Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110913

Financial Crisis
»Berlusconi Tells EU ‘Austerity Package Will Pass’
»GOP Balks at Taxes to Finance Jobs Plan
»Greece: ‘Temporary Work Suspensions’ Brought in
»Italy: PD Claims Austerity Package Hits Lower Classes Harder
»Italy: Bond Spreads Reach Highest Level in a Decade
»Rome ‘Turns to China for Help During Debt Crisis’
»Texas Coal Company Announces 500 Layoffs, Sues to Block EPA Regulation
»A Nightmare That Could be Worse Than 9/11
»As American as Apple-Pie: How Anwar Al-Awlaki Became the Face of Western Jihad
»G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner
»Surprising Facts About America’s Poor
»The Corporate Enemy
»Uncle Sucker Blesses Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” HQ in Qatar
»Why Obama’s Jobs Bill Could be Bad for Charity
Europe and the EU
»Anti-Paedophilia Assocs Bring Charges Against Ratzinger
»Euro Parliament Storm Over Berlusconi Visit
»Fiat Chief Hails New Firing Rules
»Italy: Record Compensation of Ustica Victims’ Relatives
»Spain: Half Hour of Agony for De La Vega Bull, Protests
»Total’s Caspian Gas Discovery
»UK: ‘He’s Very Loving and Caring’: Mother Defends Teenage Thug Son Who Hurled Brick Into Four-Year-Old Girl’s Face
»UK: Blind Brits and Sighted Yanks
»UK: George Osborne Allegations: Andy Coulson’s ‘Favourable’ Editorial
»UK: Lager, Lies and Missing Knives
»UK: Lemmingland Ten Years on
»UK: Migrant Jobseekers Who Don’t Bother to Learn English Will be Stripped of Benefits, Pledges Cameron
»UK: Twinings’ Earl Grey Brew-Haha is Just the Start
»UK: TUC [Trade Union Conference]: NUJ to Call for Support Against Far-Right Groups
»Libya: Rebels ‘Execute 85 Mercenaries, Including 12 Serbs’
North Africa
»Cairo Mob Attacked CNN: ‘They Were Animals’
»Egypt: Erdogan Visits, Welcomed by Students to Al-Azhar
»Erdogan in Cairo Seekings Backing Against Israel
»Libya’s Interim Leader Makes Landmark Tripoli Speech
»Libya’s New Leader Calls for a Moderate Islam
»Libya: Rebel Leader Says Country Will be Based on ‘Moderate Islam’
»Libya: Amnesty Says Rebels Responsible for Possible War Crimes
»Mgr Martinelli Supports Rebels’ Good Intentions in Building the New Libya
»Rasmussen: Libya Could Fall Into the Hands of Extremists
»Rising Leader in Egypt Has Astonishing Plans: ‘Exterminate Christians, Close Pyramids, Sphinx’
»Turkey’s Erdogan Arrives in Cairo to Roll Up His Sleeves to Establish Robust Relations
»Turkey-Egypt: PM Erdogan Welcomed by Thousands in Cairo
Israel and the Palestinians
»Caroline Glick: Lessons From the Embassy Takeover
»Recognition of Palestinian State a Must, Erdogan
»UN Vote on Palestine Will Set Back Peace
Middle East
»Erdogan Stokes the Flames
»‘Israel Ostracized Over Aggressive Policies’
»Libya, Syria, Egypt and Middle East Unrest — Live Updates
»Luttwak States Al Qaeda is “Dead and Buried”
»Report: Turkish Warplanes Now Able to Fire at Israeli Targets
»Syria: State Media: Al Qaeda Militiamen Entering From Iraq
»Turkey, Prime Minister Take on Leadership Role in the Middle East
»Turkey Dispatches 3 Warships to Eastern Mediterranean
»David Cameron ‘Would Have Been a Very Good KGB Agent’
»On the Anniversary of 9 / 11, The Great Mosque of Moscow Demolished
South Asia
»A Cornishman’s Six Months in Helmand Province
»Afghanistan: Kabul US Embassy Attack: Live
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Kenya Kidnapping: Fears Grow for Deaf Wife
»South Africa: Modern Day Genocide
»UK Police in Kenya to Aid Briton’s Murder Investigation
»Algeria: Two Dead Bodies on Boat, 15 Missing
Culture Wars
»UK: East London Pride Will Go Ahead, Despite Ban on Marches
»9/11 Anniversary: Al-Qaeda Releases New Video Applauding Arab Spring
»By Reacting to 9/11 With Self-Recrimination, The Western Elites Have Strengthened the Hand of Brutal Islamism

Financial Crisis

Berlusconi Tells EU ‘Austerity Package Will Pass’

Italy’s economic plan ‘ambitious’ says EU pres

(ANSA) — Brussels, September 13 — Italy’s 54-billion-euro austerity package to balance the budget by 2013 will be approved by confidence vote in the House on Wednesday, Premier Silvio Berlusconi told the European Union on Tuesday.

Berlusconi was in Brussels meeting with European Council President Herman van Rompuy to discuss the package of spending cuts and tax hikes, which van Rompuy called “ambitious”.

“Implementing [the austerity package] across the board is crucial,” said the EU president, adding his approval of an Italian bill to change the Constitution so balanced budgets will be a requirement for local governments.

Berlusconi insisted that the entire package would be passed by the House “with a vote of confidence” despite criticism from the opposition, which Berlusconi said was “ruining Italy” more than it was hurting his own reputation.

The austerity package was altered several times in the Senate, raising jitters on the financial markets, before meeting approval there last week.

Berlusconi reassured viewers on one of his television channels Wednesday that the bill was through being tinkered with.

Italy was forced to bring its balanced-budget goal forward by one year in August in exchange for bond-buying by the European Central Bank to keep Rome’s debt crisis from spiralling out of control.

Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said Sunday the package will be flanked by moves to rev up Italy’s near-stagnant economy, funding public works and other job-creating schemes with the revenue from the sale of fourth-generation mobile-phone licenses.

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, who has been closely following the package’s passage, said last week Italy’s low-growth problem was “dramatic”.

Critics of the austerity package claim that, in itself, it does little to lift the economy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

GOP Balks at Taxes to Finance Jobs Plan

The prospects for President Barack Obama’s $447 billion jobs plan grew dimmer Monday as he unveiled the fine print of how it would be paid for—primarily through tax increases that Republicans said would destroy jobs, not create them.

Mr. Obama proposed limiting itemized deductions for families with taxable income of $250,000 or more a year, ending tax breaks for oil companies and corporate jet owners, and cutting out a tax break for investment-fund managers. The White House says the tax changes would take effect in 2013 and estimates they would raise $467 billion in additional revenue over 10 years.

Republicans in Congress, who had been striking a more conciliatory tone about backing at least parts of the proposal the president unveiled last Thursday, disputed the White House contention that the plan would cause no additional job losses for the struggling economy.

“It would be fair to say this tax increase on job creators is the kind of proposal both parties have opposed in the past,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio). “We remain eager to work together on ways to support job growth, but this proposal doesn’t appear to have been offered in that bipartisan spirit.”

Mr. Obama made a new pitch for his plan at the White House Monday and has said he intends to campaign against Congress and Republicans in 2012 if they don’t pass the bill.

“We’ve got to decide what our priorities are,” he said. “Do we keep tax loopholes for oil companies, or do we put teachers back to work? Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or should we invest in education and technology and infrastructure?”

We’ve got to decide what our priorities are,” he said. “Do we keep tax loopholes for oil companies, or do we put teachers back to work? Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, or should we invest in education and technology and infrastructure?”

Despite Mr. Obama’s demand that Congress act on the legislation quickly, neither the jobs nor tax proposals are likely to be approved or take affect any time soon. Senate Democratic leaders are expected to bring the bill to a vote in the coming weeks, but it is not expected to pass.


From the outset, Republicans said Mr. Obama’s jobs bill—which comprises tax cuts for employers and employees and a raft of government spending measures, including funds to states to rehire teachers and first responders—was unlikely to pass intact, a point White House officials privately conceded. But GOP leaders had signaled in recent days that they may support an extension of a payroll-tax cut in 2012 and changes to help the long-term unemployed.

Despite the White House’s hope that Republicans would have a change of heart after their political standing decreased after the acrimonious debt ceiling debate this summer, GOP reaction to Mr. Obama’s proposal on Monday expressed a familiar sentiment, although in a less combative tone. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) said the parts of the jobs bill involving spending aimed at stimulating economic growth were unacceptable to Republicans.

“Anything that is akin to a stimulus bill is not going to be acceptable,” he said. “Over half of the total dollar amount is so called stimulus spending. We have been there, done that. The country cannot afford more spending like a stimulus bill.”


[Return to headlines]

Greece: ‘Temporary Work Suspensions’ Brought in

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, SEPTEMBER 13 — Amid pressure from the country’s European creditors, Greece’s government is urgently executing the temporary suspension from work of excess staff in state-owned businesses and other public organisations.

The junior secretary for Administrative Reform, Ntinos Rovlias, last night presented to Parliament the list of the first 151 companies or state-owned businesses for whom the temporary suspension of employees will be applied. Meanwhile, the secretary for businesses with state-owned stakes (DECO) has sent out a circular letter activating the suspension of staff. The circular states that all directors of state-run businesses and organisations will have to send a letter by September 26 to the secretary, listing names of excess staff, who must represent at least 10% of the total number of employees for each company or body. According to Greek newspapers, the operation will begin with at least 3,500 workers being temporarily suspended from their jobs.

The first employees to be included in the lists will be those who have earned their right to a pension, those of pensionable age and those with lower qualifications to others, such as a primary school certificate. The Kathimerini newspaper says that an amendment will be presented in Parliament in the next few days, according to which a further 200,000 employees of public listed companies will be temporarily suspended.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: PD Claims Austerity Package Hits Lower Classes Harder

(AGI) Milan — D’Alema said the onerous measures of the austerity package are necessary, but they hit the lower classes harder. “Unfortunately, the government’s austerity package in its present form is necessary “, but “we believe that it doesn’t distribute the burden of the crisis equitably, as it mostly affects the lower classes, the working class”, Massimo D’Alema said shortly after arriving at a PD event in Milan. In particular, he criticised the decision to raise VAT, because “it is a tax on the consumptions of all citizens”. D’Alema also said that there are no measures in the austerity package “to boost economic growth and employment”.

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

Italy: Bond Spreads Reach Highest Level in a Decade

Minister confirms talks with Chinese government

(ANSA) — Rome, September 13 — Yields on Italian five-year bonds reached their highest level since the introduction of the euro a decade ago on Tuesday at an auction that highlighted investor concern about the country’s economic future.

The new record was set as Treasury sources confirmed that the Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti had met a Chinese investment delegation last week amid speculation that Italy was asking the Chinese government to buy its bonds On Monday the Financial Times newspaper reported that Italy had asked China to make “significant” purchases of Italian debt.

Spreads on five-year bonds were at 447 points late morning, while the spread between the 10-year Italian bond against the German bund rose to 440 points in early trading, before dropping back to 404 points. It was the first time that the 10-year spread against the German bund had risen above 400 basis points since the beginning of August. The European Central Bank has been buying Italian bonds for more than a month but a surge in bond yields has revived concern about Italy’s financial state and raised doubts about whether the government’s 54-billion-euro austerity package goes far enough. The Treasury sold a total of 6.485 billion euros worth of fixed-rate BTP bonds, just under its maximum target of 7 billion euros, but had to pay a record yield of 5.6%, from 4.93% at the last auction on 4 billion euros of five-year paper.

China declined to confirm or deny reports of a meeting between Tremonti and Chinese officials regarding the acquisition of Italian debt.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Rome ‘Turns to China for Help During Debt Crisis’

Rome, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Italy has held talks with China in an effort to convince the world’s second-largest economic power to purchase a significant amount of bonds and shares of strategic companies to help it emerge from a debt crisis that has sent volatility through international financial markets, according to the Italian Treasury, confirming earlier news reports.

Finance minister Giulio Tremonti met with a group of Chinese officials last week to talk about potential bond purchases by the China’s sovereign wealth fund, the China Investment Corp, or CIC, the Treasury said, confirming reports by the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times. The Italians have also tried to convince China to acquire large percentages of state controlled companies like Eni and Enel, respectively the country’s biggest oil and power companies.

CIC chairman Lou Jiwei, China’s ambassador to Italy Ding Wei, and Italy’s state-controlled Cassa Depositi e Prestiti also attended the meeting.

China already holds 4 percent of Italy’s debt, according to the Financial Times.

Worries about Italy’s ability to pay off its 1.9 trillion euros in debt has caused the interest rate in its bonds to rise and raised questions about the future of the euro currency if the third-biggest economy in the 17-member monetary block defaults on its obligations.

Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government is trying to pass a measure that would reduce spending by more than 50 billion euros to satisfy concerns by the European Central Bank, which has purchased large blocks of Italian bonds to increase demand.

It is not immediately known if China has agreed to the purchases.

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

Texas Coal Company Announces 500 Layoffs, Sues to Block EPA Regulation

by Laclan Markay

It was sadly ironic that Texas energy company Luminant announced it would lay off 500 employees on the same morning that President Obama unveiled legislation designed to promote job growth. The company said that a new rule from the Environmental Protection Agency will force it to cease operations at two electricity generating plants, and close three coal mines.

“We have hundreds of employees who have spent their entire professional careers at Luminant and its predecessor companies,” Luminant CEO David Campbell said in a news release. “At every step of this process, we have tried to minimize these impacts, and it truly saddens me that we are being compelled to take the actions we’ve announced today.”

The company cited the EPA’s new cross-state pollution rule as the impetus for the decision, and noted that it had worked to identify other means of reducing emissions, but that “meeting this unrealistic deadline also forces us to take steps that will idle facilities and result in the loss of jobs,” Campbell said.

Campbell also announced that the company has filed a lawsuit against the EPA in an effort “to achieve [EPA emissions] goals without harming critically important Texas jobs and electric reliability.” The suit seeks to block the cross-state pollution rule for Texas companies, and to grant a stay to Texas companies to prevent them from having to comply with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions standards by the existing January 1, 2012 deadline.

But though the company called the regulation unrealistic policy, it also said that it will seek emissions reductions. “Luminant supports continued efforts to improve air quality across the state and nation,” the company’s release stated. “Since 2005, for example, Luminant has achieved a 21 percent reduction in SO2 emissions, while at the same time increasing generation by 13 percent.”

Faced with potential economic damage from the cross-state pollution rule and other EPA regulations, other groups have also spoken out for environmental solutions that do not imperil the nation’s economy.

In Missouri, for instance, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity established a state-level coalition to push for “reasonable environmental regulation that continues the pursuit of cleaner air while balancing economic priorities.” While clean coal has problems of its own, the emphasis on economically sound environmental policies seems to be gaining steam as the EPA steps up its regulatory efforts.

Even groups generally on the political left have spoken out against those regulations while still noting the importance of environmental concerns. The president of the St. Louis chapter of the AFL-CIO, a member of the Missouri clean coal group, called on the EPA to “consider a balanced approach that gives us cleaner air without sacrificing jobs and increasing energy prices.”

[Return to headlines]


A Nightmare That Could be Worse Than 9/11

After 9/11, an event that Americans and their allies will never forget, the United States focused on a war on terrorism. There is, however, a threat that has been largely ignored—the threat of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), noted by Investor’s Business Daily. In 2004 and 2008, the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (also known as the EMP Commission) released its reports on how to protect the United States from an EMP. Despite its recommendations, little progress has been made in protecting the country from an EMP attack and its catastrophic consequences.

An EMP is a high-intensity burst of electromagnetic energy caused by the rapid acceleration of charged particles. Nuclear and non-nuclear weapons or geomagnetic storms can cause an EMP. An EMP would disrupt electronics, transmission distribution centers, fuses, and power lines, sending the United States back to the 19th century. While an EMP does not kill people, millions would die as the distribution of food, transportation, and delivery of a basic health care would collapse.

Manmade causes of an EMP include a nuclear weapon detonated at a high altitude. Intercontinental-range ballistic missiles are one of the possible means of delivery for such a scenario. Short-range, less technologically challenging, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles launched off U.S. shores would deliver a similarly devastating attack. North Korea currently possesses nuclear weapons, and its missiles can reach Hawaii and Alaska. Iran continues to improve the range of its ballistic missiles and work towards obtaining nuclear weapons capability. A robust missile defense is essential for protection from this type of attack. Such a missile defense system, composed of Aegis ballistic missile defense capable ships; Aegis Ashore, a land-based missile defense component; and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capabilities, can deprive the opponent of the opportunity to deliver a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile and cause an EMP in the first place.

But an EMP could be inflicted without an organized group behind it. With the right equipment, a lone terrorist could cause a blackout of a city—with commercially available equipment. Time is running short. For about $200 million, the United States can harden the major transformers associated with large metropolitan areas. This would allow more people to survive the consequences of an EMP. If the electrical power grid were destroyed, it would take years to replace critical transformers, since only a few countries build them; it takes more than a year to make one transformer. The United States can and has the obligation to prevent another “failure of imagination.” The time to act is now.

[Return to headlines]

As American as Apple-Pie: How Anwar Al-Awlaki Became the Face of Western Jihad

ICSR [The International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation] is pleased to announce the release of its newest report, As American As Apple Pie: How Anwar al-Awlaki Became the Face of Western Jihad, by Research Fellow Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens. This study provides the first forensic analysis of Anwar al-Awlaki’s work, which tracks his ideological path from a supposedly moderate preacher to an al-Qaeda recruiter.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

G.O.P. Gains House Seat Vacated by Weiner

A little-known Republican businessman from Queens, channeling voter discontent with President Obama into an upset, won election to Congress on Tuesday from the heavily Democratic district in New York City last represented by Anthony D. Weiner.

The Republican, Bob Turner, a retired cable television executive, defeated Assemblyman David I. Weprin, the scion of a prominent Democratic family in Queens, in a nationally watched special election.

Mr. Turner, speaking earlier in the night to his boisterous supporters at the Roma View restaurant in Howard Beach, Queens, cautioned that “it ain’t over till its over.” But his campaign spokesman said in a message via Twitter that Mr. Turner anticipated what he described as a “strong win.”

Mr. Turner’s supporters, sipping beer and mixed drinks and munching on cherry tomatoes and mozzarella, cheered as Representative Peter King, Republican of New York, said the election was going well for Mr. Turner. Mr. King attributed Mr. Turner’s strength to disenchantment with Mr. Obama’s stance on Israel…

[Return to headlines]

Surprising Facts About America’s Poor

In his address to the joint session of Congress last week, President Barack Obama called for $477 billion in new federal spending, which he said would give hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people hope and dignity while giving their low-income parents “ladders out of poverty.” And today, the U.S. Census released its annual poverty report, which declared that 46.2 million persons, or roughly one in seven Americans, were poor in 2010. What President Obama didn’t tell America as he was pleading for more spending—and what the Census Bureau didn’t report—is what it really means to be poor in America.

In a new report, Heritage’s Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield lay out what the U.S. government’s own facts and figures really say about poverty in the United States. The results might surprise you, especially if your view of poverty is the conventional one, perpetuated by the media—namely, destitute conditions of homelessness and hunger. In reality, though, the living conditions of those defined as poor by the government are much different than that popular image. The following are facts about persons defined as “poor” by the Census Bureau:

  • 80 percent of poor households have air conditioning
  • Nearly three-fourths have a car or truck, and 31 percent have two or more cars or trucks
  • Nearly two-thirds have cable or satellite television
  • Two-thirds have at least one DVD player and 70 percent have a VCR
  • Half have a personal computer, and one in seven have two or more computers
  • More than half of poor families with children have a video game system, such as an Xbox or PlayStation
  • 43 percent have Internet access
  • One-third have a wide-screen plasma or LCD television
  • One-fourth have a digital video recorder system, such as a TiVo

As for hunger and homelessness, Rector and Sheffield point to 2009 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture showing that 96 percent of poor parents stated that their children were never hungry at any time during the year because they could not afford food, 83 percent of poor families reported having enough food to eat, and over the course of a year, only 4 percent of poor persons become temporarily homeless, with 42 percent of poor households actually owning their own homes. Want an international comparison? The average poor American has more living space than the average Swede or German. You can read even more of those facts in their report, “Understanding Poverty in the United States.”

None of this is to say that the poor have it easy. Sadly, one in 25 will become temporarily homeless during the year, and one in five poor adults will experience temporary food shortages and hunger at some point in a year. But exaggerating the conditions of poverty does not do America any good, as Rector and Sheffield explain:

The poor man who has lost his home or suffers intermittent hunger will find no consolation in the fact that his condition occurs infrequently in American society. His hardships are real and should be an important concern to policymakers. Nonetheless, anti-poverty policy needs to be based on accurate information. Gross exaggeration of the extent and severity of hardships in America will not benefit society, the taxpayers, or the poor.

Those exaggerations about the symptoms of poverty don’t solve the root causes of the problem, either. As Rector and Sheffield write, “Among families with children, the collapse of marriage and the erosion of work ethic are the principal long-term causes of poverty.” In order to truly benefit the poor, they say, welfare policy must require able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. And it should strengthen marriage in low-income communities, rather than ignore and penalize it.

Poverty is a serious problem that requires serious solutions. But policymakers and the public need accurate information about what poverty in the United States really means. Only then can they implement the right policies to help those Americans who are truly in need.

[see embedded links at original URL]

[Return to headlines]

The Corporate Enemy

A report of a recent speech from Sarah Palin has the New York Times almost purring with pleasure. She made three interlocking points, says the paper. First, that the United States is now governed by a “permanent political class”, drawn from both parties, that is increasingly cut off from the concerns of regular people.

Second, that these Republicans and Democrats have allied with big business to mutual advantage to create what she called “corporate crony capitalism”. Third, that the real political divide in the United States may no longer be between friends and foes of Big Government, but between friends and foes of vast, remote, unaccountable institutions (both public and private).

These points are directly applicable to the UK (and much of Europe), and are much the same that I have addressed in three separate pieces, this one, then this one and especially this.

The New York Times has it that some Palin’s ideas cross the political divide, but the real issue is that the nature of the political divide has changed. We no long have the left-right divisions, or the distinction between state and free market. What has happened, as I argue in the third of my pieces, is that the line has moved from vertical to horizontal, the upper part occupied by the political classes and the corporates — with no distinction between private and public sectors.

That is in fact, where the battle lines are now drawn, something which Palin understands. If the sensitive little souls from UKIP got over their wounded feelings and used their brains, they too might realise that. The EU is only a tiny part of the overall problem. It is one corporate amongst many.

On top of the political classes, therefore, our enemies are the corporates. The battle is to be fought with them as a whole. And that is going to need a lot more than a referendum, or any of the other ideas we’ve seen coming from a eurosceptic camp that seems unable to comprehend that the battle has moved on.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uncle Sucker Blesses Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” HQ in Qatar

by Diana West

On September 10, the Islamic jihadists of Afghanistan, commonly known as the Taliban, massively struck at a US military outpost with a truck bomb that left a 20-foot-deep crater, wounding scores of Americans, mainly with concussions.

On September 11, President Barack Hussein Obama read Psalm 46 at Ground Zero: “Come, behold the works of the Lord, how he has wrought desolations in the earth.” As Robert Spencer pointed out, “The only people who think that 9/11 was an act of the Supreme Being wreaking desolations on the earth are…Islamic jihadists.”

On September 12, the Times of London reported that the Taliban were opening political headquarters in Qatar — with US blessings.

This isn’t just surrender, it’s submission, and it is veritably and openly preached by the 44th president of the US. Unless the GOP candidates delve deeper and more seriously into this existential threat, hands-on and eyes open, we will be buried by a cascade of falling dominoes — not countries this time around (although that too) so much as our core institutions as they turn ever more Islamic.

From The Australian today:…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Why Obama’s Jobs Bill Could be Bad for Charity

The aim of philanthropy — as stated by John D. Rockefeller — is for the wealthy to step in and provide services that government won’t. The two were supposed to act in concert, not in competition.

The Obama jobs bill, however, creates a new battle between the charity world and government.

The main source of funding for his $447 billion jobs bill is a limit on the deductions for those individuals making $200,000 a year or more (apparently, $200,000 is the new $250,000 when it comes to defining “wealthy.”).

Specifically, the proposal would limit the value of itemized deductions to 28 cents for each dollar of income deducted. Currently, the value of deductions for high-income earners is 35 cents on the dollar if they’re in the top 35% tax bracket.

The argument for the limit is that the top earners are getting a bigger tax break for deductions than those in lower brackets. Why should someone earning $1 million a year, in other words, deduct 35 cents for every dollar of giving while someone making $40,000 a year could only deduct 25 cents.

Yet the limits would likely reduce charitable giving because deductions are a big reason the rich give (despite the fact that the wealthy say they give out of kindness not tax breaks). And if they can deduct less, they’ll give less.

“Limiting the itemized deduction would certainly lead to a significant decrease in charitable contributions. If charities have less resources, they’ll be forced to choose between laying off employees or cutting needed services,” William C. Daroff, vice president for Public Policy at the Jewish Federations of North America told the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Cutting philanthropy to fund the jobs program may, in fact, reduce overall jobs and services for the needy, some say.

The program is “exactly the wrong direction to go in,” Sandra Swirski, executive director of the Alliance for Charitable Reform told the Chronicle.

Charities, of course, may be just as inefficient as government when it comes to creating jobs. And they will cry foul for anything that threatens their own budgets.

What’s more, this idea was floated in 2009 and quickly rejected — in part because of fierce lobbying from non-profits.

Yet funding a jobs program by reducing charitable gifts does seem to be a strange way to improve the economy.

Who do you think is better at creating jobs: charities or government?

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anti-Paedophilia Assocs Bring Charges Against Ratzinger

(AGI) Amsterdam — Paedophilia victims association files charges against the Pope for his alleged role in crimes against humanity. Charges brought by US-based SNAP — Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests — and by the Center for Constitutional Rights were filed against Pope Benedict XVI and three high-ranking members of the Roman Catholic Church at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague. The two organisations backed allegations with a 20,000-page report, accusing the Vatican of “tolerating” sexual abuse against minors worldwide and of “protecting” culprits.

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

Euro Parliament Storm Over Berlusconi Visit

Greens and LibDems protest. President says “I’ll see him for two minutes”.

STRASBOURG — Today’s visit by Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi to Europe’s three main institutions has turned up the temperature in the EU’s corridors of power. Criticism and protests had begun to fly even before the opening of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, visibly embarrassing the president of the chamber, Poland’s Jerzy Buzek, who had confirmed the meeting with the Italian prime minister shortly beforehand. The president of the European Council, Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy, and the Portuguese president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, had to issue statements to explain the motives for the meetings. EU sources let it be known that the requests had arrived from the Italian Prime Minister’s Office last week, officially to illustrate Italy’s newly approved budget but — according to Centre-left opposition politicians — to sidestep Silvio Berlusconi’s appointment with magistrates in Naples.

The point was raised at Strasbourg by former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, who as leader of the Liberal Democrats represents Antonio Di Pietro’s Italy of Values (IDV) and who asked Mr Buzek for an explanation. But the harshest attack came from the Greens’ co-leader Rebecca Harms, who protested to Mr Buzek that the meeting with Silvio Berlusconi was “inappropriate” on “the day when he should have been in court”. There was no comment from the Socialist leader, Germany’s Martin Schulz, who had a spectacular clash with Mr Berlusconi at Strasbourg in 2003 when was called a “Kapò” [a concentration camp prisoner put in charge of other prisoners — Trans.]. Members of Mr Schulz’s group applauded the protests of Liberals and Greens. People of Freedom (PDL) group leader Mario Mauro defended the visit by the prime minister, who, “love him or hate him, is the prime minister of one of the EU’s founder nations which is in Europe for its history and for the role it has played in the defence of democracy”. Mr Mauro accused Ms Harms of using an “intimidatory tone” and the Greens of “being in no position to issue certificates of democracy”. Faced with a forest of raised hands from MEPs wanting to intervene, Mr Buzek called for an end to the argument, reassuring the chamber that today’s was only a “courtesy visit”, not an official one, and that he would be able to set aside for it only “a couple of minutes” because of other engagements. Shortly afterwards, the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed that Mr Berlusconi would only be taking a “courtesy greeting” to Mr Buzek subsequent to the official appointment with Mr Barroso, calling the protests of MEPs “tendentious”. But the Greens’ leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit announced that he would return to the issue this morning. Mr Schulz will also have to take a stance to dispel any suspicions of opportunism since today he is due to announce his candidature for the presidency of the European Parliament following a power-sharing deal with the PPE (the parliamentary group to which the PDL belongs)…

English translation by Giles Watson

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

Fiat Chief Hails New Firing Rules

Norm in fiscal package ‘absolutely civilised’ says Marchionne

(ANSA) — Frankfurt, September 13 — Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne on Tuesday hailed new rules that would make it easier to fire workers in Italy.

Speaking at the Frankfurt Motor Show, Marchionne said the rules, contained in the government’s new fiscal package, were “absolutely civilised”.

Asked about street protests against the norms, which will allow firms to go outside national contracts to forge local agreements on sacked workers, the Fiat and Chrysler CEO said: “I don’t want to talk about people getting angry.

“The move that (Labour Minister Maurizio) Sacconi made with article 8 (of the package) is extremely important,” said Marchionne, who has been pushing for years for greater hire-and-fire flexibility and has struck plant-specific accords which have angered the same large left-wing union that led last week’s general strike, CGIL.

“It (article 8) will start to give not only Fiat but also everyone who wants to invest in Italy the certainty that enables them to manage,” he said.

“Sacconi’s move resolved very many problems, We have the certainty we can manage things, which was the important thing for us”.

Fiat had threatened to leave Italy unless the factory-specific deals opposed by CGIL went through.

Industrialists and economists have been calling on governments for years to free up Italy’s labour market.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Record Compensation of Ustica Victims’ Relatives

(AGI) Palermo — The Defense and Transport Ministries have been ordered to compensate relatives of Ustica victims 100 million euros. The judge for the third civil section of the Palermo Court, Paola Proto Pisani, sentenced the Ministries of Defence and Transport pay a record compensation of one-hundred million euros in favor of some of the relatives of the 81 victims vittims who perished in the Ustica air disaster. The relatives will be paid because the State showed itself to be unable to guarantee air safety. The argument that a bomb destroyed the DC9 has been excluded as has the hypothesis of structural flaws. The judge maintained that it was the responsibility of the Ministries to insure passenger safety.

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

Spain: Half Hour of Agony for De La Vega Bull, Protests

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, SEPTEMBER 13 — The death throes of ‘Aflijido’ (“Aflicted”), a 608-kilo bull injured in the Toro De La Vega bullfighting tournament — the controversial festival in Tordesilla (Valladolid) in which the bull is followed and stabbed by dozens of spears by the public to then bleed to death — lasted over half an hour, until 11:30 today. Giving the fatal blow to the animal before about 35,000 people, according to the town council, was Oscar Zamorano — who had previously won the trophy for having struck down the De La Vega bull on horseback. Protests against the Tordesilla bullfighting tradition were held by hundreds of animal rights activists from Madrid, Murcia, Valencia and Catalonia, who for years have been demanding that the medieval tournament be abolished, calling it a “barbaric act”: in contrast with its being declared part of Cultural Heritage by the Castilla y Leon council. Wearing green t-shirts, the animal rights activists this morning conducted a symbolic act to the cries of “break a spear in favour of the bull” and slogans like “torture is not culture” and “animal rights immediately”. Animal rights activists read to the Tordecilla mayor, the Socialist José Antonio Gonzalez Porcela, a manifesto signed by journalists, writers, sportsmen, musicians and figures in the entertainment world in which it is demanded that the hotly-debated “fiesta” be banned. Thousands also took part in the online campaign through the website ‘’. “The bull suffers not only physically,” said veterinarian Marta Jimeno, from the Party Against Animal Mistreatment (PACMA). “For more than 40 years we have known from a scientific point of view that they feel emotions, and therefore panic, fear, frustration, claustrophobia, and anxiety when they are followed, even when taken from the herd and loaded onto a truck.” For this afternoon animal rights associations have called a demonstration in Madrid’s Plaza de Callao to demand that the declaration of the De La Vega bullfighting tournament being of cultural interest be lifted and that the practice be abolished once and for all.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Total’s Caspian Gas Discovery

Total, Europe’s third largest oil company, announced last Friday that they have made a major gas discovery in the Caspian Sea.

The discovery, made in the Absheron block off the coast of Azerbaijan, is thought to have large pockets of gas spread over a 270-square-kilometer field and holds about 350 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 45 million metric tons of gas condensate, according to SOCAR, the state oil company of Azerbaijan.

It is likely that additional reserves will be discovered as the exploration of the field advances. Participants in Absheron are Total (40 percent), SOCAR (40 percent), and Gaz De France (20 percent).

This discovery will benefit Total, Azerbaijan, and the entire southern Caucasus, making the Southern Gas Corridor from the Caspian to Europe one step closer to reality. The discovery confirms Azerbaijan’s potential to become a significant supplier of natural gas to Europe, making the Caspian basin a competitive source of gas in addition to Gazprom’s depleting West Siberian fields and vast but expensive-to-exploit Yamal peninsular fields in the north of Russia.

Total has been working in Azerbaijan since 1996 and already pumps 13,000 barrels of oil a day. The group owns 10 percent of the South Caucus Pipeline Company and 5 percent of the Baku-Tsibili-Ceyan Oil pipeline. Total’s senior vice president for exploration Marc Blaizot stated that the techniques developed by the company in its Caspian work would help it find more gas in similar basins off Britain, Brunei, Malaysia, and Egypt.

The gas find has far reaching geopolitical implications for the South Caucasus nation. With Azerbaijan emerging as a natural gas leading potential supplier, Europe views Azeri gas as a way to break Russia’s grip on the continent’s gas market. The European Union and Azerbaijan are expanding their relations. In January 2011, an important declaration on the Southern Gas Corridor was signed by Baku and Brussels.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev stated that Azeri energy policy “has one purpose—to promote the interests of the Azerbaijani nation and deepen regional cooperation.” Development of the Shah Deniz II, Absheron, and other gas reserves will benefit the entire region, providing funds for Azerbaijan’s development and a source of gas outside of the Russian network for Europe.

This discovery may irritate major gas suppliers, such as Russia and Iran. As additional gas exporters, such as Azerbaijan, step up gas exports, the geopolitical clout of the current leaders diminishes.

The United States should continue to encourage development of energy infrastructure in the region. As Matthew J. Bryza, the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, told the Trend News Agency, “The United States looks forward to continuing our work with Azerbaijan and the countries and companies developing the Southern Corridor…. We hope that the Southern Corridor will lead the way for future projects that will strengthen prosperity and stability throughout the entire South Caucasus.”

[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘He’s Very Loving and Caring’: Mother Defends Teenage Thug Son Who Hurled Brick Into Four-Year-Old Girl’s Face

Kallan Richardson, 18, was locked up for a year yesterday after leaving little Jersey-Lou Perry unconscious with a broken nose and two smashed teeth.

The thug had hurled a brick through the window of a van — striking the little girl square in the face.

But following his sentencing hearing at Grimsby Youth Court, Richardson’s mum Louise, 33, said her son was not the thug he had been portrayed to be.

She added: ‘It was an act of criminal damage gone wrong.

‘He’s a very good lad — he’s very loving and caring. It has been very stressful.

‘I understand it has been very stressful for the other family but it has been very stressful for us as well.

‘I have not brought an animal up. Only an animal would do that to a child. Nobody is going to throw a brick at a child for nothing.’

She told the court: ‘This incident has got out of hand. I know what he did was reckless. I am just really sorry for the family. We are just very sorry.’

And speaking before the hearing, Kallan told of his ‘sleepless nights’ since the incident last April.

He said outside court: ‘I never knew there was a kid in there. I would never have done it. You would have to be some sort of sick-head.

‘I am remorseful. I have got a two-year-old brother. I have had sleepless nights and was physically sick when I found out what happened.

‘It was a bad act — a terrible act. I am full of remorse for it. It was in the heat of the moment.

‘I would never have done it in a million years if I had known those kids were in the van. There was no intention to hurt her.

‘I wasn’t aiming the brick at the window. Knowing that there are kids in the car, why would you do that?’

District judge Daniel Curtis told Richardson as he sent him to a young offenders’ institution: ‘You committed a very serious offence indeed. As a consequence of your actions, a four-year-old child was seriously injured. It was reckless and it was dangerous.

‘This is a case that has caused considerable concern locally and nationally. A small child was very seriously injured.’

After the hearing, Jersey-Lou’s angry mother, Laura Mussell, 22, dismissed Richardson’s claims that he was remorseful — and branded the one-year custodial sentence ‘disgusting’, claiming it should have been far longer.

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]

UK: Blind Brits and Sighted Yanks

So, for those pro-Palestinian demonstrators who disrupted the Proms and forced the BBC to take its live broadcast off the air, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra was a proxy for the “repressive” Israeli state. We are all entitled to engage in non-violent protest, but I do get that Groundhog Day feeling whenever our anti-Israeli agitators rear their ugly heads. For decades now, we have heard the same mantra from this blinkered brigade. The world around them might change — 9/11, the 7/7 bombings, global jihad, evil doings by regimes from Iran and Sudan to Uzbekistan and Syria — but they remain stuck in their “anti-Zionist” loop, forever claiming that they are merely concerned with the protection of human rights.

Perhaps we should recognise the fact that anti-Israeli sentiment is so hardwired into Britain’s cultural DNA that it is unlikely ever to be erased. This partly stems from the contrasting, historic enchantment with the Arab world displayed by so many eminent people in this country, notably such celebrated adventurers as T E Lawrence and Freya Stark. Couple this with the antipathy towards Jews fostered during the British Mandate — when militant Zionists gave their British overlords a run for their money — and it is easy to see how it has come about.

The British in Palestine showed scant sympathy even for the desperate Holocaust survivors hoping to start new lives there, but whose boats they prevented from docking. My late (Jewish) father-in-law, then a British Army major stationed in Haifa, once left a dining table in disgust at a senior officer’s joke about the latest boat full of refugees: “We should pull the plug and drown the lot!”

The anti-Israeli convictions of later British generations may come from different sources, but are no less ingrained. They stem partly from the national predilection for championing the underdog, and Israel long ago stopped being that. Even if the underdog is now represented by Hamas, which delights in the killing of Israeli civilians, the attitude seems to be “so be it”.

It has also long been “cool” to be anti-American — which sits comfortably with being anti-Israel. Americans, of course, have never romanticised the Arab world. When Yanks look at the Middle East, they don’t come over all misty-eyed (cue theme music from Lawrence of Arabia) at a mystical landscape spoilt by a pushy little Jewish state. They see a vast region of despotic regimes, surrounding a solitary democracy which — while not beyond criticism — shares their own, enlightened, Western values.

Americans regard not only Israel, but the wider Jewish socio-cultural influence, in a different light to Brits. This was brought home to me during a recent visit to New York. I gave a talk at the Holocaust Memorial Library about my mother Vali Racz, a Righteous Among the Nations, to an audience of high-school history teachers from across the US. They had come to Manhattan for a two-week summer seminar on the Holocaust, so that they could be better equipped to teach the subject to their pupils. Full of questions, they seemed eager to learn.

There were few Jews among the teachers, and many taught in schools with few, if any, Jewish children. One teacher, Sam, came from a school in Massachusetts that he told me had a high proportion of refugee children from turbulent countries such as Honduras, Ecuador and Guatemala. “They’ve never even met a Jew,” he said. “But they are fascinated by the story of the Holocaust, because it’s all about betrayal, fear, courage, loyalty — concepts they understand”.

I can’t imagine a group of teachers from our political-correctness-mired British comprehensives spending a fortnight of their summer holiday enriching their knowledge of the Holocaust. A seminar on diversity studies, on the other hand, sponsored by the Guardian and with a keynote speech from Ken Livingstone — now that could get them fired up.

Monica Porter’s book about her mother is Deadly Carousel: A Singer’s Story of the Second World War

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: George Osborne Allegations: Andy Coulson’s ‘Favourable’ Editorial

Andy Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World who would later serve as the Conservative Party communications chief, allegedly helped George Osborne by running a favourable editorial amid allegations the future Chancellor had taken cocaine with a dominatrix, it has been claimed.

In October 2005, both the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror ran front-page stories carrying claims from Natalie Rowe that George Osborne, then the shadow chancellor, had taken drugs at parties in the early 1990s. Mr Osborne vehemently denies the allegations. In the same edition the News of the World, then edited by Andy Coulson, ran an editorial column which, it is claimed by Ms Rowe’s lawyer, gave the allegations a favourable angle and helped prevent severe damage being inflicted on the future Chancellor’s political career.

“That editorial could have gone completely the other way,” said Mark Lewis in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “It could have said, for example, whilst we do not believe that George Osborne took drugs he showed a serious error of judgement being at the party or being at the flat where drugs were taken, where there was an allegation of prostitution. He showed that error of judgement and therefore he’s not right to be in the heart of politics.

“The decision on which spin to give to the story by the editor of the News of the World particularly was something that determined his future in politics.” Mr Osborne has been credited for later pressing David Cameron to bring Mr Coulson into Conservative HQ. The editorial said the allegations posed “tough questions” during the then leadership contest within the Tory party, in which Mr Osborne was leading Mr Cameron’s campaign, but added: “Shadow Chancellor George Osborne was a young man when he found himself caught up in this murky world. “ It said it was for voters to judge the conduct of Mr Cameron’s team at election time, were he to win the leadership contest. The next election would be more than four years away. “Osborne — who runs party leadership hopeful David Cameron’s campaign — has now owned up to his encounters with a cocaine-snorting call-girl. And robustly condemns drugs for the destruction they wreak. Last week we said that the Tory leadership is Cameron’s for the taking. Nothing published since then has made us change our mind.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lager, Lies and Missing Knives

There’s been much written in today’s newspapers about the rival clashes between equally obnoxious extremist groups outside of the American Embassy in London yesterday.

Muslims Against Crusades (MAC) and the EDL clashed on a number of occasions at separate locations around central London resulting in dozens of arrests. While the MAC were outside of the American embassy in a provocative and tasteless demonstration, a ceremony was taking place to remember the 67 British victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Not to be outdone, the EDL turned up swigging cans of lager and shouting racist abuse. This was, apparently, their attempt to restore dignity to the solemnity of the ceremony and to “defend” the memory of those people who died.

Hope Not Hate has long said that MAC & EDL are exactly the same disease as each other. We condemn them both. Neither represents either the religions or the flags or the communities who they claim to speak for, represent or defend. What is interesting however, is the claim that two EDL members were stabbed by Muslims. It managed to make quite a few of the reports of the event as the EDL-having further disgraced themselves and their country’s national flag-went for some kind of martyrdom of their own, possibly to match even the supposed hunger strike of their mini-Fuhrer Tommy Robinson.

The truth however is far more interesting. There would appear to be an actual absence of the two victims. Their stabbings have been reported in newspapers, but apparently not to either the police or indeed, hospitals. The EDL of course, never let truth get in the way of their constant campaign of violence and lies directed against the Muslim community. Serial racist and moron Bill Baker of Essex is already writing that it is now “open season on all Muslims”. No doubt that was the real intent behind the news of the mysterious stabbings.

The EDL were led in London yesterday by UDA run-away Leon McCreery, the man who once covered his face to threaten to burn down Hope Not Hate’s offices. It looks like Leon has had to move to the south of England having upset some members of the Infidels, the EDL break away group. He’s just been named by members of the group as their “most wanted”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lemmingland Ten Years on

The tenth anniversary of 9/11 has been marked by a fresh outbreak in Britain of the political equivalent of auto-immune disease: treating the mortal enemies of the west as the victims of the west, while treating the west’s defenders as its mortal enemies. One thing al Qaeda got right about Britain and Europe (but not about the patriotic heartlands of the US) was that they no longer had the will to fight and die for their beliefs because they no longer knew what they were. Surely, however, even al Qaeda could not have envisaged quite how stunningly incapable the western intelligentsia and political class would be of grasping the difference between civilisation and its would-be destroyers, and how comprehensively they would therefore play into the Islamists’ hands — even now, ten years on. For the chattering classes seem determined to give al Qaeda a helping hand in reducing the west to a state of paralysis and impotence. According to liberal opinion, every single thing America did after 9/11 was wrong. The strategy of pre-emptive war was wrong. Better, apparently, that Saddam should still be in power developing his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programmes! Better that the Taleban were still in power training al Qaeda! Then we would all be so much safer!

So the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were wrong. The security measures taken against Islamic terrorism at home were wrong. Indeed, opined a Times writer, how worse than useless was this ‘war on a medieval world view’ (which after all only killed a few thousand people) when the British and US government could have been doing something really useful, like fighting climate change — over whose course, as we all know, mankind has such purchase. In the Guardian the esteemed thinker Francis Fukuyama, whose earlier thesis that the global triumph of democracy had brought about the end of history was not altogether borne out by the events of 9/11, marked the anniversary by dismissing al Qaeda as ‘a mere blip or diversion’, with the US ‘overreaction’ to 9/11 turning anti-Americanism into ‘a self-fulfilling prophecy’ — the murder of almost 3000 Americans in the attacks on New York and Washington clearly being inspired by a ‘blip’ that had nothing to do with anti-Americanism.

Also in the Guardian, Mehdi Hasan identified the ‘preachers of hate and division’ — not as Islamist fanatics but as those who warn against them. The only victims mentioned in this article were not the murdered Americans on 9/11, nor the Muslim and other victims of Islamist terrorism across the world, but Muslims in Britain who were now apparently too terrified to speak in public for fear of being labelled an extremist (with the exception, it seems, of Mehdi Hasan). And last week on BBC News Hard Talk, former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani repeatedly laughed incredulously at the assumptions of his interviewer, BBC correspondent Stephen Sackur. Wouldn’t you admit, said Sackur, that American policy after 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq was a mistake? Why should I admit that? said Giuliani when he had finished laughing; the US has foiled 42 separate terror attacks since then because of that security policy put in place by President Bush. Sackur tried again. But surely, he said, the police security strategy of targeting the Muslim community ‘gets in the way of the healing’. Giuliani laughed again even more incredulously. Well they would hardly target synagogues or churches he said. Of course the police targeted the mosques. It was from the mosques that the terror plots were coming. This is no more bad for Muslims than it was bad for Italian/Americans when I went after the Mafia in New York!

No wonder Giuliani laughed — he must have thought he’d wandered onto the set of a BBC comedy show by mistake. Sackur prayed in aid the remarks made by the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, in her Reith Lecture when she attacked the war in Iraq. Leaving aside the fact that since she ran MI5 rather than MI6 she presumably has no special insight into foreign affairs; and leaving aside also the fact that she was in charge of the Security Service when it so spectacularly failed to grasp that Islamic radicalisation within the UK was such a terrible problem, her remarks helped illuminate why the British ruling class just doesn’t get it, even today. For the former head of the Security Service revealed a depth of ignorance which was truly terrifying. She insisted that 9/11 was merely a crime, not an act of war, and different only in scale from any other crime. But what made me fall off my chair was this passage:

‘There are a few Muslims who argue that democracy, the right to elect a secular government, does not accord with Islamic principles. .It is perhaps worth noting that the modern Muslim Brotherhood does not subscribe to these non-democratic principles and actually condemned 9/11.

‘But I still find it difficult to accept that the terror attacks were on ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’ as some have claimed. The young men who committed the crime came from countries without democratic rights or freedoms, with no liberty to express their views in open debate, no easy way of changing their rulers, no opportunity for choice and well-aware that the west often supported these autocratic rulers, for them as for many others an external enemy was I believe a unifying way of expressing their own frustrations.’

A few Muslims? It is a principle of Islam, common to all four schools of the religion, that there can be no secular authority that takes precedence over Islamic law. The Brotherhood most certainly adheres to this principle. Insofar as it condemns violence against the west, it makes clear that it does so for purely tactical reasons. Its supreme spiritual leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi enjoins instead that Muslims should take over the west for Islam by flooding it with Muslims and infiltrating its institutions. As for al Qaeda being inspired by frustration with Arab rulers, has this woman never read the works of Osama bin Laden, as in his Letter to the American People where his first requirement is that America should become an Islamic state? How can the inspiration for those who turn themselves into human bombs be frustration at their lack of democratic freedom when so many Islamic terrorists have been highly educated within the west? If they are so frustrated by lack of democratic freedoms, who do they constantly declare their intention to snuff out those freedoms?

And how does ‘taking out their frustration on the west’ explain this, the wholesale persecution of Christians by Islamists across the Third World? How does it explain the assassination of the Pakistani regional governor for his stance against Islamist extremism — and the quarter of a million who took to the streets in Pakistan in support of this murder? How does Manningham-Buller square her theory about ‘frustration’ or Palestinian ‘grievances’ with the sermon delivered by Qaradawi last January, when he called for the killing of every Jew in the world? Why does she ignore the hallucinatory levels of demented Jew-hatred and religious fanaticism that actually inspire Islamic terrorism? How can such a person ever have been appointed to run Britain’s Security Service?

The one person who does understand what is at stake here is Tony Blair — who is of course treated as if he is a war criminal or insane or both. In his interview on the BBC Radio Four Today Programme at the weekend, Blair ran the gamut of the usual canards from interviewer John Humphrys: going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan was a disaster, this distracted the US and UK from catching bin Laden, the wars radicalised British Muslims, Saddam was no threat to the west, his removal had empowered Iran, and so on and on. Patiently, Blair tried again and again to return the conversation to reality. It was wrong, he said, to think of al Qaeda as just an isolated bunch of criminals; they were at the extreme end of a spectrum of Islamic thinking which was visible in attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and across the world. No effect on Humphrys. It was absurd to say, said Blair, that the war in Iraq had radicalised British Muslims when the killings in Iraq were b eing perpetrated by other Muslims and what the UK and US were trying to bring them was democracy. No effect.

It was wrong, he said, to say that he way to deal with Iran should have been to keep Saddam in power; the way to deal with Iran was to stop it getting nuclear weapons, if necessary by force. No effect.

After listening to this absurd farrago of illogicality, ignorance and false assumptions being hurled at Blair, I looked up my own Daily Mail column that was published on September 12 2002. I wrote then:

‘Any new regime in Iraq must fulfil only one criterion for us: that it will not pose a threat to the rest of the world. And the same goes for the other countries in Bush’s axis of terror: Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The US hopes that sorting Saddam will deliver to these other states the simple message: unless you desist from terror, you’re next.

‘If these states don’t put their houses in order, then the west has a moral duty to act against them too if the world is not to be held to ransom forever. Those who say war with Iraq threatens the stability of the whole region need a reality check again. The whole point is to upset the stability of the region, because the region has bankrolled, armed and trained terrorists for decades.’

The real problem with the US and UK reaction to 9/11 was that they did not follow through. It was Iran which destabilised Iraq post Saddam, Iran which was killing coalition troops there just as it had attacked western interests ever since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Saddam and the Taleban were threats to our interests from their sponsorship of terror and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction which they intended to use against the west (and contrary to received wisdom, WMD programmes were found in Iraq that had been in existence up to the start of the war). But we should have gone on to deal with Iran, Syria, Pakistan and Saudi as well. Instead, the US and UK have now reached the even more perverse situation where, having mucked up Iraq and Afghanistan by half-hearted or incompetently-prosecuted wars and giving the enemy the clear impression that the west is not prepared to stay the course, the US and UK have been busy helping topple regimes that were, to some extent at l east, helpful to the west while failing to deal with the mortal threat posed by Iran and its ally, Syria.

The jubilation at the fall of Gaddafy and Mubarak is, to say, the least, premature. Indeed, it is stupidity of the first order. As Conservative Home reported, David Cameron spoke optimistically about the ‘Arab Spring’ and described people in Egypt and Libya ‘seizing an alternative to the poisonous narrative of the extremists’ and that ‘the spread of democracy and rights’ was the trend rather than the ‘spread of extremism.’ Stating that al Qaeda was ‘politically defeated’, Cameron said: ‘Al Qaeda’s [has] had almost nothing to do with the Arab Spring. They’ve been irrelevant.’ How can he possibly be so ill-informed? An al Qaeda commander is reportedly in charge of armed brigades in Tripoli, weapons caches have gone missing, weapons have reportedly been smuggled from Libya to Hamas, the rebels are being aided by Iran and other jihadists are in their ranks.

In Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood is poised to take a dominant position in the government, the mob almost lynched diplomats at the Israel embassy last week, Coptic Christians are being banned from public office and attacked. We don’t yet know what will happen in these countries; but the likelihood is currently very high that the UK, US and France will end up replacing tyrants and despots who were helpful to the west by tyrants and despots who intend to destroy the west. The former Bishop of Rochester, the Pakistan-born Michael Nazir-Ali — who has said that al Qaeda has been in the forefront of the Libyan revolt — has written of Islamic jihadi ideology on which he is an expert:

‘Such an ideology expects Islam to dominate rather than to accept a subservient place in world affairs. It promotes pan-Islam and the ultimate rejection of nation-states, even Muslim ones…its ultimate aim is a single Islamic political, social, economic and spiritual entity. …This is not to mention Shi’a radicalism which, in the form of Hizbollah, is now present on the borders of Israel. The radical Shi’a crescent is waxing all over the Middle-East and it has enormous security implications for states in the area and beyond.’

Back in the 1990s, Nazir-Ali warned the British government that large numbers of British Muslims were being dangerously radicalised. What’s the difference between his situation then and now? In the 1990s, ministers simply didn’t believe him when he told the truth about the Islamisation of Britain and the need to defend the west against a civilisational attack; his warnings were ignored. In 2009, he was effectively driven out of office in the Church of England because he told the truth about the Islamisation of Britain and the need to defend the west against a civilisational attack.

That is how Britain has travelled in the past ten years since 9/11 — steadily towards the edge of the cliff. And Lemmingland is still travelling in exactly the same direction.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Migrant Jobseekers Who Don’t Bother to Learn English Will be Stripped of Benefits, Pledges Cameron

Jobseekers whose poor English is stopping them getting work will be forced to attend free language training or face losing their benefits, the Prime Minister said today.

Under new rules coming into force, Jobcentre Plus advisers can mandate people onto training courses if they believe they lack the correct skills to find work.

Benefits claimants with poor English skills, which are preventing them from getting into employment, will be referred to specialist free English language training courses.

If claimants refuse to attend any of the classes recommended to them, they could have their benefits stopped.

Speaking during a visit to a work and welfare support centre, David Cameron said: ‘We are getting rid of the old idea that you can get your welfare without conditions being put on that.

‘We’re saying that if there’s something you need to help you get a job, for instance being able to speak English and learn English properly, it should be a requirement that you take that course, do that study in order for you to receive your benefits.

‘That’s good for you because it’s going to help you get a job, it’s good for the taxpayer because we won’t be wasting money on welfare that’s unnecessary, and it’s good for the economy because we want more people in work creating a bigger, more productive economy.’

Government estimates the policy could affect as many as 67,000 unemployed who are currently claiming benefit even though they don’t have a basic grasp of English.

The Prime Minister said job centre staff had asked for the condition to be implemented.

Mr Cameron spoke as he visited the A4E centre in Brixton, south London, which provides training and advice to people getting back into work.

He said a wide package of reforms covered by the Welfare Reform Bill — which had its second reading today — would help form ‘the biggest back-to-work programme there has been in this country since the 1930s’.

Mr Cameron added: ‘What we’re doing is saying to everyone who has been stuck on benefits, whether jobseekers allowance or incapacity benefit, these organisations will help you get work.’

Mr Cameron, who spent more than an hour meeting staff and clients with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said training providers such as A4E would be paid by the Government by results.

‘So the more people they get into work, the more money they get,’ he said.

‘And crucially, the more people who have really been out of work a long time and are very challenged, and may have been on incapacity benefit for years, they’ll get paid serious money for getting those people back in work.’

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]

UK: Twinings’ Earl Grey Brew-Haha is Just the Start

First Twinings changed its much-loved Earl Grey recipe — now, thanks to a health drive, Heinz is changing its HP Sauce formula.

I knew something was up when my wife started stockpiling tea. You only had to open a cupboard in our kitchen and a box of tea bags or loose-leaf would tumble out. Whenever we went shopping, even to the smallest grocery store in the remotest village, she would scour the shelves, eyes desperately hunting down her prize. What she was looking for was the Holy Grail of the tea drinker — a box of original Earl Grey. Twinings, inexplicably, decided a few months back to change the recipe to produce a taste that connoisseurs of the traditional blend found revolting.

Twinings called it The Earl Grey, with the definite article acting like a sheepish acknowledgement that it had done something it shouldn’t. It most certainly was not the Earl Grey; indeed, some questioned whether it was even tea at all. My in-house taster likened it to dishwater mixed with perfume. After being inundated with complaints, Twinings has restored the original blend, though not to the shops. Customers can order it online for roughly the same price as the old tea — but you have to spend £35 to avoid the £3.95 delivery charge. I suspect its devotees will not be happy until it is back on the supermarket shelves.

Doubtless, the executives of the American food giant Heinz will have been watching the Earl Grey brew-haha with mounting alarm, because a similar campaign is growing against the changes it has made to another much-loved product: HP Sauce. For more than 100 years, bottles of the brown stuff have been a staple of kitchen tables across the land. No roadside caff worthy of the name would be without its HP alongside the tomato ketchup. Made from a recipe that includes tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, tamarind and a secret concoction of spices, it is defined by its familiar tangy taste. Like Marmite, people loathe it or love it — and those that love it certainly don’t want it changed.

But Heinz has done just that in order to conform to the demand by government health chiefs that food should have less salt. The company has signed up to the Health Department’s so-called Responsibility Deal, a programme of targets for reducing the level of fats and salts used by food manufacturers. So, whereas the previous HP recipe contained 2.1g of salt per 100g, it now has 1.3g — a 38 per cent cut that for aficionados is enough to make all the difference to the taste. They say it is now too sour. Marco Pierre White, the Michelin-starred chef, who was eating sausage and mash in a pub recently, sent the meal back because he thought it was off. “It was the HP,” he said. “It was definitely dodgy. I had no idea they had changed the recipe.”

The HP case is different from the Twinings one in that the latter’s wounds were self-inflicted, whereas Heinz feels itself under pressure from the Government to make its foods healthier. This Responsibility Deal began in the spring and its impact is about to be felt. Indeed, all of us who have a favourite food or drink might find our taste buds sorely tested over the next few years as manufacturers change products to meet their pledges under the initiative.

Many of our best-known companies and supermarkets have signed up, promising to reduce calorie and salt content. While they include producers of such obvious calorie-busting fare as burgers and pizzas, who eats so much brown sauce that its salt content is going to make any difference? Given that it is usually being splattered onto a full English breakfast or squeezed onto a bacon sandwich, the sauce is probably the healthiest part of the meal. What are we going to have next — Mars Bars without sugar? Scotch without alcohol? The most famous advocate of HP sauce was said to be Harold Wilson, the Labour prime minister, though in fact he always professed a preference for Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce. I have no idea what its salt levels are, but will it now have to change at the behest of the health police?

The argument comes down to honesty and transparency. Heinz had already launched a reduced salt and sugar version of HP Sauce, yet it went ahead and changed the recipe of the classic version too, without making clear to customers that it had done so. Why not preserve the original and allow people to make the choice for themselves? And if you do change the recipe, should you really market the product as “original and genuine”?

If Heinz thought it could get away with changing an old stalwart such as HP Sauce without anyone noticing, then it was mistaken. It reckoned without the highly developed palates of people who were virtually weaned on the original and whose ability to spot an imposter is as finely tuned as the most accomplished wine taster — or Earl Grey tea drinker. As for me, I am going to stockpile jars of Colman’s English Mustard — just in case.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: TUC [Trade Union Conference]: NUJ to Call for Support Against Far-Right Groups

National Union of Journalists submits emergency motion to TUC conference over alleged attacks on the press by members of the English Defence League

The National Union of Journalists intends to call on delegates at the TUC conference to publicly condemn alleged attacks on the press by members of the English Defence League. The union has submitted an emergency motion to the conference over the alleged attacks, which it claims included a photographer being set on fire and another journalist sexually assaulted at an EDL rally earlier this month.

The motion, which the NUJ hopes to have accepted and added to the agenda of the conference today, calls on TUC members to publicly condemn the actions of the EDL, as well as campaigning against far-right groups and offering assistance to affiliate unions if their members are threatened. It also calls on the police to take action to identify and prosecute EDL supporters who attack trade unionists.

The NUJ claims to have received numerous reports of journalists being harassed, racially abused, and having bottles and fireworks thrown at them by the anti-Islamic group. The motion submitted to the TUC conference calls the alleged attacks “a violation of press freedom and an attack on our democracy”. “Far-right attacks on media workers are aimed at deterring them from carrying out their work and are designed to intimidate trade union members and stop the media reporting on far-right activity,” it adds. A spokesperson for the Met police confirmed that the the force was investigating an allegation of assault at the rally in which a 17-year-old had his clothing set alight and suffered minor burns. No arrests have been made over the incident.

Speaking to the Press Gazette, an eye-witness backed up the union’s description of the attacks and accused the EDL of a “history of attacking members of the media”. “I think they turn on photographers because we are more visible than writers who can blend in more easily,” he said. “They don’t like journalists covering their events because it leads to reports and pictures coming out showing their violence.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Libya: Rebels ‘Execute 85 Mercenaries, Including 12 Serbs’

Belgrade, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Libyan rebels who control most of the country after defeating Muammar Gaddafi’s military, have executed 85 foreign mercenaries, including 12 Serbs, in the city of Misrata alone, Serbian media reported on Tuesday.

Belgrade daily Press said the executions took place in the state insurance building in Misrata after it was taken by the forces loyal to rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC). Among the killed mercenaries, who fought on Gaddafi’s side, were also nine Croats, 11 Ukrainians and ten Colombians, the paper said.

The report was also confirmed by Zagreb daily Vecernji list whose correspondent in Misrata, Hasan Hajdar Dijab, said many mercenaries had been killed in fighting, but those arrested were shot in the head.

It quoted a rebel commander in Misrata Abdelaziz Madini as saying “those killed weren’t soldiers but executioners who came here to kill for money”. He said other mercenaries who surrender would have a fair trial.

Balkans military analysts said they were not surprised by the report, because hundreds of veterans of 1990s Balkans war have sought engagement abroad after the end of the Balkan wars in 1995 and fought for money in various African and Asian countries.

In a related development, the human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) said in its latest report that both sides in the Libyan conflict committed crimes, especially Gaddafi’s forces, but “crimes committed by rebels weren’t negligible either”, it added.

Amnesty International has called on Libya’s National Transitional Council to take steps to prevent human rights abuses by anti-Gaddafi forces.

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

North Africa

Cairo Mob Attacked CNN: ‘They Were Animals’

CNN journalists described the Friday mob that attacked them during the riot at the Israeli embassy as “animals.” One other journalist was called a spy and was almost raped. The worldwide news site reported a scene that brought back ugly memories of the gang rape of CBS reporter Lara Logan earlier this year during the Arab spring uprising against the Mubarak regime. …

The rioters also attacked Egyptian journalists, including a reporter for Egyptian state television. Many correspondents ran for their lives. After the brutal and vulgar assault on CBS correspondent Logan, the website noted, “The assault on Lara Logan illustrates just how much order has recently broken down in the MidEast region which is now far more dangerous for Westerners.”

           — Hat tip: Egghead[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Erdogan Visits, Welcomed by Students to Al-Azhar

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 13 — Hundreds of students from the Al-Azhar university, the foremost religious university, welcomed Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his arrival this morning to meet with the Grand Imam Ahmed El Tayyeb and Mufti Ali Gomaa. “Erdogan, our Friend” and “Welcome Free Leader” are some of the slogans chanted this morning by students. As his first stop, this morning Erdogan paid homage to the Turkish cemetery in Cairo where over 4,000 soldiers who died in World War I are buried. Without their sacrifice, Erdogan said according to the MENA new agency, the Turkish Republic would not have been free. In the morning Erdogan is scheduled to speak before Arab League foreign ministers and meet with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Erdogan in Cairo Seekings Backing Against Israel

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 13 — Seen by analysts and commentators as the representative of a possible model of democracy for Egypt to follow, bridging Islam and secularism, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Cairo last night with a wealth of prestige enhanced by his hard line against Israel. As the first stop on a tour through the countries of the Arab Spring, which tomorrow will see him travel to Tunisia and to Libya on Thursday, Egypt will be the first testing ground to measure Turkey’s ability to also become a key regional player in the Arab world, at a time when Ankara’s relations with Israel are at an all-time low. Accompanied by nearly 170 businessmen and a significant number of ministers, between today and tomorrow Erdogan will have a densely-packed agenda of encounters with high-ranking Egyptian officials and his visit to Cairo also comes while Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, will also be in the Egyptian capital. He will have a discussion with them on the Palestinian initiative to present a request for Palestine to become part of the UN during the next General Assembly meeting in New York. Welcomed last night at the airport by Egyptian Premier, Essam Sharaf, today Erdogan will meet with the head of the Supreme Military Council, Hussein Tantawi, which essentially has been governing the country since the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.

This morning Erdogan will speak at the meeting of Arab League Foreign Ministers and unconfirmed reports have stated that he will also make a visit to the nearby Tahrir Square, the focal point of the protest which led to the radical change in regime. Turkey’s undeclared objective, according to numerous observers, is to seek backing in Egypt against Israel. Extremely harsh statements on Israel by the Turkish premier preceded Erdogan’s trip to Cairo, which somehow ignited the fuse that caused the popular protest to erupt in the Egyptian capital with an attack on the Israeli Embassy. In a controversial interview with Al Jazeera, the Turkish premier also called the violent Israeli boarding in international waters last year of the pro-Palestinian flotilla headed to Gaza with humanitarian aid a ‘reason for war’ and a ‘bone of contention’. Also, in a long interview with Egyptian daily, al Shorouk, he called Israel “a spoiled child” which, in addition to practicing “state terrorism” against the Palestinians, does not want to accept the fact that “the world, and the Arab world in particular, has changed”. But beyond the issue of Israel, according to the press in Ankara, Erdogan will be the bearer of a message to the Arab and Islamic world on the one hand, and to the West on the other. The setting, according to sources in Cairo, will reportedly be the Opera House, although some sources in the press have stated that Erdogan will speak in the evocative Great Hall at Cairo University, where in 2009 Barack Obama held his first speech to the Islamic world. It is expected that Erdogan will say that the Arab world must not fear democracy and secularism, and the Western world must not be afraid of the political developments in the region which, he will repeat, will not bring about the creation of Islamic regimes. Today Erdogan will meet with the leaders of the Egyptian Muslim community (Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmed el Tayyed, and Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa), as well as the leader of the Coptic church, Pope Shenouda III, to support this belief.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya’s Interim Leader Makes Landmark Tripoli Speech

(Reuters) — Libya’s interim government chief, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, made his first speech to a crowd of about 10,000 in the capital Tripoli on Monday — a sign of growing confidence from the former rebels. Abdel Jalil arrived in Tripoli on Saturday for the first time since his allies chased Muammar Gaddafi out of the city, a move that political analysts saw as key to his credibility. The chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council called on the movement’s fighters not to engage in reprisal attacks against remnants of the Gaddafi government. Repeating a call made before, he also said that Islamic sharia law should be the new Libya’s main source for legislation. “We need to open the courts to anyone who harmed the Libyan people in any way. The judicial system will decide,” he told the crowd, calling for no attacks on former Gaddafi allies. We seek a state of law, prosperity and one where sharia is the main source for legislation, and this r equires many things and conditions,” he said, adding that “extremist ideology” would not be tolerated.

Abdel Jalil had been running the provisional administration from the eastern city of Benghazi, cradle of the revolt that overthrew Gaddafi in late August. NTC officials told Reuters they did not advertise the public appearance for fear pro-Gaddafi elements would try to disrupt it. The crowd cheered, waved the independence tricolour flag. Balloons, fireworks, music and the smell of popcorn gave the gathering a carnival atmosphere. “The most important thing was what he said about building a nation of laws, and his reassurances about extremism, from the left or the right, Islamists or secularists,” Osama Gheriani, a 30-year-old dentist, told Reuters. “It’s a moderate country. This was the most important point.”

Some of the hesitation in Abdel Jalil’s arrival in Tripoli after the fall of Gaddafi seemed to stem from long-standing regional rivalries and from a sense that Tripoli — run by rebel brigades that swept in from towns and provinces eager for a share of power — may not be a safe place for every official.

The NTC’s timetable which sets out plans for a new constitution and elections over a 20-month period, should start once the NTC declares Libya’s “liberation.” It has yet to do so and it is unclear exactly how the disparate groups which have taken over the country will define what constitutes “liberation.” Several parts of the country’s south and three major towns — Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha — are still controlled by forces loyal to Gaddafi. “Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha are now under siege by Gaddafi forces. We are betting that our brothers in those cities will fulfil their expectations and you will see them do so soon,” Abdel Jalil said.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Nasr in Berlin; writing by Barry Malone; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya’s New Leader Calls for a Moderate Islam

Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of national transitional council, says women will play a part in the revolution

The leader of Libya’s transitional government used his first speech in Tripoli to call for unity and moderation as he sought to allay fears of factional splits among the country’s new rulers. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the chairman of the national transitional council, addressed a crowd of about 10,000 people in the re-named Martyrs square on Monday night.

Amid fears that differences could now spill over between the NTC, which was originally based in Benghazi, and other rebel factions, Jalil was at pains to stress the moderate credentials of the new Libya. He said Islamic sharia law should be the main source of legislation but added: “We will not accept any extremist ideology, on the right or the left. We are a Muslim people, for a moderate Islam, and will stay on this road.” Jalil also emphasised that women had played an important part in the revolution and would continue to do so.

“Women will be ambassadors,” he said to cheers from women and girls in the crowd waving flags. “Women will be ministers.” Many of the women were dressed in the red, black and green of the revolution.

Among the prominent Islamist figures is Abdul Hakim Belhaj, a former fighter in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group a militant organisation that long opposed Gaddafi and now the commander of the Tripoli military council, which has called for the resignation of the Mahmoud Jibril, the US-educated acting prime minister. One source close to the NTC told the Associated Press: “Abdul Jalil is trying to keep the peace, and it’s a struggle between both sides, between the two powerful camps. He’s trying to maintain a balance between the two camps, and keep the international community happy. It’s very difficult.”

In his Martyrs’ Square speech, Jalil pointedly praised the different groups involved in toppling Gaddafi, including those who were not under the direct control of the council in Benghazi, some of whom feel they have not been given their fair share of credit for their part in the uprising. The co-founder of the February 17 coalition — a reference to the date of the first uprising — last week criticised the performance of the NTC’s executive committee. Saoud Elhafi said he was particularly unhappy about the appointment of ministers “without consulting us or other organisations. From what I see, they are a bunch of business people”.

Jalil’s message of reconciliation extended to the remaining Gaddafi forces and the families of former government figures who he said should not be held responsible for the crimes of their relatives. “We are Muslims, people of forgiveness,” he said, urging people to let the law run its course. His appeal came on the eve of publication of an Amnesty International report which found that rebels as well as pro-Gaddafi forces perpetrated killings, torture and other abuses during the uprising against the Libyan regime. Jalil said he was confident that the remaining resistance by Gaddafi loyalists would soon be overcome. “Bani Walid, Sirte and Sabha are now under siege by Gaddafi forces,” he said. “We are betting that our brothers in those cities will fulfil their expectations and you will see them do so soon.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: Rebel Leader Says Country Will be Based on ‘Moderate Islam’

Tripoli, 13 Sept. (AKI) — The leader of the rebel’s political wing delivered his fist speech in Tripoli since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled at the end of last month saying he plans to create a democracy based on “moderate Islam.”

Speaking to thousands of people in Martyr’s Square, Mustafa Abdul Jalil warned against settling scores against Gaddafi’s supporters.

We are a Muslim nation, with a moderate Islam, and we will maintain that. You are with us and support us — you are our weapon against whoever tries to hijack the revolution,” he said

A new report by human rights group Amnesty International blamed rebels for committing war crimes against Gaddafi forces like torture and revenge killings, especially when they retreated from the eastern part of Libya.

Jalil said that woman would play a part in running post-Gaddafi Libya and said that Sharia law , the law based on the Koran, would be the primary source for laws to government the North African country.

Jalil served as Gaddafi’s justice minister prior to joining rebels during the popular uprising that evolved into a full-blown civil war.

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

Libya: Amnesty Says Rebels Responsible for Possible War Crimes

Tripoli, 13 Sept. (AKI) — Troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi and the rebels that successfully fought to oust the Libyan leader both share responsibility for war crimes committed during the seven-month civil war, according to a new report by human rights group Amnesty International.

The 107-page report “The Battle for Libya: Killings, Disappearances and Torture” reveals that while Gaddafi forces committed widespread crimes under international law during the conflict, forces loyal to the National Transitional Council (NTC) have also committed abuses that in some cases amounted to war crimes.

“The new authorities must make a complete break with the abuses of the past four decades and set new standards by putting human rights at the centre of their agenda” said Claudio Cordone, senior Director at Amnesty International.

“The onus now is on the NTC to do things differently, end abuses and initiate the human rights reforms that are urgently needed.”

The London-based group said it found evidence of what may be “crimes and abuses” committed by Gaddafi’s forces “including indiscriminate attacks, mass killing of prisoners, torture, enforced disappearances, and arbitrary arrests. In most cases it was civilians who bore the brunt of these violations.”

But it also found “a settling of score” committed by rebels led by the NTC when Gaddafi’s military retreated from eastern Libya “including lynchings of Gaddafi soldiers after capture,” the report said.

“The NTC is facing a difficult task of reining in opposition fighters and vigilante groups responsible for serious human rights abuses, including possible war crimes; but has shown unwillingness to hold them accountable,” the report says. “So far, NTC officials have not provided details of any measures taken to address such concerns.”

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

Mgr Martinelli Supports Rebels’ Good Intentions in Building the New Libya

Currently in Italy for health reason, the bishop of Tripoli will return to Libya on Thursday where he hopes to meet the rebel leader. Mustafa Jibril says the country’s new order will be inspired by Sharia but will be against Islamic extremism. Amnesty International accuses the rebels of serious human rights violations.

Tripoli (AsiaNews) — “We must back the rebels’ good intentions rather than take their words to extremes,” said Mgr Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli. He spoke to AsiaNews about the recent speech made today in Tripoli, by Mustafa Abdel Jibril, president of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC).

Speaking before a crowd of thousands of people, the NTC leader said the new state would be inspired by Sharia but would not move towards extremism.

Despite concerns by some experts about Islamist risks in the country, Mgr Martinelli believes that Jibril “is a man of good will, willing to move the country towards a new future.”

In Italy for health reason, the prelate plans to go back to Tripoli on Thursday. “I hope to meet rebel leaders very soon to see what the new Libya will look like,” he said.

In the meantime, the country is still far from being stable. In Sirte, Bani Walid and the south, fighting is still going on with many civilians caught in the crossfire between pro- and anti-Gaddafi forces.

Today Libya’s former strongman released a new TV message in which he said he would fight until victory.

Tiziana Gamannossi, an Italian businesswoman in Tripoli, said that life was getting back to normal in the capital, but that residents in villages and towns still under siege are not getting any aid. Some reports are saying that civilians are being killed.

“In Tripoli, stores reopened. Water, diesel fuel and bottled gas are available again. People are confident,” she said.

However, the health situation is still bad despite the work of the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders (MSF).

Revenge actions between tribes and families are still out of control and are causing many victims.

Today Amnesty International released a report accusing the rebels of serious human rights violations against Gaddafi loyalists.

The report also refers to the lynching of black Africans suspected of being mercenaries hired by Col Gaddafi, as well as revenge killings and the torture of some captured pro-Gaddafi soldiers.

The NTC has criticised the Amnesty report, saying that rebels “are not the military, they are only ordinary people,” who made mistakes, but that these could not be described as “war crimes”.

According to Gamannossi, an international force should be deployed to stop the spiral of violence that is devastating many families. However, the rebels have rejected that idea so far. (S.C.)

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

Rasmussen: Libya Could Fall Into the Hands of Extremists

(AGI) London — Without a stable government, Libya is in danger of falling into the hands of Islamic extremists, alerted NATO’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he underlined that we cannot exclude the possibilitythat extremists would “try to exploit” the situation and the current power vacuum.

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

Rising Leader in Egypt Has Astonishing Plans: ‘Exterminate Christians, Close Pyramids, Sphinx’

by Bob Unruh

A rising leader in the radical Islamic movement in Egypt that has become a major political player since the demise of Hosni Mubarak’s regime says Christian churches may need to be blown up and Christians exterminated to allow the advance of Islamic law, or Shariah.

The comments come from Sheik ‘Adel Shehato, a senior leader with the Egyptian Islamic Jihad terrorist group. The sheik was jailed in 1991 because of his positions but was released earlier this year in the revolution that removed Mubarak from power.

His interview with the Egyptian daily Roz Al-Yousef was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

What’s up with Islam? Read “Everlasting Hatred: The Roots of Jihad” and find out

The sheik, a senior jihadist leader, responded to a question about using violence against Christians, who make up a substantial minority in Egypt.

“Are you against blowing up churches?” the newspaper interviewer asked Shehato.

“Yes and no,” he replied. “The Christian is free to worship his God in his church, but if the Christians make problems for the Muslims, I will exterminate them. I am guided by the Shariah, and it stipulates that they must pay the jizya tax while in a state of humiliation.”

“These positions of yours frighten us, as Egyptians,” the interviewer said.

“I will not act [in ways] that contradict my faith just in order to please the people. … We say to the Christians, convert to Islam or pay the jizya, otherwise we will fight you. The Shariah is not based on logic but on divine law. That is why we oppose universal, manmade constitutions.”

MEMRI, which was founded in 1998 to monitor Middle East media, is an independent, nonpartisan nonprofit group that has offices in Washington, London, Rome, Jerusalem, Baghdad, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Advisers include winners of Nobels, the President Medal of Freedom and the U.S. Congress Gold Medal, such as Elie Wiesel, James Woolsey, John Bolton, John Ashcroft, William Bennett, Paul Bremer, Alan Dershowitz and Edgar Bronfman.

Among the many assertions made by the senior Islamic leader was that the Egyptian pyramids need to be closed down to tourists.

“There will be tourism for purposes of [medical] treatment, but the tourism sites of the pyramids, the Sphinx, and Sharm Al-Sheikh will be shut down, because my task is to get people to serve Allah rather than people. No proud Muslim will ever be willing to live off tourism profits, because the tourists come to drink alcohol and fornicate. [If they] want to come, they must comply with the conditions and laws of Islam. We will explain to them that, according to the Shariah, the pyramids are [from] a pagan and polytheistic age.”

He continued with a description of the new state of arts and culture in Egypt, should he be in power.

“In Islam, there is no such thing as art. Painting, singing, and dancing are forbidden. Therefore, in the state there will be nothing but Islamic culture, for I cannot teach the infidel culture. . We will return to the decent culture of the Muslims and the Muslim forefathers, and to Islamic history,” he said.

The far-reaching interview included his plans for worldwide government.

“As Muslims, we must believe that the Quran is our constitution, and that it is impossible for us to institute a Western democratic regime,” he said. “I oppose democracy because it is not the faith of the Muslims. . According to Islam, it is forbidden for people to rule and to legislate laws, as Allah alone is ruler. Allah did not hand down the term [democracy] as a form of rule, and it is completely absent from the Arab and Islamic lexicon.”

He said, “Once Allah’s law is instated (sic), the role of the people will end and Allah will reign supreme.”

A leader like himself would have no need to know what people want, he said.

“There is no consultation [by government leaders] with commoners, such as workers and fellahin, nor is there consultation over issues that contravene the Shariah,” he said.

Muslims such as Mubarak who led Islamic nations but without strict adherence to Shariah were apostate, he warned.

“They are apostate infidels, as opposed to infidels like the Jews and Christians, and anyone who doubts that they are infidels is an infidel,” he said.

Especially, he warned, Muslims must be wary of Christians and cannot be friends.

“I must support the Muslim and oppose the Christian,” he said. “If there is a Christian who does me no harm, I will maintain limited contact with him. Islam [discusses] certain degrees of contact with the Christian, namely: keeping promises, dealing honestly with him, treating him kindly, and befriending him. The first three are allowed, but the fourth is deemed dangerous, for it contravenes the verse that says, ‘O you who believe! Do not take my enemy and your enemy for friends.”

A worldwide Islamic kingdom, he explained, is a given.

“Of course we will launch a campaign of Islamic conquest throughout the world. As soon as the Muslim and Islam control Egypt and implement the Sharia, we will turn to the neighboring regions, Libya and Sudan to the south. All the Muslims in the world who wish to see the Shariah implemented worldwide will join the Egyptian army in order to form Islamic battalions, whose task will be to bring about the victory .

He said international relations will be simple.

“There are Muslims and there are infidels. We will have ambassadors in every country. We want to call all other countries to join Islam, and that will be the task of the ambassadors. If [they] refuse, there will be war,” he said.

WND previously reported jihadists are boasting of the “paradise” the region is becoming since Mubarak was removed from power.

Additionally, there have been reports of a on a growing possibly jihadi threat not only inside the United States, but inside the U.S. government.

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Erdogan Arrives in Cairo to Roll Up His Sleeves to Establish Robust Relations

Prime Minister Erdogan arrived in the Cairo airport with six ministers, ready to make as many possible relationship-building agreements with what he calls one of the most important countries in the region

Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who landed in the Cairo airport late last night, emphasised that he brought with him six of his ministers to focus on setting up a tangible strategic alliance between both countries. During an interview with El-Ashera Masaan (Ten at Night) programme, the 57-year-old said he aims to come to as many mutual agreements with Egypt as possible during his visit, saying his vision exceeds mere bilateral international understandings. Among Erdogan’s targets is cancelling the need for visas for travel between Egypt and Turkey. Military agreements are in also the cards, he said. “During my visit we will discuss what Turkey will offer Egypt, and what Egypt will offer Turkey in order to increase international cooperation between us,” he said. “Turkey has been backing the Egyptian uprising from day one … it was quite expected,” Erdogan explained.

Much to Erdogan’s popularity in the Arab World, Turkey has robustly supported the ongoing revolution in Yemen, has backed Syrians against the domineering regime of Bashar Al-Assad and was seen as supportive of Egypt’s own January 25 Revolution. “When we look at the region, we will find that Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Turkey are the most important countries. For this reason, there has to be some sort of cooperation among these nations,” Erdogan elaborated. Erdogan received a warm welcome at the Cairo Airport. Actually, the welcome mat was laid weeks leading up to his arrival, when many Egyptians posted his photo as their profile picture after he decided to reduce Turkish representation in Israel in a downgrade of diplomatic relations. That decision came after the Jewish state confirmed last week that it would not apologise for the May 2010 raid on the Mavi Marmara aid ship, in which nine Turks were killed. In Egypt, many criticise the comparatively weak reply by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to Israel’s killing last month of Egyptian soldiers at the border — an incident that has greatly disturbed the relationship between the countries. Critics say SCAF should have reacted similarly to Turkey.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey-Egypt: PM Erdogan Welcomed by Thousands in Cairo

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 13 — Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has arrived in Cairo, the first stop of his four-day tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya from September 12 to 15, Anatolia news agency reports adding that more than 1,500 Egyptian people gathered at Cairo Airport to welcome Turkish premier. They carried large photographs of Erdogan and banners which read: “Welcome Prime Minister Erdogan”, “Egyptian and Turkish peoples hand in hand for future”, “Erdogan: Hero of Egypt” and “Turkish-Egyptian brotherhood”. Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart Essam Abdel Aziz Sharaf came from the tarmac at Cairo airport hand-in-hand to greet Egyptian people.

Erdogan is set to meet Ahmed al-Tayyib, Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar; Ali Juma, Grand Mufti of Egypt; Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby on Tuesday.

After addressing the Arab League Foreign Ministers’ Council Meeting, Erdogan is set to meet Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Abdel Aziz Sharaf. Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart will sign a Joint Political Statement about establishment of a High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council. They will hold a joint news conference following the signing ceremony. Turkish premier will partake in a dinner to be hosted in his honor by Egyptian Premier Sharaf and deliver a speech at the Cairo University International Law Forum. He will also meet leaders of leading political parties, representatives of non-governmental organizations and Turkish businessmen investing in Egypt before proceeding to Tunisia on September 14

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Caroline Glick: Lessons From the Embassy Takeover

We are able to consider the lessons of the weekend’s mob assault on the Israeli embassy in Cairo because the six Israeli security officers who were on the brink of being slaughtered were rescued at the last moment and spirited out of the country. If the Egyptian commandos hadn’t arrived on the scene at the last moment, the situation would have been too explosive for a sober-minded assessment of the rapidly deteriorating situation with our neighbor to the south.

Any assessment of the weekend’s events must begin by recounting a few key aspects of the assault. First, this was the second mob attack on the embassy in so many weeks. During the first assault, an Egyptian rioter scaled the 20-story building where the embassy is housed, tore down the Israeli flag, and threw it to the frenzied mob below which swiftly burned it. Rather than being arrested for the crime of assaulting a foreign embassy, the rioter was embraced as a hero by Egypt’s military regime. The governor of Giza awarded him an apartment and a job…

           — Hat tip: Caroline Glick[Return to headlines]

Recognition of Palestinian State a Must, Erdogan

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, SEPTEMBER 13 — “Recognition of Palestinian state is the only thing to do. It is not an option, but a must,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has said today as reported by Anatolia news agency. Erdogan added that Israel-Palestine issue was a matter of humanity. “As I have mentioned on every occasion that Palestinian cause is a struggle to raise and poise a nation’s honor. It is not only the cause of Palestine and Palestinians, but it is the cause of every state and every nation who are in favor of justice, rights, rule of law and humanity,” he said at the Arab League Foreign Ministers’ Council Meeting in Cairo, Egypt. “Israel-Palestine issue is not a matter between the two states. It is actually a matter of humanity, a matter of decades. It is a decisive matter for the Middle East and for global peace. Recent developments in our region cannot overshadow the fact that Israeli-Palestinian dispute was the basic issue in the Middle East,” he said.

Erdogan said “Palestinian people should acquire the state they have longed for a long time. Recognition of Palestinian state is the only thing to do. It is not an option, but a must.” “We have to support Palestinian people’s rightful and legitimate struggle. If God wills it, we will have the chance to see Palestine in a quite different status at the United Nations by the end of this month. To this end, we have to work together with our Palestinian brothers. Let’s contribute to efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” he concluded.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UN Vote on Palestine Will Set Back Peace

by Alan M. Dershowitz

The upcoming votes at the Security Council and General Assembly of the United Nations, which will accord the Palestinians some form of statehood, without requiring them to negotiate with Israel, will set back the peace process considerably.

As Egypt and Turkey increase tensions with Israel, the Palestinian Authority seeks to isolate the Jewish state even further by demanding that the United Nations accord Palestine recognition as a “state” without a negotiated peace with Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas described his playbook for seeking U.N. recognition while bypassing the step of negotiating a two-state solution: “We are going to complain that as Palestinians we have been under occupation for 63 years.”

What exactly happened 63 years ago? The U.N. recommended partitioning the former British mandate into two states: one Jewish, the other Arab. Israel and most of the rest of the world accepted that partition plan, and Israel declared itself the nation-state of the Jewish people. The United States, the Soviet Union and all the great powers recognized this declaration and the two-state solution that it represented.

The Arab world unanimously rejected the U.N. partition plan and the declaration of statehood by Israel. The Arab population within Israel and in the area set aside for an Arab state joined the surrounding Arab nations in taking up arms.

In defending its right to exist, Israel lost 1% of its population, many of whom were civilians and survivors of the recent Holocaust. Yet the current Palestinian leadership still insists on calling the self-inflicted wounds caused by its rejection of a two-state solution the “nakba,” meaning the catastrophe.

By claiming that the Palestinians “have been under occupation for 63 years” (as distinguished from the 44 years since the Arab states attacked Israel in 1967 and Israel occupied some lands of the invading nations), the Palestinian president is trying to turn the clock back to a time prior to Israel’s establishment as a state based on the U.N.’s two-state proposal. In other words, the push for recognition by the U.N. of Palestine as a state, based on Mr. Abbas’s complaint that the Palestinians have been under occupation for 63 years, is an attempt to undo the old work of the U.N. that resulted in Israel’s statehood 63 years ago.

Mr. Abbas’s occupation complaint also explains why he is so adamant in refusing to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. Every Arab state is officially a Muslim state and yet, as in 1948, none of them is prepared to accept the permanent existence of a state for the Jewish people in the Middle East. Certainly some, including the Palestinian Authority, are prepared to mouth recognition of Israel as a state, so long as the so-called right of return remains for four million so-called refugees who, if they were to return in mass, would soon turn Israel into yet another Arab state.

Mahmoud Abbas is generally a reasonable man, and many of the things he has recently said about the need for the two-state solution are also reasonable. But he talks out of two sides of his mouth: one for consumption by the international community and the other for consumption by the Palestinian street. His complaint about a 63-year occupation is clearly designed to signal to his constituents that he won’t give up on the ultimate goal of turning Israel into a Palestinian state.

If the General Assembly recognizes Palestine as a state without the need to negotiate with Israel, it will, in effect, be undercutting many of its own past resolutions, as well as many bilateral agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Such recognition would set back the prospects for a negotiated peaceful resolution and would encourage the use of violence by frustrated Palestinians who will gain nothing concrete from the U.N.’s hollow action but will expect much from it.

We saw what happened when the Palestinian people came close to achieving statehood in 2000-’01—a prospect that was shattered by Yasser Arafat’s rejection of the Clinton-Barak peace plan. Arafat’s rejection, which even the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. at the time, Bandar bin Sultan, later called a “crime” against the Palestinian people, resulted in a bloody intifada uprising among Palestinians in which thousands of Palestinians and Israelis were killed. The U.N. will be responsible for any ensuing bloodshed if it stokes the flames of violence by raising Palestinian expectations while lowering the prospects for a negotiated peace.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged the Palestinians to return immediately to the negotiating table without any preconditions. There is no downside in doing so, since everything would then be on the table for negotiation, including the borders, the right of return, recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, the settlements and anything else the Palestinians would seek as part of a negotiated two-state peace.

The job of the U.N. is to promote peace, not to retard it. So instead of discouraging negotiations by promising recognition, the U.N. should be demanding that the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli government begin negotiations immediately without any preconditions. That would be a positive step.

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Erdogan Stokes the Flames

While it seems clear that Egypt is sliding towards anarchy, many questions remain about who is responsible for the drama at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last Friday, an incident that very nearly turned into the lynching of six Israeli security guards and a diplomatic scandal on par with the hostage crisis at the United States Embassy in Iran in 1979. To add to the suspense, the visit of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Egypt, which began on Monday, is stirring a lot of speculation. Israel’s main Muslim partners, now estranged, are ostensibly conspiring on their own. Yet this superficial impression, bolstered by Erdogan’s angry anti-Israeli rhetoric, yields only additional question marks.

Turkey and Egypt are bitter rivals for influence in the Muslim world; if anything dramatic comes out of Erdogan’s visit, it is more likely to be born in contention than in collusion.

Though both Israel and Egypt tried to downplay it, the incident on Friday very nearly turned into a disaster, and is likely to rattle their already strained relationship in a major way. Reports have it that Cairo had warned Jerusalem in advance about the danger of a mob attack. [1] The diplomats were safely whisked out to the airport, where they boarded a plane back home, but less fortunate were six Israeli security guards who remained stranded in the embassy as angry mobs broke inside. They were finally rescued by Egyptian special forces, who smuggled them out of the embassy dressed in traditional Arab garb and headwear.

“Several hours into the mass protest in Cairo, the mob succeeded in breaking two of the three doors that led to the security room at the embassy,” a report in the Israeli news site Ynet reads. “When the mob reached the final door, the guards could hear the noises from outside as well as loud bangs on the door … Using every object they could find, the guards built barriers near the door in the hop es of preventing intrusion.” [2]

Though Israeli officials claimed that the media exaggerated the danger to the lives of the guards, it is clear that the situation had the potential to turn into a disaster. Apparently, for a long period in the beginning of the standoff, Egypt’s de facto ruler, Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, who heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), mysteriously could not be located to answer the calls of Israeli and American officials. The forceful American reaction and the massive pressure the Barack Obama administration brought to bear on Egypt were arguably decisive in arranging the rescue of the guards. [3]

To be sure, the Egyptian government made all the right noises vis-a-vis Israel after the incident, pointing out how severe the clashes were (reports vary, but four people died and around 500 to 1,000, including dozens of policemen, were apparently wounded) and announcing that it would try over 100 suspects. Condemnation of the attack poured in from many corners of Egyptian society, including from unexpected ones. [4]

However, some of the behavior of Egypt’s rulers is very suspicious — not least the unexplained absence of Tantawi during a critical moment. One of the first responses of the SCAF to the incident was to reinstate the emergency laws that existed under the rule of the ousted former president Hosni Mubarak, and which were a key focus of the demands of the demonstrators in Tahrir Square. [5]

According to Kamran Bokhari, an analyst for the American think-tank Stratfor, the attack served in some ways the domestic interests of Tantawi and the SCAF:

The tensions involving Israel are not exactly completely negative from the point of view of Egypt’s military leadership. The Egyptian military authority is interested in delaying, as much as possible, the transition toward civilian rule. What that means is essentially postponing elections as long as possible. Given the current mood within Egypt, the military government doesn’t exactly have the leverage to be able to postpone those elections. That said, an issue like tensions with Israel can be used by the government in Cairo to be able to pull off that kind of postponement of elections. But, nonetheless, the situation right now is very premature and it’s not really clear whether the Egyptian authorities will be able to make use of the incident with Israel to manage domestic politics. [6]

The attack on the Israeli Embassy came at a period of soaring internal tensions in Egypt, and quickly became entangled with the growing discontent against the military rule. As Egyptian journalist Zeinab El-Gundy writes, “The Israeli Embassy crisis forced political groups to deal not only with national security and regional matters but also domestic issues, especially the decision taken by the ruling military council (SCAF) and the cabinet to revive the use of emergency laws.” [7]

Against this background, therefore, it is rather odd that Turkey’s Erdogan jumped on the opportunity to link his visit to Egypt, officially planned to give an ambitious boost to the ties between the two nations, to his aggressive anti-Israeli campaign following the publication of the Palmer report earlier this month. According to some reports, he might be preparing to give a fiery anti-Israeli speech in Tahrir Square in Cairo, and the Egyptian government is concerned t hat this would embarrass it and could incite further clashes. [8]

The Turkish government has issued a number of extravagant threats against Israel in the past week or so, including that of sending war ships to escort future Turkish aid ships headed for Gaza, as well as to harass Israeli gas mining projects in the Mediterranean. There is a side plot to this story as well, and the show of naval might is more likely directed at Cyprus rather than Israel. “Israeli officials have said, however, the Turkish muscle flexing in the Mediterranean is aimed at Cyprus, as much as it is at Israel,” writes Israeli journalist Herb Keinon. “Turkey has threatened Cyprus about going ahead with plans to begin drilling for offshore gas deposits, with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatening earlier this month that Ankara would show the ‘necessary response’ if Cyprus went ahead with the plans.” [9]

Much of the Turkish campaign against Israel, and specifically the military part , is most likely bluff and bluster, yet Erdogan could potentially try to stir Muslim sentiments against the Jewish state during his trip to Egypt. These latter sentiments are extremely explosive, and could create trouble; some analysts fear that riots could start in places like Cairo and in the Jordanian capital Amman.

There are also clearly forces working to normalize relations between Israel and Egypt. Even as Erdogan landed in Cairo, a senior Israeli military official was in the Egyptian capital, ostensibly to discuss “Sinai security arrangements”. [10] It is safe to assume that Turkey and Egypt are not teaming up against the Jewish state.

However, what is truly concerning is the rise of internal tensions, and the spread of chaos inside Egypt. Whether or not the government is able to stem populist anti-Israeli rhetoric — there is the possibility that it may be, in fact, secretly inciting it — it will likely take some time before the Israeli ambassador can return safely.

In the long term, Egypt is in serious danger of becoming a major source of instability for Israel and the region.


1. Report: Israeli ambassador was advised to stay home on eve of Cairo embassy attack, Ha’aretz, September 12, 2011.
2. Embassy under siege: Israeli guards fired in the air, Ynet, September 11, 2011.
3. See Tantawi didn’t respond to Netanyahu, Barak during crisis, Ynet, September 10, 2011 and US told Egypt it must rescue Israeli embassy workers or suffer ‘consequen ces,’ sources say, , Ha’aretz, September 10, 2011.
4. Attack on Israeli embassy unites Egypt in surprising ways, Ha’aretz, September 11, 2011.
5. Egypt reinstates emergency laws after embassy attack, Ha’aretz, September 11, 2011. 6. Dispatch: Challenges Following the Attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, Stratfor, September 12, 2011.
7. Egyptian parties criticise attack on Israel embassy, as well as SCAF, Al Ahram, September 12, 2011.
8. Egypt fears Turkey’s Erdogan will use visit to stir up anti-Israel sentiment, Ha’aretz, September 13, 2011.
9. Erdogan expected to lambast Israel on Cairo trip, Jerusalem Post, September 12, 2011.
10. Top IDF official in Egypt to discuss Sinai security arrangements, Ha’aretz, September 12, 2011.

Victor Kotsev is a journalist and political analyst.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Israel Ostracized Over Aggressive Policies’

Saudi dailies criticize Israel for strained ties with Turkey, Egypt and PA; ‘Any measure taken against Israel is considered either anti-Semitic or act of terror,’ one daily says

Prominent Saudi newspapers slammed Israel Monday for its “aggressive” policies in light of the Jewish state’s straining ties with Turkey and Egypt and the impending Palestinian bid for UN recognition. “Israel has convinced the world that any measure taken against it is either anti-Semitic or an act of Arab or Islamic terror,” the newspaper Alriyadh said in an editorial. “The Arab revolutions have renewed the popular belief that Israel has remained the epitome of aggressive behavior, being an entity propagated by an international plot backed by Europe and the US.”

The editorial addressed Israel’s crisis with Turkey, claiming that Ankara rejected the “contempt that Israel showed towards it.” The Almadina daily tackled the issue as well, declaring that the Jewish state “is more isolated than ever,” as indicated by the expulsion of its ambassador from Ankara, the attack on its embassy in Cairo and the Palestinians’ insistence on turning to the UN for the recognition of a state within the 1967 lines.

Jerusalem refused to respond to the Saudi reports, but addressed the recent remarks made by King Abdullah the II of Jordan, who claimed that his nation and “the future Palestine are stronger than Israel is today.” Political sources said that the “king’s statements should be monitored due to the internal sensitivities within the kingdom. The situation in Jordan is very delicate.” A government official said that King Abdullah’s remarks should be taken with a grain of salt. “The king has strong ties with the US, and has strong interests with Israel,” he said. “We should keep that front calm, and follow the developments.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya, Syria, Egypt and Middle East Unrest — Live Updates

  • Libya’s interim leader says Islam will be main source of law
  • Gaddafi loyalists kill 17 guards in Ras Lanouf
  • Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s to give speech in Egypt


10.33am: Erdogan is due to speak at around 11am to the Arab League, which is meeting in Cairo. He is also due to give a press conference this afternoon. The Turkish leader was given an enthusiastic welcome when he arrived in Egypt for the start of his “Arab Spring” tour. Reuters says there was a rapturous crowd of thousands at Cairo airport.

They clapped and cheered as the two men came off the tarmac hand-in-hand. Many appeared to be from Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, who look up to Erdogan because of his success in bringing Islamists into mainstream Turkish politics. “Erdogan, Erdogan — a big welcome from the Brothers!” one large banner said, while others had large photos of Erdogan with “Turkey-Egypt hand in hand for future” and “Hero Erdogan” written on them. “I have come here to say ‘thank you’ because he says things no man can say,” said Hani, a 21-year-old university student. Erdogan took a microphone set up for the occasion to address the crowd, saying “Peace be upon you” and “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” in Arabic.

10.18am: Washington’s Middle East Institute is anxious about Turkish-Israeli relations

In its editorial in its journal it warns: “If Israel feels that it is increasingly isolated, again rightly or wrongly, the dangers of conflict do escalate.” It calls for calm on both sides. “One should hope for cool heads and cautious diplomacy, with revolutions still simmering and Israel jittery.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Luttwak States Al Qaeda is “Dead and Buried”

(AGI) Udine — Speaking in Udine today where he is attending the Hypo Alpe Adria Bank Convention, in commenting the video-message posted by Al Zawahiti, the American political analyst and economist Edward Luttwak said today that al Qaeda is “dead and buried” while the real threat comes from the Turkish government. “if one wishes to perceive an Islamic threat nowadays, this lies instead in the Turkish government,” he said, “which persecutes its own Kurdish citizens and violently represses moderate Muslims stating that being moderate is a crime.” ..

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

Report: Turkish Warplanes Now Able to Fire at Israeli Targets

Ankara’s Star Gazete says country’s new F-16 radar system modified to recategorize Israeli targets as hostile. Order said to come directly from PM Erdogan’s office; naval, submarine radar systems to be changed next

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Syria: State Media: Al Qaeda Militiamen Entering From Iraq

(ANSAmed) — BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 13 — Al Qaeda militiamen are operating in Syria, having entered then country from Iraq, and are taking part in operations “against the army and security forces”. This is according to official media outlets in Damascus today, which for months have justified the regime’s crackdown on peaceful protesters, accusing demonstrators of being “armed terrorists”.

Quoting a “senior official from Iraqi border control” on the Syrian border, the Syrian newspaper Al Thawra says that “armed men from the Al Qaeda organisation are entering Syria from Iraq across the common border and are carrying out attacks against security forces and the Syrian army”.

The source adds that Iraqi forces arrested dozens of Al Qaeda militiamen two months ago as they were attempting to cross over into Syria. The paper says that three deliveries of weapons intended for Syria have so far been intercepted at the border, most of them from the Iraqi provinces of Ninawa, in the north of the country, and Anbar in the west.

For years, since the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the Syrian regime has been accused from various sides of financing and enlisting Al Qaeda militiamen heading to Iraq, in order to carry out attacks against the US army.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey, Prime Minister Take on Leadership Role in the Middle East

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan recalled Israel the spoiled child of Middle East and is seeking to capitalize on Turkey’s increasing stature and influence across the Arab world with his latest ‘Arap Spring Tour’ starting with Egypt.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared in front of large and eagerly waiting Egyptian crowd as soon as he landed in Cairo airport to kick off his ‘Arab Spring tour’, which is also going to involve visits to Libya and Tunisia in addition to Egypt. Turkey’s Prime Minister, rapidly gaining on the trust and faith in the eyes of regions’ folk is seeking to grow his regional celebrity and capitalize Turkey’s status as a role model for Arab states fitfully inching toward democracy. His visits are perfectly timed at a moment when the revolutions of the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya and Tunusia, as those countries are going through a tough period. The established order in the region for the last 30 years has crumbled and the currently leaderless states of Arab Spring Movement are seeking for a leader from outside, an oppurtunity Recep Tayyip Erdogan doesn’t want to pass by. Israel’s uneasy peace with all of its neighbors, in particular, Egypt and the current fragile status of Turkey Israel relations seem like to favour the ambitous and cunning Prime Minister of Turkey.

Turkey tries to seize the political leadership role over Arab world

Turkey was once a close ally of Israel, arguably the only one in the always problematic Middle East region. Turkey increased its rapidly growing stature across the Arab world when it downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel and expelled Israel’s ambassador to Turkey this month after Israel refused to issue an apology for the commando raid last year aboard an aid ship trying to break the Gaza blockade. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in fact an Arabic originated name, was already lionized across the region for his commitment to Islamist politics,comments on pluralistic constitutional democracy and energetic economic development. In Egypt, after Hussnu Mubarak’s downfall , aspiring Islamist politicians often try to label themselves as “the Egyptian Erdogan.” Erdogan visited famished Somalia last month with a contingent of Turkish diplomats, artisans and bussinessmen and expressed Turkey’s solid policy helping the poor in need. He mentioned that Turkey is a big power in the world, inhe rits the power remained from former Turkish Civilisations and Ottoman Empire.

Turkey Prime Minister Erdogan arrived in Egypt, his influence grow

Egypt has long viewed itself as a leading voice in the Arab world, until Turkey’s influence has risen steadily with its growing economic power and its confident policy in the Middle East region, notably towards Israel, which has drawn praise from many Arabs. There will be rivalry over a regional role for sure. Egypt is not in a position to play such a role at the moment so Erdogan is trying to seize the opportunity of altering conjuncture. However Turkey’s Prime Minister Erdogan will use his visit to Cairo as a barometer to measure just how popular he is in the Arab World but many Arab leaders may not be as enthusiastic about seeing him feed on this popularity. Prime Minister Erdogan is due to visit Tunisia on Wednesday and hold talks in Libya on Thursday. He even planned to visit Gaza stripe [sic], but the visit isn’t officialy declared as yet.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey Dispatches 3 Warships to Eastern Mediterranean

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dispatched 3 warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to ‘defend against Israeli vessels’

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dispatched 3 warships to the Eastern Mediterranean to ‘defend against Israeli vessels’ and ensure ‘freedom of navigation’ for his country’s ships, Today’s Zaman reported.

The move, only the latest in Erdogan’s bellicose rhetorical assault on Israel, comes on the same day he called Israel’s boarding of the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara in 2010 “grounds for war” adding only Turkey’s “greatness and patience” had averted conflict.

During the boarding action 9 Turkish nationals who participated in a mob that attempted to lynch the commandos were killed when non-lethal weapons the boarding party was equipped with as their primary arms proved insufficient to stop the lethal threat necessitating the use of live fire.

While the UN Palmer Report criticized Israel’s use of force resulting in the deaths as “excessive,” it also concluded Israel’s blockade of Gaza was “legal and appropriate” under international law.

But Erdogan, whose government has rejected the UN stance in the Palmer Report, insists Turkish ships will provide protection for ships bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza and confront Israeli warships outside of Israel’s territorial waters if necessary, according to the report.

State news agency Anatolia released late on Sunday what it said was an original Turkish-language transcript of an interview Erdogan gave to Al Jazeera television last week.

It included elements not broadcast as well as original wording for sensitive comments that had been transmitted only in Arabic translation.

“Right now, without a doubt, the primary duty of Turkish navy ships is to protect its own ships,” Erdogan said.

“This is the first step. And we have humanitarian aid that we want to carry there. This humanitarian aid will not be attacked any more, as it was the case with Mavi Marmara.”

Israel’s government, however, has said that while it wants to ease tensions with its former ally it will continue the Gaza-blockade.

The prospect of a Cuban Missile Crisis style showdown at sea with Turkey, a NATO power and fellow ally of the United States, has led Washington to appeal for restraint and led to a quiet decision for brinksmanship — and continued enforcement of the blockade — in Jerusalem.

Turkey has downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and halted defense-related trade after the Jewish state’s confirmation last week that it would not apologize for the raid on the Mavi Marmara in May 2010 in which nine Turks were killed.

Israeli officials have, to date, been divided on how to respond to Turkey. But amid the diplomatic upheavals of the ‘Arab Spring,’ a spike in terror, Iran’s nuclear program, and the imminent Palestinian Authority statehood bid at the United Nations, Erdogan is just one more puzzle to solve.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]


David Cameron ‘Would Have Been a Very Good KGB Agent’

David Cameron visited Russia today for talks with Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev. The talks touched on trade, commerce, technology, and intelligence sharing, amongst other issues. A sensitive topic was the matter of the murder in London in 2006 of the former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, and the Russian government’s refusal to extradite the man suspected of the murder, Andrei Lugovoi — now state deputy in the Russian Parliament, the State Duma.Relations have been strained between Russia and this country in the years since the murder — and this is the first visit to Russia by a Prime Minister since 2005. Mr Cameron touched on the Li tvinenko murder in a speech to a university in Moscow. The Guardian reports:

“In his speech on Monday morning, Cameron tackled this head on for the first time on Russian soil. He said: “Our approach is simple and principled. When a crime is committed, that is a matter for the courts. It is their job to examine the evidence impartially and to determine innocence or guilt. The accused has a right to a fair trial. The victim and their family have a right to justice.”“

On a lighter note, President Medvedev told Mr Cameron he “would have been a very good KGB agent”. Medvedev, who should know these things — his Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin, having been a rather successful agent, responded to Cameron’s recalling of a trip to Russia on his gap year. Mr Cameron said:

“‘I took the Trans-Siberian Railway from Nakhodka to Moscow and went on to the Black Sea coast. There, two Russians — speaking perfect English — turned up on a beach mostly used by foreigners. They took me out to lunch and dinner and asked me about life in England and what I thought about politics. When I got back I told my tutor at university and he asked me whether it was an interview. If it was, it seems I didn’t get the job!”

Mr Medvedev joked:

“I’m pretty sure that David would have been a very good KGB agent. But in this case he would never had become Prime Minister of the UK.”

In an alternative universe, perhaps the KGB agent Kameronovich would have been successful in Russia. Perhaps he, and not Putin, would have enlivened the Kremlin with macho photo opportunities in wild outdoor conditions…

In fact, how do we know Mr Cameron isn’t a KGB agent?

[JP note: Because we know he is an EU agent/Muslim Brotherhood operative/Mexican drug cartel mule/villain of choice.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

On the Anniversary of 9 / 11, The Great Mosque of Moscow Demolished

For the chief mufti of Russia, it was not well oriented toward Mecca, and needed to be rebuilt. Criticism from other Islamic leaders: “insane” initiative, it was a historic building.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — It was long overdue, but the demolition of the mosque in central Moscow in view of its total reconstruction has raised controversy among the Muslim community and a fresh criticism of its greatest exponent. Built at the beginning of ‘900, the Great Mosque was demolished on 11 September.

Albir Krganov, vice president of the central administration of the Muslims, described the day as “the tragedy of Moscow on the anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers.” Quoted by Interfax, the religious leader asked why the demolition took place precisely on 9/11 and “moreover on a Sunday.” Before him, other representatives of the Muslim community had criticized the demolition of the mosque — considered by many as a place of historical importance — railing against the head of the Council of muftis of Russia, Ravil Gainutdin, the project promoter. “It is regrettable that the decision to demolish a historic place of worship has come precisely from those who bear the highest spiritual title, that of Mufti,” read a joint statement by the Islamic leaders, released by Interfax-Religion.

The news that the Grand Mosque in the capital was to be demolished after the end of the month of Ramadan had already been confirmed on the eve of Eid ul-Fitr by the same Gainutdin. For years, as head of the Tatar community in Moscow, Gainutdin “argued the inadequacy of the Great Mosque, claiming that it was not perfectly oriented towards Mecca,” the statement says. For this reason the mufti continued to claim that the building had no historical value, a belief not shared by their colleagues in other Muslim organizations. Moreover, according to the joint statement, “Gainutdin had always highlighted the architectural similarity between the city’s Great Mosque and Great Synagogue. But this is no reason to endorse its demolition. “

Muslim leaders have, thus, asked the federal government and leading figures in Russia’s secular and religious spheres, to “raise their voices in defense of Russian Islam,” noting that the authorities had “the right” to demand Gainutdin abandon his “insane idea to demolish the historic building of the Great Mosque.” The statement was signed by: the head of the Central Committee of Muslims of Russia, Talgat Tajuddin, the Mufti of Moscow and central Russia, Albir Krganov; leaders of the Committee of Muslims of all Russia, the head of the Committee of Muslims of St. Petersburg and Northwest Russia, Jafar Ponchayev, the mufti of the regions of Rostov, Chelyabinsk, Kurgan and Astrakhan and the autonomous district of Khanty-Mansiisk.

In 2008, the Grand Mosque was included on the list of buildings of cultural value, but removed the following year after Gainutdin began his battle for its demolition. Built in 1904 with funding from the Tatar merchant Salikh Yerzin, its destruction had been threatened before the Olympic Games in 1980, located next to the Luzhniki stadium in Vypolzovy Avenue. At the time, it was saved thanks to the intervention of religious leaders and ambassadors of Arab countries. International political leaders such as President Sukarno of Indonesia (in 1955), Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser (1957) and the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (1969) had all prayed in the central mosque.

According to a recent survey by the authoritative Levada Center, 69% of Russians say they are Orthodox Christian and 5% Muslim. Catholic, Protestant, Jews and faithful of other religions count for less than 1%.

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

South Asia

A Cornishman’s Six Months in Helmand Province

A bomb disposal expert from St Austell is coming to the end of a gruelling six month tour in Afghanistan.

Sergeant Miles Truscott, who is in the Royal Air Force, has been working as a High Threat Bomb Disposal Operator.

Working in a team of four, Mr Truscott, 34, has been rendering safe bombs and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Since April the team has dealt with more than 40 devices in several parts of Helmand Province.

Sgt Truscott said: “When the Afghans find an explosive device we get called and we have to deal with them.

“We don’t know what we’re dealing with until we get on the ground. It’s the point between being tasked to arriving on the job, that is probably the most nervy part.

“Once we arrive everyone gets into the swing of what we’re supposed to be doing.”

‘Extreme heat’

The team has to walk down a cleared path to the site of the device which is designed to kill and main military personnel.

Sgt Truscott said: “At that point you’re thinking about the training, what I am going to do? You’re running through the possible outcomes.

“When you can see what you have in front of you things become a bit simpler, because you know you have to make the device safe and remove it from the ground.”

The Cornishman usually has to lie on the ground to deal with devices like IEDs.

He said: “Your concentration is totally on what your actions are, and finding what we need to find to neutralise the devices.

“You’re not thinking about anything else at all. I need the rest of the team to keep their eye on what else is going on, to keep me safe.”

Afghanistan endures dry hot cloudless summers with temperatures in July reaching 49 degrees celsius.

Sgt Truscott said: “The heat has been a real problem. We arrived in the April so we felt the build-up to the extreme heat.

“When we’re having to move on foot it does get quite demanding.”

Sgt Truscott said he was looking forward to coming back to Cornwall to see his girlfriend, parents and to sample a pint of his favourite beer.

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]

Afghanistan: Kabul US Embassy Attack: Live

Live coverage of the Taliban’s coordinated attack across the Afghanistan capital Kabul, in which Nato’s headquarters and the US embassy are among those targeted.

  • Blasts and gunfire across Afghan capital Kabul
  • Taliban claims responsibility for attack
  • Embassy district under attack
  • Insurgents take refuge in high-rise building overlooking area


13.33 Jerome Starkey, The Times man in Afghanistan, responds to the claim by the head of Nato that insurgents are trying to derail the handover of security to Afghan forces: Rasmussen talking tosh. Why would insurgents try and derail transition? They want the foreigners out. Surely this is another show of force?

13.32 In full, the latest statement from ISAF on the Kabul attacks:

A small group of insurgents attacked the vicinity of the U.S. Embassy and International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan headquarters today, firing from outside the compound using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. The attack started around 1:30 p.m. (local). Afghan National Security Forces and coalition forces immediately responded to the attack, and are still on the scene. Coalition forces are providing air support. There are no reports of ISAF casualties at this time.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Kenya Kidnapping: Fears Grow for Deaf Wife

The British woman abducted by an armed gang who murdered her husband in a remote Kenyan resort is deaf and will have difficulty communicating with her kidnappers, friends have revealed.

There are growing fears that Judith Tebbutt, 56, has been taken across the nearby border into lawless Somalia after she was seized by six gunmen who broke into the couple’s £560-a-night beach hut at Kiwayu Safari Village in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Her husband, David, 58, died from a single gunshot to the head as he tried to protect his wife from the kidnappers.

Friends of the couple, who are from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, paid tribute to Mr Tebbutt but said they feared his wife would struggle to cope with the devastating ordeal.

A close friend of the couple — who have a 25-year-old son, Oliver — said Mrs Tebbutt, who is a social worker helping people with drug and alcohol problems, relied on a hearing aid.

The friend, who asked not to be named said: “Judy only has around 30 or 40 per cent hearing and wears a double hearing aid.

“If she has them in and they are working then she is fine, but if she does not have them or once the batteries run out then she will have great difficulty hearing what people are saying to her.

“It is heartbreaking to think of her in this awful situation. Helpless and having seen her husband murdered.”

Mr Tebbutt, who worked as a finance director for publisher Faber & Faber and was a member of the Book Trade Charity, was described by friends and colleagues as “caring and dedicated” professional.

Ian Stevenson, professor of publishing at University College London, said: “He was one of the nicest people in publishing. I’ve known him for 15 years and he has had a very distinguished career.”

The couple, who were keen travellers and had visited Kenya before, had spent a week on safari in the Masai Mara before flying to Kiwayu on Saturday to relax by the beach for the last days of their trip.

The Kenyan authorities are trying to establish who had carried out the attack on the resort, which is popular with celebrities including artist Tracey Emin and singer Mick Jagger.

A massive sea, land and air search failed to find any sign of the kidnappers who are believed to have escaped from the resort in a speed boat.

A Kenyan security source, familiar with kidnap situations in the region said: “It’s going to be difficult to admit that once she’s in Somalia, the whole thing becomes a very different ball game.”

It is feared she may have been snatched by an opportunistic Somali gang who may try to sell her to al-Shabaab, Islamists who control large parts of the territory near the Kenyan border.

It has emerged that the British Government considered using forces training on the other side of Kenya for a possible release assault, but those plans will not be implemented if it is confirmed Mrs Tebbutt is being held in Somalia.

British forces are also available in Uganda and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Somerset is currently on counter-piracy patrol in the Arabian Sea.

Kiwayu Safari Village, a two-hour speedboat ride through a mangrove delta north of the popular tourist destination of Lamu island, was closed today.

Its managers had flown to Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, with Mr Tebbutt’s body, which is now in the care of the authorities who are liaising with the British High Commission.

           — Hat tip: An EDL Buck[Return to headlines]

South Africa: Modern Day Genocide

It is clear from most articles published in the international media, that the international community does not realize that in South Africa a genocidal war is being waged against a small minority. This minority is the Boer nation, also sometimes known as Afrikaners, who are descendants from a combination of mainly Dutch and French colonialists. Most of these people have ancestry in Southern Africa going back to at least 350+ years and most of them sees themselves are born and bred Africans


Two injustices

The situation pre 1994 was that there were around 75000 of these white farmers in South Africa, actively farming. South Africa never had to import any food during this time. Currently, it is estimated that there are less then 7000 white farmers still actively farming and this has led to South Africa having to import food. The ANC regime is following a policy of so-called land redistribution and restitution, which have led to the current situation. Of farms removed from whites and turned over to blacks, less than 10% still produce at all and those which still do produce, produce at much lower yields than before.

The second part of the situation is much more serious. This concerns the wholesale killing of white farmers, mostly in absolutely brutal and vicious fashion. In many cases, women are also raped and it is made clear by the attackers that the attacks are racially motivated. The ANC government simply refuses to act and this led to huge resentment by the white community in general. Just recently a well-know farmer, Eugene Terre’blanche was murdered on his farm. This man was also the leader of a small far rightwing organization, who’s only aim is the restoration of the Boer republics. Note that these republics were internationally recognized, but were taken from the Boer people by England after protracted wars.

Facts and figures

In order to demonstrate the numbers killed since 1994, I will also try to compare it to situations in the world.

1.In South Africa, the number of people killed in farm murders, are around 313 /100000/ year. This is more than 7 times higher than the average in the world. Compare this to crab fishing in Alaska, which is widely considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, which have death rates of only 262/100 000/year.

2.In these attacks more than 60% of those murdered were whites. This should be seen in the context of white being les than 10% of the population.

3.Latest figures show that more than 3600 whites, mostly Boer people, have been murdered in farm attacks, since 1994.

4.Currently figure show that 55 people are murdered in South Africa every day.

5.Farming is currently listed as the most dangerous occupation in South Africa.

6.It is estimated that in South Africa, a woman is raped every 17 seconds.

With figures like these, how anyone can still argue that white Boer people in South Africa is not being wiped out, is simply beyond me. These numbers of killed is much worse that the numbers killed in war zones such as Iraq. Still the international community however believes that South Africa is a model state where every singe person is safe and treated equally. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Links to more views and proof

[follow URL above for more links]

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]

UK Police in Kenya to Aid Briton’s Murder Investigation

UK counter terrorism detectives have arrived in Kenya to help investigate the murder of a British holidaymaker, the Metropolitan police has said.

It is feared the shot man’s kidnapped wife may have been taken to Somalia.

The couple, believed to be David and Judith Tebbutt from Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, were staying at the luxury Kiwayu Safari Village.

There are reports Kenyan police have arrested a local man on suspicion of helping to co-ordinate the attack.

The BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner said there were now two investigations under way in Kenya — a murder investigation by the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, and a second wide-scale manhunt by the Kenyan authorities. The Kenyan authorities remain the lead investigators.

UK detectives are also helping in the repatriation of Mr Tebbutt, he said.

Our correspondent said it is now believed Mrs Tebbutt was taken at gunpoint to the Somali mainland in a pre-planned operation to seize western hostages.

Her abductors are suspected to be from the Islamist extremist group Al-Shebab or pirate gangs in Somalia, he added.

‘Innocent tourist’

A colleague paid tribute to “dependable and wise” David Tebbutt The BBC’s Will Ross, near the resort in Kiwayu, said it had been reported that the man who had been arrested had allegedly been forced, at gunpoint, to be an accomplice and guide the attackers to where the tourists were staying.

He said there had been questions over whether the attackers had inside help — there were 18 cottages spread across the resort, yet the gunmen had gone to the only one with guests.

There have also been suggestions of possible family links between people in villages in the north coast of Kenya and south Somalia.

The couple were attacked on the first night of their stay at the resort on Saturday night, following a trip to Kenya’s Masai Mara reserve…

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]


Algeria: Two Dead Bodies on Boat, 15 Missing

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, SEPTEMBER 13 — A short distance away from the coast of the city of Bejaia on a boat adrift at sea, the Algerian Coast Guard found the bodies of two men who authorities believe were trying to reach Italy. According to initial investigations reported on El Watan’s website, the men were part of a group of immigrants who were trying to reach the beaches of the island of Lampedusa in the middle of August. There is no news of the other 15 “harragas” (the name in North Africa for people who try to illegally leave the country) and they are officially considered missing by the Algerian authorities. The Algerian authorities have managed to identify the victims by checking the memories of the mobile phones found near the two dead bodies. They are two young men, a 22 year old and a 25 year old, from Marsa (in the province of Skida) and Annaba.

Their family members have already been called to the morgue in the hospital in Bejaia, where the bodies were taken for official identification. The group reportedly left on August 17 in the middle of Ramadan (quite an irregular circumstance) from the deserted beach of Guerbez in the province of Skikda. Since then there had not been any news about the immigrants. A likely hypothesis is that the boat had a malfunction when it was already miles from the coast. There is practically no hope of finding the missing people from the group alive, a source told El Watan. In recent days another three bodies have been found at sea, but it does not look like there is any connection between the two findings.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

UK: East London Pride Will Go Ahead, Despite Ban on Marches

East London’s Pride parade will go ahead later this month despite the Home Secretary’s ban on marches.

Organisers say the procession through Hackney and Tower Hamlets on September 24 has not been affected by the ban, which is in place until the beginning of October. Scotland Yard requested an intervention to prevent the English Defence League from marching in Tower Hamlets on September 3 amid fears that their presence could result in serious public disorder. But the ban did not distinguish between groups and other marches, including an anti fascism counter protest, were blocked. Theresa May said she was supporting the “operational judgment of the police” when she granted the 30 day ban, which was the first in 30 years.

Jack Gilbert, spokesman for Rainbow Hamlets, said: “We knew within 48 hours of the ban being announced by the Home Secretary that our event wouldn’t be affected. The message for Pride is that east London has a vibrant community and it’s a chance for us to celebrate our diversity.” As part of the celebrations for LGBTQ life, the parade will start from Hackney Town Hall Square at 12.30pm and travel to Oxford house in Bethnal Green. A festival will then run until the evening with markets, entertainment and debates. Organisers are expecting anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 people to join the festivities. There had, however, been some confusion among supporters over whether the event could go ahead or not. Mr Gilbert added: “People were concerned because they didn’t understand the nature of the ban.” Campaign group Unite Against Fascism complained earlier this month that it was not clear exactly what was allowed under the guidelines. By law, neither the police nor the Home Office has the power to stop static protests which resulted in both the the EDL and UAF held standing demonstrations in the East End on September 3.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


9/11 Anniversary: Al-Qaeda Releases New Video Applauding Arab Spring

Al-Qaeda has released a video applauding the Arab Spring uprisings to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Ayman al-Zawahiri, who took control of al-Qaeda after the killing of Osama bin Laden, said he hoped the revolutionaries would found Islamic states and embrace Sharia Law. The 62-minute-long video also featured old film of Osama bin Laden warning Americans against enslavement by major corporations and “Jewish money capital”, according to a group which monitors Islamist extremist propaganda.

The video was released as many analysts believe the terror network is struggling to cope with the loss of a string of leaders and has found its jihadist message undermined by popular protests against authoritarian regimes which have swept the Middle East.

During a long speech, al Zawahiri said al Qaeda supported the uprisings as “a form of defeat for the United States” according to SITE Intelligence. Al Zawahiri said: “America is denying the fact that it is not facing individuals or groups but the whole ummah [Muslim community] of Islam. After the martyrdom of Sheikh Osama, the Islamic face of the revolutions was shown,” he said. “America’s arrogant nature will push it to deny the facts that it is facing a rising ummah and that it may be a cause of defeat and its fall, with permission from Allah.”

Al-Zawahiri has led al Qaeda since Bin Laden was shot dead after a decade on the run during a raid by United States Navy SEALs on his Abbottabad hideout in May. A string of senior leaders have been killed or captured since then, leading Leon Panetta, new US defence secretary, to predict defeat of the network was within reach. The film showing bin Laden was footage captured in the Abbottabad raid according to SITE.

[JP note: Al-Qaeda putting the pun into Arab Spring — this is a coming-together leap of Islam’s political and military wings rather than a seasonal attribute?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

By Reacting to 9/11 With Self-Recrimination, The Western Elites Have Strengthened the Hand of Brutal Islamism

In the years before 2000, as the director of the ephemeral Centre for Millennial Studies, I scanned the global horizon for signs of apocalyptic activity, that is, for movements of people who believed that now was the time of a total global transformation. As I did so, I became aware of such currents of belief among Muslims, some specifically linked to the year 2000, all predominantly expressing the most dangerous of all apocalyptic beliefs — active cataclysmic: that is, the belief that this transition from evil to good demands massive destruction, and that we true believers are the agents of that destruction, warriors of God, Mujahidin. Death cults, cults of martyrdom and mass murder… destroying the world to save it.

Nor were these beliefs magical, like the far better known Christian, but largely passive-cataclysmic, Rapture scenarios where one must await God’s intervention. They had practical means and goals. In the same year 1989, that Bin Laden drove the Russians from Afghanistan, Khomeini issued a global fatwah against Rushdie, and the West trembled. Iran and Afghanistan, however, like so many utopias born of such death cults, proved terrifyingly dystopic — acid in the faces of unveiled women. But these bitter new heavens on earth also showed remarkable staying power… and spreading power. So when Bin Laden struck with such spectacular force on 9-11, he took hi s Jihad, already declared in 1998 against America (the “Second AD”), to the next level. He put deeds to words.

We, in the West, were taken totally by surprise. Who are these people? Why haven’t we heard about them before? (NB: the blogosphere, which first “took off” in the early “aughts” (‘00s) is largely the product of a vast number of people turning to cyberspace for information that their mainstream news media had conspicuously failed to deliver.)

What was the logic of such a monstrously cruel attack that targeted civilians? A warning shot to pay attention and address grievances? Or the opening shot in a battle for world domination? Was this primarily an act of retribution for wrongs suffered, i.e., somewhat rational? Or global revenge at global humiliation, i.e., a bottomless pit of grievance?

Some of us said, “What can they possibly believe to make them hate so?” Others, “What did we do to make them hate us so?” And while both are legitimate questions, over the last decade, the “aughts”, we have split into two camps, each of which will not allow the other question’s consideration.

A Frenchwoman said to me in 2003, “after 9/11, there are two kinds of people: those who understand that we are at war, and those in denial.” Some pointed to a culture of genocidal incitement in the ideology of this religious enemy. They identified the totalistic reasoning, and warned that what these Mujahidin said in their own language was radically different from how “moderate” Muslims portrayed them to the West.

Others dismissed and downplayed these issues, pointing to rational and moderate trends among Muslims, and insisted that the vast majority are peaceful and moderate who can be reached by dialo gue, and that rounding up the tiny percentage who are terrorists can be, and should be, a matter of criminal proceedings. They showed more concern for the tendency of fascist war-mongering movements to appear in Western culture than deal with far more advanced such trends in Muslim political culture; they favored a moral relativism that permits one to spread the blame. Some showed a near-messianic will to self-criticize: “Aren’t we guilty of terrorism when we let people starve to death?” opined Derrida. Others delighted in moral inversion: Chomsky “reminded” us that the USA is the world’s worst terrorist. After all, those alleged civilians were really little Eichmanns, cogs in the wheel of a genocide of “people of colour”.

At one extreme, then, we find racists and xenophobes who want to get rid of all Muslims; at the other, oikophobes, who don’t even believe there’s a Muslim-inspired terror, but that 9/11 — the whole threat — was invented by fascist Western politicians looking to establish their dictatorships. “My side right or wrong,” vs. “Their side right or wrong.” Both end up supporting fascism — ours, or theirs.

By and large, we tend to label these two directions of political thinking “Right and Left.” Using this distinction, however, reflects primarily the “policy” postures involved rather than serious political thought. Since the “Left” adopts a discourse and posture of accommodation, it seems like the party of peace and understanding; anyone pointing out the evidence for implacable enmity, and the counter-indicated effects of pursuing peace with such a foe, seems like the party of war.

Now if it were merely a matter of different emphases, this could be a productive tension. Indeed, I’m convinced that there are a host of r ightfully troubled thinkers who, despite strong liberal and progressive impulses, nonetheless acknowledge the evidence and want to talk about it. There is a hugely creative and productive conversation still waiting to take place, one that would include people from all faiths and ethnicities, of people genuinely committed to societies committed to the freedom and dignity of all their people. One that was not afraid of its own shadow.

But during the aughts that conversation has not place: on the contrary, the “Left” has asserted a strong grip on the public sphere, exiling those who begin to pay attention to the problems with Islam rather than focus on the sins of the West, muffling both their voice, and the Muslim voices to which they point. I remember Fox News interviewing me on 9/11. When I identified this as part of an apocalyptic global Jihad, the interviewer informed me that that was impossible because — h ere quoting President Bush, “Islam is a religion of Peace.” They never played the interview and didn’t come to interview me again.

Those who doubt the wisdom of pursuing messianic demands for self-criticism and openness on the West at this time, who suggest we exercise our free speech and lay some of the moral onus here at the feet of Muslim spokesmen, who themselves so loudly denounce our racism and prejudice, but tolerate so much among their own — such people have rapidly found themselves labeled “Right-wing” and exiled from the “mainstream.” “If I speak of Muslim anti-Semitism,” confessed one French colleague to me in 2005, “it’s the last invitation to speak at a conference that I’ll get.”

As a result of this animosity, the adversarial “Right-Left” axis has reached dysfunctional proportions. The “Left” views the right as at best mean-spirit ed, increasingly as malevolent; the “Right” views the Left as traitors and fools, as useful infidels. And these two camps now so bitterly speak about each other, that the presidential campaign of 2012 looks like a nightmare of inappropriate candidates. And in the meantime, our disarray fills the sails of our apocalyptic enemy. As one of my friends said to me recently, “I thought that Mayan 2012 stuff was ridiculous. Now I see how global disaster really could happen by then.”

And among the elements that played into making this situation far worse, one of the cruelest winds blew from Europe and from the “progressive Left.” It’s worth remembering that the week before 9/11, the UN had assembled at Durban all the major “human rights” NGOs, representing the “best of the Left,” to fight racism world-wide, an assembly that turned into an orgy of hatred aimed at two Western democracies, by a voting bloc with members who still engage in slavery. When the “Magnificent 19” struck, they had every reason to believe that they would be cheered on by a Western elite, a global tribe, called “Left-wing”, inebriated with anti-Americanism.

And they were, to some extent, right. Although the initial European response to 9/11 was sympathy for the US — the next day, Le Monde wrote “Nous sommes tous des américains“ — it did not take long for anti-Americanism to emerge. Ten days later, Jean Baudrillard wrote a masterpiece of what Nietzsche would call ressentiment in a Le Monde: “It’s natural to want to strike at such a suffocating hegemon as the USA… They did it, we wanted it.” According to Nidra Poller, within weeks of the event, le tout Paris resounded with this kind of Schadenfreude. “America had it coming.” When Michael Moore’s sophomoric Fahrenheit 9-11 came to Europe, crowds stood and cheered.

No good deed goes unpunished by the envious. The French find it easier to forgive the Germans for conquering them, than the Americans for saving them, twice. When David Marash resigned as editor in chief of Al-Jazeera English because it was so anti-American, he commented that it was the British, not the Arabs, who were the worst — and by that he meant the products of a media elite that clusters around a BBC-Guardian nexus.

The anti-American Left, like courtiers in a 21st-century production of the emperor’s new clothes, embraced Jihadis who struggled so mig htily against American hegemony. The “peace” rallies of 2003 against Bush’s war in Iraq brought the pacifist Left and the Mujahidin together in common cause. One Pakistani participant in Islamabad wore a headband with “Kill Jews”; Berkeley radicals would not be outclassed in their demonizing. And yet, too few were disturbed by the oxymoron of an anti-Semitic peace rally. They failed to note that in apocalyptic politics, my enemy’s enemy is my enemy.

When Bin Laden’s men took out the Twin Towers, they, in a typical act of cognitive egocentrism, thought they would bring down the arrogant and empty tyrant of the US. What they did accomplish, however unintentionally, was to fend their foe — us — into two self-recriminating and dysfunctional halves. These halves, who so inaccurately identify themselves as “Right” and “Left,” seem to despise each other more than they do an enemy who passionately hates both of them — us! — a foe that hates all we collectively believe in about those messy and productive societies that treasure tolerance and dignity and freedom.

Demotic polities that protect everyone’s rights and request everyone’s disciplined participation, are rare historical accomplishments. They’re based on the difficult civil meme: “whoever is right, my side or not.” They need high levels of ability among their citizens for self-criticism, compromise, positive-sum behavior, and mutual trust and respect. Eli Sagan, one of the more astute observers of these issues notes: “Democracy is a miracle, considering human psychological disabilities.” However imperfect our democracies, they are as valuable as they are vulnerable.

Among the many memes widely circulating in Western circles, one of the most absurdly noxious is “Who ar e we to judge?” All the great progressive victories of demotic polities — equality before the law, freedom of religion and dissent, respect for those disadvantaged by “might makes right,” women, workers, weak — arises from harsh value judgments on the authoritarianism that exploits them: patriarchy, exploitation, cruelty. Not judging too quickly — admirable; not judging at all — folly. We end up ferociously judging ourselves, and giving others, whose values and motives are far more base, a free pass. In doing so we illustrate Pascal’s warning, “the more we want to be angels, the more we become beasts.”

So when, in order to seem peaceful, we abandon non-westerners to brutal political cultures in the name of some quasi-religious commitment to cultural relativism, we betray everything we claim we support. Such attitudes seem particularly inadvisable when facing an apocalyptic foe dedicated to the destruction of all our progressive values.

If the only people who fight Islamic triumphalism are really on the Right, their solutions will obviously favour harsh responses. Liberals and progressives would, presumably, struggle harder to come up with more creative and less violent forms of effective resistance. So it constitutes a catastrophic loss of creative energy to have a “Left” that believes that somehow, if only we were nicer to Muslims, they’d be nicer to us, one that views as an alarming embarrassment anyone who points out the Islamic contribution to the problem, as a saboteur of this effort at placation, an “enemy of peace.” It also represents a colossal betrayal of genuine Muslims moderates who really do want to live in a vibrant civil society that respects everyone; where Muslims respect infidels, and infidels respect Islam.

If the aughts were a debacle of culture wars in the West an d a period of growing radicalization in Islamic circles, let the teens be a period when finally, we turn around this self-destructive behavior. The wellbeing of billions of people on this planet depends on our commitment to Western progressive values.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]