Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110517

Financial Crisis
»29% of Greeks Did Not Go for Holidays in 2010
»EU May Ask Investors to Give Greece More Time
»Germany Gives Green Light to Draghi for ECB
»Real Estate Downturn — A Troubling Reality
»Understanding America’s Financial Crises, Part 2
»African Americans Flee Failed Liberal Northern Cities for the Conservative South
»Dems’ Thuggery Knows No Bounds
»Federal Judge Rules Against Calif. Gun Advocates
»Restaurants, Cafes in Pelosi’s District Eat Up Health Care Law Waivers
»Secret Service Interrogates Tacoma 7th Grader
»‘Somebody Did Something Bad to Me’: What IMF Boss ‘Sex Attack’ Victim Told Horrified Brother About ‘Assault’ At New York Hotel
»Strauss-Kahn Case: Hotel Manager Claims Maid is Model Employee
»TSA Backscatter Radiation Safety Tests Were Rigged
»TSA Lies About the U.S. Constitution
»Geert Wilders: Paying a High Price But Here’s Why He Won’t Back Down
Europe and the EU
»Boost Cooperation on Paedophilia Says Vatican
»Dominique Strauss-Kahn: French Press on “Anglo-Saxon” Sex Scandal
»Dominique Strauss-Kahn ‘Acted Like Chimpanzee on Heat’, Woman Claims
»France: Burqa: 50% of Women Give Up Veil After 1 Month of Law
»German Voters and the Virus of the Right
»Ireland: 96pc of Drivers Convicted in Court Get No Penalty Points
»Italy: Prosecutors Quiz Genoa Priest Arrested on Sex Abuse and Drugs Charges
»Italy: Berlusconi Suffers Setback in Local Elections
»Italy: Maurizio Sacconi Calls Milan Mayoral Vote Anomalous
»Spain: Tension in Madrid Over Clearing of ‘15-M’ Protesters
»UK: Robber Spared Deportation: When Did ‘Family’ Mean Some Bird I Met in the Pub?
»UK: Soft Justice for Rapists: Attackers Could be Out of Jail in 15 Months if They Admit Guilt
»EU Pressure Causes Bosnian Serbs to Cancel Referendum
North Africa
»Algeria: Bouteflika: Last Rais Standing
»Algeria: Islamist Prisoners Reject Violence for Freedom
»Libya: Prof. Del Boca: Gaddafi the Target of a Cynical War
»Maroni Calls for a Diplomatic Solution to Libyan Conflict
»Napolitano: Italy Has Never Declared War on Libya
Israel and the Palestinians
»Arab Uprising to Strike Israel Next?
»Netherlands: Foreign Minister Against Palestinian State
Middle East
»Al-Jazeera Reporter ‘Committed 3 Crimes’ Iranian Foreign Ministry Says
»Bin Laden: Turkey: Survey, Majority Against Killing
»EU’s Fule: Turkey Should Reform Laws to Ensure Press Freedoms
»Frank Gaffney: Muslim Outreach 2.0
»Iraq: Kirkuk: Young Christian Abducted, Tortured and Beheaded
»Middle East: Another Obama Foreign Policy Disaster
»Raki Drives Turkey’s 2010 Rise in Alcoholic Spirit Consumption
»Syria: Amb. Rome: Violent Infiltrators Among Protesters
»Syria: Government: News on Mass Grave in Daraa Not True
»Turkey Awaits Israeli Troops’ Names as New Flotilla Preps for June
South Asia
»Kazakhstan: Suicide Bomber Targets Kazakh State Security Building
Far East
»China: GM Sponsors and Celebrates Soon to be Released Chi-Com Propaganda Film
Australia — Pacific
»Australia’s Top Muslim Organisation Wants Taxpayers to Finance the Expansion of Islamic Schools and Halal Food Outlets Into Mainstream Suburbs.
»Govt Says No to Sharia Law
Latin America
»Man Who Slaughtered School Kids in Rio Was Nicknamed “Bin Laden, “ Wanted to Fly an Airplane Into Rio’s Christ the Redeemer
»UNHCR: 14,000 Refugees Fled Libya to Italy and Malta
»University Insiders: Illegal Immigrants Get Affirmative Action
»Where Are They? 181,000 With Expired Visas Are Still in Britain

Financial Crisis

29% of Greeks Did Not Go for Holidays in 2010

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 16 — Sixty-eight percent of Greeks declare that in 2011 they will have a vacation in Greece, compared to 38% of Europeans who say that they will stay in their countries for holidays, Athens news agency reports citing data from the European Eurobarometer poll that registers the Europeans’ tourist trends. According to Eurobarometer, in 2010, 29% of Greeks did not have a vacation, of whom 58% said the reason was tight finances. In the “EU of the 27” 20.7% of European citizens did not have a vacation, of whom 41% invokes financial reasons. Moreover, 65% of Greeks, compared to 58% of Europeans say they prefer traditional and “known” destinations, while only 25% of Greeks, compared to 28% of Europeans say they prefer non-traditional and emerging destinations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU May Ask Investors to Give Greece More Time

BRUSSELS (AP) — Greece’s private creditors may be asked to give the struggling country more time to repay its debts, the European Union’s top economic official said Tuesday, marking an important shift in the region’s attitudes towards solving the crisis.

Until this week, European officials had denied that extending debt repayments had even been discussed, for fear of undermining market confidence. But many investors are convinced a change in Greece’s debt deals is inevitable at some point.

“A voluntary extension of loan maturities could … be examined” together with asking banks and other investors to maintain their exposure to Greece, the EU’s Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn told journalists after a two-day meeting with European finance ministers.

Before any such move is considered, however, Rehn said the Greek government was expected to announce in coming days new spending cuts and reforms to make sure it can lower its budget deficit to the targets set out in its bailout program.


Greece’s debt is expected to top 166 percent of economic output by the end of 2012, way above any other eurozone state. Few economists believe that it will ever garner the necessary economic strength to pay them off and warn that even a maturity extension and more bailout loans will likely not be enough.

Rehn reiterated his call for Greece’s warring political parties to put aside their differences and focus on getting their country back on track—a demand that was quickly rejected by Greece’s opposition leader.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Germany Gives Green Light to Draghi for ECB

Merkel hails Italian banker’s ‘vast experience’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 11 — Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi appears set to become the next chief of the European Central Bank (ECB) after Germany on Wednesday gave its ‘conditional’ green light to his candidacy. “When his (Draghi’s) candidacy is announced the German government will support it. The chancellor has already addressed herself on this in an interview,” government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said.

In the interview, to be published Thursday by the Die Zeit weekly, Angela Merkel said “Germany could support” Draghi’s candidacy, adding “I know Mario Draghi. He is a very interesting person of vast experience. He is very close to our views in regard to the need for stability and solidity in economic policy”.

Steegmans explained that the chancellor’s use of the conditional tense was “natural given that Draghi’s candidacy will not be presented by us but by others”.

According to Steegmans, “it appears clear that discussions on national and international levels are at a point in which a decision can be made” on the next ECB.

The German government spokesman would neither confirm nor deny whether Draghi’s appointment as the next ECB chief was discussed during a phone conversation on Tuesday between Merkel and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.

“The discussion included all the main issues regarding Europe,” he said.

A meeting of Euro Group ministers in Brussels on Monday is expected to decide whether Draghi will be the only candidate to fill the post Jean-Claude Trichet will leave in October.

A final decision on the next ECB presodent will made at the June 24 European Council meeting.

The German press reported almost two weeks ago that Merkel was ready to support Draghi but the Berlin was quick to deny that any definitive decision had been made.

Speaking at a regular press conference, spokesman Steffen Seibert said “the German government will express its support for a possible candidate in due time”. Draghi, who took the helm of the Italian central bank at the start of 2006, emerged as the clear frontrunner and consensus candidate for the ECB job last month when French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced his support for the former Goldman Sachs vice chairman for Europe.

This was followed by Spain, Portugal, Greece and Slovakia throwing their support behind Draghi.

Officially, Berlin has said it wanted a candidate who could ensure the ECB was well managed and would work to stabilise the euro area.

However, there were reports that Berlin wants greater influence over the ECB, with its chief economist Jurgen Stark given a top-level job, as well as guarantees that it will not be forced to contribute more than it wants to the ECB’s bailout fund for debt-ridden euro area members.

Sarkozy’s announced support for Draghi was seen by some observers and even partners in Berlusconi’s government as payback for Italy towing France’s line in regard to EU migrant policy and the international mission in Libya, where Italy has begun to play a more offensive role in bombing positions held by Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

The Northern League, Berlusconi’s chief ally in government, went so far as to claim Italy was becoming a “French colony” but denied any intention of bringing down the executive over the mission.

As Bank of Italy governor, Draghi, 63, is already a member of the ECB’s Governing and General Councils and he also sits on the board of the Bank for International Settlements and the boards of governors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Asian Development bank.

He was elected chairman of the Financial Stability forum in April 2006 which three years later was transformed into the permanent Financial Stability Board in the wake of the international economic recession and the Greek financial crisis.

Draghi took over the Bank of Italy post after former governor Antonio Fazio quit for his alleged role in a banking takeover scandal.

Fazio was accused of acting above the law in his efforts to thwart any foreign takeover of an Italian bank.

Draghi was Treasury director general for 10 years from 1991 to 2001 during which time he spearheaded Europe’s biggest-ever privatization program and framed a new company takeover law protecting small investors, which bears his name.

Before that he served for six years as executive director of the World Bank (1984-90) and from 2002 to 2006 served as vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International and was a member of the firm-wide management committee. Draghi is a graduate of the University of Rome, earned his Ph.D in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and held a full chair at the University of Florence in the decade before joining the Treasury.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Real Estate Downturn — A Troubling Reality

Many of today’s major news sources are continuing to ignore one economic reality that is starring many Americans in the face: the real estate downturn.

Most of today’s major banks have for the last several years been encouraged by oversight agencies like the Fed and Commerce Department to not shed their huge amount of RE delinquent loan holdings they have. Why so? Bureaucrats are worried that releasing a flood of these bank owned RE properties would significantly depress the RE market. They anticipate that such a move would create far too much supply (of properties for sale) thus adversely effecting RE values.

The Wall Street Journal reports that there are over 7 million foreclosures that have been held back by lenders and banks.


Today, it is not uncommon to find abandoned residential properties throughout most communities around the country. CNN-Money recently reported that 13% of all residential property throughout the country is now vacant. Even if the homeowner cannot make their payments, the banks /lenders are allowing some borrowers to stay in their delinquent properties based on their assumption that the past due borrower will continue to maintain the care of their home.

Sadly, real estate market is in a real crisis today. Over the last 15 months, I have been in 7 states around the country and all of these states are suffering economically in this area. In my hometown of San Diego, I am seeing commercial vacancies in areas that I have never witnessed before in my lifetime.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Understanding America’s Financial Crises, Part 2

Europe’s Economy is falling like dominos. The Obama administration is following the same destructive socialist expansion of government using smoke and mirrors to convince us that it is the right way to go. It is clear that Obama is sacrificing America for political gain. We have to choose now who to follow.

For the past year we have been watching Europe’s economy unravel. It started in Greece as its debt got out of control. They were forced to make drastic cuts in their budget in order to get bailouts from the European Union (EU) and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS). Riots ensued as unions demanded their salaries and benefits not be cut.

The crisis soon spread to Ireland and then Portugal. Again, budgets had to be slashed resulting in more riots and discontent. Although England and other European nations are not in immediate trouble, they see the handwriting on the wall and are beginning to make needed cuts before their budgets have to be slashed. That has precipitated angry protests from unions which do not want to give up their cushy benefits.

The situation in America is rapidly becoming eerily similar to the dire circumstances that caused Greece, Ireland and Portugal to go belly up forced them to seek international bailouts.


Last week a scathing report of the causes of the collapse in Ireland hit the news. The analysis was done by Peter Nyberg, a former International Monetary Fund economist. He provided hard evidence that the Irish banking collapse was caused by bankers taking risks on a “almost unbelievable” scale, which was ignored by a complicit public, and a lack of adequate regulation. The report, commissioned by former finance minister Brian Lenihan, goes on to further blame the breakdown on “the unhindered expansion of the property bubble financed by banks using wholesale market funding.”

Nyberg concludes, “It appears now, with hindsight, to be almost unbelievable that intelligent professionals appear not have been aware of the size of the risk they were taking.” There was, he says, an “inability and unwillingness to remember basic principles of banking” that providing credit is not a sale, “it is the acquisition of a risky asset.” he also forcefully blames the Irish people; “large parts of Irish society were willing to let the good times roll.”[3] The similarities between Ireland and the U.S. are chilling.


The deterioration of the American economy is the result of the rapidly expanding federal government that is transforming the U.S. from a free market economy to a socialist economy similar to what is devastating Europe today. A stunning new USA Today report reveals that a record 18.3 percent of all personal income in America now comes from federal payments like Social Security, Medicare and food stamps. That’s up from 12.5 percent in 2000, most of it in the past two and a half years. Conversely, a record low of only 51 percent of all personal income comes from wages in the private sector.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


African Americans Flee Failed Liberal Northern Cities for the Conservative South

One of the most interesting results from the 2010 census, little discussed by the media, was the large scale movement of African Americans over the past 10 years from Democrat controlled cities in the northern United States including Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and New York to the more conservative south. In an historic reversal of the 20th century migration that brought millions north in search of economic opportunity, African American families are abandoning the failed liberal communities in which they have lived for decades.

Over the past 50 years predominantly black neighborhoods throughout the north have been treated by Democratic Party as socialist proving grounds. While under single party rule, traditional American virtues like self reliance, family, and education were abandoned in favor of liberal ideology that promoted victimhood and welfare. Not unexpectedly the socialist experiment worked about as well for the black community as it did for the Soviet Union. Instead of the utopian dream, the only thing many African Americans received in return for their loyalty to the Democratic Party was drug and violence filled streets and social devastation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Dems’ Thuggery Knows No Bounds

By Michael a. Walsh

Orrin Hatch, the senior senator from Utah, didn’t mince words the other day on Hugh Hewitt’s national radio show. The Democrats, he said, “play politics very, very tough, they play it well, and they don’t give a damn about what’s right and what’s wrong.”

He was speaking about battles in Washington, but an even more vivid example can be found in Wisconsin, where the Democrats are still trying to overturn the 2010 elections.

Blindsided last fall by the election of Gov. Scott Walker, the loss of both houses of the legislature and the US Senate seat held by ultraliberal Russ Feingold, the Democrats have simply refused to accept defeat and instead are continuing the fight by any means necessary.

Lawmakers’ weeks-long flight from the state to prevent a vote on Walker’s reformist budget made national news; less well-covered tactics have included recounts and recall petitions as well as threats and intimidation.

Never mind that Walker’s limits on the public-employees unions’ collective-bargaining privileges were rather modest. Federal unions have never had rights like Wisconsin’s; other states, including Indiana, have adopted similar limits without a hint of the sky then falling.

Even Massachusetts is considering restricting municipal unions’ collective-bargaining rights on health benefits to save cash-strapped cities and towns an estimated $100 million in the coming fiscal year.

The bill has passed one house of the Legislature and is pending in the other. Union officials in the Bay State are fuming, as but so far there have been no mass sit-ins, no occupation of the State House, no death threats against the legislators.

Massachusetts, you see, is a wholly owned Democratic Party subsidiary — so there’s no war if they seek something that’s so outrageous when sought by Republicans.

Back in Wisconsin, the state attorney general’s office last week released documents and audio recordings of some 70 threats against state officials.

Among the most outrageous was an e-mail allegedly from schoolteacher Katherine Windels, which read: “Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell.” She’s been charged with two felony counts, including a bomb threat.

The controversial collective-bargaining law itself is in limbo, thanks to a restraining order issued in March by a judge in Dane County, where Madison is located. The ludicrous grounds: a claim that Republicans didn’t give the public “proper notice” for a March 9 meeting that cleared the way for the bill’s passage.

The state Supreme Court has set oral arguments on Walker’s appeal of that ruling for June 6…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Federal Judge Rules Against Calif. Gun Advocates

A federal judge ruled Monday there is no constitutional right to carry a hidden gun in public — a decision that dealt a setback to gun-rights advocates who had challenged how much discretion California law enforcement officials have in issuing concealed weapons permits.

U.S. District Court Judge Morrison England Jr. in Sacramento supported a policy by Yolo County Sheriff Ed Prieto that says applicants must have a reason, such as a safety threat, to legally carry a concealed weapon in his county northwest of Sacramento.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Restaurants, Cafes in Pelosi’s District Eat Up Health Care Law Waivers

Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco district was the hands-down winner in the latest set of health care law waivers announced by the Obama administration.

More than three dozen businesses with locations in Pelosi’s district were granted temporary exemptions from the law in April, according to information released by the Department of Health and Human Services. The businesses — mostly restaurants and cafes, with a few upscale hotels and clubs mixed in — accounted for about 20 percent of all waivers granted last month.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Secret Service Interrogates Tacoma 7th Grader

The young boy was questioned by Secret Service for his Facebook posting.

A Tacoma seventh grader faced federal interrogation at school for what he posted on his Facebook page. His mom said it all happened without her knowledge or permission.

Timi Robertson said she had just finished lunch with a friend Friday when she got a phone call from her son’s school.

Osama bin Laden “I answered it, and it’s the school security guard who’s giving me a heads up that the Secret Service is here with the Tacoma Police Department and they have Vito and they’re talking to him,” Robertson said.

After Osama bin Laden was killed, 13-year-old Vito LaPinta posted an update to his Facebook status that got the Feds attention.

“I was saying how Osama was dead and for Obama to be careful because there could be suicide bombers,” says LaPinta.

A week later, while Vito was in his fourth period class, he was called in to the principal’s office.

“A man walked in with a suit and glasses and he said he was part of the Secret Service,” LaPinta said. “He told me it was because of a post I made that indicated I was a threat toward the President.”

The Tacoma school district acknowledged a Secret Service agent questioned Vito and that it was a security guard who called Vito’s mom because the principal was on another call. The school district said they didn’t wait for Vito’s mother to get there because they thought she didn’t take the phone call seriously.

“That’s a blatant lie,” Robertson said.

The teen’s mom says she rushed to Truman Middle School immediately and arrived to discover her son had already been questioned for half an hour.

“I just about lost it,” she said. “My 13 year-old son is supposed to be safe and secure in his classroom and he’s being interrogated without my knowledge or consent privately.”

The seventh grader said that once his mom showed up, the agent finished the interview and told him he was not in any trouble. Now he’s more careful about what he posts online.

His mother says she isn’t financially able to take legal action but hopes her family’s story raises awareness about the treatment she said her son endured.

The Seattle branch of the Secret Service did not respond to requests for comment.

           — Hat tip: Van Grungy[Return to headlines]

‘Somebody Did Something Bad to Me’: What IMF Boss ‘Sex Attack’ Victim Told Horrified Brother About ‘Assault’ At New York Hotel

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

The alleged rape victim of Dominique Strauss-Kahn told a relative in her first phone call after the attack: ‘Somebody did something really bad to me’, he revealed tonight.

The woman phoned her older brother an hour after the alleged assault took place and gave him a horrifying account what the head of the IMF allegedly did to her.

Crying uncontrollably, she said that she had been trapped inside the hotel bedroom while the Frenchman twice tried to force himself on her.

She told him he was the first member of family to whom she had revealed the alleged attack He said he told her not to talk to anybody and immediately contacted a lawyer to represent her.

The alleged victim’s brother spoke out as Strauss-Kahn, 62, spent his first night in Rikers Island prison after being refused $1million bail.


Assistant District Attorney John A McConnell had earlier called Strauss-Kahn an ‘incurable flight risk’ and voiced concerns that if he managed to flee to France the U.S. would not be able to extradite him.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Strauss-Kahn Case: Hotel Manager Claims Maid is Model Employee

(AGI) New York — The 32 year-old maid who accused IMF director Strauss-Kahn of sexual harassment is “a model employee”. That’s what Jorge Tito, manager of the Sofitel Hotel (owned by the French group Accor and where the maid has been working for three years), said.

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

TSA Backscatter Radiation Safety Tests Were Rigged

The evidence of the TSA’s fakery is now obvious thanks to the revelations of a letter signed by five professors from the University of California, San Francisco and Arizona State University. You can view the full text of the letter at [url].

The letter reveals:

To this day, there has been no credible scientific testing of the TSA’s naked body scanners. The claimed “safety” of the technology by the TSA is based on rigged tests.

The testing that did take place was done on a custom combination of spare parts rigged by the manufacturer of the machines (Rapidscan) and didn’t even use the actual machines installed in airports. In other words, the testing was rigged.

As the professors state in their letter:

The document is heavily redacted with red stamps over the words and figures. In every case the electric current used which correlates one to one with X-ray dose has been specifically redacted. Thus there is no way to repeat any of these measurements. While the report purports to present the results of objective testing, in fact the JHU APL personnel, who are unnamed anywhere in the document either as experimenters or as authors, were not provided with a machine by Rapiscan. Instead they were invited to the manufacturing site to observe a mock-up of components (spare parts) that were said to be similar to those that are parts of the Rapiscan system. The tests were performed by the manufacturer using the manufacturer’s questionable test procedures.


John Sedat, a professor emeritus in biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF and the primary author of the letter says, “.the best guess of the dose is much, much higher than certainly what the public thinks.” This indicates the public has been deeply misled by the actual amount of radiation emitted by the machines.

Peter Rez, the physics professor from Arizona State, says that the high-quality images described by the TSA could not be produced with the low levels of radiation being claimed by the TSA. The images, in other words, don’t match up with the TSA’s cover story. Rez estimates the actual radiation exposure is 45 times higher than what we’ve previously been told.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

TSA Lies About the U.S. Constitution

The TSA responded to a Texas bill interposing on behalf of its citizens to protect them from overreaching airport screening searches by fabricating a constitutional principle, according to conservatives and security analysts.

The Texas House of Representatives unanimously passed HB1937 138-0 on Friday evening. Introduced in March by Rep. David Simpson (R-Longwood), the legislation would make it a state offense for any public servant to touch a person’s private areas, or touch them in a way a reasonable person would consider offensive, as a condition of travel or entering a public building.

“Groping innocent citizens does little to enhance security, but it does much to reduce our freedom and dignity,” Simpson said. “Freedom brings people together. This is not about Republicans or Democrats, but about the dignity of every man, women, boy or girl, and their freedom to travel without being treated as a criminal suspect.”

The legislation now moves on to the Texas Senate where Sen. Dan Patrick (R-Houston) will sponsor the bill.

The TSA responded in a statement on its blog, insisting it has the right to perform Fourth Amendment violating searches based on the supremacy clause in the Constitution.

“What’s our take on the Texas House of Representatives voting to ban the current TSA pat-down? Well, the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article. VI. Clause 2) prevents states from regulating the federal government.”

But Tenth Amendment Center executive director Michael Boldin called the TSA statement an intentional deception.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Geert Wilders: Paying a High Price But Here’s Why He Won’t Back Down

TORONTO — According to Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders his life changed irrevocably the day Mohammed Bouyeri murdered filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in broad daylight on the streets of Amsterdam. In 2004, Bouyeri shot and stabbed Van Gogh multiple times, tried to decapitate him and drove a knife through a five-page letter straight into Van Gogh’s body. The death threats in Bouyeri’s letter forced Wilders, and fellow politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, into a restrictive life of secrecy and high security. Credible death threats continue to arrive from sources around the world, all because he dared to state openly his negative opinions about Islam.

For almost seven years, Wilders and his family have lived under constant, 24-hour guard. Their every move must be approved in advance; they sleep and live in safe houses such as army barracks and jail cells; all visitors must be pre-screened. There is no room for spontaneity and no possibility of quietly stopping in at a friend’s house. As a result, good friends and even some family members have reluctantly parted ways with Wilders. It’s such a strain that he is now glad he and his wife do not have children because “they would have a hell of a life.”

Wilders, whose Party for Freedom is the third-largest political party in The Netherlands, is also facing an ongoing criminal trial on charges of incitement to hatred and discrimination against the religious beliefs of Muslims for statements he made in public and in his 2008 film, Fitna (see Wilders gets Canadian support on eve of trial, and Why I stand with Dutch politician Geert Wilders, Jewish Tribune, Jan. 27, 2010).

The International Free Press Society (IFPS) — Canada brought Wilders to Ontario last week to speak in London, Toronto and Ottawa about the threat that he believes Western civilization faces. Wilders spoke with the Jewish Tribune about the high cost he is paying for speaking out and the reasons why he won’t back down.

Wilders said he still feels a sense of disbelief over his trial.

“I always think when I am sitting in court: what did I do? Did I rob a bank? What did I do? But no, I didn’t; I just spoke what I believe is the truth.”

He said the state is prosecuting him to send a message to the wider community. “If I will be found guilty, the freedom of speech in the Netherlands for many more people will be set back for centuries.”

The Party for Freedom has grown in popularity since Wilders founded it in 2005; it earned one and a half million votes in last year’s election.

“I called my party the Party for Freedom because we have to fight to preserve our freedom and I’m very much convinced that Islam and democracy, and Islam and freedom, are the opposites of one another and don’t go hand in hand. Despite the danger and the severe restrictions on his day-to-day life, Wilders has continued to speak publicly.

“In the process of fighting for freedom, I lost totally my own personal freedom… It’s a very high price to pay but I know that if I would moderate my voice or leave politics the people who use non-democratic means — and use threats and violence — would win and I will never let them win. It’s not religious but I feel like I’m on a mission and I know what I’m doing it for: I’m doing it because I want our children and our grandchildren [to] live in a free world where there’s nothing wrong to be a woman, there’s nothing wrong to leave Islam for Christianity or another religion, there’s nothing wrong [with] being a Jew, there’s nothing wrong [with] being a homosexual, that you have freedom, that you have freedom of speech.”

Wilders is also an outspoken advocate for the state of Israel. He lived there between the ages of 17 and 19 and has visited many times since then.

“I am pro-Israel: I make no secret of it… Even if it will cost me votes, I will do it until my last minute as a parliamentarian. Because you have to stand for something and if you stand for something, you have to explain it and you have to fight for it.”

He pointed out in his speech that, “the only place in the Middle East where Christians are safe to be Christians is in the state of Israel, and this is why Israel deserves the support of Christians worldwide.”

Before 2004, Wilders travelled extensively in the Middle East. In his speech, he differentiated between Muslims and Islam, the latter of which he called a “totalitarian ideology. There are many moderate Muslims and I always make a distinction between the ideology and the people, between Islam and Muslims. There may be, and there are, many moderate Muslims but there is no such thing, nor will there ever be such a thing, as a moderate Islam.”

Wilders cited newspaper reports and statistics to back up his claim that “the Islamic presence in Europe is causing huge problems.”

He called for “a spirit of resistance,” which “begins with expressing our solidarity to all Christians, indeed to all people, who are the victims of Islam…also the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus, the non-believers and the Islamic apostates.”

He suggested possible courses of action such as eliminating hate speech laws; ending cultural relativism; stopping “Islamization” by ending immigration from Muslim countries, forbidding the construction of new mosques and closing down Islamic schools; and insisting that “immigrants accept Canada’s values and not the other way around.”

Wilders told the Tribune that “what is happening to Europe today is happening to Canada tomorrow” and Canadians need to “stop it, prevent it and fight it. Don’t be silent… If you are silent, you are also responsible for the loss of freedom.”…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Boost Cooperation on Paedophilia Says Vatican

Mandatory reports to authorities under ‘zero tolerance’ norms

(ANSA) — Vatican City, May 16 — The Catholic Church must boost cooperation with civil authorities to prevent and punish paedophilia, the Vatican’s sex-crime watchdog said Monday.

Writing to bishops worldwide in the wake of global scandals that have rocked the Church, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith reiterated that bishops had a “duty” to give “an adequate response” to cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

This response must “bear in mind what is laid down in civil laws,” the Congregation said.

Bishops, furthermore, must be ready “to listen to victims and their relatives”.

The new ‘zero tolerance’ policy makes it mandatory for Church authorities to report paedophile priests.

Bishops, who have sometimes been accused of cover-ups, will be asked to take “greater responsibility” on the issue.

Individual dioceses will work more closely with civil authorities on the training of priests, and guidelines will be drawn up for a “coordinated approach” to the problem.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the new rules were aimed at “encouraging Church members to face the problem promptly and effectively, with clear instructions, adapted to suit local situations”. The instructions from the Congregation were issued in seven languages, Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish.

The Vatican’s fresh move to crush paedophile priests came amid reports that a northern Italian priest, Father Riccardo Seppia, allegedly gave cocaine to young parishioners in exchange for sex.

The recommendations from the watchdog follow a hardening of the Vatican’s line on paedophilia last July.

The statute of limitations for paedophilia was lengthened from 10 to 20 years in a new, updated version of a 2001 list of canon law Delicta Graviora (Major Crimes).

This has been a key demand from victims’ groups who say too many cases have been allowed to be ‘timed out’.

There will now be the possibility of immediate defrocking in the “most serious” cases.

According to Msgr Charles Scicluna, who handles abuse cases at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, some 20% of the cases that reach his desk each year are deemed to fall into this category.

Lay Church members will be allowed to sit on canon law trials.

Sexual abuse of the mentally handicapped was put on a par with the abuse of minors and child pornography was added to the list.


After an initial response to the scandals that some depicted as defensive, Pope Benedict XVI has been increasingly open about sex abuse and has prayed and wept with victims on recent trips overseas, including to Malta and Britain.

Last June he issued an unprecedented public apology, telling priests from all over the world in Rome that “We insistently ask for forgiveness from God and the persons involved”. The 84-year-old pontiff vowed to “do everything possible to make sure such abuse can never happen again”, vowing to weed out possible future predators when priests were selected and trained.

Alluding to cover-ups, he said “conduct unworthy of the priestly life cannot be tolerated”.

The Catholic Church has been riven by a series of sex abuse scandals and has had to fend off allegations that the Vatican covered up a number of cases.

Paedophile scandals have hit the Church in the United States, Australia, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany and Italy.

Benedict has repeatedly pledged to root out abuse but some victims groups have said they want to see “more concrete” steps.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: French Press on “Anglo-Saxon” Sex Scandal

“DSK OUT.” Along along with the rest of the French press, Libération leads with the story of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested and charged with attempted rape in a New York hotel on Sunday. The managing director of the IMF, who according to the polls was the front-running left-wing candidate in the 2012 French presidential election, is now out of the race. “The socialists have lost the only candidate that, in a range of configurations, was favorite in the polls. The one who could even have beaten Nicolas Sarkozy,” complains Libération. “France is now experiencing its first “Anglo-Saxon” sex scandal, and has brutally entered a zone of public debate which, until now, because of cultural exception, “Latin” identity or democratic weakness, was hitherto confined to rumours and gossip amongst a select circle of insiders.”

“Dominique Strauss-Kahn will not be the next president of the French Republic,” remarks Le Figaro, which insists that “the new idol of the French left has disintegrated. This will prove to be profoundly unjust if DSK is innocent, but, unfortunately for him, the situation is irremediable.”

Other titles in the French press have expressed their amazement at the DSK “inflight explosion,” as dubs it. Along with discussions of the possibility of a honey trap, several newspapers present the views of analysts, psychiatrists and novelists in their bid to understand what might have led the head of the IMF, who had already been the subject of a 2008 investigation of sexual misconduct in the IMF and may shortly be targeted by another case in France (regarding an incident that took place in 2002), to sabotage his career. explains what it is to be a “sex addict,” while Libération cites American journalist and IMF specialist for the conservative weekly Human Events, John Gizzi, who remarked a month ago: “what I find strange about Strauss-Kahn, is that he is considered to be the next French presidential candidate, but he does not have the look. He is clearly overweight, and does not seem prepared for the battle to come.” Libération continues: “the events of this weekend have added much to the relevance of these remarks: even if we accept that DSK was the victim of a trap, a ‘political fighter’ truly ready to devote himself even to the last drop his sweat to conquering the Elysée would never have let himself be ‘trapped’ so easily.”

With this in mind, some commentators like novelist Luis de Miranda, speak of a “political suicide” and point out that “such an act at such a moment in his lifetime could not be anything other than deliberate. This fall from grace is something he desired. The spiritual spark that germinated in the deep core of DSK saved us from a Caligula as president. This New York event is a sacrifice, a renunciation of his much vaunted superpowers, and a gift in the general interest of the French people.”

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

Dominique Strauss-Kahn ‘Acted Like Chimpanzee on Heat’, Woman Claims

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

A 31-year-old writer who claims Dominique Strauss-Kahn ripped off her bra and acted like a “chimpanzee on heat” nine years ago is considering filing a criminal complaint against the International Monetary Fund chief.

Tristane Banon alleges that after the 2002 attack she was dissuaded from filing charges by her mother, a regional councillor in Mr Strauss-Kahn’s Socialist party.

Miss Banon said the alleged incident took place when she went to interview Mr Strauss-Kahn, a former French finance minister, in an apartment.

She gave a graphic account of the alleged attack in a 2007 television programme, currently posted on the internet.

She arrived at a studio with little more than a bed in it. She said he had insisted on holding her hand during the interview, then her arm and then made advances to her. There was no independent confirmation of her allegations.

“It ended really badly. We ended up fighting. It finished really violently,” the clip shows her saying. “We fought on the floor. It wasn’t a case of a couple of slaps. I kicked him, he unhooked my bra, he tried to open my jeans,” she said.

The politician acted, she said, like a “chimpanzee on heat”.

“I said the word ‘rape’ to scare him but it didn’t seem to scare him much, which suggests he was used to it,” she said.

Under French law, sexual assault charges must be filed within three years but attempted rape charges can be brought up to 10 years after the alleged attack.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

France: Burqa: 50% of Women Give Up Veil After 1 Month of Law

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, MAY 11 — Today we have the first results of the law that banned the burqa and the niqab in France that entered into force exactly one month ago. According to the ‘Touche pas a’ la Constitution’ (Hands off the Constitution) association, approximately half the women who used the full veil to go out before April 11 have given it up. Another percentage of women instead allegedly preferred to “stay at home”, according to association president Jean-Bruno Roumegoux, who is fighting for the law dated 11 October 2010 to remove the ban at least on the streets.

Furthermore, according to the first assessment by ‘Touche pas a’ la Constitution’, to date no fine has been inflicted on the 288 veiled women who signed up with the association. The law provides a fine of 150 euros for anybody stopped wearing a burqa or niqab in the streets or in any other public location, and the potential application of a mandatory civic education stage. The association had planned to pall all potential fines. Yesterday minister of the Interior Claude Gueant pointed out that, to date, in the context of the anti-burqa law, some 27 or 28 fines have been reported.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

German Voters and the Virus of the Right

By Jakob Augstein

The Danes bring back border controls, France fears waves of refugees: Germany’s neighbors have started to show rampant EU skepticism, but German attitudes toward Europe are no less alarming. A new study shows Germans from across the political spectrum are falling victim to right-wing populism.

The Forsa Institute just conducted a new poll for the newspaper Der Freitag in which a representative number of German residents were confronted with bare remarks by four European right-wing populists. The results are unexpectedly clear: Right-wing ideas appeal to an unexpectedly broad portion of the populace.

The voters most prone to express them are members of the conservative CDU/CSU (Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party), the FDP (the business-friendly Free Democrats) — and the Left Party, consisting of many former East German communists. Perhaps most alarming is that 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, attitudes nationwide have shifted closer to East German right-wing populism than to analogous ideas from the former West.

For example:

  • 70 percent of those surveyed say Germany gives too much money to the EU
  • Almost half want Germany to drastically reduce immigration
  • 38 percent believe Islam doesn’t fit into a German lifestyle and represents a threat to German values
  • 30 percent want an “independent Germany, without the euro, where the EU holds no legal sway”

There are sharp differences among voters from different parties, though. Voters from the CDU, FDP and the Left Party — rather than the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) or environmentalist Greens — find EU membership too expensive to tolerate. Greens and FDP members both show less anti-immigrant sentiment than the supporters of other parties. Christian Democrats, Free Democrats and leftists show the most Islamophobia. But when it comes to rejecting the euro, Left Party voters surpass all other respondents.

There are also sharp differences between eastern and western Germany: Euro-skepticism and anti-Muslim feeling are far more common, by at least a third, in the former East.

The Right-Wing Virus

Besides the Greens, in other words, all German parties are infected with some form of the right-wing virus. The most successful right-wing populist in Germany at the moment calls himself a Social Democrat: Thilo Sarrazin. It’s an open secret that the SPD refused to kick Sarrazin out of the party for fear of certain right-wing populist currents within its ranks. This should have been an alarm signal for our political culture, and it’s confirmed by the xenophobic and anti-European sentiments exposed by the Forsa poll. But the SPD leadership’s behavior may have been a survival tactic, since Sarrazin could have acted as a sort of Lafontaine of the right by founding his own maverick, populist party — and shaving off a significant part of the SPD’s right wing.

The FDP is now preparing for life without Guido Westerwelle, the current foreign minister who recently resigned as vice-chancellor in Merkel’s cabinet and leader of the Free Democrats. The party needs a new identity; but it must beware of right-wing sentiment left over from its recent transformation from a classic European liberal party to a neo-liberal self-service shop. Within the Left Party, too, the leadership’s emancipatory rhetoric is sometimes at odds with the true feelings of the party base…

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

Ireland: 96pc of Drivers Convicted in Court Get No Penalty Points

THOUSANDS of motorists are not getting penalty points for traffic offences because the Government has still not closed a legal loophole.

Drivers convicted of some of the most serious offences are not getting the points because court clerks have no power to demand their licence details.

In February last year, the Irish Independent revealed that just 731 motorists had points applied to their licence, despite the courts recording 18,387 convictions.

This has since risen to 25,968 drivers getting convictions, but just 1,100 have had points applied — 4.2pc.

Points are not being applied because defendants are not bringing their licences to court so their convictions can be recorded.

Yesterday the Department of Transport said new regulations requiring defendants to furnish details of their licences to the clerks will be enacted next month, but computer issues needed to be addressed.

It said the changes “may” have implications for computer systems operated by gardai, the Courts Service and the National Vehicle Driver File, where penalty points are recorded. But it would not say why these issues had only arisen now.

Court clerks have no legal powers to demand that licences be produced. Penalty points can have a major bearing on drivers’ insurance premiums.

The legal changes are contained in Section 63 of the 2010 Road Traffic Act, which was signed into law last August. The provisions were at “consultation stage” and the loophole would be closed “as soon as possible”, most likely in June, a spokesman added.

Meanwhile, gardai have recorded a 42pc increase in the number of people convicted of the 10 most serious penalty point offences in the last 14 months.


Convictions included driving dangerously defective vehicles, having no insurance, failing to have a National Car Test (NCT) and careless driving — all five-point offences.

However, just one in every 25 is getting the penalty points.

The figures show:

  • The biggest increase is for driving a vehicle without a valid NCT. Convictions have risen from 198 to 2,810. Just 200 drivers had the points applied to their licences.
  • Convictions for using a vehicle without a certificate of roadworthiness are up from 38 to 421. Just 41 got the points.
  • Convictions for having no insurance were up from 13,220 to 16,736. Just 634 got points.
  • Convictions for driving a dangerously defective vehicle rose from two to 49. Just six motorists had points applied.

The AA’s Conor Faughnan said: “People who get two points for speeding or for momentary lapses of concentration will feel very annoyed that people are getting away with this.”

A spokesman for Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the loophole would be closed in June.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Italy: Prosecutors Quiz Genoa Priest Arrested on Sex Abuse and Drugs Charges

Genoa, 16 Oct (AKI) — Prosecutors in Italy’s northern port city of Genoa were Monday due to question local priest Riccardo Seppia, who the Catholic church suspended over the weekend after his arrest on paedophilia and drugs charges.

Fifty-year-old Seppia was detained for “immoral behaviour with a minor and the use of of stupefying substances”, according to a Genoa curia statement.

Investigators opted to arrest Seppia on Saturday following surveillance of his mobile phone and obscene text messages allegedly sent to teenage boys, including a 15-year-old with whom he had arranged a sexual encounter later that day. Investigators believe Seppia abused “at least five” male youngsters in his parish.

“You’re right. He’s gorgeous and I’m going to f*** him,” read one of Seppia’s text messages, according to investigators cited by Italian daily La Repubblica. They had been tapping his phone for months as part of a Milan-based drug trafficking probe from which it appears Seppia may have been a regular client of one of the cocaine traffickers under surveillance.

Investigators did not state who the recipient of the text message was but a 40-year-old former trainee priest is being investigated in the probe for procuring boys for Seppia and other clients.

In tapped mobile phone conversations investigators say they heard Seppia propositioning another under-age youth in exchange for 50 euros and offering an 18-year-old cocaine.

Seppia’s habit of frequenting local gay bars late in the evening gained him the nickname “the priest of the night” according to parishioners. One was cited by La Repubblica as saying she had sent her children to another parish for catechism classes when Seppia arrived at the church.

In an unusual move, the archbishop of Genoa, cardinal Angelo Bagnasco attended a mass on Saturday at Seppia’s church where he expresssed his “shame” for Seppia’s allegedl behaviour.

On Sunday, a message from Bagnasco denouncing the alleged “immoral behaviour” of Seppia was read out to parishioners at the Holy Spirit church in Genoa’s Sestri Ponente neighbourhood.

Bagnasco’s swift, hands-on reaction was a marked departure from the Vatican’s long-held habit of defending members of their ranks. The clerical sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Catholic church in several countries has only recently emerged in Italy, where the Vatican is politically influential and citizens are often deferential towards priests.

Two priests have this year been jailed for sexual offences against children in Italy.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Suffers Setback in Local Elections

Rome, 17 May (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi suffered a setback in local elections with Milan’s city hall poised to swing to the opposition as a weak economy and corruption charges sapped support for the prime minister and his allies.

Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti trailed her rival Giuliano Pisapia 41.6 percent to 48 percent in the race to control the government in Berlusconi’s hometown, preliminary results from all polling stations showed. Piero Fassino, of the opposition Democratic Party, was poised to win the mayoral seat in Turin, a manufacturing center that is home to Fiat, results showed.

“Those are two very important northern capitals where Berlusconi and his Northern League ally have shown in the past a very strong ability to turn out voters,” Robert Leonardi, senior lecturer in European politics at the London School of Economics, said by phone. “If these results are confirmed, then this ability has failed and Berlusconi’s various problems are starting to weigh on him and there’s a cost to pay for them.”

As Berlusconi grapples with the fallout from corruption charges and allegations he paid for sex with a minor, the outcome was seen as a bellwether of his support in battleground cities such as Bologna, Naples, Turin and his base, Milan. He staked his personal reputation on the Milan race, putting himself as a candidate on his party’s ticket to bolster support for Moratti.

Milan remains “the effective capital of Berlusconism,” said Riccardo Giuliano, spokesman for IPR Marketing, said before the voting. The premier wanted to turn the vote into a referendum about himself “because every time he’s done that in the past, obviously he’s won,” he added.

Pisapia fell short of the 50 percent threshold needed to avoid a runoff election and will likely have to face Moratti in a head-to-head vote in two weeks that excludes a series of candidates from smaller parties. Virginio Merola, the Democratic Party candidate, had almost 51 percent of the vote in Bologna, a center-left stronghold, avoiding a runoff. A Berlusconi-backed candidate fared better in Naples, where Gianni Lettieri won almost 39 percent of the vote and will face a runoff against Luigi De Magistris of the Italian Values party, led by former anti-corruption prosecutor Antonio di Pietro.

“Turning this into a referendum was a mistake because at the local level people vote for issues like trash collection and traffic and don’t appreciate pressure about national issues,” said Federigo Argentieri, professor of political science at John Cabot University in Rome. “Certainly if he loses Milan and Naples it’s a hard blow because he’s head of the ticket in both cities.”

Berlusconi’s popularity has been hurt by allegations that he paid an underage nightclub dancer for sex. He also faces bribery, fraud and tax-evasion charges in three other trials related to his management of broadcaster Mediaset before he entered politics. The voting also opened two days after Italy’s national statistics office said the economy expanded just 0.1 percent in the first quarter, one of the slowest paces of any euro country.

The prime minister’s rating among voters has slipped to the lowest since his re-election in 2008 as the scandals and the economy sap support. For the first time, more Italians would vote against his coalition if general elections were held now, with 41.5 percent backing the opposition and 41 percent the ruling group, Rome-based IPR Marketing said in a survey of 1,000 voters conducted between April 14 and April 16. If the premier serves his full five-year term, national elections won’t be held until 2013.

Berlusconi, owner of the Italian soccer team AC Milan, had sought to tap his hometown popularity to boost support for incumbent Moratti. She campaigned to turn the northern city into a European financial center, while critics say its glut of offices dooms the plan to failure.

Under Moratti’s plan, the city will free up 7 million square meters of public land, enough to build 160 skyscrapers, over the next 20 years. The development may bring in as much as 25 billion euros ($36 billion) in public and private investment, based on estimates by analysts and developers including Luigi Colombo, chairman of the Lombardy region builders’ association.

Pisapia opposes Moratti’s plan, noting that the city already has as many as 80,000 empty apartments and 900,000 square meters of unoccupied office space.

In the closing moments of a televised debate on May 11, Moratti accused Pisapia, an attorney, of having been convicted of stealing a car 26 years ago. Pisapia, who was acquitted of the charge on appeal, has said he will sue Moratti for slander.

Almost 72 percent of the 13 million Italians eligible voted in the municipal elections and turnout for provincial balloting was almost 60 percent, the Interior Ministry said on its website. Those levels were slightly below the previous local elections in 2010.

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

Italy: Maurizio Sacconi Calls Milan Mayoral Vote Anomalous

(AGI) Rome — Sacconi said that Milan represents a big anomaly compared to the general results. Welfare Minister, Maurizio Sacconi, commenting on the outcome of the first round of the Milan mayoral election, added: “In any case everything is still to play for and we will fight to the finish.” The minister closed by saying: “that the city of Milan should be asked to reflect about whether it wants to hand itself over to an extremist.” .

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

Spain: Tension in Madrid Over Clearing of ‘15-M’ Protesters

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 17 — There has been tension in Madrid this morning over the clearing by police of around 200 protesters from the “Democracia Real Ya” (Real Democracy Now) movement, who have been staging a sit-in since last Sunday against precarious working conditions at the Spanish capital’s Puerta del Sol. The protesters had been intending to remain in the centre of the capital until the local elections of Sunday May 22. During the clearing, which lasted 10 minutes and was carried out by riot police, one person was arrested and one policeman suffered light injuries, according to security sources.

The newly created urban protest movement, known as “15-M”, has tens of thousands of members, mostly young people, students and the unemployed, and last Sunday marched through the streets of around 50 Spanish towns and cities to demand steps against precarious working conditions and to protest against difficulties in access to housing and the lack of opportunities for the future. “We are against bipartite politics and the uncertainty to which neo-liberalism has sentenced us,” said Tomas Munoz, a 26-year old unemployed journalist, who spoke to the media in the guise of an official spokesperson. “Another policy is possible” is the slogan most commonly repeated by the movement, which is also demanding the release of 24 activists arrested in Madrid on Sunday, two of them minors.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Robber Spared Deportation: When Did ‘Family’ Mean Some Bird I Met in the Pub?

British justice should not only be done, it should be seen to be done. For the past few years our judges have been doing their damndest to unpick and undermine that cardinal principle.

The raft of super-injunctions awarded to the rich and infamous is merely the latest incarnation of the judges’ determination to turn justice on its head.

While these outrageous gagging orders serve to shield the wealthy from the consequences of their indiscretions and spit in the face of freedom of speech, it is in the field of criminal law that the greatest injustices are perpetrated.

The courts have seized upon the pernicious European ‘yuman rites’ act as a pot of judicial Play-Doh to be stretched and contorted beyond recognition.

Judges delight in handing down the most perverse interpretations of the law, designed deliberately to cause maximum outrage. They are making it up as they go along.

Just as they elevate the ‘right to privacy’ of philandering millionaire celebrities above the right to freedom of expression, so they go out of their way to side with criminals — especially foreign criminals — against the interests of the law-abiding majority.

We are all familiar with the procession of terrorists, rapists and murderers who have escaped deportation because of the ‘yuman rights’ act. But these are only the highest-profile foreign criminals allowed to stay in Britain after completing their sentences.

Take the most recent case of a 22-year-old Sri Lankan, jailed for 15 months for robbery, who has managed to resist a deportation order because a court ruled he had the ‘right to a family life’ in Britain.

It’s a tried-and-tested excuse we’ve heard a thousand times before. So what is this precious ‘family life’. Does he have a wife and kids in Battersea, Jack?

Er, not as such.

But he is married, right?




On what grounds, then, does he qualify for the ‘right to a family life’?

He’s got a girlfriend.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Soft Justice for Rapists: Attackers Could be Out of Jail in 15 Months if They Admit Guilt

Rapists will have their jail terms halved if they admit guilt under a proposal condemned last night as ‘bonkers’.

Judges say it could mean a convicted sex attacker serving as little as 15 months in prison.

Ministers argue that encouraging an early guilty plea will spare victims the ordeal of giving evidence in court and increase the six per cent conviction rate for rape.

The reform, which ignited a new row over ‘soft justice’, will also apply to burglars, robbers and other serious criminals.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


EU Pressure Causes Bosnian Serbs to Cancel Referendum

The President of Bosnia’s Republika Srpska has announced that he will not proceed with a planned referendum on state institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. His announcement came after a Friday morning meeting with European Union envoy Catherine Ashton.

“The referendum on laws imposed by the High Representative, particularly on the Court and the Prosecutor’s Office, is not necessary,” said Republika Srpska President Milorad Dodik in a joint press conference with the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

The referendum, which was set to take place in June, planned to ask citizens of Bosnia’s predominantly Serb entity whether or not they support decisions made by the Office of the High Representative, or OHR, the International mediator in charge of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The referendum was set to specifically target the State Court and the Prosecutors Office, the country’s only central judicial institutions, which were established by international mandate in 2003. The Republika Srpska has accused the judicial institutions of unfairly processing war crimes that occurred during Bosnia’s 1992-1995 war,prosecuting more Bosnian Serbs than Bosnian Muslims or Croats, while not investigating crimes against the Serb population.

“We will have to wait until we get the full report from Banja Luka to understand the full line of reasoning for this decision,” Turkish Ambassador to Bosnia Vefahan Ocak, speaking on Dodik’s decision to cancel the referendum, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review.

Dodik said at the press conference that in light of the high level engagement of the EU to examine Republika Srpska concerns over judicial institutions, he was sure that the Republika Srpska’s parliamentary body, the National Assembly, would support his decision.

During their joint press conference, Ashton stressed that the EU is willing to engage in frank discussions with the Republika Srpska and the judicial institutions.

Ocak said that it remains to be seen what strings, if any, will accompany this decision to annul the referendum.

“If this was a freestanding decision, this is exactly what needed to be done, but that is if it is a free standing decision,” he said.

Averting a crisis

During their joint press conference, Ashton stressed that the EU is willing to engage in frank discussions with the Republika Srpska and the judicial institutions.

“We consider that any legitimate issues require an adequate response,” said Ashton, announcing that EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule will chair the first ‘structured dialogue’ on the topic in Banja Luka, the seat of the Republika Srpska government.

Friday’s meeting came the day after Inzko’s deadline for Dodik to annul the referendum or face consequences, which included freezing Dodik’s assets and placing a travel ban on him within the EU. High Representative Valentin Inzko, who has the power to veto or annul laws and fire politicians, informed the U.N. on Tuesday that he would react strongly to the referendum, saying that Republika Srpska officials have been taking “concrete actions which represent the most serious violation of the [Bosnian] peace agreement that we have seen since the agreement was signed.”

International monitors and diplomats have warned that Bosnia is in the midst of “the worst political crisis since the war.” In a May 6 report, the International Crisis Group warned that “violence is not imminent but a near prospect if [current trends] continue.” Many analysts say that the Republika Srpska National Assembly decision to hold the referendum, adopted on April 13, would further deepen the crisis.

Inzko warned of the wider implications of political stagnation in Bosnia during visits in New York and Washington this week.

“If somebody started thinking that Bosnia may fall apart and if some concrete steps are taken, then we could see the conflict flare up again. These countries are tied together and what happens in the neighborhood impacts Bosnia and the other way round. The whole region could become problematic,” he said.

But politicians and international mediators in Bosnia and Herzegovina have a host of issues on their plates. Seven months after general elections, politicians are no closer to forming a state-level government, which is having negative implications on the economy.

“Dodik has just reverted the entire country back to 12 April, so the time the international community and the politicians have spent the last 31 days has been a total waste,” Ocak said. “I have no idea when a state level government will be formed, but I hope it happens as quickly as possible.”

In his address to the U.N., Inzko warned that this delay in the formation of state level authorities is having dire consequences on the functionality of the country. “More than seven months after the general elections, there is still no prospect of a new state government being formed and many state institutions are under serious political, institutional, and economic pressure with a clear impact on their efficiency and functionality. The European Union and the Euro-Atlantic integration processes have come to a complete halt and the economy continues to suffer.”

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

North Africa

Algeria: Bouteflika: Last Rais Standing

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 9 — If at the beginning of January, there was a North African head of state whose imminent fall looked like a decent bet, it would surely have been 74-year old Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s President since 1999. With protests everywhere, especially by young people who, despite the iron fist of security forces, took to the streets to demand the wind of change and of democracy, in line with their Tunisian neighbours. For a period, and quite a long one, Bouteflika, around whom rumours of ill-health have abounded for months, appeared to be a man on the edge. Yet a few months on, he is the only leader to have emerged unscathed, for now at least, from the storm that is shaking North Africa and that, in Libya, has now taken on the appearance of a civil war. This turn of events has probably has two main factors. The first is that Bouteflika, with some success, can agitate over Islamic terrorism — indeed only a few days ago, Sahel countries signed a deal to impede the advance of Al Qaeda in the region. The second is that Algeria remains a rich country, with income from oil funding large-scale civil projects and giving the country, should it need it, something of a war chest.

Bouteflika’s latest steps seem, at least in part, to have patched up a relationship with his people that one stage appeared to be irretrievably compromised. The situation in Algeria still follows what was, with the exception of Morocco and King Mohamed VI, the framework common to all countries of the southern Mediterranean, led by strongmen and the armed forces. This was true of Mubarak and Ben Ali, is still the case for Gaddafi and certainly applies to Bouteflika, who, having spent years striving for power, does not seem to be about to abandon it, in the short term at least. Indeed, his standing for re-election has been one of the few recent certainties in Algerian politics. His reputation as a “hard man”, and especially that of the pragmatic politician, has led Bouteflika to operate a string of concessions that, if the promised reforms were to follow in the short term, would redefine the country’s profile and bring it closer to democracy, yet still bearing in mind the firm grip on power of the Algerian nomenklatura. Current events mean that concessions and reforms could not be carried out at the same time. So although the government is responding to the demands of society in particular (only a few days ago, general practitioners, chemists and dentists, who had been protesting for some time, saw their wages rise by 70% net), Bouteflika has entrusted the task of dragging Algeria towards the promised land of democracy to Abdelkader Bensalah, the president of Algeria’s upper house and a close collaborator of the “chief”. Bensalah is another experienced politician, who was championed insistently as Bouteflika’s probable successor when rumours of the President’s deteriorating health were at their peak. As well as collaborating with parties and civil society, Bouteflika has also asked Bensalah to act quickly, laying out a road map designed to implement reforms as soon as possible.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Algeria: Islamist Prisoners Reject Violence for Freedom

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, MAY 17 — Several thousand Islamic extremists being held in Algerian jails have agreed to put an end to violence and armed struggle in order to make the most of the policy of national reconciliation, through which they could be freed. The news agency AFP reported the comments of two leading Islamists, who said that a statement of intent had been signed by between seven and eight thousand prisoners. The law on peace and reconciliation, which was pushed through by the country’s President, Abdelaziz Bouteflika and adopted after a referendum in 2005, means that more than 2,000 prisoners convicted of terror-related crimes have since been freed, with thousands of extremists also giving themselves up.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Prof. Del Boca: Gaddafi the Target of a Cynical War

For Angelo Del Boca, journalist and expert on Libya, the war violates UN resolutions and will last a long time, as long as Gaddafi has arms, to date only partially destroyed. NATO action is cynical and contradictory, and was initiated without recourse to diplomatic possilities. Gaddafi, a controversial figure, but a supporter of promoting African states.

Rome (AsiaNews) — The NATO war in Libya has revealed the West’s cynicism, through its excuse of coming to the aid of the Cyrenaica rebels, it is going all out to kill Gaddafi, says Angelo Del Boca university Professor, and journalist who has studied Libya and its leader for over 30 years in an interview with AsiaNews.

An awkward personality, in over 40 years in power, Gaddafi has done business with all the powers of the world and if this came to light it would be far from edifying for Europe and the West. Despite his crimes, the Libyan leader in recent years invested huge sums of money derived from oil in the development of African states. More than half of the mines on the continent are financed by the Libyan government, which repays the countries building infrastructure, hotels and religious buildings.

Meanwhile, in areas controlled by Cyrenaica rebels people are dying in assaults launched by mercenaries in the payment of the Rais and suffering from a lack of basic necessities. In Tripoli, the NATO air raids aimed at destroying military shelters and weapons stores, continue to notch up deaths and injuries among civilians. The appeals of the Pope and Bishop Martinelli, Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli, for an immediate ceasefire and the beginning of diplomatic negotiations, go unheard. Even the world of pacifists remain silent. Here is the full text of the interview with Prof. Del Boca.

In your opinion, was the conflict between the different factions to be expected?

A civil war of this magnitude in Libya was not foreseeable. But those who know the country well know that the three regions, Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan, have always been very independent and separate from each other. Cyrenaica, the area where the revolt was born, still suffers from the influence of the Senussia brotherhood (Islamic religious brotherhood founded by Muhammad ibn Ali al-Sanusi, ed.) It was the birthplace of King Idris, the first Libyan monarch and Omaral-Mukthar, the most important of the guerrilla fighters during the struggle against the Italian colonial regime. In recent years Gaddafi has often found himself in very difficult conditions. In 1996 and 2002 he had to send troops, navy, army and air force to quell riots. There have also been divisions and tensions in Fezzan, composed mainly of tribes and ethnic groups who differ greatly from those in the coastal areas. The only region that is still true to Gaddafi is Tripoli, as shown in the video that appeared in recent days, where the Rais met tribal leaders still loyal to him.

NATO, Western powers, Italy started this war to protect civilians. What do you think?

I am against this war, because I see the dark side and I think it violates the very UN resolutions for which it supposedly was started. This attack was a long time coming. France had already begun to bomb before UN approval and Resolution 1973. So the dirty interests in this war are clear. France, Britain, Italy and other countries in favour of the attack have forgotten that the colonial era is over. This armed return is a rather awful concrete sign of this, especially for Italy, which has always had close relations with Libya, during and after the colonial period. In recent years, the Gaddafi regime had passed from the “days of vengeance” to those of “friendship”. However, we have preferred to launch bombs.

How would you judge Italy’s involvement in the bombing?

Our intervention is wrong for three reasons: First, our constitution in Article 11 proposes that war should not be used as an instrument to address contention. Secondly, we have a treaty of peace and cooperation with Libya and this agreement can not be set aside except with the agreement of both parties. Third, we are the former colonial power in Libya and its conquest cost the Libyans 100 thousand deaths. With such a burden, we really cannot afford to sow death again with these famous “intelligent bombs”.

Is a diplomatic solution still possible?

Gaddafi has certainly committed crimes. However, in addition to bombing raids, there is another way to stop him or depose him. For example, the penalties laid down 10 years ago by the western countries worked, by forcing Libyan leader to change behaviour. With sanctions in place of the bombing, Gaddafi would have taken a step back this time. The war created strong divisions. Now the country is split in two. All oil production is in Cyrenaica. The rebels can go on for months attacking Tripoli, knowing that the oil is safe.

In recent months, there has been little effort to find a diplomatic solution, despite the mediation efforts of the African Union. Unfortunately the facts of these days show that no-one has any intention of trying to reach a truce and would rather continue a war that costs about 100 million dollars per day.

Will Gaddafi give up or try to resist?

The conflict will last as long as Gaddafi still has arms. To date, data on the destruction of the arsenals provided by NATO are mixed. At first there was talk of 30% of weapon power destroyed, but this has recently risen to 80%. In my opinion, NATO has destroyed so far just over 30% of the Rais’ arms. Gaddafi will go on until the end, he will not give up, he would prefer to die and will certainly not runaway. Those who think he is in hiding or has run away prove they do not know him. He is a character who has woven his legend for over 42 years and I do not think that he will destroy it right now.

It is said that Gaddafi was targeted because he wanted free development for Africa …

The enormous sums of money in oil revenue, Gaddafi invested throughout almost all of the African continent and to some degree of some success. When the war is over and we have access to his ministries documents we will see that Libya has bought at least half of all Africa’s mines in precious metals like gold and silver. But also deposits of strategic materials for industry. Gaddafi made his mark on every African country, building hotels, religious buildings and infrastructure. The quotas of member countries of the African Union are almost all paid by Libya.

Many Western leaders see him as a theatrical character?

I do not think that Gaddafi could be considered a character or a clown. He always used these extravagant forms of dress and appearance for his audience, certainly not for us. His people have always wanted to see him excel and stand out. In reality he is anything but a character from the stage, but a man with a solid culture. He graduated in English language and literature in Benghazi, studied telecommunications in London and has also written books and stories. The most famous is the “Green Book”, it is highly questionable, but not all African Heads of State have written books, including our own. If today I had to choose another African leader to study and consider, I would be seriously stumped.

Why is the West so united in the war on Gaddafi?

Gaddafi is certainly an awkward figure. He has done business with everyone, which if it came into the open, would certainly not be very edifying for Europe and the West. However this drive to kill him at all costs is really exaggerated. In recent weeks they have tried to kill him at least four times. NATO continues to say that Gaddafi is not the main goal. I have never seen a war a cynical as this, where the statements are the opposite of the facts and I did not expect that after Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, that we were capable of repeating the same costly mistakes.

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

Maroni Calls for a Diplomatic Solution to Libyan Conflict

(AGI) Rome — Maroni called for strong diplomatic action to end the war in Libya, otherwise migrants will continue to arrive.

Interior Minister, Roberto Maroni, added: “Europe is not doing what it said it would do,” over the migrant emergency; “a month ago Europe decided to take a number of initiatives that still have not been implemented. Libyan refugees are continuing to arrive in Lampedusa, while the repatriation agreement with Tunisia is working. However, there is a war in Libya and as long as it goes on refugees will keep on coming. This is the problem.” .

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

Napolitano: Italy Has Never Declared War on Libya

(AGI) Florence — Napolitano said the military operation in Libya can’t be described as a war, as “Italy has never declared war on anybody”. Speaking about the ongoing military operation at a meeting with university students in Florence, the President of the Republic said: “I think that we couldn’t have done otherwise and that the military action in Libya is taking place under the aegis of the United Nations. No country in the Security Council used its veto, although some of them abstained”.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Arab Uprising to Strike Israel Next?

Palestinians plot ways to capitalize on Middle East unrest

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah organization held a series of local meetings yesterday to discuss the possibility of launching a large-scale uprising, or intifada, targeting Israel, according to Fatah sources present at the meetings.

The Fatah meetings were focused on how to best capitalize on violent Arab riots that gripped Israel this past weekend, including the storming of the Jewish state’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

Also, the meetings discussed how to best use the uprisings in the larger Arab world to launch a campaign that would target Israel.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Imagine if every year on the 7th of May, Germans held an annual commemoration of the defeat of the Nazi state, complete with Swastikas, anti-Jewish chants and slogans, and a historical narrative claiming that the Volksdeutsche expelled from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were the real victims of WW2. That disgusting spectacle is exactly what takes place on May 15th as Arab Muslims chant and riot to protest their unsuccessful genocide of a regional minority.

It’s hard to think of a more repulsive spectacle of historical obliviousness, than a regional majority responsible for multiple genocides dressing up as the victims because their invasion of Israel ended in a stalemate, rather than a genocidal purge of its residents. Perhaps only the Japanese, with their annual commemorations of a history that begins briefly before Hiroshima and ends after Nagasaki, leaving out Nanking and Pearl Harbor, are a match for the Palestinian Nakba.

The Arab history of Israel leaves out thousands of years of history of the original Jewish inhabitants and a thousand years of persecution under Arab rule. It leaves out the massacres and atrocities carried out by the Arab Muslim invaders against the Jewish inhabitants in the 20th century, including the Hebron Massacre, and the Nazi collaboration of their leader, the Mufti of Jerusalem. Instead it begins and ends with Deir Yassin and angry old women holding up oversized housekeys and reminiscing about the good times they had massacring Jews.

There are about as many Jewish refugees from the Muslim world, as there are Arab refugees from Israel. The difference is that the Jewish refugees were a minority fleeing the violence of a brutal majority. And the Arab refugees were a regional majority making a strategic withdrawal in response to calls from the Syrian and Iraqi Prime Ministers. The Nakbaites were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a genocide to be carried out by the armies of seven Arab nations. Instead they had to settle down in Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere around the region. An easy thing to do since they are the same people, speak the same language and have the same culture. The only difference between a Jordanian Arab and a Jordanian Palestinian is a few miles and about twenty-five years.


But in Muslim culture time never passes. The words, “You Lost a War, Get Over It”, have no meaning. Arab Muslims still think Spain is theirs. Every time they see a European army, they mutter about the Crusades. Jews are greeted with chants of “Khaybar ya Yahood” recalling Mohammed’s massacre of the Jews, a historical event that is much closer to what the Nakba only claims to be. Nothing is ever forgotten. Old hatreds are nurtured into violent rages that cannot be calmed by any treaty. The purpose of hate is hate. The purpose of Nakba is Nakba.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: Foreign Minister Against Palestinian State

Foreign minister Uri Rosenthal is resisting attempts by the United Nations to declare an independent state of Palestine.

A resolution to this effect, which has majority support, is ready for signature during a general meeting of the UN in September.

Rosenthal, however, told BNR radio he is against a unilateral declaration. ‘When I spoke in Ramallah with Palestinian president Abbas and prime minister Fayyad, they told me they did not want to take that route,’ he told BNR.

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

Middle East

Al-Jazeera Reporter ‘Committed 3 Crimes’ Iranian Foreign Ministry Says

Damascus, 17 May (AKI) — A reporter from Arab-language satellite news television station Al-Jazeera who disappeared in Syria last month committed “three crimes,” according to the Iranian foreign ministry.

Dorothy Parvaz, who holds Iranian, American and Canadian citizenship, arrived in Syria to cover anti-government protests when she disappeared on 29 April after landing by plane in the Syrian capital Damascus.

During a weekly Tehran press conference aired live on state TV on Tuesday, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Parvaz is accused of “entering Syria with an expired passport, of working in Syria without the proper visa and of holding other passports.

Mehmanparast, who stopped short of saying she was being detained in Iran, said the government does not recognise her other citizenships.

The Syrian government announced last week that it had put her on a plane to Tehran on 1 May.

Dozens of international journalists have been expelled from Syria since protests broke out in mid-March. Reporters largely depends on eye-witness accounts on protests and the government crackdown which has reportedly killed hundreds of demonstrators.

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

Bin Laden: Turkey: Survey, Majority Against Killing

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 12 — A survey has shown that the majority of Turks (62%) disapprove of the killing of Osama Bin Laden by a team of American special forces, with 79% of people believing that the head of Al Qaeda should have been brought to trial. Only 25% of Turks interviewed by Metropoll said that they approved of Bin Laden’s murder.

Disapproval centres around the fact that the leader of the terror organisation was killed despite being unarmed when the US special team struck, though the forces did find a Kalashnikov and a handgun in his home. The survey was carried out between May 6 and 7 (4 days after Bin Laden’s death) over a sample of 1,500 people.

The survey also showed that a significant majority of Turks (78%) believe that Al Qaeda does not represent Islam, with only 11% believing that terrorism will be reduced as a result of Bin Laden’s death.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU’s Fule: Turkey Should Reform Laws to Ensure Press Freedoms

Turkey should amend its criminal code and anti-terror legislation to ensure full respect for freedom of expression and the media, EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule said Friday in an exclusive interview with daily Hürriyet.

Fule spoke to the newspaper on the sidelines of the “Speak Up” conference organized by the EU Commission in Brussels, an event that focused extensively on press freedom issues in the Western Balkans and Turkey.

As expected, the conference was dominated by debate about Turkey, which remains at the top of the press-freedom agenda with dozens of journalists under arrest, including well-known investigative reporters Nedim Sener and Ahmet Sik. The following Q & A is an excerpt of Fule’s comments on the issue.

Q: What is your general assessment of the present problems in the area of press freedoms in Turkey?

A: It is obvious that freedom of expression and the media is an essential part of the Copenhagen political criteria [for EU membership eligibility]. In our latest report, we noted the lack of progress in this area. Unfortunately, Turkish legislation still does not sufficiently guarantee [these freedoms] in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.

By the way, I have just heard about some discussions in Turkey on whether to filter access to the Internet. This is worrying.

There are other unfortunate developments too. I am talking about the high number of court cases against Turkish journalists. I am taking note of complex legislation, particularly the criminal code and also the anti-terrorism law. It is not that we are questioning all these legal procedures — it is about the number of these court cases. This is somehow worrying.

There is also a lack of transparency on what evidence journalists are actually being held. And then we had the recent decision to [arrest] journalists and even confiscate a book that was about to be published. That is very rare.

All these are worrying developments on which we speak very clearly. We are calling on [Turkish] authorities [to make sure that] everything is being done [to solve] this issue of high number of cases against journalists.

Q: Is it the expectation of the European Commission that Turkey should act to amend and reform its criminal code and anti-terror law?

A: It is a very clear expectation to remove those parts [of these laws] that provide a wide interpretation of that legislation and which do not, unfortunately, provide us with enough transparency about the real basis for the imprisonment of these journalists.

Q: Do you expect that these journalists should be released? Are you sending this message as well?

A: We don’t want to tell the Turkish judicial system what to do or what not to do. Our message is to the executive branch. We will be monitoring these cases very closely. And as I said, this is also an opportunity for the Turkish judicial system to show that it is efficient, impartial and delivers justice in full respect of the rights of the defendants.

Q: Doesn’t your statement indirectly imply that you don’t see that the courts are acting totally in line with the principle of impartiality?

A: I am not implying anything — I am just stating obvious facts. Is the legislation regarding these court decisions in line with EU expectations? No, it is not. We made that point a number of times and we will continue to do so until the government, the Parliament deliver on this expectation.

Q: Turkey’s EU candidacy has not provided sufficient guarantees in preventing the problems regarding press freedoms. There is growing consensus that the EU should adopt new ways to address these problems. What else can the EU do?

A: There’s going to be a more structured dialogue between us and media representatives in EU candidate countries. There is going to be reflection of these issues in our reporting. I would like each and every progress report [to] specifically address the issue of media freedoms. It is not enough just to say there is a problem in this area. We’d like to be clear also on what needs to be done.

Q: Do you have a message to arrested Turkish journalists?

A: Our thoughts are with them and dozens of others who have had their own experiences with the authorities. I appreciate the courage of journalists in pursuing their job to bring truth to the benefit of fellow citizens, even if these are sometimes painful truths. Those who were victims of the actions of authorities have our support.

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

Frank Gaffney: Muslim Outreach 2.0

On Thursday, President Obama will “reach out” yet again to what he insists on calling “the Muslim world.” Think of it as the 2.0 version of his much-ballyhooed, but seriously deficient, 2009 speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

His message this time, we are told, will be that the death of Osama bin Laden and the outpouring of support for democratic change across the Middle East and North Africa opens a new dawn for Muslims — and even greater opportunities for expanded relations with the United States than he promised two years ago. But will they?

The answer would appear to depend on who actually benefits most from these developments. As things stand now, the answer seems likely to be the Muslim Brotherhood (MB or, in Arabic, Ikwan). If the Brotherhood does indeed come to power in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, “Palestine” (through its local franchise, Hamas) and/or others of the roughly 13 countries in North Africa and the Middle East currently in play, there is no chance that U.S. interests will be served — no matter how much Mr. Obama tries to reach out to Muslims in those regions.

That reality is rooted in the jihadist nature of the Ikhwan and its goals. While some have claimed the organization is non-violent and, in the words of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, even “largely secular” — the most cursory examination of the Muslim Brotherhood’s own words makes clear that such assertions are unfounded, and dangerously so…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Iraq: Kirkuk: Young Christian Abducted, Tortured and Beheaded

Ashur Yacob Issa, 29, was the father of three children. He was abducted three days ago. Negotiations for his released failed. This morning police found his body, which bore “horrific marks of torture”. In voicing his outrage, the archbishop of Kirkuk slammed this “inhuman act,” urging everyone to work together to “protect defenceless citizens”.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) — An Iraqi Christian man was abducted, tortured and then beheaded. The victim was from Kirkuk, northern Iraq. Police found his body this morning. He had been kidnapped three days ago and the family had received a ransom request. However, negotiations for his release did not work out and so he was brutally murdered. For the archbishop of Kirkuk, his death is an “inhuman act” because it goes “against every human and religious principle”. Iraqi Christians have been living in a state of high tension since the killing of Osama Bin Laden, fearing possible revenge by local Muslim extremists.

Ashur Yacob Issa was 29 years old and had three children, a source in Kirkuk told AsiaNews. He was abducted three days ago for ransom. His kidnappers wanted US$ 100,000 to release him. However, negotiations with his family “did not work out”, a local Christian said.

The incident came to a terrible end this morning, when police found the young man’s body, by the side of a bridge. The body showed “horrific marks of torture”, the source said. The head had been cut off and the eyes gauged out of their socket.

The crime sent a shockwave through the city, especially in its Christian community. although the victim was kidnapped in order to get a large sum of money, the death of Osama Bin Laden by the US on 2 May has raised the tension level in the Christian community. Since then in fact, it has been living in fear of possible reprisals by Muslim extremists.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Louis Sako, archbishop of Kirkuk, condemned the murder of the young man, calling it an “inhuman act” that goes against “every human and religious principle”.

“No man who believes in God and respects life can commit such acts,” the prelate said.

Now Mgr Sako’s concern is for the widow and her fatherless children.

However, in a warning to the perpetrators of this act, the archbishop said, “Let them think about those who are left without a father and a husband. Even if human justice is not done, divine justice shall, sooner or later”.

Lastly, the archbishop of Kirkuk called on police and security forces officials, both local and national, to undertake joint action “so that all people of good will can work together to protect defenceless citizens.” (DS)

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

Middle East: Another Obama Foreign Policy Disaster

Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Lashkar e taiba, and myriad other terror groups continue to murder innocents.

Americans of all ages and political stripes were in the streets on May 1 cheering, waving the flag, and chanting “USA, USA!” They were out all night— some of them mere children when the September 11th terror attacks changed our nation forever—to celebrate the killing of the man behind those attacks: Osama Bin Laden. At a time of bitter partisanship, no one saw this as anything but an American victory—an operation that began under President George W. Bush and culminated under President Barack Obama.

That night, Americans sorely needed a sign that US greatness is not a thing of the past, and Bin Laden’s killing provided one. The euphoria has subsided, however, replaced with the realization that the death of even this terrible man does not mean the death of radical Islam or any of the groups dedicated to its triumph and our demise. Al Qaeda, the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Lashkar e taiba, and myriad other terror groups continue to murder innocents.

Aside from the inevitable political jockeying that followed, the subject that continues to occupy Americans in the wake of the Bin Laden killing is Pakistan and the nature of our relationship with that country. On the one hand, Americans cannot believe that Bin Laden could have lived for years in a large compound less than 60 miles (100 kilometers) from its capital of Islamabad and 800 yards (700 meters) from the Pakistan Military Academy without Pakistani officials knowing about it; and many now ask how Pakistan can call itself an ally. Its officials object to the US operation, and its citizens hold mass demonstrations protesting Bin Laden’s killing—even though neither objected to Bin Laden’s mass murder of Americans. Nor do they find it necessary to show the same “understanding” they so glibly demand of us. Diplomats and other insiders left and right, however, acknowledge Pakistani duplicity while tolerating it as necessary for effectively prosecuting the war in Afghanistan; as an Obama spokesperson recently said, in Pakistan, “you have to accept what you find.”



Given those multiple nightmare scenarios, it is perplexing that the Obama administration continues to ignore the one regional power whose interests are not inimical to those of the United States: India. The administration and its spokesperson’s fatalism must be replaced by a new paradigm that recognizes the free world’s long term interests and the strengths we can use to leverage them. India fits that bill for at least four basic reasons: its foreign policy interests and those of the United States coincide; it is the only effective counterweight against otherwise unchecked Chinese expansionism; the one thing that scares the pants off the Pakistanis and might get them to behave is the specter of increased Indian influence in the region; and India has the economic, military, and intelligence capability to carry it out effectively.

Like the United States and Israel, India is at the top of the Islamists’ list of hated targets. Indians have faced a near unbroken terror onslaught by Islamist and Maoist insurgents, who have ideological and other ties with Pakistan and China respectively. In May 2010, representatives of both met in the South India city of Kerala and formally united “to fight against the common enemy.” Their actions have included highly visible terror attacks in major cities like Mumbai and Pune, abduction of public officials for ransom, and coordinated attacks on military bases like the one not far from where I was in 2010. A regular diet of individual, Islamist-inspired crimes quietly plagues much of the country, as well. In the Indian town of Meerut, for instance, only 65 kilometers (40 miles) from New Delhi, residents report frequent attacks by a growing Islamic presence, including the murder of a Hindu community leader only five days prior to my 2011 visit. In 2007, television journalist Madhuri Singh uncovered the imposition of Sharia law in Mundogarhi (also situated close to the Indian capital), which persists despite the government’s efforts to retake legal control that followed her revelations. India, unlike Pakistan, has not seen major demonstrations protesting Bin Laden’s death, and its intelligence services actually fights on our side in combating terrorism.

As critical as stopping a resurgent Taliban and its allies is to both the United States and India, putting an effective halt to Chinese expansion in the region is equally so. In March, the Chinese hosted Karzai in Beijing where he was treated to closed-door meetings with China’s highest officials. This “charm offensive,” as Tim Sullivan of the American Enterprise Institute/Center for Defense Studies calls it, resulted in “agreements on expanding economic cooperation, ensuring favorable tariffs on Afghan exports, and creating scholarships for technical training programs across a range of critical fields: commerce, communications, education, health, economics, and counternarcotics.” Not only is this designed to garner greater Chinese control over South Asia and its considerable resources, but it is also part of China’s greater strategy to encircle India; a strategy that has included major efforts in Pakistan and Bangladesh (both with strong Islamist elements), and Nepal (which is communist ruled). Incredibly, rather than recognizing the threat to our common interests and partnering with India to stop it, “the Obama administration is practically rolling out an Afghan red carpet for China,” according to a respected Asian affairs analyst out of Singapore.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Raki Drives Turkey’s 2010 Rise in Alcoholic Spirit Consumption

Consumption of alcoholic spirits in Turkey was up 1.5 percent in 2010 compared with a year earlier, according to official figures by the country’s The Tobacco and Alcohol Market Regulatory Authority, or TAPDK. The local drink raki drove the increase with a 3.76 percent rise in the same period, while consumption of beer fell by 0.21 percent.

Turkey consumed 1.7 million more liters of raki in 2010 compared with 2009.

Raki consumption hit its highest of the last four years in 2010 with 46.4 million liters.

Mey Içki, the dominating producer in the domestic raki market, was acquired by Diageo from the United States-based private equity firm TPG Capital and Turkey-based private equity firm Actera Group in early 2011.

In 2010, wine sales went up by 13.3 million liters, vodka by 1.4 million liters and gin by 236,700 liters.

On average, Turks consumed 2.87 million liters of alcohol per day in 2010. Whisky consumption also fell by 2.98 percent.

Liqueur, vodka, rum, gin, brandy and vermouth were the other rising stars of the market.

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

Syria: Amb. Rome: Violent Infiltrators Among Protesters

(ANSAmed) — ROME, MAY 12 — There have been “violent infiltrations” in the anti-government protests in Syria “to cause chaos in the country”. The government has responded immediately to the requests for reforms, for example by lifting the state of emergency”. This was underlined by the Syrian ambassador in Rome, Hasan Khaddour.

Talking to journalists during a conference organised at the Sapienza University with the title “Syria, a crossroads between cohabitation and destabilisation”, the Syrian diplomat confirmed the statement of his ‘colleague’ in London, who denied that Asma, the President’s partner, fled to the UK in the past days: “This is absolutely untrue, don’t believe certain media”, said Khaddour.

Focusing on the situation in the country again, he stressed that the reform process will take time: “it started in 2000 and has been slow”, he explained, pointing out that “the war in Iraq, the sanctions against the country and the arrival of refugees have been among the reasons” why the reforms started by President Bashar El Assad have been slowed down. The ambassador added that the protests in Syria “were peaceful in the beginning, after which there have been violent infiltrations” and “what is happening now does not suit” the Syrian government. The government, the diplomat guaranteed, “is for reforms and is studying a bill on parliamentary elections”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Government: News on Mass Grave in Daraa Not True

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, MAY 17 — The Syrian authorities today denied the news that a mass grave has been found in Daraa, in the south of the country, the stage of protests against Bashir al Assad and their repression by the regime. Quoting an official source in the Interior Ministry, the official press agency SANA reports that the news that was spread yesterday by Syria’s human rights watchdog (ONDUS), which quoted eyewitnesses in Daraa, is “unfounded”. According to the Syrian government, the news is part of a “campaign that is orchestrated by some television networks and media aimed at fomenting and spreading false information, launched against Syrian in a continuous attack on its stability and the security of its citizens”. Some amateur videos were published on YouTube channel ShamsNN, which is managed by Syrian activists, in the past hours. The videos show the find of a mass grave containing thirteen bodies, including women and children. The authenticity of the footage cannot be confirmed. A car with a number plate from Daraa can be seen in the video. ONDUS announced yesterday that the mass grave has been found by residents of Daraa and that some bodies have already been identified. According to the human rights activists hundreds of people have been killed in the southern region of Daraa since March 18, the start of the repression by the regime.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey Awaits Israeli Troops’ Names as New Flotilla Preps for June

Turkey is awaiting the names and addresses of the Israeli soldiers who led a raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla that killed nine Turks last May, said officials, after Foreign Ministry transmitted a court’s request to Israel as a new Gaza-bound flotilla will depart in June.

Turkey’s top prosecutor sent a letter to Israeli officials asking for the identities of both the soldiers who stormed the Turkish flagged Mavi Marmara and the political and military leaders involved in the operation, Foreign Ministry officials told Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Sunday. The letter was transmitted through Turkey’s Justice and Foreign ministries.

The request is part of Turkey’s ongoing investigation for premeditated murder, which has already implicated Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The Mavi Marmana, dispatched by the Turkish humanitarian organisation IHH, was stormed by Israeli forces on May 31 in international waters as it approached Gaza hoping to breach a blockade on the area imposed by Israel. Nine Turkish nationals were killed in the operation, including one person who also had U.S. citizenship.

Israel’s action provoked widespread international condemnation and Turkish President Abdullah Gül said bilateral relations between the two countries “would never be the same again.” In January, an Israeli inquiry ruled that the raid was in keeping with international law. Ankara said it was “stunned and dismayed” by the finding.

Another aid convoy, which includes the Mavi Marmana, is expected to set out for Gaza in late June, According to a report by Agence France-Presse. Last month Israel expressed concern over the planned mission, calling it an “incitement to violence.”

A coalition of pro-Palestinian groups, most of them based in Europe, announced the date in a statement after a meeting in Paris last week. The unfolding plans for the new flotilla set up a possible confrontation with Israel, which has vowed to stop any attempt to breach its sea blockade of Gaza.

Activists had originally planned to depart on May 31, the anniversary of the botched Israeli commando raid, The Associated Press reported. The delayed departure appears at least be partly related to Turkey’s plans for parliamentary elections on June 12. Turkish activists, who are in contact with the government but say they operate independently, had said they wanted to leave after the vote for fear any controversy could disrupt the election debate.

Turkish officials, who have stepped up criticism of Israel since the three-week war in Gaza that ended in early 2009, have indicated that the Turkish activists are free to sail from home waters.

Last week a group of U.S. House of Representatives called on Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to discourage another aid flotilla bound for the Gaza Strip, saying he has a “unique opportunity to potentially save lives.”

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

South Asia

Kazakhstan: Suicide Bomber Targets Kazakh State Security Building

May 17, Aktyubinsk (AKI) — A suicide bomber blew himself up on Tuesday outside a regional security building in the western Kazakh city of Aktyubinsk, a police source said, cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

Only the bomber was killed in the attack, according to RIA Novosti.

A spokesman for Kazakhstan’s prosecutor general’s office said it would hold a news briefing in a few hours.

Terrorist attacks are rare in the Central Asian state, which has been ruled by the former Soviet-era leader Nursultan Nazarbayev since independence in 1991.

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

Far East

China: GM Sponsors and Celebrates Soon to be Released Chi-Com Propaganda Film

In late 2010, General Motors agreed to sponsor a propaganda film celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP made film titled (translated to English) “The Birth of a Party” or “The Great Achievement of Founding the Party” is set to premiere all over the Communist nation on June 15 reported China AutoWeb last September. The auto website adds:

“According to an announcement posted on Shanghai GM’s official web site yesterday, whose title reads “joining hands with China Film Group, Cadillac whole-heartedly supports the making of the Birth of a Party…”

The report goes further:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia’s Top Muslim Organisation Wants Taxpayers to Finance the Expansion of Islamic Schools and Halal Food Outlets Into Mainstream Suburbs.

And in a sign of growing community tension, the nation’s peak Jewish authority has called for new migrants to be put on probation while their commitment to Australian values and laws is checked.

In a submission to a federal inquiry into multiculturalism, the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils said Muslims were forced to live in enclaves near Islamic schools, mosques and halal food outlets.

“The Government should invest in expanding services like halal and kosher meat and food outlets as well as faith-based schools,” it said.

“If the Government and politicians cannot recognise this as essential, it should no longer accuse the Australian Muslim community of intentionally living in enclaves.”

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Govt Says No to Sharia Law

The federal government has quickly moved to block any calls for sharia law in Australia.

In its submission to the parliamentary inquiry into the government’s new multiculturalism policy, The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils has called for Muslims to be granted “legal pluralism”.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland stomped on the request.

“There is no place for sharia law in Australian society and the government strongly rejects any proposal for its introduction,” Mr McClelland told AAP.

Sharia has faced repeated criticism.

It is again in the headlines following an Iranian court’s decision to delay a planned “eye-for-an-eye” act of justice against a man who threw acid at a woman’s face because she refused his marriage proposal.

“As our citizenship pledge makes clear, coming to Australia means obeying Australian laws and upholding Australian values,” Mr McClelland said.

“Australia’s brand of multiculturalism promotes integration.

“If there is any inconsistency between cultural values and the rule of law then Australian law wins out.”

Mr McClelland is keen to assert Australia’s position as a “stable democracy” where “rule of law” underpins society.

“People who migrate to Australia do so because of the fact that we have a free, open and tolerant society where men and woman are equal before the law irrespective of race, religious or cultural background.”

           — Hat tip: Anne-Kit[Return to headlines]

Latin America

Man Who Slaughtered School Kids in Rio Was Nicknamed “Bin Laden, “ Wanted to Fly an Airplane Into Rio’s Christ the Redeemer

What killed 12 children in a school in Rio? Was it a weapon? Was it violence? Was it prejudice? Conservative Christians? The media are blaming all of these.

According to the Brazilian newspaper Zero Hora, the author of the slaughter, Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, had a predilection for Islam and was fascinated by the Islamic terrorist attack against the US on September 11, 2001.

His dream? To fly an airplane into Christ the Redeemer, a massive statue symbolic of the strong Christian traditions in Brazil.

The mass murderer’s own cousin said: “he considered himself a fundamentalist Muslim and was training himself to pilot airplanes, using a computer game.”

Zero Hora also confirms: “Because he affected a long beard, some neighbors called him Bin Laden.”

Almost none of the mainstream media in English or other languages even mention the murderer’s Islamic sympathy. Imagine if he had expressed admiration for Hitler! Do you think they might have mentioned that?

Progressives and other Marxists are trotting out numerous other explanations, everything but Islamic terrorism, even though Islamic influence on the murderer is unequivocal. The mainstream is merely nodding to the far left, which owns Brazil, lock, stock and barrel and determines the tilt of news content originating there.

The grieving parents will never again be able to recover their precious children. Not just because the school was without protection, but because Brazil has succumbed to a cowardly PC ideology, which has expelled God and his values from schools, introducing a pseudo-tolerance that enshrines homosexuality on behalf of sexual diversity, Islam, on behalf of religious diversity, and African witchcraft on behalf of cultural diversity — all pillars of the new State religion of humanist Leftism. God is gone, and every conceivable ideology that tolerates and even promotes evil has filled the moral vacuum left behind. Satan himself reigns supreme. Is anyone surprised?

[Return to headlines]


UNHCR: 14,000 Refugees Fled Libya to Italy and Malta

(AGI) Geneva — The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said that approximately 14,000 people fled to Italy and Malta trying to escape the war between the rebels and Gaddafi forces.

Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman of the U.N. agency, specified that 1,669 refugees reached their destinations over the last week-end.

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

University Insiders: Illegal Immigrants Get Affirmative Action

This week, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill to require the state’s public universities to give undocumented aliens — generally illegal — in-state tuition privileges.

The bill, known as the Dream Act, is already the law in ten other states, including California, New York, Texas and Illinois.

But critics argue that the bill will give illegal aliens better treatment than Americans and legal immigrants — thanks to existing diversity policies at universities.

University of Maryland (College Park) computer science Prof. James Purtilo told that, during his time as an associate dean, he frequently saw admission officers favor students because of their “undocumented” status.

“They favor students with special circumstances. ‘Undocumented alien’ would be one of these special circumstances… They help fill out the diversity picture for the admissions office.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Where Are They? 181,000 With Expired Visas Are Still in Britain

Job fears: Commons Public Accounts Committee chairman Margaret HodgeAround 181,000 migrants are thought to be living in Britain unlawfully after their visas expired, a report said last night.

The total includes students and workers from outside the EU who should have left the country in the past two-and-a-half years.

UK Border Agency bosses came under fire from MPs after admitting they have no idea how many have returned home because they do not count people out of the country.

A new system to monitor electronically everyone who departs will not be fully in place for at least another two years.

The report, by the Commons Public Accounts Committee, warned the agency not to use the lack of exit controls as an ‘excuseâ€(tm) to ignore thousands who are overstaying illegally.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: ‘The agency has not got a grip on making sure that migrant workers whose visas have expired actually leave the UK.

‘It estimates that 181,000 such workers are staying on without permission — but it canâ€(tm)t even verify the figures, and does not try to enforce the employerâ€(tm)s duty to ensure that the people they bring in leave when they are required to do so.â€(tm)

The report also raised fears that British workers may be missing out on jobs because some foreign workers are exempt from the Governmentâ€(tm)s immigration cap.

Tens of thousands of non-EU workers who arrive every year through the ‘intra-company transfer routeâ€(tm) are not counted as adding to the official limit.

Instead they must comply with a salary minimum, set at £40,000 for anyone staying over a year, to ensure they are not simply cheap replacements for British staff.

Many are IT workers transferred in to work in multinational companies. Last year 64,000 workers came in via this route. But the committee said there was a ‘lack of controlâ€(tm) over transferred workers. Employers can pay up to 40 per cent of salary as accommodation and other allowances, but the report said this made it hard to be sure what the workers were actually earning.

Mrs Hodge added: ‘Most workers enter through this route and, for instance, tens of thousands of IT workers have been brought in through intra-company transfers at a time when UK residents with IT skills are struggling to find work.â€(tm)

She also criticised the agency for a lack of checks on employers. Fewer than one in five businesses are visited before being granted a licence to bring in workers.

The cap on the number of non-EU workers was imposed from the start of last month, and will allow 21,700 workers in over the year, a cut of one fifth.

After wrangling within the Coalition, however, Business Secretary Vince Cable won an exemption for transferred workers. He also won concessions which watered down reforms to the student visa system.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘This report demonstrates why the immigration system needs radical reform..

‘This Government has already introduced an annual limit on economic migrants. We are making it more difficult for people to live in the UK illegally by taking action against employers that flout our rules.â€(tm)

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]