Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110830

Financial Crisis
»German Business Chief Calls for Country to Quit Euro and Join New Currency With Austria, Holland and Finland
»Italy: Budget Summit Issues in Agreement on Special Tax for MPs
»Italy: Majority Agrees to Cut Tax Advantages for Cooperatives
»Italy: €1. 5 Blns Savings From Measures on Pensions, Manoeuvre
»Italy: Budget Measures ‘Will Slow Growth’
»Italy: Cuts and Tax Evasion Targeted by Budget Changes
»Italy: Berlusconi Agrees to Austerity Plan Changes
»Spain: Flood of Criticism in Congress on Constitution Reform
»Frank Gaffney: Roll Back the Muslim Brotherhood
»Meet CIF’s [Comment is Free, The Guardian] Wajahat Ali: Anti-Islamophobia Crusader With a Soft Spot for Anti-Semites
Europe and the EU
»Arrested in Britain: The Path of a Young German Salafist
»Belgium: “Black Flight” From Primary Schools
»Denmark: 1 Killed in Shooting at Mosque
»Ex-GDR: A New Land for Poles and Czechs
»Finland: Roma Camp in Kalasatama Evicted in Massive Police Operation
»Italy: Small Towns Avoid Unification But Must Join for Functions
»UK: David Cameron is Merely Tinkering While We Yearn for Tory Rule
»UK: Doctor Who: They’re Making it Up as They Go Along
»UK: Doctor Who Fans Are Fuhrer-ious at ‘F Word’ In Episode
»UK: Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler, BBC One Review
»UK: How Empire Snobbery Kept Order Worldwide
»UK: In Finding Itself Banned, Unite Against Fascism Has Fallen Victim to Its Own Brand of Boneheaded Illiberalism
»UK: If We Have No History, We Have No Future
»UK: The Challenge for Cameron After a Summer of Events
»USA Supports Albania’s Integration in E. U.
North Africa
»Libya: NATO Focuses Strikes on Sirte and Bani Walid
»Libya: French Group Bull Spied on Opposition for Gaddafi
»Libya: Opposition to Israel, Al-Qaeda is Present
»Libya: ENI Signs Deal With NTC, Pledge to Resume Activities
»Libya: Father Slit Throats of Three Daughters in ‘Honour Killing’ After They Were Raped by Gaddafi’s Troopshuman Rights Group Uncovers Widespread War Crimes by Loyalist Forces
»Libya: Alarm in Israel, Al Qaeda Making Inroads
»NATO Mission to Libya Ongoing as ‘It is Still Needed’
»Obama Foreign Policy Financing the Extermination of All Blacks in Tripoli?
Israel and the Palestinians
»10 Islamic Jihadists Ready to Strike
»Attack Alert Along Sinai Border
»Caroline Glick: The Perils of a Remilitarized Sinai
»Israel Arms Settlers in View of September Protests
»Report: Israel Sends 2 Warships to Egyptian Border
Middle East
»Record Number of Turks Flocking to Mecca
»Syria: Sana: Attorney General of Hama Kidnapped by Armed Group
»Turkey: Ramadan as ‘National Event’
»Eight Killed in Chechnya Suicide Attack: Report
South Asia
»Blast Injures Two Italian Paratroopers in Afghanistan
»Indonesia: Muslim Extremists Against Movie That Promotes Tolerance and Dialogue
»Opposition Parties Want Answers on Kunduz
»Pakistan: Rawalpindi: 13 Year Old Christian Kidnapped During Mass
»Coast Guard Rescue 105 Migrants Off Lampedusa Coast

Financial Crisis

German Business Chief Calls for Country to Quit Euro and Join New Currency With Austria, Holland and Finland

A top German business leader today called for his country to quit the euro and join richer northern neighbours in a currency block instead.

Hans-Olaf Henkel, the well-respected former head of the country’s main business federation, said his earlier support for the euro was ‘the biggest professional mistake I ever made’.

He called on Germany, Austria, Finland and the Netherlands to quit the euro — ditching struggling economies such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy — and set up a new currency of their own.

Such a move — perhaps the closest thing possible to the return of the Deutsche Mark — would be highly controversial as Germany is the area’s powerhouse economy and has so far insisted it will stand behind the euro.

But Mr Henkel said: ‘We need to focus on saving Europe, not the euro.’

It came as ratings agency Standard & Poor’s — which recently stripped the U.S. of its prized AAA credit score — downgraded its growth forecasts for Europe.

‘We continue to believe that a genuine double-dip will be avoided,’ said Jean-Michael Six, the group’s chief economist for Europe. ‘Nevertheless, we recognise that downside risks are significant.’

S&P cut its growth forecasts for the Eurozone to 1.7 per cent for 2011 and 1.5 per cent for 2012, from 1.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent. It also trimmed its outlook for Britain to 1.3 per cent and 1.8 per cent from 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent.

The Eurozone has been crippled by towering levels of debt which led to the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Hundreds of billions of euros have been spent propping up the single currency — with Germany and France footing much of the bill.

But it has failed to solve the crisis tearing through the region with Spain, Italy and even France now under threat.

‘Instead of addressing the true causes, politicians prescribe painkillers,’ said Mr Henkel, the former head of IBM Germany and ex leader of the Federation of German Industries.

He said politicians ‘broke all the promises of the Maastricht treaty’ and allowed Greece to join the single currency for ‘political reasons’ rather than on sound economics.

He added that the rule that no country should borrow more than 3 per cent of GDP a year ‘was broken more than a hundred times’.

He said the ‘one-size-fits-all’ euro has turned out to be a ‘one-size-fits-none’ currency.

It meant struggling countries on the periphery were unable to cut interest rates to weaken the currency and boost exports.

‘Deprived of the ability to devalue, countries in the south lost their competitiveness,’ said Mr Henkel.

His solution was for Austria, Finland, Germany and the Netherlands to leave the euro and create a new currency.

Such a move would weaken the euro and boost exports in the struggling periphery.

Although exports out of Germany and others would be hit by a stronger currency, inflation would fall.

He urged German chancellor Angela Merkel to show ‘conviction and courage’ to break away from the euro.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Italy: Budget Summit Issues in Agreement on Special Tax for MPs

(AGI) Rome — Budget meetings between PDL and LNP delegates in Arcore issue in agreement to establish special taxation for MPs. With the so-called ‘solidarity tax’ initially planned for wealthier sectors of Italy’s middle class, the agreement is offset by plans to establish other forms of taxation, making it harder for taxpayers to elude tax and raising the tax bench for cooperatives.

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

Italy: Majority Agrees to Cut Tax Advantages for Cooperatives

(AGI) Rome — The majority has agreed to reduce tax advantages for cooperatives during today’s meeting in Arcore. The reduction is part of the changes to the austerity package currently being discussed. “Replacing the solidarity tax with new fiscal measures aimed at tackling the abuse of elusive property registrations and interpositions and a reduction of tax advantages for cooperatives” a statement reads.

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

Italy: €1. 5 Blns Savings From Measures on Pensions, Manoeuvre

(AGI) Rome — The exclusion of the university years and of the military duty from the calculation of seniority pension with 40 years of contributions will concern about 80,000-100,000 people and should assure savings for 1.5 billions in 2012-2014, according to Pdl parliament member and vice-president of the Work Commission at the Lower House Giuliano Cazzola. The State should have a major income of 500 millions in 2013 and of 1 billion in 2014 .

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

Italy: Budget Measures ‘Will Slow Growth’

‘Govt has no alternative’, says Bank of Italy

(ANSA) — Rome, August 30 — The Italian government’s revamped austerity measures were essential but would slow the country’s economic recovery, the Bank of Italy warned Tuesday.

“The move to resolve the deficit and balance the budget by 2013 will slow growth but there is no alternative,” said Ignazio Visco, the bank’s deputy director-general.

“Every other possibility would lead to more traumatic results for our country”.

The government has radically altered the 45-billion euro austerity package approved by the cabinet two weeks ago after a meeting between Premier Silvio Berlusconi, Giulio Tremonti, his Economy Minister, and coalition ally and leader of the Northern League, Umberto Bossi, at Arcore near Milan on Monday.

The new version of the package, which is due to face a vote in the Senate next week, drops the so-called “solidarity tax” that proposed an extra 5% on incomes higher than 90,000 euros a year, and a 10% increase on incomes above 150,000 euros.

The latest changes also include halving the number of members of parliament, changes to pensions, reducing proposed cuts to local authorities, and increasing measures to stop tax evasion.

“The growth prospects for the next three years are not satisfactory,” Visco told a Senate hearing on Tuesday.

“Balancing the public accounts must therefore be connected to an economic policy linked to revitalising our economic development,” he said.

Angelino Alfano, the head of Berlusconi’s People of Freedom party, said Monday’s meeting demonstrated that the government’s coalition was capable of agreeing and meeting its commitments to Italian citizens.

But the leader of the centre-left opposition Democratic Party Pierluigi Bersani said the changes would hit honest people hard and let tax cheats run free.

“After the Arcore pact, the government’s austerity measures will deliver even less and the injustices will weigh even heavier,” Bersani said.

Meanwhile there was a weak reaction from investors when Italy returned to bond markets on Tuesday with a 7.74 billion euro sale despite moves by the European Central Bank to buy Italian debt in recent weeks.

Lower demand at the auction pushed Italian bond yields higher to 5.22% while the 10-year bond spread against German bonds edged higher to 297 points.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Cuts and Tax Evasion Targeted by Budget Changes

Clampdown on brass-plate companies. Solidarity supertax binned No more pensions after 40 years’ contributions regardless of age. Parliamentarians halved. Provincial authorities eliminated

ROME — The minimalists won the day. The budget will undergo some modification but it will not be redrafted. Above all, government sources say, it is a package with an “unvaried net impact”, as economy minister Giulio Tremonti points out. VAT remains unchanged and there will be no swingeing cuts to welfare. Instead, they will be replaced by less spectacular interventions, although the effectiveness of the new measures has yet to be verified. The aim is to generate revenue by combating tax avoidance — a revised version of the so-called property tax on evaders proposed by the Northern League — together with reduced tax breaks for co-operative enterprises. On the pension front, a compromise seems to have been found to keep everyone in the majority happy. This should bring in a few billion euros to refocus some of the measures in the budget.

Three billion euros more for local government The €9.2 billion to be cut from local authority spending in 2012-2013 will be reduced to two billion, or three taking into account higher revenue from the Robin Hood tax on energy companies, which is regarded as certain. The remainder will be found by stepping up the campaign against tax evasion on the ground. Local authorities will have an incentive to winkle out evaders as they will be able to keep a substantial portion of the revenue recovered. The easing of the local government spending cuts satisfied the Northern League, at least in part. Satisfaction was also voiced by Osvaldo Napoli, the interim chair of ANCI, the association of municipal authorities: “It’s good news that we’ll be better able to assess in committee. For municipal authorities, the spending cuts could drop from €1.7 billion to €850 million”.

Solidarity supertax for parliamentarians only

There will be no solidarity supertax on incomes of more than €90,000, which the People of Freedom (PDL) heartily disliked and which would have generated €674 million in 2012, €1.5 billion in 2013 and a similar amount in 2014. The tax with its two thresholds of five and ten per cent will remain in place for parliamentarians. Northern League politicians are pressing for it to be maintained for footballers as well and have already presented amendments to double it.

VAT rise recedes as screw tightens on pensions

The Northern League-Giulio Tremonti duo also managed to block the rise in VAT. There will be no change. A VAT hike remains a card the government could play, as was decided in July, if welfare reform and cuts to tax allowances fail to bring in the four billion euros in savings budgeted for 2012, the 16 billion expected in 2013, or the 20 billion slated for 2014. Mr Tremonti would prefer to include adjustments to VAT in the wide-ranging reform of taxation that he has promised. There is, however, a seemingly limited intervention on welfare that will raise quite a few hackles. It will no longer be possible to take a pension after 40 years of insurance contributions regardless of age, unless the retiree has actually worked for 40 years. No longer will workers be able to purchase pension rights for years spent studying at university or on military service…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Berlusconi Agrees to Austerity Plan Changes

Rome, 30 August (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi agreed to overhaul the 45 billion-euro austerity plan that persuaded the European Central Bank to support Italy’s bonds, dropping a tax on the highest earners and limiting funding cuts to regional governments.

Berlusconi and finance minister Giulio Tremonti agreed to the changes after a seven-hour meeting yesterday with officials of the Northern League, a key coalition ally opposed to parts of the original plan that aimed to balance the budget in 2013.

“The ECB will raise its voice if there aren’t further guarantees that it’s completely covered,” said Marco Valli, UniCredit’s chief euro-zone economist. “It seems now that that there will be some kind of revenue shortfall, but we still don’t have all the details and it’s probable that for now, the ECB will be keeping a close eye on this.”

The original package was the second austerity plan in a month adopted by the government as Italy tries to convince investors it can tame the euro-region’s second-largest debt and avoid following Greece, Ireland and Portugal in seeking a bailout. The plan was thrown together in days and passed by the Cabinet on 12 August after the ECB demanded additional austerity measures to buy Italian bonds, Tremonti has said.

“This is the third time since the middle of July that the Italians have seen different austerity measure imposed on them, and in some aspects this is extremely different from the version passed on August 12,” said Alberto Mingardi, director general of the Bruno Leoni institute, a Libertarian research institute. “How can the economic players plan their decisions if the politicians shuffle the deck every week.”

The new version of the package, which is due to be voted on by the Senate next week, drops the “solidarity tax” of an additional 5 percent on income of more than 90,000 euros a year, rising to 10 percent for income above 150,000 euros, Berlusconi’s office said in an e-mailed statement.

The new plan does not include an increase in value-added tax to compensate for the lost revenue as some lawmakers had called for. The solidarity tax will be replaced with unspecified levies aimed at the wealth of those evading taxes, the note said.

Cuts in funding to regional and local governments, worth 9 billion euros in the original two-year plan, will be scaled back. Those reductions will be trimmed by about 2 billion euros, Roberto Calderoli, minister for legislative simplification said.

“About the credibility of the measures, there is implementation risk,” said Silvio Peruzzo, euro area economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London. “The growth outlook is weakening globally. Some of the measures have to be qualified in terms of the details. This is a feature of any fiscal effort you see anywhere in the globe.”

The International Monetary Fund will cut its forecast for Italian economic growth next year to 0.7 percent, according to a draft of the fund’s World Economic Outlook report. Tremonti forecasts growth of 1.3 percent for 2012.

The statement didn’t say whether plans to raise the capital gains tax to 20 percent from 12.5 percent had been modified, or whether a so-called Robin Hood tax on profit of electricity utilities had been altered.

“Maybe this is not all we wanted, but it is also important to keep a solid majority,” Undersecretary for Defense Guido Crosetto, one of the most outspoken critics of the original plan among Berlusconi’s allies, told Ansa.

The new package will go ahead with efforts to reduce the size of the parliament, the statement said. And legislators will still have to pay a solidarity tax of 10 percent on income over 90,000 euros.

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

Spain: Flood of Criticism in Congress on Constitution Reform

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, AUGUST 29 — A deep political divide emerged today from the debate taking place in the Chamber of Deputies on the constitutional reform agreed upon between the PSOE and PP, which introduces a spending ceiling into the document in order to limit the public deficit. The spokespeople of left-wing and nationalist groups IU, BNG, PNV, ERC, CiU, UpyD and Nafarroa Bei voiced their opposition to the reform, while in addition to the PP and PSOE, the UPN backed the initiative and the Coalicion Canaria announced its abstinence. Congress will vote on the reform on Friday September 2. PSOE spokesman in the Lower House, José Antonio Alonso, justified the urgency of the measure based on the “unsustainable situation” of the spread on the Spanish debt, while Soraya Saez de Santamaria (PP) defended the move as “the result of an essential deal between two large parties at such a difficult time”, which is needed to preserve the state of wellbeing. In the opposition, according to CiU spokesman, Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida, the deal represents “a break in the constituent process”. According to Duran i Lleida “it is inadmissible to reform the Constitution in four days, and on top of that, without the consensus of the political forces”. The Catalonian political party was not the only group to criticise the procedure used by the government and main opposition group to agree on the measure. According to Gaspar Llamazares, an MP for the IU Party, the lack of consultation of the parliamentary groups constitutes “a coup on the Constitution” in which the radical left “has not played any role”. “Starting from this reform,” added Llamazares, “the markets and speculators are the constituents.” Esquerra Republicana spokesman, Juan Ridao, underlined that “they did not only quickly forget about the parliamentary groups, but also the citizens” in a reform that “is a mere imposition of the European Central bank and Germany”. The UpyD spokesman made an appeal to the MPs of the PSOE and PP to “vote based on their conscience, and against party discipline”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Frank Gaffney: Roll Back the Muslim Brotherhood

In recent weeks, we have been put on notice repeatedly: Absent a fundamental course correction, America will go the way of Europe and others before it, succumbing to an insidious totalitarian doctrine known as shariah whose purpose, in the words of its prime practitioners — the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) — is to “destroy Western civilization from within.”

Hurricanes, earthquakes and fiscal crises are preoccupations of the moment. Unless we heed the warnings being issued by three of our most brilliant strategic thinkers, Mark Steyn, Bat Ye’or and Andrew McCarthy, however, we risk an irreversible national calamity.

Each of these authors has published in the past month powerful alarums about the steady erosion of the West’s societies, governing institutions and freedoms at the hands of shariah’s adherents and their enablers on the left.

Mark Steyn released After America: Get Ready for Armaggedon, a much-awaited sequel to his best-seller, America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It. Bat Ye’or — who popularized the terms “Eurabia” and “dhimmitude” to describe what is befalling the Europeans at the hands of those seeking, in accordance with shariah, tosubjugate all non-believers as enslaved “dhimmis” — published Europe, Globalization and the Coming Universal Caliphate. And just last week, Andy McCarthy, author of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America, wrote a brilliant column for National Review Online, “Losing Malmo, and Brussels and Rome and Amsterdam.”…

           — Hat tip: CSP[Return to headlines]

Meet CIF’s [Comment is Free, The Guardian] Wajahat Ali: Anti-Islamophobia Crusader With a Soft Spot for Anti-Semites

There is not , as CiF columnist Wajahat Ali contends in “Fighting the defamation of Muslim Americans”, Aug. 27, an Islamophobia network in America. Yes, of course there exists anti-Muslim bigotry, just as there is bigotry in every nation in the world, but there is simply, despite the frequent hyperbolic insistence of CiF commentators, no actual evidence that there’s anything resembling an organized wave of Islamophobia in the U.S.

Ali begins:

“Center for American Progress Action Fund released a 138-page report, “Fear Inc: Exposing the Islamophobia Network in America”, “which for the first time reveals that more than $42m from seven foundations over the past decade have helped empower a relatively small, but interconnected group of individuals and organisations to spread anti-Muslim fear and hate in America.”

This report, which characteristically conflates criticism of radical Islam with Islamophobic bigotry, includes in this network, as those who stoke the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry, Sean Hannity, U.S., Congressman Allen West, former U.S. Congressman Newt Gingrich, Middle East Scholar Daniel Pipes, Terrorism expert Steve Emerson, and Walid Shoebat.

The report also indicts Fox News, The National Review, and the Washington Times as purveyors of anti-Muslim bigotry..

Ali continues:

“Islamophobia as the following: an exaggerated fear, hatred and hostility towards Islam and Muslims that is perpetuated by negative stereotypes resulting in bias, discrimination and the marginalisation and exclusion of Muslims from America’s social, political and civic life.”

Of course, absent from Ali’s report is any empirical evidence indicating that bias, discrimination, or exclusion of Muslims is growing or represents a big problem in the lives of Muslims in America. In fact, a new 40 page report by the Center For Security Policy not only debunks the claim that Muslim Americans are disproportionately victimized by religiously inspired bias crimes, but clearly demonstrates Jewish victims are, in fact, far more likely to be the target of such crimes — a report based partly on the FBI’s yearly Hate Crime Data from 2000-2010.

Further, a 2007 Pew Study about Muslims in America found the following:

“Muslim Americans generally mirror the U.S.. public in education and income levels, with immigrant Muslims slightly more affluent and better educated than native-born Muslims. Twenty-four percent of all Muslims and 29 percent of immigrant Muslims have college degrees, compared to 25 percent for the U.S. general population. Forty-one percent of all Muslim Americans and 45 percent of immigrant Muslims report annual household income levels of $50,000 or higher. This compares to the national average of 44 percent. Immigrant Muslims are well represented among higher-income earners, with 19 percent claiming annual household incomes of $100,000 or higher (compared to 16 percent for the Muslim population as a whole and 17 percent for the U.S. average). This is likely due to the strong concentration of Muslims in professional, managerial, and technical fields, especially in information technology, education, medicine, law, and the corporate world.”

So, in addition to the relatively low incidents of hate crimes against American Muslims, it also seems clear that such Muslims, by most objective measures, are doing quite well in the U.S. socially and economically, and enjoy religious and other democratic freedoms that many Muslims in the rest of the world are denied. Ali, in past CiF essays, has demonstrated a similar tendency to engage in accusations of “Islamophobia” quite liberally. Indeed, he leveled the charge of Islamophobia against the U.S. government in the context of the FBI prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for the “charity” group’s ties to terrorism — a prosecution which resulted in five convictions, which included “conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, providing material support to a foreign terrorist, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.”

Further, a little more research into the background of Wajahat Ali (who CiF benignly described as “a Muslim American of Pakistani descent, a writer and attorney, and Associate Editor of revealed that the author holds some decidedly illiberal views about another historically oppressed minority — a record of bigotry which should put the author’s report on Islamophobia in some perspective. Ali is a contributor to the radical anti-Zionist site, Counterpunch, where, in an essay largely commenting on Israel’s war in Gaza, he likened Israel to Apartheid in S. African, and characterized the war as an “Israeli blitzkrieg that repeatedly bombards a beleaguered Palestinian refugee population.” Ali also published, in Counterpunch, an extremely sympathetic interview with Norman Finkelstein, about “The Holocaust Industry” — a book which characterizes Israelis as “basically Nazis with beards and black hats”.

Indeed, a few searches on Ali’s own blog, Goatmilk: An intellectual playground, which is often cross posted at the English Website of the Muslim Brotherhood, demonstrates a propensity to use his “playground” for voices hostile to Jews and opposed to Israel’ existence. On June 10, he included on his blog, as the “Essay of the week”, a cross-post of a piece by Ilan Pappe, the universally discredited radical Israeli “historian” who advocates the end of the Jewish state. Pappe, in the essay, commenting broadly about Israel in the aftermath of the May 31 Mavi Marmara incident, accused the state of practicing ethnic cleansing, and opined that “only sustained pressure by Western governments [similar to the pressure placed on S. Africa and Serbia] will drive the message home that the strategy of force and the policy of oppression are not accepted morally or politically by the world to which Israel wants to belong.”

In April of 2009, Ali posted a piece by Sasha Rabkin titled, “A Jewish American man’s defense of self-hatred” — simply exquisite example of the AsAJew recently dissected so skillfully by Geary — which characterized Zionism as an “identity centered on racism, military might, [“fascism”] and occupation,” and later characterized Jewish Zionist identity as a “Judaism devoid of soul and love and oppressing the most occupied people in the world”. He also characterized Israel’s War of Independence as an act of “genocide” against Arabs. Rabkin’s defense of Jewish self-hatred, which Ali endorsed, concludes with this appalling passage:

“the two main forces of the 20th century who sought to separate Jews were the Nazis and the Zionists. This is not to fully equate the two. There are obvious differences. But, both sought to single out the Jews, to show them as special and in need of segregation. They both contributed to the death of Jews. Most importantly, they both have sequestered Jewish identity in a militarized, confrontational and racist corner.”

Our anti-Islamophobia crusader seems to be on a bit of a Judeophobic crusade of his own. Who needs to demonize the Jewish state as a fascist, genocidal force — which is a moral blight on the world (and Judaism itself) — when you can get a Jew to do it for you? More broadly, Ali’s exquisite moral hypocrisy in condemning bigotry against Muslims while promoting anti-Semitism represents another perfect illustration of the Guardian Left ideology — sensitive souls who renounce racism, real and imagined, against “the oppressed” at every opportunity, and who possess an eye for bigotry endowed with a wide and powerful lens, yet have a glaring and dangerous blind spot when it comes to Jews.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Arrested in Britain: The Path of a Young German Salafist

By Julia Jüttner, Solingen

Robert B. wore long robes, dreamed of paradise and called himself Abdul Hakiim. He and his friend were arrested in July for trying to enter Britain with bomb-making guides and al-Qaida propaganda. They now sit in a London high-security prison. But Robert’s motivations remain a mystery.

A mother can’t be fooled, and a mother notices when her child goes astray, says Marlies B. That’s why she called the state authorities in October 2010 and asked if she needed to be worried about her son.

Her son Robert had changed. He’d converted to Islam, forsaken pork and alcohol, and now he wore a knit wool cap and wandered the city of Solingen, northeast of Cologne, in floor-length garments. Marlies B. says she’d never seen him this way. People asked her about it, and it was embarrassing. It frightened her.

At the end of July — after a period when she couldn’t reach him, either on his cell phone or at his apartment — she printed out a statement from his bank account. (Robert had given her notarized power of attorney years before.) She noticed a flight booked for €447 ($647), and “all of my alarm bells went off,” she says. She drove to a national-security office in Wuppertal.

“You’re son is doing well,” an official told her, asking her to take a seat in the hall. Marlies B. had an uneasy feeling. A mother knows, she says. Two other officials came upstairs. They had just searched Robert’s apartment, and they told her that her son had been in a London prison since July 15.

Al-Qaida Propaganda

He’d taken the ferry to Dover with Christian E., another convert from Solingen, who had a criminal record. At the border they told authorities they had planned to fly from Brussels to Egypt, but the tickets were too expensive. So they’d settled on Great Britain instead.

Officials searched their bags and found handbooks for jihadists, a bomb-making pamphlet called, “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” and an essay on “39 Ways to Support Jihad,” written by the radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki — all propaganda material for al-Qaida. Both Germans were sent to Belmarsh, a high-security prison in south London, and isolated in solitary confinement.

“I fear that the English justice system will crack down like it did in the recent riots, and we want to prevent that,” says Robert’s attorney, Burkhard Benecken. His client faces up to 10 years in prison. But under German law his actions were not punishable. This week, Benecken and Robert’s mother are flying to London; it will be her first visit with her son since he was arrested.

A Victim of the Stasi

Marlies B. grew up in the GDR, the former East Germany. By the age of 13, she’d had experience with the Stasi. Her parents’ bakery was bugged, and her father fled to West Germany in 1969. She later was caught trying to flee to the West and spent seven weeks in custody in Görlitz, before serving a year in prison in Hohenleuben.

She was one of the 33,755 political prisoners whose freedom was purchased by the West German government. On March 13, 1985 she arrived first at a relocation camp in Giessen, then went to Unna, and in the end arrived at a temporary home in Solingen. That is where she met Robert’s father, an independent craftsman 15 years her senior. They later married.

Marlies B. is now 57 years old. She’s a petite woman with deeply set blue eyes. She wears glasses, and her dyed black hair has bangs cropped short. Her faced is lined with wrinkles. She calls her first husband a “criminal swine who was locked up in all the GDR jails.” He almost killed her once, she says, by smashing a bottled of sparkling wine on her head in a drunken rage.

Robert’s father, she says, was the first man who was good to her. He died at the age of 46, of lung cancer caused by a grinding machine he used. His death came three days before Robert’s 13th birthday. Her son missed him greatly.

Even as a child, Robert was an outsider and was bullied and chased across the school yard. He dropped out of school in the 9th grade. When he was 17 he joined the military, with his mother’s approval, and volunteered to go to Afghanistan. He dreamed of riding in a tank. But he wound up on desk duty. When this duty grew boring, he started spreading right-wing propaganda on the Internet. He hung a Hitler portrait over his bunk. He was forced to leave the army.

He then earned his secondary-school school diploma. In the summer of 2010 he finished training as a warehouse clerk. But he wasn’t hired. Robert had long had other plans…

           — Hat tip: Rembrandt[Return to headlines]

Belgium: “Black Flight” From Primary Schools

De Morgen, 30 August 2011

“The children of middle class migrants are fleeing mixed schools in massive numbers,” reports De Morgen. According to the Brussels daily, the exodus has been prompted by “Moroccans who do not want their children in the same class as East Europeans.” For Antwerp University professor Paul Mahieu, who studies segregation in primary education, schools are faced with a “black flight” that is comparable to the more well known phenomenon of “white flight,” in which parents from the indigenous population withdraw their children from schools with a large proportion of students from foreign backgrounds.

“The flight mechanism” is triggered when the threshold of 30% students from foreign backgrounds is exceeded, and this threshold is 50% for the parents of allochtoons,” explains Paul Mahieu. The researcher believes that the issue is first and foremost a psychological one, because “parents are convinced that teaching is of a higher standard in schools with a high proportion of students from the indigenous population.” He further warns that the phenomenon of flight from schools, which is set to continue, could contribute to social problems. For its part, De Morgen argues that “diversity” in schools does not necessarily amount to a problem. “If we believe that education should act as a driving force in social mobility, schools with a socio-economic mix will continue to be necessary.”

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

Denmark: 1 Killed in Shooting at Mosque

Ethnic Pakistani youths clash at a mosque in Copenhagen; 1 killed

One person was killed and two others reported injured in a shooting incident outside the Amerikavej mosque in Copenhagen, where Muslims were congregating to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan.

“The incident is related to the people who were present in the mosque, but not necessarily anything to do with the mosque or prayers. It is probably an internal dispute between people of Pakistani origin,” Dep. Chief Inspector Lau Thygesen tells

The person killed is reported to be a 21-year-old man. Details of the injured have not been released.

A large congregation was present inside and arriving at the mosque as tumultuous scenes developed outside among a group of young people.

An eyewitness told TV2News that the shooting came following a heated disagreement between young people.

“There was a disagreement between a group of young people and suddenly there were shots. I would say about 20 shots,” Kuran Qureshi said, adding “Everyone ran for cover and hid behind vehicles and whatever they could find. There were women and children there too.”

Police are searching for a heavily-built man, said to be around 30 and wearing a tunic and suede jacket. He is reported to have been driving a green van with number plates beginning with the letters RD.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Ex-GDR: A New Land for Poles and Czechs

Lidové noviny Prague

More and more Poles are settling in the former East Germany, filling the void left by the flight of East Germans to the West following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Lidové noviny is calling on Czechs to do the same, and so to help blur the borders of central Europe.

Luboš Palata

The east German town of Löcknitz, about fifty kilometres inland from the Baltic Sea, has witnessed a minor miracle in recent years, as one of the few cities of East Germany to halt the decline in population a few years ago; to the contrary, people have started to move in. What’s quite unusual about this is that the local kindergarten and school classes have begun to fill up. There is one “fly in the ointment”, though: the new residents are not Germans, but Poles, coming mainly from the Polish port city of Szczecin, a city of more than 400,000 inhabitants some 20 kilometres from Löcknitz.

“Houses and building lots are cheaper here than they are around Szczecin, and we even pay lower taxes here for services that are at a much higher level,” says the Polish owner of a pension. “A house that I would have paid 250,000 euros for in Szczecin I bought here for 35 thousand,” said another Pole, who dropped by the pension for a chat. “It wasn’t a problem. Germans here are fleeing to the West,” he added.

The population of Poles in the town is already at 15 percent, and every fifth child in a local kindergarten has Polish nationality. Even the local Germans are happy for the Poles. “Without them the town would die out,” says the German owner of a local upmarket restaurant. Most of the former East Germany, however, hasn’t had the same luck as Löcknitz. When the East German Communists put up the Berlin Wall fifty years ago they were trying to stem, among other things, the exodus of their citizens to the West. Each year before the Wall was built over a hundred thousand people abandoned the East for the West, and the Communist GDR was facing the threat of a country with no people in it.

About three million people fewer

The fact that after the fall of the Berlin Wall German reunification followed with lightning speed is seen by experts as the cause of the great flood of Germans who began to move from East to West. Neither the reunification nor the huge transfer of money to ‘level’ the East with the West (over one billion euros), however, failed to stop the exodus, but merely slowed it down to about 150,000 a year. The causes are economic: lower wages and high unemployment…

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

Finland: Roma Camp in Kalasatama Evicted in Massive Police Operation

About 40 police officers emptied the makeshift camp set up by Romanian Roma in the Kalasatama area of Helsinki on Tuesday morning. In the massive operation, up to seven police cars surrounded the Satama Social Centre. The centre’s door was broken down, and police officers in riot gear climbed on the roof of the building. Police dogs and a police bus were also on hand, says a Helsingin Sanomat journalist who was on the spot. The approximately 30 Roma who were there were given an hour to vacate the area. A leaflet written in Romanian instructed the Roma to go to the day centre maintained by the Deaconess Centre, where further information would be available to them.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Italy: Small Towns Avoid Unification But Must Join for Functions

(AGI) Rome — The small towns will avoid unification but they will have to join to carry out their fundamental functions.

This is one of the amendments to the manoeuvre on which an agreement was reached in the majority leaders meeting at Arcore. “Replacement of the article in the manoeuvre concerning small towns with a new text providing for the obligation to carry out all fundamental functions in form of union, starting from 2013 — according to a government note — the mantaining of the town councils and the reduction in the number of their members, who will not receive any bonus nor attendance pay” .

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

UK: David Cameron is Merely Tinkering While We Yearn for Tory Rule

by Leo McKinstry

The Tory-led Government continues to lurch from one crisis to another. On every front ministers appear impotent, from the flaming inner-cities to the paralysed economy, from rising immigration to falling employment. The failure by David Cameron’s coalition to provide the nation with robust leadership should present an easy target to the Opposition. Yet the Labour Party, trapped by its politically correct dogma and woefully run by the gauche Ed Miliband, keeps missing the target. If anything its aim is becoming even more dismal. According to a document leaked at the weekend, Labour strategists plan an autumn off- ensive against the Government in which Cameron will be por- trayed as “a recognisably Right- wing leader” and a “traditional Tory”. Using this new line of attack, Labour hopes to win over the British public by claiming that Cameron’s Con- servatives have “moved rapidly rightwards” and abandoned “the centre ground”.

This approach could hardly be more laughably ill- conceived. Only someone with a keen sense of irony could describe the Prime Minister as “Right-wing”. The fact that Labour could come up with such nonsense just exposes how badly the party has lost all grip on reality. Labour’s campaigners now appear to inhabit a Marxist fantasy land where, in their self-delusion, they think the British people share their attachment to all the orthodoxies of Left-wing ideology. But after 13 years of Labour rule much of the country is crying out for a more vigorous, Conservative style of government, especially on immigration, europe and crime.

Far from being outraged at any departure from Labour’s socialist creed, most voters would welcome the restoration of tough border controls, a less servile relation- ship with Brussels and longer jail sentences. One opinion poll last week showed that a significant majority even wants to see the death penalty brought back, something that is taboo amongst the political elite. The tragedy of our times is that Cameron has failed to exploit the public mood for change. It is absurd to pretend, as Labour chiefs argue, that he has vacated the “centre ground”, which in reality is just the terrain of fashionable Left-wing thinking, with all its support for the EU, multi-culturalism, a vast public sector, high taxation and softness on crime.

This is precisely the outlook Cameron has adopted through- out his time as Prime Minister. There is nothing remotely Conservative about his Cabinet. his policies are almost indistinguishable from those adopted by Labour. To call him “Right- wing” amounts to an abuse of the english language. This is a leader who has presided over a massive increase in net migration to Britain, further accelerating the transformation of our country into a multi-ethnic land mass. According to figures released last week, 575,000 new arrivals came here in 2010, the first year of Cameron’s Government, while net migration was up 20 per cent compared to 2009.A truly Conservative Prime Minister would have acted immediately to reverse this trend through a temporary freeze on all immigration or drastic restrictions in the award of student visas. But, typically, Cameron has just indulged in tinkering and empty words.

It’s the same pattern throughout Government. he has done nothing to challenge Brussels but has bombed Libya to bring hardline Islamists to power in Tripoli. He has slashed the armed forces but squandered billions on foreign aid. He seems incapable of doing anything about the wretched Human Rights Act yet has encouraged his ministers to indulge in Labour-style social engineering such as the imple-mentation of the equality Act, which allows employers to discriminate in favour of women and ethnic minorities his Government is driving through large increases in public expenditure. No radical steps have been taken on public sector pensions or the costs of welfare or the size of the quangos. Instead of supporting those in work, the coalition has hammered them with extra charges, such as the 2.5 per cent rise in VAT, the widening of income tax bands and inflation-busting increases in rail fares.

And what sort of Conservative Government promotes a massive hike in energy bills to pay for a green agenda? Some might argue that Cameron’s abject failure to act like a Tory leader reflects the fact that he is nothing more than an opportunist who just wants power for its own sake. It was Robin harris, one of Mrs Thatcher’s closest advisers, who said that he “doesn’t believe in anything”. But the truth is perhaps even more disturbing. If Cameron has a political philosophy it is one bred of guilt about his privileged background. This has led him to embrace a form of hand-wringing paternalism dressed up in verbiage about the Big Society.

It is telling that the political thinkers who have most influenced Cameron are progressives such as Phillip Blond, British radical and academic, or Cass Sunstein, US adviser to President Obama. “In what sense is the money in our pockets and bank accounts fully ours?” Sunstein once wrote, displaying his support for heavy taxation, a mentality that Cameron has taken up with alacrity. If Cameron is so conflicted about his affluent background he should have become a socialist or a social worker. But to masquerade as a Conservative is an insult to the political process — and a betrayal of the British people.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Doctor Who: They’re Making it Up as They Go Along

So it turns out River Song is not just the child of Amy and Rory, but also their (previously unmentioned) childhood friend Mel, who was kidnapped as a baby and raised by The Silence, which is no longer either the approaching end of time or an amnesiac-inducing race of Scream-headed aliens but a universe wide religious cult at war with the Doctor? Does anyone else think they are making this up as they go along?

A lot is said about the televisual genius of Doctor Who’s current executive producer and scriptwriter in chief Steven Moffat, but, as much as I enjoy his show, his approach to story-telling is akin to that of the young children who are a key component of his audience. Like a five-year-old Homer, the young storyteller boldly advances into an impossible corner and then extricates themselves by some previously unsuspected Deus ex Machina, their storytelling methodology being “and then … and then … and then …” I remember an early attempt by my son, Finn, to “write a book”. By page two of his hilariously misspellt opus ‘Jurnee to Dynrsaw Plnt’, he had his time-travelling dinosaur-hunting heroes trapped in a hollow tree surrounded by robot velociraptors with no possible escape. He was momentarily perplexed as to how he could continue, but while I patiently tried to explain that it helps to have an idea of the end of the story before you begin, he simply conjured up a time hole in the tree and his heroes tumbled into the future. Which is exactly what Moffat’s Doctor Who might have done, while waving his all purpose sonic screwdriver, and uttering some mumbo jumbo about “Timey-wimey stuff.”

I’m not complaining, you understand. I am an avid watcher of Doctor Who. It helps that I have a built in excuse of presiding over a household with kids aged seven to 27 but the truth is I’d watch it anyway. I’ve followed the adventures of the time-travelling cosmic meddler from the days of William Hartnell as the first Doctor, when I would cower behind the sofa on the appearance of Daleks or Cybermen, a hiding place that, I am amused to note, also serves my youngest during scarier moments. My enthusiasm waned (along with the rest of the viewing public) during the dismally budgeted 80s, and I drifted off in the midst of Peter Davidson’s incarnation as the fifth doctor, only properly returning with the new dawn of the relatively slick and big-budgeted modern era, starting with ninth doctor Christopher Eccleston. I’m absolutely thrilled by the latest incarnation with Matt Smith (possibly the best Doctor ever), and I genuinely enjoy seeing all this funny, scary, emotionally engaging and furiously enacted sci-fantasy nonsense framed with the kind of special effects and production finesse I could only dream of as a childhood fan. But when it comes to plotting, the new soap operatic Doctor Who with its underpinning extended narrative is not nearly as clever as its creators and fans would like it to be, sustained only by selective amnesia about past episodes covered up with cosmic mumbo jumbo issued as authoritative exposition delivered too fast to be challenged. It is peppered with so many holes and loose ends it would unravel if it didn’t keep tying itself in ever tighter knots of complete and utter nonsense.

It is turning into a cross between Eastenders and Lost, a cosmic soap opera juggling too many narrative strands whilst compelled to introduce weird new developments at every juncture just to keep the pot boiling and plates spinning. The problem with this kind of approach to narrative is that it inevitably ends up with too much going on for the casual viewer to keep up, whilst the accelerating momentum of each strand causes internal plot and logic conflict requiring a big bang solution akin to the notorious Pam Ewing dream sequence that explained away the whole of series eight of Dallas. So last season’s Dr Who ended with a literal big bang, in which the universe was wiped out and restarted, but still managed to leave enough loose ends to trip up this season’s scriptwriters. The biggest loose end of all being the character of River Song.

Stephen Moffat likes to convey the impression that there is a grand plan. But if there is, he clearly hasn’t shared it with anyone else, including his actors. OK this bit is probably for devotees only, but my youngest son remains unconvinced that River is actually Amy and Rory’s child, because the first time River meets her mother Amy on screen (in Time Of The Angels in the last series) and Rory (The Pandorica Opens) she gives no impression of ever having met them before. Indeed, the second time she meets Rory (in The Big Bang), she refers to him as “the plastic centurion”, rather than, say, “daddy”. Perhaps only a seven year old would be so sensitive to how a child addresses their parent, but he has a point. And the point is that when you make up a story as you go along, you leave plot holes behind you.

Indeed, the whole of last weekend’s typically over-packed episode Lets Kill Hitler seems to have been set up to resolve the problems that Moffat has created for himself with his backwards time travelling half-human half -Time-Lord River Song character. The producer has intimated that she is the Doctor’s great love, who has shared a great intimacy with him, and many unseen adventures, but who now seems on the verge of being written out before the love affair really begins. We got blink-and-you’ll-miss-them resolutions of two big mysteries in one fell swoop: when did she learn how to fly the Tardis and why did the Doctor tell her his real name?. We also effectively got her first chronological screen incarnation as actress Alex Kingston, who we’ve already seen die in her first actual screen appearance (with previous Doctor David Tennant in the two parter ‘Silence In The Library / Forest of the Dead’). This doesn’t leave Moffat much wiggle room for all those years of love and adventure with Doctor Who, which, at any rate, would rather change the complexion of the series (frankly, my youngest is not at all keen on the kissing). And, let’s face it, Alex Kingston is not getting any younger, while the Doctor (by means of regenerating actors) is. I expect River is nearing the end of her plotline, though perhaps her adventures will continue in another dimension, alternative universes being a useful way of both disposing of and continuing characters in Doctor Who. (If only Dallas had been set on another planet in the future, they would have surely found a way to bring Bobby Ewing back from the dead without resorting to a year long dream sequence).


[JP note: I stopped watching Dr Who when it became evident that it was a BBC-inspired fantasy about the virtues of multiculturalism and other left-liberal pap.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Doctor Who Fans Are Fuhrer-ious at ‘F Word’ In Episode

DOCTOR Who viewers have complained to the BBC after believing they heard a German guard swear on Saturday’s Nazi-themed show. Viewers reported that one of the soldiers, an extra, shouted: “Where the f*** is he?” on the Let’s Kill Hitler episode. But corporation bosses yesterday insisted viewers had misheard a German phrase that was dubbed in after filming had finished. A spokesman explained the phrase was actually: “Halt, was machen sie?” meaning, “Stop, what are you doing?”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Doctor Who, Let’s Kill Hitler, BBC One Review

Doctor Who was back and what a whiz-bang, bells-and-whistles return it was. Entitled Let’s Kill Hitler, the episode opened with the Tardis getting hijacked and the Doctor being ordered to fly to 1938 Berlin, so the Führer could be eliminated. The show is fond of dropping in historical figures these days. Shakespeare, Dickens, Van Gogh, Queen Victoria, Louis XV, Nixon and Churchill have all popped up since the series was rebooted six years ago. It’s a device which allows the writers to give viewers a playful history lesson, while offering extraterrestrial explanations for past events. Inform, educate and entertain… Lord Reith would approve, although he’d probably be baffled by this plot. It involved crop circles, shape-shifting android assassins and miniaturised time cops. Boring old Adolf barely featured. Despite the title, the joke was on him (and us) because he was bundled into a broom cupboard after a few minutes.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: How Empire Snobbery Kept Order Worldwide

Charles Moore reviews Ghosts of Empire by Kwasi Kwarteng (Bloomsbury).

A difficulty in writing about the British Empire is that it seems so absolutely a thing of the past. This makes it a phenomenon to mock or — more rarely — praise, as something which has little to do with the world today.. Kwasi Kwarteng successfully constructs this book to prove the opposite: he shows how one thing led to another, how an assortment of modern people as various as Saddam Hussein, Chris Patten, Aung San Suu Kyi and Osama bin Laden have all acted on a stage set much earlier.

To tell this story, Kwarteng takes six examples — Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria and Hong Kong — and follows them through from the beginnings of the imperial story to the present. They all matter still. I doubt if as many as one in a hundred white British citizens today could tell you a single fact about Kashmir, yet it is the conflict perhaps more likely than any other to provoke nuclear war. The problem was created by British decisions made well within living memory.

The other guiding principle of Kwarteng’s approach is to show what the Empire was like “from the point of view of the rulers”. He does so from an interesting position. Educated at the sort of institutions which played such a big part in the story — in his case, Eton and Cambridge — and now a British Member of Parliament, Kwarteng has an inside view. But he is also, to use an old Empire phrase, “as black as your hat”, and his family comes from Ghana, the first black African colony to gain independence from Britain.

Coolly, he never labours this point — or even makes it — but his background gives him a valuable perspective. He is both victim and beneficiary of his subject. So what common factor binds together the stern Lord Kitchener, the holy General Gordon, the atheist, womanising George Goldie (who invented Nigeria), the adventurer Younghusband, and the scores of others whose lives the author vividly describes? Amid religion, greed, administrative genius, military prowess and poetic dreaming, what unites them? Kwarteng thinks it is “anarchic individualism”. For them, the Empire was above all “an arena for character”.

This did not usually mean, however, that they were indifferent to the places they ruled. The dispensers of imperial justice were “highly motivated by the desire to be there”. Often, they loved being out of England. Poor Gordon, eventually murdered in Khartoum, wrote: “I dwell on the joy of never seeing Great Britain again, with its horrid, wearisome dinner parties and miseries.” Kwarteng well observes that this individualism made its possessors both open-minded about other races and invincibly convinced of British superiority. Both convictions were necessary to sustain imperial rule in such dangerous places.

The book gives an excellent account, for example, of the Sudan Political Service. It recruited only unmarried men between the ages of 21 and 25, almost all from public schools, one third of them the sons of Anglican clergy. Yet it was so well run that it enabled 140 men to have charge of nine million people. The French journalist, Odette Keun, a lover of HG Wells, remarked how strange it was that the young university-educated Englishman on holiday in the 1920s was “an exceedingly silly, rowdy and obnoxious young animal”, and yet, in the Sudan, the “youth we know in Europe as a Nuisance and a Stupid had to become one of an order of Samurai” — dignified, “unselfish professionally”, stoical, practising “sexual austerity”. If given a challenge, the individualist rises to it.

Kwarteng, who usually avoids judgments, says that the “besetting sin” of the British Empire was snobbery. But his book proves how snobbery can be a good way of keeping order without violence. The Indian princes were gripped by how many guns each was allowed in their salutes. General Wavell invented the mnemonic, Hot Kippers Make Good Breakfast, to remind himself of the precedence — Hyderabad, Kashmir, Mysore, Gwalior, Baroda. These five alone were entitled to 21 guns.

The immensely rich Hong Kong middleman, Robert Hotung, was knighted in 1915. But he fretted for a grander order of knighthood, and wrote to the King’s private secretary in 1927 a long letter demanding a KCMG. He had to wait another 28 years, by which time he was 92, to be made a KCB. The power of the mother country to bestow and withhold marks of favour was useful.

The Empire-builders believed in freedom, but not very much in democracy, Kwarteng argues. The author does not seem to mind. Indeed, he criticises Chris Patten for introducing more democracy in the last days of British rule in Hong Kong. What he forgets is that the Governor’s duty, ex officio, was not to the British government but to Hong Kong. Patten did right to try to entrench more rights for Hong Kong people, making it harder for China to trample all over everyone after 1997.

This is a fascinating and subtle book, and there is much in Kwarteng’s analysis of the Empire as essentially an aristocratic idea. But I think he underplays what Mary Kingsley called “our great solid under-staff — the Merchant Adventurers”, and Kipling’s “Sons of Martha”, the lowly NCOs and mechanics who made sure that everything actually worked. The Empire was a great adventure for them, too. He also leaves out the story of the dominions, the white settler countries born of the Empire — Australia, Canada, New Zealand and (more fraught) South Africa. If he had looked at these he could not have sustained his anti-democratic narrative. They are some of the strongest democracies in the world, and the Empire made them.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: In Finding Itself Banned, Unite Against Fascism Has Fallen Victim to Its Own Brand of Boneheaded Illiberalism

by Brendan O’Neill

Just how dumb is Unite Against Fascism? Having lobbied the government many times in recent months to ban marches by the English Defence League, it is now outraged that the Government has not only taken up this offer to squish the EDL but has pushed it further, by banning all public protests in five London boroughs for the next 30 days. That means both the Right-wing EDL and the lefties at UAF — and anyone else with a political gripe — are forbidden from marching in Tower Hamlets, Newham, Hackney, Islington and Waltham Forest any time in September. “This is a huge attack on everyone’s civil liberties”, bleats UAF, which is weird, considering that they’re the ones who invited the Government to undermine people’s civil liberties in the first place.

Theresa May’s blanket ban on all protests, following a request from the Metropolitan Police, is certainly outrageous, not to mention ironic, coming as it does just days after her boss David Cameron talked about his role in introducing political freedom to Libya. But UAF has no one but itself to blame for this extraordinary clampdown on the right to protest. For an apparently radical leftist campaign group, UAF is awfully fond of asking the Tory government to ban things — it has frequently demanded the outlawing of EDL marches, on the basis that they “spread fear” and might brainwash stupid working-class white people into turning racist. And when you cravenly invite the Government to play the role of in loco parentis in community life, to squish heated marches or protests on the basis that they might warp people’s minds and hearts, you really shouldn’t be surprised when it jumps at the opportunity. If you spend your every waking hour going cap-in-hand to the powers-that-be, demanding “No Platform!” for people you don’t like, you’re not in a very good position to complain when the authorities decide to deny you a platform too.

Now, UAF has issued what must rank as one of the silliest political statements of the year so far. “We the undersigned welcome the banning of the racist English Defence League’s march through Tower Hamlets,” it says. “But we are appalled to discover that the Metropolitan Police are applying for a blanket ban on ALL marches across five London boroughs… It is our human right to peacefully march in Tower Hamlets.” Wait — how come UAF has a “human right” to march, but the EDL does not? Are EDL members not human? Moreover, it really is spectacularly daft to talk about the importance of the right to march in the same breath as you welcome a government decision to ban a march. What UAF is effectively saying is: “We should have the freedom to march, but they shouldn’t.”

Which rather confirms that the anti-fascist Left doesn’t know the meaning of the word freedom. Freedom of speech only exists if everyone has it. The freedom to protest must mean that everyone, from worthy Left-wingers to cranky EDL types, should be at liberty to gather where and when they please and to demand whatever they want. What UAF is fighting for is not freedom but privilege. If a thing is denied to some people but granted to others, then it’s a privilege rather than a right — and UAF wants the “privilege to protest” in certain London boroughs where it expects other, less privileged, possibly non-human political activists to be silenced and curfewed on its behalf by the government. That is, UAF only really believes in Government-approved, Tory-approved, forms of public agitation. Maybe now, having fallen victim to its own boneheaded illiberalism and censorious stupidity, UAF will recognise that privileges can quite easily be taken away.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: If We Have No History, We Have No Future

This elimination of our national story in many of our schools is nothing short of a tragedy

My history education began in dramatic fashion. “In a rather deep hole, in a curve of the Medlock and surrounded on all four sides by tall factories and high embankments, covered with buildings, stand two groups of about 200 cottages in which live about 4,000 human beings, most of them Irish. The cottages are old, dirty, and of the smallest sort, the streets uneven, fallen into ruts and in part without drains or pavement; masses of refuse, offal and sickening filth lie among standing pools in all directions…”

This was Friedrich Engels’s account of 1840s Manchester, as depicted in The Condition of the Working Class in England. And it was the text which my inspirational history teacher, Mr Mackintosh, decided it would be interesting for a class of 11-year-olds to study. So, week by week, we travelled through the mills, workhouses and lodging rooms of urbanising England; the accounts of effluent-bubbling streams, smog-laden skies and overcrowded tenements. We met typhus-ridden Irish immigrants and philistine factory owners. And it was wonderful: a beguiling mixture of gore and grime along with a sense of the visceral, foreign, unknowable past which we all wanted to get our hands on.

Sadly, last week’s exam results revealed far too few students are receiving the history teaching I enjoyed. But more worryingly, the figures showed not just a fall in numbers taking GCSE history, but that the study of the past is becoming the preserve of the private sector. Our national story is being privatised, with 48% of independent pupils taking the subject compared with 30% of state school entrants. And academy schools, so admired by government ministers, are among the worst offenders. This elimination of the past is nothing short of a national tragedy. We can rehearse the arguments about the “competencies” history provides — the ability to prioritise information; marshal an argument; critique sources. But such utility fails to do it justice. History is so many things: the material culture of the past; understanding lost communities; charting the rise and fall of civilisations.

Yet history also provides us with a collective memory; it gives us a sense of connection to place, time and community. And that sensibility is being lost. As Eric Hobsbawm has put it: “The destruction of the past or, rather, of the social mechanisms that link one’s contemporary experience to that of earlier generations, is one of the most characteristic and eerie phenomena of the late 20th century. Most young men and women at the century’s end grow up in a sort of permanent present lacking any organic relation to the public past of the times they live in.”

Naively, government ministers think the problem lies simply with the syllabus. Indeed, education secretary Michael Gove has launched a review of the history curriculum, blaming political correctness for a failure to teach “one of the most inspiring stories I know — the history of our United Kingdom”. However, key stage 3 of the national curriculum allows for a perfectly decent chronological history of Great Britain. The problem is that teachers aren’t allowed to teach it. In most schools, the average 13-year-old is lucky to get one hour a week of history, making it difficult for even the most gifted classroom performer to develop a strong narrative arc. And when it is taught, history is too often batched together with other subjects into a vapid and generalised “humanities” course which fails to do it justice. This state-sanctioned amnesia is becoming acute in some of our most deprived communities. In Knowsley, near Liverpool, just 16.8% of pupils were entered for history, compared with 45.4% in Richmond upon Thames. In fact, across the UK, pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds have been systematically steered away from academic subjects to be placed on grade-inflating semi-vocational GCSEs. All too often, these provide neither the skills which employers require nor a route into further education.

Academy schools have proved particularly adept at this manoeuvre. Data are hard to track, but research by the thinktank Civitas has revealed that, for example, in one academy in the Yorkshire and Humber region, out of 150 students only nine were entered for history in 2008-09. In an East Midlands academy, just 5% of entries were in history and geography.

This matters because of what is being lost. “The soft bigotry of low expectations”, an assumption that those in communities of historically low educational attainment should not be challenged, means young people are being denied the patrimony of their story, an understanding of their country and society. This is the mindset that cuts off their history of the English Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire.

This is wrong because history is a national asset for Britain: we have a lot of it and we are very good at explaining it — in books, radio, museums and film. And if historical understanding is going to become the preserve of the private sector, the nature of our national story will also shift. The signal achievement of the postwar years was to take history teaching out of the preserve of the public schools and inspire the likes of David Starkey and Linda Colley to research and reveal the past. History, in the hands of grammar school and comprehensive-educated scholars and TV producers, became far more accessible. The current trend puts that achievement at risk.

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four had it right. “Who controls the past,” ran the party slogan, “controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.” Last week’s figures are a wake-up call. We need to ensure that our national past remains available to everyone, and does not become the preserve of an elite teaching itself a certain type of history which could fast define the national narrative. We need the discordant, uncomfortable, jarring voices of the past, as well as Michael Gove’s homely tales of national heroism. Peterloo as well as Pitt the Younger.

What is needed is a culture shift. Ministers need to stop interfering; headteachers need to be braver about league tables and the type of education they are offering; local authority directors need to stop second-guessing the professionals; and parents should not accept uninspiring teaching or grade-massaging at the expense of their children’s appreciation of the past. The coming generations are in real danger of becoming detached from the past, of losing their capacity as citizens to call power to account, as well as simply to revel in the contradictions, achievements and misdeeds of our forebears. Every pupil deserves a Mr Mackintosh.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Challenge for Cameron After a Summer of Events

This was one of those summers when party managers did not have to dream up wheezes to keep their leaders in the limelight. From the phone hacking scandal to the run on global stock markets, from riots at home to the victory of the rebels in Libya, this has been one of those Augusts when, to dust off that time-honoured phrase, events intervened. In each of these crises, attention has rightly focused on the Prime Minister. In each he has sought to turn adversity into advantage, with varying degrees of success. But as regular politics cranks back into gear this week, as the parties prepare for their annual showcase conferences, one abiding question remains unresolved. Just what exactly does David Cameron stand for?

Nick Clegg, who has gradually consolidated his position after the daily drubbing he received between last autumn and this spring, believes that Cameron is an expert tactician but a man devoid of strategy. When the PM finally came back from holiday in Italy, he created a Blair-style narrative of returning to the helm to “take charge” of combating the riots. He chastised the police for standing back; he berated the loss of personal morality in society and he called for a variety of punishments such as the removal of welfare from violent offenders.

Then what? Having long ago abandoned his “hug a hoodie” compassionate Conservative approach, it is not clear what Cameron is left with. The district judges took their cue and imposed all-round tough sentences, sometimes ludicrously so. This suggests the Government believes once again that “prison works” and that any attempt to cut back numbers has been abandoned. So are we back with the populist, and apparently popular, message of lock ‘em up and throw away the key? What is left of the other attempt at a philosophy, the Big Society? It remains vague and, to many of the more red- blooded variety of Tory, an embarrassment. Yet some in Downing Street see in the rugged and determined response of shopkeepers and others a sign that there is potential in the idea of Brits galvanised by instincts of voluntarism. They might be in adversity, but it is arguable whether they will be so in more ordinary times.

Cameron’s vacillations present Clegg with a small opportunity and a larger dilemma. He can resist the Tories’ tilt towards the Right, but will that win him votes? Relations between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have not recovered since the acrimonious electoral reform campaign. Activists in both parties are glad that this marriage is now one of convenience rather than a fumbling love affair. This autumn will test the Coalition to its limits. The Lib-Dems’ insistence on some form of property tax — be it a “mansion tax” of properties worth more than £1 million, or other plans being cooked up by Vince Cable — is infuriating members of the Cabinet. The chance of any of this making it to legislation is small. Clegg knows he has only a certain number of “red lines” he can play in his game of low-level brinkmanship with Cameron, and this is not one of them.

The Lib-Dems’ long-term problem, as one Cabinet adviser put it to me, is that they have “considerable negative power but almost no positive power”. They have already stopped or toned down a number of Conservative initiatives. Clegg made clear last week he would not accept any radical reform of British human rights law. The Lib-Dems are unhappy with several key measures in the welfare bill soon to go through Parliament. It will be intriguing to see how far they go. Clegg is satisfied that both the public and his own party are not uncomfortable with the notion of Lib-Dems in government. Whatever the disagreements in an alliance of two parties, his ministers are generally regarded to have performed competently. This takes him over the first hurdle. The second one is much harder to cross. A general election pitch of “we smoothed the Tories’ rougher edges” is unlikely to be a rallying cry for voters. Clegg will use his speech at his party’s conference in Birmingham — the first in the season — to project a more positive and distinctive message.

Ed Miliband’s task is possibly the hardest of the three. The Labour leader has had a good summer. His handling of the hacking scandal was deft — calling for comprehensive but sensible reform to media cross-ownership, apologising for Labour’s (many) past mistakes in currying favour with Rupert Murdoch, while at the same time highlighting Cameron’s culpability in the affair. The Blairite noises off who have not forgiven Ed for usurping his brother have retreated, at least for the moment. Miliband was also careful not to be seen to be seeking to explain or excuse the causes of the riots, a trap anyone on the centre-Left could easily have fallen into. His biggest problem is visibility. The new era of coalition politics has seen the Leader of the Opposition fall into third place in the minds of voters, a position from which he must quickly break out.

Labour is still in a quandary about how to deal with the Coalition. A leaked internal strategy paper this weekend suggests the party has correctly, if belatedly, shifted its priorities onto Cameron and Conservatives after spending the first year fixated on Clegg’s “treachery”. This focus on Tory ideology is superficial, however. Ultimately, whether on the economy or a sudden emergency, Cameron will be judged on his leadership skills and his staying power. He needs to demonstrate that all the pain is worth it, and that it is being shared by all. Most of all he needs to develop a narrative of the kind of Britain he wants to create. If he is to learn anything from the experience of the Blair years, it is that rhetorical flourishes and dramatic initiatives in the face of crisis leave voters cold.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


USA Supports Albania’s Integration in E. U.

(AGI) Tirana — Following a meeting this morning at the Foreign Ministry with Minister Edmond Haxhinato, the American Ambassador to Tirana Alexander Arvizu, said that the USA supports Albania’s integration in the EU. The ambassador emphasized that there is a need for unity among the political parties so as to positively comply with the 12 recommendations made by the European Commission. According to Arvizu, “the integration of Albania in the EU is the path that must be followed and the USA fully supports Albania’s efforts to achieve this.” .

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

North Africa

Libya: NATO Focuses Strikes on Sirte and Bani Walid

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, AUGUST 30 — NATO aircrafts continue to concentrate their bombardments on the region of Sirte, Gaddafi’s city of birth and a stronghold of the former leader, according to the daily report on the operations conducted in Libya.

Yesterday in Sirte allied planes destroyed three command centres, four radars, two military vehicles, a command post, a ground-air missile system and an anti-aircraft defence system.

NATO also focussed on targets in Bani Wali, southeast of the capital, where Gaddafi might be hiding together with his son Saif al Islam.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: French Group Bull Spied on Opposition for Gaddafi

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, AUGUST 30 — Amesys, an engineering company that specialises in security systems, acquired by the French Bull in January 2010, has supplied “important control equipment” to the internet monitoring centre in Tripoli by the end of 2009. The news is reported by well-informed sources, quoted today by the Wall Street Journal in an article on the regime’s control over the population. Early in 2011, the newspaper continues, some Libyan leaders once again approached Amesys to ask to increase the regime’s possibilities to filter the internet. Other companies were reportedly approached as well, like Narus, a branch office of the American airplane constructor Boeing, specialised in software protection against information piracy.

Amesys has installed the Eagle system in the centre in Tripoli. This systems makes it possible to monitor internet traffic and e-mail. According to the newspaper, also the Chinese firm ZTE (IT equipment) has sold technology to the Libyan regime for surveillance operations. The Bull group’s response to the information was “no comment.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Opposition to Israel, Al-Qaeda is Present

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 30 — “Who is really in command” in Libya, “who is really holding the weapons and ammunition, is al-Qaeda”: this warning was issued today on military radio by Ahmed Shabani (43), one of Muammar Gaddafi’s opponents. Shabani lives in London and is founder of the ‘Libyan democratic party’.

According to Shabani, “Benghazi is directed by Abu Obeid al-Jarrah and Tripoli by Abdel Hakim Belhaj, both commanders in the al-Qaeda forces. Belhaj held a press conference in Tripoli two days ago, in which he never mentioned the transitional government, which he does not even recognise.” Shabani added that an al-Qaeda leader who has been killed by the United States in Pakistan, Atya Abdel Rahman, “was in fact called Jamal Ibrahim Shetaye, and he was a Libyan with blood relations with an important member of al-Qaeda in Libya.” Shabani did not reveal the identity of this important al-Qaeda member.

In the past days, Shabani asked in an interview with Haaretz for Israel’s diplomatic support to a future democratic regime in Libya. Today he added that an immediate intervention by the United Nations is required to stabilise the situation.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: ENI Signs Deal With NTC, Pledge to Resume Activities

(ANSAmed) — ROME, AUGUST 30 — Eni and the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) have signed a memorandum that increases cooperation in the country. A statement reads that Eni and the NTC have pledged to recreate the conditions required for a swift and complete resumption of Eni’s activities in Libya and for the reopening of the Greenstream gas pipeline, which transports gas from the Libyan to the Italian coast.

Moreover, also in reference to the agreements made in the joint statement that was signed on May 31 2011 by the Italian government and the NTC, Eni has committed to deliver the first supply of refined oil products to the NTC, to contribute to the most urgent needs of the Libyan people. Eni will also take care of the technical assistance needed to assess the state of the energy installations and infrastructures present in the country, and to define what steps have to be taken to resume activities in safety.

Eni, the statement concludes, has been present in Libya since 1959 and is the leading international company in terms of hydrocarbon production. The memorandum “confirms the solid relation between Eni and the NTC, which are studying several possible forms of collaboration aimed at guaranteeing a timely resumption of operations in the oil and gas sector, and using the country’s natural resources to the advantage of the Libyan people and within the outlines of the current contracts. Eni supplies humanitarian aid to the NTC in terms of medical equipment.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Father Slit Throats of Three Daughters in ‘Honour Killing’ After They Were Raped by Gaddafi’s Troopshuman Rights Group Uncovers Widespread War Crimes by Loyalist Forces

A Libyan father killed his three daughters after they were raped by Gaddafi’s troops to lift the shame on his family, a human rights group said today.

The girls, aged 15, 17 and 18 were allegedly assaulted by soldiers at a school in the town of Tomina, near the war-shattered city of Misrata, during a two-month siege.

When they returned home, their father slit their throats in a so-called honour killing, according to Physicians for Human Rights (PHR).

The horrific story was one of a number to emerge from Misrata after the group sent in a team of interviewers in June to catalogue human rights abuses just after Libyan forces expelled Gaddafi loyalists.

Researchers from PHR were also told that Gaddafi’s men:

The human rights group, which is based in Boston, concluded that there was widespread evidence of war crimes during the siege.

‘Four eyewitnesses reported that (Gadhafi) troops forcibly detained 107 civilians and used them as human shields to guard military munitions from Nato attacks south of Misrata,’ said the report, which was released today.

Gaddafi’s family flee to Algeria in cloak-and-dagger desert escape — but is the dictator with them?

‘One father told PHR how (Gadhafi) soldiers forced his two young children to sit on a military tank and threatened the family: “You’ll stay here, and if Nato attacks us, you’ll die, too.”‘

Richard Sollom, who was the lead author on the report, concluded that no one had evidence that rape was widespread — but the fear of sexual assault was endemic.

‘One witness reported that (Gaddafi) forces transformed an elementary school into a detention site where they reportedly raped women and girls as young as 14 years old,’ the report noted.

It added that it had found no evidence to confirm or deny reports that Gaddafi troops and loyalists were issued Viagra-type drugs to sustain their systematic rapes.

Researchers also heard reports of suspected honour killings — including the murder of the three sisters by their father.

But PHR also noted that ‘some in Tomina have stood up against this practice, including a well-known sheik who has publicly advocated for raped women and girls to be seen as brave and bringing honor to their families’.

The group obtained copies of military orders as evidence that Gaddafi ordered his troops to starve civilians in Misrata, while pillaging food caches and barring locals from receiving humanitarian aid.

Physicians for Human Rights only investigated the abuses committed by Gaddafi forces. The timing of their visit, and its focus on Misrata, meant that PHR was not in a position to comment on allegations of rights violations by the Libyan rebels or by Nato, the group said.

It said NATO should investigate any credible claims made against the allied force that supported the rebels, largely through thousands of bombing sorties.

PHR particularly raised the issue of medical neutrality in war time, accusing the Gaddafi forces of attacking hospitals, clinics and ambulances, and preventing doctors from reaching or treating injured civilians.

Last week, the New York-based Human Rights Watch said it had collected evidence that ‘strongly suggests that Gaddafi government forces went on a spate of arbitrary killing as Tripoli was falling.’

Meanwhile, Amnesty International, which is based in London, also accused pro-Gaddafi guards of raping child detainees, but added that Libyan rebels are abusing children and holding migrant workers as prisoners.

All three major human rights groups have called on both sides to respect prisoners — and beyond that, to build a post-Gaddafi Libya.

‘Individual perpetrators need to be brought to justice and held to account for their crimes,’ Sollom said.

‘And as we’ve seen historically in places like South Africa and Bosnia and Rwanda, it’s a cathartic experience for the country, and a necessary one, to move forward.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Libya: Alarm in Israel, Al Qaeda Making Inroads

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 30 — Al Qaeda is expanding its network between Benghazi and Tripoli — with its men in strategic positions among the military chiefs of staff of the revolt in Libya — and “is imposing energetic and immediate countermeasures”. In the past, similar warnings had regularly come from Muammar Gaddafi, seemingly exploited in the interests of his power. However, today clear confirmation has come in an interview with the Israeli military radio from a long-time political opponent of the old regime in exile in London for many years, and who represents one of the “liberal” figures among the rebels. The man is Ahmed Shabani, 43 years old and founder of the Libyan Democratic Party. According to Shabani, Gaddafi is still a threat to the Libyan population. “He has gone back to his old trade, that of terrorist,” he told the radio. Backed by support from the southern region of Fezzan, “he is still orchestrating a war against civilians” who rebelled against him. However, on the horizon there is another, perhaps even more serious shadow looming: that of Al Qaeda. “The one currently controlling Libya no the ground, the one with control over weapons and munitions is Al Qaeda,” Shabani said in no uncertain terms, going on to mention a number of names: “Benghazi is run by Abu Obeid Al-Jarah and Tripoli by Abdel Hakim Belhaj”. Both, according to the information at his disposal, are Islamic extremists with links to Osama Bin Laden’s ideology. Over the past few days similar concerns had been expressed in a non-official manner by Algeria, which has not recognised the NTC. According to a high-level source within the Algerian government, there is proof that Libyan militants of the terrorist network who had been handed over to Gaddafi are now free and are said to have joined ranks with the rebels. I the interview Shabani noted the Libyan origins even of the deceased second-in-command of Al Qaeda, Atya Abdel Rahman, deputy of Ayman al-Zawahri recently killed by the US in Pakistan. “His real name was Jamal Ibrahim Shtaye,” and according to Shabani, he had maintained “close ties with an Al Qaeda member currently operative in Libya.” The Armed Forces radio repeatedly broadcast these disquieting words over the course of the day. For months Israeli secret services have been closely following the Libyan crisis, in part due to concerns of the possible repercussions it might have on weapons trafficking to the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave controlled by the Islamist group Hamas. Israeli military sources now report that RPG launching in Gaza has recently increased, as well as that of Soviet-designed SA-7 anti-aircraft missile batteries: all of which are thought to have come from Libya by way of the Sinai. Making the situation even more insidious is the issue of chemical arsenals. “If he were to find himself with his back to the wall,” said Yehudit Ronen, an Israeli expert on Libyan issues,” Gaddafi — like Samson with the Philistines, might carry out a desperate act and unleash chemical weapons on his populace.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

NATO Mission to Libya Ongoing as ‘It is Still Needed’

(AGI) Brussels — An Allied forces spokesperson has said that the Nato mission in Libya is ongoing because it is “still necessary.” Oana Lungescu said that military operations will continue as long as the loyalists continue to threaten the civilian population, stressing that the “Nato mission is important, is effective and is still needed to protect civilians.” .

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

Obama Foreign Policy Financing the Extermination of All Blacks in Tripoli?

The blood of the ongoing murder of migrant blacks in Tripoli has a name on it many will never see: President Barack Obama and his Foreign Policy.

Gadaffi is gone; his family safely ensconced in Algeria and the Obama-supported rebels left in charge are now conducting a “large scale cleaning in the areas under their control with the extermination of all blacks in the capital”, according to The Independent.

Without the permission of Congress and minus the blessing of We the People, Obama took the US to war in Libya. He sided with the rebels and ultimately, in effect the “extermination of all blacks”, which was bought and paid for with $839 million American.

There is no proof that the blacks being exterminated—lynchings in many cases—are pro-Gadaffi fighters but increasingly reasonable claims that they are migrant workers, working on construction jobs turned down by native Libyans.

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

10 Islamic Jihadists Ready to Strike

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 30 — “We have received information about a terrorist group of at least ten people, ready to carry out attacks from the Sinai peninsula. It is a cell of the Islamic Jihad.” This information was revealed by Minister for Home Front Defence Matan Vilnay, who referred to Israel’s decision to raise the level of alert in the Negev, along the border between Israel and Egypt.

“This cell has been planning for some time” he added, “to go into action, and the current Muslim celebration of Eid al-Fitr could be the right opportunity for them.” The terrorist group has reportedly departed from Gaza. Minister Vilnay also said that the Egyptian authorities in the Sinai will do what they can to neutralise the cell.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Attack Alert Along Sinai Border

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, AUGUST 30 — Fearing new attacks, Israel has increased the level of alert along its border with the Egyptian Sinai, where a terrorist attack was staged two weeks ago in which eight Israelis were killed.

Two roads that follow the Egyptian border in the area have been closed for civilian traffic as a precaution. The Israeli army has also increased its border patrols.

“The terrorist threat in the area of Eilat is real,” said Defence Ministry official Amos Ghilad on military radio. “Our information indicates that there are clear intentions (of terrorists, editor’s note) to kill Israelis.” According to the radio channel, the army also fears that armed cells that are active in the Sinai may try to kidnap Israeli civilians or soldiers, or enter Israel to carry out sabotage operations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Caroline Glick: The Perils of a Remilitarized Sinai

Will the Egyptian military be permitted to remilitarize the Sinai? Since Palestinian and Egyptian terrorists crossed into Israel from Sinai on August 18 and murdered eight Israelis this has been a central issue under discussion at senior echelons of the government and the IDF.

Under the terms of the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, Egypt is prohibited from deploying military forces in the Sinai. Israel must approve any Egyptian military mobilization in the area. Today, Egypt is asking to permanently deploy its forces in the Sinai. Such a move requires an amendment to the treaty.

Supported by the Obama administration, the Egyptians say they need to deploy forces in the Sinai in order to rein in and defeat the jihadist forces now running rampant throughout the peninsula. Aside from attacking Israel, these jihadists have openly challenged Egyptian governmental control over the territory…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Israel Arms Settlers in View of September Protests

(AGI) Jerusalem — The Israeli army is training settlers in view of feared Palestinian protests in September. Violent protests are forecast concomitantly with the Palestinian National Authority’s request to the UNO to formally recognize Palestine as an independent State. The Israeli army is training settlers to react and is getting ready to provide them with “the means to disperse demonstrators” like “teargas or stun grenades”. The news is published on today’s issue of ‘Haaretz’, quoting confidential documents which have come into their possession.

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

Report: Israel Sends 2 Warships to Egyptian Border

Military sources tell AP Israeli Navy sent additional warships to maritime border with Egypt following intelligence indicating viable terror threat. Meanwhile, Iran set to send 15th fleet to area as well as ‘to thwart pirate activity’

The Israeli Navy (INF) has decided to boost its presence and patrols near Israel’s maritime border with Egypt due to a viable terror threat in the area.

Israeli security sources told the Associated Press on Monday that two additional warships have been dispatched to Israel’s Red Sea border with Egypt. Another source stressed that the operation was routine, telling Reuters that “two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea. This is not unusual.”

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Record Number of Turks Flocking to Mecca

The number of Turkish visitors to holy Mecca in the first eight months of the year has already exceed last year’s sum, according to data from the Religious Affairs Directorate.

The number of umrah-goers from Turkey reached a record of 421,000 in the first eight months of the year, according to figures from the Religious Affairs Directorate.

The number was 180,931 during the whole year in 2009 and 278,554 in 2011.

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, performed by Muslims, which can be taken at any time of the year unlike the Hajj, which is on a certain date.

In August, which this year overlapped with Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting during which journeys to Mecca increase, 75,000 people from Turkey went on umrah, fulfilling the whole quota provided by the Saudi authorities, according to TÜRSAB head Basaran Ulusoy. The figure has risen fast in recent years and stood at 27,888 during last year’s Ramadan.

Currently there are 40,000 Turks in the holy city of Mecca.

The directorate estimates that half a million Turkish people will have visited Mecca for umrah as of the end of this year.

Ulusoy said the figure would rise to 600,000 in 2012.

“An improvement in accommodation quality at hotels, permission for private stays [instead of group programs], the rising number of flights and a general development in business attitudes [in Mecca] have been effective in increasing the number of visitors,” Ulusoy said. “People do not have to take rice, butter or fruits and vegetables anymore when they are going on umrah.”

The business representative also warned umrah-goers to prefer registered tour agencies.

The cost of umrah tours that cover the whole month of Ramadan ranges between 1,000 and 5,000 euros, Ulusoy said, adding that during the last 10 days of the month tours generally cost around 2,500 euros.

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

Syria: Sana: Attorney General of Hama Kidnapped by Armed Group

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, AUGUST 30 — An “armed group” kidnapped the Attorney General of the city of Hama in Syria, according to reports by state-run news agency SANA. Judge Adnan Bakkour was captured yesterday by 7 armed men together with his driver and bodyguard while he was travelling to work, explained the agency. Hama, already one of the centres of the uprising against President Bashar al Assad’s regime, has been the site of a widespread crackdown which has also made use of tanks, which between the end of July and early August has taken dozens of casualties, according to opposition sources.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ramadan as ‘National Event’

Turkey becoming more conservative or “Islamic” has been a major concern since the Justice and Development Party, or AKP came to power. Some academics and intellectuals have debated if there is increasing “social pressure” in the name of religious conservatism or if the present government enforces conservative pressures. In response, the government party assured those who were concerned that their belief in secularism and tolerance for different lifestyles is firm. Besides, most Turkish democrats defined these concerns as the paranoia of the “anxious moderns” who are intimidated by the rise of conservatives as a new urban class.

In fact, Turkey suffered from secularist paranoia for a long time. Any expression of piousness was labeled as “reactionism” and “the end of the secular state” up until recent times. Moreover, the Republican regime has long enforced a cultural hegemony that was very keen on a secular, modern and Western identity for Turkey. Any sign and symbol of Islam was considered “backwardness.” The Republican definition of cultural, social and political identities created a lot of tension from the beginning of the regime and has been one of the reasons of the “democratic deficit.” Now, it seems that everything is changing with the conservatives in government with firm power.

The “anxiety” of secular moderns partly stems from this major change as it is claimed by the government party and those Turkish democrats who support them. Yet, it may not be considered all and only as an unjustified paranoia and should be debated more objectively. Since it is bound to be a long debate I do not suggest debating it here. I just remembered and wanted to remind readers of the debate with the occasion of the end of (the holy month of) Ramadan.

It seems that now Ramadan has turned into a “national event.” Almost all institutions, companies, people of power competed with each other to express piousness during Ramadan. I am the last person to complain about the expression of respect for religion in general and for Islam in particular. I think one need not be religious or even to be a believer to be respectful of the beliefs of others. Besides, the majority of Turkey is Muslim and conservative and it is very natural that Ramadan is a social phenomena. It is also a matter of manners to be respectful of the atmosphere of the holy month.

Nevertheless, this over sensitivity concerning Ramadan seems more to be gravitated to the orbit of the conservative government than “normalization.” This is why Ramadan seems to turn into a “national event” rather than an expression of an occasion of social harmony. The extreme skepticism of secularists has always been misplaced and unjustified since it was intimidation from religiosity of individuals. One needs to be more concerned about religious events turning into national events. Otherwise, one official ideology may be replaced with another and create another kind of democracy deficit.

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


Eight Killed in Chechnya Suicide Attack: Report

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Eight people, seven of them police, were killed in a suicide attack in Chechnya’s capital Grozny on Tuesday during celebrations at the end of the Muslim festival of Ramadan, a police source told Interfax news agency.

A man detonated an explosive device when a police patrol tried to detain him and a second blast rang out soon afterwards, an unidentified police official told the privately-owned agency.

The explosion killed seven police officers, an emergency services worker and wounded at least 16 people, Interfax added.

The scene of the explosion, in a densely populated district of Grozny 50 meters from a local parliament building, was cordoned off by the police. Residents told Reuters they heard gun shots after the explosions.

A decade after Russian forces drove separatists out of power in Chechnya, the Kremlin is still struggling to contain an Islamist insurgency in the north Caucasus. The violence has now spread from Chechnya to other mainly Muslim regions.

None of the Islamist rebel leaders claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Today is the most sacred day for all Muslims. On that day a trained and zombified bandit attempted to carry out a terrorist attack,” Chechnya’s Moscow-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov told RIA news agency.

“The bandits have shown their real face which only proves that this evil should be eradicated,” Kadyrov added.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Blast Injures Two Italian Paratroopers in Afghanistan

Roadside bomb is the second this month to wound Italians

(ANSA) — Rome, August 30 — A roadside bomb blast injured two Italian paratroopers in western Afghanistan Friday as they traveled outside the Italian base Camp Snow.

The soldiers were on a reconnaissance mission with fellow troops from the San Marco Regiment in Herat when a roadside bomb exploded near their Lynx armored vehicle.

The wounded men were taken to a hospital in Farah, southwest Afghanistan, where they were reported to be in good condition.

It was the second roadside bomb to injure Italian soldiers in Herat this month.

Italy has a 4,200-strong contingent in Afghanistan.

Last month, a 28-year-old Italian soldier was shot dead in a firefight in the Bala Murghab Valley in northwest Afghanistan, the 41st casualty since Italy joined the NATO-led mission in 2004.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini recently said Italy was paying “a very high price” for its involvement.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Muslim Extremists Against Movie That Promotes Tolerance and Dialogue

Extremists from the Islamic Defender Front demonstrate against SCTV, a TV station that plans to broadcast a movie, “?”, that promotes tolerance and respect towards other religions, filmmaker says. Recently, an ulema organisation issued a fatwa against the movie. Pro-democracy activists warn that attacks threaten freed expression.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The Islamic Defender Front (FPI), an extremist Muslim organisation, is promoting a protest campaign against SCTV, a Jakarta-based private TV station, for scheduling “?”, a movie deemed offensive to Muslims that was directed by a young talented filmmaker, Hanung Bramantyo. Even though, the movie tells a story about tolerance and respect between Indonesia’s various religious groups, the FPI and other Islamist groups say it “pollutes the morality” of Indonesian Muslims.

Jakarta FPI leader Habib Salim Alatas warned the SCTV management that thousands of Muslims would join to demonstrate in front of the TV station should it broadcast the movie Monday night.

Released in April, “?” was recently attacked by the Indonesian Ulema Movement (MUI), which issued a fatwa ordering Muslims not to see it because of its misleading content and its suggestion that there is another ‘God’ beside the one recognised and worshipped within Islam.

Filmmaker Hanung Bramantyo has called on TV executives not to give in to extremist pressures because doing so would mean accepting a patent violation of freedom of expression.

The FPI is not new to threats. In recent weeks, FPI extremists attacked members of the Ahmadi community, a sect viewed as heretical by mainstream Muslims, in Makassar (southern Sulawesi).

In a similar incident, Muslim extremists attack street vendors in Bandung (West Java) for selling alcoholic beverages.

In the recent past, human rights activists have slammed the Indonesian government for doing nothing against extremists.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been especially targeted for criticism because of his failure to take decisive action to stem the rise of Islamists, who are now able to make any claim they want.

Now, just before the end of Ramadan and Idul Fitri on Tuesday, extremists want to censor TV broadcasting.

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

Opposition Parties Want Answers on Kunduz

The opposition parties GroenLinks, ChristenUnie and the Socialist Party are asking the government for clarification following remarks by the Afghan police chief that Dutch-trained police officers could be used against the Taliban.

If the Taliban attack civilian buildings such as a hotel, police officers would be sent in to protect civilians and colleagues, police chief Samiulla Qatar told the Volkskrant.

The original agreement was that Dutch police trainers and the local police they are training would only fight in self-defence. It was this agreement that persuaded opposition parties to vote for the mission to the north Afghan region of Kunduz.

The left-wing greens GroenLinks and the ChristenUnie want to know if what the police chief says is in line with the guarantees given to the government in July not to use the Dutch contingent for offensive military operations.

Qatra said the incidents he has in mind would be ‘self-defence’ and mission commander Ron Smits said it would be a ‘civil offensive not a military one’.

The Socialist Party is calling for a debate with defence minister Hans Hillen about the change in the mandate because the agreement is absurd in the reality of Kunduz, says the Volkskrant.

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

Pakistan: Rawalpindi: 13 Year Old Christian Kidnapped During Mass

For two days there has been no news of Daniel Sharoon. Security cameras and witnesses saw him enter the building, then all trace was lost. The family asks for prayers for his release. The police find no useful clues. In Faisalabad Koranic students attack a 64 year old Christian maid.

Lahore (AsiaNews) — A 13 year old Christian from the Chak district of Layyah, Punjab province, disappeared on August 28. The suspicion is that he has been kidnapped, while listening to mass in the local Catholic Church in Rawalpindi. One priest reported the disappearance to the police, but so far officials have found no trace leading to the whereabouts of the boy. Meanwhile in Faisalabad, a woman aged 64 was attacked by a group of students from an Islamic religious school, because she organized prayer meetings in a district with a Muslim majority. In this regard, a Catholic priest invites Protestants not to “create problems for themselves” with acts that may be deemed provocative.

13 year-old Daniel Sharoon, had been living for the past six months with his sister next to the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi. Last Sunday the boy — as usual — went to the local Catholic church to attend mass with his family. Daniel’s father John told AsiaNews that “my son came to church with us, but at the end of the ceremony was gone. We looked everywhere — he adds — but not even the guards in charge of security have seen him or noticed suspicious people wandering in the area. “

Fr. Anwar Pastras, a priest of the Diocese of Rawalpindi, condemned the kidnapping of Sharoon, which he calls “a very strange” because “we have installed CCTV cameras” along the perimeter of the building and “we saw the boy enter, but we did not see him leave”. The priest explains that “there were no policemen at the entrances and exits” of the church, but “only our security personnel.” “We think — said Father Pastras — he was been kidnapped in the church. “ The priest reported the episode to the New Town police station, officers opened an investigation, but so far have no useful leads.

The family is in shock and fears for his fate, his parents have asked for prayers for his return home safe and sound. The phenomenon of kidnapping Christian boys and girls is not an isolated: in March 2010 only 12 children have disappeared from the churches in the district of Kohat and from the Khyber PukhtunKhawa province.

In a second incident, which occurred in Faisalabad (still in Punjab), a group of students from a local madrassa attacked Sakeena Bibi, a 64 year-old Christian maid. The woman had invited a few Christians from the area to pray at her home, located in an area with a Muslim majority, sparking the ire of the Koranic students. The family was forced to leave the area. While condemning the episode of intolerance, Fr. Javed Masih of Faisalabad diocese said that “ but the protestant groups are creating problems from themselves by starting the mushroom Churches in the Muslim colonies.” The priest adds that “the rest of the family has fled the city fearing life threats”.

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


Coast Guard Rescue 105 Migrants Off Lampedusa Coast

(AGI) Lampedusa — The island of Lampedusa witnesses the landing of 105 landings. The party included four women and the boat, according to the Italian coast guard, departed from Tunisia.

The boat had run out of fuel and was spotted by a coast guard patrol boat ten miles off the coast of Lampedusa. The party of 105 was taken onboard and ferried to Lampedusa.

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