human Rights in Islam.”


The Cairo declaration made it clear that it was meant as a guide for the 57 Islamic member states to use the Sharia as their main, or only, source of legislation. The Cairo declaration states in its preamble that God created Moslem societies as the best among nations, led by God’s perfect law (Sharia), and that this perfection requires Islamic nations to lead the human race.

This perfection also means that no other culture can be included since these other cultures are, by definition, less than perfect. God’s perfection according to the Sharia cannot, of course, be compared to something like the UDHR, which is merely the work of mortals.

In the Cairo declaration, the UDHR is encapsulated within the Islamic concept of the subservience of man to the will of God, which is found in the Sharia. What this means, in practice, is made clear towards the end of the declaration which concludes that “all rights and freedom are subject to the Sharia’s regulations.”


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Political Leanings Revealed by the Eyes

It may be time to take the phrase “political viewpoint” literally. A new study suggests that liberals are more likely than conservatives to follow other people’s eye movements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

See No Sharia

Robert Conquest, the preeminent scholar of Soviet Communist totalitarianism, in his elucidation of Western vulnerability to totalitarian ideologies wrote that democracy itself is “far less a matter of institutions than habits of mind” — the latter being subject to constant “stresses and strains.” He then notes the disturbingly widespread acceptance of totalitarian concepts amongst the ordinary citizens of pluralist Western societies:

Many in the West gave their full allegiance to these alien beliefs. Many others were at any rate not ill disposed towards them. And beyond that there was … a sort of secondary infection of the mental atmosphere of the West which still to some degree persists, distorting thought in countries that escaped the more wholesale disasters of our time.

But Conquest evinces no sympathy for those numerous “Western intellectuals or near intellectuals” of the 1930s through the 1950s whose willful delusions about the Soviet Union “will be incredible to later students of mental aberration.” His critique of Western media highlights a cultural self-loathing tendency which has persisted and intensified over the intervening decades, through the present:

One role of the democratic media is, of course, to criticize their own governments, draw attention to the faults and failings of their own country. But when this results in a transfer of loyalties to a far worse and thoroughly inimical culture, or at least to a largely uncritical favoring of such a culture, it becomes a morbid affliction — involving, often enough, the uncritical acceptance of that culture’s own standards.

Mindslaughter, Redux

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich delivered a singularly astute and courageous address this past July 29, 2010. Reactions to that speech across the political spectrum, whether immediate or delayed, illustrate the contemporary equivalent of what Conquest appositely characterized as “mindslaughter” — a brilliantly evocative term for delusive Western apologetics regarding the ideology of Communism, and the tangible horrors its Communist votaries inflicted. What did Newt Gingrich have the temerity to discuss? In defiance of our era’s most rigidly enforced cultural relativist taboo, Mr. Gingrich provided an irrefragably accurate if blunt characterization of the existential threat posed by Islam’s living, self-professed mission: to impose Sharia, its totalitarian religio-political “law,” globally.

With vanishingly rare intellectual honesty and resolve, Gingrich described how normative Sharia — antithetical to bedrock Western legal principles — by “divine,” immutable diktat, rejects freedom of conscience, while sanctioning violent jihadism, absurd, misogynistc “rules of evidence” (four male witnesses for rape), barbarous punishments (stoning for adultery), and polygamy:

Sharia in its natural form has principles and punishments totally abhorrent to the Western world, and the underlying basic belief which is that law comes directly from God and is therefore imposed upon humans and no human can change the law without it being an act of apostasy is a fundamental violation of a tradition in the Western system which goes back to Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem and which has evolved in giving us freedom across the planet on a scale we can hardly imagine and which is now directly threatened by those who would impose it.


           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Metal Marvel That Has Mended Brains for 50 Years

Lithium—a simple metal and the oldest drug in psychiatry—might protect the brain against mental illness, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases. One problem: There’s no profit in it.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]