Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110817

Financial Crisis
»Biden in Beijing to Reassure Chinese Investors
»Blaming the Periphery: Right-Wing Populists Stoke Anti-Southern Rage
»EU Being Turned Into ‘Debt Union’, Says Slovak Parliament Speaker
»Franc Surges Against Euro
»Greece: Bad Checks: Unpaid Bills of Exchange Are Booming
»Gulf: Fears Over European Weakness in Region’s Markets
»Italy: Austerity Package Under Fire From All Sides
»Justice Department Investigating S.&P. Over Mortgage Securities
»Rise of the Fourth Reich, How Germany is Using the Financial Crisis to Conquer Europe
»South Korea: Economic Crisis Attacks Seoul: “Too Dependent on Foreign Markets”
»The Price of the Pact: What Will a European Economic Government Entail?
»Discrimination Suit Against Bloomberg L.P. Is Dismissed
»‘Flash Mob’ Robs Maryland 7-Eleven in Less Than a Minute, Police Say
»Jihadist Calls for Letterman’s Assassination
»Quran-Burning Church Wants to Move to Fort Myers
»Stabbing Suspect Out of Hospital, Held on $1 Million Bail
»Strauss-Kahn: L’Express: Medical Results Say Rape
»Thomas Sowell: Social Degeneration
»World’s Largest Rodent Loose in US
Europe and the EU
»Depardieu Urinates in Plane Cabin Just Before Take-Off
»France: CJR Opens Investigation Into IMF Director Christine Lagarde
»Italy’s High-Speed Train Protests Continue — Man Arrested
»‘Ndrangheta Boss Arrested for Driving Without His License
»Netherlands: Geert Wilders Becomes a Brand
»Spanish Police Prevent Attack Against Pope Opponents
»String of Car Fires in Berlin Confounds Emergency Services
»Sweden: Firebombing Teens Target Gothenburg Cops
»UK: 21,000 Oppose EDL March That Will ‘Target Mosque’
»UK: 25,000 Sign Petition Calling for Ban on EDL March in East End
»UK: An Open Letter to David Cameron About His Speech on Riots
»UK: Britain’s Own ‘Lord of the Flies’
»UK: It’s Hard to Believe Cameron’s Words Will Match His Actions
»UK: Tower Hamlets: Why the EDL March Should be Banned
»UK: Winners and Losers After the Riots
North Africa
»Egypt: Special Troops Hunting Bin Laden Doctor in Sinai
Israel and the Palestinians
»Marmara: Netanyahu: No Apologies to Turkey
Middle East
»Iran: ‘Over 50 Minority Bahais Detained in Jails Across Country’
»Jordan Considering Lawsuit Against Israel Baptism Site
»Russia Continues to Supply Syria With Weapons
»Syria: Dissidents Immature, Assad Playing for Time, Activist
»Turkey is Against a Foreign Intervention in Syria
South Asia
»Dutch Soldiers Must Keep Quiet: Minister
»India’s Anti-Corruption Protests Spread
»Pakistan: Christian Man Severely Beating for Refusing to Convert to Islam
Far East
»Japan: First Nuclear Reactor Retstarts After Fukushima Disaster
Latin America
»Mexico: Man Dismembered in Acapulco, Pieces of Body Found in Town
»Australia: Tuberculosis Hits Border Staff at Detention Centres
»Culture Crisis: Norway Tackles Muslim Immigration
»Hundreds of Migrants Moved From Lampedusa as More Arrive
»More Arrivals on Lampedusa, 2,600 in 4 Days
»Netherlands: City Councils Furious With Immigration Minister
»Netherlands: Turks Need Not Integrate
»UK: Migrants Need 415,000 New Council Homes
Culture Wars
»UK: Soya Keaveney, Modelling Underwear at 12, Pregnant at 15
»Antimatter Spotted on the Edge of the World

Financial Crisis

Biden in Beijing to Reassure Chinese Investors

(AGI) Beijing — Five days to reassure Chinese investors, the main holders of the US debt, about the financial situation in the US. That’s the goal of the mission led by US vice president Joe Biden, who landed in Beijing today, shortly after Standard and Poor’s downgraded the US credit ranking.

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

Blaming the Periphery: Right-Wing Populists Stoke Anti-Southern Rage

Right-wing populists in the Netherlands, Austria and Finland are stoking anger against people in debt-laden southern European countries. Experts say they are taking advantage of the debt crisis to gain popularity.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

EU Being Turned Into ‘Debt Union’, Says Slovak Parliament Speaker

EU bailouts of financially weaker eurozone countries is turning the political European Union into “debt union”, Slovakia’s parliament speaker Richard Sulik, a trained economist and liberal party leader, has warned, according to DPA. “This is like the Soviet Union. But we have never joined such a union,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Franc Surges Against Euro

Swiss Shoppers Storm German Border Towns

The euro and the dollar may be tanking, but the Swiss franc hasn’t been worth as much in years. Switzerland’s economy is suffering under the high-value currency, but German cities across the border are enjoying a flood of shopping tourists from the Alpine country taking advantage of the exchange rate.

Store clerks in the southern German city of Lörrach have noticed a significant increase in customers like Swiss native Alice Wasserfallen. Standing at a shoe store checkout, she is asking about the value-added tax so she can receive a refund after she gets a form stamped by the customs office.

The procedure is routine for some Swiss shoppers who have been taking weekly trips to Germany for years. But until now Wasserfallen has only made purchases in the neighboring country two or three times per year. “It was always too troublesome,” she says.

In recent weeks, however, the euro has tumbled against the franc, reaching up to 1.15 francs this month, the value of the Swiss currency having strengthened in the face of market jitters over the United States and European debt crises. On Wednesday, the franc surged again after the Swiss National Bank announced new measures to stem the exchange rate increase. SNB said it would pump some 200 billion Swiss Francs in sight deposits into the market, but investors had hoped for more drastic steps such as pegging the franc to the euro to halt further increases.

As the dollar and the euro become less attractive to investors, the security of the Swiss franc has driven up its value, and day-to-day products such as deodorant and olive oil now cost up to three times as much as they do on German shelves.

“Now it really is worth it to shop in Germany,” Wasserfallen says…

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Greece: Bad Checks: Unpaid Bills of Exchange Are Booming

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, AUGUST 17 — Rubber checks soared by over 43% year-on-year in the first seven months of 2011, asphyxiating the market further as credit lines continue to dry up as daily Kathimerini reports. Data released by the Tiresias bank information system showed that bounced checks in the year to July amounted to 1.38 billion euros, up by 43.3% from the same period in 2010, while unpaid bills of exchange rose to 86,257 units, totaling 134,476,048 euros and representing a 6.47% increase compared to last year. Given the growth in bad checks and the deepening recession in the real economy, it is almost certain that their total amount will exceed 2 billion euros by the end of the year. A survey by the General Confederation of Greek Small Businesses and Traders (GSEVEE) has shown that just under half of the companies that make transactions through checks possess checks that have already bounced (37.9%) or are at risk of doing so (7.3%). This phenomenon, which is set to grow, is causing a chain reaction in the market as it is also threatening the existence of healthy enterprises.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gulf: Fears Over European Weakness in Region’s Markets

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, AUGUST 17 — Shaky economic growth and financial troubles in European countries are a threat to the trade, investments and growth of Gulf counties, according to economists and analysts in the region, who are keeping a close and concerned eye on the Old Continent’s ups and downs, on global and regional markets.

“If Europe doesn’t recover quickly we could be on the brink of a crisis which would put the one which followed Lehmann brothers’ collapse to shame”, Nasser Saidi, chief economist at Difc, Dubai’s elite financial district, told ‘Gulf News’.

“The Eurozone’s problems will affect the GCC (Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf)’s economies, because they are closely linked to Europe through both trade and investment”.

The GCC’s 6 countries — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman — following yesterday’s almost entirely negative day, saw much turbulence today. However, markets closed positive, with the exception of the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange, which suffered losses of just under one percentage point.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Austerity Package Under Fire From All Sides

Groundswell of opposition within govt coalition

(ANSA) — Rome, August 17 — The government’s austerity package aimed at balancing the budget by 2013 makes its official debut in parliament Wednesday and battle lines are already being drawn, with an unexpected groundswell of opposition to the measures forming within Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s own People of Freedom (PdL) party.

Berlusconi has made it clear that the measures can be modified as long as the final result achieves the aim of raising additional revenue and savings to the tune of 20 billion euros in 2012 and 25 million euros in 2013.

The package seeks to stop the market turbulence related to Italy’s massive national debt spiraling out of control.

At present it includes budget cuts for ministries as well as a reduction in state contributions to regional and local governments, pension and welfare reforms, deregulations, privatizing local utilities, standardizing tax rates for financial earnings, cutting the number of state agencies, reducing the number of provincial governments and municipalities, and a three-year ‘solidarity tax’ on high incomes.

Center and center-left opposition parties have already vowed to change the package to make it more ‘just’ by shifting the burden away from the ‘honest’ middle class who pay taxes by making rich tax evaders pay more.

However, it is the opposition to the measures from within the PdL and the government itself which has raised the most eyebrows and may determine how the debate plays out in parliament.

The solidarity tax is what has many in the PdL, especially those originally from the Liberal Party who have always fought for tax reductions, up in arms.

According to former Senate speaker Marcello Pera, the PdL has forgotten one of its original credos, which was that government should “keep its hands out of Italians’ pockets”.

In an interview Wednesday published in the center-right daily Libero, Pera criticised the austerity package and took a broadside against its chief author, Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti.

According to Pera, Tremonti is too concerned with protecting the rich and “what we need is a normal economy minister, one who is not necessarily a liberal but at least does not spend all his time building a monument to his own incapacity and ignorance”.

Former defence minister and founding member of Berlusconi’s original Forza Italia (Go Italy) party Antonio Martino agreed that “Tremonti is the problem,” but also put the blame for Italy’s current situation on officials at the European Central Bank, saying they should “mind their own business” instead if dictating to Italy what path it must take’. In an interview published in Rome’s Il Messaggero daily, the University of Chicago-educated economist said that what Italy needed were real reforms and not more budget packages and certainly not more taxes.

In order to reduce the deficit and cut the debt, Martino suggested selling off state interests in public companies and corporations, saying that the state had sufficient assets to pay it debts. This “equity for debt swap” was the normal course of action for any company or individual, he said.

Rumblings against the budget package have also come from within the government itself with Culture Minister Giancarlo Galan voicing his opposition to the measure to abolish all non-economic state agencies and state-funded associations which have fewer than 70 employees.

According to Galan, such a move was “useless, illogical and shoddy”.

Defence Undersecretary Guido Crosetto is leading a faction within the PdL who want to replace the ‘solidarity tax’ with a 1% hike in value-added tax, a move which the government fears could lead to lower spending and stifle growth.

Crosetto also called for a swift increase in the retirement age to 67 years for both men and women.

There has also been tension between the PdL and its coalition ally the Northern League.

Indeed, League leader and Reform Minister Umberto Bossi called Civil Service Minister Renato Brunetta a “Venetian dwarf” for wanting greater pension reform.

Opposition Democratic Party (PD) leader Pier Luigi Bersani has asked an open question to the government as to why “after being unanimously approved, this package appears to be an orphan”.

The head of the biggest opposition party went on to add that the government’s measures needed to be modified to ensure that structural changes will result in a more ‘fair’ tax system, while at the same time boost both economic growth and employment.

Former ‘Clean Hands’ prosecutor Antonio Di Pietro, leader of the opposition Italy of Value (IdV) party, said that “while it is right that everyone must do their part, this must be based on what he have”.

He also criticised the government for always “hitting where it is easiest to hit, putting the burden on salaried workers and the middle class while giving pardons to tax evaders, so in the end only the honest pay”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Justice Department Investigating S.&P. Over Mortgage Securities

The Department of Justice is investigating whether the nation’s largest credit ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, improperly rated dozens of mortgage securities in the years leading up to the financial crisis, according to two people interviewed by the government and another briefed on such interviews.

The Justice Department has been asking about instances in which the agency’s analysts wanted to award lower ratings on mortgage bonds but may have been overruled by S.&P. executives, according to the people with knowledge of the interviews.

The investigation began before Standard & Poor’s cut the United States’ triple-A credit rating this month, but is likely to add fuel to the political firestorm that has surrounded that action.

[Return to headlines]

Rise of the Fourth Reich, How Germany is Using the Financial Crisis to Conquer Europe

Yesterday’s crisis meeting between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy was arranged before the participants knew of the disastrous growth figures in the Eurozone that emerged in the morning.

The background to the meeting was last week’s tumult in the world financial markets. Shares had gone into freefall after the downgrading of America’s credit rating.

Worse than that, however, were the tremors rattling some of Europe’s most important banks, notably in France, caused by further evidence of the utter failure of even the more developed European economies to live anything like within their means…

Frau Merkel called for a ‘stronger coordination of policy’ and ‘a new quality of cooperation’ within the Eurozone.

Although she will not yet admit it, this all suggests the first step has been taken towards a fiscal union that will leave Germany dictating the financial terms for the rest of Europe…

Meanwhile, the recent addition of France to the list of at-risk economies has caused real shock and panic across the Channel. Its banks hold about an eighth of Greek debt, or $57?billion, its stock market has tumbled and credit rating agencies are talking of removing France’s triple A status.

So, after a summer of increasingly shrill panics around the Mediterranean, the contagion is moving north.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

South Korea: Economic Crisis Attacks Seoul: “Too Dependent on Foreign Markets”

The National Bank issues the Korean trade data: worse than the Asian financial crisis of 2008. Fault is dependence on foreign markets and import-export based economy: “It risks paying for sins that are not its own”.

Seoul (AsiaNews) — The dependence of South Korea on foreign markets, in August reached the levels of the Asian crisis of 2008. According to the National Bank of Korea, “this addiction is worse than that of other nations,” and this makes Seoul “more vulnerable than many others” to the next, predictable international economic shock.

Exports and imports in the first quarter of the year, reached 110% of GDP, the highest level ever reached since the last quarter of 2008, in the meantime, trade linked to the GDP came to 114.6%. This means that domestic production, and thus the national wealth, is left entirely to the benevolence of foreign markets.

South Korea is the fourth largest economy in Asia. The levels are stunning, considering that the country has undergone in the last 60 years, a disastrous civil war, heavy military dictatorship and the “commissioning” of the United States. Yet it managed to overcome these obstacles with enthusiasm. Now, however, the crisis is inculcating fear.

According to Kwon Young-sun, an economist at Nomura Securities, “Korea is more vulnerable than others because it is entirely linked to international credit markets and commodity prices. Its economy is based on the import-export and is very involved in the purchase of foreign debt. This is a very open economy, and this is good, but the crisis threatens to destroy it because of sins not its own. “

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

The Price of the Pact: What Will a European Economic Government Entail?

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy want to create a European economic government. The idea sounds good, but it is unclear exactly what it means. If the proposal is serious, it will lead to significant changes — especially for Germany.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]


Discrimination Suit Against Bloomberg L.P. Is Dismissed

In a major victory for Bloomberg L.P., the financial and media services giant founded by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a federal judge has dismissed claims that the company engaged in a pattern of discrimination against pregnant women who took maternity leaves.

Judge Loretta A. Preska of United States District Court in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that the plaintiffs had failed to present sufficient evidence that discrimination was Bloomberg L.P.’s “standard operating procedure, even if there were several isolated instances of individual discrimination.”

[Return to headlines]

‘Flash Mob’ Robs Maryland 7-Eleven in Less Than a Minute, Police Say

(CNN) — A “flash mob” believed to have been organized on the Internet robbed a Maryland convenience store in less than a minute, police said Tuesday, and now authorities are using the same tool to identify participants in the crime.

Surveillance video shows a couple of teens walking into the Germantown 7-Eleven store Saturday at 1:47 a.m. Then, in a matter of seconds, dozens more young people entered and grabbed items from store shelves and coolers. Police said the teens left the store together, without paying for anything.

“At least 28 different individuals” have been confirmed on the video, Capt. Paul Starks told CNN Tuesday.

Montgomery County Police posted the video on and asked for help from the public in identifying the perpetrators.

“We’re getting a lot of response from sources in the community who have seen the video, who are concerned, and are calling police with tips,” Starks said.

Several suspects have already been identified, but police have made no arrests and hope the public can help them locate the individuals on the tape.

Although investigators have said they ‘“can’t confirm how this (robbery) was organized,” Starks does believe the Internet was involved.

While working to identify and find the group of teens, Starks said Montgomery County has been “coordinating with the state Attorney General’s office and discussing what charges will be appropriate” when arrests are made.

Flash mobs — usually announced online in social networking sites, or by e-mails or text messages — were once benign and entertaining, but recent gatherings by groups of teenagers have evolved into more sinister actions.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signed an order moving curfews to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays for people younger than 18 in Center City, the heart of Philadelphia’s downtown, and in University City, home to the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Nutter announced the earlier curfew following a string of mob attacks by young people alerted to gatherings via e-mail and social media.

Parents and minors face hefty fines if caught violating the new rules.

Violent “flash mob” attacks have also been reported recently in other cities across the country, leading to crackdowns on curfew enforcement and stepped-up police patrols.

Extra state troopers were ordered in after what was described as a “mob beating” took place at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Attacks in Cleveland, Chicago and Washington, D.C. have all led to the arrests of dozens of teens and resulted in extra police patrols in and around these cities.

Montgomery County Police said Saturday’s “flash mob” theft was the first such incident in their jurisdiction, but Starks admits he is concerned about the growing trend.

“I assure you we’re taking this crime very seriously,” Starks said.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]

Jihadist Calls for Letterman’s Assassination

Online message urges readers ‘to cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever’

Late-night host David Letterman is the target of an online jihadist, according to the website SITE Intelligence Group.

Adam Raisman, an analyst at SITE, told that the threat was posted on a website called Shumukh-al-Islam, and is used by al-Qaida.

“It’s a clearing house for al-Qaida material, it gets the most al-Qaida supporters,” he told EW.

SITE told that the poster became upset at a joke on “Late Show With David Letterman.”

According to, the “Late Show” segment that upset the person who posted the message showed Letterman drawing his finger across his neck when talking about the death of senior al-Qaida member Ilyas Kashmiri.

Story: Andy Dick’s antisemitic rant at Howard Stern The message reportedly threatens Letterman’s life, saying, “Is there not amongst you a Sayyid Nosair al-Masri (may Allah release him) to cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever. Just as Sayyid (may Allah release him) did with the Jew Kahane.”

Letterman is not Jewish.

Nosair was acquitted in a state trial of the murder of Meir Kahane, the founder of the Jewish Defense League, in 1991. Nosair was later retried and convicted in federal court.

A spokesman for the FBI told the Associated Press that the agency is looking into the threats. “We take every potential threat seriously,” he said.

CBS has not yet responded to a request for comment.

           — Hat tip: Paul Green[Return to headlines]

Quran-Burning Church Wants to Move to Fort Myers

GAINESVILLE, FL — Terry Jones, the Gainesville pastor whose 30-member church made headlines by burning copies of the Quran, wants to move to Fort Myers.

A Christian school unaffiliated with Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center is interested in the property, and if the deal goes through, Jones’ operation would head south.

The pastor’s son told The Gainesville Sun the housing collapse in the Fort Myers area means there are many available properties, and the church believes the larger population gives them access to a lot more potential members.

The younger Jones told the reporter they’d drop the “Dove World Outreach Center” name that they currently use, but continue the same work they have been doing.

Last September, Jones sparked international outrage when he called on people to join him in burning the Muslim holy book.

What started on Facebook spread to Afghanistan and military leaders said it put troops in harms way.

Muslim worshippers and others felt it was a sign of disrespect.

A year later, local Imam Mohamed al-Darsani says while he doesn’t agree with Jones, he doesn’t want violence.

“If he’s hoping to build a congregation that will follow his footsteps in spreading hate and tension, then he’s wrong. He’s coming to the wrong town,” said al-Darsani.

Still al-Darsani says he feels Jones has a right to move to Fort Myers and hopes that if he does, it might change his opinion on Islam.

“I don’t mind having him for dinner either. If he would like to accept the invitation, this is an invitation for him,” al-Darsani said.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Stabbing Suspect Out of Hospital, Held on $1 Million Bail

Abdulrahim Sulaiman, 25, of Bridgeport, Conn. was charged with two counts of attempted murder in the attack on two men at the Valero gas station in Mansfield Aug. 5.

MOUNT HOLLY — A Connecticut man struck on Interstate 295 after allegedly attacking two men at a Mansfield gas station admitted that he stabbed one of the victims, according to authorities, who asked that his $1 million bail remain during a court hearing Monday.

Abdulrahim Sulaiman, 25, of Bridgeport, had his first appearance in Superior Court since his arrest Aug. 5 after the serious crash on the highway in Bordentown Township.

After about a week’s stay in the hospital, Sulaiman, who was temporarily living in Pemberton Township, was sent to Burlington County Jail on two counts of first-degree attempted murder.

Superior Court Judge Jeanne T. Covert ordered that he be held on $1 million bail and have no contact with the victims if he makes bail.

Sulaiman admitted to authorities that he stabbed a fuel deliveryman at the Valero gas station on Route 206 in Mansfield, but his motive for what authorities described as a random attack was still unclear, Burlington County Assistant Prosecutor John Brennan said.

Sulaiman is not a United States citizen and is in the country legally, Brennan said. He has ties to Iraq and a juvenile record, he said.

Court records also show that Sulaiman was arrested and charged with possession of PCP in Camden County in June. The charge was downgraded to a municipal offense. The disposition of the case was not available Tuesday.

At the time of the alleged attacks, Sulaiman was working at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst for defense subcontractor Akima Logistics, which is located on the base.

A supervisor there Tuesday confirmed that Sulaiman was an employee at the time of the attack, but would provide no other information.

A corporate spokeswoman did not return calls, but authorities believe the defendant worked as a foreign-language speaker at the base in training exercises. Akima Logistics is “a major provider of role-player and foreign-language-speaking training support at U.S. Army installations,” according to its website.

Jacob Brodetsky, 43, of Cherry Hill, was filling gas tanks when Sulaiman exited a station bathroom and stabbed him in the neck, shoulder and back. Brodetsky was taken to Capital Health Regional Medical Center in Trenton and at one point was in critical condition. He has since been released, authorities said.

Sulaiman also attacked a station attendant, Amarbir Singh, 26, of East Windsor, who tried to assist Brodetsky, authorities said. Singh was not hurt.

Sulaiman is believed to have driven north on Route 206 to Bordentown Regional Middle School on Dunns Mill Road after the alleged stabbing.

He parked his car, climbed down a nearby embankment to I-295, and was struck by a vehicle driven by a 45-year-old Cherry Hill woman, who police said had no time to react after the car in front of her swerved to avoid hitting Sulaiman. He suffered leg and back injuries, authorities said.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Strauss-Kahn: L’Express: Medical Results Say Rape

(AGI) New York — New troubles for Dominique Strauss-Kahn who thought the worst was over. The medical tests performed on the maid who accused him confirm she was raped. According to the French magazine l’Express, these are the conclusions of the testing done at the Saint Luke Hospital in Manhattan on Nafissatou Diallo immediately after her alleged rape on 14 May last.

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

Thomas Sowell: Social Degeneration

Someone at long last has had the courage to tell the plain, honest truth about race.

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence — as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and other places — Philadelphia’s black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who did such things.

“Pull up your pants and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt,” he said. “If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said. He added: “You have damaged your own race.”

While this might seem like it is just plain common sense, what Mayor Nutter said undermines a whole vision of the world that has brought fame, fortune and power to race hustlers in politics, the media and academia. Any racial disparities in hiring can only be due to racism and discrimination, according to the prevailing vision, which reaches from street corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Just to identify the rioters and looters as black is a radical departure, when mayors, police chiefs and the media in other cities report on these outbreaks of violence without mentioning the race of those who are doing these things. The Chicago Tribune even made excuses for failing to mention race when reporting on violent attacks by blacks on whites in Chicago.

Such excuses might make sense if the same politicians and media talking heads were not constantly mentioning race when denouncing the fact that a disproportionate number of young black men are being sent to prison.

The prevailing social dogma is that disparities in outcomes between races can only be due to disparities in how these races are treated. In other words, there cannot possibly be any differences in behavior.

But if black and white Americans had exactly the same behavior patterns, they would be the only two groups on this planet that are the same…

           — Hat tip: Buckley[Return to headlines]

World’s Largest Rodent Loose in US

A giant South American rodent weighing at least 45kgs was spotted at a waste-water treatment facility in California recently before disappearing in the brush, according to a wildlife official.

The animal, which was identified as a capybara, is the world’s largest rodent and feeds on vegetation.

“If you think a giant guinea pig is cute, then you probably would like it,” said Todd Tognazzini, of the California Department of Fish and Game.

The capybara is believed to be an escaped pet, Mr Tognazzini said. It was last seen about two weeks ago at a waste-water treatment facility in Paso Robles, 281km northwest of Los Angeles, he said.

An employee at the plant took photos of the animal as it crawled out of a pond.

The capybara’s South American habitat ranges from Panama to northeast Argentina, east of the Andes, according to a description on the website of the San Francisco Zoo.

The animal spotted near the Salinas River and a hot spring, a watery habitat that in some ways resembles the regions where capybaras live in South America, Mr Tognazzini said.

A capybara can hold its breath under water for up to five minutes, and the animal spends much of its roughly four-year lifespan near the water, he said.

The latest spotting of the capybara comes two years after another sighting of the animal a mile away.

Officials believe it was the same animal last seen at the waste-water treatment facility in Paso Robles, and that there are no other capybaras in the area.

In California, the capybara cannot be held as a pet without a special permit. But that does not mean that some people do not keep them as illegal pets.

“The Internet is fraught with examples of people scratching them on the belly and thinking they’re cute and making pets of them,” Mr Tognazzini said. The California Department of Fish and Game do not view the animal as dangerous.

           — Hat tip: McR[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Depardieu Urinates in Plane Cabin Just Before Take-Off

(AGI) Paris — Gerard Depardieu urinated in the cabin of a Cityjet plane which was about to take off from Paris bound for Dublin. A KLM spokesperson confirmed the incident, first reported by Radio Europe 1 that interviewed some of the passengers. “Depardieu, visibly inebriated, tried to stand up before take-off. When a stewardess asked him to sit and wait 15 minutes until the jet took off, he said he could not wait, and there and then he stood up and did it on the floor “, a woman said.

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

France: CJR Opens Investigation Into IMF Director Christine Lagarde

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 16 — Procedures in the investigation by the French Court of Justice of the Republic (CJR) into IMF Director, Christine Lagarde, have officially been opened for her role in the dispute between businessman Bernard Tapie and Credit Lyonnais. Today, the investigations commission was ordered to open an investigation into the actions of Lagarde, who in 2008 ordered that the decision on the dispute, linked to the sale of Adidas in the early ‘90s, be entrusted to a court of arbitration and not to the ordinary court system. The opening of the procedure is a legal necessity following the decision by the CJR in recent weeks to open an investigation into the matter. The former French Economic Minister is accused of complicity in counterfeiting and misappropriation of public goods, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a 150,000 euro fine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s High-Speed Train Protests Continue — Man Arrested

(AGI) Turin- Protests resumed in Val di Susa following the enlargement of the TAV (high-speed trains) construction site.

According to Turin’s police, a group of protesters against the controversial trains wrecked some 20 meters of the site’s new enclosing fence by the Valle Clarea viaduct. The law enforcement officers on duty at the site responded by dispersing the crowd and using their batons. One of the protesters, who was injured in the clashes, was arrested by the officers.

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

‘Ndrangheta Boss Arrested for Driving Without His License

(AGI) Cetraro- This afternoon carabinieri arrested ‘Ndrangheta boss Franco Muto, known as the “King of fish”. The ‘godfather’ was under special surveillance and was on a strict law-compliance program. Indeed, all he had to do was drive without his license, which is usually deemed an insignificant violation, to be sent back to jail.

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

Netherlands: Geert Wilders Becomes a Brand

The anti-Islam PVV party has registered its leader’s name as a brand, reports the Financieele Dagblad on Wednesday.

Geert Wilders has already been listed in the brand register for the Benelux for services such as lobbying. His name has now been added for use for seeds, plants and flowers following the christening of a tulip in his name in February.

A name is registered so it can be marketed commercially and a politician should not be marketing himself, professor of intellectual property Tobias Cohen Jehoram told the Financieele Dagblad. ‘A politician should not be for sale,’ he said.

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

Spanish Police Prevent Attack Against Pope Opponents

(AGI) Madrid — Spanish police arrested a foreign student on charges of organizing a chemical attack against groups opposing the visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid. Police confiscated a workstation, a pen drive and 2 lap tops containing notebooks with notes on chemical substances. No substance or suspicious equipment was found. “The man is charged with planning an attack with gas and other chemicals against those attending Catholic World Youth Day celebrations.

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

String of Car Fires in Berlin Confounds Emergency Services

Police in Berlin have cited possible political motives for an unprecedented number of nightly car fires in the city. At least 17 cars were damaged Tuesday night in the latest in a series of arson attacks.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Firebombing Teens Target Gothenburg Cops

Several police came under attack in the Gothenburg district of Angered overnight as teenagers hurled Molotov cocktails at police vehicles.

“To throw incendiary bombs at the police takes this problem to a level where we definitely don’t want to be. I have never in my whole career seen or heard of anything like it,” detective Bertil Claesson, head of the police unit in Angered, told news agency TT.

In the Angered area, police officers also had green laser pointers aimed at their eyes.

A petrol bomb hit a car belonging to a private security company, and two police cars parked outside the police station were damaged by youths.

In a separate incident in the district of Backa, stones were thrown at patrolling officers.

“I would like the general public to lend a hand and send a message to these teens that this is enough,” Claesson told TT.

In the last year, Gothenburg police have made an extra effort to come to terms with the problem of teenagers burning cars and attacking emergency services in several areas of the city.

On Wednesday, an crisis meeting was scheduled between local police and the district council in Angered to discuss what else can be done in the area.

Both social services and police in the stricken districts have worked to prevent the violence that often coincides with the beginning of the school year.

Police have patrolled the area more frequently and the district councils have tried to work proactively by keeping youth recreation centres open and organising more activities.

Prior to Tuesday night’s attack, 15 cars were recently torched in a parking lot in Angered.

“And I still say that our measures so far have worked quite well. Despite what occurred last night and the recent car burning it has been a lot calmer than earlier this year,” said Claesson.

Claesson can’t say whether recent events have been sparked by the London riots earlier this month.

“But my experience is that everyone has their own motives when taking part in these kinds of activities,” he told TT.

So far no one has been injured in the attacks but the officers who the had green laser pointed at them suffered discomfort and had their eye-sight temporarily impaired.

“We still don’t know if that will lead to any long-term damage,” said Claesson.

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]

UK: 21,000 Oppose EDL March That Will ‘Target Mosque’

East London MPs, backed by a 21,000-strong petition, today demanded that the Government stops the far-Right English Defence League staging a march in Tower Hamlets.

The EDL says it will hold one of its biggest marches yet on September 3 in the borough. MPs are calling on the Home Secretary to ban the action, saying “tensions are still running high” in the area and violence could erupt if it goes ahead. EDL organisers released an online message to members calling on them to take “our message into the heart of militant Islam within our own country”. The message added: “The last two years of demonstrations could arguably have been dress rehearsals for this one. We will go where we want, when we want.”

Local MPs, including Rushanara Ali and Jim Fitzpatrick, want Theresa May to stop the march after it emerged that the EDl aims to target East London Mosque. Last week the Home Secretary banned an EDL march in Telford, Shropshire, saying she was acting to protect communities and property. Ms Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, who said she was very worried, today went to Scotland Yard to present the petition. She said people were “anxious and concerned”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: 25,000 Sign Petition Calling for Ban on EDL March in East End

Campaigners who have gathered 25,000 names calling on the Met Police to ask the Home Secretary to ban a march planned by the English Defence League through London’s East End presented their petition to Scotland Yard today..

The last 4,500 names were added when 70 volunteers canvassed outside stations, on housing estates and shoppers at supermarkets in Whitechapel where the march is planned.

The petition was handed in by a delegation from the ‘Hope Not Hate’ coalition of East End community groups, led by London Assembly’s John Biggs and MP Rushanara Ali. “What people need is reassurance and to know police are on their side,” the Bethnal Green & Bow MP told the East London Advertiser this-morning. “It’s important the Met listens to the public who are concerned about the disorder. We need police to act to protect the public, to safeguard all law-abiding citizens in this current climate of provocation by extremists stirring up racial hatred.”

The petition to stop the EDL march through Whitechapel on September 3 had 10,000 signatures from Tower Hamlets and another 15,000 from across London. It follows a declaration by politicians with community and religious leaders demanding the ban in the light of last week’s riots. The declaration was signed by party leaders on Tower Hamlets Council, mosques, churches, synagogues, school governors and 23 community and business organisations. London Assembly’s John Biggs, who first wrote to the Home Secretary on July 12 calling for the ban, said: “Given the rioting last week, I would think the Home Secretary would be doing everything to prevent any further disorder. “Clearly the lack of response shows the Government has taken their eye off the ball-it will be the people of the East End who suffer again.” The declaration urges the East End to “stand united against all prejudice, racism, religious fundamentalism, sexism, homophobia or extremism.” Political leaders from all parties fear further civil unrest if the EDL march is allowed to go ahead.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: An Open Letter to David Cameron About His Speech on Riots

by Paul Goodman

Dear Prime Minister,

You were right to say in your speech yesterday that: “This social fight-back is not a job for government on its own…This is a problem that has deep roots in our society, and it’s a job for all of our society to help fix it.”

This part of your remarks was completely consistent with your big idea — The Big Society, which so dominated your speech to party conference last year. But you also made it clear — again, rightly — that the social and security fight-back is also a job for Government. So here are some questions that follow.

You said -

Over the next few weeks, I and ministers from across the coalition government will review every aspect of our work to mend our broken society…”

“The next few weeks” is a clear commitment to urgency. So will the review’s conclusions be announced before party conference?

“For years we’ve had a police force suffocated by bureaucracy, officers spending the majority of their time filling in forms and stuck behind desks. This won’t be fixed by pumping money in and keeping things basically as they’ve been.”

That’s right. It won’t. So will changing things mean giving talented outsiders — not necessarily Bill Bratton, though there’s no reason why he should be excluded — the chance to apply to run police forces?

Elected police and crime commissioners are part of the answer: they will provide that direct accountability so you can finally get what you want when it comes to policing.

They are. But aren’t the proposed areas too big to give local people a real sense of ownership — and thus make accountability work? In my own Thames Valley area, for example, do people in Milton Keynes really identify with people in Marlow. Do people in Denham, near the edge of London, identify with people in your own Witney constituency?

We’re looking at giving [the police] more powers to confiscate offenders’ property — and over the coming months you’re going to see even more.

And I look forward to seeing it. While we’re on the subject of giving the state more powers, are you sure that giving government new powers to shut down social networks is really a good idea? I can see a case for closing down encrypted systems to prevent or halt riots if necessary, but wouldn’t doing the same to, say, Twitter be a step too far?

We will fight back against gangs, crime and the thugs who make people’s lives hell and we will fight back hard. The last front in that fight is proper punishment.

Absolutely. And you would agree that proper punishment must sometimes mean prison. But how is threatening to send more people to prison consistent with closing approximately 2500 prison places?

So: from here on I want a family test applied to all domestic policy. If it hurts families, if it undermines commitment, if it tramples over the values that keeps people together, or stops families from being together, then we shouldn’t do it.

Sorry to be a bore, but this raises the unresolved business of tax help for marriage. I see that Nadine Dorries and Mark Pritchard are making the case this morning for bringing them forward. I don’t think that they’re the most important element of family policy. But I agree with your long-standing view that they should be a part of it. Will you be pressing George Osborne to expedite them?

…with a clear ambition that within the lifetime of this Parliament we will turn around the lives of the 120,000 most troubled families in the country.

“A clear ambition”…well, you’re right to be cautious. You complained that your plans in this area are being “held back by bureaucracy”, and that you want to “put rocket boosters” under them. But it’s not clear what they are. The only specific reference was to “parenting programmes”. Are some those recommended by the Centre for Social Justice? And what are your other plans?

But with the failures in our education system so deep, we can’t just say ‘these are our plans and we believe in them, let’s sit back while they take effect’. I now want us to push further, faster.

Michael Gove’s plan to make more schools academies is one of the successes of the Government to date. But what will pushing further and faster entail? Will it mean, for example, making it easier for free schools to set up shop in old buildings? If so, how does that square with claims this morning that these are running into difficulties?

We’re working to develop a way through the morass by looking at creating our own British Bill of Rights…The truth is, the interpretation of human rights legislation has exerted a chilling effect on public sector organisations…It is exactly the same with health and safety.

This is the big one, isn’t it? Since the riots, you and other Ministers have made a series of announcements. Convicted rioters could lose their council homes. Even those not jailed could lose their benefits. Child offenders will be named and shamed. And so on. But how on earth is all this compatible with the Human Rights Act? And when, by the way, is the commission looking at a British Bill of Rights going to report?

Which leads to the biggest question of all: namely, what is the Liberal Democrats’ view of all this? And how far are you prepared to go in pressing it on them?

With best wishes,


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Britain’s Own ‘Lord of the Flies’

There must have been many watching the insanity in Britain last week who were suddenly reminded of William Golding’s 1954 novel, “Lord of the Flies”, later turned into an equally disturbing film. Forget 7/7 — this was Britain’s 9/11, and nothing will ever be the same again in Britain.. The premise of “Lord of the Flies” is that a group of boys marooned on a desert island during a nuclear war become brutal savages. Comfortably middle class, they rapidly lose their civilized state and become a mob that turns on one their own, Piggy. In a world long before Facebook, Twitter, or Blackberries, the boys find a conch shell which serves the same purpose of gathering the boys together.

Consider the murdered Piggy as an allegorical figure representing today’s British society, and the book is a prophetic vision of what happened in Britain last week. Given the setting of the novel, the one aspect Golding could not foresee was the way in which British adults joined what have been labeled “feral youths” in the looting and mayhem. The mask hiding the failed policies of the last decade or two has been ripped aside, revealing the some nasty truths about British society. Those of us who have lived with terror in Israel could feel deep sympathy for the victims — the average citizens — of nights of terror in Britain. But as the riots played out in horrific comparison with the contemporaneous peaceful demonstrations for social equality in Israel there was also grim Schadenfreude directed at Britain as a society which has become the global center of organized anti-Israeli, and all too often, anti-Semitic, activity.

The looters were quickly labeled “scum”, “criminals”, “feral youths”, and so on. We saw street interviews with shocked Britains surveying the results of years of policies that, as Melanie Phillips so brilliantly summarized in her article Goodbye to the Enlightenment, were systematically put in place to destroy (“remake”, the perpetrators would claim) British society. The result she pointed to could be the premise for Golding’s book, with the societal collapse due, not to nuclear war, but deliberate removal of every norm that over millennia was found to make societies work:

… a society that embraces mass fatherlessness is a society that is going off the edge of a cliff. There are whole areas of Britain (white as well as black) where committed fathers are a wholly unknown phenomenon; ….

And the unutterably wicked thing is that this catastrophe has been deliberately willed upon Britain by left-wing politicians, well-heeled media feminists and other middle-class ideologues who wrap their utter contempt for the poor in the mantle of ‘progressive’ non-judgmentalism, witlessly prattling about poverty and social justice and hurling execrations at anyone who suggests that lone parenthood is in general a catastrophe for children (and a disaster for women) and that the state should stop subsidising family and social breakdown and start encouraging married parenthood instead.

(By the way, when it comes to fatherless families, the USA is trending in the same direction and for many of the same reasons).

Like Lords of the Flies on Golding’s Island, feral Guardianistas went on a verbal rampage to justify the destructive philosophies they espouse. The commentary ranged from the absurd to the ridiculous. The pickings are too rich to list them all here, but three columnists stood out more than most.

Following Phillips article, Jane Clare Jones, (“a doctoral student in philosophy, specialising in feminist ethics “- who knew that ethics had genders?) dodged the real issues and instead attacked Melanie Phillips and a conservative columnist, Peter Hitchens, for good measure, for “laying the responsibility for violence perpetrated mostly by young men at the door of women”. We are to believe that Phillips was blaming the issue of fatherlessness (more of a solution, apparently, in Clare Jones’ view, than a problem) on the mothers rather than the often unknown fathers, which is simply not true.

Phillips, according to Clare Jones, is a threat to the very concept of feminism, at the heart of which, we are apparently to understand, lies the single mother. Clare Jones, indeed a “well-healed media feminist”, typifies the very destructive lunacy that Phillips protests, and the people responsible for the destruction of a society that once gave the world so much.

There was the Egyptian Mona Eltahaway, one of the Guardian’s most vicious critics of Israel, who fatuously compared Cameron to Mubarak. Yes indeed — what is next for Britain? Will Cameron’s secret police reopen the torture chambers in the Tower and imprison the Moslem Brotherhood? Verbal hysteria has rarely reached this level.

So we might truly understand the dialectical underpinnings of the riots, the Guardian’s resident Bolshevik, Seamus Milne, was called in to interpret the riots as a grand “Failure of Capitalism in Britain”.

Of course, the riots represent the failures of multiculturalism and the welfare state — the antithesis, one might justifiably claim, of “Capitalism Run Wild”. CiFWatch already noted readers’ unprecedented opposition to Seamus Milne’s lunatic article. His article drew the most vehement response we have seen on CiF — currently 2,548 readers believe that Milne simply does not “get it”. The Guardian’s responses to the riots reveal once more, if proof were needed, that there is something seriously wrong with the way Guardianistas, and not a few Britains, view the world and their society. With respect to the Guardian, this is most evident in its constant attacks on Israel. The Guardian even makes a point of running articles written for it by spokesmen of the terrorist organizations Hamas and Hezbollah whose ethos is one of murder, misogyny, intolerant religious fanaticism and terrorism aimed at the destruction of Israel. They have clearly stated their desire to bring about a second Holocaust. I imagine the Guardian would indignantly claim that it does not support that ethos and the actions it leads to. But, in fact, by its editorial policies and actions, it does.

The Guardian supports anyone and any group dedicated to the destruction of Israel, the only country in the Middle East that comes close to actually living the values, in many cases, of a liberal society that supposedly the Guardianistas hope to achieve in Britain.. If the argument is one of opposition to Israel’s use of military force to protect itself, or the occupation of the disputed territories, how hypocritical does that sound when Britain is involved, for example, bombing civilians in Tripoli day and night when it has done nothing since the Lockerbie bombing to attack Britain? If Israel responded to every terrorist attack the way Britain has operated in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, Gaza and the Palestinian areas of the West Bank would be empty wastelands.

Many noted that the riots drew attention to a previously acceptable event that illustrates the sickness at the heart of the attacks on Israel. One of the cheerleaders at a recent Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) conference was Jody McIntyre, now dropped like a hot potato by several newspapers that previously thought it rather fun to run his nasty anti-establishment blog. When he shrieked: “we [must] set the streets of London alight” at the PSC conference he was loudly applauded. A little later the mob actually set London alight. Hopefully McIntyre will now recede into the obscurity from whence he came.

It was fun when it was politically correct to aim the taunts, protests and violence and calls at Israel. However, when the call to destroy London was aimed not as a backhanded protest at Israel, or Britain’s imagined support for Israel, but at Britain itself, this did not sit well with the great British public.

The questions I would have for the papers that have dropped McIntyre’s blog, for those supporting the PSC’s 300 member groups, and especially for the Guardian, are:

“Is the obsession with every problem Israel faces not a symptom of the rot in your own society? Which society breeds the Lords of the Flies, and which creates a vibrant, society, sustaining itself in the face of real threats that supports all that liberals and the Left should stand for? Will you realize in time that the invective, harassment, and violence aimed at the democratic, liberal, ethnically diverse yet strongly cohesive state of Israel (and at British Jews) will, inevitably, rebound onto your own society?”

The riots gave a clear answer, in my opinion, and after the riots, nothing will ever be the same in Britain. Which way it goes remains to be seen.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: It’s Hard to Believe Cameron’s Words Will Match His Actions

by Paul Goodman

The measures needed to halt Britain’s ‘moral collapse’ would destroy this Government.

Perhaps David Cameron should talk about moral rearmament more often. The force of his post-riot speech at the beginning of the week was welcomed by most members of his party and by many others. Nor did his words smack of insincerity — a point he was anxious to convey. “I’ve been saying this for years,” he said, “since before… I was leader of the Conservative Party.” I believe him. Raised in an old rectory, an occasional cricketer, a liberal Anglican and the son of a magistrate to boot, the Prime Minister is at heart a One Nation Conservative in the Harold Macmillan tradition. (A picture of the old actor-manager decorated his Opposition office.)

One of his first pledges, when standing for the party leadership in 2005, was tax breaks for married couples, a promise crafted to wed his own instincts to the votes of the party’s Right. For the next five years, he championed the Big Society which that smallest of institutions — the family — helps to support. He blasted shops that fuel obesity by offering cut-price chocolate and firms that sexualised children by selling bras for under-10s. He backed voluntary national service, a theme he returned to in his speech. He even championed a national happiness index (the Office of National Statistics has been asking people how content they are with life since April).

So when Cameron asked whether the country has “the determination to confront the slow-motion moral collapse that has taken place in parts of our country these past few generations”, the question came from the heart. Let us now turn to the answer, since the flow of post-riot government announcements confirms that it, too, has a role to play.

There must, he said, be “proper punishment”. Exactly, which is why Ken Clarke’s plans to cut more than 2,500 prison places should be axed. Police problems, Cameron added, “won’t be fixed by… keeping things basically as they are”. Precisely, which is why Bill Bratton, the most successful policeman in the Western hemisphere, should be given the chance to apply to run the Met.

“I want,” the Prime Minister said, “a family test applied to all domestic policy. If it undermines commitment… then we shouldn’t do it.” Indeed, which is why — if reversing that slow-motion collapse is so urgent — that long-awaited tax break for marriage should be rushed in by the Chancellor this autumn.

Elsewhere, a fearsome battery of measures has been fired off: children will be named and shamed, rioters may be evicted from their council homes and barred from benefits, and networks such as Twitter could be shut down by the state in extremes. The details of some of these measures are cloudy, but what they would mean is clear enough: scrapping the Human Rights Act, as the Prime Minister himself acknowledged.

If all this happened, God would be in his heaven and all would be right with the world, at least as far as most of Cameron’s party and rather a lot of voters are concerned. But, you know as well as I, none of it is going to happen. Heaven will have to wait a little longer. There are four main reasons why.

First, the Prime Minister would probably need a new Home Secretary. With a programme of police budget cuts and elected police commissioners to implement, Theresa May wants to work with the grain of Acpo, not against it. Loyal to a fault though she is, she is not the woman to confront the police chiefs.

Second, Cameron would possibly require a new Justice Secretary. Ken Clarke has already had to tear his budget up once. To be ordered to find a second set of savings would be a blow even to someone so naturally self-confident. In Peter Mandelson’s phrase, Clarke is a fighter, not a quitter, but he might believe enough to be enough, even so.

Third, the Prime Minister could even lose his Coalition partner, and thus his majority. There is no sign whatsoever that the Liberal Democrats are willing to see the Human Rights Act replaced with Cameron’s proposed British Bill of Rights.

All these, and especially the last, are reasons enough. But there is one more. Doing all this would be giving criminal justice reform the same status as welfare and education reform — the Government’s twin showpieces of public sector change. To do so would require colossal political will and bring deadly political risk. It would mean declaring war on the chief constables, tearing up budgets, perhaps losing ministers, and endangering the unity of the Coalition.

No one knows this better than Cameron himself. How, then, could his speech this week possibly have been sincere? We must look in two places for the solution. He will have comforted himself with the thought that — as he said about Libya — one shouldn’t do nothing because one can’t do everything (and in this he is correct). Iain Duncan Smith’s ideas could help to curb the criminal gangs. Michael Gove’s drive for academies is starting to bear fruit. Parenting programmes supported by the Centre for Social Justice, where Duncan Smith laboured in Opposition, may turn round some of the 120,000 problem families of which the Prime Minister spoke.

But the deeper explanation lies within Cameron himself. Those who look for tensions in Government tend to cite two men. The first is Steve Hilton, the Prime Minister’s closest adviser. Hilton is a maximalist: he sees politics as a transformative activity, and was an unabashed supporter of Andrew Lansley’s original NHS plans. The second is George Osborne, Cameron’s closest colleague. Osborne is a bit of a minimalist: his passion is winning that elusive Conservative majority at the next election, and nothing, in his view, must be allowed to risk this end. Let alone the political tornado which I’ve described.

So far, so helpful. But the two conflicting voices that haunt Cameron most come not from outside, but from within him. Part of him is the family man, the social conservative, the convinced communitarian — the idealist. The other part is the cautious, ruthless politician, who served as a young special adviser in the Home Office, where he assisted Michael Howard, his mentor, in binning most of the radical policing reform left on the department’s table by Clarke. “Two souls, alas! reside within my breast/And each withdraws from and repels his brother,” cries Goethe’s Faust. In this particular case, Cameron’s second soul is mastering the first. Will all members of his party — not to mention voters — give as warm a welcome to that, I wonder?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tower Hamlets: Why the EDL March Should be Banned

For many weeks a broad alliance of Tower Hamlets politicians and others has been pressing for a planned march through the borough by the English Defence League to be banned: a recent letter to Guardian seeking this goal was signed by the borough’s independent mayor Lutfur Rahman, his opposition Labour group leader Josh Peck, Liberal Democrat councillor Stephanie Eaton, Jewish Council for Racial Equality director Edie Friedman and the borough’s two MPs Jim Fitzpatrick and Rushanara Ali; a letter to Home Secretary Theresa May asking her to stop the march was signed by Rahman and supported by local authority leaders from across England, prominent trade unionists, a variety of Jewish and Muslim leaders (including the chair of Whitechapel’s London Muslim Centre), the Canary Wharf group, London Citizens and the secretary of the Southern and Eastern TUC LGBT network.

Rushanara Ali raised the matter with David Cameron during last week’s Commons debate about the recent riots. There are rational fears that the already incendiary potential of such a march, set for 3 September, could be heightened by any residue of the violent atmosphere that has so recently disfigured London’s streets and the discovery that the extremist Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik was an admirer of the EDL.

The driving purpose of the EDL is to intimidate Muslims, and, of course, many Muslims live in Tower Hamlets. The letter to May claimed that the EDL plans to “target one of the largest mosques in the country” — a reference to the East London Mosque — and to incite hatred and division. There can be little doubt that any such action by the EDL would greatly foment tensions, risk leading to the street clashes EDL supporters (and some others) crave and leave a poisonous legacy.

The Home Secretary’s response will be strongly influenced by the view of the Metropolitan Police.. On Friday she prevented an EDL march through Telford planned for the weekend, though a “static meeting” was still held in the town. One consideration for the Met is likely to be whether a static meeting or demonstration would represent a greater threat to public order than one that moves through an area and is then gone.

Another must surely be that with uneasy calm restored in the capital another outbreak of disorder is even more undesirable than usual, no matter how confident senior officers may be of containing it. More prosaic matters, such as the size of London’s police overtime bill at a time of budget constraints or the fact that many officers must be very tired, might come into the reckoning too.

I agree with those who think the march should be banned for all the reasons they give and in particular because of the message a ban would send to local people. It would show that the authorities are on the side of those striving to preserve and enhance the largely good community relations in a poor and diverse borough that has suffered from simplistic media mischaracterisations and unwelcome provocations. For example, the East London Mosque and lesbian and gay groups have been engaged in delicate negotiations following the appearance of hate stickers declaring “gay-free” zones in the name of Allah. The politics of Tower Hamlets, both in the Town Hall and the wider community, are immensely complex and sometimes fractious. The display of unity against the EDL march in these volatile times is something the government and the Met should nourish by acting to stop the march from taking place.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Winners and Losers After the Riots

by Paul Goodman

David Cameron: Some of his new initiatives were questionable, others mistaken. But an indispendable requirement of being Prime Minister is to look the part, be seen to possess authority, speak for the country, and not shirk the language of remoralisation when demoralistion is taking place. Cameron did all these, which is why he is — on balance — a winner from last week’s events, although he is in a hard place on police cuts, an impossible place on prison ones, and open to the charge of putting presentation before substance. In today’s Sunday Telegraph, he champions zero tolerance. This week, he’s to set out his plans to do so in a speech. But he must provide prove that he means it. I’ll explain how later today.

Iain Duncan Smith: Combatting gangs is primarily a matter for the Home Office, not the Department of Work and Pensions. So the announcement that Duncan Smith is to share the lead in a cross-government programme to deal with gang culture left him a very literal winner — that is, a Minister who’s been given licence from the top to muscle in on someone else’s territory, namely the Home Office’s. This reflects less the expertise of his Department than his previous work at the Centre for Social Justice, drawn on in print as long as four years ago. Then, Duncan Smith was writing in the wake of the murder of Rhys Jones. Now, he is tasked with curing the problem he then diagnosed — as today’s Sunday Times confirms.

Michael Gove: Bespectacled unsportiness can be balanced out by intellectual courage. The Almighty didn’t grant the Education Secretary the shape of a prop forward, but when it comes to a row he’s up for any ruck going, assisted by an almost supernatural eloquence and a Manichean sense of conflict. His Newsnight spat with Harriet Harman sparked lefty Twitter rage — but he, not Harman, cast into words the unarticulated feelings of the mute majority. Gove projected confidence while the Home Secretary was emanating alarm, and it’s significant that he was deputed to wind up Thursday’s Commons debate. Oh, and the specs were quietly replaced a while ago by contact lenses.

Ed Miliband: During the Thatcher years, Labour backbenchers placed themselves on the side of the mob, took their leaders with them — and damaged their party as a result. (Lord Alton’s comparison of the 1981 riots and this month’s has extracts from Hansard which convey the flavour of the time.) Miliband’s task this week was not to back the looters, not to have a Sharon Storer moment when out on the ground, and to lead his party in the Commons rather than follow it. That he met this triple challenge is bad news for the Conservative Party but should be fairly reported. His biggest remaining challenge? Not to slip up in the aftermath. His biggest opportunity? Exposing Coalition divisions on police and prison budget retrenchment..

David Davis: Like him or loathe him (I declare an interest: he’s an old friend), one has to concede that Davis, Shadow Home Secretary for the best part of five years, knows his riot stuff and has views. The most salient one of these is that Britain’s police leadership isn’t up to the job. He was out and about this week, making his case on this site and appearing on Question Time while Ministers were absent. Downing Street takes Davis seriously on these issues, and were it to decide to take on the police establishment it could do worse than move him to the Home Office. I doubt that this will happen — memories of that sudden by-election still linger — and see the muscle-flexing Gove as a more likely candidate.


Theresa May: Criticism of May has been harsh, and her defenders claim unfair. Certainly, she broke her holiday promptly to return to Britain, and has been careful to praise the police as well as criticise them, thus showing that she appreciates the dangerous toil of the rank-and-file copper. I suspect that she believes that given sharp reductions in the growth of the police budget, plus the introduction of elected police commissioners, she needs to keep the forces’ leaders on-side — hence her resistance, reported by Charles Moore before the riots, to drafting in Bill Bratton. But she is not the Minister to lead an institutional struggle. And, charged with leading in Cameron’s absence, she looked frozen in the headlights.

Boris Johnson: We all know that Boris reaches parts that no other Tory can reach, can pull off stunts that would defeat anyone else, and can get away with — well, not with murder, but with pretty much anything short of it. But he is dependent on his first-rate team and has a compulsive urge to be loved. I don’t blame him for taking a different position on police budgets to the Government: after all, he’s a Mayoral election to win. Nor should a myth be allowed to grow that he was heckled last week everywhere he went. But dump him in a crisis when snap decisions, sharp reactions and a grasp of detail are required, and he can fall short. And while his chaotic air has its charms, turning up late for Cobra was literally untimely.

Rowan Williams: The right-of-centre press doesn’t care for the Archbishop of Canterbury. And he has made his own problems worse in the recent past by his vapourising on the pages of the New Statesman and off it. The Daily Mail would have liked nothing better than to go for him over the riots. Why, then, since he avoided hostages to fortune, and made some good points in the Lords, is he a loser? Because he was nowhere to be heard at the height of the turmoil. The Church of England is our national church. Its clergy are among the last professionals living among the communities they serve. The Archbishop’s task includes trying to project it to the heart of our national life. Which is why he should have spoken during the crisis, not after it.

Ken Livingstone: Has Livingstone been asleep since 1981? Prodded into somnolence as the riots gathered place, he blamed Thatcher — sorry, Cameron — saying that “the economic stagnation and cuts imposed by the Tory Government inevitably create social division”. Who does he think has been running the country for the last 13 years? At more or less the same time as suggesting that the wicked Tories were to blame, he also managed to clamber aboard the water cannon bandwagon (he was presumably waking up to the political danger of seeming soft on crime). Imagine the problems for the party were Labour to be running David Lammy, or indeed ABL (Anyone But Livingstone) in London. Boris is lucky in his main opponent.

Eric Pickles: I’m classifying Pickles as a loser on an admittedly narrow ground. The Government’s policy response to the riots will have a role for local government and should have one for localism more widely. Michael Gove, on the other hand, will ask schools to do nothing more than they did before. Yet it was Gove rather than Pickles who wound up for the Governent in the Commons on Thursday, in a task more departmentally suited for the Communities Secretary. This isn’t to say that the decision was wrong — Gove’s eloquence was required for the Parliamentary moment — and Pickles will be a man to watch next month when his integration strategy is announced.

Finally: the police, collectively, are winners, because we’ve all been reminded that they do a difficult, dangerous job. Polling suggests that police leaders are also a winner — more than any politician — though I wonder whether that rating is boosted by public backing for the bobby on the ground.

The biggest losers, of course, have been the shopkeepers whose livelihoods have been ruined, the victims who have been assaulted, and their families; the biggest winners, those who have got away with theft, arson, looting and thuggery. But politics goes on at Westminster, and we must report it.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Special Troops Hunting Bin Laden Doctor in Sinai

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 16 — Special troops from the Egyptian army and police have been drafted in for a vast military operation entitled “Eagle”, which began yesterday in the north of the Sinai peninsula. The operation is targeting “terrorist cells” and “armed gangs”, while one of the men most keenly hunted is Ramzi Mahmud Al Muwafi, Osama Bin Laden’s doctor and chemical weapons expert, who escaped from a prison in Cairo last January. The news was announced by CNN, which cited a senior security source.

“Al Mowafi, known to his fellow jihadists as ‘The Chemist’, escaped from maximum security prison in Cairo on January 30,” making the most of the popular uprising that eventually saw the fall of the Mubarak regime on February 11, Major Yaser Atia told CNN. Al Muwafi, 59, had been arrested in Egypt in 2007 and sentenced to life in jail. An Egyptian by birth, he served as Bin Laden’s doctor for years. “He was seen in the Sinai by a number of jihadist militants,” said General Sameh Seif Al Yezen.

“I know that he is very dangerous and that he had set up his laboratory a Tora Bora [in Afghanistan] with Bin Laden”.

Yesterday, on the first day of the military operation in the Sinai, one man was killed and ten others arrested. Four other men were arrested today as they prepared an attack on the pipeline carrying natural gas from Egypt to Israel, which has already been the subject of sabotage on five occasions since February. It is hoped that the operation will lead to the capture of members of fundamentalist groups such as Jaish al-Islam (the Army of Islam), a faction also active in the Gaza Strip. At the end of July, around a hundred armed men, many of them with their faces covered, “invaded” the main town of North Sinai, Al Arish, waving banners with Islamic slogans, and attacked a police station, leaving four people dead.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Marmara: Netanyahu: No Apologies to Turkey

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, AUGUST 17 — Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has refused to succumb to pressure from the USA to apologise to Turkey for killing the 9 Turkish nationals who were travelling on board the Marmara in May of 2010. The incident occurred when a special unit of the Israeli navy boarded the ship to prevent it from getting past the Gaza strip marine blockade. According to a military radio station, yesterday Netanyahu informed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Israel does not feel it owes Turkey any apology and that his country is awaiting the impending publication of the accident report requested by the UN, compiled by New Zealand diplomat Geoffrey Palmer.

This morning newspaper ‘ Yediot Ahronot’ reported that in the last days Israel has come under strong pressure from U.S.

diplomats calling for it to end, through an apology, the crisis with Turkey which it claims are “jeopardising U.S. interests in the region”.

In the past weeks, Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak had claimed that his country was willing to express “regret” over the death of the Turkish civilians, but not to apologise for the Gaza blockade nor for intercepting passenger ship Marmara, all of which, according to Israel, was in line with international law.

Meanwhie, ‘Ynet’ website reports that in the coming weeks Israeli ambassador to Ankara (Gaby Levy)’s mandate will expire. The website claims the Israeli foreign ministry fears Turkish authorities will refuse to recognise his successor, thereby leaving Israel without a diplomatic representative in Turkey.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iran: ‘Over 50 Minority Bahais Detained in Jails Across Country’

Tehran, 17 August (AKI) — A total of 54 Iranian citizens who belong to the outlawed minority Bahai faith are currently detained in Iran’s prisons, human rights website Herana reported on Wednesday.

Revolutionary courts have found all of the jailed Bahai followers guilty of endangering national security by spreading religious propaganda. Seven were sentenced last August to 20 years in prison and further 50 Bahais are currently being tried on similar charges, according to Herana.

Bahais form Iran’s largest religious minority, where they number around 400,000, while there are a further six million members of the Bahai community worldwide.

Bahai followers have frequently been persecuted in the Islamic country since the Iranian Revolution in 1979 that brought the ayatollahs to power.

Iran’s Shia clergy has always been hostile to the Bahai faith, which dates to mid-nineteenth century Persia. The faith emphasises the spiritual unity of all humankind, claims to be non-political and recognises the worlds’ monotheistic religions including Christianity and Islam.

The European Union and rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have voiced concern over the plight of Iran’s Bahais.

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

Jordan Considering Lawsuit Against Israel Baptism Site

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, AUGUST 17 — Jordan is considering filing a lawsuit against Israel to the International court of justice for establishing a baptism site on the western part of the Jordan River. Jordan says historical evidence have been found to prove that the eastern part of the river is where Jesus was baptised.

Recently Israel has reopened another site on the western side of the river which is also thought to be the palce where Jesus was baptized. Officials from ministry of tourism say Israel meawould have a profound negative impact on Jordan and its efforts to establish the kingdom as a pilgrimage centre for Christians from around the world.

Tayseer Amari, president of the Arab Forum for anti-Christian expulsion said the Jordanian government is the only side capable of filing the lawsuit against Israel.

Religious tourism is considered one of the main attractions with thousands of faithful Christians head to the baptism site near the Jordan River and holy places in Madaba.

The Jordan River, a military restricted area during the 1970s and 1980s, has turned into a major attraction area.

Jordanian authorities, gave the green light to many churches to construct baptism sites. Jordan River is believed by many Christians to have been the gateway to the Garden of Eden, near a site where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Russia Continues to Supply Syria With Weapons

(AGI) Moscow — Russia continues to supply arms to Syria in spite of appeals by the international community. Interfax quoted Anatoly Isaikin, head of the Russian army’s agency, Rosoboronexport, who said, “Until sanctions are announced, if there are no orders or government directives, we are obliged to fill our contractual obligations, which we are doing.”

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

Syria: Dissidents Immature, Assad Playing for Time, Activist

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 17 — Tanks which pull out of a city once anti-regime protests have been quelled while others occupy another town to put down a different hot spot for the revolts underway: this is the strategy that over the past five months of protests Damascus has been using, intending to make it possible to “manage the uprising” led by “a divided, leaderless opposition”, and therefore incapable of interacting with the international community”, which “is still powerless”. According to Wissam Tarif, a Lebanese researcher for the defence of human rights, with ten years of experience on the ground in Syria, “the Syrian opposition has up until now been part of the problem and not of the solution to it: opposition members are showing to the utmost their political immaturity”, he said in an interview with ANSA in Beirut. “They do not manage to unite even when, at least officially, they have the same aims. There is no unified political council, nor a leader who can represent the tens of thousands of demonstrators who are risking their lives on a daily basis.” Tarif’s words came yesterday on the fourth consecutive day of the military and police offensive against a number of Sunni areas in Latakia, the country’s main port and the capital of the Alawite region which the Al Assad presidential family is originally from. More of Damascus’s tanks have pulled out of Deir Az-Zor, the capital of the eastern region along the border with Iraq, while hundreds of Syrian civilians have taken refuge in Lebanon over the past 48 hours in fleeing the repression in Syria. Bullets and artillery shelling have instead not spared some areas of Latakia, including Al Raml and Al Janubi, which holds a Palestinian refugee camp within it. According to the UN, over 5,000 Palestinians fled on Sunday, and according to the coordinating committees the latter headed towards Jabla, a coastal city 20 km south of Latakia.

While the United States said it could not confirm the news on Sunday reported by numerous eyewitnesses and backed up by amateur footage posted on the internet that the coast of Latakia was being bombed by Syrian naval units, the committees have updated the death toll to about 35 in four days. According to Tarif, the regime’s strategy is clear: “weaken the resistance in every epicentre of the revolt through military occupation, artillery shelling, executions using snipers, indiscriminate arrests, torture and humiliation. They are killing the soul of every city, just look at Deraa,” said the activist. In March, the capital of the southern region Hawran was where the widespread protest first broke out. “Following that unprecedentedly large uprising, what is now happening in Deraa? The city has gone back under the heel of Damascus.” After Deraa came the turn of Baniyas, Damascus’s suburbs, Homs, Hama, Deir Az Zor and, since Sunday, Latakia. “President Bashar Al Assad would like to render the protests manageable and come forward as soon as possible with an ‘agenda of political reforms which Turkey and Western countries find satisfactory’,” added Tarif. “If he succeeds in doing so, he might even announce the withdrawal of soldiers from cities,” in line with requests from Ankara and Washington. In the eyes of the Lebanese activist, the Syrian regime is “destined to fall”, but it “will try in any possible way to hold out and play for time. At the moment it is succeeding.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey is Against a Foreign Intervention in Syria

(AGI) Ankara — Turkey’s government is against a foreign military intervention in Syria, said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He also denounced the bloody repression ongoing in the country by Bashar el Assad’s regime. “We do not want a foreign intervention in Syria, “stated Davutoglu.

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

South Asia

Dutch Soldiers Must Keep Quiet: Minister

Military personnel involved in the police training mission to Kunduz must not speak to the media, defence minister Hans Hillen told NOS radio news on Wednesday.

The gagging order is for their own safety, the minister said. Soldiers should always ‘keep their cards close to their chest’ and not tell the outside world what is happening because the enemy is always listening.

His remarks follow reports on Monday that police trainers in the Afghan province had complained in emails about ‘logistics chaos’. They had arrived in Kunduz six weeks ago but had not yet received the bulk of the supplies needed to do their job.

On Tuesday, Hillen admitted there had been problems with supplies caused by defective transport airplanes and the difficulty of arranging fly-over licences from neighbouring countries.

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

India’s Anti-Corruption Protests Spread

(AGI) New Delhi — Anti-corruption protests in India are increasing following the hunger strike started in a New Delhi prison by a 74-year-old Ghandi styled activist. Kisan Baburao Hazare, commonly known as Anna Hazare, is a social, anarchist-pacifist activist, who is asking the Indian authorities to mobilize against the widespread corruption in the country. Hazare was arrested and taken to prison yesterday and is now on a hunger strike, also refusing to leave the detention centre although the order to release him was signed this morning by the government .

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

Pakistan: Christian Man Severely Beating for Refusing to Convert to Islam

Ashfaq Munawar was stopped by six Muslim bearded men who asked him, who are you? When Ashfaq told them that he is Christian, they entered in argument and said “How you can celebrate Pakistan Day when you are Christian? Convert to Islam to join feast”

When Ashfaq Munawar denied reciting “Kalma” to convert to Islam, the group of Muslims attacked him. They have beaten him so severely on his denial that both jaws of Ashfaq were broken and he became unconscious.

The Islamic fundamentalists damaged his motorbike with iron rods and left him on scene where hundreds of Muslims were present.

Ashfaq was taken to hospital where his family approached and on coming conscious he told his brother Liaquat Munawar who is Christian leader “that those bearded men had beaten me badly with iron rods, iron hand clips, when i lay down on the surface they thought i died and then they fired in air with heavy weapons, and also crushed my motor bike with iron rods and they left me alone there, due to violence of firing Police came they also beat me and take my motor bike to Police station and they also left me alone there”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Japan: First Nuclear Reactor Retstarts After Fukushima Disaster

The governor of the island of Hokkaido approves restart of the Tomari plant’s reactor No. 3. It is the first of a reactor back in operation after the block of 39 plants of 54 after the tsunami and the earthquake.

Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) — The governor of the island of Hokkaido has given his approval to the restart of the Tomari plant’s No. 3 reactor, in the south-west of the island. It ‘the first time that a nuclear reactor closed for maintenance has been put back in operation since the March 11earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent Fukushima disaster. (06/07/2011 Tokyo plans new “stress test” for its nuclear facilities).

Harumi Takahashi said he had informed the Minister of Industry Banri Kaieda of his approval, it now falls to Kaieda to give formal permission. The Tomari reactor No. 3 was to resume activity in April, but the Fukushima disaster delayed its restart.

Currently only 15 of the 54 Japanese nuclear reactors are in operation, the a further 39 are still down, some because of previously planned maintenance checks, others because of special controls related to the Fukushima disaster. Before 11 March, 30 percent of Japanese electricity was supplied by nuclear reactors. To date, there are ongoing debates on nuclear energy and the possibility of closing down all nuclear power plants.

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

Latin America

Mexico: Man Dismembered in Acapulco, Pieces of Body Found in Town

(AGI)Acapulco — A man was butchered and the police found pieces of his body in different parts of the Pacific coast tourist resort. The local police office received a phone call saying a human head was found in a crowded area in town. A short distance away from the head, the agents found a chest in a bag, and later the legs and the feet were found hanging off from a bridge downtown. Finally, the hands of the butchered man were found hanging off another bridge, north of the town center.

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


Australia: Tuberculosis Hits Border Staff at Detention Centres

SIX Customs officers from Australia’s border protection force have caught tuberculosis from boat people in Australia’s northern waters.

A group of marine compliance officers was infected in about April this year and several other officers came down with the disease late last year.

The Herald Sun has learned the officers are still recovering from the potentially fatal lung infection.

TB is one of several diseases detected in asylum seekers intercepted by border protection officials.

Last year there were cases of typhoid, hepatitis and chicken pox detected in arrivals on Christmas Island.

The Community and Public Sector Union revealed details of the infections in the context of a wage dispute with Australian Customs and Border Protection Service over conditions for more than 300 maritime workers.

“All of them are recovering and being well cared for,” CPSU national president Michael Tull said of those infected.

“The disease has come about as part of their work and workers’ compensation applies. The reason we raise the issue is it illustrates the dangers they are exposed to.”

He said that despite the risks of disease and injury, Customs officers patrolling Australia’s northern waters were paid up to $8000 less than those working in the Southern Ocean protecting the Patagonian toothfish.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Culture Crisis: Norway Tackles Muslim Immigration

by Dale Hurd

OSLO, Norway — It’s been almost a month since innocent Norwegians were killed by a lunatic obsessed with the threat of Islam.

But the terrible tragedy has not stopped civil debate in Norway over the impact of Muslim immigration.

Several weeks before the massacre in Norway, CBN News travelled to Oslo to investigate reports that that nation’s experiment with Muslim immigration and multiculturalism had gone terribly wrong, that Muslim radicalism was growing along with violence and intimidation against non-Muslims.

Islamists Target Women

In the wake of the killings, some on Norway’s political left call the fear of Islamization a “conspiracy theory.”

However, there are real victims — and they are mostly Norway’s women. Norway has never faced such problems before.

Even though Norway is a democracy, some Norwegian women do not have full rights. They are denied them by their families, and they live in fear for their lives.

At the Red Cross office in Oslo, Monica Berge-Tukh and Anne Marte Stifjeld take calls from Norwegian girls who face honor violence, forced marriage or genital mutilation.

“We get calls from girls and we really get a bad feeling in our stomach that something is seriously wrong,” Berge-Tukh told CBN News. “Most of the girls tell us ‘I never thought about it’ or ‘I never thought it would happen because I live in Norway.”“

They not only live in Norway but were born in Norway and speak Norwegian. Still, their rights are not protected and they are controlled by their families.

“A lot of them have been threatened and beaten,” Berge-Tukh explained. “They tell us about a lot of social control, so when they become like 10 or 12 years old (their family members) start following her to school just to control that she is not having any contact with boys because ‘good girls don’t do that.’“

An Eye-Opening Encounter

Hege Storhaug was a self-described “naïve left- wing journalist” when an encounter with an immigrant woman changed her life and her career.

“In 1992, as a journalist, I met a young Norwegian born Pakistani woman, only 18 years old. And she had been married at gunpoint in Pakistan to her second cousin,” Storhaug recalled.

“I was so shocked when she said ‘My parents were willing to kill me if I didn’t enter into this marriage, to protect their own honor,’“ she said.

Storhaug now works full-time to protect immigrant women and girls from forced marriage, genital mutilation and honor violence.

Women, she says, have been abandoned by the Norwegian government and deprived of their rights as citizens — like four Norwegian girls all sent to Gambia for genital mutilation.

“Their parents just dumped them in Gambia, their country of origin where the girls, ages 3-9, were all genitally mutilated,” Storhaug told CBN News. “They have been stripped of the possibility to become a full member of this society, and we have allowed it, we have allowed it.”

Storhaug, who works on behalf of the rights of women, has been called a “racist” and “Islamophobe” by the some on the left in Norway.

Rape Epidemic

Something else that Muslim immigration appears to have brought to Norway is what some here call “a rape epidemic.”

Recent police statistics showed that in the capital city of Oslo, 100 percent of assault rapes between strangers were committed by immigrant, non-Western males. And nine out of 10 of their victims were native Norwegian women.

To protect themselves, some blonde Norwegian women have reportedly begun dying their hair black, and many travel only in groups.

Kristin Spitznogle is a therapist who has counseled some of the rape victims.

“These men they do not attack their own,” she noted. “They attack Norwegian women and a liberal culture they will not accept.”…

           — Hat tip: Frontinus[Return to headlines]

Hundreds of Migrants Moved From Lampedusa as More Arrive

More than 1,100 transferred to Sicily and mainland

(ANSA) — Lampedusa, August 17 — A boat carrying 312 migrants from Libya landed overnight on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

Police rescued the migrants, most of whom were believed to be from sub-Saharan Africa and included 59 women and four children, and helped them into shore.

The boatload of refugees was the latest in a wave of 2,600 new arrivals who have landed on the island since the weekend.

Meanwhile operations were underway in the city of Taranto in the southern region of Puglia to transfer hundreds of migrants.

More than 600 migrants were transferred on the boat, Moby Fantasy, from Lampedusa to the Manduria migrant reception centre in Taranto, while another 200 passengers were moved to the Campochiaro reception centre in Campobasso in the region of Molise.

The boat left Lampedusa three days ago and 334 of the migrants were taken to a migrant centre in the eastern Sicilian city of Catania before the boat continued to the mainland.

Another 102 migrants, from Nigeria, Somalia and several other African countries, on Wednesday were transferred from Lampedusa to the Sardinian port of Cagliari.

More than 50,000 undocumented migrants have travelled by boat from North Africa to Italy since the beginning of the year, many of them fleeing political upheaval in Tunisia and military conflict in Libya.

The reception facilities on Lampedusa, which is closer to Africa than to Sicily, have been overwhelmed by the influx and the Italian government has had to ship migrants out after protests.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More Arrivals on Lampedusa, 2,600 in 4 Days

(ANSAmed) — LAMPEDUSA (AGRIGENTO), AUGUST 17 — Another large boat carrying 312 refugees who had left from Libya — including 59 women and 4 children — landed on Lampedusa over the night.

The boat was brought in from a few miles off the coast by a Financial Police patrol boat. Over the past four days about 2,600 migrants have landed on the island. In the reception centre of Imbriacola, where non-European migrants are held while waiting to be transferred to other facilities, there are currently about 2,000 people.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: City Councils Furious With Immigration Minister

Immigration minister Gerd Leers has caused outrage in 19 city councils because he has cancelled a special programme for supervising young asylum seekers who are due for deportation, reports Trouw.

Support for unaccompanied child asylum seekers stops when they reach 18 and the programme run by Perspectief provided them with help and housing until they were deported.

Now the subsidy for Perspectief has been withdrawn, the councils are concerned that these young people will be forced into criminality and prostitution, says Trouw.

The Hague councillor Marnix Norder has asked the minister to reverse his decision until parliament has a chance to debate the matter.

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

Netherlands: Turks Need Not Integrate

Turkish nationals do not have to attend integration courses, the court of appeal ruled on Tuesday in a case brought by the Dutch government.

The ruling states that because Turkey has an association agreement with the European Union, Turkish nationals living in the Netherlands may not be forced to attend language and civic studies courses.

The agreement implies that Turkey is part of the EU and EU citizens do not have to integrate, the court said.

Two earlier courts reached the same conclusion and no further appeal is possible.

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

UK: Migrants Need 415,000 New Council Homes

FORTY-five council homes a DAY will have to be built to house the tidal wave of immigrants, a shock report reveals.

This means 415,000 extra homes will be needed over the next 25 years — at a cost to taxpayers of £1billion a year.

The findings in the report by pressure group Migration Watch UK are a startling illustration of the immigration timebomb.

The building rate will be the only way to keep families off the streets — unless the current influx of 200,000 a year is stemmed.

Waiting lists for social housing in England have mushroomed by 60 per cent over the past eight years, largely due to immigration.

The report claimed just 17 per cent of people born in the UK live in properties owned by local authorities or housing associations. That compares with 80 per cent of migrants from Somalia and 49 per cent of those from Turkey.

Migration Watch UK accused politicians of covering up the problem. Chairman Sir Andrew Green said: “Either the Government must cut immigration very substantially as they’ve promised or they must invest very large sums in the construction of extra social housing.”

The crisis has been worsened by the Labour government’s failure to replace council houses that have been sold off. That slashed the number of homes available to the needy by almost 500,000 between 1997 and 2007.

The two worst affected regions are both immigration hotspots.

In London, 12 per cent of all families were on housing waiting lists in 2010, and in Yorkshire and Humberside the figure was 11 per cent.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Soya Keaveney, Modelling Underwear at 12, Pregnant at 15

Many parents would despair at the thought of their 15-year-old daughter becoming pregnant.

But Soya Keaveney’s mother Janis takes a more positive view.

The unemployed 48-year-old says Soya, whose baby with boyfriend Jake Gray, 17, is due in January, will make a ‘wonderful mother’.

Not to mention that the new arrival means the family will be handed a bigger council house.

Mrs Keaveney has already attracted accusations of encouraging the premature sexualisation of her daughter.

Despite the images bringing a deluge of twisted emails from ‘strange men’, they were not the last.

With her mother’s full approval, the pre-teen Soya donned false nails and a belly button piercing and struck glamour-girl poses for a magazine spread.

In it she said she dieted and worked out daily in an effort to be like her idol, Cheryl Cole.

Last night — with her modelling dreams now on hold — Soya proudly posted a scan of her unborn baby on her Facebook page, writing: ‘Don’t see what the big fuss is. Being pregnant doesn’t mean your (sic) a slut especially to someone who you have been in a long term relationship with!’

Her mother, meanwhile, said: ‘I’m just totally blown away by this. I don’t understand what the big fuss is about.’

She declined to say anything more, directing the Mail to PR adviser Katy Brent and adding that the family would entertain bids for media interviews when Soya returns from a holiday with her boyfriend and his family in the Spanish resort of Majorca.

In an earlier interview, however, she insisted her daughter — who said she was taking the contraceptive pill and had refused to consider an abortion — would teach her unborn child the same discipline she had been shown while growing up.

As a mother, Mrs Keaveney said she had been strict but understanding. Her daughter’s boyfriend was allowed to stay overnight in the family home in Thornaby, Cleveland, but only in separate bedrooms and that is how it would remain until she is 16.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]


Antimatter Spotted on the Edge of the World

Earth is wearing a belt of antimatter — a twin of ordinary matter that could one day be used to create fuel for interstellar space travel — according to a breakthrough study by German and Italian scientists.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]