Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110109

Financial Crisis
»Algeria-Tunisia: Protests: The Figures Behind the Crisis
»Algeria: Wave of Protests Against Rising Cost of Living
»At Least 10 States Have Introduced Gold Coins-as-Currency Bills
»Eight Killed in Tunisia Unemployment Protests
»India: Food Prices Rise 18% in One Year
»Italy: Footwear Industry is Recovering
»Periphery Suffers as Supply Worries Gather Pace
»Stock Exchange Debut for Two Fiats — Marchionne Says Mirafiori at Risk if Referendum Fails
»UK: Red Len Plots Petrol Strike by Militant Fuel Tanker Drivers to Cripple UK
»Arizona: Assassin’s Politics Lean ‘Left Wing, Quite Liberal’
»Arizona: Six Dead in Safeway Massacre: Politician Wife of Astronaut Fights for Her Life After Gunman Opens Fire at US Rally
»Is Congress Finally Waking Up to Hazards of CFLs?
»Manning up for Marxism
»Networks Out of Step With Public, Ignore Majority Support for Obamacare Repeal
»Second Suspect Sought in Arizona Shooting Spree
»Who Needs the Constitution Anyway?
»The JDL and the EDL
Europe and the EU
»A Call for Bloody Murder and Revolution in the UK
»Germany Will Become Islamic State, Says Merkel
»Germany: Pastor Rapes Woman in Church, Sacked
»Germany: Forbidden Love — Taboo and Fear Among Muslim Girls
»Greece: Death Roma Girl, Incidents and Protests
»Greece: Anarchists; Judges Ask for Help From Italy
»Italy: George Clooney to Star in ‘Monster of Florence’ Film
»Italy: TV Anchorwoman Reinstated Amid Political Row
»Italy: Battisti Case — Premier Meets Torregiani as Extradition Protesters Take to Streets
»Netherlands: Catholic School Discriminates With Headscarf Ban
»Pedophilia. The Doubts of the Cardinals Over “Zero Tolerance”
»Poland is Shrinking
»Romania 2050 Will be Roma?
»Switzerland: Experts Weigh Up Coptic Church Attack
»The Collapse of the Swedish Army
»The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews
»UK: Are White Girls Really ‘Easy Meat’?
»UK: Customers Face Huge Bill for Wind Farms That Don’t Work in the Cold
»UK: Cubicle Pervert Spied on Women With Mirror at Manchester Aquatics Centre
»UK: Jack Straw Calls for ‘More Openness’ On Sex Abuse Issue
»UK: Legalise Sale of Human Organs to End ‘Transplant Tourism’, Say Surgeons
»UK: Lord Tebbit Urges by-Election Voters to Back UKIP in Attempt to Derail Lib Dems
»UK: Labour MPs Criticise Jack Straw Over Sexual Abuse Comments
»UK: Met Chief Attacks Rise of the Police in Black Shirts
»UK: Newcastle Muslim Woman’s Burger Ordeal
»UK: New Clampdown on Uninsured Drivers as Government Vows to ‘Get Tough’ On Reckless Motorists
»UK: Prime Minister ‘Using Scare Tactics’ To Win EU Vote
»UK: Police Urged to DNA Test Every Man in Bristol in Hunt for Killer of Joanna Yeates
»UK: Sexual Teenage Grooming Being Investigated by Specialist Child Abuse Unit
»UK: White Girls Are ‘Easy Meat’ For Pakistani Men: Jack Straw Under Fire for Making ‘Offensive’ Remarks on Sex Abuse Cases
»UK: Why Salman Rushdie’s Book Was Burned
»Bosnia: Serb Leader Defies International Envoy on Disposal of State Property
North Africa
»Algeria: Protests: Ex FIS Deputy Benhadj Arrested
»Egypt: Coptic Christmas; Sarkozy Condemns Religious Cleansing
Israel and the Palestinians
»A New Palestinian Lie About Israel and the Need to Discount Such Stories Systematically
»Palestinian Plight in Southern Lebanon Refugee Camps
»Supreme Court: Yes to Gender Segregation on Buses
Middle East
»Doha: Call to Make Teaching of Shariah Mandatory in All Expat Schools
»Kuwait: U.S. Confirms Detention of American Citizen Who Claims Being Beaten
»Moqtada Al-Sadr Calls for Iraqis to ‘Resist Occupiers’ By Peaceful Means
»The Slow Disappearance of Turkey’s Jewish Community
»Turkey: Journalist Faces 138 Years in Prison
»Turkish Academics Sacked Over Porn Dissertation Project
South Asia
»A Blogger in Pakistan: The Islamist Consensus
»A Pakistani’s Assassin’s Long Reach
»Afghanistan: Italian Defence Minister Announces Extra Troops
»Italy Saying Adiós to Afghanistan
»Pakistan: Anyone Who is Against the Blasphemy Law Puts His Life at Risk, Lahore Archbishop Says
»Pakistan: ‘The Killer of My Father, Salman Taseer, Was Showered With Rose Petals by Fanatics. How Could They Do This?’
»Thousands Rally in Pakistan for Blasphemy Laws
Far East
»Beijing’s “Peaceful” Invasion of Central Asia
»China Consider Passing Law Which Forces Youngsters to Look After Elderly Parents… Or Face Jail
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Ghana: Why Muslims Are Violent
»Ivory Coast: Revealed — Gbagbo’s French Backers
»Somali Militants Ban Handshakes Between Men and Women
»Two French Hostages in Niger Killed in Rescue Attempt
»Dutch Offer Bosnians Monthly Repatriation Benefits
»Germany: Plea Made for Increasing Iraqi Asylum Quotas
»Iraq Calls on Sweden to Halt Forced Deportations
»Italy’s 2010 ‘Flow Decree’ Sees 100,000 Admitted
Culture Wars
»Worldview Potpourri: Chrislam
»Nearly a Decade After 9/11, Al-Qaeda is Exercising More Power Than Ever Before

Financial Crisis

Algeria-Tunisia: Protests: The Figures Behind the Crisis

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 7 — Algeria and Tunisia, two sides of the same coin as far as youth unemployment, sky-high prices for consumer foodstuffs and intolerance towards those that govern are concerned.

The Algerian population is very young: with 75% under 30 years of age. The official unemployment rate — contested by independent associations which talk about 25% — is 11%. For the Monetary Fund, the most reliable rate of youth unemployment is around 20%. GDP (figures from last November) is around 98 billion euros, with the non-hydrocarbons sector which contributes 9.3%.

These are the other “figures” from Algeria: — currency reserves: over USD 147 billion — foreign debt: 3.92 billion dollars (equal to 2.8% of GDP) — inflation: 5.7% — trade surplus: in 2009 it was USD 0.41 billion (34.45 billion in 2008).

Tunisia, with its over 10 million inhabitants, has an economy that, according to the parameters of the World Bank, is characterised by strong dynamism, that make it one of the most competitive in Africa. The demographic component of the population is characterised by a much lower average age and by a degree of education that, in the last 20 years, has increased in numbers and quality.

Another of the elements that characterise the Tunisian population is the considerable attention given to new communication instruments. We only need look at the figure that the main mobile telephony operator Tunisiana (which has just passed under the control of Qatari Qtel) alone has 5.2 million users, i.e. 50% of the total population.

Pro capita income has undergone an improvement in recent years, passing from 4,847 dinars in 2008 to just over 5,000 last year. Other figures are as follows: — unemployment rate in 2010 (official: 14%); — life expectancy: 74.6 years; — infant mortality rate per 1,000 inhabitants: 16.6; — education rate for 6 year olds: 99.2%; — literacy rate for 15 — 24 year olds: 97.0%; — distribution of active population: agriculture 17.7%; industry 33.7%; services 48.6%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Algeria: Wave of Protests Against Rising Cost of Living

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JANUARY 6 — After Tunisia, it is Algeria’s turn to be overcome by a wave of protests caused by the latest increases in prices of widely consumed products such as sugar and olive oil. There have been clashes in the main cities of Algiers and Oran, but also in Tipasa, Djelfa and Ouargla.

For the last two nights, dozens of young people have taken to the streets, with violent protests taking place in Bab El Oued, a working-class area of the Algerian capital. “They have ransacked a number of shops and burned the cars in a Renault dealership,” one resident of the area told ANSAmed. “A number of police have been injured in the clashes”.

“The area is paralysed and further protests have already been called for tonight”.

The Algerian press says that protesters attempted to attack the area’s police station, while police were forced to shoot in to the air to disperse the crowds. No official figures have been released by the authorities, though the press says that a number of people were injured, both police and protesters.

Oran, Algeria’s second city located 400 kilometres west of the capital, was also the scene for violent protests yesterday. Meanwhile there have also been clashes in other areas of Algiers, such as Cheraga and Fouka, but also in Tipasa (70 kilometres west of Algiers), Djelfa and Ouargla further south.

The latest price rises, which surpass 20% for sugar and oil, “are creating a climate of concern and anger” among the population, and are compounding a social situation already marked by unemployment and housing shortages, writes El Watan.

Between 2008 and 2010, the price of sugar went from 57 dinars to 90 dinars per kilo, and has shot up in the last few days to 130 dinars (1.10 euros). The Trade Minister, Mustapha Benbada, has tried to defuse the situation, saying that “the necessary measures will be taken”. “We note with some concern the increase in the price of imported products, which cannot only be explained by increases on the international market,” he said.

Meanwhile, rumours are beginning to circulate of an imminent bread shortage. Liberte’ reports that in the city of Boumerdes, 50 bakeries have been forced to close because of a lack of flour. “We are not far from another ‘hunger revolt’, like in October 1988,” says the political expert Rachid Grim in El Watan. That year, a popular revolt in Algeria led to the deaths of hundreds of young protesters. The protest was led by radical Islamic movements, particularly the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front), which burst on to the political scene and won the first round of the 1992 elections.

The subsequent annulment of the elections was to lead to the explosion of violence by armed Islamic groups. Indeed, some sources say that Ali Benhadj, the leader of the now ex-FIS, was among protesters at Bab El Oued yesterday.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

At Least 10 States Have Introduced Gold Coins-as-Currency Bills

Legislators in at least ten states have introduced bills in the past few years to allow state commerce to be conducted with gold and silver.

As we reported, Georgia state Rep. Bobby Franklin (R) recently reintroduced legislation to force his state to conduct all monetary transactions with U.S. gold or silver coins — including the payment of taxes.

The Georgia bill has a long way to go before become law — but it’s by no means the only state that’s considering a future in gold. Lawmakers in Montana, Missouri, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, and Washington have proposed legislation, mostly in 2009, to include gold and silver in its accepted currency forms.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Eight Killed in Tunisia Unemployment Protests

At least eight people have been killed in fresh unrest over unemployment in Tunisia, officials say.

The deaths occurred in the town of Thala — about 200 km (125 miles) south-west of the capital Tunis — and the nearby town of Kasserine.

An interior ministry statement said that in both towns, police had fired in self-defence after rioters attacked public buildings.

The protests first erupted last month over a lack of freedom and jobs.

The statement said five people had died as a result of overnight clashes in Thala, while three people were killed in violence in Kasserine.

“Several government buildings in Kasserine were attacked by groups who set fire to and destroyed three banks, a police station and a filling station and set fire to a police vehicle,” the statement said.

“The police fired in the air but the crowds continued, and the police acted out of legitimate self-defence.”

Tight controls

On Friday, the US expressed concern over the government’s handling of the demonstrations.

State department spokesman PJ Crowley said the Tunisian government was asked to respect people’s right to assemble peacefully.

The demonstrations began after a man set fire to himself on 17 December in the central Sidi Bouzid region to protest against the police confiscating fruit and vegetables that he was selling without a permit…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

India: Food Prices Rise 18% in One Year

Food inflation, according to the wholesale price index released today, rose 2.5% in the week to Dec. 25 and rose 18.32% from a year ago, up from a rate of 14.44% a week before. It was the fifth straight week of rising food prices.

There are many factors at play here: The poor monsoon of a year ago that keeps grain prices at elevated levels. A poor onion crop that has driven up the price of that staple. And a greater demand for protein from rising incomes that has increase demand for milk, where the inflation rate is 24.6%, and egg, meat and fish, up 31%.

But pointing solely to seasonal factors or changes in living habits misses a big factor that is responsible: Government policy and executive inaction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Italy: Footwear Industry is Recovering

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 4 — The Italian footwear industry has always been one of the main pillars of Italian exports but has also felt the impact of the global crisis. However, in the past month the industry showed reassuring signs of recovery.

With domestic consumption of footwear still low and hardly comforting data on employment in the sector, the developments in the sector have led Vito Artioli, the chairman of the association that groups the sectors industries (ANCI) to say: “we have reached a turning point, but we don’t know how high we will be able to go”.

In the first 9 months of the past year, according to ANCI data, Italian output recorded “a moderate increase in produced volume (+1.1%), but a more substantial rise in value: around +2.5% compared with the same period in 2009”.

The data of the association show an interesting performance.

Prices climbed by 1% on the domestic market, but almost twice that much outside Italy (+1.9%). ANCI calls these results encouraging, but perhaps not generalised if compared with the first half year of the past year. Fifty-one percent of producers reported a production increase (for 15% higher than 10%), but 14% of firms saw their output remain unchanged.

“The number of companies that report a contraction”, ANCI continues, “appears to be falling sharply, though the percentage remains high (35% of interviewed firms).

The countries to where the Italian products are exported remain basically unchanged: the European Union absorbs three quarter of Italian exports, a 16% increase in volume and a 11.5% rise in value. Four EU countries import the highest value of Italian footwear and all increased their imports in the examined period by more than 10%: France +11.8%; Germany +13.4%; United States +20.9%; Russia +10% (with a 19% increase in volume).

The Japanese market and the Emirates booked falling imports in 2009, both in volume and value. But the national panorama is not all positive, because the figures on employment are alarming. According to the association, 3.200 jobs were lost between January and September (a 3.9% decline in the number of people working in the sector), and 188 footwear factories closed their doors (-3.1%).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Periphery Suffers as Supply Worries Gather Pace

Higher-yielding euro zone bonds suffered on Friday as upcoming debt sales from the region’s peripheral states unsettled investors, though safe-haven gains for German debt were limited ahead of key U.S. jobs data.

Yield spreads against Bunds widened sharply for peripheral euro zone borrowers following Thursday’s announcement of a Portuguese bond sale. [ID:nLIS002542] Portugal, Spain and Italy are now all scheduled to hold their first bond auctions of the new year next week.

“With the euro zone’s three weakest issuers coming to market next week in the space of two days it ramps up the tension, said Orlando Green, strategist at Credit Agricole in London.

“There has to be some repricing to get (the auctions) done, but will it be enough? That depends on investor appetite.”

The Bund future FGBLc1 was 4 ticks lower at 125.69, erasing earlier gains as investors adjusted their positions in anticipation of a strong U.S. employment report. December’s non-farm payrolls data is due for release at 1330 GMT.

Greece and then Ireland were frozen out of debt markets and forced to seek bailouts from the European Union/IMF in 2010 as a result of large budget deficits and banking sector weakness.

Consequently, debt supply from other struggling euro zone states is set to be a key driver of sentiment in the coming months, with Portugal seen as the next most likely to seek aid.

“It’s pretty concerning the way the periphery is trading at the moment, and we haven’t even started supply yet… with Spain and Italy also selling (next week) it’s going to be pretty difficult times,” a trader said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Stock Exchange Debut for Two Fiats — Marchionne Says Mirafiori at Risk if Referendum Fails

Encouraging start for both shares: Auto opens on €6.95, Industrial on €9.025

MILAN — It’s the first day on the stock exchange for the new Fiat twins. Fiat Auto started off in Piazza Affari at €6.95 while shares in the group’s industrial section were changing hands for €9.025. Trading was brisk with 5.3 million units bought and sold in each of the shares. Both were suspended after trading started for excessive fluctuation but were later reinstated. As well as being Fiat’s day, it was also a big day for CEO Sergio Marchionne, who said in a speech to the stock exchange: “If the referendum doesn’t go through, there will be no Mirafiori investment”.

MIRAFIORI — Mr Marchionne went on: “If the referendum vote reaches 51%, we’ll be going ahead with our project. People have to commit to doing things. Fiat hasn’t excluded anyone. If some people have chosen not to sign, it doesn’t mean that I have left anyone out. Fiat needs freedom to manage and cannot be influenced by agreements that no longer make sense”. Mr Marchionne noted: “Fiat can make vehicles with or without FIOM”.

PLAN — “It is genuinely insulting to have to go over specific points of the Fabbrica Italia plan”, added Mr Marchionne. “I have not asked the state or the unions to finance anything. It is Fiat that is scouring the planet for the finance necessary to implement the plan. You and the unions go out there and find the money”.

ADDING VALUE — “We have a duty to stay in step with the times and add value to all our activities”, Mr Marchionne explained. “Faced with the massive changes under way in the market, we could no longer link sectors that have no economic or industrial features in common. This is a very important moment for Fiat because it is a point of arrival and at the same time a point of departure”. Fiat Industrial’s operating result “will rise significantly with a target of €3.3 billion in 2014. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) will go from about €1.4 billion to €4.1 billion in 2014”, said Mr Marchionne, going on to explain that the decision to split the Fiat group was taken “in response to a rationale of growing autonomy and efficiency. A company’s identity is not in its name: it is in the people who work there at a specific time to achieve specific objectives”…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

UK: Red Len Plots Petrol Strike by Militant Fuel Tanker Drivers to Cripple UK

Militant fuel tanker drivers are threatening a national strike which could bring the country to a standstill.

Walkouts by 3,000 drivers, which union bosses are due to confirm this week, will bring fresh misery to Britain’s 36 million motorists, already hit by VAT and fuel tax hikes.

But the domino effect of the dispute — led by union firebrand ‘Red’ Len McCluskey — also threatens fuel supplies to industry, hospitals, schools and the homes of old and vulnerable people who use oil central heating.

The strike action planned by Mr McCluskey’s union Unite, Britain’s biggest, is confirmed in internal documents seen by The Mail on Sunday.

The dispute risks endangering the economic recovery amid fears that fuel shortages could lead to profiteering by garages, where motorists face long queues at the pumps.

It could also spill over into manufacturing industry and threaten shops and supermarkets with food shortages as haulage firms run out of fuel. Few companies carry large stocks of fuel because of the huge expense and the volatile nature of oil prices.

Len McCluskey, who likes to quote Che Guevara, called out ‘rubbish’ when new Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned irresponsible industrial action

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Arizona: Assassin’s Politics Lean ‘Left Wing, Quite Liberal’

‘Communist Manifesto,’ ‘Mein Kampf,’ listed as alleged gunman’s favorite reads

“The Communist Manifesto” and Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” were among the favorite reading materials of Jared Lee Loughner, the suspected gunmen in today’s fatal shooting that reportedly left six dead and gravely injured a U.S. congresswoman.

Loughner, 22, listed those tomes among his favorites on his YouTube channel, in which he wrote that “conscience dreams” were a “great study” at his college, Pima Community College.

One user on Twitter, Caitie Parker, wrote she went to high school, college and was in a band with the gunman. She said she hadn’t seen him since 2007.

Parker wrote of Loughner, “As I knew him he was left wing, quite liberal and oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy.”

She also described him as “more left.”

Lougher also left a trail of bold political statements.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Arizona: Six Dead in Safeway Massacre: Politician Wife of Astronaut Fights for Her Life After Gunman Opens Fire at US Rally

An American congresswoman is fighting for her life today after being shot at close range outside a supermarket in an apparent assassination attempt.

Six bystanders were killed and 13 people — including the politician — seriously injured after a gunman went berserk with a Glock 9mm pistol in Arizona.

Gabrielle Giffords, a 40-year-old pro-abortion Democrat whose husband is an astronaut, was holding a constituency meeting outside a Safeway store when she was shot in the head.

She survived, despite the bullet passing through her brain but it still in a critical condition. Federal judge John Roll, 63, and Christina Green, a nine-year-old schoolgirl, were among the dead.

The others who died were Ms Giffords’ aide Gabe Zimmerman, Dorothy Murray, 76, Dorwin Stoddard, 76, and Phyllis Scheck, 79.

A 22-year-old man named as Jared Loughner is in custody in connection with the massacre. He was tackled to the ground by bystanders after the shooting.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Is Congress Finally Waking Up to Hazards of CFLs?

Bulbs ‘must be dangerous if they will pollute sewage’

Congress apparently is waking up to the concept that Americans are fully capable of making their own choice about the type of light bulbs they use, and the dangers that are presented by the so-called “green” compact fluorescents the Democrat majority mandated for public use a few years back.

A team of some 15 members of the U.S. House has introduced, and is working for support of the Better Use of Light Bulbs Act, H.R. 91, which simply would repeal Subtitle B of Title III of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, “which is a de facto ban on the incandescent light bulb.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Manning up for Marxism

It is time for Speaker of the House John Boehner, and all elected officials, whose take home pay comes courtesy of the public purse, to bone up on Marxism.

As far as is known, the book Marxism for Dummies isn’t yet available on the market, but neophytes can learn all about the misery of Marxism in millions of true Internet stories.


Boehner and company can borrow from the pop culture by remembering the words of protagonist Kyle Reese in describing The Terminator: “Listen and understand! That Terminator is out there! It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.”

That’s as good a description of the advance of Marxism that can be found.

Part of the problem is that the Republicans, who have yet to provide leading roles to members voted in by the Tea Party, think of the Democrats as the Opposition or just their peer politicians.


Obama is a determined and trained man on a mission who would suppress sovereignty and patriotism for the Marxism he’s been spoon fed from his red diaper days to the point of obsession. The only way to stop him is to understand fully what Marxism is.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Networks Out of Step With Public, Ignore Majority Support for Obamacare Repeal

In past month, ABC, CBS and NBC leave public’s opposition out of 93 percent of stories mentioning health care legislation.

The 112th Congress took office Jan. 5 and the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives planned to immediately tackle the unpopular health care legislation signed into law in 2010.

The Washington Post reported that House Republicans intend to vote on a repeal of ObamaCare Jan. 12, just one week into the new congressional session.

“ObamaCare is a job-killer for businesses small and large, and the top priority for House Republicans is going to be to cut spending and grow the economy and jobs,” Brad Dayspring, spokesman for incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., was quoted by the Post.

That attempt to repeal has been mentioned in many network reports lately, but the public’s dislike of the legislation has been missing from most ABC, CBS and NBC news stories between Dec. 5 and Jan. 4.

According to Rasmussen Reports, 60 percent of likely voters favor repeal of the health care law — for the second week in a row. Since the first week of December the percentage favoring repeal has not dropped below 55 percent, and has been between 50 and 63 percent since March of 2010. Those polls were not mentioned in any of the network stories referencing the “controversial” health care legislation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Second Suspect Sought in Arizona Shooting Spree

Authorities are searching for a second suspect they describe as a “person of interest” in the shooting incident in Tucson, Arizona that critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others. The man is described as an adult Caucasian male, between 40 and 50 years-old, with dark hair, His picture is shown in a security camera image at left.

Police are not providing specific details of the possible role this man might have had in the shooting spree, although a law enforcement source close to the investigation told this author that the man might have had prior knowledge of the plans of the primary suspect, Jared Lee LOUGHNER.

The as-yet unidentified male was last seen wearing blue jeans and a dark blue jacket.

The victims who lost their lives have been identified as John ROLL, 63, a federal judge who happened to be in the vicinity of the shooting, nine-(9)-year-old Christina GREENE, Phyllis SCHNECK, 79, Dorothy MURRAY, 76, Dorwin STODDARD, 76, and 30-year-old Gabriel ZIMMERMAN.

In addition to Rep. Giffords, eight-(8) others were injured. There were a total of 18 victims in yesterday’s

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Who Needs the Constitution Anyway?

The Democratic party has a natural sore spot for anyone who questions their patriotism. Which is only natural, because their patriotism has been watered down more than the drinks at the sleaziest bar in town. The liberal claim that they love the Constitution, but disdain the military, falls apart every time they get into power, and suddenly they decide that the Bill of Rights only applies to Muslim terrorists, but does not in any way, shape or form restrain them from compelling the American people to do anything that the snake pit of lobbyists and leftist agitators think is a good idea. The bizarre situation where foreign terrorists are assigned more rights than American citizens arises naturally from the mindset of tyrants. Applying the Constitution to terrorists is non-threatening. Because terrorists generally don’t vote. But to apply it to ordinary Americans would be a recognition that Obama, Pelosi and their ilk are not the masters of the people, but their sworn servants.

Tyranny may be defined as a state of affairs in which those who make the laws, are not bound by any laws. The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the land, because it applies first and foremost to those who make the laws. It is the law for the lawmakers, restraining their power and defining their limits. To read from the Constitution in congress is to echo the slaves who whispered in the ears of Roman Caesars and generals, “Memento Mori”, “Remember Thou Art Mortal”. And when generals and Caesars shut their eyes to the reminder of “Memento Mori”, they take a long step toward tyranny. A disdain for the Constitution translates into a disdain for the limits of power

A disdain for the Constitution translates into a disdain for the limits of power. It is the ultimate warning sign of tyranny on the horizon. The comprehensive aim of the Constitution was to define the structure of government in order to maintain a balance between rights and responsibilities, powers and freedoms, and the branches of government and the people. The fact that every amendment after the original ten that did not deal with procedural issues proved to be either redundant or a usurpation of authority shows the wisdom of the framers. And though the framers were certainly not perfect, nor was their document, not that any human document could be, in the last century we have not shown ourselves any wiser. We have certainly not created a system that sets forth a better balance or establishes more freedoms. At our best we rescued the explicit meaning of the Constitution from the compromises of earlier generations, at our worst we permitted everything from compulsory sterilization to seizing private property for corporations.

For too long liberals have subverted the Constitution without displaying the courage of their convictions. If they truly believe that it is an irrelevant document written by white male slave owners that can only exist as it is reinterpreted by their enlightened judges—reinterpreted to the extent that it almost consists of entirely new laws… then why bother having a Constitution at all?

If Hugo Black and Earl Warren really trump Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, then let’s burn the Constitution and have no law but what the current batch of Supreme Court justices and a bunch of NGO’s and UN covenants dictate. Plenty of countries do it that way already. And it helps them lock in the socialist flavor and criminalize political dissent. But instead of dragging us slowly down that muddy road, let’s go there right now. Stop calling the Constitution a work in progress when we all know where you want it to progress to. And stop pretending that you found a new law in some random word that you picked out by throwing a dart at a copy of the Bill of Rights. End the masquerade, take off the masks and say it loudly and clearly. “We don’t believe in any laws that supersede our ability to make laws.”


The Framers of the Constitution believed in a very dangerous notion. A notion so dangerous that few American leaders have believed it since. That notion was governments exist at the pleasure of men, not men at the pleasure of governments. It’s a dangerous notion, because it eliminates government as anything but a collection of public servants. Not rulers who style themselves first citizens or servants of the people, but who are actually are forced to be because they are denied the power and autonomy to be anything else. It was assumed at the time that the system would eventually devolve into anarchy, instead it has somewhat predictably devolved into tyranny.

Given a chance the political and cultural elites always rewrite the laws to suit themselves. The Constitution was meant to be a leash on that dog, a chain around its neck to keep it from staying too far. And it worked better than any other system had. But given time water will wear down a stone, and lawyers, politicians and agitators will wear down even the most promising document. Today the Constitution exists as a reminder of what we should be, not what we are. A reminder of what rights we have and how many of them we have already lost. It once stood as a barrier to tyrants, but the barrier has been breached. The dikes still hold, but water flows through them in a hundred places. And it is only a matter of time before they burst, unless we plug the holes first.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


The JDL and the EDL

Meir Weinstein heads the JDL in Toronto. They do great work. They picket what must be picketed and oppose what must be opposed. Recently they voiced their solidarity with the EDL in Britain and even planned a rally in Toronto at which the EDL leader was to speak by hook up. This caused a reaction in in the conservative, pro Israel, National Post. You can imagine it also caused a reaction from the Jewish establishment in Canada.

As a result of a National post story on this rally, this letter was written to the author Stuart Bell. I know Stuart Bell and Meir Weinstein. As readers of Israpundit know, we support the work of EDL and believe they are getting a raw deal from the establishment. The JDL in Canada is a great organization which stands up for Jews throughout the country. They do not in any way resort to violence but don’t shrink from it in self defence.

Dear Mr. Bell:

Re: “National Post Story: Controversial anti-Islamic group plans rally in Toronto”

Let me begin by recommending that you take the time to read the Hudson Institute’s well researched, and balanced article “The English Defense League: The New Face of Europe?” — A. Miller

Negligent immigration, social policies, and trade deals, have created very serious problems throughout the entire EU. Groups like the EDL, SIOE, etc. are putting their lives on the line, to defend freedom and Western civilization from Islamic Fascism, and are not enemies of democracy. The real enemies of democracy are:

(1) Corrupt EU governments and politicians that have crawled into bed with Islamic Fascists, (reminiscent of those who did the same with Nazi Fascists) — betraying the citizens they are sworn to protect.

(2) Marxists in the mainstream press who continually whitewash the truth about Islamic Fascism;

(3) Academics in Universities, who willfully corrupt and brainwash students (sometimes using intimidation tactics) to serve their Marxist/Islamist agenda;

(4) Corporations involved in business deals with the Saudis and other Islamists; and

(5) Islamic Fascists, who are highly financed by Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc., and encouraged to wage War against the Infidel and the West.

Europe’s problems with Islamic Fascists foreshadow what is coming to Canada. Islamic attacks against innocent people of all ages, races, and religions, have manifested into: beatings that frequently cause facial disfigurement, or permanent physical and brain damage; kidnappings and agonizing torture leading to the death of the victim; murders by stabbing or beatings, etc; gang rapes of females from all age groups — including very young children and the elderly; forced prostitution of young school girls, etc.

Roving gangs of Islamist thugs are wreaking havoc and heartache, in every EU country. They are encouraged by Islamist clerics and community leaders to view non-Muslims and Secular Muslims as fair game, because attacks against the Infidel are appropriate actions in Islam’s Jihad against the West…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A Call for Bloody Murder and Revolution in the UK

Do open calls for religiously-motivated assassination and bloody revolution fall under protected speech in the United Kingdom? Or do laws against incitement to violence have any teeth at all? Courtesy of MEMRI, the following are excerpts from a lecture delivered by British Salafi Abu Mounisa, in the Islamic Awakening Conference, held on December 15, 2010: We Should Attack David Cameron and the Western System, and Replace Them with Islam:

“If you carry your da’wa stall, and you stand there, just inviting people to Islam, like [cleric] Zakir Naik [does], do you think that is going to change society? Without attacking the law and order? No, my dear brothers, there is no way it is going to change society. It’s impossible that society will change. You need to provoke society for society to be changed.

“Also, my dear brothers, what we need to understand is that when the Prophet Muhammad was inside Mecca, there were 360 idols in Mecca at that time. Today, people don’t worship physical idols. Today, people worship the ideas of democracy, freedom, and capitalism. This is what the people are worshipping today. The woman says: I am free to have an abortion. The man says: I am free to go for sexual promiscuity. Do you see what I mean? This is the reality of today.”[…]

When Allah gave the Prophet Muhammad victory inside Mecca, he went to the Kaaba and destroyed all 360 gods inside it. But do you know what? He never stopped there. Do you know what he did? He went to the areas of [the idols] Lat, Uzzat, and Manat… He went inside these areas, and he asked the people: Where is Uzzat, where is Manat? He went and destroyed them, killed them, chopped their heads off, beheaded them. That is why, my dear brothers, we need to behead democracy from its roots.

“We need to behead capitalism from its roots, take it, kill it from its roots. That is what we need to do. We should hate it so much, my dear brothers, that every day, we should attack their system. Every day. Just like the Prophet Muhammad did. […]

“This is how we should feel. This is how we should believe. We should have the zeal in our hearts, for the sake of Allah, to destroy all their system and replace it with Islam.” […]

That is what we need to do, my dear brothers. We need to attack the leaders. We need to turn around and attack, what’s it? Daoud Kamroon… Cameron. He calls him Daoud Kamroon. We need to attack him. We need to say: Your laws are oppressive. We need to deal with those laws, and replace them with Islam…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Germany Will Become Islamic State, Says Merkel

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that Germans have failed to grasp how Muslim immigration has transformed their country and will have to come to terms with more mosques than churches throughout the countryside, according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily.

“Our country is going to carry on changing, and integration is also a task for the society taking up the task of dealing with immigrants,” Ms. Merkel told the daily newspaper. “For years we’ve been deceiving ourselves about this. Mosques, for example, are going to be a more prominent part of our cities than they were before.”

Germany, with a population of 4-5 million Muslims, has been divided in recent weeks by a debate over remarks by the Bundesbank’s Thilo Sarrazin, who argued Turkish and Arab immigrants were failing to integrate and were swamping Germany with a higher birth rate.

The Chancellor’s remarks represent the first official acknowledgement that Germany, like other European countries, is destined to become a stronghold of Islam. She has admitted that the country will soon become a stronghold. In France, 30% of children age 20 years and below are Muslims. The ratio in Paris and Marseille has soared to 45%. In southern France, there are more mosques than churches.

The situation within the United Kingdom is not much different. In the last 30 years, the Muslim population there has climbed from 82,000 to 2.5 million. Presently, there are over 1000 mosques throughout Great Britain — - many of which were converted from churches.

In Belgium, 50% of the newborns are Muslims and reportedly its Islamic population hovers around 25%. A similar statistic holds true for The Netherlands.

It’s the same story in Russia where one in five inhabitants is a Muslim. Muammar Gaddafi recently stated that “There are signs that Allah will grant victory to Islam in Europe without sword, without gun, without conquest. We don’t need terrorists; we don’t need homicide bombers. The 50 plus million Muslims (in Europe) will turn it into the Muslim Continent within a few decades.”

The numbers support him.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Germany: Pastor Rapes Woman in Church, Sacked

(AGI) Berlin — A priest in Germany got a parishioner drunk and then raped her between the pews. The incident was reported in the weekly ‘Bild’ magazine, which names 49-year old Michael G., a married father of three, as the perpetrator. He is alleged to have organised a small party for members of the congregation after an evening service, with copious amounts of red wine on tap. Those present included Susanne N., aged 32, who was the last to leave.

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

Germany: Forbidden Love — Taboo and Fear Among Muslim Girls

Young Muslim women are often forced to lead double lives in Europe. They have sex in public restrooms and stuff mobile phones in their bras to hide their secret existences from strict families. They are often forbidden from visiting gynecologists or receiving sex ed. In the worst cases, they undergo hymen reconstruction surgery, have late-term abortions or even commit suicide.

Gülay has heard it from her mother so many times: An unmarried woman who has lost her virginity might as well be a whore.

Gülay, 22, lives in Berlin’s Neukölln, a district that is home to a high number of Muslim immigrants, and has little in common with the cliché of the “girl with the headscarf.” She wears tight jeans, low-cut blouses and has long hair that she doesn’t keep covered. She is self-confident and looks people in the eye. Gülay plans to begin a training program to work as an airport ground hostess next year. At first glance, she comes across as a poster child for successful integration.

Nevertheless, she is adamantly opposed to seeing her name in print, just as she would never meet a journalist for an interview in one of the hookah bars in her neighborhood that are so popular among Arab and Turkish immigrants. She is worried that someone could overhear her talking about her family’s strict morals, and about the rigid code of honor in her social environment that prevents girls from having sex before marriage and forbids them from having boyfriends.

Gülay is thinking about how best to sum up her dilemma. She nervously stirs her tea before launching into a litany of complaints. “The boys can screw around as much as they want, but if a girl does it she can expect to be shot,” she says. “That’s just sick.” She first had sex five years ago, and it completely changed her life. Since then, she has been deathly afraid of being branded by her family as a dishonorable girl — or, worst yet, punished and cast out.

A Constant Tug-of-War

Hardly any other issue is as fraught with prohibition and fear among Germany’s Muslim immigrants as sex. Many Muslim families adhere to moral values from a pre-modern era, and the separation of the sexes affects almost all aspects of daily life. At the same time, young female immigrants are faced with the temptations of a free life unrestrained by religious and cultural traditions. Their daily lives are a constant tug-of-war between two value systems.

Many of them suffer from this contradiction, and some crack under the strain. Doctors and social workers report on desperate young women coming to them with requests to reconstruct the hymen or perform late-term abortions. The elevated risk of suicide among young immigrant women even prompted Berlin’s Charité Hospital to establish a suicide prevention initiative for women from Turkish immigrant families. In a multi-year study, the group hopes to discover why the suicide rate within this population is apparently twice as high as it is among ethnic German women of the same age.

The consequences of living this double life have been poorly studied. Almost no governmental and non-governmental organizations, from family and education ministries to immigration authorities and self-help groups, can offer reliable figures or well-founded conclusions on the issue.

“The problems these women face are caused by the patriarchal and traditional structures in families,” says Berlin’s commissioner for integration and migration, Günter Piening. According to Piening, youth welfare agencies, government offices and schools have been educated on the issue for years, “but a lot remains to be done.”…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Death Roma Girl, Incidents and Protests

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, JANUARY 7 — The death of a 6-year-old Roma girl, who died after being hit by a police motorcycle in a district in the capital of Greece, has triggered clashes with the police and demonstrations in Athens and other cities in the country. After the news of the girl’s death on the eve of Epiphany, the anger of the Roma turned against the local police station which was hit by stones. Rubbish containers were set on fire and the police had to use teargas to disperse the demonstrators. The Roma are particularly angry about the fact that the police agent in question has been released on bail after his arrest. This afternoon there will be another large demonstration in the Menidi quarter, where the girl died in hospital after being hit and, according to some eyewitnesses quoted by the press, dragged by the police motorcycle. There are more than 100,000 Roma in Greece, according to official estimates

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Anarchists; Judges Ask for Help From Italy

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — Greek magistrates have requested help from their Italian counterparts, who are investigating the spate of letter-bombs sent to a string of embassies in December, just over a week before the beginning of the trial of an anarchist group that carried out similar attacks in Athens in November.

The news was revealed to the ANA agency by judiciary sources, who say that the details have been requested, in particular, regarding the detonation systems on the letter-bombs sent to the Swiss and Chilean embassies. Italian investigators had previously asked their Greek counterparts for information on the methods with which the November attacks were carried out.

The growing collaboration between Italian and Greek police seems to confirm suspicions by investigators of strategic, if not yet operational collusion between the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), which claimed responsibility for the attacks in Italy with the name of Lambros Fountas, an anarchist killed in a shoot-out in Athens, and the Conspiracy of Fire Groups (SPF), which in turn claimed responsibility for the letter-bombs and the attack on a court in Athens with the name of the Italian “freedom” writer, Horst Fantazzini, and sent its congratulations to FAI for its actions.

The ideological reference point for both organisations seems to be the Italian anarchist, Alfredo Bonanno, the 73-year old insurrectionism theorist, who was recently freed in Greece after standing trial for assisting a robbery.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: George Clooney to Star in ‘Monster of Florence’ Film

US star will play thriller writer who probed grisly murders

(ANSA) — Rome, January 5 — George Clooney is to star in a film on the ‘Monster of Florence’, the mysterious perpetrator of seven grisly double murders in lovers’ lanes in the Florentine hills between 1974 and 1985.

Clooney will play Douglas Preston, a US thriller writer who moved to Florence a few years ago and went on to write the 2008 non-fiction bestseller, The Monster of Florence, with Italian crime reporter Mario Spezi.

The pair, who were briefly jailed for obstructing justice, came to the conclusion that the serial killer was not Pietro Pacciani, a local farmer convicted of the murders but later acquitted.

Pacciani died in 1998 before his case could be heard by the Italian supreme court for a final verdict.

According to Preston and Spezi, who was also briefly jailed on suspicion of himself being the murderer, a son of Sardinian criminals, Antonio Vinci, was a more likely candidate.

Vinci recently denied this in an interview on American TV.

Christopher McQuarrie of The Usual Suspects fame is writing the screenplay, the website reported Wednesday.

MacQuarrie also wrote Valkirie (2008), starring Tom Cruise as the leader of a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

Cruise acquired the rights to Preston and Spezi’s book shortly after it became a bestseller.

The case, one of the biggest riddles in modern Italian criminal history, inspired a character in Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal but the subplot was dropped from the final cut of the film version and can only be seen on the DVD.

Clooney’s latest project will be his second Italy shoot in two years after The American, where he played an assassin holed up in the Italian countryside.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: TV Anchorwoman Reinstated Amid Political Row

Rome, 29 Dec. (AKI) — An anchorwoman for Italy’s public broadcaster RAI 1 flagship news bulletin Tiziana Ferrario will return to her job at the evening news braodcast after a judge ruled her sacking by the netwerk news director was “political discrimination.”

Ferrario’s firing was “a serious attack on her professionalism for reasons of political discrimination after she opposed the editorial policies of the bulletin’s director, Augusto Minzolini,” read the judge’s ruling.

Ferrario was among three anchors replaced in March by Minzolini, a known supporter of Italy’s conservative prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. Minzolini claimed the move was solely aimed at injecting ‘new blood’ into the channel’s news bulletins.

“I am extremely pleased that a grave professional injustice has been recognised,” Ferrario told Adnkronos, commenting on the ruling.

“I am happy that a basic principle has been upheld: no director has the right to sideline other journalists who disagree with him…especially in a public broadcaster.”

Italy’s broadcasting and communications watchdog in October accused Minzolini of “blatant” pro-government bias, charges which he denies.

Another TG1 anchorwoman, Maria Luisa Busi, controversially resigned in May, saying she was no longer prepared to toe Minzolini’s editorial line.

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

Italy: Battisti Case — Premier Meets Torregiani as Extradition Protesters Take to Streets

Prime minister: “We’ll go to Brussels to find out the facts. The former terrorist is a genuine criminal”

MILAN — The Battisti affair has shaken up — and split — the world of politics. Majority and opposition, which had organised separate demonstrations for Tuesday afternoon, took turns in Piazza Navona to protest at Brazil’s decision not to extradite the former PAC [Armed Proletarians for Communism] terrorist. Italy could call for action from Europe over the issue. A spokesman for the EU Commission said that it was a bilateral affair and did not fall within EU competence. Italy’s PM Silvio Berlusconi announced that in the third week of January he will hold a press conference in Brussels with Alberto Torregiani, the son of the jeweller murdered by Battisti in 1979, to “make the facts known and reach the court of justice in The Hague”. Meanwhile, Italy’s legal representative has submitted “an appeal to block the release” of the former terrorist from Papuda prison to the Brazilian supreme court.

DEMONSTRATIONS — First, members of the People of Freedom (PDL), the Movement for Italy (MPI) and the Christian Democrat UDC first, and then supporters of Italy of Values (IDV) and the Democratic Party (PD), gathered outside the Brazilian embassy in Rome’s Piazza Navona to register their protest — without party flags — at President Lula’s decision not to extradite Battisti. Demonstrators unfurled banners, loudly demanding “justice not revenge” and calling Lula and Battisti “cowards”. Daniela Santanché said: “We are here so the government will do all it can to get Cesare Battisti, who is a criminal, extradited”. The PDL parliamentarian and other members of the majority also accused Carla Bruni. According to Bruno Berardi, president of the Domus civitas association of terrorism and Mafia victims, the French president’s wife interceded personally with the Brazilian president to prevent Battisti’s extradition. “If Carla Bruni did that, she should be ashamed” was Ms Santanché’s comment. IDV leader Antonio Di Pietro explained: “We’re here with the Tricolore flag not to split demonstrators but to protest with a single voice at a cowardly terrorist”. During his speech to those protesting at the Cesare Battisti case outside the Brazilian embassy in Rome, Mr Di Pietro was interrupted by a small group who shouted: “You’re the terrorist!”.

THE MOTION AND THE PD — Lorenzo Cesa told demonstrators: “The UDC has presented a motion in Parliament that commits the government to consigning Battisti to Italian justice”. Mr Di Pietro has indicated that IDV will present its own motion in Parliament for extradition but it is willing to support initiatives of other parliamentary groups. The PD will also back a joint motion but Andrea Sarubbi, who took part in the afternoon demonstration outside the Brazilian embassy, pointed out that a cross-party document was voted several months ago without result. Some PD members took to the streets. A delegation, albeit without leading party figures, turned up in Piazza Navona as the previous demonstration, promoted by Alberto Torregiani and the MPI, was coming to an end. In Milan, about 200 people — including PDL minister Igazio La Russa and members of the Northern League — took part in a protest outside the Brazilian consulate.

“GENUINE CRIMINAL” — Mr Berlusconi and Mr Torregiani met in the morning at Milan’s Linate airport. The prime minister said: “I expressed my solidarity and that of the government and my political allies. I also proposed that in the third week in January Torregiani should come to Brussels, where we will be organising a press conference with the European Popular Party to make the facts known and reach the court of justice in The Hague”. While insisting that the Battisti case will not affect relations between Italy and Brazil, Mr Berlusconi noted that the extradition request for the former PAC terrorist is “not a question of revenge”. “We want to reaffirm justice, which concerns all of us every time it is damaged”. Mr Berlusconi added that he regarded Battisti as “a genuine criminal clad in political ideology”, someone who “operated in the appalling manner of which everyone is now aware”. According to Mr Torregiani, the prime minister promised “more resolution and determination and, if necessary, we will use the iron fist”.

“COMPLEX CASE” — The foreign ministry has not ruled out a European initiative promoted by Italy over the Battisti case, which ministry sources said was “complex”. The same sources accused EU Commission spokesman Michael Mann of “superficiality” for describing the extradition controversy as a “bilateral case” concerning Brazil and Italy which falls outside EU competence.

English translation by Giles Watson

05 gennaio 2011

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

Netherlands: Catholic School Discriminates With Headscarf Ban

A Catholic high school in Volendam is guilty of discrimination on religious grounds for banning a Muslim pupil from wearing a headscarf, the equal opportunities commission said on Friday.

The girl started wearing a headscarf this school year and was banned from attending lessons, prompting her father to make a complaint.

The commission said school pupils should, in principle, be free to wear a headscarf, Jewish skullcap or Christian cross.


Schools can introduce a ban if it is necessary to preserve their special identity, but that was not the case with the Volendam school, the commission said.

At the end of last year, an orthodox Christian primary school in The Hague refused to accept a fill-in teacher because she was wearing an Islamic headscarf.

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

Pedophilia. The Doubts of the Cardinals Over “Zero Tolerance”

They discussed it with the pope on the eve of the consistory. For some, it is risky to centralize all of the cases in Rome. For others, it is a mistake to proceed by judicial order rather than with regular canonical trials. The pros and cons of an emergency system

ROME, November 20, 2010 — On the “day of reflection and prayer” that preceded today’s consistory, Benedict XVI proposed five topics of discussion to the cardinals.

One of these was “the response of the Church to cases of sexual abuse.” It was the first time that this has been discussed at such a high level, on the part of a college of cardinals representing the the universal Church, gathered around the pope.

The discussion was introduced by Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and lasted for more than an hour, behind strictly closed doors.

The congregation will soon send a circular letter to the episcopal conferences with directions “for a coordinated and effective program.”

But it is well known that the stance adopted over the past decade by the highest authorities of the Church — with an escalation of rigor culminating in 2010 with the new “Norms concerning the most serious crimes” — lends itself to serious objections and opens itself to various risks…

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

Poland is Shrinking

Rzeczpospolita Warsaw

“Large cities are losing inhabitants fast” headlines an alarmed Rzeczpospolita. Over the last decade, a city like Lódz, which once had a population of nearly 800,000, can only now boast 740,000 inhabitants, a figure that could drop to 600,000 in next twenty years. While other Polish cities struggle with the same problem, only the population of Warsaw has steadily increased to its current 1.72 million. “People go where the good jobs are”, says a 39-year old IT specialist who has just left Lódz for Cracow where he currently earns three times as much. According to the Central Statistical Office (GUS), the emptying of Polish cities is a sign of the wider demographic trend. It is estimated that due to a dwindling birth rate, emigration, and “short-sighted” policies, Poland’s population will shrink from the current 38 million to a little over 35 million by 2035.

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

Romania 2050 Will be Roma?

Gandul Bucharest

“What will be the face of Romania in 2050?” asks Gândul. The answer it gives on the front page is a shot of a Roma mother and child: the point being that the national birth rate is 1.3 children per woman, whereas Roma women give birth to three children each on average — and ethnic Hungarians only 1.2. So the nation might well shrink from pro tem 21.4 million to 15 million in 2050, with Gypsies accounting for a larger proportion of the population 40 years hence. Gândul likens the situation to that of the US, where the white “majority” will be outnumbered in 2050 by what are now “minorities”, especially the Hispanic population.

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

Switzerland: Experts Weigh Up Coptic Church Attack

Coptic Christians in Switzerland feel threatened after a recent church bombing in Alexandria but observers say the blast is mainly linked to internal events in Egypt.

Like most eastern-rite churchgoers, Coptic Christians will be celebrating Christmas on January 7. This year Geneva police plan to provide security for the ceremony on the evening of January 6 at a Coptic church in Meyrin, canton Geneva.

“Our church, like 70 other Coptic churches around the world, features on a list of a radical Islamic site,” said Mikhail Megally, head of the Coptic community in French-speaking Switzerland. Two of the church’s prominent members, a theologian and a lawyer, are mentioned by name on the site.

In Egypt seven people are still being held as part of an investigation into the New Year’s Day attack outside a Coptic church in Alexandria which killed 23 people and left dozens wounded.

No clear official account has emerged of how the attack was carried out and no group has come forward to claim responsibility. Egyptian officials have said there are indications “foreign elements” were behind the blast. An Iraqi group linked to al-Qaida threatened in November to attack Egyptian Christians.

The incident has been widely condemned by the international community, church communities and by political groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

“Holy ignorance”

For Georges Abi-Saab, professor at the Geneva-based Graduate Institute, those responsible essentially want to “attack the western-aligned Egyptian regime”.

“If they are fanatics such as al-Qaida, their goal is also to attack Christians,” the Egyptian-born non-Copt Christian told “This happened just when the country is in a… not exactly unstable but more like dynamic phase. There has just been a parliamentary election and a presidential election will be held in nine months.”

For Ahmed Benani, a Moroccan-born political scientist and anthropologist, what happened cannot be explained by political conflict alone.

It’s what the French Islam specialist Olivier Roy refers to as “holy ignorance”, he explained.

“It’s religion without culture,” said Benani. “Today, those who claim to be believers… are ignorant of their own religion. Instead of peaceful messages within the different monotheisms, they advocate the rejection of crusades and Jews and call for ethnic cleansing. They demand a kind of return to the idea of the Mohammed city. We are in that kind of utopian ideal.”

“In Egypt there is a pathological conservative current and return to values like identity that is staggering,” he added. “It’s an identity defined by religious purity, essentialism, minorities, and the triumph of the veil — all these horrors.”…

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

The Collapse of the Swedish Army

Does Switzerland still need an army to defend itself given that Europe is now a continent at peace, wonders Bertil Galland.

The Swiss appear to be unaware of the drastic steps taken by Sweden, which shares our neutral status.

Not a day passes without the papers publishing tables ranking European countries according to financial, economic, social or military criteria.

Switzerland, which is not a member of either the European Union (EU) or Nato, is conspicuous by its absence: it is often not on the list. More seriously, our representatives do not take part in various important meetings.

Our ambassadors can only find out afterwards about the work of certain groups of experts, like the security group which, this year, discussed and reassessed the danger of conflict, cyber attacks, terrorism or actual wars in our continent in both the medium and the long term.

To tell the truth, at the moment there is no such thing as a truly European defence policy. Nato depends entirely on the United States. As for Russia, it is regaining strength, both mental and material, which could rekindle its appetite for reconquest. The Middle East has its flashpoints close to Turkey — a country which some people would like to see joining the EU.

What is Switzerland doing?

Standing apart from the Europeans as they try to work out a common strategy, what is Switzerland doing? Public opinion is reassured by an enduring miracle.

Our neighbours, and so far 27 countries, have committed themselves, de facto and de jure, never to resort to armed conflict between themselves. With this unprecedented peace in Europe, do we still need a military defence? Would a good police force run by the defence ministry be enough? A question posed by Pierre Nidegger, chief of police of canton Fribourg.

Meanwhile the Swiss authorities continue to try to tidy up the lonely path of our own national defence. Defence Minister Ueli Maurer has laboriously drawn up the latest version of a Security Policy Report (Sipol B) and a Report on the Army and submitted them to both houses of parliament.

At a time when these questions are being officially debated, it is strange that public opinion south of the Baltic appears unaware of the drastic steps taken by Sweden, Switzerland’s fellow neutral nation. So what has happened there? The Swedish army has quite simply collapsed!

Obligatory military service has been abolished. If the state still pays the salaries of tens of thousands of officers, men and military specialists, it is for the task they have been doing since the year 2000 of breaking up the 12 military districts, dismantling all the monitoring and defence equipment that covered the huge country.

The relevant divisions have been disbanded. The task of the troops — and it’s a huge one — is to sell off the jumble of kit, weapons, rations, buildings and land belonging to their units.

There has been no fanfare and no explosion as Sweden has seen its national defence cascade like dominos, one element of the army falling after the next…

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

The Slow-Motion Exodus of European Jews

Do Jews have a future in an increasingly Muslim Europe? Often explored by Daniel Pipes, this question recently drew a disconcerting answer from prominent Dutch politician Frits Bolkestein, who opined on the grim choices facing visible (e.g., Orthodox) Jews in his nation:

The former EU commissioner says there is no future for this group in the Netherlands because of “the anti-Semitism among Dutchmen of Moroccan descent, whose numbers keep growing.”

He feels that this group of Jews should encourage their children to emigrate to either the United States or Israel, because he has little confidence in the effectiveness of the government’s proposals for fighting anti-Semitism.

Bolkestein’s remarks echo those of Benjamin Jacobs, the country’s chief rabbi, who told Arutz Sheva in 2010 that “the future for Dutch Jewry is moving to Israel.” Indeed, some Jews are acting. The same news service reported in December that the son of Raphael Evers, another leading Dutch rabbi, “has announced plans to move to Israel due to anti-Semitism”:

“It’s not that you can’t leave the house, but you need to constantly hide, to be careful,” he explained. He related his own cautionary measures, which include avoiding certain neighborhoods, and hiding his kippah (yalmulke) when walking through areas with a high number of Muslim immigrants.

Next consider Sweden. Last month, the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged traveling Jews to exercise “extreme caution” due to “harassment of Jewish citizens in the southern city of Malmö.” An estimated 60,000 Muslims comprise a fifth of Malmö’s population and hate crimes regularly impact the lives of its 700 remaining Jews. “The city’s synagogue has guards and rocket-proof glass in the windows,” the Telegraph notes, “while the Jewish kindergarten can only be reached through thick steel security doors.” With the government’s response a mix of denial and blaming the victim, many Jews are leaving Malmö — and even Sweden altogether…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Are White Girls Really ‘Easy Meat’?

If you want an example of the official “conspiracy of silence” that has allegedly allowed hundreds of vulnerable white girls in some towns to be abused by Asian men, the case of Ajmal Mohammed, a 43-year-old from Blackburn, might seem to be it. In 2004, Mohammed, an amateur cricketer in the Ribblesdale league, took a schoolgirl to a Manchester hotel room and got her drunk — to celebrate, he said, her 14th birthday. The child ran away. Police were called, but he denied having sex with her and they issued him with a “child abduction warning letter”. He was never prosecuted.

Two years later, Mohammed took another 14-year-old to a hotel room, this time in Blackpool — and this time he raped her. When the police came for him, they found the numbers of six other vulnerable youngsters on his mobile phone.

In industrial towns across the North and the Midlands, over the past three years, at least 51 people have been convicted in trials involving groups of men who have picked up young girls for sexual exploitation. Forty-eight of the offenders were Asian; the vast majority of the victims were white. Last week, in Derby, nine men, eight of them Asian, were sentenced for their parts in a gang that groomed, sexually exploited and in some cases raped 27 local children, 22 of them white. The issue exploded on to the national agenda on Friday after Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary who is also MP for Blackburn, said that in his town, some Pakistani men saw white girls as “easy meat”. There was, he said, “a specific problem of Pakistani-heritage men who target vulnerable young white girls, and we need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani-heritage men thinking it’s OK to target white girls in this way”. Many other figures involved in this field have fought shy. Martin Narey, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, initially described the evidence as merely “anecdotal”. A Channel 4 documentary on the subject in 2004 was pulled at the request of police. Few experts were willing to talk openly yesterday.

Yet as early as 2006, Blackburn’s local paper, the Lancashire Telegraph, launched a “Keep Them Safe” campaign to make the authorities tackle what it called “sexual grooming and abduction […] which predominantly involves Asian men”. In article after article, the paper charted locals’ frustration at officialdom’s reluctance to get involved: in 2007, it reported, the parents of some victims even threatened to sue the police for their failure to act. The editor, Kevin Young, said: “This is an extremely sensitive subject, and the Telegraph gave it a lot of consideration before launching its campaign.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Customers Face Huge Bill for Wind Farms That Don’t Work in the Cold

The failure of Britain’s wind farms to produce electricity in the extreme cold will cost billions of pounds, create an economic crisis and lead to blackouts, leading industrialists have warned.

To cover up the ineffectiveness of wind farms the Government will be forced to build emergency back-up power plants, the cost of which will be paid by industry and consumers.

Jeremy Nicholson, director of the Energy Intensive Users Group, which represents major companies employing hundreds of thousands of workers in the steel, glass, pottery, paper and chemical industries, said the failure of wind power had profound implications.

He was speaking after new figures showed that during the latest cold snap wind turbines produced less than two per cent of the nation’s electricity.

Now Mr Nicholson predicts that the Government will encourage power companies to build billions of pounds worth of standby power stations in case of further prolonged wind failures.

And the cost of the standby generation will be paid for by industry and households through higher bills — which could double by 2020.

Industry regulator Ofgem has already calculated that the cost of achieving sustainable energy targets — set by Brussels but backed by the British Government — will amount to £200 billion, which will mean that annual household fuel bills will double to about £2,400 on average within the next ten years.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Cubicle Pervert Spied on Women With Mirror at Manchester Aquatics Centre

Bataineh, 35, a PhD student at Salford University, admitted committing two counts of voyeurism at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

A pervert used a mirror to spy on women as they got changed at swimming baths in Manchester.

A court heard that student Mohammad Bataineh, who is originally from Jordan, was confused by ‘very permissive’ Western society.

But a judge sitting at Manchester magistrates court ‘utterly rejected’ his excuse, saying: “You have been in this country for three years.”

Bataineh, 35, a PhD student at Salford University, admitted committing two counts of voyeurism at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.

He was given a six-month community order with a 14-day curfew between 7pm-6am to reflect on his ‘disgrace and shame’.

He also received a six-month sexual prevention order banning him from entering any sports facilities where there are unisex changing rooms.

Deputy District Judge John Maxwell told him: “What you did was disgraceful and disgusting — and disrespectful to women.”

Passing sentence, the judge added: “I appreciate the shame you have brought on yourself and family, but you should have borne that in mind before committing these offences.”

Sean Brady, prosecuting, said Bataineh, of Roberts Avenue, Rusholme, had slipped a compact mirror under the dividing partition of his cubicle to watch the women.

His first victim, in January last year, spotted what was happening and swore and kicked out at his hand.

Bataineh managed to escape but when he returned a month later staff recognised him from CCTV footage.

Mr Brady said a second woman hadn’t realised what was happening and left the baths before staff who had detained Bataineh could speak to her.

Dawn Sweetman, defending, said Bataineh had no previous convictions. She said:?”He found the cultural differences of a very permissive Western society confusing in comparison to those that exist in Jordan.”

Mrs Sweetham said what he had done would ‘haunt him for the rest of his life’ because it was worldwide on the internet.

She added that his family will be disgraced and his sisters considered unfit for marriage — and he will have trouble making a good marriage himself.

She said: “He made a very bad judgement and has learned a very harsh lesson. He is distraught at his behaviour and full of remorse.”

Judge Maxwell ordered Bataineh to pay £100 compensation to the first woman who had been ‘angered and upset’.

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

UK: Jack Straw Calls for ‘More Openness’ On Sex Abuse Issue

BLACKBURN MP Jack Straw has accused some Pakistani men in Britain of seeing white girls as ‘easy meat’ for sexual abuse.

The Blackburn MP talked of a ‘specific problem’ involving Pakistani men and called on the community to be ‘more open’ about the issue.

He was speaking after two Asian men who subjected a series of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults were given indefinite jail terms.

Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years at Nottingham Crown Court and Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, was told he must serve at least eight years before being considered for release.

The men were the prime movers in a group of men who befriended girls aged from 12 to 18 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex.

In Blackburn, police and social services have been aware of similar problems for four years, running a Operation Engage to tackle the problem.

Back in 2006, the Lancashire Telegraph was the first paper to uncover the issue after the Keep Them Safe investigation and subsequent campaign.

But, despite the work, Mr Straw told the BBC’s Newsnight programme: “Pakistanis, let’s be clear, are not the only people who commit sexual offences, and overwhelmingly the sex offenders’ wings of prisons are full of white sex offenders.

“But there is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men… who target vulnerable young white girls.

“We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.”


[DF — VOTE running on this page Do you agree with Jack Straw’s comments? Yes: 87% No: 13%]

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Legalise Sale of Human Organs to End ‘Transplant Tourism’, Say Surgeons

Leading surgeons have called on the Government to consider legalising the sale of human organs for transplants.

People can currently donate organs such as a kidney while still alive but cannot make money from them. They also can’t decide who the organs go to.

Many doctors, such as Professor Nadey Hakim, think this policy should be urgently reconsidered.


Professor John Harris, of Manchester University, supports a debate of the issue and has developed proposals for an ‘ethical market.’

Under his plan, the NHS would be the sole supplier of organs. Consent would be required and checks would be made to make sure the donor wasn’t under any pressure.

‘Being paid doesn’t nullify altruism,’ he told The Independent.

‘Doctors aren’t less caring because they are paid. With the current system everyone gets paid except the donor.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Tebbit Urges by-Election Voters to Back UKIP in Attempt to Derail Lib Dems

Tory grandee Lord Tebbit has called for voters to back the UK Independence Party in the Oldham by-election in a bid to push the Lib Dems into fourth place.

The former cabinet minister sought to derail David Cameron’s tacit deal to help the Lib Dems win the seat from Labour. He warned that a victory for Nick Clegg’s party would push the Coalition further to the left.

In a statement on UKIP’s website, Lord Tebbit said: ‘Of course, as one who believes that the people of this kingdom should govern themselves, I have an instinctive sympathy with the UKIP candidate and I hope that at the very least he puts the Lib Dems into fourth place.

‘A Lib Dem win would tilt the coalition even farther left and away from Conservative policies.

‘A Labour win would give the wild men of the TUC great encouragement to launch a campaign to usurp the Government by a campaign of industrial action.’

Lord Tebbit’s intervention was potentially embarrassing since it came as the Prime Minister made his only campaign trip to the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth, where voters go to the polls next Thursday.

The by-election was called after Labour MP Phil Woolas was stripped of his seat. He had been caught lying about his opponent during the general election.

The Lib Dems are the main challengers but Mr Clegg’s unpopularity after his party’s U-turn on tuition fees has created fears in senior government circles that they might drop behind the Tories.

Mr Cameron denied the Tories were giving their Coalition partners a clear run. He said: ‘If we get the most votes, we can win. Obviously we start in third place. We’re fighting a proper campaign.’

Mr Cameron’s aides declined to comment on Lord Tebbit’s remarks. A Tory spokesman said only: ‘We are fighting to win every vote which is why the Prime Minister was up in Oldham today.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour MPs Criticise Jack Straw Over Sexual Abuse Comments

Keith Vaz, the Leicester East MP who chairs the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said it was wrong to “stereotype a whole community” and questioned why Mr Straw had not spoken out previously. Mr Vaz said he did not believe there was a “cultural problem” and called for a high-level investigation of such grooming across the UK. Mr Straw had told the BBC’s Newsnight programme that there was a “specific problem” of Pakistani men targeting vulnerable young white girls.

During the interview, he urged the Pakistani community to “think more clearly” about why this was going on and to be more open about what lead to “a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way”.

His comments came after two Asian men were jailed for subjecting a series of vulnerable girls to rapes and sexual assaults. Abid Mohammed Saddique, 27, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years at Nottingham Crown Court and Mohammed Romaan Liaqat, 28, was told he must serve at least eight years before being considered for release. The men were the ring leaders of a gang that befriended girls aged from 12 to 18 in the Derby area and groomed them for sex. But Mr Vaz criticised Mr Straw for his comments. “I disagree with Jack Straw,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. “I have a lot of Pakistanis in my constituency, so does Jack Straw. I don’t think this is a cultural problem.

“We can’t ignore the facts of individual cases, but against what Jack says — and he is a very close friend and I will talk to him about this on Monday — is what the judge said in the Derby case, for example. “I don’t think you can stereotype an entire community. What you can do is look at the facts of these national cases, give it to an agency, make a proper investigation and see how we can deal with these networks of people who are involved in this horrendous crime. “One can accept the evidence that is put before us about patterns of networks but to go that step further is pretty dangerous. “Why didn’t Jack Straw say something about this? He has represented Blackburn for 31 years, he has been the home secretary. “What we have here is a serious problem which deals with terrible criminality and that’s why what I have suggested is that it should be taken further by a proper investigation on a national basis, either by Ceop (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) or the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Barnardo’s chief executive Martin Narey said street grooming was “probably happening in most towns and cities” and was not confined to the Pakistani community.

“I certainly don’t think this is a Pakistani thing. My staff would say that there is an over-representation of people from minority ethnic groups — Afghans, people from Arabic nations — but it’s not just one nation.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Met Chief Attacks Rise of the Police in Black Shirts

Britain’s most senior policeman has launched a stinging attack on the ‘paramilitary style’ uniforms being worn by many forces.

Sir Paul Stephenson, Commissioner of the Met, spoke out against the all-black kit favoured by an increasing number of constabularies.

As Scotland Yard prepares to police the Olympics next year, Sir Paul said he wanted his officers to look like ‘traditional British bobbies’ — complete with white shirts.

He has no plans to introduce the so-called ‘boys in black’ uniforms being worn in forces such as North Wales, Sussex, Kent, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley.

Critics have likened them to the black uniforms worn by followers of fascist Sir Oswald Mosley in the 1930s, who were known as the Blackshirts.

Sir Paul, renowned for his traditional views on policing, stopped short of making that comparison. But he made it clear he believes black uniforms send out the wrong message.

He said: ‘I’m not awfully keen on ever-more paramilitary-type equipment on our streets. On occasions, we look paramilitary enough now. Frankly, that worries me.

‘I want to continue to look like the British police officer whenever we can.

‘It’s one of the reasons why I’m very passionate about continuing to make sure Met police officers look like Met police officers in white shirts, and not awfully keen on the move in other areas of the country towards different sorts of uniform that look more paramilitary.’

In an interview with LBC Radio’s Nick Ferrari, Sir Paul went on: ‘I want cops in London to be reassuring, not oppressive.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Newcastle Muslim Woman’s Burger Ordeal

McDONALD’S has come under fire for mistakenly giving Muslim Fatima Hussain unblessed meat she is forbidden to eat. Fatima was left disgusted after a North branch of the fast food chain gave her a chicken burger instead of a spicy veggie deli burger. Islam forbids the eating of any kind of meat which is not “Halal”, meaning it has been blessed by an imam and slaughtered in special conditions.

Fatima, 21, had managed to live her whole life carefully avoiding breaking the strict rules of her religion until she emigrated to the North.

The Pakistani, who now lives in Newcastle, had eaten half the burger before she realised the restaurant’s blunder. It meant Fatima had eaten unblessed meat for the first time in her life and committed what is considered a terrible sin according to her beliefs.

She approached the manager, who admitted the mistake, and reluctantly accepted a refund at the restaurant.

However, the Northumbria University student was left dismayed when McDonald’s offered no apology.

The fast food chain has since said sorry.

She said: “It’s the first time in my life I’ve eaten meat which was not Halal. I was shocked and seriously mentally disturbed. “I didn’t want to accept the refund because that’s not the point. Can a refund bring back 21 years of religious practice? “I’ve kept the receipt and I’ve asked them for a written apology. They said an area manager was going to give me a ring but I have heard nothing.

“I regularly eat at McDonald’s and have a good relationship with them. I’ve even had a job interview there. But I want to warn other members of the Muslim community that this has happened.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: New Clampdown on Uninsured Drivers as Government Vows to ‘Get Tough’ On Reckless Motorists

Motorists face a new crackdown that will make even keeping an uninsured car off the road an offence.

The Government will this week propose tough new regulations to curb reckless, uninsured drivers who kill 160 people a year and injure 23,000 others.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning will announce that keeping a vehicle off-road without insurance will become illegal.

At the moment, police can act only if the vehicle is in use and on the road.

But in a change coming into effect in March, cars off-road without insurance could land their owners with a heavy fine.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Prime Minister ‘Using Scare Tactics’ To Win EU Vote

David Cameron was last night accused of using ‘desperate scare tactics’ to stave off the threat of defeat in a Commons row over moves to halt Brussels’ ever-growing power over Britain.

Government whips have reportedly told newly elected Conservative MPs that they risk toppling the Prime Minister if they rebel in a vote on protecting parliamentary sovereignty from the European Union.

The threat was dismissed as a ‘panic measure’ by Tory MPs determined to block legislation that they claim will merely switch parliamentary sovereignty to unelected judges.

‘It is ludicrous to claim that rebelling on this will bring down the Coalition,’ said one MP.

‘All it will do is force the Government to ensure Parliament can stand up to the EU. Transferring this role to judges is irresponsible because they cannot be trusted.

The clash follows Mr Cameron’s Election pledge to include a ‘sovereignty clause’ in new EU legislation to ‘make it clear that ultimate authority stays in this country, in our Parliament’.

Mr Cameron said the clause would reaffirm ‘once and for all’ Parliament’s sovereignty. It would make clear that EU directives take effect in the UK only by the will of Parliament.

The measure, Clause 18 in the European Union Bill, is to be debated in the Commons on Tuesday. Euro-sceptic Tory MPs plan to vote against it, claiming that far from protecting parliamentary sovereignty it erodes it further by transferring it to the judiciary.


In the powerful article on this site (see link below), senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin accuses Mr Cameron of reneging on his Election vow, saying: ‘He promised a Sovereignty Bill to strengthen Parliament and democracy and make sure our laws can no longer be decided by unaccountable judges.

Clause 18 would do nothing to protect our sovereignty. It is so feeble, it would effectively hand over control of parliamentary sovereignty to unelected judges.


He adds it is ‘tragic’ that a Tory Premier ‘should be willing to place parliamentary sovereignty in such danger’ and says the move is ‘devised to promote Liberal Democrat ideology’.

He says: ‘They have never defended parliamentary sovereignty. They want to destroy it and replace it with rule by judges. If Mr Cameron has the national interest at heart, he will not let this constitutional outrage occur.’

He adds it is ‘rubbish’ for the Government to claim that parliamentary sovereignty is a ‘common law principle’, saying: ‘Parliament claimed sovereignty when it cut off the head of Charles I. The Government is playing into the hands of the judges. The common law is judge-made law.’

Unlike other EU nations such as Germany, Britain has no written constitution and, as a result, has not made a legal affirmation of its sovereignty.

The Government says the new clause will make it impossible to claim in a British court that ultimate sovereignty has shifted to the EU.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Urged to DNA Test Every Man in Bristol in Hunt for Killer of Joanna Yeates

An MP has called on police to DNA test every man in Bristol in a bid to track down the killer of Joanna Yeates in what could be the biggest ever screening carried out by British police.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, wants swabs to be taken from the entire male population — around 250,000 people.

The mass testing would echo that of a case in 1995 which eventually led to the conviction of David Frost who raped and murdered 18-year-old Louise Smith on Christmas Day when she walked home from a nightclub.

He was caught 14 months later when police noticed he had avoided providing a DNA sample and travelled to South Africa, where he was working, to take a swab.

In 1997 he flew back to the UK and was arrested at Heathrow Airport and in February 1998 he was jailed for life at Bristol Crown Court.

Miss McCarthy said: ‘I understand some people think this is an invasion of their privacy but I think most people would understand that city-wide testing could get the killer off the streets.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sexual Teenage Grooming Being Investigated by Specialist Child Abuse Unit

Jack Straw, the former Home Secretary, provoked controversy when he said that white girls were seen as “easy meat” by some Pakistani men. Although some public figures condemned his comments as offensive, others said it was right that the matter had been addressed. Mohammed Liaqat, 28, and Abid Saddique, 27, were jailed on Friday for a series of rapes and sexual assaults on young girls as young as 12 around Derby.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) was involved in the police investigation in which led to their convictions. Yesterday, the Home Office said Ceop, which is affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), was looking into all aspects of grooming. A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Ceop are the UK’s national centre for protecting children and we know they are looking at this as they would any form of threat to children and young people. “They will be making further announcements in due course.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: White Girls Are ‘Easy Meat’ For Pakistani Men: Jack Straw Under Fire for Making ‘Offensive’ Remarks on Sex Abuse Cases

Jack Straw was rounded on today after accusing some Pakistani men of preying on white girls because they are seen as ‘easy meat’.

The former Home Secretary claimed there was a ‘specific problem’ with Pakistani men after two Asians were jailed for targeting vulnerable teenagers.

Mr Straw suggested young Pakistanis deliberately look for white girls and urged the Pakistani community to be ‘more open’ about the issue.

Muslim groups condemned the suggestion of a general problem as ‘deeply offensive’ and another senior Labour MP cautioned against stereotyping.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Why Salman Rushdie’s Book Was Burned

In the opening pages of this dense but fascinating polemic, Kenan Malik describes how the fatwa against Salman Rushdie changed his life. The Indian-born son of a Hindu mother and a Muslim father, Malik had grown up in Britain amid “Paki-bashers” and the racist National Front. It was racism that had driven him into far-left politics as a student, but it was the Enlightenment ideals of equality and social justice that he took with him when he graduated. Malik became a research psychologist and occasional journalist with a commitment to activism.

In January 1989, he was shocked when 1,000 Muslims marched through the northern city of Bradford and ceremonially burned a copy of Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses” in front of a police station. Almost overnight, he writes, the image of that burning book became an international “icon of the rage of Islam.” Yet it made no sense to Malik, who had organized anti-racist protests in Bradford three years earlier. Where had the rage come from? And why was it dressed in religious clothing?

He received his first answer from a man Malik identifies only as Hassan, a former Trotskyite and an acquaintance who had become disaffected with the “white left” and with the fearful and obsequious Muslims of their fathers’ generation. Hassan saw a “need to defend our dignity as Muslims” so that no one — “racist or Rushdie” — could trample on it. Hassan had become an “errand boy to the mullahs,” Malik writes, “inspired by bookburners, willing to shed blood for a thousand-year-old fable that he had never believed in.”

In the chapters that follow, Malik charts the circuitous route by which Hassan and so many others found solace in a virulently anti-Western, political Islam that bore little relation to the faith of their immigrant parents, for whom religion was “deeply embedded [but] never all-consuming,” expressing “a relationship with God, not a sacrosanct public identity.” If Britain now has a problem with homegrown suicide bombers, it is, he asserts, because of policies that have not only impeded integration but have taught an entire generation of immigrants that they are not truly British, that they do not — and never will — belong…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Bosnia: Serb Leader Defies International Envoy on Disposal of State Property

Sarajevo, 6 Jan. (AKI) — Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has rejected an order by Bosnia’s top international envoy that the country’s constitutional court must rule on the disposal of state property, local media reported on Thursday.

Valentin Inzko, an Austrian diplomat who heads the office of the international community (OHR) in Bosnia on Wednesday said Bosnia’s two entities cannot dispose of state property located on their territory prior to a ruling by the country’s constitutional court.

“This order has no importance for us,” Dodik said. Inzko’s order suspends a property law passed by the Bosnian entity’s parliament which stipulates state property belongs to the entities on whose territory it is located.

Dodik claimed the constitutional court was not empowered to rule on property questions and said the court had made “politically motivated decisions, which the Serb entity is not obliged to accept.”

Bosnia is divided into two entities — the Bosnian Serb entity and Muslim-Croat federation. But the international community has gradually stripped the entities of their powers in a bid to strengthen Bosnia’s weak central government.

Inzko on Thursday received strong backing from the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia, composed of western powers and Russia. But Russia, a traditional Serb ally, didn’t back Inzko’s decision.

Dodik, who was elected Serb entity president in October 2010 and had previously served two terms as prime minister. He opposes moves to reduce the Bosnian entities’ powers, granted them under the 1995 Dayton accord which divided the country in two and ended the bloody 1992-1995 war.

Under the Dayton accord, Inzko has broad powers including that to sack elected officials.

“The issue of state property is a serious test for officials elected in the October election,” Inzko stated.

But three months after the election, political leaders from the country’s three main groups, Muslims, Serbs and Croats, have been unable to agree on the formation of a new government.

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

North Africa

Algeria: Protests: Ex FIS Deputy Benhadj Arrested

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, JANUARY 7 — The number two of the dissolved Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), Ali Benhadj, was arrested during the first night of clashes on Wednesday night in the Algiers neighbourhood of Bab El Oued.

According to reports from several Algerian media outlets, Benhadj approached the young demonstrators attempting to ride the protest as happened in the people’s revolts of October 1988.

According to sources quoted by the French daily paper Le Monde, Benhadj was arrested.

The Islamic leader, who became famous at the end of the 1980s for his fiery preaching in the mosques of the capital, was arrested for the first time in 1992, after the breaking up of the FIS, and served a 12-year sentence. He then spent another year in prison for commenting in favour of the seizure in Iraq of two Algerian diplomats who were then killed. Pardoned by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, he is banned from making political statements and participating in public demonstrations.

His son, Abdelkader, has for some time been enrolled in the ranks of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and, according to several daily papers, was killed during the latest anti-terrorism operation carried out by the army in Kabylie in December.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Coptic Christmas; Sarkozy Condemns Religious Cleansing

(ANSAmed) — The French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, has said today that he rejects “what increasingly resembles a particularly wicked plan for religious cleansing in the Middle East”, in reference to recent attacks against some Christian communities.

Sarkozy was speaking today as part of the ceremony of new year greetings to the country’s religious authorities, which this year were exceptionally joined by the representative of Copts in France, Father Girguis Lucas, from the parish of Chatenay-Malabry, in the Parisian suburbs.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

A New Palestinian Lie About Israel and the Need to Discount Such Stories Systematically

By Barry Rubin

What happens when the New York Times publishes, with no investigation, an atrocity story about Israel that is not only false but ridiculously so, based on the most obvious starting point: death by tear-gas doesn’t happen?

Well, much of the world media may not report it and the anti-Israel crowd won’t believe it but the IDF has concluded on the basis of Palestinian hospital documents that the woman who allegedly died of tear gas poisoning in fact was being treated for cancer and died as a result of being overdosed with medicine. In other words, this isn’t an Israeli war crime but a potential Palestinian malpractice suit.

That’s why the death certificate has no medical diagnosis, there was no autopsy, and the body was quickly buried.

Let’s assume that nobody wanted to take the IDF’s word for it but conducted a serious investigation and reviewed the evidence. And let’s say that it turns out what I’ve reported here and earlier turns out to be true.

Would a more general lesson be drawn and an end be put to the transmutation within hours of phony Palestinian tales about Israel into page-one news stories around the world? Probably not, but it would be nice to think that.

There’s a long history of Palestinians (including the Palestinian Authority) making up atrocity stories that blame Israel and then having these widely disseminated by the mass media. This is one of the main factors leading to increased hatred or criticism of Israel. These tales are disproven but the facts never catch up with the lies. Here’s a history of the phenomenon with a number of examples.

Now we have the first phony slander of 2011. You can check out the cartoon version also. The Palestinian Authority claims that Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36 years old, died during a demonstration, killed by “poison” in tear gas fired there by Israeli soldiers.

This was put out by Saeb Erakat, one of the main PA leaders, and the story was published as true by the French press agency (AFP), the Guardian and Associated Press (note the picture of the huge funeral given her as a “martyr” to an Israeli “war crime),” The Independent, UPI, Voice of America, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, China’s news agency and main newspaper, and also in important Dutch newspapers. And here’s National Public Radio’s usual obviously biased version. The BBC played up the story big, stating as a fact (it is still on their site with no hint that another side to the story exists) that she was killed by teargas.

Even the U.S. State Department apparently gets its information from reading misleading newspaper stories. Here’s a round-up of the online reporting and an analysis of the incident appropriately entitled, “Repeating Palestinian Allegations without Evidence.”

By the way, Saeb Erakat was the man who claimed that Israel massacred 500 Palestinians in Jenin, a claim that was massively covered in the media and turned out (as even the UN admits) to be a total lie for which he had no evidence at all.

And so, these publications reported as fact something about which they had zero direct knowledge merely because partisan Palestinian sources—with a bad track record due to past misstatements of fact—claimed it…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Palestinian Plight in Southern Lebanon Refugee Camps

It is sometimes controversially said that Palestinian refugees in Lebanon live in worse conditions than those during the Israeli occupation in Gaza.

There is no better place to witness and document the plight of Lebanon’s refugees than Nahr al-Bared.

It was such conditions that contributed to the destruction of the refugee camp, in 2007, as troops from the Lebanese army fought with Islamist militants.

In May of that year, fierce fighting erupted here — a sprawling Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli in northern Lebanon.

The Lebanese army bombarded militants from Fatah al-Islam, who had taken root in the squalid, hopeless conditions.

The camp was destroyed and 27,000 Palestinian refugees fled, among them one remarkable family…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Supreme Court: Yes to Gender Segregation on Buses

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, JANUARY 6 — Israel’s Supreme Court has today ruled that a public bus service in which seats reserved for women are separate from those reserved for men is not illegal, provided that the separation is only operated on a voluntary basis.

The Court ruling comes in response to an appeal from a group of liberal Jews, and stated that the separation could not under any circumstances be coercive. Around thirty buses operating separation between the sexes are currently in service in ultra-Orthodox areas of a number of cities across the country. Ultra-Orthodox Jews want the separation in order to avoid “sexual temptation”. The Court has also asked for rigorous and frequent checks to be adopted, ensuring that a woman, if she so wishes, is indeed allowed to sit next to a man.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Doha: Call to Make Teaching of Shariah Mandatory in All Expat Schools

Teaching of Shariah and Arabic language should be made mandatory for all expatriate schools in Doha, local educationists and preachers have said.

In a survey conducted by the Arrayah Arabic newspaper, they said the syllabus of these schools should be subject to supervision and control so as to make sure they follow Islamic and national values.

Dr Ahmed Faragani, a consultant at the Ministry of Endowments thinks that it is important that people should be aware of the danger of expatriate schools which do not pay attention to the nation’s values, language and culture.

“We do not deny the importance of teaching foreign languages in these schools according to our customs and values,” said Dr Faragani.

Many experts do not think it is necessary that all students should learn foreign languages and this should be according to the willingness of each student. They pointed out that Arabic language is very rich and is able to cope with all the technological developments.

Dr Ahmed Faragani thinks that the main hidden goal of expatriate schools is to destroy the language, history and religion of the nation and isolate the coming generation from their culture by constructing a barrier between them and the deeply rooted values of the nation.

He thinks efforts should be made to protect the educational syllabus from any foreign influence by strengthening the Islamic subjects and scrutinising selection of teachers.

Dr Sayed Attiyah, an Islamic scholar thinks that using foreign language as a means of instruction will instil in them a feeling that the Arabic language is not capable to cope with modern science and hence students will cut any relationship with their native language and neglect the main sources of Islam: the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah.

The social activist Dr Amina el-Heel from the High Council for Education pointed out the importance of instilling the national identity in children at an early stage.

           — Hat tip: AJ[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: U.S. Confirms Detention of American Citizen Who Claims Being Beaten

A U.S. official has confirmed that an American citizen of Somali origin who claims he was beaten by security agents in Kuwait while they were interrogating him about his travels in Yemen and Somalia is being held in detention in the American-backed Arabian Peninsula country.

State Department spokesman Phillip J. Crowley offered few details about the case other than to say that the man, 18-year-old Gulet Mohamed from Virigina, was receiving U.S. consular assistance. Crowley denied that Mohamed was arrested by Kuwaiti authorities on behalf of the U.S.

“I’m not at liberty to say a great deal,” he told reporters Friday. “We are aware of his detention, we have provided him consular services … he was not detained at the behest of the United States government.”

According to a report, Mohamed — who said he was studying Arabic in Kuwait — was taken into custody around Dec. 20 when he went to the airport there to have his Kuwaiti visa renewed. Mohamed had done the procedure every three months since he arrived in Kuwait in fall 2009, but this time he didn’t get his visa stamped. Instead, he said he was hauled into a room and interrogated for hours by unknown officials before being blindfolded, handcuffed and driven to another location.

He has been held in detainment ever since and his name placed on a no-fly list, meaning he cannot return to the U.S…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Moqtada Al-Sadr Calls for Iraqis to ‘Resist Occupiers’ By Peaceful Means

In his first public speech since his homecoming on Wednesday after years of self-imposed exile in Iran, the one-time firebrand urged his supporters to give Iraq’s new government led by Shi’ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki a chance.

“We are still fighters,” said Mr Sadr, a Shi’ite cleric, who led two uprisings against the US military after the 2003 invasion. He has called for an earlier US withdrawal than the agreed deadline of the end of this year.

At the start of his speech, Mr Sadr, whose Mehdi Army militia fought US troops and was blamed for much of the sectarian violence that gripped Iraq, asked his followers to chant “No, no to America” and to denounce Israel and reject all occupiers.

He said arms were for “people of weapons only”, a comment that seemed to endorse the authority of the army and the police and could calm fears of a revival of the Mehdi Army…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

The Slow Disappearance of Turkey’s Jewish Community

Turkey’s Jewish community is one of the few remaining Diaspora communities in a country with a Muslim majority. Despite its apparent dynamism, its long-term viability is doubtful. The community does not have any influence or play any role worth mentioning in Turkey’s cultural, political, or intellectual life. Furthermore, in recent years the entire community has become the target of much resentment and hostile rhetoric from the country’s Islamist and ultranationalist sectors.

Another problem concerns the question of identity. In Turkey, a “Zionist” education-stressing both Jewish tradition and a connection with Israel-is used to prevent Jewish youth from further assimilation. But such an education is extremely difficult to impart under the conditions prevailing in Turkey. Jewish parents counsel their children not to display Star of David necklaces in public, and to remain silent and if possible completely ignore the constant, hateful, often slanderous criticism of Israel in the Turkish public sphere.

The Mavi Marmara incident was an acid test for Turkish Jewry. It came as no surprise that the public perceived the incident as the murder of Muslim Turks by the Jewish army and started asking Turkish Jews whose side they were on. The incident also triggered a wave of anti-Semitism and conspiracy theories in the Turkish media and among public figures. For the most part, the Turkish Jewish leadership found itself unable to address the issue publicly.

For the situation to change, Turkish society would have to veer away from the current insular nationalist and Islamist atmosphere and move in a more liberal, democratic, multicultural direction. Turkey could then both come to grips with the darker aspects of its past and work for a different and better future. At present, the indications that such a transition might occur are mixed at best…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Journalist Faces 138 Years in Prison

24-year-old discovers certain topics too ‘taboo’ to report

A 24-year-old journalist has been sentenced to 138 years in prison for publishing news accounts on terrorist activity, reports an international freedom-of-the-press organization.

According to Reporters Without Borders, Emin Demir, former editor of Turkey’s daily newspaper Azadiya Welat, was charged with “propaganda” under Turkish law for reporting on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, a separatist organization listed by several nations, including the U.S., as a terrorist organization.

But Demir’s lawyer, Servet Osen, insists Demir’s articles were merely news reporting, not propaganda.

Azadiya Welat is Turkey’s only Kurdish-language newspaper, but reporting on those within the ethnic minority who wish to form their own state has drawn the ire of the Turkish government.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkish Academics Sacked Over Porn Dissertation Project

Three academics at one of Turkey’s top universities have been sacked after a student made a pornographic film for his dissertation project.

Bilgi University in Istanbul has shut its film department, and police are looking into possible criminal charges.

A number of other academics have protested against the response.

The incident has drawn attention to the clash between traditional values and the sometimes experimental arts and lifestyles practised in Istanbul.


When film student Deniz Ozgun first broached his idea for a dissertation project with his professors, they were hesitant.

He wanted to make a pornographic film, he said, but also to reveal how synthetic the sexual scenes in it were.

They told him the project needed to make a stronger intellectual point. Evidently he did not succeed — his film was marked a fail.

None of this caused a stir. But after Mr Ozgun gave an interview to a news magazine, describing how he made the film on campus, his project caused an uproar.

Parents wanted to know what kinds of things went on at Bilgi, one of Turkey’s most prestigious private universities.

And, say some academics there, the Board of Education put pressure on the university to act.

As well as the firing of the three academics — who are now being investigated by the police — the entire Communications Faculty has been shut down.

Mr Ozgun, and the former student who starred in his film, have gone into hiding.

A number of academics have protested against this draconian response.

Neither the university nor the government is making any comment.

Bilgi has a reputation as one of the most liberal universities in Turkey — it was among the first to ignore the ban on Muslim women wearing headscarves on campus. But this issue has clearly touched a nerve.

Boundaries tested

People from different walks of life in Turkey now hold strikingly divergent values.

In much of the country they still adhere to strict moral codes, in which alcohol is banned, clothing is conservative and sex never discussed openly.

Politicians in the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) largely subscribe to this view.

But in Istanbul many people have very liberal attitudes to sex, alcohol and the arts. Indeed you can find films, plays and art exhibitions every bit as provocative and experimental as in any other European city.

Last September, guests attending new exhibitions at three art galleries in central Istanbul were attacked by local residents enraged by the sight of them drinking alcohol on the street outside.

They might have been even more enraged had they seen the content of the exhibitions, which challenged a number of taboo topics.

A publisher who translated erotic European literature was also put on trial last year, but eventually acquitted.

Turkey is now the world’s fifteenth biggest economy; its people are more prosperous and more exposed to outside influences than ever before.

Boundaries are constantly being tested. But when they are, sometimes there is a powerful reaction.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

South Asia

A Blogger in Pakistan: The Islamist Consensus

How do you determine what a religion actually is? For instance, what is ‘true Islam’ and how do you determine that? “From the scriptures, of course” is not an adequate answer, because the scriptures don’t mean anything per se.


… when we refer to a religion, we refer to the theological variety/sect that is the most dominant socially and politically, and which has the widest consensus of the followers and scholars of that religion. And when we have to refer to a non-dominant theology, we refer to it with a qualification. For example, when we refer to Christianity, we refer to Catholicism, and if we have to talk about some other sect, we have to qualify it, like Gnostic Christianity.

The varieties of Islam that are being used in discourse these days are “Fundamentalist/Orthodox Islam” and “Liberal/Moderate/Progressive Islam”. Whenever Western thinkers criticize Islam at any point, the objection came up “Oh, no, the fundamentalists are just a minority. There is also the Moderate Islam. Talk about us; we are nice people.” And that was what was assumed by most, and which even West had to concede to in the name of political correctness. However, the current circumstances in Pakistan surrounding the murder of Salman Taseer have revealed something entirely different.

Turns out, the silent majority, when it has spoken, doesn’t belong to Liberal Islam. Surprise, surprise, they all uphold fundamentalist ideology. The Fundamentalist Islam not only has a sweeping consensus of followers, it also has a well-developed theology, with all the references to Koran and Hadith & Sunnah worked out in detail. The Liberal Islam, in contrast, is not only in an exceeding small minority, it also lacks any consensus, it has barely any prominent scholars to point to, and it has no well-developed theology. Most of the proponents of Liberal Islam are actually young kids, who barely have an adequate knowledge of theology to compete in the religious discourse. One single properly referenced Hadith from a Fundamentalist can deflate a Liberal’s case. Yes, it’s that easy.

Anyway, my point is, Fundamentalist Islam has demonstrated such wide-spread consensus and domination that they are now the current representatives of Islam. Liberal Muslims who are reading this will no doubt protest, but the facts are in front of all of us. Liberal Islam has failed. Liberal Islam has no consensus, has no scholars, has no properly worked out theology. It is all just a bunch of individual voices, shouting “No, this isn’t Islam.”

It is also time that Western thinkers realize that this consensus in the favor of Fundamentalists has taken place. Fundamentalists are no longer in minority; Islam is no longer benign. It has become the current successor in the dynasty of fascists, nazis and communists, and it must be dealt with accordingly. Rome has spoken, the matter is settled.

[NOTE: While this blogger still lives, support him by reading his posts]

           — Hat tip: Bill K.[Return to headlines]

A Pakistani’s Assassin’s Long Reach

The assassination last week of one of the most moderate politicians in the Pakistani political elite was shocking enough, even in a country known for settling religious and political disputes with a hail of gunfire.

But it was Pakistan’s reaction to the killing of the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer — starting with the rose petals showered on the smiling accused assassin as he was led into court — that really rocked the Obama administration, as it tries to sustain its public line that the Pakistani government is a close ally, fully committed to countering terrorism.

“Everything about what’s happened in the past few days is a reminder of how we’re still losing ground in Pakistan,” said one administration official who deals with the country often, but would not speak on the record because public criticism of Pakistan’s two governments — its weak civilian leadership and its always-dominant military — is avoided at all cost. “It’s trouble on many different levels.”

Three levels, at least, and at each a threat to assumptions that underlie the Obama administration’s strategy. One is that Pakistan is moving toward the West, even if sporadically. Another is that the United States can gradually deal more with Pakistan’s elected government, and less with its military. The third, and most critical, is that Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal is truly safe from betrayal by insiders.

On the first level, the assassination left little doubt that a civil war is underway in Pakistan, one not confined to the border regions where the Taliban and Al Qaeda operate. Perhaps more than at any time since Pakistan reluctantly signed up to take on the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the battle is joined between those Pakistanis who believe their nation should be essentially a secular Islamic state, and religious extremists with visions of taking over the country.

“What was once a problem confined to the borderlands is now an infection inside the entire body-politic of Pakistan,” Bruce Riedel, who ran President Obama’s first review of Pakistan and Afghanistan policy in early 2009, said after the assassination. “It is another reminder that Pakistan has had an Islamic jihadist dictator before, and he can be re-incarnated.” Mr. Riedel was referring to Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, who ran the country in the 1980s and whose government imprisoned Mr. Taseer at the time for opposing religious parties…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Italian Defence Minister Announces Extra Troops

Milan, 7 Jan. (AKI) — Italy’s defence minister Ignazio La Russa on Friday said there would be 4,200 Italian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan “at the start of 2011”. Italy had earlier announced it would boost its troop numbers in the war-wracked country to 4,000 from 3,500 previously.

“The increase in our contingent will owe to a greater number of trainers,” La Russa told journalists in the northern Italian city of Milan on Friday.

Italy’s move is in line with US president Barack Obama’s plan to send an extra 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan, many of them trainers, ahead of a handover of primary responsibility for security to Afghan national forces slated for 2014.

The death of Italian soldier Matteo Miotto in Afghanistan last Friday brought to 35 the total number of Italian troops killed there since their mission began in 2004. The troop deaths have prompted calls from opposition politicians for a pull-out.

La Russa denied there had been any cover-up of the true circumstances surrounding the death in western Afghanistan of Italian soldier Matteo Miotto on 31 December as he manned a watch tower.

Miotto was shot dead by an insurgent sniper but it subsequently emerged that the shooting took place amid a gun battle with insurgents at the Italian base.

“No one lied to me. All the information was correct, although the complete reconstruction of events only occurred gradually,” La Russa said.

Miotto’s fatal shooting occurred in the western Afghan province of Farah’s Gulistan district in an area called Box Tripoli which Italy took over from US forces earlier in 2010.

More Italian troops are being subjected to insurgent attacks as militants are driven out of southern Afghanistan and surveys show many Italians feel the mission is no longer the peacekeeping one mandated by parliament.

La Russa expressed “faith, esteem and thanks” to the entire Italian army.

He said he was not angry with anyone over the accounts relayed to him of Miotto’s death but said in future “there should be no hesitation or delay over transparency.”

“I was sorry not to have been able to give all the information relating to Matteo”s death, above all to the Miotto family,” said La Russa.

Earlier this week he paid a visit to Italian troops in western Afghanistan.

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

Italy Saying Adiós to Afghanistan

La Vanguardia Barcelona

“Troops to leave Afghanistan this year,” announces La Vanguardia. On 6 January, defence minister Carme Chacón said she hopes “to begin the process of handing over power to the Afghan government soon”. 1,500 Spanish soldiers have been deployed since 2001 as part of NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan. The announcement was made during the Pascua Militar (“Military Easter”) celebrations presided over by King Juan Carlos at the Royal Palace in Madrid. The Barcelona-based paper notes that this is the first time this traditional annual event has been held during “a state of emergency”, which has been in effect since the air traffic controllers’ strike in December.

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

Pakistan: Anyone Who is Against the Blasphemy Law Puts His Life at Risk, Lahore Archbishop Says

The late governor of Punjab was buried today in Cavalry Ground cemetery in Lahore. High-ranking government officials took part in the ceremony. Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Saldhana, archbishop of Lahore, condemned Taseer’s murder, urging everyone, including the media, to speak out against the blasphemy law.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — “Salman Taseer fought for the release of Asia Bibi and spoken out for the repeal of the blasphemy law. I think this was the main reason for his murder,” said Mgr Lawrence John Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Pakistan and head of the National Justice and Peace Commission. “In Pakistan, the number of people whose life is threatened is growing. With this murder, it is clear that anyone that opposes the blasphemy law is at risk,” said the archbishop, who sent a letter of condolences to Governor Taseer’s widow today.

A member of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Salman Taseer was appointed governor of Punjab Province in 2008. He was killed yesterday by a member of his security detail outside a café in Islamabad. Local media quoted his assassin as saying that he killed the political leader because of his criticism of the blasphemy law.

His body was laid to rest today in the Cavalry Ground cemetery in Lahore. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, a number of federal ministers and ordinary people from all walks of life participated in his funeral.

“The entire Christian community is concerned about what happened. It condemns the murder of Taseer, who was a great man,” Mgr Saldanha said. For the archbishop, everyone should raise their voice against intolerance and extremism, including the media.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the governor’s murder, expressing grief and alarm at his death and calling it a manifestation of growing intolerance in society.

Many other human rights organisations also slammed the assassination and expressed sorrow over Taseer’s death.

The murder “must be condemned by all sane people”. Everyone must be “alarmed at the ever-growing shadow of intolerance and violence in society,” HRCP chairperson Mehdi Hasan said. The authorities, he added, must carry out a thorough investigation to establish the killer’s motives.

“It would be exceedingly unfortunate if it turns out that the governor’s call for sanity following the death sentence of Asia Bibi’s on charges of blasphemy or differences with political opponents in any way led to his assassination,” the HRCP statement also read.

Minority Affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti, a Catholic, also condemned the killing, saying that the governor’s stance against the Blasphemy Laws led to his death.

The minister declared a two-week period of mourning by the country’s religious minorities.

In a statement to AsiaNews Mr Bhatti minister also called for a thorough investigation into the killing, stating that radical Islamic organisations that issued religious decrees against Governor Taseer should be held to account.

“It is these elements that are creating anarchy in the country,” the minister stated. “This murder is the result of instigation in which some religious circles advocated the governor’s murder,” Bhatti explained.

In recent years, Taseer was one of the strongest voices of moderation in the country. He opposed the blasphemy law, religious extremism as well as the rise of the Taleban and al-Qaeda.

In the last few months, he pleaded on behalf of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman from Punjab sentenced to death for blasphemy, and this despite criticism from his own party.

He had recently visited her in prison and had called on the president to grant her a pardon, an action stopped by court order.

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

Pakistan: ‘The Killer of My Father, Salman Taseer, Was Showered With Rose Petals by Fanatics. How Could They Do This?’

I have recently flown home from North America. In airport after international airport, the world’s papers carried front page images of my father’s assassin.

A 26-year-old boy, with a beard, a forehead calloused from prayer, and the serene expression of a man assured of some higher reward. Last Tuesday, this boy, hardly older than my youngest brother whose 25th birthday it was that day, shot to death my father, the governor of Punjab, in a market in Islamabad.

My father had always taken pleasure in eluding his security, sometimes appearing without any at all in open-air restaurants with his family, but in this last instance it would not have mattered, for the boy who killed him was a member of his security detail. It appears now that the plan to kill my father had been in his assassin’s mind, even revealed to a few confidants, for many days before he carried the act to its fruition. And it is a great source of pain to me, among other things, that my father, always brazen and confident, had spent those last few hours in the company of men who kept a plan to kill him in their breasts.

But perhaps it could have been no other way, for my father would not only have not recognised his assassins, he would not have recognised the country that produced a boy like that. Pakistan was part of his faith, and one of the reasons for the differences that arose between us in the last years of his life—and there were many—was that this faith never allowed him to accept what had become of the country his forefathers had fought for…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Thousands Rally in Pakistan for Blasphemy Laws

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in Pakistan’s largest city on Sunday to oppose any change to national blasphemy laws and to praise a man charged with murdering a provincial governor who had campaigned against the divisive legislation.

The rally of up to 50,000 people in downtown Karachi was one of the largest demonstrations of support for the laws, which make insulting Islam a capital offense. It was organized before the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, was shot dead on Tuesday in Islamabad by a bodyguard who told a court he considered Taseer a blasphemer.

Muslim groups have praised the bodyguard, Mumtaz Qadri, and have used Taseer’s death to warn others not to speak out against the much-derided laws.

The size of the Karachi rally, which was large even by the standards of the city of 16 million, showed how bitter the argument is over the decades-old laws.

Although courts typically overturn blasphemy convictions and no executions have been carried out, rights activists say the laws are used to settle rivalries and persecute religious minorities.

Amid the threats from groups defending the law, the prime minister ruled out any changes to the legislation on Sunday, even as one of his key Cabinet ministers promised reforms were still on the agenda.

“This huge rally today has categorically signaled that nobody could dare to amend the blasphemy law,” said Fazlur Rehman, the key speaker at Sunday’s demonstration and head of the Taliban-linked conservative religious party Jamiat Ulema Islam.

“If the rulers are out to defend Taseer, so we also have the right to legally defend Mumtaz Qadri,” he told the crowd.

He said Taseer “was responsible for his own murder” because he had criticized the law…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Far East

Beijing’s “Peaceful” Invasion of Central Asia

For years, China has been developing closer ties with the nations of the region through trade, infrastructural development (railways and pipelines) and energy imports. It has also promoted military and financial cooperation. The result is that the United States could be shut out of the former Soviet republics.

Bishkek (AsiaNews/Agencies) — China’s economic and military presence in Central Asia is expanding at the expense of Russia, but especially the United States.

Trade between China and the five Central Asian countries (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) topped US$ 25.9 billion in 2009, up from US$ 527 million in 1992.

Chinese traders bring Chinese clothing, electronics, appliances and other exports, open stores and invade local markets. The old Silk Road, which crosses Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan, is now travelled by countless lorries carrying Chinese goods.

In Tajikistan, Chinese state enterprises are building energy pipelines, railways and highways.

Kyrgyzstan has become an important transit point for Chinese goods that make their way to the Caspian Sea region, Russia and Europe.

Pipelines across Central Asia are bringing oil and gas to the mainland from Russia, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, alternative sources of energy to a politically unstable Middle East and tankers using the Strait of Malacca, which China does not control.

In the past few years, the Chinese government has also opened Confucius Institutes to teach Mandarin in Central Asian capitals across Central Asia.

With its rapid growth, China has taken “advantage of the lack of initiative in the region by the United States and Russia,” Chinese General Liu Yazhou wrote in an essay published last summer. “China has begun stimulating feverish consumerism in the area” and developed large markets for its cheap products.

Some analysts suggest that Beijing wants to break down trade barriers and integrate economically Central Asia with its remote region of Xinjiang.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan all belong to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), along with China and Russia, which was originally set up to fight terrorism but has increasingly focused on economic matters as well. Members often share intelligence and conduct joint military exercises. In 2010, China granted US$ 10 billion in loans to SCO nations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States sought to contain the mainland by building a ring across Central Asia, India and Afghanistan that included US military bases. US companies took part in the development of energy resources in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. Now it risks being shut out.

According to a State Department cable released by WikiLeaks, US officials suspected China of offering Kyrgyzstan US$ 3 billion to close the US air base in Manas, the only one it still has in the region, deemed crucial for its action in neighbouring Afghanistan.

At the same time though, the other nations of the region are concerned about a Chinese invasion, both goods and migrants, fearing they might take over the economy of under populated regions. And yet these countries have no alternative to Chinese capital and trade.

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

China Consider Passing Law Which Forces Youngsters to Look After Elderly Parents… Or Face Jail

China is considering a new law to force people to visit their elderly parents.

Under the terms of the draft legislation, pensioners who are ignored by their children will have the right to take them to court.

In traditional Chinese culture, it is a moral requirement for children to take care of their ageing parents, but work pressures and growing migration have frayed family ties.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana: Why Muslims Are Violent

“O believers make war on the infidels (non-Muslims) who dwell around you, let them find harshness in you” — Quran 9:123

“When the sacred months are over, kill the unbelievers wherever you find them” — Quran 9:5

“Fight them until unbelief is no more and Allah’s religion reigns supreme” — Q 2:193

“Fight against those of the book (Christians and Jews) as believe neither in Allah nor in the last day…and do not embrace the true faith” — Q 9:29

“Fighting is obligatory for you (Muslims), even if you dislike it” — Q 2:216

“Do you think you would enter Paradise before Allah knows the men who fought hard and steadfast?” — Q 3:142

“Believers take neither Jews nor Christians for friends or helpers” — Q 5:51

“Let not the believers take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers.” — Q 3:28.

“Our Prophet (Mohammed), ordered us to fight you (non-Muslims) till you worship Allah alone or pay us Jizyah (extortion) in submission…Whoever amongst us is killed as a martyr shall go to Paradise…and whoever survives shall become your master” — Sahih Bukhari 4:53:386

“Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war…” — Sahih Muslim 19:4294

These violent injunctions in Islamic scriptures (Quran and Hadith) clearly promote hostility and aggression towards non-Muslims, and largely explain Muslim proclivity to religious violence as evident from the incessant terrorist attacks — over 13,000 since 9/11 and counting.

The violent injunctions can be traced to Islam’s violent origins. Unlike the founders of other major religions who mostly relied on non-violent persuasion to win converts, Islam’s founder “prophet” Mohammed used violence to forcefully impose his intolerant creed in Arabia:

“I (Mohammed) have been commanded (by Allah) to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, and believe that I am the Messenger and in all (Islam) that I have brought. Whoever says this will save his property and life from me.” — Sahih Bukhari 9:84:5, Sahih Muslim1:31

This Hadith in which Mohammed clearly admits his motivation for violence was to forcefully enthrone Islam, is contrary to the Taqiyya (deception) propaganda Muslims would have we infidels believe — that Mohammed and early Muslims only fought in self defense. Another Hadith drives home the same point of unprovoked Muslim aggression:

“Our Prophet (Mohammed), ordered us (Muslims) to fight you (non-Muslims) till you worship Allah alone or pay us Jizyah (extortion) in submission… Whoever amongst us is killed as a martyr shall go to Paradise…and whoever survives shall become your master” — Bukhari 4:53:386…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Ivory Coast: Revealed — Gbagbo’s French Backers

Libération Paris

Libération presents “Gbagbo’s French networks”. The Parisian daily profiles the seven “families” protecting the man who has proclaimed himself Ivory Coast president despite the international community’s recognition of Alassane Ouattara’s electoral victory. His backers include some old socialists, souverainistes (champions of national sovereignty, including the reactionary Front National), “heavies” (i.e. security entrepreneurs), “communicators” (i.e. PR firms), businessmen, lobbyists and lawyers. “The very idea of Françafrique [i.e. special ties between Africa and France] was invented in the Ivory Coast by Félix Houphouët-Boigny about 60 years ago. In our day, the paradox of Laurent Gbagbo is that he maintains extremely fishy ties to a bunch of Frenchmen who are fussing over his presidential cubbyhole whilst playing to the hilt an exaggerated and highly dangerous nationalist card,” denounces Libé. “These courtiers keep Gbabgo deluded that he can stay in power — whatever it may cost his country and its people.”

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

Somali Militants Ban Handshakes Between Men and Women

People who break the rules could be imprisoned, whipped or even executed.

Al-Shabab, the Islamic extremists, have already banned women from working in public, leaving many mothers with a terrible choice: risk execution by going to sell some tea or vegetables in the marketplace, or stay safely at home and watch the children slowly starve. “It’s an awful rule. I feel like I’m under arrest. I’ve started to ignore the greetings of the women I know to avoid punishment,” said Hussein Ali, a resident of the southern Somali town of Jowhar. The edict is also being enforced in the town of Elasha. Gunmen are searching buses for improperly dressed women or women travelling alone, said student Hamdi Osman in Elasha. She said she was once beaten for wearing Somali traditional dress instead of the long, shapeless black robes favoured by the fighters. The Islamists’ insistence that women wear the long, heavy robes also forces many women to stay at home because they can’t afford the new clothing.

Al-Shabab controls most of southern and central Somalia, and the group is trying to overthrow the weak UN-backed government. Analysts believe that many Somalis don’t support the insurgency because of the harsh punishments and severe restrictions it imposes, and because it often kidnaps children to use as fighters. But after 20 years of civil war, the government is too weak, corrupt and divided to present a credible challenge to the insurgents. The Somali government is protected by 8,000 heavily armed African Union peacekeepers but has failed to deliver any security or services to the population.

The insurgents even control parts of the capital, brazenly carrying out amputations, whippings and stonings in public places. The list of forbidden things differs from town to town and commander to commander. In Jowhar, the insurgents are now also insisting that men grow their beards but shave their moustaches, said another resident, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution.

The Islamists have also banned the cinema, music, and bras because they say they are all un-Islamic.

]Such restrictions are influenced by foreign fighters practicing Wahhabi Islam, which is much stricter than Somalia’s traditional Sufi Islam that incorporates a long tradition of poetry and song…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Two French Hostages in Niger Killed in Rescue Attempt

France has confirmed that two of its citizens who were kidnapped from a restaurant in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Friday have been killed.

French Defence Minister Alain Juppe said they died during an attempted rescue operation by Niger’s national guard near the border with Mali.

President Nicolas Sarkozy condemned the killings as “cowardly and barbaric”.

No group has said it was behind the abduction, but al-Qaeda’s North African offshoot has seized Westerners before.

“With the operation launched and coordinated with French elements in the region, the terrorists were intercepted at the Mali border and several of them were neutralised,” Mr Juppe said.

“After the fighting, the two hostages were found dead.”

A Niger government source told Reuters news agency that the bodies of the two hostages had been flown back to Niamey.

Exchange of fire

Search operations were launched after witnesses said men wearing turbans entered a restaurant in Niamey and took the men away in a car.

Government spokesman Laouali Dah Dah said the kidnappers spoke Arabic, French and Hawza, but that their identity could not be confirmed as they had their faces covered.

One of the kidnapped men was reportedly an aid worker due to be married to a woman from Niger, and the other man was his friend…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Dutch Offer Bosnians Monthly Repatriation Benefits

The Netherlands has offered life benefits to Bosnians who settled in the country in the wake of the 1992-1995 war, if they decide to return home, Bosnian Ministry for Human Rights and Refugees said on Wednesday.

The ministry said it was informed by Netherlands authorities that the Dutch government would pay travelling expenses to returnees of up to 1,500 euros and life benefits to persons over 45 years of age.

The monthly benefits for individuals would be 470 euros, or 670 euros per married couple, the ministry said.

It is estimated that some 30,000 Bosnians settled in the Netherlands after the war and many have failed to integrate into Dutch society.

The Dutch government said it was a “quality solution for all foreigners who have failed to integrate into Dutch society”.

The participants in the repatriation program would be allowed a one year trial period, after which they would have the right to return to the Netherlands. After that period, they would have to renounce Dutch citizenship and lose residential rights, the government said.

In view of Bosniaâ€(tm)s crippled economy, huge unemployment and average monthly wage below 300 euros, it is generally expected that the repatriation program would yield good results.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Germany: Plea Made for Increasing Iraqi Asylum Quotas

Germany should increase the number of Iraqi refugees it offers a safe haven tenfold, according to Berlin Interior Minister Ehrhard Körting in an appeal to his federal counterpart Thomas de Maizière.

Körting wrote in a letter that only 2,500 Iraqis had been granted asylum in Germany, and that this was not enough. Most of the Iraqi refugees here were Christians who had fled the chaos and persecution in their homeland.

“If Syria and Jordan are each in the position to take a million refugees or more, then we should increase our willingness to accept religious minorities from Iraq from 2,500 to 25,000,” Körting said Der Spiegel magazine reported on Saturday.

Of the 1.2 million Christians who lived in Iraq in 2003, around 900,000 have fled the country.

Der Spiegel reported that the German Foreign Ministry’s latest report on the situation says that the mass flight from Iraq would likely continue and would be very difficult to stop.

The Iraqi state authorities were powerless to stop or prevent the acts of violence being perpetrated against Christians, the report says, according to Der Spiegel.

German Catholics have organised their own initiative to try to help Christians facing persecution, while Trier bishop Stephan Ackermann is due to travel to Jerusalem this week to investigate the situation for Christians in Israel and the Palestinian regions.

Violence against Christians has received increased attention since New Year’s Eve when 21 Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt.

Volker Kauder, head of the Christian Democrats’ parliamentary bloc, has become increasingly engaged on the subject, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

He travelled to Egypt shortly after the attack on the Coptic Christians, and said the CDU would, “again become the lawyer for persecuted Christians.”

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

Iraq Calls on Sweden to Halt Forced Deportations

Iraq wants to put a stop to the forced deportation of Iraqis from Sweden after their asylum claims are rejected, but Sweden’s migration minister sees no reason to adjust the practice.

Iraq’s ambassador in Stockholm, Hussain al-Ameri, told Sveriges Radio his country wants to see an end to the forced deportations.

“The Iraqi government is ready to accept those who return voluntarily. But there are serious questions around forced deportations,” said the ambassador.

An agreement between Sweden and Iraq signed governing the return of Iraqis came into force in 2008. Since then, around 5,000 Iraqis have returned voluntarily, while more than 800 have been send back against their will, according the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper.

However, Iraq’s Minister of Immigration & Immigrants, Dindar Najman Shaifiq al-Dosky, now wants to launch a dialogue with Sweden and other countries about the forcible return of Iraqi’s who lose their bids for asylum.

According to the agreement, Iraqis who are deemed not to need protection and don’t want to return voluntarily will be “ordered to leave Sweden”, but that the return to Iraq should occurred “step-wise, humanely, and in an organised manner”.

While Iraq has started to question Sweden’s interpretation of the agreement on returns, Sweden’s migration minister Tobias Billström sees no reason to stop the forced deportations, emphasising that Iraqis who aren’t granted asylum in Sweden should leave.

“The cooperation between Swedish and Iraqi authorities has worked very well,” Billström told SvD, adding that Iraq hasn’t requested the agreement be renegotiated.

Chartered flights carrying Iraqis back to their homeland from Sweden were stopped for several weeks earlier this winter following a request from the European Court of Human Rights, which was looking into appeals launched by would-be Iraqi refugees in Sweden who contested their deportation orders.

Flights resumed in mid-December however, with the next flight of Iraqis being forced to leave Sweden set to take off from Stockholm’s Arlanda airport on January 19th, according to SvD.

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

Italy’s 2010 ‘Flow Decree’ Sees 100,000 Admitted

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JANUARY 3 — Around 100,000 permits were granted to non-EU immigrant workers by Italy’s “flow decree” in 2010, which appeared on the Official Gazetteer on December 31. The provision, (dating from November 30, 2010), which took the form of a Prime Ministerial Decree, fixed a quota of 98,080 workers to be shared among the country’s regions and autonomous provinces under the Ministry for Labour and Social Policy. Job applications will be accepted from January 31.

As part of the quota system, 30,000 citizens who are currently not resident in Italy may be taken on in the areas of domestic work, as assistants and in care work. To this are added a further 6,000 persons contained in a decree dating back to April.

Specifically, 52,080 entries concern non-seasonal employment for citizens from countries that have already signed, or about to sign, cooperation agreements over migration policy. Among these are 8,000 Egyptians, 5,200 Moldavians, 4,500 Moroccans, 4,500 Albanians, 4,000 Tunisians and 4,000 Philippines. For these workers, applications have to be presented from 8am on January 31: for home-helps and care workers, from 8am on February 2, and for the rest, from 8am on February 3. The ‘Flow Decree’ also includes authorisation for the conversion of 3,000 study permits into non-seasonal employment permits, 3,000 for apprenticeships and or work placement training; 4,000 for seasonal work and 1,000 for long-term stays granted by other EU member states.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Worldview Potpourri: Chrislam

A pleasing mixture of aromatic or dried spices, fruits, and petals of flowers generally appeals to the senses; but “potpourri” also speaks to a mixed bag of that which is motley or miscellany. The montage of ingredients in potpourri of this nature may intend to attract, but the stew it offers reeks. No seasoning or garnish can hide the reality that some fundamentally incompatible elements, when combined, are unsuitable for ingestion.

So it is for the potpourri of worldviews merged in the sect of Chrislam which, as its name suggests, melds together religious elements of the Christian West and the Muslim East. Abraham McLaughlin of the Christian Science Monitor explains that, in the beginning, the group was called “Chris-lam-herb” for its unlikely mixture of Christianity, Islam, and “traditional medicine” based, not on scientific research, but rather on indigenous beliefs handed down from generation to generation. While its promise of unity and harmony pander to the postmodernist, Chrislam is far from savory.

“God’s Love”: Fallacy of Equivocation

Founded by Tela Tella, and practiced predominantly in Lagos, Nigeria, the will of God (feoluwa) mission, Chrislam, comes from a Yoruba word meaning “God’s love.”[1] Adding Yoruba to the Greek New Testament concept of God’s love serves as a sort of “love garnish,” but it doesn’t fool those with mature taste. It’s still hash.

In a manner of speaking, Chrislam jams Christianity and Islam into a magic hat and, with wave of a wand, pulls out “love” by its proverbial ears. Because the “love” concept in Islam differs appreciably from that of Christian love, this love-rabbit, so to speak, is a sorry mutation.


The false dichotomy fallacy offers only two viable choices and thereby eliminates a world of possibilities left undisclosed. Political correctness (in this case, “diversity”) postulates two such options—namely, tolerance or intolerance. Take your pick.

To the postmodernist, fundamentalism of any stripe smacks of intolerance; and one-way, all-the-way belief in either Christianity or Islam is gravely flawed. The answer, then, is a made-to-order belief system (Chrislam), which deigns to make sense of the complex and varied landscape of 21st- century religiosity. Because Chrislam ostensibly epitomizes tolerance, it stands proud as the obvious choice.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Nearly a Decade After 9/11, Al-Qaeda is Exercising More Power Than Ever Before

Nine years after the tragic events of 9/11, al-Qaeda has lost much of its top leadership, commands just a few hundred fighters and is strapped for cash. Paradoxically enough, it also probably exercises more power than at any point the past.

From the north-western Himalayas to the deserts that surrounds Timbuktu, al-Qaeda’s message has been taken up by a new generation of jihadist leaders I call ‘Baby bin Ladens’. In the main, the new al-Qaeda subsidiaries are led by Islamists who participated in the anti-Soviet Union jihad in Afghanistan, and went on to found jihadist movements in their own countries.

They successfully tapped local issues and political grievances to build a political base for the jihadist movement — and are now expanding their constituency in the West.

Muhammad Illyas Kashmiri, a Pakistan-based jihadist who commands several hundred fighters, is thought to be responsible for an operation to attack British airports that has sparked off a nationwide alert. The turn of the decade has seen a string of similar jihadist operations targeting the West: British resident Taimur Abdelwahab al-Abdaly’s suicide attack in Sweden; Somali-born Mohamed Usman Mahmoud conspiracy to bomb Christmas festivities in Portland. Police in Denmark stopped a plot to stage a Mumbai-style attack, and Pittsburgh college student Emmerson Begolly was charged with being a top online jihad propagandist. Each has been linked to one or the other of the ‘Baby bin Ladens.’ Keeping the west under sustained pressure is key to al-Qaeda’s new strategy. It seeks to do that without relying on a expensive — and relatively easy to target — central infrastructure, of the kind the 9/11 attacks needed.

The Baby bin-Ladens have been adroit in using the internet to recruit cadre in the West, and meeting their logistical needs. Last month, jihadist websites released an English-language book called The Explosives Course, offering illustrated, step-by-step instructions for assembling improvised explosive devices from things you could buy in Boots…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]