Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110105

Financial Crisis
»UK: Inflation Issue is the Bank’s Own Creation
»Court Guts Protections for Those With Eye on Government
»Gibbs to Leave as White House Press Secretary
»Milwaukee Diocese Bankrupt Over Sex Abuse Lawsuits
»Now Look Who Else is Infiltrating CPAC
»Obama’s Justice Department Visual Acceleration to Global Governance
»Radicals Key to Career of Chicago Mayoral Candidate
»Mounties Apologized for Ramadan Terror Arrests
Europe and the EU
»Andrew G. Bostom: Clear-Eyed Coptic Bishop Rejects Islamic ‘Tolerance’
»Church Killings; Paris Investigates Threats
»European Police Protect Coptic Churches
»Islam a Threat for 42% of French and German People
»Italy: Napolitano Urges EU Action on Religious Freedom
»Twenty-Four New Cardinals, Tailor Made for the Pope
»UK: ‘Cover Up’ Claims Over Asian Sex Gangs
»UK: Long Arm of the Store: John Lewis Staff to Give Politeness Lessons to Police After Rudeness Complaints Soar
»UK: Police and Muslim Leaders Call for End to ‘Cultural Cover-Up’ of Sex Gangs That Blight Britain
»UK: Tuberculosis Thriving in ‘Victorian’ London, Says Expert
»Vatican Ambassador Says E. U. Can Do More for Christians
»Organ Trafficking, Eugenics and Corruption: Meet Our New EU ‘Partners’
North Africa
»Egypt: EU Should Move for Christians, Italy’s Foreign Minister
»Egypt: Attack on Church; Pope Cares for Everybody’s Freedom
»‘Violent Attacks Could Soon Return to Egypt’
Middle East
»Ali Reza Pahlavi — Second Son of Shah of Iran — Commits Suicide in Boston
»Drugs: UAE: Rehabilitation Centres in Prisons
»Iraq: Militant Anti-US Cleric Sadr Returns Home After 4 Years in Iran
»Saudi Arabia ‘Nabbed Israeli-Tagged Vulture for Being Mossad Spy’
»Tormented by His Sister’s Suicide: Shah of Iran’s Son Shoots Himself After Moving to America to Begin a New Life
»Turkey: Deadlines Reached for Release of Islamic Extremists
»Turkey: Three Lecturers at Istanbul University Fired Over Project
»Turkey: Diplomat Attacked With Döner Knives
»Vulture Tagged by Israeli Scientists Flies Into Saudi Arabia … and is Arrested for Being a Spy
South Asia
»Don’t Mourn for Assassinated Punjab Governor or You Will Deserve the Same Fate, Say Group of 500 Pakistani Scholars (And They’re the Moderate Ones)
»Pakistan: Punjab Governor’s Assassin ‘Linked to Islamic Group’
Far East
»China’s New Stealth Fighter is Revealed
Australia — Pacific
»KFC Employee Screams Insults at Customer
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ivory Coast: Outsiders Trying to Install Muslim in Power
Latin America
»Italy: ‘Ties With Brazil Won’t Change’ Despite Battisti Row
»UK: Stowaway Shambles: Asylum Seeker Who Keeps Trying to Return to Morocco Sues Britain for Stopping Him
»Yemen: Deaths of Migrants at Sea, An Ongoing Tragedy
Culture Wars
»Abortion: Lombardy Court Throws Out Formigoni Deliberation
»Islamic Group Declares War on Religious Films
»Islamic Terrorism is an Inside Job
»What is Traitorware?

Financial Crisis

UK: Inflation Issue is the Bank’s Own Creation

According to those who prowl the High Streets, the current VAT increase is being used to disguise a variety of price rises which have nothing to do with that particular burden — in other words, inflation by stealth.

It is no good getting indignant. What else were businesses expected to do, faced with remorselessly rising overheads in fuel, power, council taxes and all the rest?

Another row over a missed target looms up for the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee and perhaps for the Bank itself — and even Governor Mervyn King, who is gradually losing the City’s confidence.

The MPC is supposed to keep inflation at or below 2 per cent (as measured by the Consumer Price Index).

However, it has been above 3 per cent for over a year. Not too alarming? Remember that this rate halves the value of money over 22 years — cuts it by three-quarters over 44 years, less than an average working life. Anyone saving for a pension just has to ponder this.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Court Guts Protections for Those With Eye on Government

Decision allows inspectors general to be fired on president’s feelings

A federal appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a U.S. inspector general who had pursued a case involving a friend of Barack Obama and was summarily dismissed, but critics note that the dispute may not yet be concluded, as the president’s actions even could be considered grounds for impeachment proceedings.

The ruling today came from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in the case brought by former IG Gerald Walpin.

He had challenged his dismissal — which came on one hour’s notice although Obama’s administration later changed that to reflect a 30-day suspension and then a dismissal. Obama’s reason for dismissal was that he didn’t feel confident in the IG’s work.

White House Special Counsel Norman L. Eisen removed Walpin from his office as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Services in June 2009. The action was taken after Walpin submitted two reports that proved highly embarrassing to the Obama administration.


Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who had demanded that the White House provide answers about the situation, said the ruling, if unchanged, damages those who are supposed to watch out for taxpayers’ interests as the government conducts its business.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Gibbs to Leave as White House Press Secretary

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary and close confidante to President Obama, said Wednesday that he will step down and become an outside political adviser to the president and his re-election campaign.

Mr. Gibbs said that he intends to leave the podium in early February. His successor has not yet been decided, he said, but will likely be announced within the next two weeks.

[Return to headlines]

Milwaukee Diocese Bankrupt Over Sex Abuse Lawsuits

(AGI) Milwaukee (Wisconsin) — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee (Wisconsin) will have to file for bankruptcy protection to compensate victims of sexual abuse, the Archdiocese website reported. Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki has directed attorneys to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which guarantees a controlled bankruptcy. Seven other U.S. dioceses have already sought bankruptcy protection from sex abuse claims.

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

Now Look Who Else is Infiltrating CPAC

Conservative leader raises questions about host of popular, annual event

WASHINGTON — Another headache has emerged for the largest annual gathering of conservatives slated for next month.

With the Conservative Political Action Conference under fire for allowing participation by a homosexual activist group called GOProud and for a financial scandal in which some $400,000 was misappropriated under the watch of current leadership, Frank Gaffney, a leader of the conservative movement for the last 30 years, charges that CPAC has come under the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is working to bring America under Saudi-style Shariah law.

Gaffney, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Ronald Reagan, is founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and co-author of the new book “Shariah: The Threat to America.” He told WND that Islamism has infiltrated the American Conservative Union, the host of CPAC, in the person of Washington attorney and political activist Suhail Khan and a group called Muslims for America.


Paul Sperry, author of “Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington” and “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” says Khan is running “an influence operation on Capitol Hill that’s quite sophisticated and slick.”

“Suhail is the firstborn son of the late Mahboob Khan, a founding father of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in America,” said Sperry, a Hoover Institution media fellow. “Suhail has been a consultant to CAIR [The Council on American-Islamic Relations] and served on committees at ISNA [the Islamic Society of North America], both of which the government says are fronts for Hamas and its parent the Muslim Brotherhood.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Justice Department Visual Acceleration to Global Governance

Some might recall the Internet controversy that took place last July when the U.S. Department of Justice removed the American flag header from its website, replacing “Old Glory” with a solid black background. In conjunction with the stripping of the stars and stripes, controversy increased with the inclusion of a quote placed on nearly every page of the DOJ web site that reads “The common law is the will of Mankind issuing from the Life of the People.” Based on the number of e-mails I’ve received over the last few days, it is apparent that many seem to be just now learning of the USDOJ web site makeover.

Whether you first learned about this change in the American Spectator which reportedly “broke” the story, or in an article penned by Stephanie Mencimer at Mother Jones who accuses “Obama-haters these days seem to find evidence everywhere of socialism creeping into the federal government,” this issue has never been more important than it is today.

We are bearing witness to the historic unveiling of the Socialist agenda at its most proactive stage. A web site makeover: Much ado about nothing?

The USDOJ web site makeover last July did, in fact, replace the U.S. flag banner with a solid black header that features the aforementioned quote. You might ask, so what? What’s the big deal?

First, it is critically important to get the facts correct. All of them. Then, a clearer picture will emerge of the course charted toward global governance that was initiated long ago, although is now being exponentially accelerated through the power and reach of the Obama-Holder Justice Department. You will then better understand what great legal minds like Mark Levin have been saying about the assaults on our Constitution by Obama and Holder, and what popular conservative talk show hosts like Glenn Beck have been saying about the Obama-Soros-Van Jones globalist agenda.

It is one step toward understanding and putting in perspective the Obama-Holder assault on Arizona and states’ rights, and the decision not to pursue voter intimidation charges against the New Black Panther Party. It is a step toward understanding that it is not about party affiliation, but a much larger and more nefarious agenda. It’s about understanding why former U.S. Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean were prosecuted by the Bush Justice Department in a disgusting display of favoritism toward Mexico and the push for a “non-existent” North American Union. Indeed, the list can be continued and transcends traditional political parties.

Issues like the establishment of a New World Order and the subjugation of American sovereignty to global governance, once considered “conspiracy theories” just a few short years ago, will begin to emerge as the Socialists unabashedly unveil their agenda for all to see. It can also be used as a litmus test of sorts to identify the pseudo-conservatives who insist that this is “much ado about nothing” or a distraction, like the Obama eligibility issue, from the ever elusive “real issues” of the day.


It is most telling that the quote has been generally attributed to C. Wilfred Jenks, a man “ who facilitated a greater role for socialists and communists at the U.N ., and the global ‘workers rights movement.’“ In 1958, Jenks published a series of essays under the title The Common Law of Mankind, which is actually a compilation of his essays that favor the implementation of International law over the laws of individual nations. His legal writings are quite vast and complex, although his favoritism toward the integration of U.S. law under global governance is clearly evident in his writings.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Radicals Key to Career of Chicago Mayoral Candidate

Socialists, communists have advanced Moseley Braun career

The political career of Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun has been facilitated for years by a slew of radicals, including communists and socialists.

Braun’s former campaign staff has included socialist activists and the founder of an academy that teaches the community organizing tactics of radical Saul Alinsky.

The field operations director for Braun’s successful 1992 bid for the U.S. Senate in Illinois was Heather Booth, founder of the Midwest Academy, which models its curriculum on Alinsky.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Karpatkin, former Youth Organizer for the Democratic Socialists of America, or DSA, also directed Braun’s field operations for her 1992 race.

Braun has been closely linked throughout her political career to the DSA, one of the largest U.S. socialist groups. She has also been linked to the Communist Party USA and to U.S.-based communist activists.

Chicago’s DSA contributed both volunteers and money to Braun’s 1992 campaign.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Mounties Apologized for Ramadan Terror Arrests

OTTAWA — As RCMP investigators searched through homes, computers and the seized equipment of three terror suspects arrested at the end of August, the RCMP’s community outreach office in Ottawa was calling an emergency meeting of the cultural diversity consultative committee to apologize to local Muslims.

“To show support to our Muslim brothers and sisters during RAMADAN, there will be no food or drink during this most important meeting. This meeting is for one hour only, in order to observe prayer time and the breaking of the fast during RAMADAN,” wrote Cpl. Wayne Russett.

The committee, especially Cpl. Russett, went into high gear after the arrest of Hiva Mohammad Alizadeh and Misbahuddin Ahmed in Ottawa’s west end on Aug. 25. The two men, along with Khurram Syed Sher, were charged with several terrorism-related offences in a plot the Mounties say was aimed at launching a terrorist attack in Canada and supporting terrorism abroad.

At the Aug. 26 meeting, one day after the terror bust, RCMP and Ottawa police officials apologized that arrests had taken place during Ramadan.

In the days after the arrests, Cpl. Russett held more than a dozen meetings with Muslim groups in Ottawa including visits to mosques, community centres and several meals to break the Ramadan fast.

“We have been actively engaging the local Muslim Communities and will continue to do so in an attempt to neutralize and elevate any issues of concern,” Russett wrote in an e-mail to Francois Bidal, the commanding officer of the RCMP’s A Division, which covers the National Capital Region.

The outreach to Muslims following the arrests is being criticized by some Muslim Canadians as blind pandering.

“This e-mail is an indication of how within the RCMP there are officers in authority who do not see the threat Islamism poses to our nation, but unwittingly perform the role of useful idiots,” said Tarek Fatah of the Muslim Canadian Congress.

“Why would they apologize to Muslims for arrests during Ramadan?” one of the meeting participants asked. The person, who did not want to be named, highly doubted police would call a meeting of Christian leaders to apologize for arresting someone on Christmas Day.

The cultural diversity consultative committee was established to “advance and promote positive relations between the RCMP the diverse cultural groups” of the National Capital Region.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Andrew G. Bostom: Clear-Eyed Coptic Bishop Rejects Islamic ‘Tolerance’

In a brave, refreshing display of “anti-dhimmitude,” Msg. Barnaba el Soryany, Bishop of the Coptic Church in Rome, rejected any presence of representatives of Rome’s Muslim community — either religious or political — at a demonstration to commemorate the Coptic victims of the recent Alexandria bombing massacre. While openly embracing the participation of many other religious communities and institutions at the commemorative event, Msg. Soryany was “unafraid” to voice his rejection of Muslim participation, and further dismissed as propagandistic “exploitation” the claim by Egyptian investigators that the Alexandria attackers somehow came from outside Egypt.

Msg. Soryany’s clear-eyed statements recall the global assessment of Islam’s devastating impact on Middle East Christianity made by the late Father Michel Hayek (1928-2005)

Father Hayek was a Lebanese Maronite scholar who produced a corpus of work that included over forty published books, scores of treatises, and innumerable articles. His 1959 book Le Christ de L’Islam has been re-published in two revised editions, and remains an important reference work. Following its initial publication in 1959 — reflecting the profundity of his understanding — Father Hayek became a widely sought after lecturer for talks and conferences on Muslim-Christian relations…

           — Hat tip: Andy Bostom[Return to headlines]

Church Killings; Paris Investigates Threats

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 3 — The anti-terrorism unit of the Paris police has opened an investigation into “criminal association with a terrorist feat” regarding threats that have been made against a Coptic church in a small town in the outskirts of Paris, well-informed sources report. A curate of the Coptic orthodox church of Sainte Marie-Saint Marc in Chatenay-Malabry, around 15 km south of the French capital, reported the threats after one of the faithful found “threats on the internet made by the Islamic mujahidin who announced more attacks in Europe and specifically in France, mentioning our church”. There are around 250,000 Copts in France, according to the figures mentioned by the priest, of which around 5,000 in the parish church of Chatenay-Malabry. The Coptic Christmas ritual will be celebrated on January 6, under close surveillance after the attack on New Year’s day in Alexandria.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

European Police Protect Coptic Churches

The bomb attack against a Coptic church in Egypt, along with a list of targets found on a radical Muslim website, have led police in several European countries to guard Coptic churches ahead of Orthodox Christmas celebrations on Friday. Moderate Muslims have offered to help.

Police were protecting Coptic churches around Europe on Tuesday after direct warnings of possible terrorist attacks and an explosion at a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, which killed 21 people on Saturday. Copts celebrate Christmas this January 6 and 7.

“We will show a stronger presence in front of Coptic churches, particularly during the Coptic Christmas on Thursday and Friday,” a spokeswoman for police in Hanover, Germany, where one church was threatened, told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

A list of Coptic targets in Europe surfaced about two weeks ago on the website Shumukh al-Islam, which is associated with al-Qaida. The site called for bomb attacks against a number of Coptic targets on Jan. 7, including churches in the Netherlands, France, Austria, Britain and Germany.

The al-Qiddisin Church in Alexandria, where a suspected suicide bomber set off a car bomb early on New Year’s Day, also appeared on the list. A spokesman from the German federal police agency said warnings about the list had been issued in Germany before Dec. 25 — but the Alexandria blast was a “proof of danger.”

Muslims Offer to Help

Muslim groups in the Netherlands have offered to help protect Coptic churches there them “from threats by al-Qaida,” according to a joint statement by the three largest Dutch Muslim organizations. “Muslims have to do this, above all, because al-Qaida claims to act in the name of Islam,” the statement said.

The head pastor at Amsterdam’s Coptic church said the offer had been verified and that Copts in the Netherlands were grateful.

Coptic Christians represent an African branch of the Orthodox Church. They’re prevalent in Egypt, but they trace their origins to Abyssinia — what’s now, roughly, Ethiopia. They’re a distinct minority in Europe. Some 6,000 Copts live in Germany, 6,000 in the Netherlands, and 45,000 in France. Until recently they rarely made headlines as a group.

“We’re afraid,” said the Coptic deacon George Abdel Seed from the St. Athanasius Church in the western German city of Bitburg, according to the German Press Agency on Tuesday. “Everyone’s living in great fear.”

           — Hat tip: JB[Return to headlines]

Islam a Threat for 42% of French and German People

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, JANUARY 4 — The presence of a Muslim community represents “a threat” for the identity of the country, according to 42% of French and German people, based on a survey carried out by Ifop on the web before the attack on the Coptic Church in Alexandria (in France from December 7 to 9, in Germany from December 3 to 8, addressing some 800 people) that was published today exclusively by Le Monde. Furthermore, 68% of those surveyed in France and 75% of those in Germany believe that the Muslims cannot integrate themselves into the society, a belief that is more widespread among the elderly and far-right wing voters. The causes? First of all the rejection of integration by the Muslims themselves (61% of the French and 67% of the Germans) and then “the major cultural differences” (40% and 34%), the phenomenon of the “ghetto” they isolate themselves in (37% and 32%), economic difficulties (20% and 10%). But there is also “racism and the lack of opening by certain French and German people”, according to 18% of the French and 15% of the German people that were interviewed.

The survey highlighted how by now, despite the differences between the two countries, their positions are converging. Even though, according to a study carried out in December on behalf of the Munster universities in Germany, France, Holland, Portugal and Denmark, again reported by Le Monde, it is the Germans (who host 2.5 million Turks) who have the most negative opinion of the Muslim people. More than half associate Islam to female discrimination, fanaticism and intolerance.

Globally in France, 31% associate Islam “to the rejection of western values”, while in 2001 the figure was only 17%. Today 59% of the French are against wearing the veil in public. The Germans are more indifferent to the Islamic veil on the streets (45%), and 44% are not hostile to Islamic political parties or unions, a notion accepted only by 14% of the French.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Napolitano Urges EU Action on Religious Freedom

Issue ‘can’t be ignored, president says after Alexandria bombing

(ANSA) — Naples, January 4 — Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Tuesday called for action by the European Union to protect religious freedom in countries like Egypt where 23 Coptic Christians were killed by a bomb on New Year’s Day.

“I think it is right to ask that religious freedom be the subject of discussion and initiatives by the EU,” the head of state said on a visit to Naples.

“Speaking of human rights in general, one cannot ignore this specific aspect, religious freedom, (which is) so significant and important”.

Napolitano was echoing Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who on Monday said EU aid should be tied to respect for human rights in countries where Christian minorities are under attack.

Aid “should be reduced if not eliminated” for “those countries that do not collaborate” in protecting Christians, Frattini said.

“We have to move from monitoring to action,” said the foreign minister, stressing that Italy could not remain “isolated” in the battle for Christians’ rights around the world.

The EU “should work with those countries that collaborate and encourage them,” he said.

Italy has been saying for months that more should be done to help embattled Christian communities around the world.

On December 22 Frattini blasted the EU for not doing more to combat the persecution of Christians in Iraq and other Middle Eastern Countries.

He said United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is also worried about the plight of Middle Eastern Christians, who are leaving the region in increasing numbers, especially from Iraq, where they have been the victims of a series of bomb attacks.

“Frankly, it is a little sad that Europe isn’t reacting on this issue as it should”, he said.

Italy is set to present a resolution to the United Nations on religious freedom which aims to stop this persecution and it has the backing of the EU, while several non-EU countries have expressed “great interest”.

Pope Benedict XVI, who condemned the New Year’s Day attack in Alexandria as a “cowardly attack against God,” has said Christians are the religious group that suffer most persecution around the world.

Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Zimbabwe and Nigeria are among the other countries where there have been anti-Christian campaigns and attacks.

More than 80 people were killed in bombings in the central Nigerian city of Jos on Christmas Eve, sparking clashes between Muslim and Christian youths.

Ethnic and religious violence in central Nigeria has left hundreds of people dead this year.

A bomb in a Baghdad church on October 31 left some 50 dead and more than 300 wounded.

It was followed by a string of attacks on Christian’s homes in the Iraqi capital in which at least six people died.

Italy, through Frattini, told Egypt Tuesday it would continue joint action against terrorism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Twenty-Four New Cardinals, Tailor Made for the Pope

Koch, Ravasi, Burke, Amato, Ranjith… all very much in line with Benedict XVI. Who, for the honor of great sacred music, is also giving the purple to maestro Bartolucci. With a secret thought, perhaps, for his brother Georg

ROME, October 22, 2010 — On the vigil of the Sunday of Christ the King, the end of the liturgical year, the Catholic Church will have 24 new cardinals. Benedict XVI announced the names at the end of the general audience on Wednesday, October 20, in Saint Peter’s Square.

Most of the appointments are expected, and some of them practically obligatory, as demonstrated in the newspaper of the Italian bishops, “Avvenire,” by one of the most incisive analysts of Vatican affairs, Gianni Cardinale, in the two commentaries reproduced further below.

But some of the appointments announced show original features, distinctive of the current pontiff.

The first is Benedict XVI’s desire to keep the number of cardinal electors, the ones who have the right to vote in conclave, under 120. With the consequence of restricting the number of those who aspire to and attain the purple. For example, it is no longer the practice to make cardinals of the nuncios of the most prestigious sees: Paris, Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid, Berlin, Washington.

A second characteristic feature of the current pontificate is the rule of not making a cardinal of an archbishop whose predecessor is still alive and under the age of 80. This unwritten rule was adopted for the first time at the consistory of 2007, with just one exception for the archbishop of Genoa, Angelo Bagnasco, who was made a cardinal even though his predecessor, Tarcisio Bertone, who had become the Vatican secretary of state, was 73 at the time. This time, there haven’t been any exceptions. And so, with regard to Italy, there has been no purple for the archbishop of Florence, Giuseppe Betori, or of Turin, Cesare Nosiglia, two cities that along with Milan, Venice, Bologna, Genoa, Naples, and Palermo (plus Rome, with the pope’s vicar) are traditionally headed by cardinals.

A third new and unprecedented element of the next concistory is the promotion as cardinals not of the archbishops in office in their respective dioceses, but of their predecessors “emeritus.” This has been done with the retired archbishops of Quito and Lusaka.

Finally, it was certainly Benedict XVI himself who chose the four new cardinals over the age of 80, nominated “ad honorem.”

It was Paul VI, in 1970, who prohibited those over the age of 80 from voting in conclave. But in the three following consistories he did not make any cardinals older than 80. The first appointments of this kind were by John Paul II in 1983, when those made cardinals included the Jesuit theologian Henri De Lubac. Pope Karol Wojtyla made a total of twenty-two cardinals over the age of 80. Benedict XVI has already made twelve of them.

One of the four new cardinals “ad honorem” of the next consistory will be Domenico Bartolucci, remarkably robust at 93, previously the “perpetual” director of the Sistine Chapel choir that accompanies the pope’s liturgies.

Benedict’s conferral of the purple on him looks like an unambiguous rehabilitation of this preeminent maestro of Gregorian and polyphonic liturgical music, treacherously expelled from the direction of the Sistine choir in 1997 by the directors of pontifical ceremonies at the time.

What a shame that since then, without him, the choir of the Sistine Chapel has fallen to abysmal levels. Nor is there any reason to hope for a worthy rebirth in the appointment as its director, a few days ago, of Salesian Fr. Massimo Palombell, a protege of the cardinal secretary of state.

Next Monday, October 25, in the academic hall of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Piazza Sant’Agostino in Rome, maestro Bartolucci will also receive an award from the Fondazione pro Musica e Arte Sacra, together with Benedict XVI’s brother, Georg Ratzinger, another great proponent of liturgical music.

And it will be as if the purple given to the former is also honoring the latter. Something not entirely bizarre, if one remembers that Leo XIII, at his first consistory in 1879, made a cardinal of his brother Giuseppe Pecci, a Jesuit and the deputy librarian of the Vatican library…

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

UK: ‘Cover Up’ Claims Over Asian Sex Gangs

Charities and agencies working with victims of sexual abuse have been accused of covering up the role of British Pakistani Muslims in sexually exploiting young white British girls.

Most agencies have publicly denied a link between ethnicity and the grooming of vulnerable girls as young as 11 on streets by criminal gangs of pimps.

But in 17 court cases since 1997 where groups of men were prosecuted for grooming 11 to 16 year old girls on the street, 53 of the 56 people found guilty were Asian, 50 of them Muslim, while just three were white, The Times reported.

A majority of the men were from the British Pakistani community, the newspaper added.

Police sources said the convictions represented a fraction of the “tidal wave” of offending in some counties across the Midlands and Northern England.

A senior West Mercia police officer said: “These girls are being passed around and used as meat. To stop this type of crime you need to start talking about it, but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor.”

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Long Arm of the Store: John Lewis Staff to Give Politeness Lessons to Police After Rudeness Complaints Soar

There was a time when the police would go out of their way to be a friendly and reassuring presence.

But it seems standards may have slipped — because now officers are taking lessons in how to be more approachable and polite from staff at a department store.

The John Lewis group is training officers to be more professional and considerate when dealing with victims of crime and witnesses.

They are being taught to spend more time listening to people, to keep victims updated on the progress of inquiries and to tell people exactly what happens after a crime is reported.

It follows a survey which revealed that some officers answered their mobile phones while talking to people or had unprofessional musical ring tones.

The scheme has been launched in Greater Manchester, where 300 front-line officers are receiving the training. The project — which isn’t costing the force a penny — is the brainchild of Superintendent Nadeem Butt, based in Bolton.

Mr Butt said: ‘We all know John Lewis is fantastic at customer service — anyone who has shopped there will tell you that.

‘So I just rang them up and said can we come down and have a look at what you do.’ Senior officers will now contact people who have had contact with police to see if they are happy with the way they were dealt with, so their feedback can be used in the sessions.

The ‘Are you being served, sir?’ training programme is being carried out by police staff but John Lewis is providing all the tips and advice free of charge.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police and Muslim Leaders Call for End to ‘Cultural Cover-Up’ of Sex Gangs That Blight Britain

Police and social services were today accused of fuelling a culture of silence which has allowed hundreds of young white girls to be exploited by Asian men for sex.

New figures suggest that an alarmingly high proportion of prosecutions for on-street grooming of girls aged between 11 and 16 have involved men of Pakistani heritage.

Experts claim the statistics represent a mere fraction of a ‘tidal wave’ of offending in counties across the Midlands and the north of England which has been going on for more than a decade.

The grooming usually begins with older groups of men befriending girls aged from 11 to 16 they meet on the street.

In a typical scenario, the victim is initially treated as a girlfriend and showered with presents and attention.

But the relationship quickly becomes more sinister as the abuser plies the child with drink and drugs before effectively pimping her out to friends and associates.

The worst cases involve young girls being moved around the country to be repeatedly abused.

Charities and agencies working in conjunction with the police to help victims of sexual abuse in such cases have publicly denied there is a link between ethnicity and the on-street grooming of young girls by gangs and pimps.

But in 17 court cases since 1997 where groups of men were prosecuted, 53 of the 56 people found guilty were Asian, 50 of them Muslim, while just three were white, according to The Times.

A senior officer at West Mercia police has called for an end to the ‘damaging taboo’ connecting on-street grooming with race. Chief Inspector Alan Edwards said: ‘These girls are being passed around and used as meat.

‘To stop this type of crime you need to start everyone talking about it but everyone’s been too scared to address the ethnicity factor.

‘No one wants to stand up and say that Pakistani guys in some parts of the country are recruiting young white girls and passing them around their relatives for sex, but we need to stop being worried about the racial complication.’

The claims come after five Asian men were jailed in November for a total of 32 years for a string of sexual offences against girls aged between 12 and 16 in Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

The presiding judge Peter Kelson QC, told the men they were ‘sexual predators’, adding: ‘You had what you regarded as your fun. Now you will take your punishment.

‘All five of you were convicted of sexual activity with a child. The clue is in the title: a child.’

Weeks earlier, nine Asian men were jailed for the ‘sustained sexual abuse’ of a privately-educated schoolgirl who was forced into sex slavery aged 14 after being picked up by a gang in Rochdale, greater Manchester…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Tuberculosis Thriving in ‘Victorian’ London, Says Expert

TB, known as the ‘white plague’, is on the rise in London’s poorest areas

Tuberculosis, the “white plague”, is returning to London, which risks the sort of serious outbreaks that occurred in New York and California in the 1990s, an article in the Lancet medical journal warns today.

Nowhere else in Europe have TB rates continued to rise, says Dr Alimuddin Zumla of the department of infection of University College London medical school. “The incidence in the UK has gradually increased over the past 15 years,” he writes. Last year more than 9,000 cases were reported in the UK, with nearly 40% in London. “This pattern is striking when compared with the general decline in other European countries,” he says.

TB, known as the white plague in Victorian Britain because of the pallor of the patients, who were often confined to sanatoriums and usually died, was thought to have been conquered by the early 1980s. Antibiotic drugs, improved health services and the BCG vaccination brought it firmly under control.


TB thrives in areas of deprivation. The increase in numbers has been largely in people who were not born in the UK, but in 2009, most of them (85%) had lived in the country for at least two years. Many are living in conditions familiar in Dickens’s time. “Poor housing, inadequate ventilation and overcrowding — conditions prevalent in Victorian Britain — are causes of the higher tuberculosis incidence rates in certain London boroughs,” writes Zumla.

The disease spreads in the close conditions that thrive in shelters for the homeless. It is also in prisons.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican Ambassador Says E. U. Can Do More for Christians

(AGI) Vatican City — Talking to AGI today, Ambassador Francesco Greco said, “Europe could do more” to stop anti-Christian violence. “The dramatic images of the massacre in Alexandria that followed the attacks in Baghdad are still fresh in our minds. But violence against Christians, the religious community that is most persecuted,” said the ambassador, “is not restricted to terrorist attacks.”

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


Organ Trafficking, Eugenics and Corruption: Meet Our New EU ‘Partners’

Mary Ellen Synon

“… As the Serbian writer Srdja Trifkovic points out in the current issue of Chronicles Magazine: ‘Long dismissed in the mainstream media as “Serbian propaganda” the allegations of organ trafficking were ignored in the West until early 2008 when Carla Del Ponte, former Prosecutor at the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague, revealed in her memoirs that she had been prevented from initiating any serious investigation into its merits.’

‘She also revealed — shockingly — that some elements of proof taken by ICTY field investigators from the notorious “Yellow House” [the blood-spattered house where organ harvesting took place] in the Albanian town of Rripe were destroyed at The Hague, thus enabling the KLA and their Western enablers ‘—hello, Brussels — ‘to claim that “There was no evidence” for the organ trafficking claims.’

‘In April 2008, prompted by Del Ponte’s revelations, 17 European parliamentarians [ie, from various European parliaments] signed a motion for a resolution calling on the Assembly [of the European Council] to examine the allegations.’ In June 2008 the Swiss senator Marty was asked to write the report. He had already gained international prominence by his previous investigation of accusations that the CIA abducted and imprisoned terrorism suspects in Europe.

The report says that Thaci’s links with organised crime go back to the late 1990s. This means assassinations, beatings, narcotics trade, the lot. So murdering for body parts wasn’t all of it, merely the worst of it. …”

           — Hat tip: Srdja Trifkovic[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: EU Should Move for Christians, Italy’s Foreign Minister

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 4 — Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, has held a series of telephone conversations today with some of his European counterparts (Hungary’s Foreign Minister, Janos Martonyi, Poland’s Foreign Minister, Radosaw Sikorski, the Austrian Michael Spindelegger, France’s Michelle Alliot-Marie) during which he raised the need to draw up concrete and effective initiatives at European and international level to increase the protection of religious minorities, especially for Christians, in the face of increasingly serious attacks. The news has been released in a memo from Italy’s Foreign Office.

Frattini explored the idea — which was welcomed by his various interlocutors — of a joint initiative ahead of the EU Council of Ministers scheduled for January 31 with the purpose of urging more incisive action within the EU and in other international forums, starting with that of the United Nations and the resolution adopted by the General Assembly in December aimed at tackling intolerance of religious minorities and promoting inter-religious dialogue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Attack on Church; Pope Cares for Everybody’s Freedom

(ANSAmed) — VATICAN CITY, JANUARY 3 — “Of course the Pope shows his solidarity with the Christian communities in question, which are minorities that often suffer discrimination, but he is concerned about everybody’s religious freedom and about respect for all human beings”. This remark was made today by the director of the Vatican press office, father Federico Lombardi, who responded in Rai News to the accusations of interference against Benedict XVI made by the grand imam of Al Azhar.

Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, one of the leading figures in Sunni Islam, yesterday called the Pope’s words on the attack in Alexandria, Egypt, and on the need to defend Christians, an “unacceptable intervention in Egypt’s affairs”. He accused the Pope of not “asking for the protection of Muslims when they were massacred in Iraq”. Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, underlined that it is important to avoid “anger” when faced with massacres like the one in Alexandria, because anger “is always a bad adviser”, and “indifference”, and that the only possible response is to “intensify the dialogue”. “The word that has come to mind is “vileness”, said the French cardinal, “because we are faced with a perversion of religion”. Regarding indifference, Tauran repeated the words spoken by John Paul II regarding the Balkan crisis: “we don’t have the right to be indifferent”. “The dialogue must be intensified”, Tauran concluded, “as the Pope said in his most recent message for World Peace Day, quoting Paul VI: “First of all we must give peace different weapons that the ones that kill and exterminate humanity”.

“We need ‘moral’ weapons more than anything else, to give strength and prestige to international law, starting with the observance of the Agreements. So let’s try and put all those beautiful joint statements we have made into practice!”, he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Violent Attacks Could Soon Return to Egypt’

Global leaders have condemned the deadly New Year’s Day attack outside a Coptic Christian Church in Egypt that killed 21 people. On Monday, German editorialists call for greater protection for religious minorities living in the Arab country — and warn further attacks may be imminent.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday condemned an attack on a church in Egypt, calling it “barbaric” and saying “many innocent people” were killed, especially members of the Coptic Christian community.

“I heard the news with horror and disgust,” Merkel said in a message released by her office on Monday. “The German government codemns in the strongest terms these barbaric acts of terror, in which Christians but also Muslims lost their lives.”

The car bomb exploded outside a Coptic Christian church in Alexandria, Egypt, in the early hours of the new year on Saturday morning, killing 21 people and injuring nearly 100 as they left the service.

The bloody attack at the al-Qiddissin Church prompted enraged Egyptian Christians to take to the streets. Protests sparked clashes between Muslims and Christians, with the two groups throwing stones at each other, news agencies reported.

Late on Sunday, riots flared near the headquarters of the Coptic Church after the country’s top Muslim religious figures and government officials met with Pope Shenouda III, the religion’s Egyptian leader. About 10 percent of Egypt’s 79 million-strong population are Christians.

So far, no group has claimed responsibility for Saturday’s attack, but local authorities said it appeared to be at least inspired by al-Qaida or other international terrorists groups. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak blamed the deaths on “foreign hands” seeking to destabilize Egypt.

Difficult Times

International leaders were quick to condemn Saturday’s blast. President Barack Obama criticized the separate “outrageous terrorist bombing attacks” in Egypt and the bombing of a crowded marketplace in the Nigerian capital of Abuja. “We stand with the Nigerian and Egyptian people at this difficult time,” he said in a statement.

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy warned that “nobody should be worried or afraid for their life in exercizing their fundamental right to freely practice their faith.” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, meanwhile, called for a forceful response from his counterparts in the European Union.

Within Germany, Volker Beck, the human rights spokesman in parliament for the Green Party, said that words must be coupled with action. “Condemning such attacks is not enough,” he said. “Egypt and other states must effectively combat the demons of religious intolerance.”

German Threats

Stefan Müller, the parliamentary leader of Germany’s conservative Christian Social Union, urged greater scrutiny of the human rights’ record of recipients of German development aid. “There can be no financial aid to countries in which Christians cannot practice their faith unhindered,” he said, calling on Muslims in Germany to do more to condemn the violence.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Coptic Christian community has also reported receiving threats from radical Muslims. Germany’s mass-circulation tabloid Bild on Monday cited Coptic bishop Anba Damian, who said he had asked German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble for protection. “The Internet is full of threats of this kind against us. Police have alerted us several times against attacks by radical Muslims,” Damian said.

German commentators on Monday universally call for more protection for the minority group and warn that the underlying problems in Egypt need urgent attention. One newspaper stresses there is a real possibility of further attacks.

The left-leaning daily Die Tageszeitung writes:

“So the new year has brought al-Qaida’s insanity, as we know it from Iraq, into Egypt. Will this attack bring Egypt’s Muslims and Christians closer together, as suggested by a spontaneous demonstration in Cairo on Saturday? Or will the militant Islamists achieve their goal of driving a wedge between Christians and Muslims amid the current tense climate?”

“In order to avoid the latter, the Egyptian government needs to finally stand up against the creeping Islamization of the country. The Copts have gradually been isolated and pushed to the margins of society. If there is no division between Muslims and Christians, al-Qaida doesn’t have a chance.”

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

“Islamist groups use the tension between religious groups to their own advantage — and are scoring their first victories. In Egypt, for example, members of the ruling party use Islamic phrases even though it is forbidden. Although Christians are now, for the first time, rallying against this injustice, there is little hope for improvement on the horizon. Demands for liberalization of the Muslim world must always be linked with greater protection for minorities.”

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“This has nothing to do with the traditional Islam. Even the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood has condemned the latest bloody attack. The university Al Azhar has called for more protection for Christians. In Egypt, liberalism has been overtaken by an increasing Islamization in the past few years, if not decades. The tensions with the Copts are not the only indication of this. In this climate, it is easy for radicals and terrorists to exert influence and attract supporters and those willing to carry out violence.”

“In addition, America’s war in Iraq has increased pressure on Christians in the region. But the errors and dubious nature of the Western politics alone cannot ‘explain’ this new terror. The jihadists believe that they have to ‘cleanse’ Islam of Western influence. They see a first step towards this as the conversion of all Muslims who they believe have fallen. And it has long been Muslims themselves who have spilled the most blood due to this fanaticism.”

The center-left daily Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“Egypt was long seen as the anchor of stability in a region which, for decades, has been synonymous with political violence. But the human rights situation is a catastrophe, the regime is corrupt, the superficial democracy is a farce. That all fuels the popularity of non-militant political Islam. Given the fine line between militant and non-militant Islam, violent attacks could soon return to Egypt.”

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

Middle East

Ali Reza Pahlavi — Second Son of Shah of Iran — Commits Suicide in Boston

Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi, the son of the Shah of Iran, committed suicide in Boston today. He was the Shah’s second son and had been suffering from chronic depression. The Boston Herald reported:

The son of the deposed Shah of Iran and onetime heir to the throne committed suicide early this morning in his South End brownstone, according to authorities and a statement from his family.

A gracious and unassuming man, Prince Ali Reza Pahlavi, 44, had lived on West Newton Street for at least four years, where folks on the street whispered about his royal lineage and expensive cars and clothes, neighbors said. Pahlavi’s family released a statement mourning his death and calling it a suicide.

“Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life,” read the statement signed by several surviving members of his family. “Although he struggled for years to overcome his sorrow, he finally succumbed, and during the day of the 4th of January 2011, in his Boston residence, took his own life, plunging his family and friends into great sorrow.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Drugs: UAE: Rehabilitation Centres in Prisons

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, JANUARY 4 — An innovative initiative in the Gulf region will see rehabilitation centres for drug addicts in prisons. “These centres will cover all aspects of the problem, from treatment to rehabilitation”, explains the director of the national rehabilitation centre (NCR) of the United Arab Emirates, Hamad al Ghaferi. The director added that the proposal still has to be approved by the Interior Ministry.

A similar project is in its early stages in Egypt as well. In the UAE, where drug trafficking is punished with the death penalty and drugs use with an iron fist both for local citizens and foreigners, there is currently one rehabilitation centre, in Abu Dhabi, with only room for 28, men only.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Militant Anti-US Cleric Sadr Returns Home After 4 Years in Iran

Baghdad, 5 Jan. (AKI) — Anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr returned to Iraq Wedneday after spending almost four-years in neighboring Iran, al-Sumaria news reported, citing a person close to the 37-year-old religious leader.

He ended his self-imposed exile when he arrived in Najaf, south of Baghdad, where he visited to his family home and then went to the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali, surrounded by dozens of supporters.

Sadr once led the Mehdi armed militia which fought US troops following their invasion of Iraq in 2003. A political movement led by the cleric will be part of the a new unity government with 39 seats in parliament.

Sadr is thought to have fled to Iran in early 2007, amid American military’s surge campaign, when an arrest warrant was issued for him.

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

Saudi Arabia ‘Nabbed Israeli-Tagged Vulture for Being Mossad Spy’

Vulture used as part of bird migration research was reportedly captured in rural area of Saudi Arabia.

A vulture tagged by scientists at Tel Aviv University has strayed into Saudi Arabian territory, where it was promptly arrested on suspicion of being a Mossad spy, Israeli and Saudi media reported Tuesday.

The bird was found in a rural area of the country wearing a transmitter and a leg bracelet bearing the words “Tel Aviv University”, according to the reports, which surfaced first in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv.

Although these tags indicate that the bird was part of a long-term research project into migration patterns, residents and local reporters told Saudi Arabia’s Al-Weeam newspaper that the matter seemed to be a “Zionist plot.”

The accusations went viral, with hundreds of posts on Arabic-language websites and forums claiming that the “Zionists” had trained these birds for espionage.

The Sinai regional governor last month suggested that a shark that killed and maimed tourists on its Red Sea port may have been intentionally released by Israeli agents in order to sabotage the country’s tourist industry.

“What is being said about the Mossad throwing the deadly shark in the sea to hit tourism in Egypt is not out of the question. But it needs time to confirm,” Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha said, according to the British Sun newspaper.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Tormented by His Sister’s Suicide: Shah of Iran’s Son Shoots Himself After Moving to America to Begin a New Life

The youngest son of the Shah of Iran has killed himself after a long battle with depression — following the suicide of his model sister.

Tormented by his sister’s death and the upheaval in his native country, Alireza Pahlavi, 44, yesterday shot himself in the head at his home in Boston, where he was studying at Harvard University.

His brother, former crown prince Reza Pahlavi, said the family was in ‘great sorrow’ over the tragedy.

A family statement confirmed last night: ‘It is with immense grief that we would like to inform our compatriots of the passing away of Prince Alireza Pahlavi.

‘Like millions of young Iranians, he too was deeply disturbed by all the ills fallen upon his beloved homeland, as well as carrying the burden of losing a father and a sister in his young life.

‘Although he struggled for years to overcome his sorrow, he finally succumbed.’

The Shah, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, died in exile in Egypt in 1980 — just a year after being ousted in Iran’s Islamic revolution.

Princeton-educated Mr Pahlavi, who was studying for his doctorate in philosophy and ancient Iranian studies at Harvard, never recovered from the loss of his younger sister, Leila.

A one-time model for Italian designer Valentino, she too suffered from bouts of deep depression and also battled anorexia and bulimia.

She was found dead in her room at the Leonard Hotel in London in 2001 when she was 31, after taking a cocktail of cocaine and a prescription drug.

Her brother, who lived between Boston and Paris, is said to have killed himself in the early hours of yesterday morning.

The family learned of his death at 2.30am, according to a spokesman.

Born in Tehran in 1966, Mr Pahlavi attended schools in Iran before fleeing with his family to the U.S. in 1979.

After Princeton, he went on to get a master’s degree from Columbia University in New York.

The youngest surviving of the Shah’s five children, he never married and shunned the spotlight.

While his older brother spoke out against the violent crackdown in Iran following the disputed elections last year, he kept his own counsel.

A statement released by the crown prince’s office said: ‘Prince Ali Reza was intelligent, sensitive, loyal, and dedicated to Iranian civilisation, as well as to his family and friends.

‘His counsel, wisdom and sense of humour will be profoundly missed and always cherished.’

Boston police confirmed that no foul play was suspected in the death.

His sister’s suicide followed a similar struggle with depression and crippling low esteem.

After her death, her mother Farah wrote on a remembrance website: ‘Exiled at the age of nine, she never surmounted the death of her father, His Majesty Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, to whom she was particularly close.

‘She was never able to forget the injustice and the dramatic conditions of our departure and the erring which was to follow.

‘She could not stand living far from Iran and shared wholeheartedly the suffering of her countrymen.’

Mr Pahlavi is survived by his mother, his older brother, his sister Farahnaz and his half-sister Shahnaz.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Deadlines Reached for Release of Islamic Extremists

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JANUARY 4 — Eight members of the Turkish fundamentalist Islamic Hezbollah group, which has no ties with the Lebanese group of the same name, have been released from custody today by an Istanbul court as their prison terms had expired. So reports Anadolu press agency which points out that the eight have been freed thanks to the entry into force on January 1 of the new law that limits the period a detainee can spend in prison without receiving a definite sentence to ten years. Among the eight persons freed is Haci Inan, who is held to be the leader of the group’s militant wing. Haci Inan was arrested and imprisoned in 2000.

A further ten alleged members of Turkish Hezbollah (including two of its leaders) and five alleged members of the outlawed PKK Party of Kurdistan were released from prison in Diyarbakir, in south-eastern Turkey yesterday thanks to the same law. A further 57,000 or so detainees could be affected, including infamous mafia bosses.

As the country’s military leadership has been warning for years, apart from the Kurd PKK separatists, several terrorist groups with fundamentalist Islamic links are active in Turkey, such as Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, affecting various areas of the country and creating instability both in Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Three Lecturers at Istanbul University Fired Over Project

A university student’s final assignment which included footage of two people having sex has led to the dismissal of three lecturers at Istanbul Bilgi University, according to news reports.

The school administration fired three lecturers believed to be in charge of the student’s thesis Monday after an interview with the director and the actress of the movie was published in a national magazine. Now the university is receiving criticism for firing the lecturers so quickly, without launching an investigation.

Controversy over the film project arose over the weekend after an interview was published in Tempo magazine. The magazine article reported a university student decided to shoot an amateur porn film as his final project at one of Istanbul Bilgi University’s campuses.

The student said in the interview that the hardest part of the project was not finding the actress or actor to appear in the movie but obtaining permission from his university lecturers. The teachers reportedly considered, in addition to the subject matter of the movie, whether the project had academic merit. After many discussions the student reportedly received permission to shoot the film.

The student named his project “Porn project” and reportedly passed his jury with a D grade, an extremely low grade.

When the interview was published in the recent January edition of the magazine, comments from the media caused speculation that the project was a real porn film and that the university had allowed the movie to be shot on its campus, leading the school to be inundated with phone calls from parents inquiring whether the incident really occurred on site.

As a result, the three lecturers on the thesis jury that had approved the project, one of whom identified himself as Professor Ihsan Derman on private channel Dipnot TV, were informed Monday that they has been fired.

‘University bowed to public pressure’

A lecturer from Istanbul Bilgi University who preferred to remain anonymous said the university administration had caved into moral outrage.

“It is a pity that the administration did not follow procedure before making this kind of difficult decision,” the lecturer said, adding that the administration should at least have established an investigation committee and decided on any action after such a step.

According to the lecturer, the bodies responsible for the incident were both the head of the department and the dean who allowed the project to go forward.

“But the rector’s office, which gave the student his diploma, appears to have also approved the project regardless of whether it watched the film,” the lecturer said.

“None of the departments have the right to refuse a project according to their category,” the lecturer said, adding that teachers focused on the academic structure of the thesis, not the subject matter.

The jury should only consider films according to their academic merit, the lecturer said.

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

Turkey: Diplomat Attacked With Döner Knives

A high-ranking German diplomat in the Turkish capital Ankara has reportedly been attacked by three men wielding döner kebab knives following a traffic altercation.

The man was driving home with his wife in a car with diplomatic plates on the evening of December 27 when he flashed his headlights at another vehicle for driving recklessly, according to local media reports.

The driver of the other car then began to follow the diplomat and cut him off at a petrol station. At that point, the German got out of his car and started calling for help just before three men attacked him with the long, serrated knives used to slice the popular Turkish snack döner kebab from spits of rotating meat.

The diplomat, who suffered wounds on his stomach and right leg, was taken to the hospital after the attack. The German embassy reported on Tuesday that the victim was now in a stable condition.

The döner knife assailants have since been arrested and are being held on remand for gross bodily harm. The police do not at the moment suspect a political motive in the attack.

Turkish daily Hürriyet reported the diplomat, who was visited by officials from the Turkish Foreign Ministry and a member of the country’s Constitutional Court, did not blame Turkey for the incident.

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

Vulture Tagged by Israeli Scientists Flies Into Saudi Arabia … and is Arrested for Being a Spy

Authorities in Saudi Arabia arrested a suspected Mossad spy when they captured a vulture.

The bird, tagged at Tel Aviv University for a science study, flew into Saudi territory, where it was nabbed, according to Haaretz News Service.

The bird was wearing a transmitter and leg bracelet as part of a migration research project, but the tags bore the words ‘Tel Aviv University’ and prompted suspicion.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Don’t Mourn for Assassinated Punjab Governor or You Will Deserve the Same Fate, Say Group of 500 Pakistani Scholars (And They’re the Moderate Ones)

Five hundred Pakistani religious scholars have warned that anyone who expresses grief over the assassination of the Punjabi governor should suffer the same fate.

And what will cause further despair around the world is that the group, Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan, describe themselves as moderates.

In the past they have even dared criticise the Taliban.

Their pronouncement came as the funeral of Salman Taseer, the liberal politician shot dead by his own guard in Islamabad, took place today under heavy security.

The 66-year-old, a beacon for human rights campaigners, was slain for his opposition to blasphemy laws which call for the execution of those who insult Islam.

But his killing in broad daylight at a shopping centre reinforces the sense that the government is incapable of stabilising the Muslim country of 170million.

But when so-called moderates are warning against open mourning, the government — run by the close to President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, who was also assassinated — knows its efforts to maintain a safe secular society are in serious risk.

Human rights groups say the blasphemy law is often exploited by religious conservatives as well as ordinary people to settle personal scores.

But the law has widespread support in a country that is more than 95 per cent Muslim, and most politicians are loath to be seen as soft on the defence of Islam. Taseer, however, was an outspoken critic.

The Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat Pakistan group of scholars is a vocal critic of Taliban militants who are violently opposed to the government and its ally the United States.

The group is one of the largest representing scholars from the moderate Barelvi sect of Sunni Muslims. They have been leading protests in favour of the blasphemy law.

‘More than 500 scholars of the Jamaat-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat have advised Muslims not to offer the funeral prayers of Governor Punjab Salman Taseer nor try to lead the prayers,’ the group said in a statement.

‘Also, there should be no no expression of grief or sympathy on the death of the governor, as those who support blasphemy of the Prophet are themselves indulging in blasphemy.’

Taseer’s killing has deepened the political crisis in the nuclear-powered economy, the front-line state in the war against militancy in Afghanistan.

It came two days after a main partner in Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani’s coalition was left without a parliamentary majority.

The blasphemy law came under the spotlight after a court in November sentenced a Christian mother of four, Asia Bibi, to death in a case stemming from a village dispute.

Jamaat-e-Islami, one of Pakistan’s main Islamist political parties, also said Taseer’s assassination was justified.

‘If the government had removed him from the governorship, there wouldn’t have been the need for someone to shoot him,’ it said in a statement shortly before Taseer was buried in the Punjab capital, Lahore.

While Pakistan’s pro-Taliban religious parties don’t win significant votes in elections, they have the capability to stir emotions and street protests.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the bodyguard who killed Taseer, identified as Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, confessed and had been arrested.

‘Salman Taseer is a blasphemer and this is the punishment for a blasphemer,’ Qadri said in comments broadcast on Dunya television.

The group of scholars also noted the ‘courage’ and religious zeal of Taseer’s killer, saying his action has made Muslims around the world proud.

It also said that the ‘so-called’ intellectuals, ministers, politicians and television anchors who oppose the blasphemy law and support those committing blasphemy should learn a lesson from Taseer’s death.

Qadri was charged with the crime in court in Islamabad today and had a garland thrown around his neck.

As he was escorted away, he managed to shout to supporters in the street: ‘We must sacrifice our life for the prestige of the Prophet Mohammad.’

Taseer was shot 14 times from a distance of about six feet, said Khawaja Waseem Ahmed, a spokesman for the hospital where he was treated.

Taseer had visited Bibi in prison in a campaign for her release.

Taseer had visited Bibi in prison in a campaign for her release.

He wrote on his Twitter page last Friday: ‘I was under huge pressure sure 2 cow down b4 rightist pressure on blasphemy. Refused. Even if I’m the last man standing.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Punjab Governor’s Assassin ‘Linked to Islamic Group’

(AKI/DAWN) — The Pakistani Elite Force guard who on Tuesday shot dead Punjab governor Salman Taseer is said to be associated with ‘Dawat-i-Islami’, a non-political and non-violent religious group close to a moderate Sunni Muslim sect.

Taseer’s self-confessed killer, Mumtaz Qadri, was associated with the moderate Barelvi sect, according to one his colleagues. The Barelvis originated in India in the 19th century to defend traditional Islam and many practices and rites associated with the mystical Sufi strand of the faith.

Five hundred Barelvi scholars warned that anyone who expresses grief over Taseer’s assassination could suffer the same fate.

Pakistan was on high alert ahead of Taseer’s state funeral taking place in the Pujabi capital, Lahore, on Wednesday.

Taseer — a senior member of the governing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) — had recently angered Islamists by appealing for a Christian woman, sentenced to death for blasphemy, to be pardoned.

Prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani declared three days of national mourning and appealed for calm.

Qadri, 26, joined Punjab police and got Elite Force training in 2006-7. He was posted to the Elite Force wing in the northern garrison town of Rawalpindi in 2008. He is married and has a baby son.

A police officer was cited as saying Qadri had been assigned guard duty with Taseer during the governor’s visits to Islamabad and once with Gilani.

Police took Qadri’s five brothers and father into custody from their house soon after he had confessed to the crime.

A total of 25 police officers and a Elite Force official who had prepared the list of personnel, including Qadri, for duty during the governor’s visit were also taken into custody and taken to Islamabad for investigation.

Investigators also confiscated the cellphones of the security personnel deployed for the governor’s security.

Police party also seized some religious books from Qadri’s home overnight and sealed off the three-storey house.

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

Far East

China’s New Stealth Fighter is Revealed

BEIJING—The first clear pictures of what appears to be a Chinese stealth fighter prototype have been published online, highlighting China’s military buildup just days before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates heads to Beijing to try to repair defense ties.

The photographs, published on several unofficial Chinese and foreign defense-related websites, appear to show a J-20 prototype making a high-speed taxi test—usually one of the last steps before an aircraft makes its first flight—according to experts on aviation and China’s military.

The exact origin of the photographs is unclear, although they appear to have been taken by Chinese enthusiasts from the grounds of or around the Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute in western China, where the J-20 is in development. A few experts have suggested that the pictured aircraft is a mock-up, rather than a functioning prototype of a stealth fighter—so-called because it is designed to evade detection by radar and infrared sensors.

But many more experts say they believe the pictures and the aircraft are authentic, giving the strongest indication yet that Beijing is making faster-than-expected progress in developing a rival to the U.S. F-22—the world’s only fully operational stealth fighter.

China’s defense ministry and air force couldn’t be reached to comment on the latest photos. Even without official confirmation, however, the photographs are likely to bolster concerns among U.S. officials and politicians about China’s military modernization, which also includes the imminent deployment of its first aircraft carrier and “carrier-killer” antiship ballistic missiles.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

KFC Employee Screams Insults at Customer

A worker at a KFC restaurant in Sydney has been suspended after he was filmed screaming vicious insults and threatening to attack a customer.

The violent outburst happened at a Halal-friendly KFC in Punchbowl on December 26, allegedly after a customer became angry after being refused bacon on their burger.

The Punchbowl restaurant does not serve bacon or pork in accordance with Islamic law, and one employee can be heard saying “we don’t have bacon” before the other begins yelling.

“Don’t record me bitch!” he screams as he approaches the counter. “Don’t f—-ing record me!”

The employee continues to yell and smacks the cash register display on its side, before other workers grab him and lead him outside.

“I’m gonna f—-in break your head bro,” he says to the person filming as he is led around the corner out of sight.

A spokesman for KFC Australia told ninemsn the employee had been suspended over the incident and offered counselling.

“KFC Australia strongly condemns the behaviour of the team member who appears in the clip and sincerely apologises for this very inappropriate reaction,” the spokesman said.

But the spokesman also said the employee may have been harassed by the customer before his meltdown.

“As part of our continuing investigation, KFC has been offered statements from other customers who were in the store at the time,” the spokesman said.

“These statements indicate a customer had directed offensive language and became abusive towards the team member when the customer’s preferred selection was not available at that store.”

The video was posted online by YouTube user “farkie”, who wrote that the outburst stemmed from an argument over bacon.

“We asked for bacon on the burger, when we complained about there being no bacon,” they wrote.

KFC said their investigation into the incident was ongoing.

           — Hat tip: DB[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ivory Coast: Outsiders Trying to Install Muslim in Power

Obama’s African buddy working to arrange departure of Ivory Coast president

The Ivory Coast is on the verge of civil war over an attempt by a Muslim to unseat a Christian president who was ruled the election winner by a constitutional council after it determined there was vote-rigging in the Muslim-dominated regions of the African nation, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Now a compatriot of Barack Obama, who the then-senator stumped for during his own 2007 campaign in nearby Kenya, is stepping in to hold talks that are aimed at removing the Christian president from office — and possibly even the country.

At issue is the election positioning incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, a Christian, against Muslim challenger Alassane Quattara, who insists he won the election.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Italy: ‘Ties With Brazil Won’t Change’ Despite Battisti Row

But Italy will take case to The Hague, Berlusconi says

(ANSA) — Milan, January 4 — Italy’s relations with Brazil won’t change despite a diplomatic row over a refusal to hand over ex-terrorist Cesare Battisti, Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Tuesday.

“This (Battisti) affair does not concern the good relations we have with Brazil but is a case of justice,” the premier stressed.

“Therefore our ties with (Brazil) won’t change because of this (case),” he said.

The premier was speaking after meeting the son of one of Battisti’s four victims in the late 1970s ahead of a protest rally outside the Brazilian consulate in Milan.

Berlusconi reiterated his belief that Battisti was “a real criminal” after his conversation with Alberto Torregiani, left paralysed from the waist down in an attack on a Milan jewelers shop in 1979 in which his father Pierluigi died.

Torregiani is leading protests on the Battisti case, which are also scheduled Tuesday outside the Brazilian embassy in Rome and in other Italian cities.

Italy is considering its options to try to get Battisti back following the rejection of its extradition request by Brazilian ex-president Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva on his last day in office Friday.

Berlusconi said the government would take the case to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, after illustrating its position at a press conference in Brussels in late January, with Torregiani present.

Earlier Tuesday, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini met with Italy’s ambassador to Brasilia and its permanent representative at the European Union to discuss moves.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


UK: Stowaway Shambles: Asylum Seeker Who Keeps Trying to Return to Morocco Sues Britain for Stopping Him

A failed asylum seeker is suing the UK Border Agency for locking him up for five years — even though all he wanted to do was go home to Morocco.

In an extraordinary case that exposes the immigration system to ridicule, Rashid Ali is seeking a six-figure compensation payout after being detained following his six attempts to stow away on ships leaving Britain.

Although UKBA has spent five years trying to deport him, officers did not want him to be freed from detention in case he escaped Britain illegally.

Now the 32-year-old has gone to the High Court for compensation after being freed on bail from the detention centre — where his stay was costing taxpayers £100 a night.

The Moroccan has been given a room in a shared house in Ilford, East London, and food vouchers worth £140 a month pending a court hearing to determine whether he should receive damages.

His prolonged detention has already cost taxpayers more than £360,000.

Ali said: ‘I am not a murderer. I am not a rapist or a paedophile; I am a simple man who only wanted to go home. They should not have locked me up. It has cost British taxpayers all this money to keep me locked up because I didn’t want to stay in this country.

‘They want to deport me but I should have just been free to make my own way. I know other people have got £100,000 from the Government for three years’ detention.

‘I should get hundreds of thousands of pounds of compensation for being locked up for this long.’

Dreaming of a better life, Ali came to Britain in 2000 at the age of 21 by hiding on a cargo ship from France.

However, he became an alcoholic after working at a bar in Bristol and, when his claim for asylum was turned down, decided to try to find a passage home to Morocco.

The first ship kicked him off at Milford Haven in South Wales in November 2004.

Several stowaway attempts followed and the furthest Ali got was Ireland.

On his fifth attempt in June 2005 he was found aboard a Russian ship and sent back to Avonmouth, where he stole some food and a coat to keep warm.

He was jailed for nine months by a North Somerset magistrate who ordered he be deported after serving the sentence. On his release, he was sent to a detention centre for three years, despite constant pleas to go home.

In October 2008 he was offered a flat in Newcastle amid fears that he could seriously injure or kill himself hiding on vessels.

But two days later he was found hiding on another boat leaving Bristol. He was charged with stealing a mobile phone and jacket and damaging a door, which he admitted.

When he appeared at Bristol Crown Court in December, a judge called for an inquiry into the fiasco.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Yemen: Deaths of Migrants at Sea, An Ongoing Tragedy

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, JANUARY 3 — Each year, tens of thousand of desparate people, in the main refugees from conflicts on the Horn of Africa but originating from other countries in the region as well, make a bid to reach Yemen by sea — by the illegal route. And many of them die at sea as a result.

This actuality lies behind today’s tragic deaths off the coast of Yemen, in which around eighty Africans — mainly Ethiopians — have drowned or are missing at sea. Between the months of January and October last year alone, around 43,000 people — 13,000 Somalis and almost 30,000 Ethiopians — undertook this hazardous trip across the Red Sea or the Gulf of Aden on board out-dated vessels, says a recent report by the United Nations’ High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The report continues: “An unknown number of them died in the attempt — far from the eyes of the world: a human tragedy of enormous proportions which has been unfolding for years”.

And indeed today the official Yemeni press agency, SABA, has reported that “the Interior Ministry has arranged for the deportation of 388 illegal African immigrants, mainly Ethiopians”.

According to the same source, in cooperation for the International Organisation for Migrations, Yemen was able to repatriate around 800 people who had arrived from across Africa.

Nonetheless, as SABA goes on to note, recent figures show that there are around one million African immigrants in Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries which is already beset by numerous other serious problems, including internal conflict.

“Yemen allows Somalis who are fleeing armed conflict to enter the country, or those fleeing wholesale violations of human rights or from persecution,” another UNHCR official, Ann Maymann, told SANAA. “This represents a lesson on how the protection of refugees should be approached and many other states should use Yemen as a mode.

At the same time, the challenges are enormous and more attention has to be paid to the humanitarian problems” that the Yemeni authorities are confronted with.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Abortion: Lombardy Court Throws Out Formigoni Deliberation

(AGI) Milan — The Lombardy Regional Administrative Court has thrown out the Region’s deliberation on tightening up abortion laws The Regional Administrative Court believes the legislation, passed in January 2008 to be “unlawful” because it conflicts with National Law No. 194. Legal recourse had been presented by 8 doctors, backed by the Lombardy Confederation of Labour (CGIL).

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


Islamic Group Declares War on Religious Films

A new ruling reiterates ban on religious character depiction in film and televison

An international Islamic organization has declared war on cinematic depictions of the prophet Muhammad and his companions, arguing they denigrate Islam’s most revered characters.

The Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence) Council, a body of the Muslim World League, said in a statement issued Sunday that the images not of the prophet himself but of his companions were creeping into films and television series and prompted the new ruling, which was adopted during the 20th conference of the Council in late December.

“The council reiterates its previous decision banning the production, promotion … and viewing of these films and series,” the statement read. “These [portrayals] may cause the denigration and devaluation of the figures and be used as an excuse to ridicule them.”

The Quran, Islam’s divine book and primary source of law, doesnâ€(tm)t explicitly forbid the depiction of Muhammad or other prophets, which include figures like Abraham, Moses and Jesus from the Jewish and Christian traditions. But some oral traditions, known as hadiths, ban any such visual representation. The main concern cited by jurists was that depicting Muhammad would encourage idolatry.

Based in Mecca, the Muslim World League is one of the largest Islamic NGOs. Its missions include Islamic proselytizing, coordination of Islamic preaching and support of needy Muslims worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Islamic Terrorism is an Inside Job

Muslim terrorists are a loosely affiliated global coalition of Muslim leaders, warlords, preachers, politicians, generals and tribes who are fighting to set up a global theocracy.

At the start of the new year, the Governor of Punjab was murdered because he had opposed the call by Pakistan’s Islamists to execute a Christian woman on false blasphemy charges arising out of her harassment by her Muslim neighbors. The murderer was one of his own security personnel. Around the same time in Egypt, security forces withdrew from a Coptic church, and an hour later a car bomb went off killing 21 and injuring a 100 more. And this was not the first time security forces had pulled back before an attack on a church.

The first order of business was to muddy the waters. The Egyptian government treated it as a national attack on Egypt by foreigners. The Obama White House issued statements falsely claiming that both Christians and Muslims were casualties of the Alexandria attack. Both avoided clearly identifying either the victims of the perpetrators or addressing the Muslim mobs chanting Allah Akbar while the dead burned. When the Burqa is lifted long enough to identify the attackers as Muslims, it will be only to describe them as “extremists”. But it also clear that these “extremists” are represented in the security forces of both countries. Which once again raises the question of just what is an extremist anyway.

Much as the left likes to believe that Islamic terrorism is the work of traumatized starving teenagers, it’s actually conducted by the sons of the middle and upper classes of the Muslim world. Osama bin Laden was a very wealthy man, the scion of one of the region’s most powerful families who had been adopted into the Saudi royal family. Anwar Al-Awlaki is the son of one the most powerful families in Yemen. Yasser Arafat was part of the Husseini clan, again the most prominent area family, whose leading member was the Nazi affiliated Mufti of Jerusalem. The leaders of the “extremists” turn out to be local regional leaders as well. Calling them extremists makes as little sense as calling Hitler and the Nazi party extremists. On some political scale, they might be extremists, but that doesn’t mean that their views were unrepresentative regionally. If that were the case, their cause would have been doomed from the start.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

What is Traitorware?

Your digital camera may embed metadata into photographs with the camera’s serial number or your location. Your printer may be incorporating a secret code on every page it prints which could be used to identify the printer and potentially the person who used it. If Apple puts a particularly creepy patent it has recently applied for into use, you can look forward to a day when your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership.

This is traitorware: devices that act behind your back to betray your privacy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Anne-Kit said...

What will happen to Asia Bibi now that Taseer has been assassinated? Who will be brave enough to pardon her?