Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110101

Financial Crisis
»Euro Has 1-in-5 Chance of Lasting Decade: UK Think-Tank
»The Shadow Banking System: A Third of All the Wealth in the World is Held in Offshore Banks
»UK: Estonia Set to Become First Former Soviet Republic to Adopt Euro
»American Cities That Are Running Out of People
»Islamic Terror? This is Worse
»Look Who Wants 500% Bump in Funding for Government Media
»Newest Dem Superstar Calls Herself a ‘Radical’
Europe and the EU
»Attack Plots the Norm Since Danish Cartoon Crisis: Experts
»France: Provins, The Long History of the Damask Rose
»Italy: Northern League Offices Attacked With Firecrackers
»‘Radical State’: The Death of Europe
»Sweden: Muslim Council Head Condemns Extremism
»UK: Alcohol Tests Sparked Riot at Ford Open Prison
»UK: A Muslim Claims to Have Found a Message From God — In a Tomato.
»UK: Crime Gangs Target Dementia Sufferers to Con Them Out of Thousands
»UK: Is Ed Miliband Becoming the IDS of Labour? 100 Days on, Leader’s Ratings Plunge
»UK: Muslim Scholar Sheiykh Allama Moalana Shahid Raza Naeemi Obe Answers Your Questions — Part 2
»UK: Prince Charles’s Secret 20-Year Campaign Could Make Him the Richest King in History
»UK: Working Class White Boys Still at Bottom of Learning Table, Despite Millions Spent by Labour
North Africa
»Car Bomb at Egyptian Church Kills 21 as Worshippers Gather to Celebrate New Year
»Egypt: Massacre of Christians in Alexandria. Car Bomb Explodes Outside a Church
»Egypt Bombing Raises Fears of Growing Sectarian Bloodshed
»Egypt: Group Associated With Al-Qaeda Claims Attack on Church
»Tunisia: More Than 80% of Families Own Their Home
Israel and the Palestinians
»Netanyahu: Possible Temporary Accord With PNA
Middle East
»Turkey to Make Chopper, Air Defense Selections in 2011
South Asia
»U.S. Missile Strikes Kill 15 Militants in Pakistan
Latin America
»Italy to Take ‘All Measures Necessary’ To Get Battisti
»Britain Will Need 60 New Towns to House Immigrants
»UK: ‘One-Man Crimewave’ Bag Thief Faces Deportation for a Fifth Time… After We Gave Him £3,000 to Go Back to Algeria
»UK: Cameron Will be Punished for Failure on Immigration
Culture Wars
»Berwick Sets Up Death Panels by Fiat
»Sweden: Psych Studies Ordered for Jailed Homeschooling Dad

Financial Crisis

Euro Has 1-in-5 Chance of Lasting Decade: UK Think-Tank

LONDON (Reuters) — The euro currency area has only a one-in-five chance of surviving in its current form over the next 10 years because of competitive imbalances between its members, a leading British think tank said on Friday.

The Center for Economics and Business Research said Spain and Italy would have to refinance over 400 billion euros ($530 billion) of bonds in the spring, potentially sparking a fresh crisis within the 16-nation euro area.

“The euro might break up at this point, though European politicians are normally able to respond to a crisis,” said CEBR Chief Executive Douglas McWilliams in a list of 10 forecasts for 2011.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Shadow Banking System: A Third of All the Wealth in the World is Held in Offshore Banks

You and I live in a totally different world than the ultra-rich and the international banking elite do. Many of them live in a world where they simply do not pay income taxes. Today, it is estimated that a third of all the wealth in the world is held in offshore banks. So why is so much of the wealth of the globe located in places such as Monaco, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Bahamas, and the Isle of Man? It isn’t because those are fun places to visit. It is to avoid taxes. The super wealthy and the international banking elite think that it is really funny that our paychecks are constantly being drained by federal taxes, state taxes and Social Security taxes while they literally pay nothing at all. These incredibly rich elitists make a ton of money doing business in wealthy western nations and then they transfer virtually all of their profits offshore where they don’t have to contribute any of it in taxes. It works out really great for them, but it sucks for the rest of us.

It is estimated that approximately $1.4 trillion is held in offshore banks in the Cayman Islands alone. According to an article in Forbes magazine, there is a total of approximately 15 trillion to 20 trillion dollars in offshore bank accounts, brokerage accounts and hedge fund portfolios.

A recent article in the Guardian stated that a third of all the wealth on the entire globe is held in offshore banks and that the vast majority of international banking transactions take place in these tax havens…

On a conservative estimate, a third of the world’s wealth is held offshore, with 80% of international banking transactions taking place there. More than half the capital in the world’s stock exchanges is “parked” offshore at some point.

All of the biggest banks in the world are involved in playing this game. All of them have big branches in these various tax havens. All of them work very hard to ensure that the tax burdens on their ultra-rich clients are as light as possible.


To the ultra-wealthy and the international banking system we are all just a bunch of suckers. In fact, a big portion of our taxes ends up going into their pockets to pay the interest on all of the government debt that they are holding.

When the global elite decide that they want to do some “social engineering” inside the big countries where they operate, they just set up tax-free “charitable trusts” that usually aren’t very “charity-oriented” at all. Rather, many of these “charitable trusts” push the various radical political and social agendas that many of these elitists love to promote.

Examples of this include The Rockefeller Foundation and The Ford Foundation. George Soros also loves to use entities like these to push his various agendas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Estonia Set to Become First Former Soviet Republic to Adopt Euro

Estonia will today join the euro, a symbolic boost for the currency rocked by the worst crisis in its 12-year history.

The small Baltic nation becomes the first former Soviet republic to adopt the single European currency, and the 17th member of the eurozone overall.

The switch from Estonia’s old currency, the kroon, comes after a dreadful year for the eurozone economies which saw two members — Greece and Ireland — require emergency bailouts, with other nations on the precipice.

Estonia has emerged from its own worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 but will still be the eurozone’s poorest member.

Estonian prime minister Andrus Ansip was due to make one of the first cash-machine withdrawals in euros just after midnight.

Police urged citizens not to rush about with large amounts of cash, saying robbers would be looking for easy targets.

Seven other countries in the region — Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Latvia — are also required to phase in the euro as part of EU membership.

While there is no deadline to do so, Estonia’s Baltic neighbours Latvia and Lithuania have set a target of 2014 for entry.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso welcomed the country of 1.3million to the eurozone, claiming it now meant 330million Europeans used the single currency…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


American Cities That Are Running Out of People

The population of the United States has increased steadily by roughly 2.5 million people every year since World War II. Throughout prosperity and hard times, Americans continue to have families. Many of the country’s regions have expanded to accommodate this population increase. Some cities have grown faster than others as the result of being at the center of some important new technology or job market. Others have lost residents because of failing industries and migration. Nevertheless, some of these cities have continued to grow slowly, or at least remain relatively stagnant, buoyed by the rising tide of the national population.

There are some cities, however, which have experienced such severe hardship and decline that their populations have actually decreased significantly. New Orleans has lost more than a quarter of its population in the past ten years as the result of Hurricane Katrina. The rest of the cities that have lost major parts of their population have seen their flagship industries which include coal, steel, oil, and auto-related manufacturing fall off or completely collapse. America moved away from its status as an industrial superpower in the second half of the 20th century as the services sector rose to replace it.

Millions of US manufacturing jobs have moved overseas. Cities such as Rochester, Cleveland and Buffalo declined in population because they were trade hubs, and new modes of transportation removed their geographical dominance. Cities like Flint, Michigan have economies based on a single major industry. In Flint’s case, that industry is auto manufacturing. When that industry began to decline, Flint was unable to diversify to prevent a population exodus.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islamic Terror? This is Worse

Attackers warn they will strike ‘again and again’

A new threat is emerging — or re-emerging — that moves terror beyond even what has been created by blood-thirsty radical Islamists who want a worldwide caliphate under control of the Shariah and the Quran, says a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The new multi-national threat comes from those who want a stateless society — no government, no rules, no police, no authority — and have emerged partly along with Europe’s growing financial crisis.

They are anarchists.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Look Who Wants 500% Bump in Funding for Government Media

State adviser, Marxist also want more FCC control of airwaves

“Net neutrality” rules must be implemented for content control while the government should quintuple federal funding for public and community broadcasting, Ben Scott, the State Department’s recently appointed policy adviser for innovation, argues.

Scott’s writings, last year in a radical magazine, were in an article co-authored by Robert W. McChesney, an avowed Marxist activist who has called for the dismantlement “brick-by-brick” of the U.S. capitalist system, with America being rebuilt as a socialist society.

McChesney is the founder of the George Soros-funded Free Press, which petitions for more government control of the Internet and news media.

Scott and McChesney also recommended the U.S. impose ownership limits on local radio, TV, and cable channels while pushing for more control of the media by the FCC.

The two were writing in the January/February 2009 edition of Tikkun Magazine, run by avowed Marxist Michael Lerner. Lerner has been accused of using the magazine to justify Palestinian terror and has written articles in which he suggested the 9/11 attacks were a response to U.S. policies.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Newest Dem Superstar Calls Herself a ‘Radical’

Already being compared to Obama, she says, ‘I know what I want to do’

Kamala Harris, California’s incoming attorney general, is a self-declared “radical” when it comes to changing the U.S. criminal justice system.

From her own statements, she sees the need for criminal prosecutors to use their positions to “fight” for the great cause of “justice” for minorities, immigrants and the poor.

In the runup to November’s elections — where Harris won the slimmest victory in the Democratic statewide sweep — the news media released a flood of glowing profiles of the aspiring politician, casting her as a rising national star, comparing her to Barack Obama, and even labeling her as the “anti-Palin,” as one Politico article put it.

She’s California’s first African-American attorney general and the first woman to hold the office.

“I am radical in my belief in what we can do to improve the [criminal justice] system,” Harris told the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, without elaborating much on those sentiments.

But perhaps a more detailed and accurate description of her beliefs can be found in her track record as well as in lectures she delivered that did not receive news media attention.

WND has learned Harris was a lecturer at a 2004 symposium at the law school of the University of California at Berkeley, where she spoke alongside notorious radicals Tom Hayden and Van Jones. Harris at the time was a prosecutor.

Hayden was the principal organizer of the 1960’s antiwar movement Students for a Democratic Society, from which the Weatherman terrorist organization splintered. He is known for his antiwar beliefs and has blamed U.S. policies for the 9/11 attacks.


She also won endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, as well as endorsements from labor unions, including the socialist-led Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.

Obama has been a big supporter of Harris.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Attack Plots the Norm Since Danish Cartoon Crisis: Experts

The exposure this week of a plot to massacre staff at a Danish newspaper is, according to experts, merely “business as usual” in once tranquil Scandinavia five years after a crisis over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) began.

“The result of the cartoon crisis has been that we went from having a very, very low threat level to a much bigger threat level,” explained Danish terrorism expert Lars Erslev Andersen. Magnus Ranstorp at the Swedish National Defence College agreed, describing attack plots by extremists as “business as usual in Denmark.” “They live with terrorism. They know there are extremists. They know they are the focus,” he told Swedish public broadcaster SVT. Once renowned for their virtually non-existent crime rates, Denmark and its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Norway have recently seen a string of thwarted attacks and unraveled plots by extremists. Just weeks after Sweden’s first ever suicide bombing, which narrowly missed wreaking carnage among Christmas shoppers, five men were arrested Wednesday for hatching what Danish officials called a plan to “kill as many people as possible” at the Copenhagen offices of the Jyllands-Posten daily.

The paper published in September 2005 a dozen cartoons of the Muslim prophet, triggering violent and sometimes deadly protests around the world.

The controversial drawings were originally printed as part of a debate about self-censorship and freedom of expression after no one could be found to illustrate a book about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) amid fears drawings of the prophet, prohibited by Islam, would provoke retaliation. After Danish police discovered a plot to assassinate one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, at least 17 Danish dailies reprinted his drawing featuring the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a lit fuse in February 2008, reigniting anger among many Muslims. A month later, a voice message purported to be from al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned that publishing the “insulting drawings” was worse than Western forces killing Muslim women and children and that the “reckoning for it will be more severe.”

“What the cartoons did was make Jyllands-Posten, Denmark and really all of Scandinavia visible and a target for Islamic extremists,” explained Wilhelm Agrell, an intelligence analysis professor at Lund University in southern Sweden…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

France: Provins, The Long History of the Damask Rose

(ANSAmed) — PROVINS (FRANCE), DECEMBER 28 — A long history lasting almost 800 years, which began in Damascus in 1240 when Theobald IV, Count of Champagne, brought back a floral tribute from the 6th crusade to one of his great loves, Queen Blanche of Castile. Today, this tribute, a red rose, is the symbol of the fortified city of Provins in Seine-et-Marne, located about an hour from Paris, and is a major source of revenue for store and restaurant owners in the area. Tradition holds that Theobald — nicknamed “le chansonnier” for the many poems he wrote in honour of Blanche and which he reproduced on the walls of his castles in Troyes and Provins — was stricken by the beauty of the flowering roses in the gardens of the sultan of Damascus, and decided to bring a rose bed back to France. The Damask rose, the only one to flower multiple times during the year, was used mainly by pharmacists for its relaxing, decongestant, anti-depressant and depurative qualities. In Provins, which was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001 for its 58 monuments and city walls (25m in height, among the most imposing in Medieval Europe with 5km of walls), has about 1,500 rose bushes and over 300 varieties of roses. Three and a half hectares are located on the slopes of the fortified city, according to Ms. Carla Renault, the owner of the most famous shop in the city, “La Ronde des Abeilles”.

All of the products here incorporate roses in some way: from the jams (confits) to mustard flavoured fruit preserves (mostarda), from flavoured sugared almonds to perfumes and “niflette” (traditional sweets made for the All Saints Day) as well as syrups, vinegars, liquors, candies and honeys. Products, which are all produced with great care and effort. “The petals,” said Ms. Carla while speaking to ANSAmed, “are rigorously collected by hand. In order to obtain enough petals, it takes days of work. Although it may not seem like a great amount, 20 kilograms of petals is an enormous quantity.” Along with her husband, Reynald, a beekeeper, the company founded by the Renault family 17 years ago also includes the couple’s son and eight other workers. Their business seems to be doing quite well based on the flow of people seen in the store. “We can’t complain,” replied the owner, “each year we produce thousands of jars of jam, and people come from all over the world to buy our products.” Many people purchase them online, with clients from the United States to Japan. Some of the honey and mustard flavoured fruit preserves made by Ms. Renault are sold to several restaurants and pastry shops in the city. The rose honey and cinnamon crepes are a specialty that any visitor must try. While tradition states that this precious flower was brought back by Theobald IV, the inhabitants do not rule out that this variety of rose (also known as “rosa gallica officinalis”) may have arrived to the region much earlier, brought by the Romans. “It may have been the Romans who brought the flower here,” said Carla. It is of little importance though. Because what is certain is that thanks to the Counts of Champagne — the first to establish a safe conduct for merchants — between the 12th and 13th century the Medieval fairs of Provins became among the most important in Europe. Thanks to these, the Damask rose became famous throughout the continent and was cultivated all over France.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Offices Attacked With Firecrackers

No one hurt in third attack in three years

(ANSA) — Varese, December 29 — Two large firecrackers were let off Tuesday night at the offices of the Northern League party in the town of Gemonio near Varese in northern Italy, police said Wednesday.

No one was injured in the blasts, which shattered the windows of the building.

Police said the firecrackers were placed on the window ledges. The Gemonio office’s entrance has been firebombed twice, in February 2007 and January 2009.

The Northern League is the junior partner in centre-right Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s government.

Northern League leader Umberto Bossi lives 50 yards down the road from the offices.

The attack was unanimously condemned by Italian political parties.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Radical State’: The Death of Europe

In her powerful and sobering book “Radical State,” Abigail R. Esman writes about “the larger question not even Americans have asked since the World Trade Towers fell: as we fight on to spread democracy, preserve democracy, defend democracy, no one yet, it seems, has actually defined, for all of us, what democracy actually is.”

That’s right. And for Americans and Europeans who have drunk the Kool-Aid that former British prime minister was drinking when he said “the most remarkable thing about the Koran is how progressive it is,” one of the main things about democracy that we have to preserve and defend is the importation of huge numbers of Muslims into America and Europe. To stop bringing in these Muslims, no matter how much they wage jihad against us, would be racist-Islamophobic-anti-Muslim-bigotry.

“Radical State” shows what the cost of that is. Esman, an American who lives in the Netherlands, reveals in a moving and personal way how Muslims are already transforming Europe into a place far more dangerous and threatening than it was before Muslims started arriving in such large numbers.

It’s insane. Abigail Esman is a friend of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali ex-Muslim who collaborated with Theo van Gogh on a film about the treatment of Muslim women, “Submission.” Van Gogh was murdered by a Muslim in broad daylight on a street in Amsterdam. The killer stabbed a note into his body; it threatened Ayaan and other Dutch freedom fighters who had dared to speak out against the Islamization of the Netherlands.

Abigail tells the whole story: how in the wake of van Gogh’s murder the Dutch contemplated their dhimmi navels and did nothing. Nothing. No balls, none. They just kept on spending billions in welfare for the tsunami of Islamic immigrants who are rendering their country uninhabitable, but gotz for the warriors, the mavericks who were fighting the great fight. Fighting for us all.

Well, they did spend a bit to provide guards for freedom fighters like Ayaan and Geert Wilders. But where did they put Wilders up? In jail. No kidding. Esman says: “In an irony worthy of a Greek tragedy, the leader of the fight for ‘Freedom’ in the Netherlands was forced to spend his evenings and weekends literally behind bars — at the high-security prison in Zeist, in fact, that had held the Lockerbie bombers during their 2001 trial — while those who sought his death walked free.”

It’s even worse than that. Esman goes on to say that “in a desperate measure to aid the victims and potential victims of honor violence” —- an overwhelmingly Muslim phenomenon — “as domestic violence shelters reached capacity levels, the government by now had begun housing younger women in prison cells.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Muslim Council Head Condemns Extremism

Helena Benaouda, chair woman of the Muslim Council of Sweden (Sveriges muslimska rad), said in a statement that all forms of extremism are unacceptable, and that she, “just like everyone else, must take the threat of extremism — including Islamic extremism — seriously.”

Helena Benaouda’s daughter has a child together with Munir Awad, the 29-year-old Swede arrested in Copenhagen on Wednesday on suspicions of plotting an attack on the Jyllands-Posten newspaper.

Awad has been jailed overseas on two previous occasions, once in Ethiopia in 2007, and once in Pakistan in 2009. On both occasions he was arrested together with Benaouda’s daughter.

Helena Benaouda declined an interview with the news agency TT, and instead sent the agency an e-mail late last night.

She wrote that she believes in an open society, with equal human rights for all:

“Violent criminal activity and terrorism are attacks on such a society, and against everything I believe in, including my religious beliefs, Islam.”

“We must let the police investigation show who is guilty to what, and the guilty will get their punishment. My daughter and her children are safe with me and doing well — and that is what’s most important for me,” concluded Benaouda in her statement…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Alcohol Tests Sparked Riot at Ford Open Prison

Prisoners at Ford Open Prison in Sussex set fire to their cells, smashed up furniture and broke windows when violence erupted shortly after 12.30am on New Year’s Day.

Prison warders were forced to abandon HMP Ford as the inmates went on the rampage and officers in full riot gear were called in. There were claims on Saturday that the prison had been understaffed with just two prison officers and four support staff on duty to manage more than 200 inmates.

Mark Freeman, deputy general secretary of the Prison Officers Association said the riot was triggered after some prisoners refused to be breathalysed for alcohol.

Mr Freeman said a “large amount” of alcohol had been found in the prison.

Officers had been chasing inmates around for a couple of days “like a scene out of Benny Hill” attempting to get them to take a breath test, he said.

This reached a flashpoint in the early hours of Saturday morning, Mr Freeman said.

He added that there were only two prison officers and four support staff on duty last night to manage a prison population of up to 200 inmates. The issue of alcohol being brought into HMP Ford was highlighted in a Prison Inspectorate report in 2008.

Mr Freeman said: “This has been waiting to happen.” The violence broke out around midnight with around 40 prisoners smashing windows and setting off fire alarms.

Trouble intensified as fires were started in parts of the building, forcing prison staff to retreat.

Police and firefighters were called to the Category D men’s prison, near Arundel, in West Sussex, in the early hours of Saturday morning as the disturbance continued.

From the rear of the prison site, smoke and flames could be seen coming from at least two small buildings.

Extensive damage was caused to the two buildings with the roofs having buckled because of the fire…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: A Muslim Claims to Have Found a Message From God — In a Tomato.

Salman Gul discovered the apparent Arabic words as he munched on a roll bought from Subway in Normanton Road, Derby.

When a slice of tomato fell out he saw what appeared to be the message “Muhammad is God’s Messenger” formed in Arabic text by the tomato’s veins.

The first pillar, or tenet, of Islam is to declare that there is “no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of God”.

His imam, or priest, at the Iqra Centre, Normanton, examined the tomato and confirmed his reading was correct, and said “it cannot be a coincidence”.

Mr Gul said finding the extraordinary fruit “clarified and confirmed” the strength of his faith.

He said: “For me it’s something really special. I was eating at the Halal Subway sandwich shop on Normanton Road and this tomato slice fell out from my sandwich.

“I noticed Arabic writing that appeared to be from within the tomato, constructed from its veins or venation — the botanical term for plant veins.

“I asked the guys who worked at the Subway if they could read the same thing, and they agreed. I needed a third opinion so I went to my local mosque on Portland Street, and the imam who teaches Arabic classes read the tomato and confirmed it.”

Mr Gul, 24, of Harrington Street, Normanton, said he had been a Muslim all his life but had never seen anything like the tomato.

The imam, Rafi Din Shah said the message had come as a surprise.

He said: “It’s no coincidence — it’s a sign from God. Muhammad said ‘I will leave this world but there will be signs that come to show I am the true messenger of God, that will confirm my prophet-hood. This is one of those signs.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Crime Gangs Target Dementia Sufferers to Con Them Out of Thousands

Alzheimer’s sufferers are being targeted by criminal gangs who con them out of vast sums, a police fraud expert warned yesterday.

Mike Bowron, Commissioner of City of London Police, said those in the early stages of dementia who are still in charge of their finances are at most risk.

To make matters worse, once a victim has been duped conmen put their names on a ‘suckers list’ of people who are easy to hoodwink that is sold to other criminal gangs.

The full extent of ‘dementia fraud’ is revealed in a police report to the Home Office that will be published early this year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Is Ed Miliband Becoming the IDS of Labour? 100 Days on, Leader’s Ratings Plunge

Ed Miliband is seen as the least effective new party leader since Iain Duncan Smith, according to a poll.

The Labour leader will mark his first 100 days in office tomorrow after defeating his brother David in a bitter contest in September.

But critics say he has made little impact with the public and is in danger of allowing Labour to drift. Yesterday a former minister urged him to stop ‘navel-gazing’.

Polling by Ipsos Mori reveals that his personal approval ratings have collapsed in recent weeks.

One month after his election he enjoyed net approval ratings of plus 19 per cent, with 41 per cent of people thinking he was doing a good job and only 22 per cent saying he was doing badly.

But, after three months, his approval rating had slumped to just plus one per cent — the lowest of any new party leader at the same stage since former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, whose troubled reign lasted just over two years.

By contrast Tony Blair had an approval rating of plus 27 per cent and David Cameron and Neil Kinnock’s ratings were plus 13 per cent after three months.

Only 26 per cent of people agreed that Mr Miliband was a ‘capable leader’ and only 15 per cent thought he would be good in a crisis. The end of the first 100 days is the point at which new leaders are traditionally judged on the impact they have made…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Scholar Sheiykh Allama Moalana Shahid Raza Naeemi Obe Answers Your Questions — Part 2

MUSLIM scholar Sheiykh Allama Moalana Shahid Raza Naeemi OBE recently offered Reporter Series readers the chance to ask him any questions they had about Islam and its culture.

While visiting to our offices, the chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board answered as many of your questions as possible. Here, we share more of his responses.

Is is true that under Sharia law, a man who converts from Islam to Christianity must receive the death sentence after which his wife and children become the possessions of his family?

“First of all, I’d like to say that Muslims are not seeking the introduction of all the aspects of the Sharia law, particularly the criminal law aspects, in the UK. This is not a Muslim country and we’re not seeking to change or convert this country into one.

“However, Sharia law says that if a Muslim changes their religion it is treason and the punishment for treason is death. It’s interpreted as treason because in Muslim countries the law of the land is Sharia law, although at the moment there is not one single country in the world which has full Sharia law implemented as civil law.

“Here in this country that punishment is not being demanded or considered at all. If a Muslim takes the law into his or her own hand in this country and gives this punishment it will not be acceptable to the Muslim community in this country.

“I should also add that the children and wife of the person who converted from Islam would remain as free respected members of society.”

Would the Prophet Mohammed be against people killing non-Muslim civilians just because they are non-Muslims or because British armed forces in their country have invaded a Muslim country?

“Of course, the Prophet Mohammed would be totally against such murders and those who are killing non-Muslim civilians who are innocent just because they are non-Muslim. It’s not compatible with Islamic teachings at all.

“The Qur’an categorically states that if anyone has killed any person, it is just as if he has killed the whole of mankind. This is the very message Prophet Mohammed brought to the world so I don’t know how someone could expect him to condone it.”

If a Muslim suspects a fellow Muslim of being involved in terrorist activities, should they tell the authorities or simply try to dissuade them from such activity?

“I would leave it to the judgement of that particular individual who discovers such a person involved in terrorism or extremism to see whether the level of activity is so dangerous that it should be reported or whether it’s less dangerous and should be handled within the community…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Prince Charles’s Secret 20-Year Campaign Could Make Him the Richest King in History

The bombshell was one no one noticed. Four months ago, as George Osborne made his first Budget speech to the Commons unleashing the biggest public spending cuts in living memory, he slipped in a brief — and almost unnoticed — passage about the financing of the Royal Family.

The Chancellor said he intended to scrap the Civil List system that has been in place since 1760 — and that to most people has worked pretty well — and replace it with a new one.

To the uninitiated, this sounded like a welcome piece of computer-age modernisation. But, in fact, it is the very opposite.

Far from bringing the royal finances into the 21st century, the Chancellor is winding the clock back more than 251 years and re-establishing the system that existed before 1760 — the year profligate George III was so much in debt he handed income from crown land to the Government in exchange for a Civil List, an annual payment Parliament has to approve.

For the next three years, as things stand, the Queen’s annual payment has been frozen by the Government at £30million. But from 2013, the Civil List will be scrapped and the monarchy will be financed by what’s been titled the Sovereign Support Grant — comprising a share of the profits made by the Crown Estate, a vast £6.6billion property empire where the profits go to the Treasury. Initially, that share of the Crown Estate’s profits was to be 15 per cent, but not surprisingly it’s now being negotiated down.

So just how did this hugely significant development in royal financing come about?

Step forward the Prince of Wales, whose constant stream of handwritten letters to Government ministers urging them to consider various issues are known in Westminster as ‘black spider’ memos.

For Charles, the Chancellor’s announcement was the culmination of a personal campaign he has waged for more than 20 years.


But neither of the two duchies is more than a minnow compared to the vast Crown Estates, with assets ranging from Regent Street in London’s West End shopping area, Ascot racecourse and Windsor Great Park, 265,000 acres of farmland, as well as ownership of our national seabed stretching out 12 nautical miles around Britain.

It was the huge wealth potential from this seabed beneath 7,700 miles of coastline that attracted attention to George Osborne’s proposal for the monarch to receive 15 per cent of the Crown Estate’s profits. Otherwise the new royal finance plans might have gone through unnoticed.

For it’s no secret that the natural resources in our seabed are a goldmine that could hoist the Crown Estate’s income into the stratosphere.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Working Class White Boys Still at Bottom of Learning Table, Despite Millions Spent by Labour

Poor white boys are still languishing at the bottom of the education league table — despite the billions spent on schools by Labour.

Figures from the Department for Education show white boys from poor homes achieved the worst results of any group last year and now do far worse than black boys from similar backgrounds.

The Tories last night seized on the figures as evidence that Tony Blair’s famous emphasis on ‘education, education, education’ had failed to help the poorest children.

Despite billions in spending and countless initiatives aimed at helping ‘socially excluded’ children, poor pupils still do far worse than the average — with white boys doing worst of all. The figures show just 23.3 per cent of white boys in receipt of free school meals achieved five GCSEs last year. The figure is less than half the 54.8 per cent success rate among pupils as a whole.

It is also well below the level achieved by ethnic minority pupils from poor homes. More than 60 per cent of Chinese boys on free school meals achieved five or more GCSEs last year.

And 33.6 per cent of black boys from poor homes achieved the pass rate, despite widespread perceptions that black boys do worst at school. Concern about the low educational achievements of poor white boys has been growing, with the head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, saying they should be made a priority group.

A landmark report by the Centre for Policy Studies said the ‘ideological fads’ of the Left-wing educational establishment had hit working class boys the hardest. The centre-Right think tank said failure to teach reading and writing properly to infants drove many ‘angry and resentful boys out of school and into trouble’.

As with other social groups, poor white boys also do significantly worse than their female counterparts. Just over 28 per cent of white girls on free school meals achieve five GCSEs.

On average 59 per cent of girls from all homes now pass five GCSEs, compared to 51 per cent of boys…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Car Bomb at Egyptian Church Kills 21 as Worshippers Gather to Celebrate New Year

The Interior Ministry said 24 people were also wounded in the bombing, which prompted hundreds of Christians to take to the streets in protest.

Some Christians and Muslims pelted each other with rocks, a witness said. Cars were torched.

Christians in Muslim-majority Egypt make up about 10 percent of the nation’s 79 million people.

Egypt, due to hold a presidential election in September, has stepped up security around churches, restricting cars from parking directly outside them, after an Al Qaeda-linked group in Iraq issued a threat against the church in Egypt in November.

The Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq, which claimed an attack on a church in Baghdad in November, threatened the Egyptian church over its treatment of women the group said the church was holding after they had converted to Islam.

‘This is a scene from Baghdad,’ a witness told Reuters by telephone.

Police used teargas to disperse the crowd on the streets. Ambulances were also at the scene where medical personnel gathered body parts that were scattered over the area.

‘We sacrifice our souls and blood for the cross,’ shouted protesting Christians near the Coptic Orthodox church where the blast struck, a witness said.

A statement from the Interior Ministry said the blast occurred just after midnight in front of the church after a service to mark the New Year. It said the blast damaged a mosque near the church and eight Muslims were among the 24 wounded.

‘The preliminary investigation indicates that a car was the reason behind the explosion. It was parked in front of the church and had been assumed to belong to one of the people who often come to the church,’ said the ministry statement, which was read to Reuters by a ministry official.

Kameel Sadeeq, from the Coptic council in Alexandria, told Reuters: ‘People went in to church to pray to God but ended up as scattered limbs. This massacre has Al Qaeda written all over, the same pattern Al Qaeda has adopted in other countries.’

In November, hundreds of Christians clashed with riot police, as well as some Muslims who joined in, during a protest over a decision to halt construction of a church. Officials said the church did not have a licence to be built.

Two Christians died as a result of those clashes and dozens were hurt, medical sources said. More than 150 were detained.

Analysts say the state must address grievances such as those over laws making it easier to build a mosque than a church if it wants to stem such sectarian violence.

Officials are swift to play down sectarian differences and are particularly sensitive to emphasise national harmony after a a parliamentary election in November that opposition groups said was rigged and before the presidential poll.

President Hosni Mubarak, 82 and in power since 1981, is expected to run again, if he is able.

Gallbladder surgery last March rekindle questions about his health, although he has returned to a full schedule.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Massacre of Christians in Alexandria. Car Bomb Explodes Outside a Church

The attack was carried out shortly after midnight on January 1, 2011, as mass was ending. The death toll is currently of 21 dead and 43 wounded. A possible connection with threats from Al Qaeda after the massacre of the Syriac Catholic cathedral in Baghdad.

Alexandria (AsiaNews / Agencies) — A car bomb exploded last night outside a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, just before Mass ended. The death toll from the bloody attack is, for now, 21 dead and 43 wounded. An eyewitness sport to reprters of a real “blood bath”, with dozens of mangled bodies lying on the ground. The explosion was followed by clashes with between Christians and Muslims in the streets adjacent to the church.

A local priest has said the toll could have been much worse if the car had exploded just a few minutes later. After the attack witnesses say that many of the faithful gathered outside the charred remains of the car singing “We offer our lives and our blood through the Cross.” The attack of last night brings to mind the October 31 massacre in Baghdad, in the Syrian Catholic cathedral, and the Al Qaeda threat against Christians in Egypt.

The mayor of Alexandria, gen. Adel Labib, told Egyptian TV that there have been threats of attacks on churches recently. The Egyptian Interior Ministry has imposed strict security measures around all the churches. “The Islamic effort to cleanse the Middle East by Christians has increased,” writes a Coptic website. In a statement published by the Egyptian press, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appealed to Egyptians, “Copts and Muslims, to maintain their unity in the face of the terrorist forces that undermine the stability of the homeland and its unity.”

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

Egypt Bombing Raises Fears of Growing Sectarian Bloodshed

It had all the hallmarks of an al-Qaeda attack. Shortly after midnight, an explosion detonated by what authorities say was likely a suicide bomber ripped through a crowd of worshippers as they emerged from New Year’s mass at a church in Egypt’s northern port city of Alexandria. The blast left 21 people dead and 79 others wounded, while opening a fresh, seething wound in Egypt’s already problematic sectarian rift.

For months, al-Qaeda militants in Iraq have called repeatedly for attacks on Christians — in retaliation, they say, for the alleged kidnapping and detention by Egypt’s Coptic church of two Christian women who are believed to have converted to Islam. And on New Year’s Day, Egyptian officials painted the bombing as a brutal, foreign assault (though they have not directly accused al Qaeda; Egypt has typically been wary of making such an explicit link to attacks for fear of scaring off tourists). President Hosni Mubarak stressed in a televised speech that the terrorists had targeted both Christians and Muslims. And one of Egypt’s highest religious authorities, the office of the Grand Mufti, issued a statement declaring that “Islam and Muslims are innocent … Such an act could not come from a Muslim who knows the truth of Islam.” More likely, the Mufti concluded, was “the involvement of foreign parties that want to strike at national unity.”

So far, however, there’s little evidence for that. And skeptical analysts say the claims are all typical rhetoric for a regime whose officials have used foreign intervention as a scapegoat for violent incidents ranging from terrorist bombings and rocket attacks to maulings by sharks.

While many analysts believe the attack was at least inspired by outsiders, the government’s real fear, they say, is that it was homegrown in its design. For the authorities, who waged a crushing campaign against violent Islamist extremism in the 1990s, and who last week had Egyptian churches on high alert, it would be a huge admission of failure. But more troubling still, it would shine a spotlight on a troubling reality that the state has been at pains to sweep under the rug: Egypt’s worsening sectarian tensions. “The official rhetoric is always that problems don’t exist,” says Hisham Kassem, an independent newspaper publisher and social critic. “There are issues of discrimination against Copts, and they’re refusing to deal with them.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Group Associated With Al-Qaeda Claims Attack on Church

The al-Mujahidin organization, associated with al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the attack on the church in Alexandra which left 21 people dead.

“Every devout Muslim must demonstrate solidarity with the attack on the church at a time it was full of people celebrating Christmas,” the organization said in a notice. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to express his horror at the attack. (Roee Nahmias and Attila Somfalvi)

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: More Than 80% of Families Own Their Home

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, DECEMBER 28 — More than 80% of Tunisian families own their own home, according to figures provided by the Tap press agency, which wrote about the “Tunisian family in figures” and specified that, concerning the social sector, the average pro capita revenue in 2009 was equal to 5,600 dinars (approximately 2,890 euros), compared to 2,090 (1,080 euros) in 1996 and social coverage reached up to 96%, compared to 54.6% in 1987. Life expectancy also increased, from 67.4 years in 1987 to the current 75. Figures were positive also for school rates for 6-year-old children, which today is greater than 99%, 15% more than in 1981.

As for the telecoms sector, always in 2009, 86% of families owned a mobile phone and 15.7% a computer. Last April internet users amounted to 3.7 million, compared to 835,000 in 2004. The quality of life also improved, with 97.8% of families connected to the fresh water distribution network, and 99% to the electric power network. Lastly, on the national level, green areas in urban centres amounted to, during the 2006-2007 period, to 14.65 square metres pro capita, compared to 8.14 reported for the 1998-1999 period.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Netanyahu: Possible Temporary Accord With PNA

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, DECEMBER 27 — Israeli Premier Benyamin Netanyahu has stated today that the peace talks with the Palestinians may only lead to a provisional accord if it does not prove possible to resolve central issues such as that of the Palestinian refugees and the permanent political set up of Jerusalem.

Speaking during an interview with private Israeli TV Channel 10, Netanyahu said: “a situation is possible in which talks with the Palestinians die an early death on such questions as Jerusalem and the refugees as that therefore we get to a provisional accord”. “Certainly, this is a possibility”.

This was Netanyahu’s reply to a question about statements from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, for whom a definitive peace with the Palestinians is not possible at present and who is for this reason going for a ‘Plan B’ of temporary agreements which, the Foreign Minister says he is working on in order to present them for approval with the Premier and later the Government.

According to Lieberman, the plan aims to bring the peace process onto a realistic footing. Yesterday, Lieberman told an audience of Israeli ambassadors that he had labelled the current Palestinian Authority government “illegitimate” because of its refusal to call new elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Turkey to Make Chopper, Air Defense Selections in 2011

The US’ Sikorsky Aircraft offers the T-70, a Turkish version of the S-70 Blackhawk International.

In 2011, Turkey will select the foreign winners of its billion-dollar tenders for both utility helicopters and long-range air and missile defense systems as part of a drive to bolster its defense procurement assets.

The Defense Industry Executive, Turkey’s top decision-making body for defense procurement, was widely expected to choose the winner — either Italy and Britain’s AugustaWestland or the United States’ Sikorsky Aircraft — for the $4 billion, 109-aircraft utility helicopter program at its last meeting in mid-December, but the decision was not announced.

“The offers by Sikorsky Aircraft and AgustaWestland were insufficient,” Defense Minister Vecdi Gönül said after the Dec. 15 meeting, adding that the main point of disagreement was the price. “Talks with both companies will continue, but we think that they should cut down their prices.”

Gönül is on the executive committee, along with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chief of the Turkish General Staff Gen. Isik Kosaner and procurement chief Murad Bayar.

AgustaWestland has proposed to build the TUHP 149, a Turkish version of its A149, a newly-developed utility helicopter. The A149’s full prototype will have its first flight in January.

Sikorsky Aircraft, meanwhile, has offered the T-70, a Turkish version of the S-70 Black Hawk International, used by dozens of countries around the world, including Turkey.

“Now, the utility helicopter selection will almost be certain to come at the next committee meeting, most probably in March,” said one procurement official.

Air defense system

Another outstanding procurement issue is Turkey’s plan to purchase its first long-range air defense and missile defense system, which is expected to protect against both fighter aircraft and ballistic missiles.

A partnership of Raytheon and Lockheed Martin from the United States, with their Patriot Advanced Capability-3, or PAC-3, competing against the mainly Italian-French Eurosam, the maker of the SAMP/T-Aster 30, Russia’s Rosoboronexport, marketing the S300, and China’s Precision Machinery Export-Import Corp., offering its HQ-9.

The Russian and Chinese systems are unlikely to win the competition because their products are not compatible with NATO systems, analysts said. “The real competition is between the American PAC-3 and the European SAMP/T,” an Ankara-based analyst said earlier this week.

The system Turkey eventually chooses will be marginally integrated into the systems envisaged by the collective missile systems NATO leaders decided to implement during a summit in Lisbon in November.

Shortly before that NATO summit, Gönül said the NATO missile shield plan should contribute financially to Turkey’s national air and missile defense program. His remarks led to speculation in defense circles that Turkey was urging the United States to fund Ankara’s air and missile defense plan in the event of the selection of the PAC-3 as the Turkish system.

In any case, Turkey’s probable selection between the PAC-3 and the SAMP/T is expected this year, analysts said.

‘Own fighter aircraft’

A third matter is Turkey ambitious plan to design, develop and produce its first own fighter aircraft. Gönül announced that program at the end of the executive committee’s Dec. 15 meeting.

He said the Undersecretariat for Defense Industries, Turkey’s procurement agency, will launch talks with Turkish Aerospace Industries, the country’s main aerospace company, for a “conceptual design” of a fighter aircraft and a jet trainer to be built after 2020.

“This is… effectively a decision for making Turkey’s first fighter aircraft,” he said, adding that Turkey may cooperate with South Korea, but implied that this was only a small possibility.

“In terms of design, South Korea is about one or two years ahead of us. We can manufacture the new fighter aircraft with them, we don’t rule this out. But the decision we have taken now calls for the production of a totally national and original aircraft,” Gönül said.

This year, Turkey is planning to hold talks with South Korea and other potential partners before the TAI completes the study on the fighter’s conceptual design, the procurement official said.

Turkey has already selected the U.S.-led F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II as one of its next-generation fighter aircraft types. It plans to buy about 100 F-35 aircraft worth nearly $15 billion. Many Turkish companies are members of the Joint Strike Fighter consortium of nine Western nations, and are producing parts for the aircraft. Turkey also will receive 30 modern F-16 Block 50 fighters from Lockheed Martin, the F-35’s top maker, as a stop-gap solution until F-35 deliveries begin around 2015.

Gonul said Turkey’s newly-designed fighter aircraft “would be a next-generation type, would replace the [older, U.S.-made] F-4Es and would function well with the F-16s and the F-35.”

As such, this means the new aircraft will mostly be used for air-to-air fighting as the F-4Es are mainly air-to-air fighters, while the F-16s and F-35s are generally designed for air-to-ground operations.

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

South Asia

U.S. Missile Strikes Kill 15 Militants in Pakistan

Suspected U.S. drone aircraft strikes killed 15 Muslim militants in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, suggesting there will no letup this year in a campaign Washington says is hurting al Qaeda-linked groups.

The attacks by unmanned U.S. drone aircraft were reported by local Pakistani intelligence officials in North Waziristan — a sanctuary for al Qaeda and Taliban militants on the Afghan border. A day earlier, five militants were killed by drones in the same region.

The intensity of the attacks could mean a high-value target was spotted in the ethnic Pashtun tribal region.

Leaders of the Haqqani network, one of the most lethal Afghan militant factions fighting U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan, are based in North Waziristan.

Pakistan has resisted U.S. pressure to launch a full-scale offensive in North Waziristan, saying it is consolidating gains from major operations against militants in other tribal areas.

Critics say Pakistan’s reluctance stems from its desire to keep the Haqqani network as an asset in any future political settlement in Afghanistan.

It is one of the most sensitive issues in often uneasy relations between the United States and Pakistan.

Seven insurgents were killed in the first drone strike on Saturday when four missiles hit a vehicle and a militant compound in Mir Ali town in North Waziristan…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Italy to Take ‘All Measures Necessary’ To Get Battisti

Defence minister threatens boycott of Brazil over ex-terrorist

(ANSA) — Rome, December 30 — Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Thursday that Italy will continue its battle to have Cesare Battisti extradited from Brazil even if outgoing Brazilian President Inacio Lula da Silva grants the former terrorist political asylum.

“The Italian government reserves the right to take all measures necessary, in conformity with Brazilian law, to obtain respect of the bilateral extradition treaty (between the countries), pending President Lula’s decision,” Frattini said in a foreign ministry statement.

The wording of the statement suggests Italy will appeal to Brazil’s supreme court if Lula grants asylum to Battisti, who has been convicted of involvement in four murders in Italy, before stepping down from office on Friday.

The Brazilian media expects Lula to let him stay, but Frattini still holds out hopes Italy’s extradition request will be granted.

“The minister has personally raised the Battisti case at every possible meeting with the Brazilian authorities, expressing the Italian government’s strong expectation that he can be extradited to Italy,” the statement said.

Brazilian media reported that Lula will announce his decision after meeting the head of the country’s supreme court at 1500 local time (1700 GMT) on Thursday. Other Italian government members warned major diplomatic consequences will follow if Lula turns down the request for Battisti, part of a leftist militant group in the 1970s, when Italy endured its ‘Years of Lead’ of political violence.

“It’s unthinkable that there wouldn’t be consequences if the extradition of Cesare Battisti were denied,” Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa told Thursday’s edition of Corriere della Sera.

“It would do great harm to bilateral relations”. La Russa said four other ministers agreed with him and that he would support boycotts against Brazil, adding that he would advise people “not to go to a country where killers are left free and many (Italians) would no longer buy their products”.

Foreign Undersecretary Alfredo Mantica said he was “astounded” by the reports Lula would grant Battisti asylum and warned that Brazil’s hopes of matching its growing economic strength with greater international political influence were on the line.

“How could Brazil continue to demand a permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council or act as a guarantor for international nuclear agreements or carry out peacekeeping operations if we went back to the justice of the Middle Ages?” Mantica went on to describe Battisti as a “vulgar common killer” and a “filthy coward” who had “enjoyed scandalous foreign protection by inventing the story of political persecution and fear for his physical wellbeing in Italy, as if we were a Medieval country in terms of legal protection and respect for human rights”.

Maurizio Gasparri, the Senate whip of Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, warned Brazil that “we will not stay silent — those who protect killers are their accomplices”.

Italy’s biggest centre-left opposition group the Democratic Party also released a statement Thursday calling on Brazil to extradite Battisti.


The premier’s office, meanwhile, issued an official denial of claims made by Brazilian Senator Eduardo Suplicy in an interview in Italian daily Il Riformista that Berlusconi had promised Lula not to cause “controversy” no matter what he decided in the case.

“The Brazilian Senator’s leaks are devoid of any truth,” a statement read.

Suplicy said in the interview that Brazil had grounds to grant Battisti asylum because its constitution is against the life sentence he has been handed in Italy.

The 56-year-old Battisti was arrested in Brazil in April 2007, some five years after he had fled to that country to avoid extradition to Italy from France, where he had lived for 15 years and become a successful writer of crime novels.

In January 2009 the Brazilian justice ministry granted Battisti political asylum on the grounds that he would face “political persecution” in Italy.

The ruling outraged the Italian government who demanded that it be taken to the Brazilian supreme court, which in November 2009 reversed the earlier decision and turned down Battisti’s request for asylum.

However, the court added that the Brazilian constitution gives the president personal powers to deny the extradition if he chooses to.

Lula, who has in the past indicated he might view Battisti’s case favourably, told Berlusconi in Washington last April that he would review the high-court decision.

Brazilian media said concerns Battisti’s life would be in danger in Italy have swayed him in favour of letting him stay in Brazil.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Britain Will Need 60 New Towns to House Immigrants

BRITAIN must build 60 new towns to cope with the number of immigrants flooding in.

Each new town will need to be the size of Slough — the Berkshire borough where Ricky Gervais’s character David Brent was based in hit BBC comedy The Office.

Immigrants will add seven million to the UK population by 2033 if they continue arriving at the present rate, says thinktank Migrationwatch.

To cope with the bulging numbers, the Government will have to give the go-ahead for 60 new towns like Slough (population 120,000), or 20 cities the size of Leicester (330,000) or allow urban sprawl across green belt areas the size of Surrey, says watchdog Migrationwatch’s chairman Sir Andrew Green.

He claims the impact of the new settlements on Britain will be enormous, with a knock-on effect on quality of life and pollution.

Sir Andrew said: “The huge projected rise in population — more than two thirds due to immigration — will have a host of implications for the quality of life which we, our children and grandchildren will enjoy or endure in the coming decades.

“It is very clear that the vast majority of the UK population are totally opposed to this outcome.”

Sir Andrew said England is already one of the most densely-populated countries in Europe.

He said: “The effects of such large- scale urbanisation would include a loss of wildlife habitats, damage to the UK’s biodiversity and a detrimental impact on the ‘amenity’ that people derive from the rural environment and contact with nature, as well as fundamentally changing the nature and appearance of large parts of the country for ever.”

The new Migrationwatch report shows net migration is expected to add seven million to the population between 2008 and 2033.

It also warns that the huge growth will increase the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by almost 515 million tonnes by 2033.

And the watchdog says unless the Government tackles immigration, it will not meet its target of reducing gases by 80%.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘One-Man Crimewave’ Bag Thief Faces Deportation for a Fifth Time… After We Gave Him £3,000 to Go Back to Algeria

He has been branded a one-man crimewave. And despite all attempts at deportation, including being given £3,000 by the Government, he is still here.

Hakim Benmakhlouf, 29, a prolific thief is facing deportation for the fifth time after being arrested for stealing at Heathrow Airport.

He was held after officers found him and two other men, loading a car near Terminal 4 with designer luggage worth thousands of pounds stolen from passengers.

The father-of-two, who has a string of convictions for stealing from rich tourists at five-star hotels and airports, was confronted along with his two accomplices aged 41 and 29, after being spotted by officers on Thursday afternoon.

The reappearance of the Algerian is a huge embarrassment for the Home Office, which has successively failed to keep him out of the country over a period of three years. An inquiry is being launched into how the prolific bag snatcher, who has 12 aliases, was able to make a mockery of Britain’s border controls yet again.

Benmakhlouf was last deported in July 2010 after being arrested in March at the same car park at Heathrow — a favourite hunting ground for the thief who preys on rich holidaymakers.

The former rent boy is described by police as one of the most skilful bag-snatchers ever seen.

Benmakhlouf was first thrown out of the UK in July 2007 when he was released early from a three-and-a-half year jail term for theft.

The conman, who enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with a home in St John’s Wood, North West London, and a collection of expensive designer clothes, was offered £3,000 in ‘repatriation expenses’ and flown back to Algeria. But he was back, via Eurostar, within 24 hours.

In April 2008 he was arrested again for a series of thefts and jailed for another three years.

In March 2009, after serving just a third of his sentence, Benmakhlouf was again flown home at taxpayers’ expense. But he sneaked back days later, only to be sent back in January 2010. On March 20 last year Benmakhlouf was spotted on CCTV at Heathrow.

Not only was he in breach of the deportation order but also of an Asbo banning him from the airport.

When he was confronted by police there was a struggle and he kicked one of the officers in the mouth, cutting his lip.

Benmakhlouf received a six month sentence for assault in April at Isleworth Crown Court where Judge Andrew McDowall told him: ‘It is to be hoped this defendant will be removed and not clutter our prisons for any longer than is necessary.’ After serving half of his sentence he was deported in July.

Somehow, Benmakhlouf found his way back into the UK again and last night was being held on suspicion of theft.

A spokesman for the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘It’s ridiculous that this has been allowed to happen yet again. Every time an error is made it costs the taxpayer.

‘Procedures and security need to be far more robust to ensure that criminals are not allowed back into the UK.’

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘Those who come to the UK and break the rules will not be tolerated.

‘Foreign nationals are subject to the same legal processes as anyone else in the United Kingdom and we always seek to remove them at the earliest possible opportunity.

‘The Government is strengthening security, including creating a border police force, to stop people entering the country illegally.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Will be Punished for Failure on Immigration

New report shows that the coalition will struggle to reduce net migration from 200,000.

The news that immigration is unlikely to fall significantly in 2011 should set alarm bells ringing in Downing Street. An IPPR study published today suggests that net migration will remain around the 200,000 mark, far short of the government’s flagship promise to reduce net migration from “the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands”.

The report cites several reasons why net migration will remain high: increased economic migration from the EU (which the government cannot legally restrict) as the UK economy continues to outperform those of Spain, Portugal and Greece; increased emigration from Ireland (120,000 Irish nationals are expected to leave the republic in 2010 and 2011); higher immigration from Latvia and Lithuania (the numbers have risen from 25,000 to 40,000 a year); and lower emigration from the UK (30,000 left in the year to March 2010 compared to 130,000 in the year to March 2008).

Along with the EU, immigration is one of the issues that the Tory right wants to see significant progress on before the end of this parliament. The imperative of deficit reduction means that dissent has so far been limited. Cameron has projected himself as a quasi-war leader, even channelling Lord Kitchener in his conference speech (“Your country needs you”). Conservatives, more than most, are susceptible to such rhetoric. But expect patience to wear thin as time goes on. The Tory right, like the Lib Dem left, will begin to demand greater concessions from the coalition.

One should add that the possibility of Conservative failure on immigration represents a big political opportunity for Ukip and the far right. There is always a danger at times of high unemployment that voters will turn to populists and demagogues in search of solutions. On Twitter, the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, correctly points out: “Good report by IPPR on immigration, Cameron’s cuts are meaningless. If euro collapses in 2011 expect a flood from Europe we can’t control.”

Cameron’s decision to raise unrealistic expectations on immigration will return to haunt him.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Berwick Sets Up Death Panels by Fiat

“If they would rather die they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.” — Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol

Sarah Palin was right.

John Boehner — make that Speaker-elect of the House John Boehner — was right.

While Americans were busy celebrating with family and friends and presumably not paying attention to the news, the New York Times, in a story ironically dated Christmas Day — a holiday celebrating the birth of the Prince of Peace — reported the following:

Obama Returns to End-of-Life Plan That Caused Stir

WASHINGTON — When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

In other words, the 2009 charge leveled by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the then-House Minority Leader Boehner that Obama fully intended to set up what Palin termed government “death panels” — panels that Boehner said would set the government on the road to euthanasia — is no longer a charge.

It’s reality. By executive fiat — in this case a new Medicare rule issued by Obama Medicare chief Dr. Donald Berwick.


Part of the furor launched over Palin’s remarks was the discovery by millions of frightened Americans that Obama health care bureaucrats admired the British health care system — where the government in fact rations health care on a political basis and decides who should live or die based on what is called the “QALY” — Quality-Adjusted Life Year. This has been discussed previously in this space — in fact just over a week before Governor Palin wrote her Facebook statement. It has also been discussed by health care consultant David Catron here where he explained how the QALY system worked.

In Catron’s words: “A year of perfect health, for example, is given a value of 1.0 while a year of sub-optimum health is rated between 0 and 1. If you are confined to a wheelchair, a year of your life might be valued at half that of your ambulatory neighbor. If you are blind or deaf, you also score low. All that remains is to assign a specific dollar value to the QALY and, voila, your life has a price tag.


No wonder Blumenauer wants to keep this quiet.

Did you catch that word “us” in the sentence from Dr. Berwick’s spokesperson?

Here’s the sentence again:

When the time comes, do you want us to use technology to try and delay your death?

The word “us” refers not to a doctor and his patient. It refers to the government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Psych Studies Ordered for Jailed Homeschooling Dad

Just wanted to spend time with state-napped son.

Unspecified psychological studies or evaluations have been ordered for a jailed father who, in violation of the procedures of the government-run social services that instructed police officers to abduct his then-7-year-old son because he was being homeschooled, took him home for a visit.

Details are sketchy about the local court hearing, held just before Christmas, in the Gotland, Sweden, case involving Christer Johansson, but a Swedish broadcast station website reveals that Johansson is accused of kidnapping or unlawful detention for the Thanksgiving week incident in which he took his son, now 9, with him following a social services-supervised visit.

The government took custody of Domenic in mid-2009 when police officers stormed a jetliner which the family had boarded en route to a move to India, the home country for Domenic’s mother, Annie Johansson.

Government authorities then awarded custody of Domenic to social services because he was being homeschooled, and he has been allowed visits with his parents only about once every five weeks since.

According to reports from a blog that has been monitoring the family’s case, officials in Gotland decided there should be a “larger study” of the father and he has been ordered to be held in custody while those studies are completed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]