Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110812

Financial Crisis
»EU: Italy and Three Other States Halt Short-Selling to Quell Market Turmoil
»Fear the Fed
»Greece: Households Curb Electricity Use
»Italian Cabinet to Hold Emergency Talks on Economic Crisis
»Italy: Crisis Measures to Feature ‘Solidarity Tax’, Big Cuts
»Appeals Court Rules Against Obama Healthcare Law
»Appeals Court Rules Against Obama Healthcare Mandate
»Caroline Glick: The Jacksonian Foreign Policy Option
»The CIA Should be More CAIR-Less
Europe and the EU
»Italian Museums to Remain Open for Holiday Weekend
»Sweden: Masturbating Man Reported for ‘Moaning Louder Than an Animal’
»UK: Axe Threat to Notting Hill Carnival
»UK: British Society Could Learn a Lot From the Turks of Dalston
»UK: Britain’s First Intifada
»UK: Damned if You Do: Damned if You Don’t
»UK: English Defence League March Banned
»UK: Home Secretary Bans EDL Wellington March
»UK: London Riots: Day the Mob Came Crashing Through My Door: One Middle-Class Mother’s Harrowing Account
»UK: May Intervenes to Restore Order
»UK: No, Don’t Stop the Notting Hill Carnival
»UK: Olympic Village Sold to Qatari Developers — £557m Deal Costs Taxpayer £225m
»UK: Rioter’s Family First to be Kicked Out of Council House Because of Son’s ‘Looting’
»UK: Standing on the EDL on Radio 4
»UK: Telford Shops Board Up After After EDL Insists Demo is on
North Africa
»Egypt: Special Forces Sent Into Sinai Against Armed Groups
Israel and the Palestinians
»Are Palestinians Preparing Another Intifada?
»Cost of Living Protest in Beersheva Saturday
Middle East
»Qatar: Al Jazeera TV Accused of Media War Against Bahrain
»Syria: Like at Hama in ‘82, Regime Targets Minaret
»Syria: Analysts: EU Sanctions Meaningless if Oil Not Included
»EU Okays Stop to Arrival of Romanian Workers to Spain
»Top Human Trafficker of Kurds to Italy Arrested

Financial Crisis

EU: Italy and Three Other States Halt Short-Selling to Quell Market Turmoil

Brussels, 12 August (AKI) — Italy, France, Spain and Belgium on Friday imposed a 15-day ban on betting that certain share values will fall — so-called short-selling — in a bid to dampen recent market volatility amid investor jitters over the spreading eurozone debt crisis.

The practice of short-selling has been blamed for exacerbating volatility in already tumultuous financial markets and insolvency-hit Greece imposed a two-month short-selling ban earlier this week.

The European Securities and Markets Authority, the EU’s market supervisor, announced Italy, France, Spaina and Belgium’s move on Thursday.

The authority’s sharply worded comunique accusing unscrupulous traders of profiting from the spread of false information.

“ESMA wants to emphasise…the prohibition of the dissemination of information which gives, or is likely to give, false or misleading signals as to financial instruments, including the dissemination of rumours and false or misleading news,” the authority said in a statement.

“European competent authorities will take a firm stance against any behaviour that breaches these requirements and ESMA will support national authorities to act swiftly against any such behaviour which is clearly punishable,” it added.

ESMA does not have the power to impose the ban, but can co-ordinate the institution of national bans and said it has steppe up its monitoring activity since the turmoil in global markets in recent weeks.

France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany have announced they will meet on Tuesday to draft “fresh proposals” on the governance of the eurozone.

The eurozone insolvency crisis has been threatening to spread to Italy and Spain — the zone’s third and fourth biggest economies.

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

Fear the Fed

by William Kristol

A businessman and investor for whose judgment I have the highest regard sends this email about yesterday’s Fed announcement:

“It is impossible to overstate the danger posed to the long-term stability of our country by current Fed policy, which has reached what one can only hope is the apogee of misplaced confidence in their ability to fine-tune the world. Fed policy, consisting of ZIRP (zero percent interest rates, which are now promised to be maintained for at least the next two years) and gigantic purchases of medium and long-term bonds (so-called QE, or quantitative easing), is unprecedented in monetary history.

“Despite the marked lack of success of such policies in generating growth and employment gains, despite having being followed for almost three years (although they claim success because the economy did not collapse, and because there is a purported ‘profit,’ despite the profit have come from ZIRP as well as the fact that their buying of $2.6 trillion of bonds has driven up the prices of the debt!!), the Fed is now powering ahead with more of the same.


“Poor policy and incompetent policymakers created these problems (financial crash, recession, and persistent high unemployment and sluggish growth), and better leaders can solve this. A crucial platform element in the next elections must be sound money, and our leaders and potential leaders should be determined to remove ‘employment’ from the mandate of the Fed (it is obviously hard enough for them to focus on even one goal—the protection of the value of money). And our leaders should say, loudly and clearly, that among the things they will do when they achieve the power to actually do such things is to fire Bernanke, normalize interest rates, stop the QE policy, and pursue pro-growth fiscal, tax, and regulatory policies.”

[Return to headlines]

Greece: Households Curb Electricity Use

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, AUGUST 11 — The financial crisis has forced Greek households to reduce their power consumption, while the number of unpaid electricity bills is increasing by the month, as daily Kathimerini reports.

Electricity use data compiled by grid operator DESMHE for the first seven months of the year show household and low-level commercial consumption declined by 2.45% year-on-year, while overall consumption dropped 1.60%. At the end of July debts to the Public Power Corporation in the form of unpaid bills soared to 423 million euros, from 385 million at end-2010 and 285 million at end-2009. Some 100 million euros of the money owed concerns debts of at least six months old. The problem is expected to get worse in the coming months, as a recent survey by the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE) found that six out of 10 Greek households were struggling to make ends meet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Cabinet to Hold Emergency Talks on Economic Crisis

Further reforms flagged to balance budget by 2013

(ANSA) — Rome, August 12 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi has called an emergency cabinet meeting late Friday to discuss urgent measures to avert the financial crisis spiralling out of control, his office said in a statement.

The government is looking for 20 billion euros in extra savings and revenue in a bid to balance the budget by 2013 and reassure global markets about its financial responsibility.

Late Thursday the prime minister met senior leaders from his People of Freedom party and Umberto Bossi, head of his coalition partner the Northern League in Rome.

Earlier Berlusconi and Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti met President Giorgio Napolitano, who cut short his vacation in Sicily, to discuss the economic crisis.

Bossi, who has expressed reservations about further pension reform after cuts in the government’s 48-billion euro austerity package recently approved by parliament, spoke to reporters after talks with Tremonti.

“He has not convinced me,” Bossi said. “We have to know how to say ‘no’ because otherwise there is a risk of a (government9 crisis”.

There is growing speculation that the government will look at a ‘wealth tax’ for incomes higher than 90,000 euros.

In an address to parliament on Thursday, Tremonti outlined the possibility of further cuts to pensions, reform of labour laws and the privatisation of public services without offering any details.

Officials close to the prime minister said Berlusconi may present a video message outlining details of the government’s financial measures, which are likely to provoke a backlash from Italian voters.

“We don’t have any alternative,” one minister told ANSA.

“On this point it is better to look at the virtues and transform these measures of ‘blood and tears’ into an opportunity”.

The head of the centre left opposition Democratic Party, Pierluigi Bersani, said on Thursday that political leadership was the core of the problem and said there was “total lack of ideas and unity in the government”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Crisis Measures to Feature ‘Solidarity Tax’, Big Cuts

Austerity decree expected before weekend

(ANSA) — Rome, August 12 — Premier Silvio Berlusconi and Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti told Italy’s local governments that they are in for bid cuts to their budgets as Rome adopts emergency measures to stop the financial crisis spiraling out of control.

Berlusconi confirmed there would be a ‘solidarity’ tax on higher incomes, which is expected to be an additional 5% on anything over 90,000 euros and 10% above 150,000, in the austerity measures that look set to be approved at an extraordinary cabinet meeting later on Friday.

The premier explained that due to instability created by recent market speculation on Italian bonds, it was imperative to move forward Italy’s goal of balancing the budget from 2014 to 2013 and that this would entail raising an additional 20 billion euros in 2012 and 25 billion euros in 2013.

Tremonti told provincial and municipal government representatives that they will see the contributions they receive from the central government slashed by 9.5 billion euros, six billion euros in 2012 and 3-3.5 billion euros in 2013, while cuts to the regions will total one billion euros.

The minister explained that the six-billion-euro cut was the same as what was going to be imposed on government ministries.

Regional governors and city mayors belonging to the opposition parties and those of the central government alliance blasted the measures.

Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, a member of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, called on the local authorities to mobilize against measures he described as “unsustainable”.

Lombardy Governor Roberto Formigoni, also a PdL member, said they meant the government’s plans to give regional governments greater financial autonomy, the so-called ‘fiscal federalism programme, were “officially dead”.

The announcement of a new tax on high incomes was a turnaround for Italy’s billionaire premier, who has always been loath to any form of ‘wealth tax’.

Berlusconi had earlier said that in order to meet demands for cuts in the cost of government, ministries would see their budgets reduced by a total of six billion euros next year and 2.5 billion euros in 2013.

Tremonti explained that among the measures needed to cut spending would be reducing the number of provinces, and not abolishing them altogether as some had called for, and merging smaller municipalities.

In their presentation, Berlusconi and Tremonti confirmed that the austerity budget package would include deregulating local services and utilities with incentives for their privatization as well as for the sale of municipal properties.

Tremonti explained that issuing a decree, which takes immediate effect and must be converted into law within 60 days, was “necessary and urgent. Necessary for the stability of the nation and urgent to respond to markets”.

Last week the decree was announced for September but at the weekend it was decided to introduce it this month and in the past few days the introduction was first moved up to August 18 and then to August 16 and now is expected before the weekend. Formigoni recalled how budget cuts to regions already accounted for 50% of the cuts the government made in the 2011 budget and that any new cuts would require “further sacrifices” for regions.

The chairman of the association of provinces, Giuseppe Castiglione, said his view of the government’s plan was “totally negative” because it was “unbalanced and not beneficial for a recovery”.

The deputy chairman of the association of municipalities, Graziano Delrio, told the press that “we are shocked by the government’s proposals. However, we are ready to work to improve the package in order to avoid finding ourselves forced to dip into local taxpayers pockets”.

According to Delrio, the cuts already made by the government had led to a reduction in investments to the tune of 20% and that the new cuts would depress them a further 15%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Appeals Court Rules Against Obama Healthcare Law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — An appeals court ruled on Friday that President Barack Obama’s healthcare law requiring Americans to buy healthcare insurance or face a penalty was unconstitutional, a blow to the White House.

The Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, found that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage, but also ruled that the rest of the wide-ranging law could remain in effect.

The legality of the so-called individual mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Obama administration has defended the provision as constitutional.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Appeals Court Rules Against Obama Healthcare Mandate

President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law suffered a setback on Friday when an appeals court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require all Americans to buy insurance or face a penalty.

The U.S. Appeals Court for the 11th Circuit, based in Atlanta, ruled 2 to 1 that Congress exceeded its authority by requiring Americans to buy coverage, but it unanimously reversed a lower court decision that threw out the entire law.

The legality of the individual mandate, a cornerstone of the healthcare law, is widely expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. Opponents have argued that without the mandate, which goes into effect in 2014, the entire law falls.

[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Jacksonian Foreign Policy Option

Over the past several months, a certain intolerance has crept into the rhetoric of leading neoconservative publications and writers. This intolerance has become particularly noticeable since February’s neoconservative-supported overthrow of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and US President Barack Obama’s neoconservative-supported decision to commit US forces to battle against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in March.

The basic concept being propounded by leading neoconservative writers and publications is that anyone who disagrees with neoconservative policies is an isolationist. A notable recent example of this tendency was a blog post published on Wednesday by Commentary Magazine’s Executive Editor Jonathan Tobin regarding the emerging contours of Texas Governor Rick Perry’s foreign policy views.

After listing various former Bush administration officials who are advising Perry on foreign affairs, Tobin concluded, “Perry might have more in common with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party than the isolationists.”…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

The CIA Should be More CAIR-Less

by Diana West

This week, a three-day conference hosted by the CIA on “homegrown radicalization” was supposed to have taken place at CIA headquarters. It did not. The conference was abruptly canceled — or, softening the blow, “postponed.” Question: Did pressure from what we might (and should) call a certain “homegrown radical” group — the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) — make this happen?

Here is what we know.

On Monday, July 18, CAIR issued a press release headlined: “CAIR Asks CIA to Drop Islamophobic Trainer.” It revealed that CAIR national executive director Nihad Awad wrote a letter to now-former CIA director Leon Panetta to that effect. The rest of the release is more opaque. In referencing an NPR report that slammed one counterterrorism trainer by name, former FBI agent John Guandolo, for “allegedly smearing” an “Ohio Muslim” in a presentation, CAIR noted that an entirely different trainer, unnamed, was “scheduled to hold a similar session in August for the CIA.” (Full disclosure: Guandolo and I are among 19 co-authors of “Shariah: the Threat to America.”) The August CIA “session” appears to be the driver of both the CAIR release and letter asking the CIA, as the headline put it, to “Drop Islamophobic Trainer.”

On Friday, July 22, an email from the CIA informed hundreds of confirmed attendees that the whole August “radicalization” conference was off (much to the consternation of those who had already purchased non-refundable airline tickets). “The sponsors — in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security — have decided to delay the conference so it can include insights from, among other sources, the new National Strategy for Counterterrorism, in an updated agenda,” the email said. The goal “is to ensure that conference participants receive material that is as current and comprehensive as possible….”

Pretty lame, even for the CIA. But there is more to groan about. “Updated agenda” is Washington-speak for gutted agenda. With the new White House counterterrorism strategy as a source of insights du jour, the holes in the original conference lineup will be filled to the brim with the see-no-jihad mush that the strategy dishes up.

It gets worse…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Italian Museums to Remain Open for Holiday Weekend

Minister urges Italians and foreigners to ‘rediscover heritage’

(ANSA) — Rome, August 12 — Culture lovers will be able to visit historic sites and art museums across Italy on August 15, which is a national holiday.

The Culture Ministry has announced 325 museums and monuments, castles, galleries and gardens will remain open to the public on Monday, which is normally the day of the week when sites are closed.

Many of the sites will have added attractions and special events including concerts and guided tours to mark the occasion as an estimated 36 million Italians enjoy their summer vacation.

The ministry said the holiday, which marks the Catholic feast of the assumption, offers an opportunity “for all Italians and foreigners to rediscover, visit and get to know, even in summer, the artistic, architectural and scenic beauty of the country’s great cultural heritage”.

Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan said it was a “stroke of luck” to be born Italian.

“How can you otherwise define being born in a country that offers such marvellous things?” Galan said.

“There are landscapes, coastlines, towns, cities and countryside, a natural heritage of immense value, which is even more precious because the world envies us and comes to visit us, to imitate us and dream about our museums, our artworks and our priceless artistic and cultural heritage”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Masturbating Man Reported for ‘Moaning Louder Than an Animal’

Neighbours of the man, who is resident in the Rosengård area of Malmö, had long suffered due to his tendency to watch television at high volumes.

But it was his screaming orgasms as he pleasured himself that really rubbed his neighbours up the wrong way, according to the local Sydsvenskan daily.

Five tenants living in the same building as the man have now filed a report with the Malmö environmental administration (Miljöförvaltningen) asking for action to be taken against their noisy neighbourly onanist.

In their report to the administration the neighbours are reported to have described how the man “masturbates and screams”.

One of the neighbours reported furthermore how the man is prone to indulging his urges at any hour of the day and night, with the ensuing racket breaching the peace of the residential area with little forewarning.

“He moans louder than an animal… I can feel how it affects my state of mind,” the neighbour wrote in the report.

The neighbours decided to take the matter into their own hands and file a report as they felt their landlord had displayed a reluctance to intervene in the messy domestic dispute.

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]

UK: Axe Threat to Notting Hill Carnival

THE Notting Hill Carnival could be cancelleds to prevent more riots. Organisers fear the festival, which attracts two million people, could spark a repeat of the recent trouble. In the past the event, held over the August bank holiday since 1966, has been marred by violence. Police chiefs were last night holding crisis meetings with community leaders in a bid to calm the crisis. Police blogger “Response Plod” warned there was more chaos ahead. He said: “It’s going to make the Notting Hill Carnival an interesting two days.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: British Society Could Learn a Lot From the Turks of Dalston

So how’s that cultural revolution working out then, England? Forty-odd years after the young masters overthrew the stuffy old order, London resembles a Lord of the Flies production translated into Jafaican. (I concede that this is a predictable response from me, but as David Allen Green noted yesterday, riots are the most reactionary of things, in that no one is ever persuaded, but rather becomes more hardline in their views.)

There is little to cheer about; the riots will be over soon (we hope), and most of the participants will probably get caught (the thing about modern rioting is that, unless you’re very careful about covering your face and use no technology, then CCTV, phone records and social media make capture almost a certainty). But the riots are only a more vivid display of a wider, more everyday problem British people have got used to — a small minority of lawless, anti-social young men and women who make life unpleasant for everyone else.

British people have mostly internalised this fear, usually adopting a Stockholm Syndrome liberalism; for example, I believe that the reason so many young teachers in inner cities are textbook liberals who blame various institutions and authorities for the bad behaviour of their pupils is because they physically fear those kids, and it is easier to side with the one you fear. In contrast the kids do not fear anyone in authority — not teachers, not churchmen, not policemen or army officers, and especially not fathers. That is because, in essence, the people in authority in Britain have abandoned that authority, for various psycho-political reasons (just look through any John Lennon or Pink Floyd lyrics for a better understanding of babyboomer thinking).

The result is that Britain has among the most unpleasant adolescent population in the world (with all due respects to the majority who aren’t); I have never been anywhere in the world with such problems, and it’s actually embarrassing. For a society that was remarkably well-ordered and peaceful until the 1960s our speedy breakdown is a remarkable achievement.

There are heartening aspects, though. Citizens cleaning up yesterday’s wreckage, or bringing tea to police officers. Most impressive of all was the way that the Turks and Kurds of Dalston and Green Lanes drove away looters, reminiscent of the Pakistani communities of Balsall Heath and Lumb Lane in their heroic community spirit. (Elsewhere Bengalis in Whitechapel drove off looters attacking an Islamic bank.) For at a time when the word “community” is so misappropriated, they were the genuine thing — united, courageous and determined to face the hoodies down and make them scared. British society could learn a lot from the Dalston Turks. Let’s just hope the police step in before the city gets any nastier.

[JP note: UK double-plus-good-new-speak: Ethnic Prole = good; White Prole = bad. When white proles wish to protect themselves, all hell breaks loose and wagonloads of PC Plods are surprisingly fleet-footed and resolute in their response to the disturbance. The authorities grudgingly allow whites to sweep up afterwards, but anything else, it seems, would threaten their hard-won, proto-dhimmi entitlement to further humiliation. It is a bit like Jews being made to sweep up after Kristallnacht in 1938 — somewhat far-fetched I would agree, and the sight of vigorously raised brooms in Calpham Junction had a pleasantly medieval, peasant-and-pitchfork air about them. However, given the prevailing consensus, it is to be feared that ordinary people will continue to be short-changed by the nation’s legislators, media commentators, assorted liberal do-gooders and other mung-bean munchers.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Britain’s First Intifada

Throughout London, thousands of angry youths last night stormed out from the Bantustan-style patchwork of communities to which they are confined in a defiant search for fresh hope, for brighter prospects, for a newer pair of trainers. The Police reaction was sadly all too predictable in this conflicted region of the world: Baton charges, handcuffs, even the erection of a wall of separation of plastic shields.

The Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood told us she had seen police deliberately targeting a man whose only crime was desperately defending his property — a pocketful of BlackBerrys and a flat screen TV.

The BBC’s London East editor, Jeremy Bowlegs, said:

“I saw children, some as young as eleven, being chased by gangs of police as they tried to rescue what they could of their new-found possessions.”

Baroness Jenny Wronge, spokesperson for Justice for Scum in a Permanent Rage told our reporter:

“What started as a peaceful orgy of arson and looting only turned nasty with the arrival of the Police. This kind of fascist provocation has to stop”.

“The country must reflect this morning,” she added, “on Segregated Britain, a land where highly affluent communities live cheek-by-jowl with slightly less affluent communities. Is it any wonder these youths react as they do when they feel under constant siege, when they suffer the daily humiliation of being stopped and searched by the authorities, when they have their most prized possessions — knives, coshes, even the occasional gun — taken from them, and when their indigenous culture of drinking, glue-sniffing and mindless thuggery is under constant threat?”

The Prime Minister, cutting short his vacation to survey the damage, promised tough measures in the future. “We have to remember,” he said “that these vermin live in open-air prisons. And that is where we intend to keep them” Little surprise, then, that in some quarters there is talk of Britain as an apartheid state and that calls are being heard to boycott entirely innocent British businesses and academics until the tragic plight of the country’s hoodies is addressed.

The UN has called on the UK government to recognise an immediate Right of Return of vandals to their nearest shopping centre, preferably at midnight with the CCTV cameras turned off. Iran, Syria and the Socialist Republic of Libya issued a joint statement condemning the UK government’s use of violence against its own people, although Iran is also thought to have offered to supply a consignment of cranes and nooses in exchange for the imposition of Sharia law.

Only Israel and the US has refused to comment but, when pressed, the Israeli Ambassador was heard to comment:

“We in Israel like to mind our own business. Unlike some, eh, Mr Hague?”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Damned if You Do: Damned if You Don’t

The most emotive and potentially explosive decision councils have to take is whether to allow Notting Hill Carnival.

If cancelled there will be screams of protest: if it goes ahead and crime and civil disorder jumps there will be further screams of protest. For guidance we need look back to recent previous years. In 2009 around 320 people were arrested. Last year this figure fell to around 270 with the London Ambulance Service dealing with around 550 casualties. In the weeks running up to the Carnival the Met arrested 100 potential trouble makers. A further interesting stat-highly relevant as councils struggle to clean up after the riots- is the huge amount of rubbish generated-a staggering 100 tons.

So what to do…..

Without doubt managing the Carnival is going to seriously stretch the Police and other emergency services in a quite unimaginable way and without doubt troublemakers throughout London will know this and see it as an opportunity to initiate a second wave of serious civil disorder knowing that police will be tied down in Notting Hill. More to the point is that officers are already exhausted by recent riots and to expect them to be on top form is unrealistic.

The decision to allow the Carnival cannot be left to local politicians: it is far too important. Senior Met officers and those running emergency services are the guys to make the final recommendation and there should be no argument with them.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: English Defence League March Banned

An English Defence League (EDL) march planned for this weekend has been banned amid fears of violence, it was disclosed today. Home Secretary Theresa May said she had taken the action to protect “communities and property” in Telford. However, she warned that members of the group would still be able to gather on the streets of the Shropshire town.

“I have given my consent to a ban on marches in Telford this weekend,” Mrs May said. “It is clear that a ban is needed to ensure communities and property are protected.

“What this ban does not do however is stop an EDL presence or a static demonstration in Telford this weekend. “West Mercia Police have a significant number of officers being deployed to police any EDL presence. I encourage all local people to work with the police to ensure community relations are not undermined.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Home Secretary Bans EDL Wellington March

The Home Secretary Theresa May has this morning banned tomorrow’s planned marches in Wellington in a move that has been welcomed by Telford & Wrekin Council.

The Council had written to the Home Secretary Theresa May requesting the EDL march be banned following a recommendation by West Mercia Police. This request was made under Section 13 of the Public Order Act 1986. The decision means that all marches including a planned counter Unity march will be banned from taking place in Telford and Wrekin. It is however expected that the English Defence League will still carry out a static demonstration in Wellington tomorrow, which West Mercia Police has decided will take place in Church Street.

Councillor Shaun Davies, cabinet member for Community Cohesion, said: “We welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has approved our request for the marches to be banned.

“However, there will still be a significant multi-agency operation in Wellington tomorrow in anticipation of a static protest. Telford & Wrekin Council and West Mercia Police have worked very closely over the past few weeks to develop a comprehensive plan for before, during and after the event. “People can be reassured that both organisations have the resources available and the experience to deal with any incidents on the day. We have also worked very closely with local residents and the business community in Wellington and we would like to thank them for their support. Telford & Wrekin Council has always said that it does not want this to take place in the borough.”

Chief Inspector Keith Gee of West Mercia Police said: “Even though the Home Secretary has given her consent it does not prevent any static assemblies taking place, which are still lawful provided they remain peaceful, and we have no legal powers to prevent them. “We shall do everything possible to ensure that any assembly on Saturday remains peaceful and poses the least amount of disruption possible for those not involved in the assembly. To that end we are still planning for a major police operation, involving our multi agency partners, and we will have significant numbers of police officers out on the streets to reassure our communities. I would like to reassure the communities in and around Wellington that we have the resources available and the experience to deal with any incidents on the day. We have received a lot of support from communities, organisations and groups and we want to thank them for their open and honest feedback and for engaging with us. Our officers have been out and about in Wellington and surrounding neighbourhoods in the run up to this weekend and that will continue. If you have any concerns please do speak to them.”

AFC Telford United’s game against Luton Town due to take place on Saturday evening at the New Buck’s Head Stadium was called off yesterday. Telford & Wrekin Council has also taken the precautionary decision to close Wellington Civic & Leisure Centre and Wellington Library on Saturday. The following roads will be closed from 7am and are expected to re-open at 10pm: Charlton Street, Church Street, Queen Street and Market Street. Access to the Market Street car park will be via Bridge Road. The Ten Tree Croft car park in Queen Street and Nailors Row car park in Victoria Road will be closed from 6pm on Friday and will re-open at 8pm on Saturday.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: London Riots: Day the Mob Came Crashing Through My Door: One Middle-Class Mother’s Harrowing Account

It wasn’t just shops and businesses which were attacked during the rioting — individual households in some of London’s most expensive streets were targeted too. Here Mary-Lu Cole, 51, a former teacher and now a full-time mother, tells of her family’s terrifying experience at home in Notting Hill. She is married to John, a TV executive, and has a son, Arthur, 14, and a daughter, Ella, 11.

First came the shouting, then the sound of splintering wood. And then they were upon us. Invading our home. Rampaging in the street. Smashing their way into our neighbour’s house and seizing all they could carry. And in the process, they tore a hole into my neighbourhood — and my heart. It was last Sunday and my husband, John, our son Arthur and I had just come back from a camping holiday in France (our daughter was away staying with a friend). We were looking forward to spending a relaxing day at home. We had heard about the riots in Tottenham the previous night and felt so desperately sorry for the people who had lost their homes and businesses, but it seemed a million miles away from us in Notting Hill, an affluent neighbourhood where our neighbours include the Mayor of London’s sister Rachel, Annie Lennox and Harry Enfield.

Besides, the rioters were targeting shops and businesses, weren’t they? They wanted easy loot. They weren’t attacking homes or people just for the sake of it. Or so I thought.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: May Intervenes to Restore Order

Theresa May has banned an EDL march in Telford tomorrow, although the organisation will be allowed into the town to conduct a static demonstration. May has been a hive of hyperactivity since she returned from holiday, and this is yet another example of the government making a decisive gesture to amend for its perceived earlier indifference.

It also looks like a strategic decision to contain that other unspoken working class resentment: immigration, and the hint of racial tension that it inspires from time to time. David Cameron was at pains yesterday to insist that the riots were a cultural issue, not a racial issue. He’s right. I’ve spent the last two nights in Streatham and the confrontations I witnessed were initiated by people of all ages, colours and creeds (united in boredom it seemed to me). Reports and video footage at the height of the violence suggest that this was the case across the country.

So, the government seems determined to ensure that these events aren’t high-jacked by those with an unsavoury agenda, be they members of the EDL or opportunistic agitators in migrant communities.


[reader comment by Dennis Cooper at 2:47 pm on 12 August 2100]

Cameron yesterday, Column 1086:

“The hon. Gentleman speaks not only for his constituents, but, frankly, for the whole House in deprecating the English Defence League and all it stands for. On its attempt to say that it will somehow help to restore order, I have described some parts of our society as sick, and there is none sicker than the EDL.”

I’d say that the EDL is rather the creation of the sick minds of politicians like Blair and Cameron, who have shown again and again that they loathe and despise the indigenous English, constantly put immigrants on a pedestal, and have no scruples about tolerating and even signing up to support the thugs in the so-called “Unite Against Fascism”.

I don’t quite know how we’ve got into this situation where English politicians, and many English journalists as well, have turned against the English, but it does not bode well for a peaceful and harmonious future in England — which is, after all, “the land of the English”, and not a private estate belonging to either Blair or Cameron to do with as they please.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: No, Don’t Stop the Notting Hill Carnival

Should the Notting Hill Carnival go ahead following the riots? Yes, of course it should. As a long-term resident of the area I am increasingly fed up with my front garden being used as a public loo (and worse besides). The noise, rubbish and sheer volume of people are intolerable and I yearn for it to relocate to Hyde Park, as former Mayor Ken Livingstone once suggested. But to cancel it this year would be completely the wrong thing to do — and for all the wrong reasons.

As football matches are called off and Parliament is recalled (a pointless exercise, simply to prove that not all politicians are on their sunloungers) we are in danger of losing our heads and over- reacting. A plethora of Facebook sites have been set up this week, including Stop the Notting HIll Carnival Now and Stop the Notting Hill Carnival for Safety Sake. The social networking sites are in danger of becoming anti-social sites.

There were similar calls to cancel the Carnival after the July bombings in 2005 but it went ahead. Just as we shouldn’t give in to terrorists, so we shouldn’t capitulate to a bunch of opportunistic hoodlums who barely number a few hundred. If we can’t even organise a Carnival, what sort of message will this send to the world about the Olympics?

Yes, it will be a drain on police resources — but it is a drain every year and it’s up to the police and the organisers to liaise and make sure it passes off without major incident.

In fact given that more than a million people attend, it is astonishing how little disorder there is at Carnival. Gradual improvements have been made such as earlier start and finishing times. Scale it back further, if we must, but don’t let the killjoys win the day. For many people it is the highlight of the year; hundreds of steel drummers have spent months rehearsing. It would be a shame if all their hard work went to waste.

We should not forget that huge swathes of London stayed riot-free. And as the residents of Clapham and Croydon demonstrated, far more people are willing to clean up the streets than trash them. Our streets should be reclaimed by those who love them. And there is no better example of this community spirit than the Notting Hill Carnival. Let the steel drums ring out. But please, please when it’s all over, can it be relocated next year?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Olympic Village Sold to Qatari Developers — £557m Deal Costs Taxpayer £225m

The London 2012 Olympic Village has been sold to a private British company and the investment arm of the Qatari ruling family in a deal that will cost the taxpayer £225m.

The property company of the Arab state’s royal family and British developer Delancey have signed a £557 million-pound deal to buy and manage the athletes village as private housing after next year’s Olympics.

But the latest estimates suggest that the village has already cost £1.1bn to develop. Today’s sale price represents a loss of £543 however part of the money will be recouped with contingency payments.

After the contingency payments of roughly £324m, the overall loss to the taxpayer will be roughly £219m, although this could rise beyond £225m with added costs over the next year.

The vast sum is likely to anger those who have raised questions about England hosting the games.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

UK: Rioter’s Family First to be Kicked Out of Council House Because of Son’s ‘Looting’

An alleged rioter’s parent faces being the first in the country to be thrown out of their council house because their son was ‘involved in uprisings’.

After David Cameron called for tough justice for looters, Wandsworth Council today handed the family an eviction notice.

The tenant’s son has appeared in court accused of taking part in rioting close to Clapham Junction railway station on Monday night.

The case could be the first of many across the country as councils pore over charge sheets to see if people in their homes have been involved in civil disorder.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

UK: Standing on the EDL on Radio 4

Listen to The Report tonight on Radio 4:

Following the massacre in Norway and amid concerns over contacts between the killer and supporters of the English Defence League, the Government is reviewing its policing of right wing terrorism.

James Silver examines far right extremism in the UK and reports from some areas with large muslim populations where fears of ‘Islamisation’ are fuelling tensions between communities. We hear of the targetting of women and gay men on the streets of Tower Hamlets, as well as attacks on a mosque in Luton.

Is there a disenfranchised minority who feel they have no political voice and are now looking to networks like the English Defence League? And are the EDL right to suggest that the threat of anti-muslim terrorism in the UK could grow?

HP contributor, Edmund Standing is one of the contributors to this programme.

[Reader comment by JuliaM at 4:21 pm on 11 August 2011]

It was noticeable that, despite their lack of action in the riots that saw Croydon homes and businesses go up in flames while they reissued their thumbs, the police were like greased cheetahs in their reaction to a handful of EDL members (or Millwall fans, descriptions vary) in Eltham claiming to ‘protect the streets’.

One might almost draw unwelcome conclusions about it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Telford Shops Board Up After After EDL Insists Demo is on

The English Defence League today ignored calls for a march in Wellington to be scrapped and vowed to continue with the demonstration as planned.

It comes as police and council bosses waited to hear whether Home Secretary Theresa May will ban tomorrow’s march following a request yesterday. But police chiefs have said a ban by the Home Secretary would not prevent EDL members from gathering in the town. The EDL claim the march, due to take place between 1pm and 3pm and which yesterday resulted in AFC Telford United’s match being called off, is about radical Islam and issues in the area’s Muslim community.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Special Forces Sent Into Sinai Against Armed Groups

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 11 — Special forces of the Egyptian army and police have been deployed in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula to combat groups that have “taken control of several areas” of the governorate.

According to sources inside the security forces, as cited by the website ‘Al Masry al Youm’, the operations code-named ‘Eagle’ aims to deploy two brigades; one of police and one of the army, involving around one thousand personnel in all.

Supporting them will be 250 armoured vehicles and an air arm.

The troops have the task of dismantling “all organised crime” in Al Arish, and then in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid, “where strong resistance is expected due to the large numbers of criminals and rebels”.

The source, which does not make specific mention of the presence of fundamentalist groups, also notes that the operation will move to central Sinai, where the air arm will also come into action because of the mountainous terrain, especially in the Monte Halal region, “a hideout for many outlaws”.

Furthermore, identification has been made of all of those involved — around twenty both “Egyptians and Palestinians,” in the attacks at the end of July on the police station of Al Arish (leaving at least four dead and 19 wounded) and in the fifth attack since February on the gas pipeline supplying Israel.

On July 29 the capital of North Sinai was ‘invaded’ by one hundred men on board cars and motorcycles, many with their faces masked, displaying flags with Islamic slogans and who then, inhabitants say, got lost in the city before reaching the police station they wanted to attack.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Are Palestinians Preparing Another Intifada?

It is still not clear if the Palestinian Authority leadership will proceed with its plan to ask the UN in September to recognize a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines.

But what is clear is that the Palestinian Authority leaders have recently been talking about the need to escalate “popular protests” against Israel.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, who says he is opposed to an armed struggle mainly because it would be counterproductive and inefficient, has repeatedly voiced his full support for a “popular intifada” in the West Bank.

Abbas would like to see more Palestinians joining weekly demonstrations against settlements and the security barrier. He and other Palestinians have expressed disappointment over the fact that the number of foreigners and Israeli Jews participating in the protests is higher than the number of Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority representatives would like to see the Palestinian masses march on Israeli military checkpoints and settlements after September, regardless of whether the statehood bid at the UN succeeds or not.

[Return to headlines]

Cost of Living Protest in Beersheva Saturday

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 11 — Protests at the rising cost of living have left Tel Aviv for the meantime, although the city is still the centre of the demonstrations, and are heading for Beersheva, the southern capital where a mass gathering has been scheduled for Saturday. And an agreement appears to have emerged over a unified leadership for the demonstrator to represent them in contacts with the governing authorities.

In Tel Aviv’s very central Rothschild Boulevard, where the first protest marches started, a very visible revolutionary symbol has gone on show: a guillotine. It is unclear, however, to the many curious passers by, whether the organisers of the demonstrations wish to intimidate the present government or simply wanted an eye-catcher for their movement.

Social unrest in the country remains nonetheless a very real factor: yesterday hundreds of people who were demonstrating in protest at the cost of rents and of living in general in the Holon and Bat Yam areas on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, were dispersed by police after they set fire to tyres and old furniture, amid slogans aimed at the big property developing companies, which were compared to “organised criminals”.

The protests are having political reverberations among the government ranks as well. The leader of the ultra-orthodox religious Shas party and Interior Minister Eli Ishai openly threatened to withdraw his party from the governing coalition if adequate solutions are not found for the socio-economic crisis.

In an attempt at dialogue, Transport Minister, Yisrael Katz, went as far as visiting the protesters in the encampment in Rothschild Boulevard in order to demonstrate his reform plan for public transport to them — a plan that has come under heavy criticism.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Qatar: Al Jazeera TV Accused of Media War Against Bahrain

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 11 — Doha-based Arab satellite TV network Al Jazeera has been accused of fuelling a media war between Qatar and Bahrain. Al Jazeera recently aired footage that is considered in Bahrain to be biased against the country’s leadership and its position in the recent Shiite protests. Pro-government circles in Bahrain, according to Middle East Online, accuse Qatar of having bad intentions against the country, especially following the decision by the ICC in The Hague over a territorial dispute involving the Hawar Islands. Ten years ago the court ended the 50-year dispute, awarding sovereignty over the islands to Bahrain.

Recently, an old recording was released in which Qatar’s current Foreign Minister, Sheikh Ben Jasim Al Thani, states his country’s intention to welcome Bahrain’s opposition into the country and accuses the government in Manama, along with other countries, of taking part in a plot against Doha. Bahrain, added the minister, collaborated in the plot to topple the government in Doha in 1996, allowing weapons to be smuggled into Qatar. “The people of Bahrain,” said the minister in the recording, “accuse Qatar of plotting against their government, forgetting about their participation in the plot against the Prince of Qatar. Our people,” Al Thani continued, “feel hurt by the people of Bahrain.” “The Kingdom of Bahrain,” he continued, “was at the centre of a conspiracy against our country. They ask us not to interfere in their internal affairs, while they interfere in ours.” “Qatar,” he concluded in the recording, “can welcome all of the Bahraini opposition, which currently resides in Damascus, into the country” and directly disrupt the kingdom from the emirate. Based on this final statement, in Bahrain it is believed that TV coverage by Al Jazeera of the internal crisis in recent months reflects the hostile stance of Qatar’s foreign minister. People in Bahrain are accusing Al Jazeera of wanting to make national dialogue between the opposition and the government in Manama fail. Citing sources that preferred to remain anonymous, Middle East Online stated that attempts are being made to set up a meeting between the King of Bahrain and the Prince of Qatar under the aegis of the Saudi king after the month of Ramadan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Like at Hama in ‘82, Regime Targets Minaret

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 11 — A minaret razed to the ground by rounds of artillery fire; mosques boarded up, loudspeaker which usually call the faithful to prayer now silent: from the east to the far west of Syria, the troops and security forces of President Bashar al Assad (an Alawite) are striking once again at the most cherished symbols of the Sunni Muslim population — thirty years after the Hama massacre — especially at this time of Ramadan.

Ever since the beginning of the protests and the ensuing repressing, the regime has pointed an accusing finger at “armed terrorist gangs” and Sunni “Islamic extremists”, in the pay of Saudi Arabia and armed by the Turks, both countries with Sunni majorities. The Damascus regime that has been in power for the past 41 years is dominated by the al-Assad clan and a few other Alawite families, a branch of Shiite Islam which some Sunni schools deny is a part of the Islamic family.

And the main springs of the uprising are indeed areas of majority Sunni populations: Daraa, Homs, Hama, Banias, the outskirts of Damascus and those of Aleppo, Dayr az Zor, the Kurd regions of the North-East. Although it is also true that the past five months have also seen uprisings in Druse and Ismailite areas (another offshoot of Shiism), the Syrian rebellion is being increasingly perceived, both internally and from the outside, as a struggle between Sunnis (75% of the population) and the Alawites (around 11%) in power.

Many Sunni demonstrators chant anti-Shiite slogans (against Iran and the Hezbollah) and accuse the al-Assads and their allies of not being “true Muslims”. A large number of Alawite figures are to be seen among the dissidents and opposition, but the Shiite minority is inevitably perceived by a great many Sunnis as regime collaborators. This perception goes back as far as the ‘70s with the ‘Alawatisation’ of the regime apparatchiks and the officer corps of the army, the ranks of the Baath party (the de facto sole political party) and of sectors of public administration.

With the exception of the merchant and entrepreneurial Sunni bourgeoisie of Aleppo and Damascus, who have always stood side-by-side with the Assads, the overwhelming majority of Syrian Sunnis has felt discriminated against for decades now.

And the never-healed wound caused by the armed repression of the Muslim Brotherhood executed by the regime in 1979 (the grouping has been outlawed since 1980 and membership incurs the death penalty), which culminated in 1982 with the destruction of swathes of the city of Hama and the killing of thousands of people, has been re-opened. As today, the country’s artillery and air force did not hesitate to target mosques where rebels were hiding out, but so too were defenceless citizens.

In April, the same ancient Omar mosque of Daraa, transformed by the inhabitants into a hospital-refuge, was bombarded by artillery. Inside the mosque, copies of the Koran were shredded and the name of Mohamed sculpted in the stone was scarred by shrapnel.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Syria: Analysts: EU Sanctions Meaningless if Oil Not Included

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 12 — Even though countries like Turkey and Saudi Arabia have recently stepped up their political pressure on Syria to end the violence, the opposition and several analysts cited by Middle East Online are saying that divisions within the EU on sanctions and that some do not want to sacrifice their commercial interests in Syria has encouraged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Currently, Syria produces about 400,000 barrels of oil per day, 150,000 barrels of which are exported to European countries such as Holland, Italy, France and Spain. These exports account for about 30% of the daily revenue of the Assad government, say analysts. Despite a continual increase in casualties and the widespread use of tanks in the repression of the protestors, the EU continues to limit the range of its sanctions, explained the website. With the exception of Italy, which recalled its ambassador to Damascus, the other EU states have not yet managed to issue a common statement declaring that the Syrian president has lost his legitimacy, highlighted the site. Since March, Europe has imposed several rounds of sanctions, such as the visa ban to the EU and freezing the assets of 35 individuals, including the president, as well as others against businesses that have relations with the Syrian army. These sanctions, continued the site, have never touched the Syrian energy sector or the European oil companies that have many investments in the Middle Eastern country, such as Anglo-Dutch oil company Royal Dutch Shell and French company Total. But the civilian bloodbath which reportedly took place in Hama last week shocked EU ambassadors in Syria, continued Middle East Online, pushing them to examine the possibility of extending sanctions against Damascus to the energy sector, but this will not be discussed before September. In a recent meeting of ambassadors, explained the website, Germany asked that more options be considered regarding sanctions, but at the same time they said that they are not “sure” that this is the best way to face the Syrian crisis. Great Britain also asked the EU to begin discussing economic measures, while France mentioned the possibility of sanctions against the Syrian Commercial Bank.

“Sanctions on the energy sector will be the next step for the EU to take,” said Clara O’Donell, a researcher for the Center for European Reform. “It is obvious that European policymakers do not want to damage the investments of some European businesses in Syria.” The EU’s policy in the Syrian crisis could lead to more bloodshed, said Reem Allaf, an expert in Middle Eastern affairs at Chatham House. Talking about sanctions without adopting them, concluded the expert, basically increased the belief of the Syrian regime that can act with impunity.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


EU Okays Stop to Arrival of Romanian Workers to Spain

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, AUGUST 11 — The European Commission has given Spain permission to temporarily block (until the end of 2012) immigration by Romanian workers looking for jobs due to the high unemployment rate in Spain. It is the first time that this type of measure has been adopted in an exception to the principle of the freedom of movement of workers inside of the EU. But the unemployment emergency in Spain following the effects of the crisis pushed Madrid to request that the arrival of workers from Romania be stopped and for Brussels to consider their appeal to be justified.

On July 22, Madrid announced a stoppage limited to workers in the agricultural sector taking part in seasonal work. The European Commission requested clarification and on July 28 Spain notified Brussels of their request to be allowed to suspend entrance into the country of all Romanian workers for all sectors. In Spain, the unemployment rate has reached 21% (compared to 9.9% on average in the euro area and 9.4% in the EU), while youth unemployment has skyrocketed to 45.7%. Moreover, according to analysts in Brussels, unemployment among Romanians residing in Spain is 30% on average, and despite this, the arrival of migrants from Romania to Spain has only decreased slightly in recent times (the Romanian community has increased from 388,000 in 2006 to 823,000 in 2010).

Stopping the arrival of Romanian workers, however, is not a completely extraordinary measure: the possibility of postponing the complete opening of the European job market until 2013 to citizens of Romania and Bulgaria is part of the so-called “safeguard clause” included in the Treaty of Accession signed by Sofia and Bucharest, which entered into the EU in 2007.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Top Human Trafficker of Kurds to Italy Arrested

(ANSAmed) — GORIZIA, AUGUST 10 — A man that investigators are calling a “human trafficker” was tracked down by Interpol this morning in a restaurant in Athens in a joint operation with Greek police. Cefi Noyri is believed to be the top human trafficker of Iraqi Kurds to Italy and Northern Europe. The announcement was made by the head of the Gorizia Flying Squad, which under the “Valon” investigation conducted by the Trieste anti-mafia office identified the man who from Greece coordinated all of the transport operations of illegal immigrants by sea on ferry boats headed to Italy. The man, born in Iraq in 1978, escaped authorities, fleeing to Athens on June 30 when the local heads of the organisation were arrested in Italy with police taking a total of 24 individuals into custody, with cells operating in Bari, Rome, Bolzano and Milan. The organisation brought hundreds of Kurds and Iraqis to Italy in inhumane conditions, often hiding them on lorries travelling to Italy on ferry boats. The members of the organisations’ cells, almost all of whom were Iraqi, were spread throughout the country and took the immigrants upon their arrival and sent them to several destinations, mainly in Northern Europe. Each immigrant paid from 1,500 to 3,000 euros for the trip.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]