Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110908

Financial Crisis
»9 in 10 Greeks Critical of Government, Poll Shows
»Italy: Confidence Vote for Budget 4.0 — VAT Hike, Levy on Top Earners
»Italy: Cabinet Launches Balanced-Budget Bill
»Italy: Fifty-Four Billion Euro Money-Saving Measure Passes Senate
»Spain: Economy Recovers Competitiveness; But Still Weak
»Switzerland: “Welcome to the Eurozone”
»Trichet Hails Italian Budget Moves
»11 September [London Review of Books Letters Page, 4 October 2001]
»Baby Boomers Not Planning on Leaving Their Money Behind
»Google to Buy Zagat, Publisher of Restaurant Guides
»Large Areas of Southern California in Power Blackout
»Officials Confirm ‘Credible But Unconfirmed’ 9/11 Threat
»President Obama Claims Al-Qaeda is Almost Defeated
»September 11 Anniversary: Complacency Could Allow Another Attack, Says Rudolph Giuliani
»When Hollywood Hit Rock Bottom
Europe and the EU
»Czech Republic: Nuclear Superpower at Heart of Europe
»UK: After Years of Shameful Neglect, William Hague Has Restored the Foreign Office to Its Proper Dignity
»UK: Arresting a Woman at a Match in Kent Just Wasn’t Cricket
»UK: Cameron Urged to Call EU Referendum
»UK: Hague Set to Announce Plans to Bolster Foreign Office
»UK: Hague’s Plan to Revive the Foreign Office (And a Stuffed Anaconda Called Albert)
»UK: Man, 26, ‘Held as a Slave by Accrington Family’
»UK: Stabbed Under Noses of Police: Knife Attack 100 Yards From Murder Scene
»UK: Tory Backlash Hits Cameron in Battle for Vote on Europe
»UK: TUC Motion to Sever All Israel Ties
»Young French Teacher Can’t Take Any More
North Africa
»NATO to Continue Libya Operations ‘As Long as Necessary’
Middle East
»Football: Turkey Assures Safety of Israeli Club, Report
»‘Israel Lacks Commercial Ethics’, Erdogan’s New Lunge
»Medvedev Claims Terrorists Mingle With Syrian Protesters
»Turkey is ‘No Enemy’ of Israel, Says Israel’s Ehud Barak
»Turkey-Israel: Press: Erdogan Has Incredible ‘Plan C’
»Yemen: ‘25 Killed’ In Fighting With ‘Al-Qaeda’ Militants
South Asia
»Pakistan: Islamabad Discriminates Against Non-Muslim War Heroes
»Pakistan: Paramilitary Conducts Karachi Raids in Wake of Killings
Far East
»China: ‘Beijing Profited From 9/11 But is Afraid of a Weak US’
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Somalia: Islamic Militants Threaten the English Language
»UK: EU Migrants Commit 100 Crimes a Day
»UK: Fury at Law That Lets Foreign Killers Stalk Our Streets
Culture Wars
»UK: Ban on Gay Blood Donations Lifted
»The Years Since 9/11 Already Look Like a Detour, Not the Main Road of History

Financial Crisis

9 in 10 Greeks Critical of Government, Poll Shows

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 8 — Nine in 10 Greeks are dissatisfied with the way the socialist government of Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has handled the country’s economic crisis. In a poll, 91% of people said they were dissatisfied with the way the government has managed the country’s economic crisis, while 82% said the country was headed in the wrong direction. The survey was conducted by researcher VPRC for Epikaira magazine. Almost three-quarters, 71%, said they were dissatisfied with the policies put forward by Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos, who replaced George Papaconstantinou in a June 17 cabinet reshuffle. Venizelos expects Greece’s economy to shrink by about 5% this year, worse than the June estimate of 3.8% from the European Union and International Monetary Fund, and a deeper contraction than in the past two years. Greece is aiming at an additional 6.4 billion euros in savings through the end of the year to meet the 2011 deficit target, part of a 78 billion-euro package of state-asset sales and budget measures to avert a default.

According to the poll, 83% of people expect mass demonstrations against austerity measures in the next few months while 78% said their personal financial situation has worsened during the past year. When asked which type of government would be best for the country at this point, 4% said the ruling Pasok party, 4% said the opposition New Democracy Party, 15% said a coalition between the two main parties, 11% said a coalition of left-leaning parties and 44% said none of the choices was acceptable. A total of 1,003 people were surveyed from August 31 to September 5 and the poll has a margin of error of 3.16%.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Confidence Vote for Budget 4.0 — VAT Hike, Levy on Top Earners

Government ring-fences text. PM calls for urgency. Step back on arrest for tax evaders. EU approves package

MILAN — A rise in VAT from 20 to 21%, a 3% solidarity supertax on incomes over €300,000 (and not €500,000 as initially announced) until the accounts are balanced, and adjustments to women’s pensions in the private sector from 2014. These are the new elements in the budget, which the government will ring-fence with a vote of confidence. As he left the Prime Minister’s Office after the Council of Ministers’ meeting, justice minister Francesco Nitto Palma said: “In two hours’ time, we will announce the amendments and tomorrow there will be a vote of confidence”. Silvio Berlusconi was uncompromising: “We have to act quickly”, he is reported to have said during the meeting. The same message came in a communiqué released after the meeting, which described the confidence vote as a “legitimate instrument required to secure the swift conversion of the decree-law, imposed by the gravity of the international context of financial crisis”. Before the Council of Ministers convened, a meeting of government majority leaders hammered out the final amendments to the budget. A note issued by the Prime Minister’s Office pointed out among other things that on Thursday, the next meeting of the Council of Ministers will vote to introduce into the constitution a “golden rule” on balancing the public accounts and to abolish provincial authorities, whose competences would pass to regional authorities. The final Senate vote on the budget is scheduled for Wednesday. In the meantime, the European Commission has welcomed the new measures.

THE MEASURES — Only a week after last Monday’s Arcore meeting, the budget has been revamped yet again. It is now in its fourth incarnation. But the latest modifications, which emerged from horse-trading in the majority, failed to satisfy either opposition parties or the trade unions. In contrast, the Confindustria employers’ association viewed the changes favourably. The hike in the standard rate of VAT from 20 to 21% will not be temporary, government sources indicated. No date has been fixed — three months had been mentioned — for lifting the provision. Regarding the other rates of VAT, currently 10% and 4%, government sources confirm that both could still be raised by one percentage point, taking them to 11% and 5% respectively. Sources said that the rise in VAT was expected to bring in six billion euros. Defence minister Ignazio La Russa announced after the meeting that the government had “decided to reduce from €500,000 to €300,000 the income threshold above which the solidarity contribution will be levied”. It was Silvio Berlusconi who proposed lowering the threshold from the €500,000 mentioned in the original note from the Prime Minister’s Office. There are 34,000 taxpayers whose earnings exceed €300,000, 22,500 of them in the band from €300,000 to €500,000, while 11,500 earn more than €500,000. The provision that imposes detention for those evading more than three million euros is likely to be amended. Evasion will have to represent at least 30% of turnover, as well as reaching the three million-euro threshold, before the handcuffs come out. This provision may feature in the new package of amendments to the budget awaited in the Senate.

PRESIDENT STEPS IN — The budget amendments come in response to President Giorgio Napolitano’s call for “more effective measures” and to the challenging situation in the financial markets, which is putting Italian treasury bonds under relentless pressure. Adjusting private-sector pensions for women from 2014 was approved despite the initial refusal of the Northern League to contemplate any modifications to welfare. Looming in the background is Thursday’s European Central Bank board meeting, which could impose preconditions on Italy or set a time limit to BCE support for Italian treasury bonds through massive purchases. In short, it is to some extent a race against time to prevent stormy financial markets and European partners and institutions from imposing non-negotiable conditions…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Italy: Cabinet Launches Balanced-Budget Bill

‘Principle of very high intensity,’ says Tremonti

(ANSA) — Rome, September 8 — The cabinet on Thursday launched a bill aimed at enshrining in the Italian Constitution that state budgets must be balanced.

Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said the bill, which will take months if not years to pass, represented “a principle of very high political and civil intensity”.

The cabinet also approved a bill to abolish Italy’s provincial governments to cut costs.

The two moves completed a 54.265-billion-euro austerity package which passed from the Senate to the House Wednesday.

Aimed at placating hostile bond markets and balancing the budget by 2013, it contains spending cuts, a drive against tax evasion, changes to the pension system, a 3% tax on very high earners, a 1% hike in VAT to 21% and a measure that would make it easier to fire workers.

Earlier this week Italy’s largest union CGIL brought thousands of people into the streets to strike against it.

After its approval by the Senate, European Union officials called the package “a step in the right direction”.

Bond markets have been worried by recent chopping and changing to the package but the Milan bourse gained 0.4% Thursday morning in a sign that traders may be settling down.

Later Thursday the European Central Bank is set to decide whether to keep buying up Italian bonds — a condition for the deal that heralded the emergency budget — to stop Italy’s sovereign-debt crisis spiralling out of control.

Incoming ECB chief Mario Draghi said earlier this week that Italy could not “take it for granted” that the bond-buying, which props up yields and keeps the costs of servicing Italy’s massive public debt down, would continue.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Fifty-Four Billion Euro Money-Saving Measure Passes Senate

Rome, 8 Sept. (AKI/Bloomberg) — Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s revised 54 billion-euro austerity plan was approved by the Senate as the government seeks to convince investors and the European Central Bank it’s serious about cutting the deficit.

The Senate late Wednesday backed the plan in a confidence vote after the government beefed up the package the previous day by increasing sales tax and changing pension rules. Top lawmakers in the Chamber of Deputies, parliament’s lower house, meet Thursday to set their vote, which may come as soon as Saturday.

Italy is rushing to pass the measures to ensure the ECB continues buying its bonds after contagion from the region’s debt crisis pushed borrowing costs for Europe’s second-biggest debtor to the highest in more than a decade. The flap over Italian austerity comes as a new bailout for Greece and efforts to shore up the region’s rescue fund founder, undermining Europe’s ability to restore confidence in the single currency.

“The Italian austerity plan will play a role in calming the markets, but it won’t be determinant, as the real focus is the credibility of Europe as a whole,” said Mario Spreafico, chief investment officer at Schroders Private Banking for Italy in Milan, who helps oversee about 1.5 billion euros in assets.

The government is taking further steps to flex fiscal rigor today as Berlusconi’s Cabinet meets in Rome to draft a bill to introduce a balanced-budget amendment to the constitution.

The ECB began its purchases after Berlusconi proposed the austerity package on 5 August, a day after the yield on Italy’s 10-year bond reached a euro-era high of 6.4 percent. The support from the central bank knocked more than 100 basis points off the yield in a week before the government began watering down the package.

Last week, Berlusconi dropped a “solidarity tax” on incomes of more than 90,000 euros a year, trimmed cuts to regional governments by around 1.8 billion euros and scrapped a measure to change pension-payment rules. Finance Mmnister Giulio Tremonti initially said the resulting revenue hole would be plugged by a crackdown on tax evasion.

The government bickering over the plan and changes to the measures contributed to an 11-day slide in Italian bonds. The country’s benchmark stock index fell on Monday to its lowest close since March 2009.

On the eve of yesterday’s Senate vote, the government said it would raise the value-added tax by 1 percentage point to 21 percent, increasing revenue by more than 4 billion euros a year. A tax surcharge on Italians earning more than 300,000 euros a year was also included.

“While the package improved a lot over the past day, a series of concerns linger,” Nicola Mai, an economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co in London, said in a note to investors. “Italy will need more growth-enhancing structural reforms, and will have to shrink the size of its overinflated public sector in a more significant way.”

Yesterday’s vote took place as protesters tossed smoke bombs and firecrackers amid a heavy police presence outside the Senate in central Rome, one day after hundreds of thousands of Italians protested against the measures in a general strike.

The government may be forced to adopt another austerity plan within a month because the current measures won’t be enough to convince the ECB, Mario Baldassarri, head of the Senate Finance Committee and a former Berlusconi ally, said in an interview Wednesay.

The vote came as the ECB prepared for its monthly meeting in Frankfurt Thursday where the bank’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, will likely be quizzed on whether the measures are sufficient for the ECB to step up its Italian bond buying. Trichet said on Sept. 3 that the plan must be fully “confirmed and implemented.”

Italy needs to maintain ECB support for its bonds to keep down borrowing costs as it seeks to finance a debt that tops 1.9 trillion euros. The Treasury needs to sell about 18 billion euros of bonds in September, when it faces 46 billion euros of maturing debt, analysts at Milan-based UniCredit SpA estimate.

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

Spain: Economy Recovers Competitiveness; But Still Weak

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 7 — Spain is becoming more competitive on the global market, though it continues to suffer the effects of a serious weakening of its macroeconomic stability, according to the figures of the latest annual report on global competitiveness issued by the World Economic Forum (WEF), cited by the EFE agency. On a list of 142 countries, Spain occupies the 36th place, 42nd last year, but is still far away from the 29th position it held in 2008-2009, before the country was hit by the impact of the economic crisis.

Spain is placed on the same level as nations like Kuwait, Puerto Rico, Bahrain and Thailand, some thirty places behind the leaders of the list: Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden, Finland, United States, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan and the UK. According to the WEF, Spain “has recovered some of the terrain it had lost,” but one of the reasons for the increased competitiveness of its economy is the fact that other economies have become less competitive. According to the report, “despite a sluggish economic recovery and a significant weakening of macroeconomic stability (falling from 66 to 84), the country has managed to improve its performance through greater use of information technology (29 to 24) and its strength in research investment and development and to improving its innovative capacity”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: “Welcome to the Eurozone”

In the wake of months of debate on the soaring value of the Swiss franc, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has decided to peg the country’s currency to the euro. At a time when the single currency is experiencing the darkest days in its history, the decision has prompted surprise and curiousity in Europe.

“The nuclear option,” which established a fixed exchange rate of SFr1.20 to the euro, amounts to what the Le Temps headline describes as a “major gamble.” For the Geneva daily, the decision…

… is a head-on challenge to the logic that has motivated financial markets to seek refuge [in the Swiss franc] from a euro that is on the verge of collapse and a dollar dragged down by gigantic debts and deficits. The SNB is right to assume that any semblance of stability in the Eurozone and the US economy is highly unlikely in the medium term. For exporting businesses, the surge in the value of the Swiss franc had been so violent and rapid [since the start of this year, the currency has gained 11% against the euro and more than 15% against the dollar] that it had become poisonous and unbearable.

“Welcome to the euro-club,” announces Handelsblatt, which illustrates its headline with a photomontage showing the EU flag at the foot of the Matterhorn. For the Dusseldorf business daily, the SNB’s decision will mark “the end of an era. Switzerland, which has always set great store on its independence, has linked its currency to the euro. Exporting industries were unable to cope with all of the suffering caused by a strong franc.” Conservative daily Die Welt remarks that “there will be no more islands” in Europe. The newspaper continues:…

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

Trichet Hails Italian Budget Moves

‘Very important’ package says ECB chief

(see related story on site).

(ANSA) — Frankfurt, September 8 — Outgoing European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet on Thursday hailed Italy’s 54-billion-euro budget-balancing package, which passed from the Senate to the House Wednesday.

The package of spending cuts and tax hikes, he said, “confirms something very important for the (ECB)”.

Analysts took this as a signal the ECB would continue its recent programme of buying Italian bonds to keep Rome’s involvement in the eurozone debt crisis from spiralling out of control.

Trichet, who will be replaced by Bank of Italy chief Mario Draghi at the end of next month, recalled recent discussions with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who has been closely following the austerity package.

The ECB chief reiterated that it was “decisive” to carry out the measures in the package, which include a tax on very high earners, a 1% rise in the VAT rate, a gradual hike in women’s retirement age and a full-scale offensive against tax evasion.

Supporting these measures, the cabinet on Thursday made two further moves: a bill to change the Constitution so balanced budgets will be a requirement for governments; and the abolition of Italy’s provincial administrations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


11 September [London Review of Books Letters Page, 4 October 2001]


In a telephone poll last week, readers of the Cambridge Evening News voted decisively against any military action aimed at those responsible for the attacks on the USA. A readership better known for its implacable hatred of joyriders on the A14 (‘flogging would be too good for them’) was having no truck with the cowboy President’s plans for battle; still less with Prime Minister Blair’s idea of dispatching our few remaining gunboats and jump-jets to cheer him on. This was just one of the domestic surprises that came in the wake of 11 September. Another was Peter Mandelson’s strangely off-key suggestion that the secret services should be recruiting in Bradford rather than St James’s (apparently on the grounds that immigrants would find it easier than Old Etonians to disguise themselves as Islamic extremists). But almost the oddest response has been our terrified certainty that there remains a plentiful supply of suicide pilots and bombers. Anyone who has scratched the surface of early Christianity will realise that full-blown martyrs are a rare commodity, much more numerous in the imagination than on the ground.

The horror of the tragedy was enormously intensified by the ringside seats we were offered through telephone answering machines and text-messages. But when the shock had faded, more hard-headed reaction set in. This wasn’t just the feeling that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming. That is, of course, what many people openly or privately think. World bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.

But there is also the feeling that all the ‘civilised world’ (a phrase which Western leaders seem able to use without a trace of irony) is paying the price for its glib definitions of ‘terrorism’ and its refusal to listen to what the ‘terrorists’ have to say. There are very few people on the planet who devise carnage for the sheer hell of it. They do what they do for a cause; because they are at war. We might not like their cause; but using the word ‘terrorism’ as an alibi for thinking what drives it will get us nowhere in stopping the violence. Similarly, ‘fanaticism’, a term regularly applied to extraordinary acts of bravery when we abhor their ends and means. The silliest description of the onslaught on the World Trade Center was the often repeated slogan that it was a ‘cowardly’ attack.

Mary Beard



           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Baby Boomers Not Planning on Leaving Their Money Behind


Upending the conventional notion of parents carefully tending their financial estates to be passed down at the reading of their wills, many baby boomers say they instead plan to spend the money on themselves while they’re alive.

In a survey of millionaire boomers by investment firm U.S. Trust, only 49% said it was important to leave money to their children when they die. The low rate was a big surprise for a company that for decades has advised wealthy people how to leave money to their heirs.

“We were like ‘wow,’“ said Keith Banks, U.S. Trust president.

Whether to leave an inheritance is a decision increasingly faced by many of the nation’s 77 million baby boomers, and it’s becoming all the more complicated by the troubled economy.

Boomers are caught between the desire to enjoy their long-awaited golden years and the pressure of various financial concerns, such as fear of outliving their savings and the need to help parents, children or siblings who have their own money struggles.

Many boomers, who range in age from roughly 47 to 65, simply believe that after years of hard work they can spend their money as they choose, experts say.

They spent their lives building businesses and careers, often at the expense of their health or personal relationships. And after years of footing the bill for their kids’ pricey educations, they see no reason to curb their spending impulses in their later years.

Besides, they figure, their kids will get something since nobody can synchronize their demise precisely to the emptying of their bank accounts.

“I do not see my baby boomer clients giving up a vacation or wine or dinners out so that they can leave more money to their children, because they feel like they’ve already done it for their kids,” said Susan Colpitts, executive vice president of a wealth management firm in Norfolk, Va.

“They say, ‘If there’s something at the end I’d love [the kids] to have it, but what’s important for me now is to get what I’ve earned, which is to travel and have a nice bottle of wine,’“ Colpitts said.

Many boomers already are giving the equivalent of an inheritance, except they’re doling out the cash while they’re still alive, said Ken Dychtwald, chief executive of research firm Age Wave.

They’re supporting elderly parents, adult children or other family members who are suffering professional or financial woes.

“How can you say no when a child asks ask for a down payment for a house or money to remodel their house to have a bedroom for a second child?” Dychtwald said. “A lot of boomers are finding that family members are taking cash advances on those inheritances right now.”

Wealthy boomers are holding back on inheritances for other reasons.

Some worry that their kids will squander inheritance money or develop a sense of entitlement.

One-quarter of boomers worry that their children will become lazy and 1 in 5 fear that the kids will squander the money, according to the U.S. Trust survey. More than half the respondents haven’t told their children how much they’re worth.


[Return to headlines]

Google to Buy Zagat, Publisher of Restaurant Guides

Google has agreed to buy Zagat, the longtime guide to restaurants around the country, in an effort by the search giant to expand its local offerings.

Terms of the transaction, including price, were not disclosed.

Known for its 30-point scale and its quote-laden reviews, Zagat has grown from a two-page typed list to a global empire with millions of loyal readers and reviewers happy to rave about their favorite restaurants and bars.

But the company has faced several challenges in recent years, notably a slew of Internet-based competitors who provide an alternative outlet for restaurant reviews.

[Return to headlines]

Large Areas of Southern California in Power Blackout

San Diego Gas & Electric said it is attempt to begin restoring power in some areas after a massive blackout but cannot say when service will come back.

“The restoration of SDG&E’s electric transmission system is underway. However, all power to our customer is still out,” the utility said in a statement on Twitter.

More than 1.4 million people in a large swath of Southern California and beyond as a blackout brought normal life to a halt.

PHOTOS: Blackout leaves 1.4 million without power

The Southern California blackout was triggered after a 500-kilovolt high-voltage line from Arizona to California tripped out of service, officials said Thursday afternoon.

The transmission outage severed the flow of imported power into areas of Southern California, according to the California Independent System Operator, known as ISO, which oversees the state’s electrical grid.

Officials at ISO said they were working with utilities in Southern California, Arizona and Mexico to restore power. Officials said the blackouts could last for hours.

The widespread outages have darkened homes and stores and caused massive traffic jams across Southern California.

[Return to headlines]

Officials Confirm ‘Credible But Unconfirmed’ 9/11 Threat

Washington (CNN) — U.S. officials said Thursday evening they have “specific, credible but unconfirmed” information about a threat against the United States coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

“We have received credible information very recently about a possible plot directed at the homeland that seems to be focused on New York and Washington, D.C.,” a senior administration official told CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr.

The official said the plot was believed to involve three individuals, including a U.S. citizen, who may have entered the United States. U.S. officials believed the threat was a vehicle laden with explosives, but “the intelligence picture is not completely formed,” the official said. “Not enough is known about the potential operatives and their plotting.”

Another source gave CNN conflicting information about possible details of the threat.

A senior law enforcement official involved in briefings about the matter told CNN Justice Department Producer Terry Frieden that his best information is that the three individuals had not yet entered the United States.

One official said the information came in around noon Wednesday.

Officials said they were taking the threat seriously, while evidently trying to temper the news by saying such threats are commonplace during key events.

“It’s accurate that there is specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information,” said Matthew Chandler, spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security. “As we always do before important dates like the anniversary of 9/11, we will undoubtedly get more reporting in the coming days. Sometimes this reporting is credible and warrants intense focus, other times it lacks credibility and is highly unlikely to be reflective of real plots under way.

“Regardless, we take all threat reporting seriously, and we have taken, and will continue to take, all steps necessary to mitigate any threats that arise. We continue to ask the American people to remain vigilant as we head into the weekend,” Chandler said in a prepared statement.

A government official told CNN that members of Congress were briefed by White House, intelligence and other officials Thursday about the threat.

The lawmakers were told that officials are “strongly concerned” and “are not taking anything for granted,” the source told CNN.

Rep. Peter King, R-New York, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said very specific details were made known to lawmakers about the threat. “Many agencies are looking at this from every possible angle,” he said.

But it is not known yet if the threat is real, he said, adding, “I would tell people now to go about their lives. There’s no need to panic.”

A senior administration official with first-hand knowledge told CNN National Security Contributor Fran Townsend that although there is “specific, credible but unconfirmed threat information,” there are a lot of questions about this information — “weird things.”

There are questions about sourcing and other points that need to be clarified, the official said, but because of the sensitivities about the coming 9/11 anniversary officials felt they should inform people.

Multiple senior counterterrorism officials told Townsend on Thursday evening that the information came in the previous 12 to 14 hours. Such last-minute information is inevitable, the sources said.

A U.S. intelligence official told CNN National Security Producer Pam Benson, “We’re trying to sort out” if what they are seeing “is accurate.”

“We can’t tell if anything is going to happen, “ said the official, who added, “This is a very sensitive period, which adds to the anxiety.”

A federal law enforcement official told CNN National Correspondent Susan Candiotti that the administration is fully aware of a threat of an attack on the United States on or about September 11, and that “we’re taking it very seriously.” The official said the threat is not detailed in nature…

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

President Obama Claims Al-Qaeda is Almost Defeated

(AGI) Washington — The US “have worked together and thwarted Al Qaeda’s plans. Osama Bin Laden has been killed and most of the foremost leaders too. All this is leading Al-Qaeda to its destruction”. US president Barack Obama writes so in an article published on USA Today, assessing the situation ten years after the 9/11 bombings and pointing out that “whoever attacked the United States failed to separate us from our allies”.

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

September 11 Anniversary: Complacency Could Allow Another Attack, Says Rudolph Giuliani

Complacency and political correctness could jeopardise efforts to prevent a repeat of the September 11 attacks, Rudolph Giuliani has warned, as he said there was “nothing special” about Sunday’s 10th anniversary.

The Mayor of New York City 10 years ago said the incident must not be consigned to history like Pearl Harbor, because unlike the Axis powers, al-Qaeda “still want to attack us” and “are planning to do it”. Mr Giuliani condemned politicians who avoided describing Nidal Malik Hasan, the US Army major who shot dead 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009, as an “Islamic extremist terrorist”. “You can’t fight crime, you can’t deter terrorism, if you are hobbled by political correctness,” Mr Giuliani said during a speech. Maj Hasan reportedly shouted “Allahu akbar” as he shot. “If you can’t honestly describe your enemy there are distortions in your policy decisions as a result,” said Mr Giuliani. “Our failure to do it leads to a series of mistakes that easily could harm us in the future.” He said that “decent, good members of the Muslim religion” should no more be offended by that than ordinary Italian-Americans were when he denounced the Mafia as a prosecutor in New York in the 1980s.

Mr Giuliani also criticised his successor, Michael Bloomberg, for refusing to allow religious leaders to speak at the memorial ceremony at ground zero on Sunday morning. “It would be very simple to have a priest, a minister, a rabbi and an imam,” he said. “Just get them up and let them say a little prayer. The microphone will not melt”. He paid tribute to the emergency service officers and civilians who were killed “walking in rather than running out” and rescuing workers from the World Trade Centre. “The people of New York really did rise to the occasion,” he added. “They’ve been stronger and better than I thought they would be.” And he endorsed Barack Obama’s controversial comment last year that America could “absorb” another large terrorist attack. “It’s important for the terrorists to know that,” he said. But he stressed Americans must remain vigilant after the symbolic passing of a decade. “It just happens to be numerical computation,” he said. “We cannot use this as an opportunity to say ‘Oh let’s put this behind us’,” he said. “The people who attacked us under that banner of distorted Islam still want to attack us under distorted Islam, and they are planning to do it as we memorialise the 10th anniversary.” Mr Giuliani, who became known as ‘America’s Mayor’ but suffered an early defeat in his pursuit of the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, left open the prospect of his running again for 2012. He said he was privileged to receive an honorary knighthood from The Queen in October 2001. But he added: “I do not use the title Sir, because my friends back in Brooklyn would beat me up”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

When Hollywood Hit Rock Bottom

Andrew Klavan

Hollywood’s lockstep leftist filmmakers have long busied themselves with a range of shameful enterprises. They have peddled and celebrated a wholly distorted and negative vision of American manners in dishonest films epitomized by American Beauty (1999). They have sold the self-contradicting nonsense of moral relativism in films such as The Reader (2008). They have routinely depicted the U.S. government and U.S. corporations as bad actors in world events, as in The Bourne Ultimatum. And—in what some observers consider a conscious scheme by a likeminded filmland clique—they have maintained a small but steady effort to normalize the sexual abuse of children in films like Little Children, The Woodsman, Towelhead, and more.

But when it comes to sheer shamefulness, the conformist “radicals” of Hollywood outdid themselves in the years after the Islamofascist attacks on 9/11. When the United States responded to these atrocities by attempting to destroy the terrorist staging grounds in Afghanistan and establish a beachhead of Middle Eastern democracy in Iraq, Hollywood reacted by churning out propaganda movies that could only demoralize our allies and bolster our low and savage enemies: Syriana, In the Valley of Elah, Rendition, Redacted, Lions for Lambs, Green Zone, Body of Lies, Stop Loss, and on and on. Many of these films portrayed our soldiers and intelligence officers as rapists, murderers, torturers, or noble fools manipulated by conniving Republicans. Not one of them (including the excellent HBO film Taking Chance and the flawed but powerful Hurt Locker, which at least showed our troops in a positive light) depicted the wars themselves as good or noble endeavors. Besides Chance and Locker, these films were bad and they were bombs, showing that ideology, not art or commerce, dictated their content. It was the dark mirror image of Hollywood’s patriotic response to Pearl Harbor in the 1940s, a living diagram of what the Left has wrought in our cultural lives since then.


[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Czech Republic: Nuclear Superpower at Heart of Europe

Hospodárské noviny, 8 September 2011

At a time when several European countries are rethinking the nuclear option, the Czech Republic is poised to become a “superpower” in atomic energy. “The state wants to build new nuclear plants,” leads Hospodárské noviny on learning of the proposal from the Ministry of Industry and Trade to boost the production of electricity from nuclear power by a factor of five between now and 2060. The share of nuclear energy in electrical power generation in the country will thus go up from the approximately 30 percent currently (put out by the Temelin and Dukovany plants) to over 80 percent in 50 years. According to the Ministry project, nuclear power should replace coal and reduce dependence on oil and gas imported from Russia. Will the Czech Republic turn into “the heart of Nuclear Europe?” asks the Prague paper. This new plan, it explains, is radically opposed to that of Germany, which following the catastrophe of Fukushima in Japan decided to give up on nuclear by 2022 and focus on renewable energy.

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

UK: After Years of Shameful Neglect, William Hague Has Restored the Foreign Office to Its Proper Dignity

by Peter Oborne

Throughout the past two centuries, the post of Foreign Secretary has — beside that of Prime Minister — been the grandest and the most cherished by ambitious politicians. The Foreign Office was one of the great departments of state, with the position of its superb Gilbert Scott building in the heart of Whitehall speaking eloquently about Britain’s position in the world.

As we prepare to mark the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it is clearer than ever that Britain’s relationships with the rest of the world — its alliances, its trade links, its diplomatic endeavours — are vitally important. Today, William Hague will make a speech setting out his vision for his department. Yet he will do so after a period in which the Foreign Office’s standing has gone into shameful decline.

There is no question that in recent years — and, in particular, since Douglas Hurd stepped down in 1995 — the Foreign Office has been worryingly neglected. Robin Cook, for example, was desperately upset when he was made shadow foreign secretary, which he regarded as a demotion. After the 1997 election, Tony Blair set up his own informal foreign policy apparatus, using the Foreign Office largely as a source of political patronage. A number of ambassadors’ jobs were given to No 10 cronies, disregarding the Civil Service career structure, while the Blairs themselves started to view the diplomatic service, with its cut-price access to large houses in desirable locations, as a kind of travel agent. On one occasion, our honorary consul in Toulouse was put to work finding the Blairs a villa to rent; on others, the couple installed themselves in official residences overseas.

Sir Michael (now Lord) Jay, the department’s permanent secretary for much of this time, seems to have gone along with it all. More damagingly, he joined in the fashionable attack on the ethos and values of the FCO itself.. Its language school was closed, a sign that the importance of language skills and a deep understanding of cultures and nationalities was being downgraded. Instead, Jay imposed a regime that favoured management-speak and administrative abilities.

Then, in a barbaric and near-criminal act, David Miliband ordered the closure of the Foreign Office library, containing the records of 500 years of Britain’s overseas entanglements, including the original copies of all our treaties. This institution was described by Gladstone’s foreign secretary, Lord Granville, as “the pivot on which the whole machinery of the Office turned”. Recently, I inspected its empty shelves, their contents having been dispersed, some turning up on eBay: it was both too sad for words, and a piquant symbol of New Labour’s neglect of the lessons of history, for which British soldiers have paid such a price in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Rory Stewart, the diplomat turned Tory MP, has just published a fascinating and wise little book, Can Intervention Work?, which provides sobering examples of the consequences of this approach. By 2009, he records, our 300-strong embassy in Kabul contained only two officials with a mastery of Dari, one of the most important local languages — this in a country where almost no one speaks English. And here is Stewart’s verdict on the consequences of Lord Jay’s tenure: “British civilians in Kabul were… well equipped for those processes of the international community connected with ‘management best practice’ and ‘multilateral diplomacy’, accounting, human resources, and ‘global’ policy around climate change, trade or heritage. But their knowledge about Afghanistan itself was generally much more limited than that of a previous generation of foreign service officers.” Health and safety became paramount. Diplomats were tied to their desks, answering emails and coping with the latest edicts on management. Last year, the post of deputy high commissioner in Pakistan became vacant. No one applied.

Even worse, New Labour allowed the stature of the FCO to collapse within government. This was true both of budgets — with resources switched from diplomacy to international development — and influence. The Iraq war remains the telling moment: sceptical advice from Middle Eastern ambassadors, those despised Arabists who understood the culture of the countries they worked in, was ignored. Corners were cut. Policy was captured and executed by No 10, with disastrous results. The treatment of Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the heroic legal adviser who warned that the invasion was illegal and resigned from the Foreign Office in protest, remains a matter of shame.

Yet there are some very welcome — and long overdue — signs that things are beginning to change, and that some of the traditional pride and rigour of the diplomatic service is being restored. Above all, William Hague is the first Foreign Secretary for years to have a sense of the weight and magnitude of the FCO’s role. This can express itself in small ways. All visiting foreign ministers are now met personally at the steps of the building by Mr Hague. He also takes trouble to discover their enthusiasms. The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a keen antiquarian: Mr Hague took him to inspect rare books in the British Library. Avigdor Lieberman of Israel was hauled off to the Cabinet War Rooms. Sergei Lavrov of Russia enjoyed a whisky tasting with his British counterpart at Berry Brothers’ ancient offices in St James’s.

More importantly, Mr Hague exercises greater clout in Whitehall — and gets on better with his senior colleagues — than any foreign secretary since Hurd. This means he can fight his department’s battles in a way his predecessors could not. David Miliband, for example, was bullied into giving away the special exchange-rate protection that shielded embassies and consulates from dramatic fluctuations in costs: the department’s budget fell into chaos, and was subject to hurried and very damaging last-minute cuts. Under the Coalition, this dreadful decision was easily reversed, thanks in part to Mr Hague’s warm relationship with George Osborne.

The Foreign Secretary has also regained control over foreign policy itself. On his first day, he asked his officials for the line on Afghanistan, only to be told that there wasn’t one — they were awaiting instruction from the Cabinet Office. This was swiftly put right. Sadly, the library is gone, but extra money is being put into language training, and diplomats have been told that they will be expected to welcome tough assignments such as Pakistan. The emphasis on management has been relaxed, and the FCO has returned to what it is supposed to do: rigorous foreign policy analysis and execution.

There is already evidence that this change in approach is paying dividends. It is still far too early to say whether the intervention in Libya has been a success, but one factor has been apparent from the start: in sharp contrast to Iraq, due process has been observed. “I am comfortable with the policy and decision-making process throughout this campaign,” one senior official told me, “in a way that I was not in 2003.” Furthermore, Downing Street, the Foreign Office and other departments now work as a coherent unit, something that did not happen under Labour.

One of the characteristics of a Conservative government should always be that it respects institutions, and understands the need for them to be strong and independent. Over the past 18 months, there have been unmistakable signs that the Foreign Office, after a period of decline bordering on degradation, has re-emerged as one of the great departments of state. At a time when the international outlook could hardly be more dangerous or more uncertain, that is all to the good.

[JP note: Peter Oborne is a leading Muslim Brotherhood sycophant (see here and here and his views above on the FCO are an accurate reflection of his persistent Islamophilia. Shame about the FCO library though, but this is what happens when you allow a jejeune philistine like David Miliband to run the show.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Arresting a Woman at a Match in Kent Just Wasn’t Cricket

Police officers who turned a village row into a criminal matter should have more sense.

Last week, this newspaper carried a striking photograph of a passer-by at the Notting Hill Carnival trying to trip up a young knifeman who appeared to have just stabbed someone.

At the back of the picture, a man was clutching a bleeding stomach wound. On the left were two uniformed police officers, watching events unfold. They appear to have made no attempt to intercept the man: indeed, he seems to have run right past them. It was left to the sightseer — later identified as Valentine Simatchenko, a former Russian policeman — to try to intervene. Fortunately, the man with the knife was later arrested and charged.

Compare and contrast that little cameo with this newspaper’s account yesterday of a Bank Holiday cricket game in the Kent village of Bearsted. It was disrupted by a local woman, Maria Chiappini, who was fed up with cricket balls landing in her garden. You may argue that she was being unreasonable, having bought a house next to the village cricket pitch, not to expect the odd ball in her flower beds. Who knows — she may be a fully paid-up member of the awkward squad who takes pleasure in shouting the odds, and who had tried the cricket club’s patience beyond endurance.

But none of that is the point. It was the reaction of two of the players — two brothers, both of them police officers, one an inspector — that is the issue here. Instead of trying to calm the woman down, they arrested her. Indeed, they used physical force to do so, taking the 41-year-old mother by the wrists and detaining her in the pavilion until a patrol car arrived. Mrs Chiappini was then handcuffed and taken to Maidstone police station, held in the cells for six hours and had her DNA and fingerprints taken, before being given a fixed penalty notice for public disorder and being verbally abusive. What a triumph for the forces of law and order. The men in white had got their woman. The police may balk when it comes to apprehending what appears to be a violent criminal in Notting Hill, but give them a shouty lady on a cricket pitch and there’s no stopping them.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Cameron Urged to Call EU Referendum

David Cameron faces more pressure for an “in-out” referendum on Europe as a 100,000-name petition is delivered. A cross-party delegation of MPs and MEPs is due to hand in sacks full of signatures at 10 Downing Street. The number demanding a referendum is enough to trigger a parliamentary debate on the issue — potentially highly awkward for the Prime Minister. Mr Cameron again insisted that there was “no case” for a national poll on EU membership. “I want us to be influential in Europe about the things that matter to our national interest — promoting the single market, pushing forward for growth, making sure we get lower energy prices,” he told MPs. “Those are things we will be fighting for but I don’t see the case for an in out referendum on Europe. We are in Europe, we have got to make it work for us.” Under a new e-petition scheme set up by the Government, any suggestion that receives more than 100,000 signatures online is passed to parliament’s backbench business committee so a debate can be organised. However, Commons leader Sir George Young has apparently assured the Europe campaigners that traditional pen-and-ink versions will be treated the same. Independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire is due to be accompanied by Labour MPs Kelvin Hopkins, Austin Mitchell and Kate Hoey to hand in the petition. “This is an encouraging development and raises the prospect of an early debate on our continued membership of the EU,” she said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hague Set to Announce Plans to Bolster Foreign Office

William Hague is set to outline ways in which he believes the Foreign Office has diminished in recent years. BBC diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall said the foreign secretary’s remedy will be more language training and more focus on bilateral relations. Our correspondent added that he will discuss a shift in diplomacy from Europe to key emerging countries.

Mr Hague has tweeted that he will reveal plans for the “biggest drive ever to strengthen UK foreign policy”. In May, the foreign secretary announced plans for five new embassies: in El Salvador, Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan, and in Madagascar and Somalia when local circumstances permit. Extra offices are set to open in the world’s fastest growing economies including Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia. Mr Hague also told MPs there would be 50 extra British staff in China and 30 more in India. “It’s a tall order at a time of swinging Whitehall cuts,” said our correspondent. “But it’s also symptomatic perhaps of a more general shift away from seeing the world as a globalised network and back to the old-fashioned business of diplomacy on the ground and between nation states.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hague’s Plan to Revive the Foreign Office (And a Stuffed Anaconda Called Albert)

Parts of William Hague’s speech today about the future of the Foreign Office were trailed in Peter Oborne’s columm this morning. So I won’t reproduce either’s strictures about Labour’s axeing of the Foreign Office language school, the destruction of the Department’s library, the removal of its protection against exchange rate movements, the closure of embassies abroad, the briefing against other Ministers at home, the neglect of retired ambassadors, and so forth.


Finally, a footnote from earlier in the speech:

“It is ironic that the only object to survive the gutting of the library is a one hundred year old twenty-foot stuffed anaconda known as Albert, who remains suspended over the empty bookshelves, while the books from the period when such an unusual foreign gift found its way into the Foreign Office have been dismantled around it, and can never be reassembled.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Man, 26, ‘Held as a Slave by Accrington Family’

FOUR members of an Accrington family have appeared in court over allegations that a man with learning difficulties was kept as a slave.

They appeared at Burnley Crown Court yesterday over allegations that the 26-year-old man from Accrington was kept against his will and subjected to beatings.

The allegations date back over a two year period from January 2007 until July 2010.

The man, a Pakistani national, was found with a fractured hip by officers.

Janghir Alam, 28, of Richmond Hill Street, Accrington, and Zahir Alam, 32, of Willows Lane Accrington, who have been charged with eight counts of grevious bodily harm, making a threat to kill, false imprisonment and battery pleaded not guilty on Monday.

Nek Alam, 71, Zahoor Alam, 32, also of Richmond Hill Street, Accrington, did not enter a plea as they are raising objections to the indictment and a dismissal hearing has been scheduled for October 27.

Comments unavailable on this story for legal reasons.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Stabbed Under Noses of Police: Knife Attack 100 Yards From Murder Scene

A teenage boy was left fighting for his life after being stabbed just 100 yards from police investigating a high-profile murder. The 15-year-old was taken to hospital after being knifed in the same road as Steven Grisales, aged 21, who was killed in an alleged row over conkers last week. Scotland Yard detectives were staging a fresh witness appeal over the death of the aspiring architect when the second stabbing occurred in a playground in College Close in Edmonton yesterday.

In an astonishing night of violence in north London, a man in his fifties was stabbed one road away and an 18-year-old was later left with serious head injuries after a pub brawl in the same area — increasingly notorious for its gang-related “postcode war”. Today neighbours told how lawless child gangs patrolled the area with scant regard for the law. One resident, who was too frightened to be identified, said: “All the kids carry knives. I see them playing with them like they are toys. They are only 11 or 12. They smoke and they sell drugs for others as they ride around on their bikes. Every time I come home late at night there’s about 40 or 50 local boys hanging around. This area is not good. In the last year about five people have been stabbed in this area. It’s getting worse and worse and it’s not going to get better.”

Last month, Leroy James, 14, was stabbed to death in a nearby children’s playground in a suspected territorial dispute between gangs living in the N9 and EN3 postcodes. Last night, police arrested two men after the brazen College Close stabbing which saw the 15-year-old, named as Andre “Yardie”, taken by air ambulance to an east London hospital. He was initially described as “critical” although today he had improved and his injuries were said to be “non-life-threatening”. Andre Yardie is a member of a Facebook group called “F*** Wood Green”. On the Facebook page, he wrote: “F*** Green Gang moist dikeds.” Green Gang is a known Edmonton gang operating in the N9 postcode.

The youth was knifed at about 6.30pm as police were knocking on doors in the same cul-de-sac searching for information on Mr Grisales’s murder. One witness told the Evening Standard: “Yardie seemed to be arguing in the playground with another boy. One called the other ‘moist’, which is slang for ‘dumb’. We rushed him to a house on College Close where he collapsed. There was blood everywhere. The lady in the house was crying and kept screaming that he had been stabbed.” One resident said: “I can’t believe it happened under the police officers’ noses. It’s scary. These kids have no fear and they don’t care. The kids are still walking around with knives. I am terrified for my children.”

A 15-year-old boy was charged yesterday with the murder of Mr Grisales, an architecture student allegedly stabbed to death over a row over conkers. Today, Scotland Yard said there was nothing to suggest the two stabbings were linked. However, one resident told the Standard that last night’s stabbing began when an argument erupted on the same spot where Mr Grisales was killed.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Tory Backlash Hits Cameron in Battle for Vote on Europe

DAVID Cameron faced a backlash from Tory MPs yesterday over his refusal to give voters a say on Britain’s future in the EU. Dozens of Tory MPs are to meet next week to discuss overhauling Britain’s relationship with the EU, it was revealed. The group, which wants to work with ministers and would not demand an immediate referendum, is understood to have put out feelers to eurosceptic Labour MPs to build an alliance against pro-EU Lib Dems. The MPs are putting the Prime Minister under growing pressure to use the fall-out from the eurozone debt crisis as a chance to redraw the terms of Britain’s engagement with Brussels.

Voters have already made their support for change clear by backing the Daily Express crusade to leave the EU. At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Tory MP Mark Reckless pointed out that Mr Cameron had listened to the Lib Dems on police commissioner elections. He added: “Will you now listen to Conservative colleagues and take the opportunity to hold a referendum on Europe?” Mr Cameron repeated his past opposition to an “in-out” referendum on Europe. He said: “We are in Europe and we have got to make it work for us.”

However, senior Tories later drove home their call for a referendum on crucial European developments. Bill Cash tabled legislation to require a referendum and Act of Parliament to approve any greater integration within the eurozone. After presenting his European Union Act 2011 (Amendment) Bill in the Commons, Mr Cash said fiscal union in the eurozone would fail with damaging consequences, as well as “fundamentally changing” the UK’s relationship with the EU. He said: “We must have a referendum in the light of such a profound change in our political relationship with Europe.”

Later Tory MP Priti Patel used a debate in Parliament’s Westminster Hall to call on ministers to stand up against “power-hungry” EU institutions she said were “thoroughly unaccountable to the British public but exert an outrageous degree of control over this country”. Europe Minister David Lidington added that legislation passed by the coalition would require a referendum on any future transfer of powers to Brussels but the “political reality” of a coalition with the Lib Dems made it harder to push for the return of powers already handed over.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: TUC Motion to Sever All Israel Ties

Next week’s Trades Union Congress will debate withdrawing all co-operation with Israeli organisations, including the giant Israeli trade union the Histadrut. The unprecedented proposal is the subject of an amendment by the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), to a motion on the Middle East by super-union Unite. The move would break a link between the British trade unions and the Histadrut that goes back to the foundation of the state of Israel.

The Israeli organisation is believed to be furious at the proposal and the Histadrut, in response, would almost certainly initiate moves to isolate Britain within the international trades union movement if the amendment is voted through. The Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) has not called for the break and still has close, if sometimes strained, links with the Histadrut.

The amendment proposed by the PCS, whose deputy general secretary Hugh Lanning is also chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, is a wide-ranging condemnation of UK foreign policy in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa, including the recent intervention in Libya. It is thought that Unite will back the amendment.

At the heart of the motion, which will be discussed next Wednesday, is a call for the British government to recognise Palestinian statehood. It reads: “Since there can be no peace in the region without justice for the Palestinians, Congress endorses the call for the recognition of the state of Palestine and urges the British government to take all actions appropriate to help achieve this objective.”

At the same time it calls for the immediate, unconditional resumption of peace talks and a reaffirmation of last year’s TUC Congress decision to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to build the campaign to “disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall.”

But it is the Histadrut-targeted amendment which is far more controversial. Although it calls only for a review of bi-lateral relations, there is concern among pro-Israeli trade unionists that this is a backdoor route to a full boycott of Israel itself. Trade Union Friends of Israel has warned TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber that support for the amendment would end the British trades union movement’s involvement in PGFTU-Histadrut activity..

Stephen Scott, director of Trade Union Friends of Israel, appealed for British trade unionists to vote down the amendment and work towards peace and cooperation. He said: “This position will only emasculate the TUC and the British trade union movement in the work to bring the Israeli and Palestinian workers together”. He added: “Where are the motions condemning the bloodshed in Syria, where there are no free trade unions? This attack on the Histadrut, the only democratic trade union movement in the Middle East, can only be judged as an act of discrimination — because they are Israeli”.

As party conference season begins, supporters of Israel will look to Labour leader Ed Miliband to clarify the position laid out in his leadership acceptance speech last year, when he attacked Israel over the Turkish flotilla incident without reference to Hamas terrorism.

Labour Friends of Israel, reinvented as a membership organisation under its chair John Woodcock MP, will debate the “Progressive Case for Israel” at its fringe event this year and Ed Miliband is due to speak at the LFI conference reception.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Young French Teacher Can’t Take Any More

After two years of suffering, Claire Dubos has handed in her resignation to the Department of Education. She denounces abominable working conditions.

For two years, I’ve been living through hell. I am suffering more and more. I have insomnia, anxieties. I didn’t want to end up like some of my colleagues who graduated at the same time, already on sick leave at my age. …Some older colleagues said to me: leave while you don’t have children, because afterwards you won’t be able to.

Without practical experience, without support, I found myself from one day to the next in a climate of incredible violence. Verbal violence, physical violence, I didn’t know what to do. I was in one of the worst schools in Reims.

…The parents would set on me. One day one of them came to see me to tell me that I had looked at his daughter the wrong way and that I had better watch out.

I had 31 pupils, many of whom couldn’t speak a word of French. I had really bad cases of autism. Parents would look at me from the balcony and shout that they were going to kill me.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

NATO to Continue Libya Operations ‘As Long as Necessary’

(AGI) Lisbon — Speaking in Lisbon, NATO’s Rasmussen says operations over Libya will continue beyond September, if necessary. With operation ‘Unified Protector’ set to expire on September 26, secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen today said “NATO and its partners will continue operations until threats persist, and not a minute longer”. Gaddafi and “what remains of his apparatus need to understand that they stand to gain nothing by continuing the fight.” .

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

Middle East

Football: Turkey Assures Safety of Israeli Club, Report

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 8 — Turkey’s sports minister Suat Kilic has assured Israeli football club Maccabi Tel Aviv of its safety ahead of next week’s Europa League game against Turkish club Besiktas in Istanbul, according to a report.

Hurriyet newspaper quoted Kilic on Thursday as saying the match will be played in the “highest level of (Turkish) hospitality,” next Thursday and Israeli players will “safely” return home. The game came amid heightened tensions between the two nations over Israel’s refusal to apologize for the death of eight Turks and a Turkish-American in a raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship last year. Last week, Turkey announced diplomatic and military sanctions against Israel, expelling the Israeli ambassador and other senior diplomats and suspending military agreements. It also said the Gaza blockade was illegal and vowed to seek a review of it by the International Court of Justice.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Israel Lacks Commercial Ethics’, Erdogan’s New Lunge

(AGI) Ankara — Israel showed lack of “commercial ethics”, Turkish Premier Recep Tayyp Erdogan claimed, adding that the State of Isreal violated “our bilateral agreement in the sector of air defence”. As an example, the Turkish Premier quoted the case of the Israeli drones bought by the Ankara government.

“They were sent back to Israel for maintenance, but the Israelis are delaying delivery. Is that moral?”, Ergodan asked during a conversation with some journalists.

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

Medvedev Claims Terrorists Mingle With Syrian Protesters

(AGI) Paris — Russia will keep on supporting Syrian president Bashar al Assad. That’s what Russian president Dmitry Medveded said, claiming that “terrorists” are mingling with the anti-regime protesters in Syria. Interviewed by Euronews, the Russian president admitted that the repression ordered by the Syrian authorities is “excessive” but he still considers Syria a “friend” of Russia.

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

Turkey is ‘No Enemy’ of Israel, Says Israel’s Ehud Barak

(AGI) Jerusalem — Ehud Barak downplays tensions with Ankara, submitting “Turkey is not about to become an enemy of Israel.” With the Erdogan government having escalated the diplomatic confrontation, the Israeli defence minister sought to underscore that “We are the two countries that are most important to the West in the region. The main thing is not to get confused, not to get into a tailspin.”

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

Turkey-Israel: Press: Erdogan Has Incredible ‘Plan C’

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, SEPTEMBER 8 — Denouncements to the UN on Israel’s nuclear arsenal, vetoes in NATO, a complete break in diplomatic relations and economic sanctions are reportedly several points of a “Plan C” that the government in Ankara is reportedly putting together to deal with the diplomatic crisis with Israel, caused by their failure to apologise for the bloody boarding of the pro-Palestinian flotilla last year by Israeli forces, according to reliable Turkish dailies. Turkish daily, Hurriyet, wrote that Turkish Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan has mentioned this “Plan C” to punish Israel, but did not want to provide any of its details. The daily’s website said that the announced patrols by the Turkish military in international waters in the Mediterranean (which haven’t been ordered yet) is part of “Plan B”. In providing details on “Plan C”, which should be applied if Israel will not apologise and provide compensation for last year’s raid in a “reasonable span of time”, another Turkish daily, Yeni Safak, wrote that it is Turkey’s intention to put the issue of Israel’s nuclear arsenal on the agenda of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN, with a request for sanctions. The “final stage” of Plan C calls for the complete suspension of diplomatic ties, currently already downgraded to a minimum ‘second secretary’ level. Turkish daily, Sabah, wrote that in this context, Turkey could inflict “economic sanctions” on Israel.

But Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak’s comments suggest that Ankara will not need to resort to its “Plan C” because, Barak said during an interview on public radio regarding the retaliation announced by Ankara in recent days and reported by AFP, “Turkey is not an enemy of Israel and the current crisis will blow over”. “This wave will pass, I am sure that we will overcome it,” said Barak, adding: “Both we and Turkey know very well what the reality is: our two countries are very important for the West. The real problem for the West is Syria and what is happening in Egypt and Iran, not Turkey.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Yemen: ‘25 Killed’ In Fighting With ‘Al-Qaeda’ Militants

Sanaa, 8 Sept. (AKI) — At least 25 people were killed in fresh clashes in southern Yemen where government forces are battling Al-Qaeda insurgents.

The fighting with the presumed Al-Qaeda militants occurred in Abyan province taking the living of 17 insurgents and 8 soldiers, according to a report by Arab-language satellite news channel Al-Jazeera.

The US considers Al-Qaeda’s wing in Yemen as among the world’s most threatening.

Yemen is also battling anti-government protesters and an armed separatist movement. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been recovering from burns suffered in a June attack on the presidential palace.

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

South Asia

Pakistan: Islamabad Discriminates Against Non-Muslim War Heroes

The celebration of the September 6, in which we remember the soldiers who died in the war with India in 1965, “forgets” Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Ahmadis. Christian leaders recall the sacrifice of minorities for the birth and the nation’s independence. The ongoing carnage of the Ahmadis, a list of 50 people to kill, to get a place in heaven.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan also affects non-Muslim war heroes, protagonists of the battles in the 1965 conflict between Pakistan and India. Their names do not appear in history books, textbooks, or celebrations which Islamabad organizes every year to remember those who sacrificed their lives for their country. Meanwhile the summary execution of Ahmadis continues in the country, in the complete indifference of police and government who have failed to intervene to stem the violence. So much so, that an Islamic extremist group has issued a list with the names of 50 Ahmadi faithful to kill, in order to gain “preferential access to paradise.”

On 6 September, Pakistan commemorates the 1965 war with India during which heroes who sacrificed their lives for their country are remembered. However, every year the authorities ignore the sacrifice of many non-Muslims, who have fought and died for their country. The discrimination and humiliation that religious minorities of a nation held hostage by the Islamic fundamentalism are subjected to also affect those who have contributed to the birth and survival of Pakistan.

To protest against government censorship and the exclusion of non-Muslims in the armed forces of the country, the Lahore based humanitarian organization Life for All organized a seminar focusing on the heroes of war who were Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus and of other religions. Among others, the Air Force Commander Cecil Chaudhry, and Major General Israel Noel Khok. Rizwan Paul, an activist of Life for All, said that “the government has obscured the service rendered by religious minorities”, in addition to having their names omitted “in the history books and textbooks.” Instead, he intends to “pay homage to these great names, for their impeccable service to Pakistan.”

Fr. Edward Joseph, of the Diocese of Lahore echoes this call and also reminds the Government continued incidents of exclusion, violence and abuse that Pakistani Hindus, Ahmadis, Christians, and Jews face. In addition to the notorious blasphemy laws, the priest recalls an incident that occurred recently: two Christian brothers who were forbidden to play in a music club in town “because they are Christians.” And their father, he says, is a lieutenant colonel in the service of the Pakistani army. “How long will this continue?” Fr. Joseph asks disconsolately.

But violent episodes also target other minorities, among them the Ahmadis, a Muslim sect considered heretical because it does not recognize Muhammad as the last prophet. On September 5 last Naseen Ahmad Butt was shot dead in broad daylight in Faisalabad, by four students of the Islamic extremist movement the Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Federation,. The man’s name, an Ahmadi, was included in a list containing 50 names of members of religious minority. Accompanied by a message that “the person who kill these 50 Ahmadis, will gain preferential access to paradise.”

The police and the Punjab government have covered up the case, by not punishing the perpetrators of the murder and the authors of the list of defenseless civilians to be killed. Fr. John Isaac, of the diocese of Faisalabad, points the finger at the provincial government of Punjab guilty of providing “a golden refuge “ to extremists and the Taliban. “Hate and extremism — confirms the priest — are becoming the trademark of our society.”

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

Pakistan: Paramilitary Conducts Karachi Raids in Wake of Killings

Karachi, 8 Sept. (AKI/Dawn) — Over a dozen suspects were arrested from different areas of Pakistan’s financial hub Karachi on Thursday, DawnNews reported.

The suspects were arrested by the paramilitary Rangers during search operations in the Baldia Town and Federal B Area of the southern port city.

Rangers personnel had cordoned off the localities where the operations were being conducted and were carrying out house-to-house searches.

Paramilitary forces were deployed last month to quell the sectarian violence has been blighted the city and claimed more than 300 lives since July.

Meanwhile, a special bench of the Pakistani Supreme Court has been hearing arguments over the government’s inaction over the killings.

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

Far East

China: ‘Beijing Profited From 9/11 But is Afraid of a Weak US’

Beijing, 8 Sept. (AKI) — The 11 September attacks on New York and Washington opened a window of opportunity for China to grow economically and gain the status as a world leader, according to Italian foreign relations expert Marta Dassu.

While the United States was mired in a struggle to defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East, China had a chance to gain status as a economic force and with it self-confidence about its standing in the world, she wrote in an essay published Wednesday in Turin daily La Stampa.

If September 2001 gave America a limp and China an advantage, September 2008 — the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, near economic collapse and the economic crisis — was worrisome for Beijing, a holder of enormous sums of US debt and one of the biggest manufacturers of its consumer goods. It could cast China into the role of reluctant global leader and hurt its economy.

Dassu, a foreign policy adviser to the Italian government from 1998-2001, writes about an oft-cited anecdote regarding then-US president George W. Bush and Chinese president Hu Jintao to highlight the their different worries and preoccupations in the wake of 11 September.

When Bush told his counterpart that the possibility of another terrorist attack keeps him up at night, Jintao said he passes sleepless nights worried about how to add 25 million jobs a year to the Chinese economy.

“It was indicative of the divergence of their priorities: China’s ‘economy first’ and the ‘security first’ for the two Bush terms,” Dassu said.

“While American concentrated strength and energy in Afghanistan and Iraq, China thought about how to secure access to petroleum from the Gulf and the Aynak mines close to Kabul.”

“In a rather contorted way, one can also say that China financed the two American military expeditions — from Baghdad to boundaries of Indukush. An America committed up to neck in the Middle East would distract it from China’s real objective during the new century: to regain the (shengshi) prosperity lost after the golden age of the Qing dynasty in the 18th century,” Dassu said.

Following 11 September, China did well in preparing its way to the economic stage. It overtook Japan last February as the world’s second biggest economy, after the US.

Following the attack, China gained coveted membership of the World Trade Organisation, while globalization rendered “made in China” a recognisable phrase in homes around the world. But that was quite different from September 2008 when America’s economy came close to collapse.

“China found itself exposed to the trouble of its old teacher in the West,” Dassu wrote.

“From Beijing’s point of view the risk is that a post-America era arrived too quickly. It would force a reluctant leadership to take on a part of the world’s troubles and with it all the costs and responsibilities,” according to Dessu.

“China’s ‘free-ride’ era is finished. There’s the risk that the American and European debt crises jam up the world economy forcing China to turn to its own internal consumer demand too soon,” she said, adding that this can ignite Chinese nationalism that has been kept under control by the county’s leaders. Such a movement could include an expensive military buildup.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Somalia: Islamic Militants Threaten the English Language

Mogadishu, 8 Sept. (AKI) — The English language in Somalia has been under threat by the Al-Qaeda linked militant group Al-Shabab, according to London based pan -Arab newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi.

Through intimidation Al-Shabab militants in control of the the southern Somali city of Chisimaio have banned the teaching of English in schools, ordering teachers to replaced it with Arabic — the language of the Koran.

“We were following a program used in Kenya, Sudan and Malaysia that uses only English in the classroom to prepare students to study in a foreign university,” said a teacher. “Now we can’t even teach and will have to replace our teachers that come from Kenya who can’t speak Arabic.”

Currently Chisimaio has six middle and high schools that teach classes in English, while elementary schools use Arabic, the report said.

Similarly, in recently days, radical Islamic groups in control of areas outside of the capital Mogadishu have ordered shopkeepers to substitute English signs with those in Arabic.

Al-Shabab has an alliance with Al-Qaeda and has not shied away from using terrorist tactics in its fight to control Somalia. In 2010 the group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Ugandan capital Kampala that killed around 75 people who gathered to watch the televised broadcast of the World Cup soccer finals.

Uganda leads a military coalition of African countries deployed in Somalia to keep the troubled country out of the hands of radical Islamic militants.

Somalia has been without an effective government for about 20 years.

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


UK: EU Migrants Commit 100 Crimes a Day

CRIMES committed by European Union migrants in Britain have almost trebled since Romania and Bulgaria joined four years ago.

Official figures show that offences rocketed from 10,736 in 2007 to 27,563 last year.

Almost 20,000 crimes by EU migrants in the UK were recorded in just the first seven months of this year, according to the United Kingdom Central Authority for the Exchange of Criminal Records. The shocking surge means that criminals from other EU nations are being convicted of 100 offences every day.

Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007. Within one year, European Union migrant crimes jumped by almost 14,000 to 24,635.

The alarming rise was unearthed by Tory MP Dominic Raab who said: “This highlights a hidden cost of further EU enlargement that must be properly debated.”

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

UK: Fury at Law That Lets Foreign Killers Stalk Our Streets

SCORES of foreign murderers, rapists and violent offenders are still living in the UK after using human rights laws to beat deportation, shock figures reveal. Some 88 dangerous criminals, including two killers and seven rapists, were allowed to stay after resorting to the European Convention on Human Rights. The other 79 offenders were convicted and jailed for serious sexual and violent offences. All will have claimed they had the “right to a family life” or faced danger in their home countries to avoid being kicked out after being served deportation orders. The revelation will boost critics’ claims for a shake-up of the legislation that lets hundreds of foreign criminals remain on Britain’s streets. Tory MP and law-and-order campaigner Priti Patel, who uncovered the official statistics, demanded the Government “free” the UK from the European laws. She said: “The public will be appalled to see that dangerous foreign criminals are able to hide behind human rights excuses to remain in Britain. The Government urgently needs to free Britain from Europe’s human rights laws so these dangerous foreigners can be removed from our country.”

Under UK law, any non-British citizen convicted and sentenced to more than 12 months in detention can be automatically deported back to their own country. Yet figures released earlier this year suggested that up to 400 foreign criminals successfully used the “right to a family life” defence in 2010. Nepalese murderer Rocky Gurung, 22, was allowed to stay in the UK even though he was single, had no children and lived with his parents. In June this year, judges at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg blocked the UK from deporting two Somalis convicted of serious crimes because they would be at risk in their lawless homeland. Home Secretary Theresa May has signalled she is ready to overhaul the legislation, telling MPs in July that the right to a family life was not “absolute”. Officials were said to be examining the definition of the law to see if there is scope to limit its use.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: Ban on Gay Blood Donations Lifted

The lifetime ban on blood donations by homosexual and bisexual men will be lifted in England, Scotland and Wales.

Ministers have agreed to let men who have not had sex with another man in the past 12 months to donate from November…

In the UK, a lifetime ban was introduced in the early 1980s as a response to the Aids epidemic and the lack of adequate HIV tests.

“Bad blood”

Most new HIV infections acquired in the UK are from men who have sex with men.

Other at-risk groups, such as people who have been sexually active in high-risk countries, are banned from donating for a year.

The lifetime ban had been questioned both on equality and medical grounds, in the light of developments such as improved blood screening tests which have reduced the size of the “window period” and reduced the risk of contamination.

South Africa has introduced a six-month gap between sex and donation. It is a year in Australia, Sweden and Japan.

Research published at the end of last year suggested there was no significant increase in the risk of HIV infection after the change in the rules in Australia.

The UK government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs had been reviewing the policy.

During its meeting in January it was argued that “the evidence does not support the continuation of the ban”, and “the evidence supports a 12-month deferral period since last occurrence be introduced for men who have had oral or anal sex with another man, whether a condom or other protective was used or not”.

Earlier in the year the Royal College of Nursing voted overwhelmingly in favour of lifting the ban.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]


The Years Since 9/11 Already Look Like a Detour, Not the Main Road of History

The defining feature of world politics in the long term will not be Islamist terrorism, but the shift in power from west to east.

Amid the plethora of conspiracy theories about 9/11, one I have not yet seen is that Osama bin Laden was a Chinese agent. Yet objectively, comrades — as communists used to say — one could argue that China has been the greatest beneficiary of America’s decade-long reaction to those Islamist stabs at her heart. Put it this way: When the anniversary articles come to be written on 11 September 2031, will commentators look back on a 30 years war against Islamist terrorism, comparable to the cold war, as the defining feature of world politics since 2001? I think not. They will most likely see this longer period as being defined by the historic power shift from west to east, with a much more powerful China and a less powerful United States, a stronger India and a weaker European Union.

As the Stanford historian Ian Morris points out in his mind-stretching book Why the West Rules — for Now, this geopolitical shift will occur within the larger frame of an unprecedented rate of technological advance, on the bright side, and an unprecedented array of global challenges, on the dark side. Of course, this is only historically informed guesswork. But if things develop in anything like this direction (or in another direction unrelated to Islam) then the post-9/11 decade in American foreign policy will look like a detour — a massive, consequential detour, to be sure — rather than history’s main road.

Moreover, if the Arab spring fulfils its modernising promise, the terrorist attacks on New York, Madrid and London will look more than ever like blasts from the past: an ending, not an opening. Even if the Arab spring wanes into an Islamist winter, and neighbouring Europe faces multiple threats as a result, this still does not mean that the struggle with illiberal and violent Islamism will be the defining feature of the next decades. Violent Islamism will remain a significant threat, but not, I suggest, the defining one — and particularly not for the US.

We can explore the same thought by means of a “what if”. To the extent that the administration of George W Bush had a geopolitical worldview in the summer of 2001, it was focused on China as the US’s new strategic competitor. What if the 9/11 attacks had not happened, and the US had continued to concentrate on the competition with China? What if it had realised how the west’s own victory at the end of the cold war, and the resulting globalisation of capitalism, had unleashed economic forces in the east which would become the greatest long-term challenge to the west? What if Washington had concluded that this competition required not more military might, but more and smarter investment in education, innovation, energy and the environment, and the full unfolding of America’s soft power? What if it had recognised that, faced with the renaissance of Asia, the relationship between consumption, investment and savings inside the US had to be rebalanced? What if its political system and leadership had enabled it to act effectively on those reality-based conclusions?

Even then, China and India would be rising. Even then, power would be shifting from west to east. Even then, we would face global warming, water shortage, pandemics, and all the other new horsemen of the apocalypse. But how much better shape the west, and especially the US, would be in. End of “what if”. The attacks happened; America was bound to respond them. An administration that had previously been casting around for an overall direction found it with a vengeance. Ten years on, we can say that the threat from al-Qaida has been significantly reduced.. It has not been eliminated, that is not what happens with terrorism, but reduced. That is an achievement, but at what a cost.

America fought two major wars, one of necessity, in Afghanistan, one of choice, in Iraq. That in Afghanistan might have been over sooner, at less cost, and with a better result, if the Bush administration had not hared off into Iraq. The US has done damage to its own reputation and soft power (the power to attract) through such horrors as Abu Ghraib.

Meanwhile, and partly as a result of what has happened in this decade, nuclear-armed Pakistan is a greater danger than it was 10 years ago. In the wider Muslim world, including Muslim communities in Europe, there are contradictory tendencies. We can point to evidence of liberalising modernisation, both in the Arab spring and among Muslims in Europe, but also, as in Pakistan and Yemen, of further Islamist radicalisation.

A major research project on the Costs of War at Brown University records that over these 10 years “more than 2.2 million Americans have gone to war and over a million have returned as veterans”. It estimates the overall, long-term economic costs so far incurred as a result of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and other theatres of counter-terrorist action at between $3.2 and $4 trillion. On its projections of likely future activity until 2020, that could rise to as much as $4.4tn. Experts can argue about the numbers, but there is no doubt that they are huge. In round figures, this amounts to something like a quarter of the US’s soaring national debt, which itself is heading up towards 100% of GDP.

Yet this is nothing like a full accounting of what economists call the opportunity cost. It’s not just a matter of how much investment in human resources, skilled jobs, infrastructure and innovation the US could have bought for $4tn — or even for half that amount, if you make the generous assumption that $2tn was actually needed to reduce the terrorist threat to the US by military, intelligence and homeland security means. Above all, it’s the opportunity cost in terms of national focus, energy and imagination. If you want to understand a country, ask who its heroes are. In this decade, the US has had two kinds of hero. One kind is the businessman-innovator: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. The other is the warrior: the marine, the Navy Seal, the firefighters, all “our men and women in uniform”. On CNN the other day (not Fox News) I actually heard the anchorwoman use the phrase “our warriors”, as if it were a neutral, newscaster’s term.

And when you hear some of those stories of individual bravery by Americans in uniform, they are incredible, inspiring, humbling. (Watch Jon Stewart’s Daily Show interview with Sergeant Leroy Petry for an example.) That needs to be said clearly on this anniversary. But I find myself wondering what kinds of jobs — if any — these brave men and women will come back to. What kind of homes, lives, schools for their children? Opinion polls suggest that is what a great many Americans are wondering too. Their priorities are now back at home.

What president Barack Obama says this week in his special address to Congress about job creation will be more important to them than even the most eloquent words he might muster when he speaks in Washington’s earthquake-damaged National Cathedral on the September 11 anniversary this Sunday. Honour to those warriors, but the heroes America needs now are the heroes of job creation.

[JP note: For a similar view see Robert Irwin’s Pulp orientalism here ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]