Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110826

Financial Crisis
»Federal Reserve Chief Offers No Signs of New Stimulus
»France: Super-Wealthy Petition to Pay More Tax
»Italy’s Soccer Players, Government Tangle Over New Tax
»Italy: Rome Sells 8.5 Billion Euros of Treasury Bills
»Catholic School Won’t Host Ramadan Dinner
»Center for American Progress Defends Shariah, Charges America With ‘Islamophobia’
»New York City to Shut Down Mass Transit on Saturday at Noon
Europe and the EU
»EU Calls 10 States to Order Over Free Movement Rights
»Italy: Berlusconi Hints He May Produce Memoir on Private Life
»Italy: Serious Bribe Allegations Emerge in Penati Scandal
»Last Kaiser’s Great-Great Grandson: Germany Set for Its Own Royal Wedding
»Muslims as a Mirror: Germany’s Unhealthy Obsession With Islam
»Norway: Christian Convert Tortured With Boiling Water: “Return to Islam or We Kill You”
»Over Half French Voters Against Strauss-Kahn Comeback
»UK: Anti Islam EDL Under Scrutiny in the Light of Norway Massacre
»UK: British Unions Back Anti-EDL Protest
»UK: Clegg Paints the World Yellow
»UK: EDL March Set for Ban Following Police Decision
»UK: Met Police Apply to Home Secretary for Ban on EDL Whitechapel March
»UK: Nice David Cameron Doesn’t Seem to Know That People Can be Nasty
»UK: The Notting Hill Carnival Should be Closed Down
»UK: With Every Passing Day the Liberal Democrats Are Dragging the Coalition Further Away From the Conservative Manifesto
»UK: Welcome Moves Against the EDL
North Africa
»African Union Delays Recognition of Libyan NTC
»Deaths of a Christchurch Couple in Morocco
»Diana West: The Truth About Libyan ‘rebels’
»Four Children Orphaned After Wealthy British Parents Both Plunge From Moroccan Holiday Balconies in Separate Accidentsfall of Husband Came 24 Hours After Death of Wife
»Libya: Where Did the EU Money Go?
»Libya: Lockerbie Bomber ‘Disappears Together With Gaddafi’
»Libya: 10 Years Needed for Reconstruction, NTC
»Libya: Rebels Go After Gaddafi in Sirte as Loyalists Bomb Tripoli Airport
»Lybian Pro-Loyalist NATO is Bombimg Sirte
»Reconstruction After Gadhafi: European Firms Hoping for Big Business in Libya
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Glenn Beck’s Revealing Visit
»China to Vote for Recognition of Palestinian State by UN
»UK: Government in Chaos Over Alan Duncan’s ‘Land Grab’ Video
»UK: It Was a Palestinian Narrative
Middle East
»Russia and China Boycott Talks on Sanctions Against Assad
South Asia
»India: Karnataka: Protestants Targeted by BJP and Police
»Pakistan: Shahbaz Taseer, Son of Slain Punjab Governor, Seized in Lahore
Australia — Pacific
»Sydney Upskirter Walks Free
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: United Nations Building Blast in Abuja Caused by Car Bomb
»Suicide Blast Kills 18 at UN in Nigeria
»Turks View Immigration Negatively, Survey Says
»UK: Cameron’s Immigration Problem
»UK: Outrage at Payout for Algerian Crook We Can’t Kick Out

Financial Crisis

Federal Reserve Chief Offers No Signs of New Stimulus

The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Friday that the economy is recovering and the nation’s long-term prospects remain strong, an upbeat assessment that offered little indication of any plans for additional measures to boost short-term growth.

“With respect to longer-run prospects,” Mr. Bernanke said in his prepared remarks, “my own view is more optimistic.” He continued, “The growth fundamentals of the United States do not appear to have been permanently altered by the shocks of the past four years.”

“The country would be well-served by a better process for making fiscal decisions,” he said, noting that the political battle over raising the debt-ceiling had disrupted the financial markets “and probably the economy as well.”

[Return to headlines]

France: Super-Wealthy Petition to Pay More Tax

La Tribune, 25 August 2011

“Back to school budget tallies at 11 billion euros,” leads French financial daily La Tribune, following the government’s unveiling of its 2012 austerity plan. Tax hikes account for 10 billion euros and cutbacks for the rest. “The wealthy are targeted but so are businesses, investors and consumers,” sums up the paper. The plan “has two purposes: to reassure the markets in the midst of the financial crisis by showing that the government […] will seek the receipts necessary to bring down the debt”. The second purpose, La Tribune notes, is to “show that it’s time for solidarity in facing France’s financial difficulties, not really time to encourage the wealthy to become wealthier”.

Quite the reverse, in fact. Sixteen of France’s largest fortunes, including Liliane Bettencourt (L’Oréal) and Christophe de Margerie (Total), published a petition on August 23 in Parisian weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, calling on the government to increase their taxes so they could help to reduce the debt. “It’s amusing to note that the same people who were threatening fiscal exile are today pleading for higher taxes,” points out La Tribune in an editorial. “This tax [3% on revenue above 500,000 euros levied for two years] remains symbolic as it will only account for 200 million euros out of the total 11 billion of the plan”.

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

Italy’s Soccer Players, Government Tangle Over New Tax

Italy recently approved a new “solidarity tax” for high income earners. The country’s soccer players don’t want to cough up the cash. Impatient, the government fired back by calling the players “a caste of spoiled people”

Italian soccer players have taken the field for an unusual match — not against one of their classic European rivals, but against a new “solidarity tax.”

The tax, approved recently by the Italian government, will charge an extra 5% on annual incomes of over 90,000 euros. Italians earning more than 150,000 euros — a category that includes many of the country’s professional soccer players — will have to pay a 10% tax.

Italy’s soccer idols are up in arms, and making no secret about their opposition to the new solidarity tax. Rumors have swirled that the players might even strike. Earlier this week the players’ union, AIC, stated publicly that players will pay the extra tax only in cases in which their contracts mention gross salaries. If the contracts mention net salaries, the compensation should remain the same, said the union. The soccer clubs, in other words, should be responsible for shelling out the extra tax.

The Italian government has answered the AIC’s challenge by sending in one if its own hard hitters, the notoriously controversial Roberto Calderoli, minister for legislative simplification.

“If they continue to threaten strikes or retaliation, I’ll propose that, just like the politicians, the soccer players pay a double extra tax. No more 5 and 10%, but 10 and 20%. Then they’ll have a real reason to complain,” he said.

“The players are throwing a tantrum,” Calderoli went on to say. “I don’t know if the solidarity tax is fair or not, but if anybody should pay it without issues, the players should. They represent a caste of spoiled people who don’t pay tax because the clubs pay in place of them.”

“The players didn’t understand that this is a law of the State. If they will strike, the soccer fans will strike back against these spoiled children. We’ll go to the stadium to see the matches of First Division [instead of the Premier League]” Calderoli said.

The Italian government approved the tax as part of an austerity package to ease EU and market concerns about Italy’s high rate of public debt. Authorities are calling on all Italians to make a sacrifice. The soccer players, it would seem, prefer that their employers make the sacrifice for them…

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

Italy: Rome Sells 8.5 Billion Euros of Treasury Bills

Rome, 26 August (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italy sold 8.5 billion euros of six-month bills and borrowing costs fell at the first auction of the securities since the European Central Bank began buying the country’s bonds.

Italy sold its 182-day bills to yield 2.14 percent, down from 2.269 percent at last auction on July 26. Demand was 1.66 times the amount on offer, compared with 1.56 times last month. The Treasury also sold 2 billion euros of zero-coupon bonds due 2013 to yield 3.408 percent.

The yield on the country’s benchmark 10-year bond has dropped more than 100 basis points since the ECB began purchasing Italian and Spanish debt on Aug. 8. Prior to the ECB move, yields had surged to euro-era records on concern the countries would become the next victims of the region’s debt crisis.

To secure ECB support, prime minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to speed up austerity and announced a package of 45.5 billion euros in budget cuts aimed at balancing the country’s budget in 2013, a year earlier than planned.

Friday’s sale will help pay for 9 billion euros of bills maturing on 31 August. Italy still faces 75 billion euros of maturing treasury bills this year and needs to sell about 80 billion euros of bonds to pay for redemptions and cover the budget deficit. The biggest test comes in September when about 46 billion euros of bonds mature.

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


Catholic School Won’t Host Ramadan Dinner

WESTWOOD — Mother of Mercy, a Catholic girls high school, complied with a request from Archbishop Dennis Schnurr and backed out of hosting an interfaith Ramadan dinner at the school Friday night.

Instead, the dinner will be held in the Catholic Center at St. Monica-St. George Parish in University Heights, which is not a school.

Schnurr on Monday asked Mother of Mercy to cancel its plans to host an Iftar, an evening meal, with a local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

During the holy month of Ramadan, observant Muslims fast during the daylight hours and break their fast with a large meal at night. For some groups, the Iftar is a chance to share some aspects of their faith with non-Muslims and others in the community.

Mother of Mercy had planned to co-host an Iftar with CAIR’s local chapter since spring, when groups of Mercy students and students linked with CAIR performed community service together.

But recent emails and other contacts with school and Archdiocese officials changed their plans.

Mother of Mercy President Kirsten MacDougal said Schnurr has received complaints from people — she didn’t know how many. Most of the complaints were emails from people who do not live in this region but who follow the news and activities of CAIR’s national office, she said.

The emails “were not hostile, they were not threatening, but they were emotionally charged,” she said.

Schnurr could not be reached for comment. Archdiocesan spokesman Dan Andriacco said that Schnurr received complaints — not threats — about CAIR’s involvement.

MacDougal said her school and the Archdiocese still support interfaith dialogue, especially with Muslim groups, but the closeness to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 plays a factor.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Center for American Progress Defends Shariah, Charges America With ‘Islamophobia’

WASHINGTON, DC — AUGUST 25, 2011: There they go again. This week, the Center for American Progress released “Fear, Inc.,” yet another report in the increasingly hysterical bullying campaign to shout down criticism of political Islamist efforts to influence American foreign and domestic policy. Their latest “copy and paste” effort duplicates large sections of five nearly identical “investigations” just this year, complaining that millions of concerned Americans are Islamophobes.

The primary organizations— what should be called the “Shariah Defense Lobby”— are the Center for American Progress/ThinkProgress, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) with support from a handful of other far-left or Islamist bloggers and Washington lobbyists.

The “Shariah Defense Lobby” whitewashes and protects political, legal, military and religious doctrines of Shariah law (Islamic law) from scrutiny. One of its major goals is to silence all criticism of Islamist aggression, jihadist violence, or Shariah violations of human rights and civil liberties.

Frank J. Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, noted that:…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

New York City to Shut Down Mass Transit on Saturday at Noon

With Hurricane Irene pushing relentlessly toward the East Coast, officials made plans to shut down New York City’s sprawling subway and bus system beginning at noon on Saturday, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

The commuter rail lines that serve Long Island, Westchester County and Connecticut will also be shut down.

Officials decided to go ahead with the transit shutdown, which they had first mentioned on Thursday as a possibility at a City Hall briefing on Thursday, as the city was evacuating hospitals and nursing homes in low-lying areas. State officials continued arrangements for coordinating emergency services and restoring electricity if the storm does the kind of damage many fear.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

EU Calls 10 States to Order Over Free Movement Rights

The European Union’s executive arm has threatened to take 10 EU states to court over their failure to bring national legislations in line with the bloc’s freedom of movement rules.

The European Commission launched infringement proceedings against Austria, Britain, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Germany, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Spain and Sweden between March and June, it said in a statement on Thursday.

The situation in Belgium is under review. The 16 other members of the 27-nation bloc are respecting the free movement directive.

“The right to free movement is one of the most cherished rights of EU citizens,” said EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Hints He May Produce Memoir on Private Life

Milan, 23 August (AKI) — Italy’s flamboyant prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has been linked to a string of young women in recent years, has hinted he may be planning a Mussolini-style memoir on his liaisons.

Reacting to claims by Italian footballer and AC Milan attacker Antonio Cassano in a book that he had had sex with 600 women, Berlusconi reportedly exclaimed: “Hats off to you!”

“Do you want to know if I have had more women?” the 74-year-old premier is reported to have asked guests at a dinner in the northern city of Milan on Sunday to celebrate his club AC Milan’s 2-1 victory against Juventus in the Berlusconi Trophy.

“Well, if you do, I am not going to tell you. I will write about my encounters in a diary like Mussolini did,” said Berlusconi, quoted by La Stampa daily on Tuesday. He was referring to Italy’s 20th-century dictator Benito Mussolini.

Guests at the dinner in the historic Giannino’s restaurant included former dental hygienist turned Lombardy regional councillor Nicole Minetti, an MP for the southern Campania region, Rosaria Rossi, TV anchor for one of Berlusconi’s commercial channels, Emilio Fede, and AC Milan vice-president and CEO Adriano Galliani.

Milan prosecutors in June asked a judge to send Fede, Minetti and talent scout Lele Mora to trial for abetting prostitution and allege they attended erotic parties at Berlusconi’s villa in Arcore and other residences where the premier had paid sex with “numerous” young women.

Fede, anchorman for Berlusconi’s Rete4 network’s TG4 news bulletin, has denied he had contact with teenage Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug, who Berlusconi is on trial for paying for sex with and abuse of office.

Berlusconi and El Mahroug, nicknamed ‘Ruby’, deny they had sex but she admits receiving money and gifts from him.

Berlusconi, Fede, Mora and Minetti, all deny wrondoing.

Berlusconi, a veteran of numerous sex scandals, was linked to teenage Naples underwear model Noemi Letizia and to prostitute Patrizia D’Addario.

D’Addario claimed she was paid to spend the night with Berlusconi at his Rome residence in November 2008 and taped their encounters.

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

Italy: Serious Bribe Allegations Emerge in Penati Scandal

(AGI) Milan The magistrate has said that many serious allegations against the deputy president of the Lombard Regional Council Filippo Penati concerning alleged bribes linked to the Falk and Marelli areas have emerged. Monza’s investigating magistrate Anna Magelli, although rejecting requests to arrest Penati, used very harsh language when describing the behaviour of the PD representative.

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

Last Kaiser’s Great-Great Grandson: Germany Set for Its Own Royal Wedding

Germany is all atwitter about its very own royal wedding this weekend. The great-great grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm II and a Hessian princess will tie the knot in Potsdam, though festivities will be decidedly more modest than other recent royal nuptials. The couple prefers to keep it low-key.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Muslims as a Mirror: Germany’s Unhealthy Obsession With Islam

Muslims in Germany have been accused of many things, from threatening the feminist cause to trying to destroy German society through “demographic jihad.” It isn’t the Muslims that are the problem, however, but rather our obsession with Islam.

German Islamophobes hold that their more liberal opponents are do-gooder Islamophiles and cultural relativists. German critics of Islamophobia claim their more conservative opponents are scare-mongers and slanderers. What both groups have in common is an obsession with Islam that doesn’t do Muslims, Christians or secularists any good.

The way the politically motivated murders of 77 Norwegian children, adolescents and adults by a right-wing extremist were interpreted by the media as an attack on Islam was downright eerie. There were hardly any Muslims among the victims, nor was a mosque in Oslo blown up. It was not the beginning of a crusade against Islam. The victims were overwhelmingly young social democrats, who, if they could be assigned to a religious category at all, were mainly members of the Lutheran state church.

The killer, Anders Breivik, believes that the “Islamization” of Europe is a threat. But what he finds even more threatening is the “cultural Marxism” practiced by his fellow Norwegians. For him, their liberalism is a sign of cowardice and weakness.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Norway: Christian Convert Tortured With Boiling Water: “Return to Islam or We Kill You”

At Hå asylmum centre, “Ali” had boiling water poured over him after converting to Christianity and not fasting during Ramadan. Now he and other converts fear for their lives. “If you do not return to Islam, we kill you,” was the message “Ali” got from other Muslims at the Hå asylum centre. He does not wish to have his face or real name published, out of fear of the Muslims at the centre. If Afghan authorities come to know about his conversion, he risks the death penalty by stoning if he is sent back to his home country.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Over Half French Voters Against Strauss-Kahn Comeback

(AGI) Paris — The French Socialist Party is not pleased with the idea of DSK returning to the political stage and a recent CSA survey indicates that 53% of French voters do not think that the former head of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn should return to politics in the near future.

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

UK: Anti Islam EDL Under Scrutiny in the Light of Norway Massacre

The coalition-Government’s handling of far-right groups, chiefly the English Defence League (EDL) has come under scrutiny following the Norway terror attack last month, in which the mass killer of 69 people Anders Behring Breivik made direct reference to the English group. Home Secretary, Theresa May, is coming under growing pressure to ban an EDL march in September through one of the biggest Muslim communities in the Tower Hamlets, East London, after links emerged between the group and Breivik.

Anti-racism campaigners believe they may have uncovered evidence that Breivik was in touch with activists from the EDL as recently as March. In his manifesto, Breivik repeatedly refers to the EDL, stating at one point: “I used to have more than 600 EDL members as Facebook friends and have spoken with tens of EDL members and leaders. “In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning.” The Home Office said it will continue to monitor all extremist groups but refused to comment on whether or not the EDL will be proscribed under terror legislation.

In his writings Norway’s right-wing terrorist Breivik displays admiration for the EDL, expressing an interest in starting a similar organisation in Norway, and writing that he had advised them to pursue a strategy of provoking overreaction from “Jihad Youth/Extreme-Marxists” which in turn might draw more people to join the organisation. Speaking to The Muslim News a spokesman for the Home Office said the Government “condemns extremism in all its form” adding that anyone breaking the law will have to deal with “the police [who] have full power to take action against any extremist group should that be the EDL or anyone else.”

As recently as May, Prime Minister, David Cameron, was explicit about his desire to see the group banned. “We are clear that we must target groups that promote extremism, not just violent extremism. We have proscribed one or two groups. I would like to see action taken against Hizb ut-Tahrir, and that review is under way.” Pressed on whether the Government will review EDL based on the same assessment he wishes to apply to Hizb ut-Tahrir, the Home Office said it does “not routinely comment on whether an organisation is or is not under consideration for proscription”.

Far-right sympathisers have defended groups like the EDL insisting they do not call for violence. However, it has recently been revealed that a senior EDL member published an online essay discussing the execution and torture of the UK’s political and religious leaders. Last year Alan Lake posted on his website an article in which he suggested Archbishop of Canterbury, Cameron and the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, be forced “in the Islamic enclaves (and who we will execute if they sneak out.) By forcing these liberal twits into those enclaves, we will be sending them to their death at worst, and at best they and their families will be subjected to all the depredations, persecution.” Lake also urged visitors to the site to contribute the names of other people to be killed. The EDL has denied they are connected with the massacre in a statement issued the day after the attacks the group said: “Terrorism and extremism of any kind is never acceptable and we pride ourselves on opposing these. The accusation that the EDL could have anything to do with this horrible event is libelous and incorrect in every way possible.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: British Unions Back Anti-EDL Protest

Britain’s biggest union, Unite was the third union to promise its support, together with the Public and Commercial Services union and the Communication Workers’ Union. The Nationals unions have joined local union branches and community leaders to oppose the racists EDL demonstration in Tower Hamlets on September3. Anti-fascist group Unite Against Fascism (UAF) along with United East End have organized the move and have been asking all anti-racists activists across the country to partake in a national protest against the racist EDL. Several British unions and critics have condemned the EDL’s racist and anti-Islam protest through the east London borough, which is the planned culmination of fascist group’s “summer of hate.” They believe that the Zionist-funded EDL is racists, since it has been targeting Muslims. It has staged large amounts of offensive demonstrations in British cities to incite anti-Muslim hatred. EDL thugs have attacked several mosques while chanting “burn all mosques down.”

The critics also stressed that EDL fans are violent, as the majority of them are the members of football hooligan firms who aimed to form a racist street army. The EDL was also considered as a fascists group because former members of the fascist British National Party, the Nazi National Front and other fascist organizations are now active in the EDL. Its supporters mostly give Hitler’s “sieg heil” salute. The EDL insisted Tower Hamlets was “segregated,” and asked all the British nationals who are fed up and sick to the spread of Islam to join the struggle with the EDL.

UAF national officer Martin Smith said that the EDL leaders had began their fascist move by targeting Muslims, and now they were also attacking trade unions, student demonstrators and others. “In that situation it is up to every single one of us to stand united to beat them. The best memorial for the people who were murdered in Norway is to show the EDL can be defeated. And that defeat will begin in Tower Hamlets on 3 September,” Smith said.

Last year, about 5,000 anti-racism marched through Tower Hamlets showing their opposition against the EDL, even though the EDL leaders were forced to suspend their anti-Islam protest, saying it would be “a suicide mission” to march through London’s East End. “We have to oppose the EDL wherever we are, with multiracial demonstrations that fight racism and the Nazis, because banning them doesn’t stop them. Only mass opposition is an effective way to break the EDL,” UAF joint secretary Weyman Bennett

The mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, is in talks with Scotland Yard after he warned the Met Commissioner on Friday that he would go to court if the Home Office fails to ban the EDL march. “I will instruct lawyers to go to the High Court and seek injunctive relief if the police fail to act. We will not let the EDL or any other bunch of extremists divide our community,” he said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Clegg Paints the World Yellow

Nick Clegg laughed-off the dousing of blue paint he received in Glasgow yesterday, like one of Noel Edmonds’ unwitting victims. Today, Clegg has turned into the grinning douser: drenching his coalition partners in yellow paint by saying that the European Convention on Human Rights will not be watered down. Writing in the Guardian, Clegg says that the Conservatives are right to seek operational reform of the European Court of Human Rights, but the common ground ends there. He says that “the Human Rights Act and the European convention on human rights have been instrumental“ in preventing injustices from council snooping to the misuse of DNA records and that the incorporation of human rights into domestic law was a “hugely positive step“.

Clegg’s emphasis and tone could not be further from that of David Cameron on the same subject at the weekend. Clegg adopts Cameron’s phrase “the misrepresentation of rights“, which Cameron defined as rights being used as “cover for rules or excuses that fly in the face of common sense“, and refashions it to mean “a culture of legal paranoia“ that impedes policing and prevents prosecutions. The implication is that rights do not need to change, but authority’s relationship with them does. He points to a recent example when the police delivered a KFC meal to a fugitive on roof on human rights grounds. “There is no right to fried chicken,” Clegg says.

Cameron has stressed that rights come with responsibilities. Clegg contests that, saying that a myth has grown “that no rights, not even the most basic, come without responsibilities; that criminals ought to forfeit their very humanity the moment they step out of line; and that the punishment of lawbreakers ought not to be restrained by due process.” Clearly, Clegg believes that certain rights are inherent and that due process should be constrained by them. You could argue that, on the basis of this, Clegg is implicitly opposed to the recent spate of robust sentences.

The article is a mesh of dividing lines, not only on the interpretation of human rights law but also on the very nature of human rights. For Clegg, the European Convention and the Human Rights Act are sacrosanct, something of which “we should be proud…and never abandon.” This means that the Liberal Democrats will oppose any attempt made to change the terms of specific rights (an aim of Theresa May’s), to alter Britain’s relationship with the European Court of Human Rights (an ambition of David Cameron’s), or to leave the convention (a dream of some Tory backbenchers). Clegg welcomes the commission examining a British bill of rights, if only “to deepen our commitment to the protections of the Human Rights Act, and also to protect other British liberties, such as the right to jury trial.” It’s also worth recalling that Clegg worked to ensure the commission was dominated by liberal human rights lawyers who share his beliefs.

Clegg has played an adept hand to frustrate the Tories so far. Now he has made a statement of intent with a great pail of yellow paint. It remains to be seen how the Conservatives will respond.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: EDL March Set for Ban Following Police Decision

An EDL march tabled for next weekend looks set to be banned after the police made an application to the home secretary. Residents of ethnically diverse Tower Hamlets had petitioned police to ban the march, especially after riots devastated many of London’s communities earlier this month. The home secretary can only ban marches following a police request. Theresa May is highly unlikely to turn down the request, given the political pressures around law and order in the capital. “I am glad the police have decided to ban the EDL marching on the 3rd September. It is the right decision to protect and preserve our multicultural and peaceful community in Tower Hamlets,” Lutfur Rahman, Tower Hamlets mayor, said. “Together, we will continue to reject any attempts to divide our community and will celebrate the diversity that makes our borough great.”

Civil liberties campaigners and far-right activists are likely to be uncomfortable with the move, however. With tensions high in the wake of the riots, the march was considered a provocative attempt by the far-right to create division in London’s multi-cultural communities. The English Defence League are a group of far-right campaigners, mostly from a football supporter background, with a particular focus on Islam.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Met Police Apply to Home Secretary for Ban on EDL Whitechapel March

Scotland Yard is today applying to the Home Office for a ban on the English Defence League marching through London’s East End on September 3.

The decision comes from the Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner following a campaign by political, religious and community leaders. It follows Tower Hamlets Mayor Lutfur Rahman last Friday threatening legal action if the Met Police didn’t apply for a ban and a 25,000-name door-to-door petition organised by the Hope Not Hate campaign handed in to Scotland Yard last week. “The Home Secretary knows the strength of feeling in the East End,” Mayor Rahman told the East London Advertiser this-afternoon. “I feel humbled by all the support from community leaders and the public across London for the ban. The police have listened to the concerns of the East End. Now it’s up to Theresa May to see it through.

“She knows we don’t want the EDL coming here.”

Scotland Yard confirmed it is “in the process” of applying for the ban which covers five London boroughs, including Tower Hamlets, for a period of 30 days from September 2-the day before the EDL said it was coming to Whitechapel. But there are fears even a ban won’t prevent trouble on the streets. The EDL has told the Advertiser its supporters will turn up for a protest under the ‘Right of Assembly’ in the event of a ban, which cannot be prevented. The Met’s Tower Hamlets borough commander Paul Rickett said: “The EDL tell us they’ll implement a series of unannounced, sporadic demonstrations. “A ban could mean an EDL demo in the East End that would be a massive challenge to the police-I don’t know if I have the resources to cope.” The ban also prohibits a counter-march the same day by the Unite East End coalition, although the anti-fascist rally planned at Weavers Field in Bethnal Green would not be affected.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Nice David Cameron Doesn’t Seem to Know That People Can be Nasty

The Prime Minister shouldn’t give up his vision for Libya and Britain, but he needs a touch of realism.

It is odd, but undeniable: a lot of people still underrate David Cameron. There are parallels with Margaret Thatcher. In the early phase of her premiership, a surprising number of her political opponents — including those in her own party — were still dismissing her as a suburban housewife with a shrill voice who would not last. In the Cameron caricature, he is portrayed as an amiable lightweight with an upper-class voice, but no staying power. It may be that his youth, his friendly manner and the Etonian accent are preventing otherwise sensible people from reaching the obvious conclusion: this is a man with steel and leadership.

Over the past few months, both have been in evidence. When Colonel Gaddafi started killing his own people, the world was dismayed, but unsure how to respond. Mr Cameron was sure. Something had to be done. Gen Sir David Richards, the Chief of the Defence Staff, urged caution. The PM has the greatest respect for Sir David, as he should have; the CDS is massively impressive. He is also massively more experienced in these matters than his Prime Minister. His doubts were shared by the overwhelming majority of generals, serving or retired. They were also shared in Washington: not since Suez have senior figures there been so willing to make public their irritation with a British PM. The way they carried on, one might have thought he was the chairman of BP.

Mr Cameron, a freshman prime minister, was taking grave risks, diplomatically and militarily. It could all have gone horribly wrong, ending in fiasco, isolation, humiliation. But the PM barely hesitated. Unlike Tony Blair, who only sought advice from those who agreed with him, David Cameron listened to the arguments — and then stuck to his decision. At times over the past few weeks, the venture seemed to be stuck in the sand. We were not just punching above our weight; we were running out of weight.. Unpalatable alternatives suggested themselves: negotiations with Gaddafi, boots on the ground — or outright failure. At some stage, just about everybody was nervous, except David Cameron. This is a man who puts the froid into sang-froid.

Then came the riots, and a great deal of public unease. This was not how Britain ought to be. Again, the Prime Minister struck exactly the right note: reassuring but firm. He displayed the most important quality which a political leader needs in difficult circumstances: grip. He took a grip on the crisis and in so doing, set the terms of the debate: that while social problems must be addressed, there is no excuse for criminality.

So far, so good: now for the real difficulties. What happens next? For 45 years, Libya has been a fruitcake-ocracy. There is no culture of democracy or the rule of law. Vast and thinly populated outside the main towns, Libya is an artificial creation. It might evolve into a peaceful and seriously rich country, or it may be that in five years’ time, we will all be feeling nostalgic for Gaddafi. More widely, the Arab Spring is proving to be a troubled season. By the standards of the 20th century, the overthrown governments of Egypt and Tunisia were not that bad. Replacing them with a radically improved dispensation will require much more than a spasm of youthful enthusiasm.

In the West, however, we are all talking like neo-conservatives. That mindset is an inspiring and dangerous blend of idealism and naivete. The neo-cons want everyone to live in prosperity and freedom, which is admirable.. What is alarming is that they think that this is easy to achieve. They believe that they have discovered the political equivalent of penicillin: democracy. Anyone tempted to agree with them ought to study Hitler’s rise to power and Ayotallah Khomeini’s popularity ratings circa 1979. A few years ago, the Algerian generals used considerable brutality — far worse than Gaddafi — to prevent Islamic fundamentalists from winning an election. Were they wrong? In Syria, the Christian and Jewish communities are both on Assad’s side. With him, they know where they are. Under a democracy, they could become the first victims. If only the Maghreb and the Muddle East permitted us the luxury of easy moral judgments.

In Opposition, David Cameron would have agreed with that sceptical approach. Back then, he was emphatically not a neo-con. On visits to Iraq and Afghanistan, he was impressed by the soldiers and deeply unimpressed by the missions’ clarity of purpose. Now, he seems to have swallowed the neo-con prescription whole. It is to be hoped that he has not forgotten his earlier lessons: although we got away with it in Libya, this does not eliminate the need for extreme caution before embarking on any similar venture.

The Prime Minister also has an equally challenging venture at home: tackling the British underclass. A few days ago, Lord Sacks, the Chief Rabbi, wrote an optimistic and characteristically thoughtful article, pointing out that there is a precedent for successful social reform. Oliver Twist and David Copperfield’s journey across Kent are powerful accounts of the squalor and lawlessness of pre-Victorian England. But there followed decades of steady improvement. Since our problems are much smaller, we should be in a stronger position.

Well, yes and no. Although Lord Sacks’s arguments seem convincing, he is ignoring the elephant in the room. Most of the Victorian poor lived in families. The family is easily the most effective agent of moral behaviour in the whole of history. It really is social penicillin. Yet in a single generation, we have forgotten that vital truth. There are now housing estates where “family” means a harassed girl of 20 with three children by three different fathers; where boys are growing with no non-criminal male role-models; where, as the Prince of Wales observed, a gang could seem like a refuge to a lost and frightened boy.

Here, David Cameron has the defects of his qualities. Since he has such a powerful sense of how things ought to be, he is insufficiently appreciative of the obstacles in the way. He has an ideal of well-run villages where everyone contributes to the little society. Granny Bloggins is getting a bit shaky: not to worry, someone will make sure that she has a hot meal every day. People there do not wait for the local council to solve problems, they just roll up their sleeves and get on with it.

The PM’s own experiences may therefore lead him to underestimate the sheer hopelessness of underclass life. It is no use indulging in gimmicks such as ministerial monitoring, or even the vague idea of six months’ national service. We have to work out a way of acting directly on the underclass. And this, in effect, means finding a replacement for the family. That is a vast enterprise: vaster than our PM yet realises.

Great leaders sometimes underestimate the difficulties they confront. Ronald Reagan knew that the Soviet system was wrong, and had no patience with those who thought that it would endure indefinitely. He was triumphantly vindicated. But the Soviet Union was an easier foe than Islamic fundamentalism or the British underclass. David Cameron has strength of purpose and determination: sometimes, indeed, stubbornness. All well and good — but there are moments when the blend could be improved by some old-fashioned Tory pessimism.

[JP note: Worth reading this lengthy piece just for the neologism ‘Muddle East’.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Notting Hill Carnival Should be Closed Down

EVERY August Bank Holiday hundreds of thousands of people gather in the streets of Notting Hill in West London for the area’s famous carnival. Here a writer argues that the event causes so many headaches for police and residents that it should be scrapped….

OVER the years it has become the image from the television news that marks the close of another British summer: a white policeman is pictured dancing with an Afro-Caribbean lady who is wearing a sequined bikini. Everyone in shot is smiling and the subliminal, propagandist message transmitted to viewers is that this event, the Notting Hill Carnival, is a wholesome, if exotic, celebration of modern Britain. Sometimes the reporter babbles at the end of the clip about “isolated skirmishes” or arrest numbers but these are never deemed to have overshadowed the overall success of the carnival, or just “carnival” as it is known to trendy metropolitan white folk who wish to hint at their relaxed familiarity with West Indian culture. It is only a little jaundiced to ponder whether if, just out of shot, a stall-holder is being held up at knifepoint for his takings, someone is vomiting in a resident’s garden or gangs are busy stockpiling bricks and bottles for the inevitable confrontations with police that will follow.

For the truth of the matter is that far from being an unalloyed joy the Notting Hill Carnival has become one of the most dismal features of late summer and a massive headache both for the police in our capital city and for many residents who become anxious prisoners in their own homes from Saturday night until Tuesday morning. The sheer scale of the policing operation just to keep the crime level under some degree of control is mind-boggling. This year there will be 5,500 officers on duty in the carnival area on the Sunday “family” day and an astonishing 6,500 on patrol on the typically more youth-orientated Monday.

That is more than a fifth of the entire strength of the Metropolitan Police. Let’s be frank: it constitutes neither normal neighbourhood policing nor typical special events policing but the temporary imposition of a police state in Notting Hill. In addition another 4,000 officers will be deployed elsewhere in London to prevent criminals thinking soft targets will be left unprotected because of the demands of policing the carnival. Given the terrifying riots that disfigured many parts of the capital and other big cities this month — the first of which in Tottenham was sparked by the shooting by police of a black suspected gangster — everyone is aware of the potential for a public order disaster this year.

It is safe to say that if the Notting Hill Carnival did not already exist any proposal to hold a Caribbean-themed, youth-orientated street party for upwards of a million people in a few cramped West London streets so soon after such traumatic events would not be sympathetically received. Scotland Yard Commander Steve Roadhouse, in charge of policing the carnival this year, says he is “really confident” he has the resources to keep a lid on things but adds: “We realise that carnival will be taking place this year in unusual and exceptional circumstances. “At this stage it would be fair to say we do have intelligence that some gangs want to come to the carnival and create trouble for us. Plus we know that some people believe that we will be diverted from policing the rest of London due to the Notting Hill Carnival leaving the rest of the capital without a policing presence. This is not the case.”

And the policing operation needed to guarantee that the TV news can source its preferred images of multiracial harmony is not confined to the weekend of the carnival. It begins weeks beforehand with scores of “pre-emptive” arrests of suspected drug dealers and gang members. This week 40 such arrests have taken place already. And the police are also involved in round-theclock monitoring of social networking sites to help them track down more potential troublemakers. Given the prevalence of street gangs, most of which are locked into rivalries with gangs from other postcodes, any event that draws groups of youths from all corners of the metropolis is bound to create the potential for violence.

The Notting Hill Carnival began in the mid-Sixties as a relatively small-scale celebration of the culture of the district’s Caribbean community, particularly those from Trinidad and Tobago. A one-day parade that attracted a few thousand spectators could be relatively easily accommodated in the area’s built-up streets. But by the mid-Seventies it was already the flashpoint for rioting. In 1976 there was a particularly serious outbreak of disorder involving hundreds of youths. Since then there have been several similar eruptions, notably in 1987 and most recently in 2008 when 500 youths were arrested. Despite an increase in deafening “sound systems” playing harder black urban music few would deny that the carnival does have a wide cultural appeal. One regular attender notes that: “At the start on the Sunday there is a proper, laid-back family atmosphere. Many families from all ethnic backgrounds go to have lunch and mooch about. “But after about 3pm the families start to disappear and the vibe begins to get progressively more edgy. On the Monday families with young children are much less in evidence and by about 7pm the majority on the streets are young men and women, many of whom have travelled in large groups from a particular district of London.”

By no means are all Notting Hill dwellers young urban trendies and for many elderly residents the carnival is an intense source of anxiety. Scores used to avail themselves of free temporary accommodation away from the area. Now they are charged up to £400 for that and many vulnerable elderly people have no option but to batten down the hatches and put up with the wall-shaking noise of amplified music for the duration. The nonsense is that it is all so unnecessary. Several times over the past decade it has been suggested to the carnival’s organisers that they should relocate to the broad acres of nearby Hyde Park, a move that would massively enhance public safety and make the entire event much easier to police. But they have not been willing to do so and political correctness has dictated that neither the police nor the Mayor’s office have been willing to insist upon such a reform.

So the steaming gangs and muggers among the majority of law-abiding carnival-goers still operate in an environment that favours them over the police and the ability of all the emergency services to get to where they need to be remains severely impaired. No doubt the TV crews will this year once again find their image of a laughing policeman and carnival queen. But as dusk falls on Monday and the rows of police and gangs of youths find themselves facing each other we’d all better hope that a sense of unfinished business does not pervade the ai

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: With Every Passing Day the Liberal Democrats Are Dragging the Coalition Further Away From the Conservative Manifesto

by Tim Montgomerie

Who’s right about the Coalition? Has David ‘Vinnie Jones’ Cameron got Nick ‘Paul Gascoigne’ Clegg by the balls, as Banksy suggests? Or, as The Spectator argues this morning, is it the Liberal Democrat leader who is pouring paint over the Conservative leader? Of course there’s sometimes a bit of both but I’d contend that there’s more than enough evidence for my theory that, over time, it’s been the Liberal Democrats who are increasingly flexing their 9%-sized muscles and pulling the government leftwards (my theory of this Coalition). Take this morning where we have three clear examples of the Liberal Democrats having a big influence…

(1) Human rights laws: We have Nick Clegg in The Guardian arguing that the human rights laws are essentially sound: “I will refuse to let human rights laws be weakened”. Cameron’s promise to Sunday Express readers looks impossible for him to meet.

(2) £1.8 billion of new regulations: Leading The Telegraph is the story that Vince Cable has agreed to “a controversial European directive to give agency workers the same rights as full-time employees of British companies.” The cost will be £1.8 billion per year for British business. Yes, £1.8 billion.

(3) Control of immigration: And then, thirdly, we have immigration policy. You’ll see from today’s ConHome newslinks that the big four centre right newspapers all agree that the Coalition is unlikely to fulfil Cameron’s promise to reduce net immigration from the hundreds of thousands to the tens of thousands. At every turn the Lib Dems have frustrated Damian Green and Theresa May’s efforts. This is the number two issue for voters and failure on this pledge won’t easily be forgiven. Cameron deserves enormous credit for the Libya campaign but foreign policy triumphs don’t win elections. Just ask Barack Obama whose bounce after the killing of Osama bin Laden is a distant memory. Bread and butter issues like immigration and, above all else, the economy are where the PM must deliver.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Welcome Moves Against the EDL

by Martin Bright

Great to hear that the police have formally applied to the Home Secretary to get the English Defence League march on Tower Hamlets banned. I’m something of a freedom of speech fundamentalist but this was an open invitation to violence. I have had my differences with East London Mosque and believe that it is a pernicious political influence in the area. But there are many decent people who attend the mosque and no one deserves to be threatened with violence by these extremist thugs. Hats off to Hope Not Hate, the anti-fascist organisation, which has been lobbying hard to persuade the authorities to see sense on this issue.

Oddly, Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy thought the march should go ahead. His argument that EDL violence loses it supporters is very peculiar and I can’t believe he really means it, predicated as it is on other people being hurt or having their property damaged. Dave Hill gives some good context in his blog. In particular he claims that Lutfur Rahman, the mayor of Tower Hamlets, who has previously been a deeply divisive figure, has worked with his political rivals to bring the community together in opposition to the march. If true, this is a welcome development.

Unfortunately, however, Hill makes the mistake of suggesting that the EDL has been influenced by journalists who have warned about Islamist politics in East London. He provides no evidence for this line of thinking, which veers dangerously close to the nonsense touted by Socialist Worker. In an extract from a new book published on Multiculturalism published in the Trot paper Dilowar Khan, the director of East London Mosque, has even made the outrageous claim that the EDL has been inspired by my journalism and that of Andrew Gilligan.

This would be laughable if it weren’t so irresponsible.

For now, however, let’s be glad that the police have done the right thing and hope that Teresa May does so too.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

African Union Delays Recognition of Libyan NTC

(AGI) Addis Ababa — The African Union (AU) is delaying recognition of Libya’s National Transition Council in Benghazi as the country’s legitimate representative. it is true, said South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, that the NTC is “gaining control in Tripoli, but there is an ongoing battle.” Consequently, added Zuma as the AU representative for the Libyan crisis, “one cannot state the legitimacy of the NTC” .

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

Deaths of a Christchurch Couple in Morocco

More details are emerging about the deaths of a Christchurch couple in Morocco.

It was initially reported that Tilly Lamb died in a fall down a cliff and her husband Roger slipped and fell to his death while going to her rescue.

However local news website Liberation are reporting that Mrs Lamb suffered a fatal fall at a rented house.

They say Roger Lamb then died four days later after jumping from the second floor of a hotel.

The couple are survived by their four children.

The British High Commission has confirmed the deaths and says it’s offering consular assistance to family.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Diana West: The Truth About Libyan ‘rebels’

Here are three things Americans need to know about the Libyan “rebels” the U.S. government isn’t telling us.

One: The inspiration of the Libyan war is as much anti-Western as it is anti-Gadhafi.

The “Day of Rage” that kick-started the Libyan war on Feb. 17 marked the fifth anniversary of violent protests in Benghazi, which included an assault on the Italian consulate during which at least 11 were killed. The 2006 mayhem, as John Rosenthal has reported, during which consulate staff was evacuated after 1,000 to several thousand men tried to storm and burn the building, may be linked to the Italian TV appearance two days earlier of Italian minister Roberto Calderoli. It was then that Calderoli, in defiance of worldwide Islamic rioting against cartoons of Muhammad in a tiny Danish newspaper, revealed he was wearing an undershirt decorated with such a cartoon. In remarks widely reported in Arab media, Calderoli explained that “the gesture was a matter of a ‘battle for freedom.’“ The minister said: “When they (the cartoon rioters) recognize our rights, I’ll take off the shirt.”

Unfortunately — and not just for the Italian minister — Calderoli’s boss, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, didn’t recognize those rights. One day after the Benghazi rioting (“We feared for our lives,” the consul general’s wife told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera), Calderoli resigned, a political collapse indicative of Western tendencies to renounce rights that conflict with Islamic law (Shariah).

Two: The anti-Gadhafi, anti-Western forces that NATO power has brought to apparent victory through an air war and not-so-secret deployment of special forces (so far costing U.S. taxpayers $1 billion) include jihadist forces the U.S. and NATO allies have been fighting for the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Captured al-Qaida documents analyzed at West Point reveal that not only did Libya send far more recruits per capita to fight with al- Qaida in Iraq than any other nation (including Saudi Arabia), but also that the “rebel” stronghold of Darnah sent more recruits per capita than any other city. Bonus info: 85 percent of Libyan recruits in Iraq listed their “work” as “suicide bombers.”

This Libyan surge, the report explains, may have been due to the “increasingly cooperative relationship” with al-Qaida of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). What is the LIFG? Designated a terrorist organization by the United States in 2004, the LIFG is a prominent faction among anti-Gadhafi forces today. Little wonder the Los Angeles Times discovered there are “at least 20 former Islamic militant leaders in battlefield roles” in Libya (while what the paper called “hundreds of Islamists” are either “participating or watching from the sidelines”).

These include LIFG leader Abdelhakim Belhaj, described in recent days as the rebel commander in Tripoli. Another rebel leader and LIFG member, Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu, is also an ex-Gitmo detainee, as the New York Times has pointed out. And another rebel leader, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, as John Rosenthal has reported, admitted to Italian media earlier this year not only to “fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq.” Some of those same recruits “have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,” al-Hasadi explained, referring to a northeastern Libyan town. “They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists. The members of al-Qaida are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,” al- Hasadi added.


           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Four Children Orphaned After Wealthy British Parents Both Plunge From Moroccan Holiday Balconies in Separate Accidentsfall of Husband Came 24 Hours After Death of Wife

Four children have been orphaned after their wealthy parents fell to their deaths from balconies just days apart during a holiday in Morocco.

Roger and Mathilde Lamb were enjoying a family holiday in the exclusive port of Essaouira on the Atlantic Coast when they died.

Mathilde, known as Tilly, 44, fell 60ft from a third floor balcony at a rented holiday home in the city centre.

She was rushed to intensive care at the Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah Essaouira provincial hospital but died on Saturday of her injuries after falling on Wednesday.

Moroccan police launched an investigation into her death.

The following day Roger plunged from the two-storey balcony of the nearby five-star Sofitel Hotel.

He was taken to the same hospital as his wife but was transferred more than 250 miles away to the University Hospital Ibn Tofail in Marrakech but died on Sunday night.

The couple’s four sons, and had four children Angus, 16, Montague, 15, Henry, 11 and Felix, 9, have returned to Britain with a family member and are being comforted by Mrs Lamb’s sister.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Libya: Where Did the EU Money Go?

“An unfortunate voyage to Libya” headlines the Dagens Nyheter editorial, which looks back on European Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmström’s visit to Libya in October 2010. At the time, there were rumours of camps for illegal migrants in the Libyan desert and the EU naturally felt obliged to seek information about the situation, remarks the Swedish daily. However, “the agreement signed by the commissioner went too far, because it offered Libya €50 million over the next three years to implement ‘reforms’ on issues such as asylum, migration and border controls.” In practice it amounted to employing Gaddafi as an EU border guard, notes the Stockholm daily, which continues: “The scenario was already well worn: all North African dictators who have recently been ousted had promised the EU ‘reforms’ and greater efforts to promote ‘Human rights.’ In exchange for money and trade contracts, they were ready to sign anything.”

“It is easy to be clever with the benefit of hindsight,” remarks the daily, “but the agreement with Gaddafi was already scandalous when it was signed. Today Cecilia Malmström will have to provide full information about the consequences of this meeting. Was there a dialogue? Where did the money go?” In conclusion, Dagens Nyheter affirms that the entire EU should ask itself the question of how it came to sign a treaty with Gaddafi.

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

Libya: Lockerbie Bomber ‘Disappears Together With Gaddafi’

Tripoli, 26 August (AKI) — Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted for planting the bomb that killed 270 people aboard Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, has escaped together with toppled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, according to the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.

According to witnesses cited by the daily, as soon as rebels entered the capital Tripoli earlier this week, all traces of al-Megrahi’s whereabouts were lost.

The UK on humanitarian grounds in August 2009 freed the convicted terrorist they said would soon die from cancer. But he appears to have survived, even appearing in public in a rally to support the regime.

“That man knows too much,” a Canadian doctor who lives close to the villa told the Telegraph. “Gaddafi brought him with him.”

Gaddafi’s government set him up to live in a villa. Some witnesses say al-Megrahi’s wife still resides in the villa.

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

Libya: 10 Years Needed for Reconstruction, NTC

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 26 — At least 10 years will be needed to reconstruct Libyan infrastructure after the end of the conflict, according to the NTC, which has reiterated the need for international aid to get the country back on its feet again. In an interview with the BBC, the head of the national stabilisation group within the NTC Ahmed Jehani said that the country’s infrastructure had been in a state of disrepair even before the revolution. “A long time will be needed. At least a decade will be required to get the infrastructure in the country back on its feet again, which had even before (the revolution) been in a state of disrepair.” Jehani noted that the top priority is to unfreeze assets abroad, which total over 100 billion dollars.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Libya: Rebels Go After Gaddafi in Sirte as Loyalists Bomb Tripoli Airport

French intelligence sources believe he is hiding in a bunker in his birthplace. In a video message, he calls on people to “purify” Tripoli. Oil companies are lining up to help the rebels and help themselves to the best contracts.

Tripoli (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — Rebels have begun their push towards Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown. French intelligence sources said that Libya’s strongman is hiding inside a bunker in a residence in his birthplace, which was recently bombed by NATO.

Despite the manhunt coordinated by British and French Special Forces, Gaddafi has been able to release a video message in which he has called on the Libyan people to “purify Tripoli” from foreign troops.

Troops loyal to him have bombed the capital’s international airport, damaging some planes. In the city itself, which is almost entirely now under the control of the National Transitional Council (NTC), fighting continues.

The NTC has already indicated that it plans to relocate to the capital. Many of its top members are still in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi for security reasons, also waiting for funds to be released in order to set up the new, post-Gaddafi administration.

From Istanbul, Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of the NTC executive board, said that the rebellion can still fail if funds are not released in time. Responding to the rebel plea, the United Nations Security Council said it would look favourably to the release of US$ 1.5 billion in Libyan government assets, frozen at the start of the war.

Meanwhile, oil companies are lining up to provide economic aid and sign contracts with Libya’s new rulers. They include Italy’s ENI, a partner with the former regime which has offered fuel to the rebels; France’s Total, the first foreign company to sign a deal with the NCT, and Spain’s Repsol. Britain’s BP is also active, trying to secure more exploration rights. Austria’s OMV and Marathon have joined the rush as well.

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

Lybian Pro-Loyalist NATO is Bombimg Sirte

(AGI) Tripoli — Pro-loyalist Tv Al Ouruba reported that a Nato air raid is in progress on Sirte, Muammar Gaddafi’s home town .

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

Reconstruction After Gadhafi: European Firms Hoping for Big Business in Libya

Berlin may have stayed out of the fight for Libya, but German companies hope to profit from its reconstruction. Several economic leaders have already visited the war-torn country to investigate business opportunities. But competition is fierce.

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Glenn Beck’s Revealing Visit

American media superstar Glenn Beck’s visit to Israel this week was a revealing and remarkable event. It revealed what it takes to be a friend of Israel. And it revealed the causes of Israel’s difficulty in telling its enemies from its friends.

Many world leaders, opinion-shapers and other notables profess enduring friendship with Israel. From Washington to London, Paris to Spain, policymakers and other luminaries preface all their remarks to Jewish audiences with such statements. Once their declarations are complete — and often without taking a breath — they proceed to denounce Israel’s policies and to deny its basic rights…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

China to Vote for Recognition of Palestinian State by UN

(AGI) Ramallak — China will vote in favour of the recognition of a Palestinian State by Un, as reported by the Palestinian agency Wafa. According to Wafa, the Chinese president Hu Jintao sent a message to the Pna president Abu Mazen announcing the Chinese decision. The Palestinian National Authority will apply for Un recognition next month.

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

UK: Government in Chaos Over Alan Duncan’s ‘Land Grab’ Video

Foreign Office and DfID clash over aid minister’s incendiary remarks.

The government has been forced into an embarrassing climbdown after a minister described Israel’s security barrier as a “land grab” and said that Israel deliberately took water away from the Palestinians. Last week the Foreign Office and the Department for International Development (DfID) claimed the comments by Development Minister Alan Duncan reflected UK government policy. But this week the two departments were at loggerheads after Mr Duncan’s views — expressed in a video posted on the DfID website — sparked fury from community leaders and the Israeli Embassy.

The row resulted in Mr Duncan ordering the video to be removed from the website, claiming it had been “misinterpreted”. The DfID, attempting to explain the volte-face, stated: “The video was aimed at highlighting DfID’s work to alleviate poverty in the OPTs [Occupied Palestinian Territories], as well as some of the key challenges facing the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, some elements were misinterpreted and Mr Duncan has asked for it to be taken down”. Asked to specify which elements had been misinterpreted, a DfID spokesman said the department would make no further comment on the matter.

The JC understands that DfID officials chose to override Foreign Office advice when they took the decision to post Mr Duncan’s comments on the website.. They were originally made during a trip to the West Bank earlier this year when the minister signed an agreement with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. Foreign Office civil servants have made it clear that they did not believe Mr Duncan had struck the right diplomatic tone with the language he had used. However, they did not refer the matter to ministers when DfID and Mr Duncan defied the advice.

In the video Mr Duncan declared: “The wall is a land grab. It hasn’t just gone along the lines of the proper Israel boundary. It’s taken in open land which actually belongs to Palestine”. He added: “Israeli settlers can build what they want and then immediately get the infrastructure so that takes the water deliberately away from Palestinians here.”

The UK has previously told Israel that it believes the security barrier encroaches on Palestinian territory and the government has a consistent policy of opposition to settlement building.

The Board of Deputies wrote to Mr Duncan on Monday to demand the withdrawal of the video, copying in his boss, Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, and Foreign Secretary William Hague. The video was taken down shortly afterwards. Board president Vivian Wineman commented: “Mr Duncan’s apparent disregard for Israel’s legitimate security concerns is of great concern.” An Israeli Embassy spokesman said: “The reality on the streets of Israel was one where Palestinian suicide attacks scattered the limbs of hundreds of innocent civilians across buses and restaurants. Claiming that the security barrier, which has prevented the deaths of thousands more Israelis, is not for security purposes, shows a disrespect for Israeli life, and we are therefore convinced that this could not be the official British government position.”

Finchley MP Mike Freer said: “Mr Duncan clearly spoke out of line and out of his departmental brief and I welcome the fact that the FCO has reasserted its authority.” The JC was informed that the Foreign Office would clarify the UK government’s position in a statement on Tuesday. However, a Foreign Office spokesman later said that the DfID statement was the government’s last word.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: It Was a Palestinian Narrative

by Martin Bright

At the beginning of this week I was told by various senior Conservative sources that the JC’s story about Alan Duncan’s “land grab” video had been hugely embarrassing, but that his views were not shared by other government ministers. The appearance of the video had been an error, I was told, but the mistake would be rectified and a clarification of the true government position issued. But the best the government could come up with was a statement from Mr Duncan’s department, suggesting that his words had been misinterpreted.

Ministers are in a very difficult position on this matter because Mr Duncan was, strictly speaking, doing no more than expressing official UK government policy. It does believe that Israel has failed to keep to its borders in constructing the security wall, and it is opposed to settlement building and the implications for natural resources such construction brings with it.

The problem was that the language he used was straight from the lexicon of Palestinian resistance. Mr Duncan must have known this and so must his officials when they ignored Foreign Office advice not to post Mr Duncan’s incendiary comments on an official government website. At last year’s Conservative Party conference Mr Duncan, who is known for his pro-Palestinian views, raised eyebrows by speaking at a pro-Palestinian event hosted by the New Statesman magazine and expressing his frustration that ministers could not speak to Hamas. Alan Duncan’s position has been seriously undermined by the incident and it is uncertain whether he will be able to survive in this highly sensitive post. His ministerial colleagues and British diplomats in the region will not easily forgive him for making their already difficult jobs a whole lot harder.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Russia and China Boycott Talks on Sanctions Against Assad

(AGI) New York — Russia and China have boycotted talks on a proposal to impose sanctions on Bashar el Assad’s regime in Syria. The European members of the UN Security Council (permanent members Britain and France, as well as Germany and Portugal) and the United States are preparing a draft resolution including less severe measures than those unilaterally adopted by Washington, but Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin hinted that Moscow might veto the proposal.

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

South Asia

India: Karnataka: Protestants Targeted by BJP and Police

Backed by the state, police cracks down on religious freedom. According to one rule, Churches must register and provide detailed information about their worship and funding. Christian activist calls such a request a form of targeting and intimidation against an already fragile community.

Delhi (AsiaNews) — In the southwestern Indian state of Karnataka, the crackdown against Christian Churches continues as police tries to limit freedom of worship. In addition to Pentecostal Churches in the District of Chikmagalur, Christian prayer centres in Mangalore have been asked to register with police, and present detailed reports on their funding and religious activities. Sajan K George, president of Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), slams the state government, run by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), for tolerating such intimidation by police against an already “fragile Christian community”.

On 17 August, Rev Babu, from the Pentecostal Jesus Comes Full Gospel Church in Kadur, District of Chikmagalur, received a five-part request in order to be allowed to continue operating as a place of worship. It included: trust name and registration number; name, address and phone numbers of Church administrators; details about foreign contributions received and bank account details; purpose for which expenditure were incurred out of foreign contribution received; and detailed statement of income and expenditures.

The request is a blatant violation of the rules of a secular state, and is unjustified in terms of the history of the local Christian community, which has never caused any problem. In Kadur, there are ten churches, four chapels and six private places of worship, each with 25 to 40 members. In ten years, not a single incident has been recorded and all religious functions have been peaceful.

In Karnataka, Sajan K George told AsiaNews, what is happening is similar to what occurred in “another BJP-controlled state, Madhya Pradesh”, where another anti-Christian campaign was launched in March, but was soon abandoned “because of huge street protests”.

It is clear though that targeting and profiling a minority is a “blatant violation of the constitution and the principles of a free and fair democracy,” George said.

Under the ruse of protection, police in the Karnataka city of Mangalore sought to collect information about places of worship, calling on 75 local Christian clergymen (but no Catholic) to provide information about their activities.

For the GCIC president, Bhopal police did the same thing in March, when it issued instructions to its agents to collect “information about Christian activities”, the “number of missionaries” and “the total amount of aid received”. They were eventually dropped but only because of “widespread protests by the faithful”.

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

Pakistan: Shahbaz Taseer, Son of Slain Punjab Governor, Seized in Lahore

Armed men abducted him this morning as he went to work. His mobile phones, laptop and other personal items were thrown away. Experts believe he will be used to obtain the release of his father’s murderer. Catholic Church slams the act.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — Four armed men seized Shahbaz Taseer (pictured), son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer who was slain on 4 January because of his fight against Muslim extremism. He was on his Mercedes on his way to work at World Call. This morning he was without his usual escort.

At 10.54 am, a few metres from the entrance, a motorbike stopped in front of Shahbaz’s car, forcing it to halt. Four men came out of a black Toyota Land Cruiser and took him away at gunpoint.

People present at the scene said that, after throwing away Taseer’s mobile phones and laptop, they drove off in the direction of the Defence Housing Authority.

Since his father’s murder, the Taseer family had been the object of threats and intimidations from the Taliban and Muslim fundamentalists.

Salman Taseer was murdered at the start of the year because of his opposition to the blasphemy provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code, which he had described as a ‘black law’, and his defence of Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother of five who is waiting for the court to hear her appeal against the death sentence imposed on her for blasphemy.

The slain Punjab governor strongly backed the campaign for her release, together with Shahbaz Bhatti, the Catholic Minority Minister, who was also killed by unknown extremists.

Now his son Shahbaz has become a victim. Some experts believe that he might be used to free Mumtaz Qadri, the bodyguard who killed Salman Taseer, becoming a “hero” for Pakistan’s Muslim extremists.

For Punjab police, it is still unclear why he was kidnapped. They wonder why the kidnappers did not take the car, mobile phones, laptop and other objects. However, they did say that they would do all in their power to rescue him and that they would not rule out any anything, even if it leads them to Mumtaz Qadri.

Shahbaz’s sister, Sherbano Taseer, has already left Pakistan fearing more violence. Her mother Amina is in shock and has not yet made any statements. After her husband’s murder, she had worried about her son’s fate.

For their part, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and current Punjab Governor Shahbaz Sharif said that everything would be done to secure Taseer’s release.

Pakistan’s Catholic Church has condemned the abduction. Fr Xavier Francis, from the Diocese of Lahore, told AsiaNews that Catholics were grateful to Salman Taseer for his solidarity towards religious minorities.

“The murders of Taseer and Bhatti and the extremism and intolerance that such acts displayed were not isolated incidents,” he explained. “Extremism is now part of mainstream Pakistan”.

Prayers will be said for Shahbaz Taseer and his family, he added. “Let us hope that he comes home unharmed.”

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

Australia — Pacific

Sydney Upskirter Walks Free

A father of two who secretly filmed up the skirts of hundreds of Sydney women and schoolgirls has escaped a jail sentence.

Sabapathy Chandrahasan, 57, received a nine-month suspended sentence from magistrate Janet Wahlquist on Friday in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

She noted his guilty plea, his mental illness and his cooperation with the police.

“The risk of reoffending is probably low,” Ms Wahlquist said, adding that he had no prior convictions.

The recordings and photos depicted females who were or were not wearing underwear, the court previously heard.

From early 2010, Chandrahasan spent about 12 months taking more than 1000 pictures and videos in central Sydney.

Police arrested the architect last February at Central railway station during the afternoon peak hour.

He had affixed a digital camera to the top of a man’s briefcase to film up women’s skirts as they ascended stairs to a platform.

Chandrahasan was convicted after pleading guilty to filming a person’s private parts without consent in aggravated circumstances.

In court on Friday, police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Dave Howard argued for a jail sentence.

He said police found about 1100 digital photos on his computer at his Earlwood home in Sydney’s south-west.

Mr Howard also said Chandrahasan had filmed several girls under the age of 16.

During sentencing submissions, Chandrahasan’s lawyer, Pauline David, said his client’s crime was in the low range and should be put into perspective.

Ms David said he had been suffering from a “compulsive mental illness”, due in part to his high-level involvement in the civil unrest in Sri Lanka.

“He was involved in talks to resolve that with the Sri Lankan government,” Ms David told the court.

As a result he had been ostracised by the Sri Lankan and Tamil community in Sydney and his daughter’s marriage had broken down.

After he was caught filming up the skirts of women, Chandrahasan lost his job and suffered anxiety due to the widespread media coverage of his case in Australia and internationally, she said.

           — Hat tip: Nilk[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: United Nations Building Blast in Abuja Caused by Car Bomb

(AGI) Abuja- The blast at a United Nations building in Abuja was caused by a car bomb, according to security forces. Said sources claim, “A car drove into the building and exploded. In all likelihood it’s a Boko Haram or an Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attack.” Boko Haram is an Islamic terrorist group fighting to spread the sharia throughout Nigeria.

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

Suicide Blast Kills 18 at UN in Nigeria

A suicide bomb blast rocked the UN compound in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Friday, killing at least 18 people, leaving others trapped and blowing out large areas of the building, officials said.

Witnesses reported that the bomb went off after a suspect forced his way through security and rammed the car into the building.

Parts of the first two floors were blown out and rescue workers scrambled to rescue those left inside.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but an Islamist sect known as Boko Haram has been blamed for scores of bombings in recent months.

“So far, we have 18 dead and eight injured,” Mike Zuokumor, police commissioner for the Federal Capital Territory, which includes Abuja, told journalists.

“It was a Honda Accord car. The suicide bomber died immediately as the bomb cut him into three. I cannot say how many people are still in the building. The rescue operation is still on.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the attack and said “considerable” casualties were expected.

Ban said staff for 26 UN agencies and departments were in the building.

“This was an assault on those who devote their lives to helping others,” he said. “We condemn this terrible act utterly.”

A Security Council meeting on peacekeeping around the world started with one minute’s silence in respect for the victims.

Ban, who was at the building two months ago, said he was sending Deputy UN Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro and UN security chief Gregory Starr to Nigeria immediately.

He added that he would soon be talking with Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, who also condemned the attack and pledged that authorities would hunt the perpetrators.

A member of security personnel speaking on condition of anonymity spoke of “many dead”.

“A guy drove a Honda car, forced his way through the gate and rammed into the building, and then the bomb exploded,” the security source said at the scene.

AFP correspondents saw wounded people being taken from the building, including those with bloodied heads. Some appeared lifeless but it was unclear whether they were dead.

One UN staff member said people had been trapped in the building that sustained heavy damage.

“I don’t know what is going on. Many people are still trapped upstairs and we need a crane to bring people down,” the UN staffer who did not want to give her name said in the aftermath of the explosion.

Two cranes were later brought to the scene and rescue workers sought to free those trapped on the upper floors…

[Return to headlines]


Turks View Immigration Negatively, Survey Says

A recent survey shows that Turkish people are developing a negative attitude toward immigrants in their country. Accordingly, some 61 percent of Turks think there are too many immigrants in the country

Turkish people are developing an increasingly negative attitude toward immigration and immigrants in their country, according to a recent survey by Ipsos KMG.

Some 61 percent of Turks think there are too many immigrants in the country, while 6 percent of the population believes immigrants are having a positive effect on the country, said the survey, which was conducted in 24 countries, including the United States, Germany, Australia, China, Saudi Arabia and Mexico, among 19,000 respondents.

On average, 52 percent of respondents believe there are too many immigrants in their home countries, while 48 percent believe immigrants make it more difficult to find jobs. By contrast, 61 percent of Turks believe migrants negatively affect the job market.

Eighty percent of those surveyed believe the number of immigrants to their countries has increased in the last five years, while only 21 percent believe immigrants have a positive effect on their country.

Positive views

While Turks had the most negative opinion on immigrants, it was closely followed on the score by Hungary at 8 percent and Belgium at 9 percent. On the opposite end of the scale, 43 percent of Indians viewed immigrants as positive, followed by Canada at 39 percent and Saudi Arabia at 37 percent. In Japan, meanwhile, only 15 percent thought there were too many immigrants in the country.

Ultimately, immigration and immigrants raise concerns in many countries, the survey said, adding that tensions can particularly rise during economic crises.

According to economist Ibrahim Arslan, author of a book called “Economy of Immigration,” the effects of immigration depend on the quality of the people entering a country and should not always be evaluated negatively.

“Many people consider immigration’s effects as negative in the sense that it will raise unemployment and crime rates but it may not be so depending on who and where the people are coming from,” he said.

Arslan said many people from the ex-Soviet and Balkan countries immigrated to Turkey in the 1990s and added that people from the Middle East and Asia were not set to replace them. “In the past Turkish people used to go abroad but now Turkey is drawing immigrants, it is a growing subject,” Arslan said, adding that in order to integrate people into society, Turkey should establish immigration integration centers.

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

UK: Cameron’s Immigration Problem

Poor David Cameron. He pledged to reduce annual net migration from the current 240,000 to the “tens of thousands” and what happens? Net migration in 2010 was up by 21 per cent from 2009. In a way, he deserves the flak he’ll get because this was a daft target that could only have been set by someone poorly-advised about the nature of immigration. And the target allows success to be presented as failure. The inflow to Britain has stayed steady (see graph below), but the number emigrating from Britain has fallen. This is a compliment to Cameron: the most sincere vote people can make is with their feet. And in our globalised world, countries have to compete for people. Britain is as attractive as ever it was to immigrants, and more natives are staying put.

Cameron should only ever have pledged to stem the inflow. Governments of free countries can’t stop people emigrating, so the net figure, ie the inflow minus the outflow, is not something he could or should have given a pledge on. In my view, Britain’s immigration inflow is driven primarily by a demand for migrant labour (foreign nationals account for almost the entire employment rise under Cameron so far). This can only be changed by radical labour market reform (tax, regulation etc), which I don’t expect to happen. So I’d say Cameron has a snowballs’s chance in hell of meeting his target. Today’s figures will be the first of many over the next four years making that point

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Outrage at Payout for Algerian Crook We Can’t Kick Out

AN asylum seeker who committed more than 25 crimes after arriving in the UK could be awarded damages after claiming he was “unlawfully” detained by immigration authorities.

Algerian Amin Sino sought a High Court review of the Home Office decision to detain him in 2006. He argued he had been unlawfully detained and was entitled to damages. Deputy High Court Judge John Howell QC said Mr Sino had “frustrated” Home Office deportation attempts and was deemed a “risk to the community”. Although he agreed people would be “outraged” by yesterday’s ruling, with the payment coming from the taxpayer, he said failure to co-operate with immigration officials was not a justification for detention. He said his attempts to determine “basic facts” in the case had “not been assisted” by Home Office evidence which contained “false and misleading statements”. Describing the fiasco as a “sorry saga” he said it revealed a “disturbing level of incompetent ignorance” in one Home Office team.

Mr Sino claimed asylum in 2001 but was refused and a subsequent appeal was dismissed after he failed to appear for hearings, the judge said. Over the next few years he was convicted of shoplifting, theft, handling stolen goods and drug possession, London’s High Court heard. He was detained by immigration authorities at the end of a prison sentence in 2006, pending deportation.. But Home Office officials were unable to obtain travel documents from Algerian authorities that would have allowed him to be sent back. Mr Sino argued the Home Office had “no lawful authority” to detain him because there had “never been a realistic prospect” of them obtaining the necessary documentation

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]