Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110228

Financial Crisis
»End the Obama Freeze on Energy Development
»Energy Costs Are Up Because That’s Obama’s Policy
»Ireland, Greece: Brothers in Arms?
»Ireland: Brussels Made Brian Cowen and Destroyed Fianna Fáil: Marvel at the EU’s Hideous Strength
»Majority in Poll Opposes Weakening Bargaining Rights for Public Workers
»A Psychiatric Conference on Truthful Girl
»Do Tyrants Fear America Anymore? President Obama’s Timid Foreign Policy is an Embarrassment for a Global Superpower
»How Al-Jazeera Kills Americans
»Islamic Indoctrination on U.S. Taxpayers’ Tab
»Jonah Goldberg: Should America Do Windows?
»Obama’s Jetset Fitness Trainer Helps Shed Pounds, Adds to Global Warming
»Texas Demographer: ‘It’s Basically Over for Anglos’
»TSA Now Wants to Scan and Harvest Your DNA
Europe and the EU
»Austria: More Neo-Nazi Offences Reported
»Banking Crisis Between Netherlands, Turkey Escalates
»British Airways Worker Guilty of Plotting to Blow Up Plane
»British Shift on Muslims is Ominous
»Erdogan Urges Turks Not to Assimilate
»French Foreign Secretary Michele Alliot-Marie Quits Over Friendship With Ben Ali
»Italian Men Suffer ‘Sexual Anorexia’ After Internet Porn Use
»Italy: Vatican Ordered to Pay Damages for Radio Electrosmog
»Italy: MP’s Cash-to-Back-Govt Allegation Probed
»Italy: Berlusconi Reiterates Need for Wiretap Reforms
»Italy: Sgarbi Threatens Wikipedia With Libel Case
»Italy: Gazprom Boosts Gas Shipments Following Libyan Unrest
»Libya: Italy Ready to Back Aid Convoys
»Norway: Terror Threat Now ‘More Serious’
»Now Irish Head for a Coalition Government as Old Guard Are Swept Away in Historic Election
»Otzi the Iceman: Forensic Artists Put Face to Victim of 5,300 Year Old Murder
»Shameful Bias
»Sweden: Malmö Mosque Owned by Group With Qaddafi Ties
»Tap New Deal for Italy-Greece Pipeline
»UK: Defeated MPs Who Claimed Millions After 2010 General Election to be Named and Shamed
»UK: Lutfur Rahman Council Demands Sanctions Against the ‘Pariah State of Israel’
»UK: Watford Resident Complains After Not Being Told About Islamic Procession
»Wilders: Anti-Islam Wave Unstoppable
»Serbia: Regional States With Serb Population to Hold Census
North Africa
»Algeria: Obama Praises Country for Lifting State of Emergency
»Al-Qaeda Incites Egyptians and Tunisians Against ‘Invaders’
»Caracas, Harare or Minsk for Gaddafi’s Possible Exile
»Caroline Glick: The West’s Proxy War Against the Jews
»Egypt: Referendum on Constitution March 19, Elections June
»Frattini: Moratorium on Payments to Libya on the Table
»Heavy Losses for Chinese Companies Operating in Libya
»Humanitarian Emergency in Libya as Asian Migrants Flee Violence
»Libya: Council for Refugees, Emergency Within an Emergency
»Libya: Gaddafi’s Personal Pilot Flees, Chaos in Tripoli
»Libya: UNHCR: 100 Thousand Flee Violence in One Week Alone
»Libya: Roman Archaeological Sites Unscathed by Revolt
»Libya: Al-Qaeda Behind Unrest, Gaddafi Tells Serbian TV
»Libya: Chaos Stirs Global Panic Over Oil Supplies
»Libya Protests: Gaddafi Says ‘All My People Love Me’
»Tunisia: Presidential Palace Let Out by Ben Ali to State
»U. S. Naval Forces Redeploy to React in Libyan Crisis
»What Libya Tells Us About David Cameron
Middle East
»Ankara a Model, With Hegemonic Temptations, For the New Middle East
»Diplomats: Iran May Have to Exchange Entire Nuke Plant Core
»Hamas Chief to Attend Funeral for Turkish Politician Erbakan
»Iran: USA Accuses Tehran of “Shameless” Violation of Rights
»Oman: New Oil and Gas Fields Found
»Oman: ‘Six Killed’ In Sunday’s Pro-Democracy Protests
»Painful Event in Turkish History Becomes Play on European Stage
»Turkey: Christian Man Vanishes in Hunt for Noah’s Ark
»Turkey: Ankara Faces “Nervous” Economic Times Amid Muslim-World Political Turmoil
»Azerbaijan Fears Neighbour Iran’s Radical Influence
South Asia
»Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed in Roadside Bomb Attack
»Diana West: Shariah is Our Enemy, Not Afghanistan
»Italy Suffers 37th Afghan Casualty
»Pakistan: Protesters Clash With Police Over Gas-Station Strike
Far East
»China: Jasmine Revolution: Call for Street Protests on 6 March
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Attack Kills Four in Central Nigeria: Military
»Italy: Istat: Over 2 Mln Migrant Households
»MEP Warns of Muslim Immigration to Poland
»UK: Ed Miliband Admits Eastern European Immigration Was ‘Underestimated’ By Labour
»Young Tunisians Look Beyond Switzerland
Culture Wars
»UK: Christian Couple Lose Foster Ruling Over Views on Homosexuality
»Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years

Financial Crisis

End the Obama Freeze on Energy Development


A moratorium on deep-water drilling and a shutdown on the drilling permit process has essentially frozen new energy production in a vital energy sector, which is now responsible for delivering one of every four barrels of oil that this nation consumes.

Middle East tensions and civil unrest in several Arab nations have recently pushed oil prices even higher, while countless numbers of Gulf workers and supporting businesses scattered all over the United States sit idle with no sign of returning to their jobs.

Last week, oil industry majors announced a new, state-of-the-art well containment system that is ready to be deployed in the unlikely event that it becomes necessary. This containment system provides the Gulf with a new, gold- standard capability to deal with any spill and represents a long-term commitment to the safety of the Gulf region.

Working collaboratively, and in conjunction with government officials, a team of professionals from four of the largest energy firms — Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell and Conoco-Phillips — developed a oil well containment cap that is capable of operating in water up to 8,000 feet deep and collecting up to 60,000 barrels of liquids per day.

Additional upgrades are planned for 2012, but these present capabilities meet with the latest standard set forth by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. The new containment device will be available to any company that operates in the Gulf.

America cannot sustain a long-term freeze on new drilling projects in the Gulf. The Department of the Interior acknowledged in a September report on the moratorium, “We expect employment effects to fall more heavily on smaller businesses than on the larger companies operating in the Gulf Coast … we have heard about the problems facing small businesses in the Gulf Coast that depend on the drilling industry for their survival.”

Sadly, the predictions of those job losses fell on deaf ears. Already, 30 rigs have moved out of the Gulf completely, while other companies such as shallow- water operator Seahawk Drilling have gone bankrupt.


[Return to headlines]

Energy Costs Are Up Because That’s Obama’s Policy

…energy prices are going up because President Obama thinks that’s a good thing. He was absolutely candid on this point during a discussion with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle during the 2008 presidential campaign. Not only would “utility rates necessarily skyrocket,” Obama said paying more for energy would be a good thing because “if you can’t persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs, and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit. … If we can’t make that argument persuasively enough, you — you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You’re not going to get that done.”

But not even “Landslide Lyndon” could make economic reality go away. Obama wants Americans to pay more for energy now both to make more expensive alternative energy sources acceptable and to help finance their development.But there are two fatal flaws in Obama’s strategy…


[Return to headlines]

Ireland, Greece: Brothers in Arms?

By Jens Bastian

The past week provided two very different expressions of citizens’ frustrations in Greece and Ireland, the two members of the European Union at the forefront of the year-long sovereign debt crisis in the eurozone.

While Irish voters in Dublin, Cork and Limerick went to the polls, Greek citizens in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patra vented their anger by staging a week of industrial action, culminating in Wednesday’s 24-hour nationwide general strike. While people voted with their hands in one country, citizen exercised their rights with their feet and fists in the other.

In Dublin, we will now see a new government taking office. The results of the general election on Friday could not have been any clearer. More than 70 percent of the electorate cast ballots and the outcome swept the ruling coalition from power. It was the first defeat for a eurozone government since the onset of the debt crisis. The change of power in the new Dublin parliament, the Dail, produced the biggest swing in Irish politics since 1932. It’s nothing short of a democratic revolution achieved at the ballot box.

After 14 years in power, the center-right Fianna Fail has to digest its worst defeat in history. In Dublin it only won one out of 47 available seats. The anger toward the governing coalition was widespread and unrepentant. It also affected the junior partner in government, the Green Party, which lost all of its six seats and will not return to parliament.

The electoral tsunami underlines how comprehensively both parties were blamed for the property and banking crash of the past two years, leading to the humiliating IMF-EU bailout in December 2010.

The new governing coalition parties of Fine Gael (right-of-center) and Labour have a large majority in parliament. They now face the daunting task of trying to combine a renegotiation of the terms of the EU-IMF bailout with the implementation of the harsh budgetary measures needed to confront the fiscal crisis, banking sector liabilities and a deepening economic recession.

The reaction of Greeks

In contrast, the overriding majority of citizens in Greece went about their normal business and sought to get to work, despite the disruptions caused by the numerous strikes in public services and transportation. The first general strike of the year against the government’s austerity policies was a familiar replay of the events and paralysis that the previous five general strikes created during 2010. Yet again, journalists joined the walkout, forcing Greeks to turn to foreign media in order to learn about domestic affairs.

Over the course of the past months, the number of participants in demonstrations on the streets of Athens has been constantly shrinking. Meanwhile, the level of violence displayed during these rallies by a minority mob seeking to highjack them continues to be an all too familiar scene. The cause of those citizens demonstrating is not helped in the least by thugs who project an image of defiant Greece that tacitly supports violence to an international audience.

Exasperation with cuts to their income, allowances and pensions — in particular in the public sector — characterizes many citizens’ anger in both Greece and Ireland. This legitimate perception is based on two key assumptions that the George Papandreou government in Athens and the new coalition in Dublin have to confront. In both countries there is a pervasive feeling among most citizens that they are caught in the cogs of larger economic forces and financial players.

Neither country wants to be seen simply as taking orders from the EU or IMF. It is difficult enough for the Irish to come to terms with the steep fall from surging Celtic Tiger to class bad-boy. In both countries, the precipitous fall from prosperity to ruin has not yet reached its conclusion.

Under these circumstances we should not underestimate the fact that a change-resistant culture is alive and kicking in both countries. Resistance to structural reform is particularly strong where entrenched interests are being challenged.

Opening up so-called closed professions in Greece through legislative changes, a myriad of groups including pharmacists, lorry drivers and lawyers, continues to be resisted, including by members of Parliament across political divides, among which are many lawyers, notaries and other representatives of these liberal professions.

In Ireland, the single issue that unites both members of the outgoing government and the victorious opposition parties is defending the country’s pro-business corporate tax rate. This grand coalition in Dublin will fight “tooth and nail” to safeguard the 12.5 percent rate as non-negotiable against the perceived predators from Berlin, Paris and Brussels, who are seeking an increase in a corporate rate that is half the European Union’s average.

The corporate tax rate in Greece, currently at 25 percent, is due to fall to 20 percent in incremental steps by 2014. But this is where the commonalities between the two countries end.

In the Greek case, resisting change and watering down legislative initiatives to open up closed professions is a means to keep competition out of these sectors, prevent innovation from gaining ground and to safeguard the special interests of organized minorities.

In contrast, as controversial as the 12.5 percent Irish corporate tax rate has become for other countries in the EU, over the past decade the tax option has been used to attract investment from companies such as Google, Microsoft Corp, Dell computers, the drug producer Pfizer and financial sector firms from as far away as Hong Kong. Even firms from countries whose governments are opposed to the low corporate rate have numerous subsidiaries across the island — for example, 250 German companies operate in Ireland.

Geography is one reason that prevents Ireland and Greece, at the continent’s opposite ends, to be the first port of call for overseas investment. But both countries have taken different paths to mitigate this constraint. Public expenditure, fiscal deficits and corporate tax rates increased in Greece during the past decade. In the Irish case, until 2010, the country showcased itself as the “Celtic Tiger” and EU poster child as regards budget deficits, public debt levels and low corporate tax rates.

Both countries are now seeking to confront their mountain of problems in consumer spending and challenges arising from government austerity measures by supporting an export-driven economic recovery. Reducing the current account deficit in Greece and improving the country’s export capacity is a major external anchor toward escaping from its worst recession on record. In the case of Ireland, it is less about regaining overseas sales then retaining high export volumes…

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

Ireland: Brussels Made Brian Cowen and Destroyed Fianna Fáil: Marvel at the EU’s Hideous Strength

To grasp the magnitude of the EU’s Hideous Strength, ponder the extirpation of Fianna Fáil. Until last week, de Valera’s party had been the fixed point of Ireland’s political system, the star around which other parties orbited. It had won — in the sense of getting more votes than anyone else — every election since 1932. Its share of the vote was typically between 40 and 50 per cent. Many Irish people assumed that its ascendancy was permanent. They reckoned without Brussels. Let’s remind ourselves of how Brian Cowen came to lead the party he destroyed. Eurocrats were worried that Ireland’s referendum on the Lisbon Treaty might be prejudiced by the sleaze allegations surrounding his predecessor, Bertie Ahern. So, in order to boost the “Yes” campaign, Ahern was pushed aside in favour of the most Euro-fanatical member of his government (see here). In the event, of course, Bertie’s sacrifice was in vain: Ireland voted “No” in the first referendum. Faced with so clear a verdict, Biffo didn’t hesitate: he sided with Brussels against his own people, insisting that they vote again. Can you remember his slogan in that second referendum? That’s right: “Yes to Lisbon, Yes to Jobs!” In the event, Cowen presided over the worst economic calamity ever to have befallen the Republic: a 20 per cent contraction in its GDP. Even as the crowds took to the street, the Taoiseach’s loyalty to the EU never wavered, and he agreed to mortgage the country so as to prop up the euro. Yup: Biffo is the kind of Irishman they like in Brussels. His party has been wiped out, Irish taxpayers have been saddled with the cost of rescuing the entire European banking system, the country faces a generation of penury and emigration — but the process of European construction has been secured. What happens next? I predicted the sequence a couple of months ago: a big win for Fine Gael and Labour; a coalition of those two Euro-fanatical parties; a token renegotiation of the bail-out terms which masks the maintenance, in all its essentials, of the existing policy; a collapse in support for the new government over the next 18 months; then a new election. So far, so accurate.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Majority in Poll Opposes Weakening Bargaining Rights for Public Workers

As labor battles erupt in state capitals around the nation, a majority of Americans say they oppose efforts to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and are also against cutting the pay or benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.

[Return to headlines]


A Psychiatric Conference on Truthful Girl

As most of us are by now aware, Jumanah Imad Albahri, the infamous Muslim student at the University of California at San Diego, recently endorsed a new genocide of Jews during the question-and-answer period after David Horowitz’s talk at UCSD. To watch the short clip of her hateful and truthful speech, click here.

Shortly after, Truthful Girl engaged in some curious and mind-boggling denials regarding her initial statement, which, to say the least, were not very effective in negating her yearning for another Final Solution. Robert Spencer has written a good synopsis of this saga in “Lies of a Truthful Girl.”

Today, four distinguished experts on human psychology join Frontpage Symposium to analyze Truthful Girl’s behavior. What explains her yearnings for another Holocaust and her bizarre and failed attempts to cover her tracks — after being verbally honest about her yearnings? Our guests today are:

Dr. Nancy Kobrin, a psychoanalyst with a Ph.D. in romance and semitic languages, specializing in Aljamaa and Old Spanish in Arabic script. She is an expert on the Minnesota Somali diaspora and a graduate of the Human Terrain System program at Leavenworth Kansas. Her new book is The Banality of Suicide Terrorism: The Naked Truth About the Psychology of Islamic Suicide Bombing.

Dr. Kenneth Levin, a clinical instructor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, a Princeton-trained historian, and a commentator on Israeli politics. He is the author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege.

Dr. Joanie Lachkar, a licensed Marriage and Family therapist in private practice in Brentwood and Tarzana, California, who teaches psychoanalysis and is the author of The Narcissistic/Borderline Couple: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Marital Treatment (1992, The Many Faces of Abuse: Treating the Emotional Abuse of High -Functioning Women (1998), The V-Spot, How to Talk to a Narcissist, How to Talk to a Borderline and a recent paper, “The Psychopathology of Terrorism” presented at the Rand Corporation and the International Psychohistorical Association. She is also an affiliate member for the New Center for Psychoanalysis.


Dr. Nicolai Sennels, a Danish psychologist who worked for several years with young criminal Muslims in a Copenhagen prison. He is the author of Among Criminal Muslims. A Psychologist’s Experience from the Copenhagen Municipality. The book will be out in English later this year. He can be contact at:

FP: Dr. Nancy Kobrin, Kenneth Levin, Dr. Joanie Lachkar and Nicolai Sennels, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Dr. Kobrin, let me begin with you. What do you make of Truthful Girl’s statement and then her “denials/explanations” afterwards? Kobrin: Jamie, first, David Horowitz is to be applauded for how he confronted, set boundaries and contained Jumanah Imad Albahri’s rage. He didn’t take the bait of her provocative statements, which she attempted to mask through a juvenile cutesy female demeanor. It is very difficult and exhausting to do what he does, so easy to get “sucked into” the vortex of genocidal paranoia. Paranoiacs are not going to change their mindset easily, if at all. They think, in part, like this: If there is a blank sheet of white paper on the table and you were to point to it and say — the paper is white, these kinds of people will say — no it is black. They have to be oppositional because that is how they support their fragile personalities. The hatred is their bond to the other. They do not know how to live without hatred. It’s not fun being the object of such hatred when they seek to kill you. Strikingly, Albahri tried to play the victim card by invoking the sacred image of Christ on the Cross. Jesus dies alone. Joan of Arc dies alone. But in the perverse “Third Reich-ish” world of Islamic suicide terrorism, they don’t die alone — they have to take you out in the killing. That shows their weakness. They are delusional; yet within their world they really do believe that they are martyrs. She admitted that she couldn’t contain her rage. This shows who has the problem. Second, Robert Spencer also gets kudos for parsing the layers of denial in its verbiage. Denial is the psychological shield Albahri throws up to protect her shame-filled self from being found out as to the fraud she really is. Why? Because she comes from Arab tribal culture and Islam, which completely devalues the female. She lacks a stable healthy sense of self. Her need to hate the Jew is really her own “anti-Semite” self-hatred projected onto the Jew. She attacks because she is envious of the Jew and the fact that Islam is deeply indebted to Judaism but could never really acknowledge that debt. Having been brainwashed from a young age by being fed a steady diet of garbage about Jews, she moves to annihilate them — and me. Albahri embodies the quintessential Arabic saying — “S(H)e hits me and cries and races me to complain.” David Horowitz picked up on the nonverbal dress — the neckerchief of Islamic terrorism. As I was re-reading and watching the video clip I thought of the “The Albahri Syndrome.” While she does not wear a suicide bomb vest yet, she throws herself at Horowitz trying to take him out but fails. As a willing executioner, she is just as much a predator as the Hamas terrorist mastermind, its charismatic leaders, engineer bomb makers, handlers and suicide bombers…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Do Tyrants Fear America Anymore? President Obama’s Timid Foreign Policy is an Embarrassment for a Global Superpower

The débacle of Washington’s handling of the Libya issue is symbolic of a wider problem at the heart of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. The fact that it took ten days and at least a thousand dead on the streets of Libya’s cities before President Obama finally mustered the courage to call for Muammar “mad dog” Gaddafi to step down is highly embarrassing for the world’s only superpower, and emblematic of a deer-in-the-headlights approach to world leadership. Washington seems incapable of decisive decision-making on foreign policy at the moment, a far cry from the days when it swept entire regimes from power, and defeated America’s enemies with deep-seated conviction and an unshakeable drive for victory.

Just a few years ago the United States was genuinely feared on the world stage, and dictatorial regimes, strategic adversaries and state sponsors of terror trod carefully in the face of the world’s most powerful nation. Now Washington appears weak, rudderless and frequently confused in its approach. From Tehran to Tripoli, the Obama administration has been pathetically slow to lead, and afraid to condemn acts of state-sponsored repression and violence. When protesters took to the streets to demonstrate against the Islamist dictatorship in Iran in 2009, the brutal repression that greeted them was hardly a blip on Barack Obama’s teleprompter screen, barely meriting a response from a largely silent presidency.

In contrast to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, President Obama fails to see the United States as an exceptional nation, with a unique role in leading the free world and standing up to tyranny. In his speeches abroad he has frequently found fault with his own country, rather than projecting confidence in American greatness. From Cairo to Strasbourg he has adopted an apologetic tone rather than demonstrating faith in America as a shining city upon a hill, a beacon of freedom and liberty. A leader who lacks pride in his own nation’s historic role as a great liberator simply cannot project strength abroad. It has also become abundantly clear that the Obama team attaches little importance to human rights issues, and in contrast to the previous administration has not pursued a freedom agenda in the Middle East and elsewhere. It places far greater value upon engagement with hostile regimes, even if they are carrying out gross human rights abuses, in the mistaken belief that appeasement enhances security. This has been the case with Iran, Russia and North Korea for example. This administration has also been all too willing to sacrifice US leadership in deference to supranational institutions such as the United Nations, whose track record in standing up to dictatorships has been virtually non-existent. The White House’s painful navel-gazing on Libya last week, with even the French adopting a far tougher stance, is cause for grave concern. The Obama administration’s timid approach to foreign policy is the last thing the world needs at a time of mounting turmoil in the Middle East, including the growing threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and Islamist militancy on the rise from Egypt to Yemen. US leadership is now needed more than ever, but has embarrassingly gone AWOL on the world stage.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

How Al-Jazeera Kills Americans

The U.S. media propaganda campaign in favor of Al-Jazeera getting on more American television networks, stations and cable systems has reached Time magazine and The Washington Post. But the shocking truth about this Arab government-funded “news” network may still get out through congressional hearings arranged by Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

Time has a story, “Why the U.S. Needs Al Jazeera,” by Ishaan Tharoor, who claims, that “…millions across the world, including many first-time viewers in the U.S., have marveled in recent weeks at Al Jazeera English’s impressive coverage from the front lines of the protests currently shaking the Middle East.”

A different opinion is provided by Florida broadcaster Jerry Kenney, who compares Al-Jazeera to an arsonist who, after setting a fire, records the inferno and then brags about the film footage. Hundreds have died in the violence in the Middle East egged on by Al-Jazeera. AIM’s “Terror Television” DVD showed captured terrorists saying they came to Iraq to kill Americans because of the words and images on Al-Jazeera.

Could the same thing happen here if Al-Jazeera English reaches more American Muslims, who don’t speak Arabic, with inflammatory words and images making America out to be the enemy and villain in the Middle East?

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) released a statement on Thursday in response to the arrest of a Saudi national suspected of plotting terrorist attacks in the U.S. The top Republican on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee said, “This plot is yet another example of radicalized extremists working to do us harm from within our borders. I am alarmed at the growth of homegrown terrorist plots.”

She added, “Between May 2009 and November 2010, there were arrests made in 22 ‘homegrown’ plots by American citizens or legal permanent residents. By comparison, in the more than seven years from September 11, 2001, through May 2009, there were 21 such plots.”

What is needed is a congressional inquiry into whether Al-Jazeera, through its exposure to some Americans through the Internet and YouTube and some cable systems, is playing a role in this carnage.

Al Anstey, managing director of Al-Jazeera English, has recently been meeting with cable providers such as Comcast to demand more media access. His campaign will succeed unless Americans contact Comcast executiveswith their concerns. The telephone for the corporate office is 215- 665-1700.

However, the channel’s brazen cover-up of the sexual assault of CBS News reporter Lara Logan has had the effect of waking up even some liberals about the channel’s real agenda. This has been a significant turning point. For example, liberal columnist and editorial writer Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post has denounced the channel in harsh termsfor ignoring the Logan assault.

Ignoring this kind of criticism from one of its own columnists and editorial writers, the Post’s Sunday “Outlook” Section carried an article by Wadah Khanfar, director general of Al-Jazeera, entitled, “At Al-Jazeera, we saw the Arab revolutions coming. Why didn’t the West?”

As far as revolutions are concerned, it is noteworthy that Al-Jazeera has failed miserably to rally supporters of democracy in the country which pays its bills—Qatar. Indeed, it has spared the authoritarian regime there any serious scrutiny…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Islamic Indoctrination on U.S. Taxpayers’ Tab

Founder of charter school chain called ‘most dangerous Islamist in the world’

A large network of jihad-preaching schools dots the American landscape, and it’s being paid for by taxpayer dollars.

The network of more than 100 facilities in 27 states is the result of the work of Turkish expatriate billionaire Fethullah Gulen, who lives in a heavily guarded compound near Saylorsburg, Pa.

Terrorism analyst, author and Family Security Matters contributing Editor Paul Williams explains that Gulen left Turkey under a cloud, and came to the United States carrying an agenda.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Jonah Goldberg: Should America Do Windows?


…the irony of all this “new Afghanistan” talk is that Somalia was, in a sense, the old Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, you may recall, claimed the credit for the “Black Hawk Down” incident in 1993. And although he probably exaggerated his role, it’s certainly true that the al-Qaida franchise in Mogadishu flourished and that many of the Somalis fighting American troops there were trained in al-Qaida camps in Somalia.

The really tough question is, “Therefore what?” Liberals tend to emphasize the need to enlarge the United Nations’ peacekeeping and nation-building mission. The problem is that the U.N., to use a technical term, stinks. It’s prone to moral and financial corruption, bureaucratic idiocy of metaphysical proportions, and internal sabotage by dictatorial regimes hostile to democracy in general and America in particular.

Meanwhile, America simply isn’t up to the task alone. Even if we had the political will, our military cannot lose sight of its primary, if not singular, mission to fight and win wars. The remedy to this problem is undoubtedly a both/and — not either/or — proposition. The U.N. isn’t going anywhere and, bizarrely, it has moral legitimacy around the globe. So fixing it and using it is a necessity. But so is working around it. As I’ve written before, it’s time for a new international institution, a League of Democracies, perhaps with NATO as its military wing and a souped-up version of the Peace Corps as its political wing, to shrug off charges of imperialism and to start doing windows.

[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Jetset Fitness Trainer Helps Shed Pounds, Adds to Global Warming

With a schedule as hectic as President Obama’s it must be hard to stick to a training regimen without help — but why does he insist on having his old trainer fly out from Chicago to D.C. regularly when Obama and his wife exhort the rest of us to drive less? And in a recession? According to Ashley Parker at the New York Times, Obama’s fitness czar Cornell McClellan comes out to D.C. every week:

Mr. McClellan grew up practicing martial arts, eventually earning a black belt, and as a college student realized that he had a knack for working with people. He owns Naturally Fit, a personal training and wellness center in Chicago, and now spends part of his week in Washington at Mr. Obama’s request. “It was an easy sell for me, because I thought of it as kind of a duty, to serve the president,” said Mr. McClellan, who works out with the first couple, often in the early morning, at the gym in the White House residence. Mr. and Mrs. Obama both try to exercise for at least an hour every day, and Mr. McClellan says he usually sees them two to four times a week, depending on their schedules.


Even if Obama were to put his money where his mouth is and purchase offsets for McClellan’s Chicago-to-D.C. commute, the message is pretty clear: If you’re an average federal employee or your everyday taxpayer, stop driving and be careful of your carbon footprint. If you’re in the White House and you want some toned arms and a firm buttocks, fly your trainer out from Chicago every week.

[Return to headlines]

Texas Demographer: ‘It’s Basically Over for Anglos’

Looking at population projections for Texas, demographer Steve Murdock concludes: “It’s basically over for Anglos.”

Two of every three Texas children are now non-Anglo and the trend line will become even more pronounced in the future, said Murdock, former U.S. Census Bureau director and now director of the Hobby Center for the Study of Texas at Rice University.

Today’s Texas population can be divided into two groups, he said. One is an old and aging Anglo and the other is young and minority. Between 2000 and 2040, the state’s public school enrollment will see a 15 percent decline in Anglo children while Hispanic children will make up a 213 percent increase, he said.


Unless the trend line changes, 30 percent of the state’s labor force will not have even a high school diploma by 2040, he said. And the average household income will be about $6,500 lower than it was in 2000. That figure is not inflation adjusted so it will be worse than what it sounds.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

TSA Now Wants to Scan and Harvest Your DNA

Now that the TSA is experimenting with portable DNA scanners, their real agenda becomes apparent: They will use airport security checkpoints to harvest DNA from the public in order to build up their government “bio bank” database of stolen DNA.

Of course, they will assure the public that they aren’t storing the DNA information …and the naked body scanners don’t store images, either. Oh yeah, and the TSA’s security procedures make air travel safer, too, if you can believe that.

Our source for this story is a report called “Genetic Patdown” published at That story reveals that a company called NetBio manufactures the portable DNA scanning devices.

That same story also reveals that the TSA rolled out these DNA screening devices without even checking with the privacy committee of the DHS. Jim Harper, who serves on that committee, is even quoted in the story saying, “We’re plunging into the unknown here.”

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Austria: More Neo-Nazi Offences Reported

The frequency of National Socialist activities is on the rise, new figures show.

The justice ministry said yesterday (Thurs) that 741 people were reported for spreading neo-Nazi propaganda or engaging in crimes with a far-right political background last year, up by 39.5 per cent to 2009 when 513 such cases were dealt with by the police and state prosecutors.

Forty-five people were sentenced for such crimes last year, down one from 46 in the previous year, according to the ministry which released the figures upon request by Social Democratic (SPÖ) MP Johann Maier. Long-term figures however show that the number of people found guilty of such acts has been on the rise over the past years. Just 11 people were sentenced for National Socialist activities in 1998.

Meanwhile, a taxi driver in Vienna has been accused of throwing out an opera singer because of the colour of her skin.

US star Angel Blue said yesterday she was ordered to get out of the vehicle moments after she entered it. “The driver said: ‘I don’t drive black women — get out!’“ the 27-year-old claimed.

Blue said the driver was a grey-haired Austrian aged between 50 and 60. She appealed on police to find the man, while the Association of Taxi Drivers in Vienna argued this was “impossible” considering the 4,500 cabs in the city.

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

Banking Crisis Between Netherlands, Turkey Escalates

A banking crisis between Turkey and the Netherlands is escalating as the banking regulator in the Dutch country continues to uphold strict measures implemented against Turkish banks, Star newspaper reported Monday.

The regulator in the Netherlands has made it harder for Turkish banks active in the country to lend abroad, Zaman newspaper reported earlier on Feb. 2.

“They want to halt money inflows into Turkey,” Zaman quoted a Turkish banker speaking on condition of anonymity as saying.

The Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, or BRSA, has issued a warning to the Netherlands, hinting that “the same measures” may be applied to Dutch banks active in Turkey, Star claimed Monday.

“Despite warnings from Turkey, the Netherlands did not take a step back,” it said.

The measures include allowing only 5 percent of deposits to be extended as loans and keeping most of the deposits at the Netherlands Central Bank without receiving any interest, according to Star.

Giving an example, the newspaper said Turkish banks were told, “They could extend only 5 liras out of 100 liras of assets in such loans abroad.”

Turkish banks active in the Netherlands include Akbank N.V., Anadolubank Nederland B.V., Fortis Holding Malta B.V., The Economy Bank N.V., or TEB, Garanti Bank International N.V., Demir-Halk Bank (Nederland) N.V. and Yapi Kredi Bank Nederland N.V.

The Turkish banker speaking to Zaman also said Russian banks are having similar troubles in the country.

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

British Airways Worker Guilty of Plotting to Blow Up Plane

Rajib Karim, 31, used his position at the airline to plot an attack with Anwar al-Awlaki, a notorious radical preacher associated with al-Qaeda. A jury at Woolwich Crown Court in south east London found him guilty of four counts of engaging in preparation for terrorist attacks. Karim plotted to blow up an aircraft, shared information of use to al-Awlaki, offered to help financial or disruptive attacks on BA and gained a UK job to exploit terrorist purposes, the jurors ruled. Karim was “committed to an extreme jihadist and religious cause” and was “determined to seek martyrdom”, jurors were told. The Bangladeshi national, who moved with his wife and son to Newcastle in 2006, had already admitted being involved in the production of a terrorist group’s video, fundraising and volunteering for terror abroad. Karim, a privately-educated IT expert from a middle-class family in Dhaka, was lured into becoming an avid supporter of the extremist organisation Jammat-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) by his younger brother, Tehzeeb.

But their plan to live in an Islamic state was put on hold when Karim moved to England in December 2006, fearing his son was dying of bowel cancer.

Karim, described as “mild-mannered, well-educated and respectful”, hid his hatred for Western ways from colleagues by joining a gym, playing football and never airing extreme views.

But at the same time he was using his access to the airline’s offices in Newcastle and at Heathrow to spread confidential information. After gaining a post-graduate job at BA in 2007, Karim held “John le Carre”-style secret meetings with fellow Islamic extremists at Heathrow and, in 2009, began communicating with al-Awlaki from his home in Brunton Lane.

He also shared details of his BA contacts and communicated in code with JMB supporters in Bangladesh.

Jonathan Laidlaw QC, prosecuting, told the jury Karim was “anxious” to carry out an attack and he was determined to seek martyrdom — to die and to sacrifice himself for his cause.

“Through a terrorist’s eyes” it was “just about as good a job as could be obtained”, Mr Laidlaw added.

Karim became highly skilled in conducting secret communications and contacted his brother using elaborate encryptions on computer spreadsheets.

The sleeper cell terrorist “dedicated himself” to extremism, police said.

He worked hard distributing jihadist texts, audio recordings and videos across the internet for the media arm of the terrorist group. One project included producing a series of propaganda videos aimed at gathering support, inspiring supporters and furthering the group’s other aims.

But as Karim grew frustrated with JMB and the lack of terrorist opportunities, his brother and two others travelled from Bangladesh to Yemen in 2009 where they made contact with al-Awlaki. The terrorist group had just been linked to the cargo terror bomb plot and there were reports that al-Awlaki had been killed in an air strike…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

British Shift on Muslims is Ominous

LONDON — When Maajid Nawaz is asked what message Britain’s Muslims are finding in Prime Minister David Cameron’s proclamation of the failure of state multiculturalism here, the answer isn’t upbeat.

Mr. Nawaz is a British political scientist of Pakistani origin and former Islamist who founded the anti-extremist think tank Quilliam. His response comes with the authority of a man who changed his views on Islam as a political/religious imperative during four years in an Egyptian prison and who was a consultant in the preparation of Mr. Cameron’s statement. Mr. Nawaz says:

“The Islamists are telling everyone what Cameron means is ‘change your religion.’ This is what Muslims are getting from the gatekeepers of their communities.”

That’s a view suggesting Britain’s Islamists will press for ignoring the government if it really does try to dismantle the multicultural status quo that Mr. Cameron says “encouraged different cultures to live separate lives” and “tolerated these segregated communities behaving in ways that run completely counter to our values.”

The prime minister’s speech Feb. 5 brought him into line with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcements of multiculturalism’s demise — meaning, seemingly, that the accommodation of Muslim immigrants’ particularities must end, replaced by their acceptance of the primacy of the laws, standards and cultural (but not religious) identity of the host country’s majority.

Indeed, Mr. Cameron, with an eye on his electorate in the manner of his French and German counterparts, said that when “unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious, frankly, even fearful, to stand up to them.”

But the British situation, in its European context, has been different over the years and remains more volatile. Sometimes self-willed, the segregation of its immigrant communities appears unique; the level of Islamic extremism is widely regarded as higher; and the advocacy of Muslim exceptionalism (such as the use of Shariah) is more mainstream, advocated by organizations like the Muslim Council of Britain.

Accounts of the heat and abrasions of a daily clash of cultures can be jarring.

A newspaper story tells of an urban primary school teacher who sprayed Bangladeshi children with air freshener because she said they smelled of curry. Another reports the rage of a judge, Lord Carlile, retiring from 10 years as the government’s overseer of counterterrorism strategy, who found university chancellors “weak” and reluctant to deal to deal with Islamic extremists on campus. According to an Ipsos MORI poll, 70 percent of young people in their late teens and early 20s, usually thought to be the most flexible segment of the population, consider immigration to be a problem.

In a view from the European Continent, the Dutch sociologist Paul Scheffer, author of a new book, “Immigrant Nations,” describes Britain as the country, alongside Canada, where multiculturalism is most entrenched but where “radicalization is the most intense.”

And with ironic gloom, Olivier Roy, the French expert on the Middle East, in finding the opening of a “post-Islamist generation” in the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, writes that Islamism’s most radical international jihadists are now elsewhere: in the North African desert with Al Qaeda, in Pakistan, “or in the suburbs of London.”

To talk about how British multiculturism might be modified, I went to the town of Rotherham in Yorkshire, where people of Pakistani backgrounds can make up as much as 10 percent of the parliamentary election districts.

Mahroof Husain, the borough councilor in charge of “community cohesion,” did not dodge the problem. As an attempt to deal with the alienation of the local white working-class residents, and their sense of being disadvantaged in relation to social services given immigrants, he told me of guiding funds their way that were originally meant to prevent Muslim radicalization.

At the same time, he acknowledged that “most of the Muslim community is apprehensive about confronting radicals. There’s an unresolved identity issue.”

For an explanation of this, I talked to Dr. Mohammed Hamid Husain, immigrant, physician, Rotherham notable and an officer of the Order of the British Empire. More True Brit, it would seem, you cannot get. Still, he said:

“I want to differentiate between integration and assimilation. I am all for integration. Assimilation means giving up everything.”

Denis MacShane, the Labour member of Parliament who represents many of Rotherham’s Muslims, said issues of confused identity among some of his constituents meant a mind-set that he called “semigration.”

In any event, Mr. Cameron’s stated solution for immigrants’ supposed missing allegiance and compatibility is “much more active, muscular liberalism” (definition left to the reader), which, in practical terms, looks mostly limited to what he defined as “shrewder” management of public money given to organizations “doing little to combat extremism.”

Like Mr. Sarkozy and Mrs. Merkel in their assertions of the death of multiculturalism — not disputed here — the prime minister has offered nothing of sufficient size and impact to fill its notional space and deal with the scale of the problem of Muslim immigration.

A groundbreaking, daring trade of an affirmative action program packed with jobs in exchange for a zero-tolerance regime combating all manifestations of parallel societies?

Not now, not here, no way.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Erdogan Urges Turks Not to Assimilate

‘You Are Part of Germany, But Also Part of Our Great Turkey’

Thousands of Turkish immigrants gave Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan a rock star welcome in Germany on Sunday in a show of national pride that remains fervent, even after decades spent in Germany. He told them they remain part of Turkey, and urged them to integrate into German society — but not to assimilate.

The lyric keeps echoing around the hall in Düsseldorf. “The land belongs to us all.” The sentence isn’t referring to Germany, but to Turkey.

Immigrants are waving hundreds of Turkish flags and the chanting and the music are deafening. One woman shouts “Turkey is great!” into a microphone to cheers from the crowd. Everyone in the ISS Dome, a huge sports and concert venue, is fired up, as if they’re waiting for a rock star. There’s only one show in town this Sunday, and his name is Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Turkish prime minister has come to Germany. He wants to meet Chancellor Angela Merkel but first he wants to speak to his “compatriots.” To people who have been living in Germany for decades, who were born here, and of whom many have German passports.

They have come from all over Germany to see him live, some 10,000 people. They say things like: “The Germans will never accept us, but we have Erdogan.” Or: “At last someone feels responsible for us, for the first time a Turkish prime minister isn’t forgetting his compatriots abroad.” One woman says: “Erdogan may get Merkel to see us as part of this society. He is our savior.”

Some 3 million people of Turkish origin live in Germany, most of them descendants of Turks invited by the government in the 1950s and 1960s as “ guest workers” to make up for a shortage of manpower after World War II.

Muslim immigrants have been the focus of a heated public debate in Germany over the last year, with conservative commentators and politicians accusing them of failing to integrate into German society. Many immigrants in turn complain that they are still being called “foreigners” even if they were born in Germany, have German citizenship and speak the language perfectly.

‘I Am Here to Show That You’re Not Alone!’

The savior arrives almost an hour and a half late. “Turkey is proud of you,” the crowd chants in this city in the heart of the Rhineland. “We are proud of you,” Erdogan replies.

He starts out by appealing straight to people’s hearts: “I am here to feel your yearning with you, I am here to enquire about your welfare. I am here to show that you’re not alone!”

Erdogan wants to give his audience a clear identity. “They call you guest workers, foreigners, or German Turks. It doesn’t matter what they all call you: You are my fellow citizens, you are my people, you are my friends, you are my brothers and sisters!”

“You are part of Germany, but you are also part our great Turkey,” says Erdogan.

It sounds like a domestic campaign speech ahead of elections in Turkey this summer. Erdogan is wooing for votes among Germany’s Turkish population. In previous elections, immigrants with Turkish passports flew to Ankara, Istanbul or Antalya just to cast their ballots at the airport.

That is why Erdogan keeps highlighting the successes of his government in his speech, and paints a picture of Turkey as a modern, major power. “We’re not a country that draws on help, we provide help too,” he says. And: “Now my compatriots are no longer traveling in buses, they go by plane.” There are martial-sounding tones too: “Now Turkey will at last start building its own war planes.”

‘No One Has the Right to Deprive us of Our Culture’

Erdogan portrays himself as a supporter of democracy and freedom of opinion. Turkey is changing, he says, adding that all artists and writers who left Turkey and went into exile should return. The message is that the European Union should let Turkey join.

In a newspaper interview published ahead of his speech, Erdogan urged Merkel to drop her opposition to Turkey’s accession to the EU. “Never have such political obstacles been put in the path of an accession country,” he said.

Human rights, innovation, progress — the rural way of life that many Turks now living in Germany left behind them in the 1960s, no longer exists, Erdogan told the crowd. “We mustn’t cling to it anymore. I want you to learn German, that your children learn German, they must study, do their masters degrees. I want you to become doctors, professors and politicians in Germany,” says Erdogan.

And then he repeats the sentence that caused such a stir at a speech he held in Cologne three years ago. He warns Turks against assimilating themselves. “Yes, integrate yourselves into German society but don’t assimilate yourselves. No one has the right to deprive us of our culture and our identity.”

Erdogan knows that this statement amounts to a provocation in Germany — no politician here is demanding that Turkish immigrants should deny their roots or give up their culture. Erdogan adds: “German newspapers will pick up on this tomorrow, but that’s a mistake.”

His message to devout Muslims is similar. “Islamophobia should be seen in the same way as anti-Semitism,” he says.

And he has brought along a gift for his compatriots — a kind of light-weight dual citizenship. The so-called “Blue Card,” which gives Turks with German citizenship certain rights in Turkey, is to be upgraded. Holders of the card will, in the future, have the same rights as Turkish citizens in dealings with authorities and banks.

For minutes, confetti in the red and white Turkish national colors rains onto the stage. Erdogan’s speech is over.

It was a call for more integration but with strict conditions attached. Adapt yourselves a bit, don’t allow yourselves to be treated badly and if there’s a problem, I’ll come and help! It was a speech that did nothing to reinforce any feeling of belonging to Germany — Erdogan steadfastly appealed to the Turkish national pride of people who have been at home in Germany for four generations.

One woman stood outside the hall with tears streaming down her face. “I don’t need to go on a summer vacation this year. In my heart, I’ve just spent hours in Anatolia.”

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

French Foreign Secretary Michele Alliot-Marie Quits Over Friendship With Ben Ali

France’s Foreign Secretary Michele Alliot-Marie resigned today because of her close friendship with deposed Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The shamed 64-year-old delivered a handwritten note to President Nicolas Sarkozy blaming her political enemies and the media for her problems.

But opponents said she was typical of French politicians who have thought nothing of accepting hospitality and other perks from despotic Arab heads of state.

Ms Alliot-Marie’s note read: ‘For several weeks, I have been the target of political and media attacks that used counter-truths and generalisations to create suspicion.

‘I cannot accept that some people would use this scam to try and make people believe that France’s international policy is weakening.

‘Though I do not feel I failed in my duties, I have too much respect for the idea of French politics to allow myself to be used as the pretext for such an operation.’

Ms Alliot-Marie, the only woman ever to reach the post of Foreign Secretary in France, regularly accepted hospitality in Tunisia before pro-democracy campaigners ousted Ben Ali in January.

After using a private jet owned by one of Ben Ali’s business associates over Christmas she admitted owning a stake in one of his companies.

Within days of the so-called Jasmine Revolution starting in Tunisia, Ms Alliot-Marie suggested sending French riot police to help crush it. She also wanted to send teargas to the country to help disperse protesters.

‘Michele Alliot-Marie has fallen and dragged everyone with her. This must be stopped,’ a senior minister told France’s national news agency AFP.

The well-placed source said Mrs Alliot-Marie was ultimately being sacked because she was causing Mr Sarkozy’s popularity ratings to plummet…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Italian Men Suffer ‘Sexual Anorexia’ After Internet Porn Use

But condition is reversible, experts say

(ANSA) — Rome, February 24 — More and more young Italian men are suffering from ‘sexual anorexia’ and are unable to get erections because of Internet porn use that started in their mid-teens, experts said Thursday.

A survey of 28,000 users found that many Italian males started an “excessive consumption” of porn sites as early as 14 and after daily use in their early to mid-20s became inured to “even the most violent” images, said Carlo Foresta, head of the Italian Society of Andrology and Sexual Medicine (SIAMS).

After developing their sexuality largely divorced from real-life relationships, Foresta said, the effects were gradual but devastating.

“It starts with lower reactions to porn sites, then there is a general drop in libido and in the end it becomes impossible to get an erection”.

However, the condition is not irreversible.

“With proper assistance recovery is possible within a few months,” Foresta said.

Other data presented at SIAMS’s annual conference showed that 7.8 million of Italy’s 27 million Web users, or 28.9%, frequented porn sites.

This placed Italy in fourth spot in Europe behind Germany with 34.5%, France with 33.6% and Spain with 32.4%.

Of the most frequent users, 73% were men.

Some people, 3.9%, start before they turn 13, rising to 5.9% in the 14-18 age bracket, 22.1% in the 25-34 bracket and 25.4% between the ages of 35 and 44.

This falls off to 20.1% between 45 and 54 and declines to 12% among the over-55s.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Vatican Ordered to Pay Damages for Radio Electrosmog

Station “saddened” by supreme court’s decision

(ANSA) — Rome, February 25 — Vatican Radio expressed “sadness” Friday after Italy’s supreme court upheld an order for it to pay damages to a small town near Rome because of electromagnetic pollution created by its transmitters.

The case exploded in 2001 when it emerged that ‘electrosmog’ produced by transmitters near Cesano exceeded levels allowed by Italian law.

The station swiftly cut the strength of its signals, but the case went to court amid news reports that referred to a regional health authority study which found children in the Cesano area were six times more likely to develop leukemia than their peers elsewhere.

The Codacons consumer association, which backed Cesano inhabitants’ claims, hailed the Cassation Court’s decision to reject Vatican Radio’s appeal against the compensation order.

“It’s a great victory. Finally justice is done and the poeple of Cesano will be able to have the compensation they are rightfully due,” said Codacons President Carlo Rienzi.

“We’re satisfied. Now we’ll see what happens with the other more serious question of the increase in mortality for leukemia among Cesano inhabitants”. Vatican Radio denied its transmitters had caused health problems for local people and said it had always respected international treaties on emission limits.

It also pointed out that the supreme court ruled against it even though prosecutors had agreed with the station’s arguments and asked for the charges to be dropped.

“This sentence comes at the end of a long, stormy trial process which has seen the pontifical broadcaster subject to unjust accusations,” a Vatican Radio statement said.

“Since an agreement with the Italian government in 2001, the limits set by Italian law have been attentively respected, as shown by repeated measurements carried out by the competent Italian public institutions.

“There is no justified reason for concern for any part of the population”. Rome’s Court of Appeal will decide how much Vatican Radio will have to pay in damages.

The supreme court also upheld a previous ruling that overturned a 10-day suspended sentence handed to Cardinal Roberto Tucci, the former head of Vatican Radio’s management board, by a lower court.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: MP’s Cash-to-Back-Govt Allegation Probed

Centre-left Bucchino says offered 150,000 euro to switch sides

(ANSA) — Rome, February 25 — Prosecutors in Rome opened a probe on Friday into opposition MP Gino Bucchino’s allegations that he was offered 150,000 euros to switch sides and back Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right government.

Berlusconi, under intense pressure after being indicted last week for allegedly using an underage prostitute, has been trying to win over opposition lawmakers since last year’s split with House Speaker Gianfranco Fini left him with a slender majority in parliament. “The real risk is that of giving a degraded picture of parliament to the Italian people, with everything depending on one or two people switching from one side to another,” said Bucchino, a member of the centre-left Democratic Party, the biggest opposition group.

“I’m ready to speak to the magistrates if they deem this useful”.

Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party has denied the allegation and threatened to sue for defamation. The government has been faced with allegations of MP buying since it sneaked through a confidence vote in December.

Antonio di Pietro, a former graft-busting magistrate who leads the opposition Italy of Values (IdV) party, took his accusations to prosecutors after some of his party’s MPs changed sides before the confidence vote, a move which also prompted the opening of a probe.

Fini, who has seen several members of his breakaway Future and Freedom for Italy party return to the government ranks recently, has also publicly alleged the government is taking part in what has been dubbed a ‘transfer market’.

Bucchino told a press conference on Thursday evening that he had been made the cash offer by a man who claimed to be speaking on behalf of PdL heavyweight Denis Verdini.

Verdini said Friday that he had never heard of Bucchino and “I don’t know what this is about”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Reiterates Need for Wiretap Reforms

(AGI) Rome — In a message send to Magdi Cristiano Allam at the “Io amo L’Italia” conference in Milan, Berlusconi reiterated the need for a new law on wiretaps, putting an end once and for all to privacy violations, also for those who are not under investigation. The premier described such violations as “barbaric customs that must end.” Berlusconi said he trusts that “the majority will allow the government to complete the reform programme approved by Italians, starting with fiscal federalism and the constitutional reform of the justice system.” .

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

Italy: Sgarbi Threatens Wikipedia With Libel Case

(AGI) Rome — Vittoria Sgarbi is suing Wikipedia and asking that offensive and libelous information about him, “that does not respect fair reporting rules,” be removed. Sgarbi himself has clarified that, “The website reports that, within the framework of the murder of Father Puglisi, I should be held accountable for slander against the prosecutor Caselli. The case, according to the website, was not heard due to a statute of limitations.” Sgarbi, an art critic and controversial political analyst, added that, “as far as I am concerned, Wikipedia is not telling the truth.” .

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

Italy: Gazprom Boosts Gas Shipments Following Libyan Unrest

(AKI) — Russian energy giant Gazprom is increasing its supply of natural gas sent by pipeline to Italy following the unrest in north Africa which has caused Libyan gas shipments to be halted, according to Platts.

Gazprom is boosting shipments to Italy by about 30 percent, according to the report, which cited a source close to the Russian company. The source said it was not certain for how long the increased shipments would last.

Italian oil company Eni on 22 Feb. suspended shipments of Libyan gas which are transported in the Greenstream pipeline. Italy receives about 10 percent of its gas from the Libya, where forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi have used violence to put down a rebellion which has seized much of the eastern part of the country.

Italy receives 30 percent of its gas from Russia, Platts said, citing the European Commission. Thirty-three percent of the country’s gas imports come from Algeria and 9 percent from Norway.

Oil and gas prices have risen as protesters amid market concerns over disruptions to world energy supplies amid unrest in the Arab world as protesters demand political reform, jobs and lower food prices.

Bloomberg reported that oil traded at a 29 month high in New York on Monday as violent demonstrations spread from Libya to Oman, where at least six people were killed by security forces over the weekend.

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

Libya: Italy Ready to Back Aid Convoys

‘Next government certainly won’t be Gaddafi’s’ says Frattini

(ANSA) — Geneva, February 28 — Italy is ready to play its part in aid convoys to Libya under the aegis of the United Nations, Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said after meeting counterparts from the United States, France, Germany and Britain here Monday. “Italy is ready to support humanitarian missions to help people in difficulty by supplying food and medical aid,” Frattini said after the meeting where the diplomatic chiefs discussed how to apply UN and European Union sanctions against the regime of embattled Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

“We want to help and support the Libyan people who have suffered so much because of the regime’s violence,” Frattini said, announcing that Italy may send planes with the Red Cross to the liberated cities of Benghazi and Misurata. Frattini stressed after his talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the other foreign chiefs that the humanitarian mission “must not be just a Western initiative”.

“A crucial role must be played by the Arab countries and the African Union,” he said.

Only Italy has contacts with the new anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Council, set up in Benghazi Sunday, he added, stressing to reporters: “you will allow me not to recount (these contacts) in detail, so as not to jeopardise people who have put their lives at risk”. Asked if the council would be Italy’s talking partner, Frattini replied: “It will be the Libyan people who will decide what the next government will be and it certainly won’t be Gaddafi’s”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Norway: Terror Threat Now ‘More Serious’

Islamic fundamentalists, right-wing extremists and foreign spies pose the greatest threats to Norway’s safety in 2011, the state police intelligence unit PST (Politiets sikkerhetstjeneste) declared on Monday. PST’s boss and a government minister also lobbied hard for adoption of a controversial EU data storage initiative, to help fight terrorism. PST chief Janne Kristiansen said there are few persons in Norway who support Islamic or right-wing extremists. Those who do, though, are forming firmer ties to contacts overseas.

“In that way, extreme Islam in Norway is steadily becoming more similar to that internationally,” Kristiansen said at a press conference Monday. She called the terrorism overview in Norway “complex,” sharpening the threat it poses.

PST investigators pointed to an increasing level of expressions of radicalism in public and not least in social media. There’s also more travel to areas of conflict for training or battle. PST also believes Islamic fundamentalists in Norway have more global ties than previously. “Persons tied to radical Islamic groups have traveled to Afghanistan or Pakistan and we have reason to believe they have been in training camps or taken part in battles there,” Kristiansen said. “That raises the chances of terrorist actions in Norway.”

Meanwhile, neither right- nor left-wing extremists pose a serious threat in Norway, but right-wing extremism is rising. “Neo-nazis aren’t a big treat, but we have seen some increased activity,” she said. Meanwhile, other countries are spying on Norway, in hopes of influencing defense and security policies, the oil and gas sector and high technology, PST officials believe.

Both Kristiansen and Defense Minister Grete Faremo, who also is serving as acting Justice Minister since Knut Storberget is on parental leave, used the opportunity to urge support for the EU’s controversial data storage initiative. It would require retention of traffic from all Internet and mobile phone users.

“To meet new terrorism threats the police have asked for access to information about who suspected terrorists have contacted on the phone, through text messages or e-mail,” Faremo said. “The police need the historic data to prevent and fight terror.” Critics of the initiative, who fear it will impose on personal privacy, accused Faremo and Kristiansen of using scare tactics to get the measure passed in Parliament. It comes up for a vote on April 5, and may result in Norway’s first veto of an EU resolution.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Now Irish Head for a Coalition Government as Old Guard Are Swept Away in Historic Election

Enda Kenny, the man poised to become Ireland’s next prime minister, got straight down to business yesterday after the general election and promised to renegotiate the country’s £72billion bailout.

His Fine Gael party was on track to win around 75 seats in the Dáil, the Irish parliament — just shy of an overall majority. It means the party is likely to rule in a coalition with Labour, which by last night had won at least 32 seats.

Sinn Féin took a record 13 seats as its leader, Gerry Adams, was elected in Louth.

The old guard of Fiánna Fail, which has in effect ruled Ireland since independence, had won just 14 seats as the count continued last night.

The biggest casualty of the election was Mary Coughlan, the deputy prime minister, who lost her seat in Donegal South-West.

But Mr Kenny had no time to celebrate. He vowed that next week he would attempt to renegotiate the terms of Ireland’s bailout by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, of which Britain is liable for up to £8billion.

Describing the bailout as ‘a bad deal for Ireland’, he said: ‘We want to restore our pride at home and abroad. Our country is back in business.’

Ireland’s new leaders believe the bailout will bankrupt an economy still in the doldrums, a view shared by many investors who continue to steer clear of Irish debt.

Mr Kenny expects Germany to agree to reduce the average rate of 5.8 per cent charged on the EU loans, but, while that could be sold as a victory to Irish voters, it will not make much difference to a debt mountain of more than £100billion.

Before he tackles the bailout, however, Mr Kenny must form a new government.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has given him a week to strike a complex deal, but there is also a possibility that Fine Gael could secure a pact with a group of like-minded independents.

Fine Gael’s director of elections, Phil Hogan, said the party would begin making contact with potential coalition partners tomorrow.

Mr Gilmore indicated his party would be open to discussions. ‘If Fine Gael want a government… that brings together the two largest parties, in what will be the closest we’re going to get to a national government, the Labour Party is willing to play its part,’ he said.

‘But I do say that the window of opportunity for that to happen is very narrow. I believe that a government needs to be formed on the first day the Dáil is back, which is March 9.’

The coalition talks will be challenging because Fine Gael and Labour are at odds over the length of time it will take to turn around the budget deficit, tax, public sector cuts and water charges.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Otzi the Iceman: Forensic Artists Put Face to Victim of 5,300 Year Old Murder

Otzi is believed to have been killed in 3289 BC, while trekking up the Schnalstal glacier in the Italian Alps.

Wearing a coat and leggings made from sheepskin, and cattle-hide moccasins, Otzi was eating a last meal of unleavened bread and meat when he was ambushed.

Hit on the head with a heavy cudgel and wounded in the side by an arrow, he collapsed into the snow.

Mummified by the cold and dry air, Otzi lay undiscovered until 1991, when Erika and Helmut Simon stumbled across the corpse near the Italian city of Bolzano.

Now, 5,300 years later, Dutch forensic experts Alfons and Adrie Kennis have painstakingly created the first image of Otzi, relying on 3D images of the mummy’s skull and infrared and tomographic images. Their reconstruction reveals Otzi to be an older man, with deep wrinkles in his face and shaggy, unkempt hair parted on the side. His sunken cheeks and deep-set eyes make him appear tired, and older than scientists believed him to have been at the age of his death — around 45.

They placed him at 5ft 3ins tall and had him weighing in at 2lbs under eight stone.

The new model of him will go on display from March 1 until January next year at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Shameful Bias

James Delingpole, Saturday, 26th February 2011

So you’re the leader of the Netherlands’ youngest, and now second-most-popular political party — and the reason you’re doing so well so soon is that your policies strike a chord with many Dutch.

So you’re the leader of the Netherlands’ youngest, and now second-most-popular political party — and the reason you’re doing so well so soon is that your policies strike a chord with many Dutch. You believe in smaller government and lower taxes; you believe nuclear power is a safer bet than nuclear energy; and you believe that creeping Islamisation poses a serious threat to your country’s national identity.

And now someone wants to make a guerilla documentary about you. The production company is a left-leaning, activist outfit called Red Rebel Films; its aim is to insinuate that you are ‘Far Right’, guilty of ‘hate-speech’, mentally unbalanced, a control freak, a conspiracy theorist, a Zionist extremist, an Israeli spy, a fascist and a Nazi. How unreasonable would you have to be to refuse?

Not very unreasonable at all, I’d say, yet the BBC appears to differ. On Sunday night (BBC2) it repeated a documentary in which ‘liberal’ filmmaker Joost van der Valk was shown Michael Moore-style heroically trying and failing to secure an interview with the man billed in the title as ‘Geert Wilders: Europe’s Most Dangerous Man?’ Oh, the courage and tenacity this must have demanded!

Never mind that Wilders has been the subject of numerous death threats, lives in constant fear of his life and has to sleep in a different location every night with round-the-clock security protection. Never mind that he was recently the victim of a most outrageous, politically motivated ‘incitement to hatred’ trial which strove to deny him the right to free speech. In the eyes of the BBC, this impossibly brave, principled, popular, democratically elected politician poses a greater threat to European civilisation than: Albanian drug gangs; paedophile rings; Islamist suicide bombers; Irish republican and Basque terrorists; serial killers; mad axe murderers; animal-rights extremists; Italian and Corsican mafiosi; the whole bleeding lot.

How on earth do they get away with inflicting on their audience Islamist propaganda so shamefully biased it might just as well have been made by Hamas? Because they’re the BBC and they can, that’s why. They can lie and distort and propagandise with impunity, because no one is going to call them on it save a few blogs like Gates Of Vienna and Biased BBC, and maybe the odd, right-wing loon in The Spectator, and, hey, what do such heretical witterings matter any more in our glorious new era of post-Blair left-liberal consensus when even the leader of the Conservative party finds conservative ideas shabby and shameful?

Consider, for example, some of the ordinary decent Muslim spokesmen the documentary wheeled on in support of its contention that Wilders is a dangerous extremist. Shaykh Khalid Yasin was described as ‘an American Muslim teacher, extremely popular among young European Muslims. He has embarked on a mission to deradicalise them. He is also very critical of Geert Wilders.’

Yeah, and here’s one of Yasin’s speeches that has made him so ‘popular’: ‘There’s no such thing as a Muslim having a non-Muslim friend, so a non-Muslim could be your associate but they can’t be a friend. They’re not your friend because they don’t understand your religious principles.’ Do these sound like the words of a man capable of ‘deradicalising’ young European Muslims?

Of course I understand that according to the BBC’s Weltanschauung Wilders’s views on the incompatibility of Islam and Western liberal democracy place him beyond the pale. But we all pay our licence fee so that the BBC’s Guardian-recruited Leninist apparatchiks and north London liberals rise above their personal prejudices and strive, as best they are capable, to reach some kind of objective truth. If you believe, from the bottom of the heart, that there is nothing in the Koran or the Sura which in any way supports Wilders’s arguments, then it is the job of an honest BBC documentary-maker to prove it. Simply shooting the messenger using cheap smears, dishonest juxtapositions, crude assertions and dodgy innuendo serves its audience — nor the BBC’s impartiality guidelines — not one jot…

           — Hat tip: Paul Weston[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Malmö Mosque Owned by Group With Qaddafi Ties

Malmö’s Islamic Center won’t likely be affected by recent UN sanctions issued against Muammar Qaddafi, despite the Center being owned by a Libyan organisation founded by the embattled Libyan president.

Since 2008, the Islamic Center in Malmö has been owned by the Libya-based World Islamic Call Society, a group founded by Qaddafi.

Following the recent violence in Libya, the United Nations has ordered sanctions against the Libyan leader and people close to him.

But the Islamic Center’s president Bejzat Becirov anticipated that this would not affect operations in Malmö, saying that the mosque has not been subject to any form of pressure from Libya.

“The organization is autonomous from the government in Tripoli,” Becirov told the TT news agency.

The Libyan organisation assumed ownership of the buildings in Malmö after the Islamic Center experienced financial difficulties.

The Center’s facilities were purchased in July 2008 for just less than 33.3 million kronor ($5.3 million).

“We tried to get help from the city of Malmö,” said Becirov.

“In the end, this was the only thing left. Otherwise, the banks would have taken the land.”

Professor Jan Hjärpe, an Islamologist at Lund University, describes the World Islamic Call Society as a charity that Qaddafi started in the 1970s to gain a little goodwill in the Muslim world, where he was then regarded as a “heretic”.

“It’s too early to say what impact the recent events in Libya might have on the mosque in Malmö. It all depends on what the developments will be in Libya,” Hjärpe told TT.

He added, however, that he thinks the World Islamic Call Society will remain the same, regardless of the regime in Tripoli.

“Anything else would send the ‘wrong’ signals,” he said.

The UN sanctions against Libyan assets abroad only concerns actual individuals.

At the top of the list is Qaddafi, who is followed by members of the regime who are still loyal to him.

As a result, the ownership of the mosque isn’t covered by the sanctions, according to foreign ministry spokesperson Kent Öberg.

“If someone reports it as a sanctions crime, then the police would investigate it in the usual manner,” Öberg told TT.

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

Tap New Deal for Italy-Greece Pipeline

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, FEBRUARY 25 — There has been a step forward in the project for a pipeline that is expected to connect Greece to the Italian coast off Brindisi, passing through Albania and the Adriatic sea. The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) has signed an agreement with Plinacro, a Croatian gas operator.

The deal, which is valid for a period of three years, will allow the two organisations to coordinate their activities and to exchange technical information. While TAP is busy with the new pipeline, which is part of the European Union’s southern corridor, Plinacro operates in Croatia but is attempting to enter new markets in southern Europe, promoting the project for another Adriatic-Ionian pipeline (IAP), to ensure gas supply to the region.

“TAP and IAP will make important contributions to the future supply of energy to Europe and south-eastern Europe,” said the director of TAP, Kjetil Tungland. To reach this “strategic” target, the Chair of the Plinacro board, Jerko Jelic-Balta, says that “this agreement represents the foundation, giving a framework and a forum of coordination for our activity and for the exchange of information with TAP, to the benefit of both”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Defeated MPs Who Claimed Millions After 2010 General Election to be Named and Shamed

House of Commons authorities are to release details of payouts totalling millions of pounds made to MPs who stood down or were defeated at last year’s General Election.

The move — expected in about four weeks’ time after the former MPs involved have been informed — came after Commons authorities backed down in the face of a freedom of information appeal from the Leicester Mercury newspaper.

MPs who leave the Commons at an election are entitled to a resettlement grant worth up to £65,738 to help them cope with the transition back to life outside Westminster.

It has emerged that 250 of the 255 MPs who left the Commons at last year’s election have claimed the payout, which varies between 50 per cent and 100 per cent of MPs’ annual salary depending on age and length of service.

An MP aged 55 to 64 leaving after 15 or more years in the Commons can claim the full £65,738 grant while others are entitled to at least £32,869.

If all the departing MPs claimed the full amount, the total for last year’s election would run to more than £16 million, though it is more likely to be around £10 million given the age and experience of those leaving.

Until now, the names of those receiving the sum have remained secret and the Commons authorities initially refused a request from the Mercury last June for a list of those who took the money.

But after the paper appealed to the Information Commissioner, Commons officials responded that circumstances had now changed and they no longer regarded the information as exempt.

A Commons spokesman said the Mercury would be provided with a list of MPs who claimed resettlement grants, though it has not yet been decided whether the list will be officially published.

In a letter last July explaining why the initial request for information was rejected, Commons authorities said that the interest in disclosure was not considered to outweigh the right of former MPs to privacy about their financial affairs.

The letter said: ‘It is up to members whether they claim it on leaving the House and that decision would seem to be based on their personal financial position or their view of their entitlement to claim it, both of which are personal issues concerning someone who is no longer a Member of Parliament.

‘The grant is also intended to assist with the transition back into a non-parliamentary life, it is not paying for expenses incurred due to parliamentary duties. All of that adds up to more of a private issue rather than a public one.’

However, in a new letter, the Commons authorities explained their change of heart by saying: ‘The current position is that, with a few exceptions, the processing of claims is now at an end and 250 former MPs out of 255 who left the House in April 2010 are in receipt of payments from the grant; that the data protection concerns that prevailed in June 2010 no longer apply; and, that the information requested can be provided to you.’…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Lutfur Rahman Council Demands Sanctions Against the ‘Pariah State of Israel’

While I was away, Lutfur Rahman’s voting bloc on Tower Hamlets council — the councillors who defected from Labour to support him, together with the two Respect councillors — proposed and voted for a motion committing the council to “do everything in its power to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against the pariah state of Israel.” The motion was passed, with the Conservatives voting against and Labour, the largest group on the council, abstaining. It’s another small sign of the direction the council is taking under Lutfur — thrown out of the Labour Party for his links with the extremist Islamic Forum of Europe, but elected as mayor anyway last October with the IFE’s “strategic” support.

One might think that Tower Hamlets should perhaps concern itself with the East End, rather than the West Bank — but this would be to misunderstand the nature of Lutfur’s supporters. According to Islamist ideology, you should consider yourself a member of the global Muslim community, the Ummah, first, and British (if at all) second; and you have more in common with Palestinians or Afghans than with your non-Muslim next-door neighbours. Of course, most Tower Hamlets Muslims are not Islamists: but Lutfur’s backers are. And they don’t like Jews much.

There were more little signs at last week’s council meeting to set the 2011/12 budget. Lutfur, who is treated as a pariah by the mainstream parties, couldn’t get the votes he needed to pass his proposals — he’ll have to try again on March 8. But that was almost overshadowed by the public gallery being cleared after the leader of the opposition, Cllr Peter Golds, who is gay, was allegedly subjected to homophobic abuse from the spectators and another councillor, Anna Lynch, reported that she had been verbally threatened by a young man. The council chamber at Tower Hamlets is a small, low-ceilinged room inside an office block with councillors and public all on the same level and few, if any, barriers between them. I wasn’t there last week, but the atmosphere at the last meeting I attended, in October, was fairly unpleasant with lots of aggressive heckling of the mainstream parties from Lutfur’s army of young Bengali men.

Still, not to worry. Finger as firmly on the pulse as ever, the Guardian’s Dave Hill has pronounced that everything’s going great!

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Watford Resident Complains After Not Being Told About Islamic Procession

A resident living near the route of yesterday’s procession between two Watford mosques has complained there was no warning it was going to take place.

The procession took place to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammed and involved 500 people walking between the Cambridge Road and North Watford mosques.

Road closures took place along Clarendo Road, St Albans Road, and the A41.

A PA system was used to broadcast readings from the Koran duuring the procession.

Jeffrey Peach, from North Watford, said he had no objection to the march but added: “The first I learnt of the march was when I saw a plethora of police cars and riot squad vans parked in my road.

The procession set off at 10.30am from the Cambridge Road Mosque, with the participants convening for prayers at the North Watford Mosque at midday.

Mr Peach added: “Quite frankly I am appalled at the lack of concern shown to residents. Wouldn’t it have been nice and reassuring for residents to have been warned by the police?

“How would you feel to look out your window and see riot squad police parked up and not know why, particularly in the present climate of unrest?”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Wilders: Anti-Islam Wave Unstoppable

In an interview with Dutch news channel, Freedom Party (PVV) leader Geert Wilders has said that the PVV’s ideas are striking a chord with increasing numbers of people across Europe. Mr Wilders spoke of an unstoppable ‘anti-Islam’ wave. “We are having our own little revolution down here,” he said.

Mr Wilders believes that some of the measures he wants to take in collaboration with the ruling Dutch coalition will eventually be introduced across Europe. Some critics say many of the current cabinet’s intended measures are in violation of European legislation. However, Mr Wilders argues that many people in other European countries support the measures.

A party similar to the PVV has been created in Germany: Die Freiheit (Freedom), led by Rene Stadtkewitz. Mr Wilders says another PVV-type party may be launched in the United Kingdom, filling the gap between the allegedly racist British National Party and the Conservatives.

“The time that the CDU (German Christian Democrats) and the CDA (Dutch Christian Democrats) could ignore the problems is definitively over. It is not a temporary comet or something like that. The genie is out of the bottle and it will never be put back in again. Never again.” Mr Wilders says the fear of new PVV-type parties will ensure that many of the Dutch government’s anti-immigration policies will find widespread support throughout Europe.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Regional States With Serb Population to Hold Census

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, FEBRUARY 25 — A census will be organized in April this year in several countries in the region with Serb populations — Hungary, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and Croatia, reports Tanjug news agency.

If a census is not held in Bosnia and Herzegovina by September 1, Republika Srpska (Serbian entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina) will organize a census in November. Albania has also announced a census for April, but there is indication it could be postponed.

Serbia will hold a census between October 1 and 15, and an agricultural census between October 1 and December 15.

The last agricultural census was in 1960, and the last population census in 2002.

Serbia’s Minister of the Diaspora Srdjan Sreckovic said that according to Ministry assessments, there are around 2.1 million Serbs in the region, which is more than a quarter of the entire population of Serbia, with the majority — around 1.1. million — living in Republika Srpska, while around 200,000 Serbian citizens live in Croatia and Montenegro.

In addition to the countries that will be holding censuses this year, the data includes the Serb population in Slovenia and Romania.

Serbs are a constitutive people in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and have national minority status in Hungary, Romania, Croatia and Macedonia.

2003 statistics say that 36,000 Serbs live in Macedonia, but the number is thought to have grown to 50,000 by now.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Algeria: Obama Praises Country for Lifting State of Emergency

(ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, FEBRUARY 25 — U.S. President Barack Obama today congratulated Algeria for lifting the state of emergency after 19 years. “This is a positive sign that the government of Algeria is listening to the concerns and responding to the aspirations of its people”, Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

“We look forward to additional steps by the government that enable the Algerian people to fully exercise their universal rights”, Obama added.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Al-Qaeda Incites Egyptians and Tunisians Against ‘Invaders’

Rome, 28 Feb. (AKI) — Al-Qaeda’s second in command Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Egyptians and Tunisians to rise up against governments installed by the United States and to rebel against “the invaders”, US terrorist tracking group SITE Intelligence reports.

It was Al-Zawahiri’s third purported audio message released since pro-democracy uprisings in the past six weeks toppled Tunisa and Egypt’s veteran leaders Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.

The US had kept Ben Ali in power for decades and had only supported his ouster in mid-January when it became clear he had become a liability, said the message.

“However, the reins of the affairs remain with America’s men, its agents and their soldiers…” the message added.

The message said the same was true of Egypt, where Mubarak stood down on 11 February after 18 days of mass protests during which nearly four hundred people were killed.

“Egypt will remain a base for the Crusader campaign and a primary partner in America’s war on Islam under the name of war on terror, and protector of the southern border for the Zionist Entity (Israel),” said the message.

“Know that the road is still long in order to free our Ummah (Islamic community) from its whippers and its invaders,” it added, appealing to “the free, honourable ones” in Egypt, Tunisia, and all Muslim countries.

Al-Qaeda’s North African branch last Thursday posted a message pledging its support for the uprising in Libya against Gaddafi’s “oppressive” 41-year rule, SITE reported. The message said it deplored “the carnage and the cowardly massacres” allegedly carried out by foreign mercenaries and heavy weaponry against Libyan protesters on behalf of Gaddafi .

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

Caracas, Harare or Minsk for Gaddafi’s Possible Exile

(AGI) Washington — Venezuela led by Hugo Chavez, Aleksandr Lukashenko’s Byelorussia or Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe are considered possible destinations where Muammar Gaddafi might find refuge should he decide to abandon Tripoli. Exile is an option that the White House has described as “an option.” For days now Gaddaffi has been locked in his bunker-residence at Bab Al Azizia, and, at least officially, has sworn he will never leave his country and will fight to the bitter end .

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

Caroline Glick: The West’s Proxy War Against the Jews

It was a stunning moment of moral clarity. As the South Vietnamese refugees clambered onto rickety boats in the South China Sea to escape the victorious Communists, the American Left that orchestrated the US defeat through a sustained campaign of propaganda and fake calls for peace stood silent.

As Pol Pot, the “progressive” dictator tortured and murdered a third of his people in Cambodia, the leftists “peace” activists in the US and Europe who never saw a US military operation that was justified, turned a blind eye.

The silence of the likes of Susan Sontag, Jane Fonda, Noam Chomsky and their fellow travelers came to mind last week when the Western media and intellectual elites averted their gaze as Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, the long exiled spiritual guide of the Muslim Brotherhood spoke before a crowd of millions at Cairo’s Tahrir Square…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Referendum on Constitution March 19, Elections June

(AGI) Cairo- The military junta in Egypt has set the referendum for constitutional amendments on March 19 and elections in June. The changes to the constitution have been studied and set out by a committee for reform; the legislative elections will be followed by presidential elections after 6 weeks. The announcement comes directly from Zyad El-Elaily and 16 other members of the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, those at the forefront of the protests in Tahrir square which led to Hosni Mubarak’s downfall.

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

Frattini: Moratorium on Payments to Libya on the Table

(AGI) Geneva — Frattini has said a moratorium to stop the flow of payments to Gaddafi’s regime is now being considered. This proposal, presented by Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, was repeated by Italy’s Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, who is meeting in Geneva with colleagues from Germany, France, the UK and the USA to address the situation and coordinate solutions to this crisis. During a press conference, Frattini explained that during this meeting, the possibility of stopping the flow of foreign currency to the Libyan regime was debated and that it will be studied by a technical committee .

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

Heavy Losses for Chinese Companies Operating in Libya

Tens of billions of dollars in projects from railways to telecommunications and 36 thousand Chinese workers present in Libya. The revolt underway in the country causes great damage to Chinese firms, accustomed to doing business with dictatorships without thinking about the possible risks.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The riot in Libya has engulfed the many activities of Chinese firms striving to create billion-dollar businesses in the exploitation of oil fields and infrastructure projects. The Chinese Minister of Commerce announced on its website that on the 24 February 27 Chinese construction sites and plants were “attacked and devastated”: the army and rebel groups have attacked buildings, destroyed vehicles and equipment, stolen money and everything else that they could.

With Libya, the 3rd largest African oil producer and 4th largest producer of natural gas, since 2009 China has been its number 1 trading partner with total trade of 6.6 billion dollars in 2010. It had direct investments worth over 9 billion dollars, and in 2010 imported about 7.4 tonnes of crude oil, approximately 150 thousand barrels per day.

An estimated 36 thousand Chinese workers are in the country engaged in dozens of projects worth a total of several billion dollars, the China National Petroleum produces oil and seeks deposits, the China Communication Construction and China Railway Construction Corporation design and build rail lines, the China Civil Engineering Construction is involved in an irrigation project in the Eastern Sahara, China Gezhouba Group builds homes in five southern cities, Huawei Technologies creates infrastructure for mobile telephon communications, and the list can goes on and on.

Chinese workers are now on the run, many fleeing on foot from their destroyed settlements. Yesterday, Beijing had already transported 12 thousand people, even sending a frigate, stationed with the fleet in the Gulf of Aden, to help protect ships engaged in the evacuation.

China for decades pursued a reckless policy in Africa, concluding business with dictatorial governments, often under embargo by the majority of states. Beijing limited itself to buying up energy and raw material resources, regardless of whether the price paid will be used for the good of the population, rather than to enrich the click in power. Typically it also granted funding for buildings and facilities, providing that the labour force and execution is then assigned to their companies.

The same was done with Libya, Which has now cost its companies, largely state-owned, heavy economic losses.

Zheng Wei, a professor in the Department of Risk Management and Insurance at the School of Economics of Beijing University, notes that “it is an important lesson for the Chinese government. China must learn to consider the global political risks”.

Experts point out that many Chinese businesses in Africa are based on personal knowledge and cooperation with authoritarian regimes. As a result they are highly vulnerable to possible reversals or changes of government.

“The government — concludes Zheng — should not encourage companies to invest, it should seek a greater care and attention to risk factors.” Chinese firms have a strong presence in other countries with dictatorial regimes and found to be criticized, such as Zimbabwe, Angola and Sudan.

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

Humanitarian Emergency in Libya as Asian Migrants Flee Violence

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that at least 100,000 foreign workers have fled the country. Many of the refugees are from Asian nations. Beijing has evacuated about 30,000 of its citizens. Filipino authorities are criticising for acting late.

Rome (AsiaNews) — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said a “humanitarian emergency” was developing in Libya as thousands of people fled the North African country, scene of a popular uprising against the 40-year-old rule of Muammar Kaddafi. The UN agency said that at least 100,000 foreign workers left the strife-torn country by air, land and sea. Many of the escapees are from Asia, trying to get out by any means. Some have left thanks to rescue operations by their governments.

Two ferries docked late Sunday with some 300 people on the small Mediterranean island of Malta, which has become a key hub in the desperate scramble to get foreigners out of Libya.

Malta’s Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said his island nation had received some 8,000 people since the Libyan crisis began and he feared that an even greater exodus could lead to a disaster.

Earlier a ferry arrived in Malta loaded with some 1,800 Asian workers, including citizens of China, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

However, many more are left in the country. Foreign governments have prepared evacuation plans, but fighting between government troops and rebels are making rescue operations difficult.

Libya is one of the world’s largest oil producers. Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers are employed in the oil industry or construction. Many are also domestic workers.

China said it had evacuated nearly 29,000 of its nationals from Libya. The Foreign Ministry in Beijing said around 2,500 Chinese citizens had already returned home and 23,000 more had been sent to Greece, Malta, Tunisia, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates, where they were waiting to board flights home. An additional 3,400 had left Libya aboard ships and were making their way to Greece, it added.

So far, Nepal welcomed home about 2,000 of its national, many suffering from malnutrition after going nine days without food. However, other groups of Nepalis do not have the right papers or the money to buy a ticket. Hundreds are lost somewhere in Libya after their papers were burnt during rebel attacks against companies controlled by the government.

India has also proceeded to repatriate its citizens. Indian authorities organised two flights to bring back about 500 of the 18,000 Indians in Libya. New Delhi also dispatched three warships to help with the evacuation. A passenger ferry arrived in the eastern city of Benghazi to take Indian evacuees to Alexandria in Egypt, from where they will be flown home.

Mohammed Sali, the first Indian to make it back home, told the BBC that he was robbed of all his possessions at knifepoint as he reached Tripoli airport.

Hundreds of workers from Vietnam and Philippines crossed into neighbouring Algeria.

About 900 Vietnamese have made it home; another 4,000 are on their way. Vietnamese authorities said that almost 7,500 of its citizens will have left Libya by Wednesday.

Manila also began repatriating its nationals. However, critics at home have lambasted the government for its slow reaction to the crisis. The Filipino Embassy in Tripoli organised convoys, one carrying 550 Filipinos to Tunisia.

The Foreign Ministry in Manila announced that 1,877 Filipinos out of 26,000 working in the country were able to get out. Labour groups retorted that at least 30,000 Filipinos were working in Libya, saying that government figures were out of date.

At least 4,000 out of 60,000 workers from Bangladesh reached the borders with Egypt and Tunisia. A Chinese company brought 800 Bangladeshi to Crete by sea.

“The government has not evacuated any Bangladeshi workers so far. But we have all preparations ready if the situation worsens,” a government minister said.

In the meantime, some 30 South Koreans managed to get out on board a Turkish army vessel. According to South Korea authorities, at least 500 South Koreans are still thought to be in Libya.

The Sveti Stefan II, a ship chartered by Russian businesses operating in Libya, picked up 1,126 people, as a Russian emergency situations ministry plane flew to Tripoli.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Sunday that it had sent a military cargo plane to Libya to repatriate 125 nationals who were rescued after being held hostage in Tripoli. (D.S.)

(Kalpit Parajuli contributed to the article)

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

Libya: Council for Refugees, Emergency Within an Emergency

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 25 — The plight of migrants heading out of Libya has become “an emergency with an emergency,” within which those whose skin is darkest come off the worst, as there is the added danger of being taken for a mercenary from Sub-Saharan Africa. This is the message delivered today by Christopher Hein, of Italy’s Consiglio Italiano Rifugiati (council of refugees).

According to Hein, estimates are that there are one and a half million foreigners resident in Libya: half of them are Egyptians, one third are from the Middle East and other North African countries, while the remainder is made up of Africans from south of the Sahara, as well as by Chinese and Indians. A further factor making this a particularly tough time for dark-skinned residents is the widespread racism in Libya. Hein also expressed alarm at the lack of news about what is happening inside the detention centres set up by the Gaddafi regime to contain immigrants caught transiting the country.

These centres are located in those coastal cities where the most violent clashes have been taking place, from Misurata to Zawia, and “we have heard rumours that many of them have been killed”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Gaddafi’s Personal Pilot Flees, Chaos in Tripoli

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 25 — Colonel Gaddafi’s personal pilot, the Norwegian Aud Berger, has fled Tripoli along with his family to Austria. Reports were from Egypt’s MENA agency, which quoted an Austrian newspaper, and added that the pilot had justified his escape by saying that violence is getting the upper hand in the country’s capital, Tripoli. According to the pilot, the situation in Libya is seeing rapid and dangerous developments. There are fires, he stressed, all across the capital. The 57-year-old Norwegian pilot managed to take the last flight headed for Vienna.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: UNHCR: 100 Thousand Flee Violence in One Week Alone

(AGI) Geneva — “Almost 100 thousand people,” mostly foreign migrants fled Libya into neighbouring countries over the last week. The estimate comes from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). The teams set up by the UN are working closely with the Tunisian and Egyptian authorities and NGOs to try and tackle the emergency. According to UNHCR estimates, those who escaped are mostly Egyptians or Tunisians. The Red Crescent had previously said that on Saturday alone over 10 thousand people had crossed the Ras Jedir frontier post between Libya and Tunisia; the organisation said the situation was a “humanitarian crisis” that needed to be tackled because of increasing flows.

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

Libya: Roman Archaeological Sites Unscathed by Revolt

(AGI) Rabat — Libya’s extensive Roman Era archaeological heritage (including Leptis Magna) has not, so far, been plundered. The confirmation has come from Hafed Walda, an archaeologist, who has worked in the past on the excavations in the ancient Roman coastal city 130 kilometres east of Tripoli.

Leptis Magna is where the Emperor Septimus Severus was born and is regarded as the jewel in the crown of Roman remains in Libya, with its amphitheatre, marble thermal baths, colonnaded street and its basilica.

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

Libya: Al-Qaeda Behind Unrest, Gaddafi Tells Serbian TV

Belgrade, 28 Feb. (AKI) — Embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has blamed Al-Qaeda militants for the current unrest his country, but claimed these were “small groups of terrorists which would be “dealt with”.

In a telephone statement to private Serbian television Pink, aired late on Sunday, Gaddafi also blamed the United Nations Security Council for approving sanctions and an arms embargo on Libya “on the basis of media reports”.

“It is unacceptable, it’s contrary to sound reasoning,” Gaddafi said. “If the Council wanted to learn something, it should have sent a commission to Libya to determine the truth and only after receiving its report vote on a resolution,” he added.

Under the circumstances, the sanctions were “null and void”, he said.

Pink television crew flew by a private plane to Tripoli on Friday and spent two days shooting footage showing “normal life” in the capital and people quietly drinking coffee in areas earlier reported by western media as being “razed to ground”.

The crew was accompanied by former Yugoslav president Zoran Lilic, who has portrayed himself as being a “close friend” of Gaddafi, but it was not clear whether he had actually met with the embattled leader.

It was also not clear whether Gaddafi’s telephone statement was taped in Tripoli, or by telephone from Belgrade, but he wasn’t shown in the Pink footage.

Blaming recent unrest in Libya on Al-Qaeda “terrorist bands”, Gaddafi said people had been killed in an exchange of fire between rebels and his forces.

“A very small number of individuals were killed on both sides as compared to reports abroad,” Gaddafi said.

The United Nations estimates at least 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in nearly two weeks of violence in which eastern cities have fallen to anti-government forces which now also control the coastal city of Zawiya just just 50 kilometres west of the capital, Tripoli. About 100,000 people have fled Libya over the past week, mainly into Tunisia, the UN estimates.

“At the moment, there are no incidents and Libya is completely calm, there is nothing unusual, there is no unrest,” he said. “The Libyan people are completely behind me.”

“There is a small surrounded group and we will certainly solve it,” Gaddafi said, referring to the eastern Libyan cities now under the control of anti-government forces, allegedly with the support of Al-Qaeda.

US terrorist-tracking organisation SITE said Al- Qaeda’s North African branch last Thursday posted message pledging its support for the uprising in Libya against Gaddafi’s “oppressive” 41-year rule. The message said it deplored “the carnage and the cowardly massacres” allegely carried out by foreign mercenaries and heavy weaponry against Libyan protesters on behalf of Gaddafi .

Lilic said western media reporting on Libya events had been greatly distorting, comparing the reporting to the 1991-1995 war which followed the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

But Iraqi-born former Belgrade student, Zawiji Dzafer Sahib, who has spent 20 years as political science professor in Libya, told Serbian news agency Beta that Gaddafi’s grip on power had its “good and bad sides”.

Sahib said the good side was relative prosperity and good living standards, while bad side was the Libyan strongman’s autocratic rule. “Gaddafi doesn’t realise he is living in 21st century,” he said.

Sahib, who was evacuated with a group of Serbian workers from Libya last week, said the current crisis could subside “provided that foreign elements don’t pour oil onto the fire.”

But the eastern part of the country, controlled by rebels, “is gone and I expect it will secede,” Sahib concluded.

The United has publicly backed anti-Gaddafi groups in eastern Libya.

Speaking on her way to a meeting of world foreign ministers in Geneva on Monday, US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said Washington was “reaching out to many different Libyans in the east”.

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

Libya: Chaos Stirs Global Panic Over Oil Supplies

Armed men have been looting equipment from oilfield installations; British and German commandos have been executing secret raids deep in the desert to rescue stranded expat oil workers; Libyan port staff, frightened of being caught up in Muammar Gaddafi’s violent crackdown on protesters, have fail to show up for work, leaving empty tankers floating around the Mediterranean Sea waiting to load crude. For world oil companies, the ongoing chaos in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East is a nightmare. No one knows whether Gaddafi or the rebels trying to oust him will end up controlling Africa’s biggest oil reserves. Fears abound that Libya could turn into a fractured nation with competing armed groups ruling over rich and remote desert oilfields.

Oil prices jumped above £61 a barrel Monday in Asia as Libya’s violent power struggle continued to disrupt crude output, and protests in Oman also that raised fears political upheaval could impact other crude exporters.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest oil exporter, has pledged to ramp up exports to compensate for the loss of Libyan production. But the volatility is likely to continue, because it could take weeks or even months for Libyan production and exports to return to normal levels, experts said.

The International Energy Agency reported late Friday that Libya is probably still producing about 850,000 barrels of oil daily, down from its normal capacity of 1.6 million barrels — but acknowledged the estimate is based on “incomplete, conflicting information.” Libya produces just under 2 per cent of the world’s oil, but its customers are overwhelmingly European. Hardest hit by the sudden oil shortage are European refiners that receive 85 per cent of Libya’s exports, turning the country’s highly valued crude into diesel and jet fuel.

Despite reports that production was still under way in the vast Saharan desert Amal fields, Libyans never before permitted to approach the oilfields under Gaddafi’s reign showed up armed and took anything they could — four-wheel drive vehicles, pumps, generators. One group came with a trailer and tried to remove a huge crane, said Gavin de Salis, chairman of Britain’s OPS international oilfield services company. “Nobody shot anyone,” De Salis. “But people were wandering around with guns saying ‘Thanks, we’ll take your vehicle since you’re leaving anyway. ‘“

While British military planes staged daring desert rescues Saturday and Sunday, other workers were heading across the Sahara Desert in bus convoys toward the Egyptian border.

The German air force also evacuated 132 people in a secret military mission, but thousands of other foreigners were still stuck in Tripoli by bad weather and red tape.

The massive oil terminal at Brega, Libya’s second-largest hydrocarbon complex, was nearly deserted over the weekend, with operations scaled back almost 90 per cent because employees had fled and ships were not showing up.

It could take between four to six months to for Libya’s domestic unrest to ease, warned Mohammed el-Katiri, a Middle East analyst at the Eurasia Group risk consulting group.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Libya Protests: Gaddafi Says ‘All My People Love Me’

Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi has told the BBC he is loved by all his people and has denied there have been any protests in Tripoli.

Col Gaddafi said that his people would die to protect him.

He laughed at the suggestion he would leave Libya and said he felt betrayed by leaders who had urged him to quit.

Earlier world governments condemned attacks on Libyan civilians, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying Col Gaddafi must “go now”.

The EU on Monday imposed sanctions including an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel ban on Col Gaddafi and his close entourage.

‘Mercenaries and thugs’

Col Gaddafi was speaking in an interview with the BBC’s Jeremy Bowen in Tripoli.

Col Gaddafi accused Western countries of abandoning Libya and said that they had no morals and wanted to colonise the country.

When asked whether he would resign, he said he could not step down as he did not have an official position and insisted that the power was with the people.

He dismissed those accusing him, saying he would “put two fingers in their eyes”.

Col Gaddafi said the people who had come on to the streets were under the influence of drugs supplied by al-Qaeda.

He said those people had seized weapons and that his supporters were under orders not to shoot back.

Col Gaddafi is facing a massive challenge to his 41-year rule, with protesters in control of towns in the east.

Unrest also continues in and around Tripoli, with reports of an anti-Gaddafi protest on Monday in a suburb of the capital as well as fighting in nearby Misrata and an attack by air force jets on ammunition dumps in the east of the country.

Foreign ministers who had gathered at a UN human rights conference in Geneva called earlier for Col Gaddafi to go.

Mrs Clinton accused Col Gaddafi and his followers of using “mercenaries and thugs” to attack unarmed civilians, and of executing soldiers who refused to turn their guns on fellow citizens…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Tunisia: Presidential Palace Let Out by Ben Ali to State

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, FEBRUARY 24 — Peculiar details are emerging with the passing of time about the billions owned by the Ben Ali-Trabelsi families in Tunisia. The most recent news regards the luxurious presidential residence of Sidi Dherif (in which jewels and money has been found): it is not owned by the State, but by former President Ben Ali, the palace’s tenant. The presidential residence was rented to the State for around 316 thousand euros per year, the website Business News reports.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

U. S. Naval Forces Redeploy to React in Libyan Crisis

(AGI) Washington — The U.S. Defense Department has redeployed forces in the Middle East near Libya to be ready should the White House order them into action. Among assets in the area is the amphibious assault ship the U.S.S. Kearsarge, that carries over 1,800 marines, five Harrier fighter bombers, 42 CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters and 6 SH-60F Seahawk helicopters.

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

What Libya Tells Us About David Cameron

Success brings danger. Things have at last begun to go the Government’s way on the Libya front after a dire start. The military operation to extract oil workers stuck in the desert has worked smoothly, and HMG is now enjoying the plaudits of nationals from other countries who are praising the UK for stepping in where their governments didn’t. American politicians are hailing our military response as more impressive than the Pentagon’s. Back in Blighty the Treasury moved swiftly to freeze Libyan assets and showed some fancy improvisation to prevent Col Gaddafi from getting his hands on £900m worth of dinars to pay his mercenaries with. The Prime Minister, who last week was using four-letter words in private to describe his government’s bungling, has taken control. He has stamped his authority on the machine, and it shows. And that’s where the danger lies. Mr Cameron came to office promising a lot more autonomy for Whitehall departments and a lot less of the control-freak tendency of the last lot. His ministers were to be independent barons, left free to get on with their portfolios with a minimum of interference from the Prime Minister. But eight months in that’s fast being unwound. No 10 has discovered that it needs to get a grip, and keep it, otherwise it…loses control. That’s how it looks in public. In private it’s even trickier. Mr Cameron may talk a big game about autonomy, but pity the minister who gets it wrong. Around the Cabinet table they have noticed with some alarm his tendency to brief against those who are deemed to have failed. He destroyed Caroline Spelman in public, and made jokes about her when addressing PPSs recently. On his trip last week he was disobliging about Jeremy Hunt I’m told. Kenneth Clarke and Andrew Lansley are nursing bruises after being briefed against by the PM’s operation. In fact, his colleagues are noticing his willingness to blame ministers. To which we might say ‘aw diddums’. They have been given autonomy: they can hardly complain when the boss points out where they have failed. But what this illustrates is the dangers of a particular style of leadership. Mr Cameron has tried to be hands off, but Libya has forced him to become hands on. And to his critics that will be seen as an admission that he got it wrong.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Ankara a Model, With Hegemonic Temptations, For the New Middle East

It is not enough for Turkey to be held up as an example of a Muslim country that is a member of NATO, aspires to joining the EU and has united political Islam with a parliamentary democracy. A survey suggests that is not Erdogan who Islamizes Turkey, but Muslim Turkey that has chosen a “light” political Islam.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) — In the ongoing crisis in the countries of the Maghreb and the Arabian Peninsula, all Muslim, there are many who have held up the Turkish example as a model for political and social development to imitate, in that region of the world that is the principal source of hydrocarbons.

The Turkish model is indicated as an example because, although it is a Muslim country, it has managed to develop a program that allows it to be a member of NATO and a candidate for the EU. And under the government of the Islamic AKP party, led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, it has managed to combine political Islam with a parliamentary democracy, the latter seen, we must not forget — as noted in diplomatic circles — always in the context of the Muslim world. Because recalled by the intellectual circles of Istanbul, although this country calls for respect for democratic rights in other countries in the region, within its own borders we are still far from the conception of democracy as it is perceived in the West, except for certain areas in the big urban cities. Thus, religious minorities are still awaiting their approval, the Kurdish issue remains suspended, anti-government media groups are still being supressed, et cetera.

The question is whether Ankara, which from the outset made no secret of wanting to have its say regarding the Middle East, will be content to act as a simple model for other Arab countries that are trying to get rid of old regimes, or will demand a leading role in future developments in the geopolitical balance.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, ideologue and theoretician of political Islam and the so-called father of neo-ottamanisim, as opposed to Erdogan — who sees politics primarily in terms of business — a few days ago, called on to explain the causes of the crisis faced by countries in the region, argued that it is due to two factors: first, the state of subjection in which they lived and second, the status of continued psychological cold war between them and Israel, moreover also stressing the importance of the so-called social networks in these Muslim societies. But, according to a careful observer of Turkish affairs, Aris Abacis, Ankara too, after Davos has helped to reignite the Cold War between Israel and Arab countries, in the wake of the clash between Erdogan and Perez in the spring of 2009, Turkey thus re-entered the ring in the contest for the new balance in the Middle East as an active player.

In this framework, we pose some important questions, namely whether the hegemonic temptations of Turkey on the Muslim world are in agreement with its European aspirations and whether these very aspirations will place it on a collision course with the main protagonist of the new equilibrium, the United States of Barak Obama. The U.S. president after his first speech to Turkish parliament, in April 2009 and later in Cairo, in which he envisaged a very different approach with the Islamic world from the bankrupt policies of George Bush, now sees those two countries, Egypt and Turkey, which had given some support to Israel, set off on very different routes, those of a political Islam, with all the excesses that may lead to further, more serious economic crisis.

In fact, following these considerations and in view of forthcoming elections on 12 June, the Associated Press carried out a survey a few days ago, revealing very interesting results. 50% of Turks declared themselves in favour of the country entering the EU and 52% were in favour of the Turkey’s permanence in NATO. Interestingly, 85% said they find the religious factor important in life, while 63% were in favour of students being free to decide if they want to wear the headscarf in universities. 63%, then said they were opposed to the participation of religious leaders in politics.

Regarding diplomatic ties with Israel, 53% were in favour of their interruption, 55% expressed themselves against the United States and 49% against Obama.

Regarding the winner of the elections, Erdogan garnered a handsome 54%, as he is considered the only major leading figure at present in Turkey. The majority of Turks, finally, fear unemployment.

In short, an analysis of the survey appears to show that it is not Erdogan who Islamizes Turkey, but Muslim Turkey that has chosen a “light” political Islam, according to Abacis Aris.

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

Diplomats: Iran May Have to Exchange Entire Nuke Plant Core

Iran, admitting to technical problems with its nuclear power plant at Bushehr, may have to exhange the facility’s entire core, diplomatic sources said Saturday in Vienna.

The diplomats were commenting a day after Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency IAEA in Vienna that it had encountered problems at the plant in Bushehr, which had been scheduled to start producing electricity this month.

While the Iranian report to the IAEA apparently did not specify how serious matter was — whether something minor or a major problem — the diplomats said the entire core must be removed and replaced.

The Iranian report had said that all 163 fuel rods would have to be removed from the reactor core. The diplomatic sources said that there were problems with all the fuel rods.

Nuclear power experts noted that smaller problems with nuclear fuel rods are common when starting up a reactor, but that the replacement of the entire core was an issue of a much greater magnitude.

There was also speculation about what had caused the problems in the Russian-designed nuclear facility, which was opened in August 2010, with Russia also supplying the initial 82 tons of nuclear fuel for the plant.

The speculation ranged from the problems caused by the Stuxnet computer worm which had attacked Iran’s nuclear programme last year, to suggestions of intentional sabotage by Russia which has come to have serious doubts about Iran’s insistence that its nuclear activities are purely for peaceful purposes…

‘It raises questions of whether Iran can operate a modern nuclear reactor safely,’ he said.

‘The stakes are very high. You can have a Chernobyl-style accident with this kind of reactor, and theres lots of questions about that possibility in the region,’ Albright added, referring to the April 1986 nuclear plant meltdown at Chernobyl, in the Ukraine.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Hamas Chief to Attend Funeral for Turkish Politician Erbakan

The head of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Khaled Meshaal, will attend the funeral of Necmettin Erbakan in Istanbul on Tuesday, a former aide to the late Turkish politician has said.

“Khaled Meshaal is to arrive in Istanbul to take part in the funeral with other dignitaries from the Muslim world,” Mustafa Kamalak, the deputy leader of Erbakan’s Felicity Party, or SP, told reporters Monday.

The prominent Islamist politician and former Turkish prime minister died Sunday at the age of 84 due to multiple organ failure. He will be buried in Istanbul on Tuesday after what is expected to be a large funeral attended by thousands of supporters. President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, politicians from all parties and international Islamic figures such as Meshaal are among the people expected to attend.

Meshaal’s last visit to Turkey took place in 2006 after Hamas’ election victory, but the trip caused a spat between Ankara and Israel, which considers Hamas a terrorist organization and has reacted angrily to previous contacts between Turkish officials and the militant group. Erdogan has rejected the “terrorist” label for Hamas and insists that peace cannot be achieved in the Middle East if the group is excluded from the process.

Fatih Erbakan, son of the former prime minister, told reporters that some other Islamic leaders from Indonesia and Malaysia would also attend his father’s funeral but did not give details. Erbakan was a well-respected leader in the Islamic world and the founder of the international organization D-8, which brought together eight large Islamic countries.

“We will have guests from all over the world,” Fatih Erbakan told reporters Tuesday.

SP officials said representatives of political parties from Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sudan and Kuwait have confirmed their participation in the funeral. A piece of soil will also be brought to the ceremony from the grave of Alia Izzetbegovic, the former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Erbakan’s body will be taken to Istanbul early Tuesday after a religious service at Ankara’s famous Haci Bayram Mosque. Another service will be held at Istanbul’s Fatih Mosque before Erbakan is buried near his wife, Nermin Erbakan, at Merkezefendi Cemetery.

Erdogan postpones Brussels visit

In order to attend the funeral, Erdogan postponed a planned visit to Brussels that would have been his first in two years, the Turkish Embassy in Belgium said Monday. “The Turkish prime minister’s visit has been postponed to a later date,” the embassy said in a statement.

Erdogan’s initial plan was to depart for Brussels on Tuesday after attending the funeral the Istanbul, but his agenda was later changed.

The prime minister’s visit to Belgium was scheduled amid an impasse in talks over Turkey’s bid to join the 27-nation European Union, stalled in large part due to the deadlock over the divided island of Cyprus, which joined the bloc in 2004.

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

Iran: USA Accuses Tehran of “Shameless” Violation of Rights

(AGI) Washington — The USA accused Iran of hypocrisy and the ‘shameless violation of the human rights of its citizens’. The White House declared: ‘The USA strongly condemns the campaign of intimidation organised by the Iranian government and the arrests of political figures, defenders of human rights, political activists, student leaders, journalists and bloggers.” ..

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

Oman: New Oil and Gas Fields Found

(ANSAmed) — ROME, FEBRUARY 22 — The Sultanate of Oman will increase its oil production by 4% this year thanks to the find of new oil fields. The announcement was made by Naser Al Jashmi, Undersecretary at the Oil and Gas Ministry of Oman, quoted by the newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi.

This year’s oil output, according to the Undersecretary, will total around 900 thousand barrels per day, against 864 thousand in 2010. Al Jashmi underlined that last year Oman sold its oil at an average price of 76.50 USD per barrel, 35% more than in 2009. The Sultanate of Oman recently found four new oil fields, as well as a large gas field.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Oman: ‘Six Killed’ In Sunday’s Pro-Democracy Protests

Muscat, 28 Feb. (AKI) — Six people were killed in clashes with security forces during pro-democracy protests in Oman on Sunday, according to medical sources in the Gulf state. Earlier reports had said two people had died in in the sultanate, the latest state to be hit by the unrest shaking the Arab world.

Pro-democracy protesters turned out again on Monday in Oman and blocked roads to the key northern industrial area of Sohar, which houses a refinery port and an aluminum factory, according to reports.

Some reports cited eye witnesses as saying security forces opened fire on some 2,000 demonstrators marching to demand jobs and political reform, and used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the protesters.

Other reports said troops were deployed around Sohar but were not intervening to disperse protesters.

In Sohar, a main supermarket was burning on Monday after being looted, witnesses were quoted as saying in news reports.

Shipments of refined crude from Oman’s port of Sohar are continuing, a port spokeswoman said on Monday, cited by the reports. The port ships 160,000 barrels per day and a range of products from the Sohar refinery, the spokeswoman said.

Sustained protests, blocking trucks and staff from gaining access to the port, could eventually affect marine traffic, she added.

Oman’s sultan Qaboos bin Said reshuffled his cabinet on Saturday, a week after a small protest in the capital Muscat. He has ruled for four decades, exercising absolute power and political parties are banned.

In a further bid to ease tensions in the US ally, Oman on Sunday pledged to create 50,000 more public sector jobs and pay unemployment benefits of 390 dollas a month to job seekers.

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

Painful Event in Turkish History Becomes Play on European Stage

A painful event from Turkey’s republican history, the Dersim Operation, is the subject of a theatrical play now on European tour. The documentary-like play has been adapted to the stage by theater actor and director Serdar Dogan, who narrowly escaped the 1993 Sivas Massacre. ‘We cannot prevent new tragedies if we don’t talk about pain,’ he says

The play, titled ‘Dersim,’ which is traveling various European cities, features the incidents that occurred during a military campaign against Alevi tribes in 1938 in the eastern Anatolian province of Dersim, today’s Tunceli.

The Canlar Theater, which has adapted the incidents in Dersim for the stage, has taken its show on a European tour.

The play, titled “Dersim,” which is traveling to various European cities, features the incidents that occurred during the military action against Alevi tribes in 1938 in the eastern Anatolian province of Dersim, today’s Tunceli.

The producer of the play, theater actor and director Serdar Dogan, barely escaped from the Sivas massacre that took place on July 2, 1993, and lost his brother. Dogan brought this tragedy to the stage as well, with his play “Simurg.”

Speaking to Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review before the European tour, Dogan said: “When we started our theater travel a few years ago, we wanted to stage the painful history of the Sivas massacre. We were not able to include Dersim in our projects because it was a taboo. But the speech of CHP [Republican People’s Party] Chairman Onur Öymen in Parliament was the final straw a few years ago and we decided to bring Dersim to the stage.”

In his speech in November 2009, Öymen criticized the democratic initiative of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, and cited the example of the Dersim Operation, which caused the death of tens of thousands of people. Criticizing the AKP’s calls for “No more mothers to cry” in conflicts in eastern Anatolia, Öymen said, “[In the Dersim Operation] mothers also cried; did anyone say they shouldn’t?”

The comments touched off a storm of controversy and led to calls for Öymen to resign from the party. At the same time, the comments also opened the way for a public discussion for the events surrounding the Dersim Operation.

Those interested in the play, which will be staged in February and March, can obtain information about it from Alevi culture centers and federations in Europe.

Breaking a taboo

As soon as the incidents in Dersim were back on the agenda, Dersim requiems were gathered by Kalan Music, owned by Hasan Saltuk. Then Nezahat Gündogan and Kazim Gündogan, whose origins are from Dersim, took a step to break a taboo: After comprehensive research, the couple brought the documentary “Iki Tutam Saç: Dersim’in Kayip Kizlari” (Two Locks of Hair: The Missing Girls of Dersim) to the silver screen through first-hand witnesses.

“Dersim’s artists are writing down their history,” said Dogan. “Dersim’s artists and intellectuals have brought Dersim to the agenda through documentaries, books, new documents and witnesses. The documentary made by the Gündogans highlighted the painful events in Dersim and put it back on the agenda.”

Crime against humanity

Before adapting the play for the stage, Dogan examined resources and archives for a year. “I wrote the play under the light of witnesses and documents. This also strengthened the narration. We make a chronological order of events between 1933 and 1937 and brought them to the stage with a documentary-like play,” he said.

Dogan said such crimes against humanity were always punished in Europe, “but Turkey rewards those who are the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.”

Even though Dogan was born in Ankara, he said his origins were in Dersim, and he grew up listening to the painful stories from his family. He said he was one of the witnesses of the Sivas massacre in 1993 and that his brother died in the fire.

“I was presumed to be dead and taken to a morgue but later they realized that I was alive. I am alive but what will change after I’ve witnessed such a terrible event? My treatment took many long years. I am physically healthy now but I still hear the screams of my brother, unable to save him in the fire. Neither his screams not my pain stop,” he said.

“If we hesitate to talk about these pains, it will be impossible to prevent the new ones,” he said. “We have paid very high costs in this region of pain. It is time talk about these pains.”

During the incidents of July 2, 1993, known as the “Sivas Massacre” or “Madimak Incident,” the Madimak Hotel in the Central Anatolian province of Sivas was set on fire by an enraged mob chanting anti-secularist slogans. Thirty-five people died in the hotel, including writers, intellectuals and two hotel personnel. The writers and intellectuals were in the city to attend a festival organized in memory of Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal.

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

Turkey: Christian Man Vanishes in Hunt for Noah’s Ark

All evidence of missionary disappears without a trace

“What’s more important — finding Noah’s Ark or finding a friend?”

This is the profound and haunting question echoing across the planet through the mind of Jeremy Wiles.

The Jupiter, Fla., filmmaker can be described as a man of obsession — obsessed with Noah’s Ark since his childhood, and today obsessed with locating his friend and fellow ark hunter who mysteriously vanished on Turkey’s Mount Ararat in September, sparking the worst kind of speculation.

“It’s feared there was an accident or he was murdered,” Wiles told WND. “I helped organize an expedition to find him, but he wasn’t discovered.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ankara Faces “Nervous” Economic Times Amid Muslim-World Political Turmoil

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu declared a successful end February 28 to what he called “the most comprehensive evacuation operation” in Turkey’s history, as the arrival at an Istanbul airport of 132 Turks caught in Libyan fighting pushed the total number of Turks repatriated during the past week to over 17,500.

Unlike some Western governments, Davutoglu’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has been widely praised in the Turkish media for the speed and efficiency of its rescue operation. But the sheer number of Turks evacuated from Libya carries an ominous message for Ankara, analysts warn: increasingly present as an economic actor in the Middle East and North Africa since the AKP came to power in 2002, Turkey risks being harder hit by the economic side-effects of political instability in the region.

Five years ago, Turkish trade with the countries hit by instability over the past month was worth just US $8.6 billion, with imports outnumbering exports, says Osman Arolat, editor of Dunya, a Turkish business daily. “Since then, trade has gone up by 177 percent, with Turkey exporting US $5.5 billion more than it exports.”

Libya, in particular, has become a key destination for Turkish business. When protests began, over 200 Turkish construction firms, part of the second biggest construction sector in the world after China’s, were working on projects worth an estimated US $15 billion.

“Of course we hope we can begin work again when things calm down over there,” one Libya-based construction company head, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Dunya on February 25. “But we signed our deal with [Muammar] Gaddafi’s regime. What if he is toppled?”

The engineer went on to describe how protestors had looted two of his building sites.

On February 28, barely an hour before Davutoglu announced that Turkey was winding up its rescue operation, Turkey’s Treasury announced a trade deficit for January of $7.3 billion, much higher than the original projection. In an investor note posted immediately after the trade deficit announcement, the Industrial Development Bank of Turkey (TSKB) noted that Libya topped the list of countries Turkey had a trade surplus with.

“If you consider that the probable fall in profits from Turkish export to Libya has not been factored in [to the January deficit], you have to assume that the trade deficit will get worse,” TSKB analysts predicted.

Murat Ucer, an Istanbul-based economist for the New York economic intelligence company GlobalSource, agrees that instability in the Muslim world will have an effect on Turkish trade. Yet, in contrast to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who insisted during a trip to Kuwait this January that the Muslim world could be economically “self-sufficient,” he thinks the importance of regional trade partners is at risk of being exaggerated.

Regional instability “undermines the very positive diversification … which was forced on Turkey because of the slowdown in the European Union,” Ucer said. “But we are not going to get rich off [the region] any time soon.” Whether shrinking or growing, the EU still makes up half of Turkey’s total trade…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Azerbaijan Fears Neighbour Iran’s Radical Influence

ASTARA, Azerbaijan — The Iranian potatoes, oranges and raisins on sale in the bazaars of Astara are not the only signs of the Islamic republic’s influence in this Azerbaijani border town. There is also the Iranian television station which beams the news according to Tehran into Astara’s homes and tea-houses in the Azerbaijani language.

Hundreds of Iranian trucks rumble north each day along the nearby highway, loaded with goods bound for Azerbaijani markets, but despite the trading links between the mainly Shiite Muslim neighbours, their political relationship has become increasingly strained — particularly over the issue of Islam.

Azerbaijan is an ex-Soviet state with a determinedly secular government, and there have been small but widely-publicised protests outside the Iranian embassy in Baku in recent weeks, accusing Tehran of supporting Islamic extremists in an attempt to destabilise the country. There is a huge ethnic Azerbaijani minority in Iran itself — up to a quarter of the Islamic republic’s 74 million population, according to some estimates, and way outnumbering Azerbaijan’s own population of eight million.

Relaxing in a tea-house in Astara, local trader Elchin Ibrahimli said that Tehran was using the Azerbaijani-language broadcasts on its Sahar television channel as a propaganda weapon.

“This channel likes to exaggerate everything,” he said. “For example, if something minor has happened in Azerbaijan, the channel’s journalists are portraying it as a disaster or a global-scale problem.” Another local trader, Agasan Hashimli, said that the channel “skillfully exploits problems that exist in Azerbaijan” such as a recent controversy about the banning of Islamic headscarves in schools. The hijab row sparked demonstrations by pious Muslims, causing officials to accuse Iran of helping to stir up discontent. The Sahar channel also regularly relays criticism of Azerbaijan for its friendly links with Tehran’s foes, the United States and Israel. “In general, Western rapprochement with Azerbaijan — in any form — is perceived by Iran as a threat,” said Zahid Oruj, a lawmaker from the pro-government Ana Vatan (Motherland) party.

“Iran supports Islamic extremism in Azerbaijan because if religion takes on a leading role in the state, they will have more levers to influence Azerbaijani policy,” he said…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Soldier Killed in Roadside Bomb Attack

(AKI) — At least one Italian soldier was killed and four others injured on Monday in west Afghanistan when the Lince armoured military vehicle they were travelling in hit a roadside bomb. The latest attack brings the Italian death toll in the Afghan war to 37.

Massimo Ranzani was killed when the device exploded 25 kilometres north of Shindad at 12:45 pm local time as he was returning from a mission to bring medial aid to the local population.

“Its a cross we bear and we ask ourselves if the our effort to bring democracy in that distant country is having success,” Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi said.

Four soldiers in the US-led Nato coalition were killed on Monday across Afghanistan. Three were killed by roadside bomb attacks in eastern, southern and western Afghanistan. The fourth died following an insurgent attack in the east, the coalition said.

Last year was the deadliest of the 9-year-old Afghan war for the international forces, with 701 dead.

There are currently some 4,200 Italian soldiers deployed in Afghanistan out of a total international force of nearly 150,000.

The coalition intends to hand over primary responsibility for security to Afghan national forces by 2014 and to withdraw international troops that year.

The Italian government has rejected opposition calls for an immediate pull-out of its troops in Afghanistan amid mounting casuaties, saying the withdrawal will be carried out “at the right time” and in coordination with NATO allies.

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

Diana West: Shariah is Our Enemy, Not Afghanistan

…[F]or all hawkish Americans currently wrestling with looming doubts about the pointlessness of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan and clubbing them down with the much-mentioned perils of leaving Afghanistan to “the terrorists”:


It is not, as our presidents vaguely invoke, a war against “terrorism,” “radicalism,” or “extremism”; and it is not, as the current hearts-and-minds-obsessed Afghanistan commander calls it, “a struggle to gain the support of the [Afghan] people.”

It is something more specific than presidents describe, and it is something larger than the outlines of Iraq or Afghanistan. The war that has fallen to our generation is to halt the spread of Islamic law (Shariah) in the West, whether driven by the explosive belts of violent jihad, the morality-laundering of petro-dollars, or decisive demographic shifts.

This mission demands a new line of battle around the West itself, one supported by a multilevel strategy in which the purpose of military action is not to nation-build in the Islamic world, but to nation-save in the Western one.

Secure the borders, for starters, something “war president” George W. Bush should have done but never did. Eliminate the nuclear capabilities of jihadist nations such as Iran, another thing George W. Bush should have done but never did — Pakistan’s, too.


Such a war — to block Shariah in the West — requires more than military solutions. For starters, it requires an unflinching assessment of Shariah’s incompatibility with the U.S. Constitution, and legal bars to Shariah-compliant petro-dollars now flowing into banking and business centers, into universities and media.

It absolutely requires weaning ourselves from Islamic oil — what a concept — and drilling far and widely for our own.

[Return to headlines]

Italy Suffers 37th Afghan Casualty

Berlusconi says ‘torment’ must continue

(ANSA) — Rome, February 28 — Italy suffered its 37th military casualty in Afghanistan on Monday when Lieutenant Massimo Ranzani was killed by a roadside bomb that also wounded four other members of the Alpine regiment he belonged to.

Premier Silvio Berlusconi said Italy’s involvement in the NATO-led ISAF mission must continue despite the loss of life.

“It’s a torment, an ordeal and each time you ask yourself if this sacrifice that commits… the Italian people to be there in a country that is still medieval is an effort that will achieve its aim,” Berlusconi said before adding “We must go on”.

Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa said the soldiers wounded in Monday’s attack on a military convoy that was returning from a medical-aid operation in the Shindand area of western Afghanistan were not in a life-threatening condition.

“One (of the soldiers) was seriously injured in a leg, but he is not in danger of losing his life,” La Russa said after the Lince armoured car the soldiers were travelling in was hit.

Foreign Minister Franco Frattini agreed with Berlusconi that the mission must continue despite the deaths. “Today Italy pays again a very high price for its commitment to the daily fight against international terrorism,” Frattini said.

“It’s clear that the question (about whether the mission is worthwhile) is one we all put to ourselves.

“The answer is that the international community asks us to stay united, to keep supporting the stabilization of Afghanistan and respect the international commitments that we took on with NATO and the United Nations. “That is our duty”.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said he was “profoundly moved” by the death of Ranzani, 36, which revived calls from some parts of the opposition for the Afghan mission to be ended.

“For some time we have said there is no longer any sense in staying in Afghanistan because a full-blown civil war is taking place there,” said Antonio Di Pietro, the leader of the Italy of Values party.

“We say loud and clear that the political responsibility for this death falls on the government and all those in parliament who voted for the mission to continue”. Italy has around 4000 troops posted in Afghanistan, nearly all in the western part of the country, where they are increasingly coming under attack as militants are driven out of southern areas.

Polls have suggested most Italians think their country’s mission, which started in 2004, has turned from a peacekeeping one into a war operation, overstepping the terms of its parliamentary mandate.

Italy plans to gradually pull its troops out of Afghanistan, as ISAF aims to hand back security control to the Afghan authorities in phases ahead of a total withdrawal of combat forces in 2014.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Protesters Clash With Police Over Gas-Station Strike

Karachi, 28 Feb. (AKI) — By Syed Saleem Shahzad — Pakistani demonstrators clashed with the security forces on Monday in the southern port city of Karachi when security personnel tried to block their protests against a fuel shortage due to a strike by the gas-station operators.

A large number of mostly motorcycle owners took to the streets in middle class neighbourhoods as fuel retailers went on strike over fear of a decrease in profits because of possible increases in the petrol prices.

Earlier, the Pakistan Petroleum Dealers Association suspended sales of petroleum products and announced a strike in Karachi.

Police and the para-military troops were immediately mobilised to clear the main roads and carried out baton charge on protesters. However, the demonstrations remained unabated and people continued to pelt security personnel with stones.

The crisis is expected to deepen if petroleum dealers make good on a threat to spread the strike to other parts of Pakistan.

The fuel shortage interrupted Karachi’s daily life at a time when thousands of factory workers took to the streets of the Industrial city of Faisalabad.

Oil has hit 110 dollars a barrel — its highest level for two and a half years as unrest spreading through the Middle East continues to cause market jitters over possible disruption to fuel supplies.

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

Far East

China: Jasmine Revolution: Call for Street Protests on 6 March

Yesterday, police was out patrolling China’s main cities to prevent phantom mass protest organised online, a week after an event. All gatherings were broken up. Foreign journalists were beaten and arrested. A new call for mass protest next Saturday appears online.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — Police have put on show of force yesterday in Beijing, Shanghai and other big cities, after activists used the internet to call on people to take to the streets to protest against the government and its policies. Foreign journalists were also roughed up and detained. A new appeal has been made calling on people to demonstrate on Sunday 6 March.

Government internet censorship failed yesterday to stop calls made for demonstrations in China’s big cities, along the lines of the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ that is shaking up North Africa.

Police was out in force in the country’s main cities and broke up gatherings, sometimes with violence. Blowing whistles and using loud hailers to urge people to move on, police tried to stop a crowd forming in one of Shanghai’s main squares.

In Beijing, more than more than 300 officers kept people from approaching a fenced off protest spot. Street cleaning trucks drove repeatedly up and down the street, spraying water to keep crowds away.

The authorities also used force against foreign journalists, to prevent them from taping, taking pictures and interviewing passers-by. At least ten of them, from the BBC, the Voice of America and Germany’s ARD e ZDF, were detained by police and later released. Bloomberg News said on Monday that one of its journalists was assaulted by men in “plainclothes”.

In reality, hardly any protest has taken place. Some are in fact asking whether the goal of the online calls was to force police to waste its time in stopping phantom demonstrations to show how much the authorities are scared of possible protests like the ones that are shaking up the Arab world and North Africa. The authorities had already sent out police last week to patrol empty streets and squares in 13 big Chinese cities after an online appeal urged people to demonstrate.

Aware that unrest in Arab countries began over high food prices, unemployment and corruption, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao went on an online chat for two hours last Saturday, promising to address public concerns like inflation, social inequalities, economic slowdown and corrupt public officials.

In the meantime, and this despite the ‘Great Firewall of China’, organisers of another online anti-government campaign went online again this Monday. Using social media like Facebook, Twitter and others, they called for fresh ‘Jasmine’ rallies in China’s cities on 6 March.

“We issue our strongest condemnation of the Chinese government; the government arrests innocent people and obstructs global information flow,” the call said. “We believe these deeds cannot stop the development of the Chinese Jasmine Revolution.”

This comes close to the upcoming Chinese People’s Consultative Conference, which is scheduled for next Thursday in Beijing, as well as the National People’s Congress, which opens on Saturday.

“The past 10 years have seen the gradual emergence of this new state capitalism, which monopolises almost all of China’s major resources,” said well-known journalist Cheng Yizhong. “The rapid-development mode it adopted has resulted in a superficial prosperity and has deepened disparities in society, as the majority of the people feel left out of the reform policy.” For Chen, social inequalities cause tensions. Ultimately, “Without an independent judiciary and freedom of speech, I can’t see how the government can be credible in the eyes of the people.”

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Attack Kills Four in Central Nigeria: Military

JOS, Nigeria — An overnight attack has killed at least four people in tense central Nigeria, a region regularly hit by violence between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups, the military said Monday. The pre-dawn attack occured in Dabwak, a mainly Christian village near the flashpoint city of Jos.

“There are four killed,” Brigadier General Hassan Umaru, commander of a military unit deployed in the area, told AFP. Locals said five people — a mother and four children — were shot and killed, blaming Fulani Muslims for the attack. “It’s the Fulanis that came shooting. They killed… my mother-in-law, three of my brothers-in-law and my sister-in-law,” said a woman before breaking down on the phone and hanging up.

Umaru said “any attack in the fringes of this area is suspected to be by Fulanis.” No arrests had been made.

Jos and its environs in central Plateau state have been hit by waves of violence involving Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in recent years that has left hundreds of people dead.

A series of Christmas Eve bomb blasts in Jos killed dozens and set off a new round of violence.

Plateau state is located in the so-called middle belt between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south of Africa’s most populous nation.

Much of the violence has been attributed to a struggle for economic and political power between the Christian Berom ethnic group, viewed as indigenous to the region, and Hausa-Fulani Muslims, seen as the more recent arrivals.

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Italy: Istat: Over 2 Mln Migrant Households

(AGI) Rome — There are about 2 million 74 thousand households with at least one migrant member in Italy (8,3 per cent of the population) said the Italian statistics office, Istat. One out of three struggles to make ends meet, does not own a car and is chronically late in paying bills, said the Istat report “Families with foreigners: indicators of economic hardship” based on 2009 data.

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

MEP Warns of Muslim Immigration to Poland

MEP for the conservative Law and Justice party, Ryszard Czarnecki has written a blog post in which he warns that while immigration in Poland is not a problem “for the time being”, that could change in the future.

In the blog post, Czarnecki writes that immigrants are avoiding Poland as long it is not as rich as other EU countries, although the MEP points to German as an example of “what could potentially happen […] in the future.”

“In Germany, immigrant children and youth up to the age of 25 years old comprise 27 percent of the population,” Czarnecki informs, saying that the figures should “serve as a warning.”

Czarnecki finishes his post by adding that he is not afraid of immigrants from Slavic countries which used to be past of the former USSR, but rather Muslim immigrants. (jb)

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

UK: Ed Miliband Admits Eastern European Immigration Was ‘Underestimated’ By Labour

Immigration from Eastern Europe was underestimated by the former Labour government and hit people’s wage packets, Ed Miliband admitted today.

The Labour leader said economic migration had been allowed to widen the gap between rich and poor.

In a speech, he admitted that the previous government had been wrong not to concentrate on the type of economy it was building.

‘The story of the last two decades is of an economy divided between high-skill, high-productivity sectors and low-skill jobs,’ he said.

‘At the same time, economic migration and greater labour market flexibility have increased the pressure faced by those in lower skill work.’

He added: ‘There is a difference between our government and this one — we did take action through tax credits and other decisions to help families.

‘But we were wrong not to focus more on the type of economy we were building and what that meant for the widening gulf between those at the very top and the rest.’

Taking questions afterwards, Mr Miliband said there was no doubt that managed migration contributes to the economy.

But he said: ‘We’ve got to look at the interaction of migration with, for example, flexible labour markets, because when you have the interaction of Eastern European migration and flexible labour markets there was pressure created on people’s wages.’

Mr Miliband added: ‘We were certainly wrong about the number of people who were going to come in, make no bones about it, because I think we under-estimated significantly the number of people who were going to come in from Eastern Europe.’

Mr Miliband said that, despite ‘advances’ under Labour, the economy was ‘not delivering’ for many people, including increasing numbers of middle earners.

That was causing a ‘quiet crisis’ in homes across the country, the Labour leader went on.

‘For many decades rising prosperity benefited the bulk of the working people,’ he said.

‘But that assumption is breaking down. While those at the top have continued to do well, middle earners are no longer guaranteed to share in our nation’s success.

‘The result is a quiet crisis that is unfolding day by day in kitchens and living rooms in every town, village and city up and down this country.’

Speaking at the launch of an independent inquiry into the plight of low and middle earners, Mr Miliband warned of ‘cost of living crisis’ brought to a head by the Government’s ‘reckless’ cuts…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]

Young Tunisians Look Beyond Switzerland

Thousands of young Tunisians have flooded into the Italian island of Lampedusa after the overthrow in January of the regime of Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali.

Their arrival has sparked fears in Europe of a massive wave of would-be immigrants from North Africa. Switzerland is trying to work with the European Union in finding ways to cope with the situation.

But when Jalel Matri of the Association of Tunisians in Switzerland paid a four day visit to Lampedusa recently, he was amazed at what he saw and heard. And he came back convinced that practically no-one wanted to come to Switzerland.

“I expected to find totally destitute people, but it wasn’t like that at all,” he told on his return to Geneva, where he lives.

It was also quite different from his previous visit in 2009, when it had been very difficult to communicate with the would-be immigrants who were being held in a reception centre.

“When 5,200 Tunisians are walking around in a village with a population of 6,000, they are visible!” he said.

“I was able to talk to them at length and they all told me the same story: most of them are between 18 and 26 years old, and between 60 and 70 per cent of them had jobs, mainly in tourism. But because of the drop in the number of tourists following the revolution, they have temporarily been laid off. Others are bus drivers, mechanics or carpenters.”

“Most of them have never left Tunisia before, because they couldn’t get a visa. But now they can go to Europe without worrying about being arrested by the Tunisian police. They get together the 2,000 dinars (about SFr1,500) they need for the trip, form themselves into a group, buy a boat and go.”

Relatives in France

Matri said almost all come from the tourist regions of southern Tunisia. He had not met a single person from one of the poorer regions where the revolution started.

The first arrivals also included escaped prisoners and members of the police force of the old regime.

Their dream is to join family members in France. None but a very few have any wish to remain in Italy — and even fewer want to come to Switzerland, Matri discovered.

“A lot of men from southern Tunisia emigrated to France decades ago, leaving their children behind. Now these children have grown up, and want to rejoin their relatives,” he explained.

Some have come because they were persuaded by other young men from the same neighbourhood, others because they wanted to meet the challenge of going to Europe.

When Matri asked them if their parents knew of their plans, he got the same answer from practically all of them.

“No, otherwise they would never have let us go!”

The crossing, which takes between 24 and 30 hours is no picnic.

“I met one whose brother, along with 22 others, was in a boat that sank. Most of them said they wouldn’t do it a second time. One even told me that if they continued to hold him, he would go home.”


The young men hang around, killing time in the cafe’s, whose owners have been told to serve them coffee, but not alcohol. They play football on the square in front of the church, visit the “boat cemetery” — the last resting place of dozens of small craft, confiscated after they making the crossing — and go to greet new arrivals, often friends from back home.

“Since they don’t have identity papers they can’t go to a bank, or make phone calls. They asked me to change money for them — some of them gave me 2,000 dinars all in one go! — to buy chips for their phones or to subscribe to an account for them in an internet café, so that they could connect to Facebook,” Matri said.

“There were some problems with the locals at the beginning, but in general the Tunisians have found them very hospitable, and are grateful to them.”

However, there is some nervousness on the Italian side. The local authorities and some of the people of Lampedusa met members of the Italian parliament last week to ask them to help find a solution.

They are worried about the impact on tourism — a major source of income for the island — and on their families. Just one fight and things could go badly wrong. They know that the influx of Tunisians is going to stop, but they are worried about Africans who could turn up on the island after being driven out of Libya.

Matri is worried about the impact on their home villages and wonders why the Tunisian authorities are letting them leave…

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

Culture Wars

UK: Christian Couple Lose Foster Ruling Over Views on Homosexuality

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a “homosexual lifestyle” was acceptable. The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application, believing they would never be approved because of the social worker’s attitude to their religious beliefs.

Today they asked judges to rule that their faith should not be a bar to them becoming carers, and the law should protect their Christian values. But Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation “should take precedence” over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the decision was given, Mrs Johns stood alongside her husband as she said: “We are extremely distressed at what the judges have ruled today. “All we wanted was to offer a loving home to a child in need. We have a good track record as foster parents.

“But because we are Christians, with mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics, we are apparently unsuitable as foster parents. “We are unsure how we can continue the application process following the court’s ruling today.

“We have been excluded because we have moral opinions based on our faith and we feel sidelined because we are Christians with normal, mainstream, Christian views on sexual ethics.

“The judges have suggested that our views might harm children. “We have been told by the Equality and Human Rights Commission that our moral views may ‘infect’ a child.

“We do not believe that this is so. We are prepared to love and accept any child. All we were not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing. “Worst of all, a vulnerable child has now likely missed the chance of finding a safe and caring home at a time when there are so few people willing to foster or adopt.

“We feel excluded and that there is no place for us in society. “We have not received justice. We believe that an independent inquiry is needed to look into this.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity, said: ‘We’re delighted that the High Court’s landmark decision has favoured 21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice. “In any fostering case the interests of the 60,000 children in care should override the bias of any prospective parent.” “Thankfully, Mr and Mrs Johns’s out-dated views aren’t just out of step with the majority of people in modern Britain, but those of many Christians too. If you wish to be involved in the delivery of a public service, you should be prepared to provide it fairly to anyone.”…

           — Hat tip: DF[Return to headlines]


Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years

Even a regional nuclear war could spark “unprecedented” global cooling and reduce rainfall for years, according to U.S. government computer models.

Widespread famine and disease would likely follow, experts speculate.

During the Cold War a nuclear exchange between superpowers—such as the one feared for years between the United States and the former Soviet Union—was predicted to cause a “nuclear winter.”

In that scenario hundreds of nuclear explosions spark huge fires, whose smoke, dust, and ash blot out the sun for weeks amid a backdrop of dangerous radiation levels. Much of humanity eventually dies of starvation and disease.

Today, with the United States the only standing superpower, nuclear winter is little more than a nightmare. But nuclear war remains a very real threat—for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]