Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120410

Financial Crisis
»EU: Italy and Spain Compete for Investors
»Far-Flung Demand Bolsters German Exports
»Italy: ‘17,000 Northern Businesses Went Bust Since 2009’
»JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets
»Alaska Expedition to Study Northern Lights From the Inside
»Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Facing Up to 50 Years Behind Bars in the U.S. After Losing Extradition Appeal
»Home Buyers Find Safety in Disused US Missile Sites
»NASA Jumbo Jet Arrives to Ferry Shuttle Discovery to Smithsonian
»Obama Administration Corruption in Solyndra Deal Confirmed
»Portrait of a Failed “Messiah”
»Santorum Suspends His Campaign, 2 Advisers Say
»State Department Barred Inspection
»Statism Needs Division
»Who Cares About John Derbyshire?
Europe and the EU
»European Zoos Welcome Panda Breeding Discovery
»Flemish Far Right Party Launches Racist Website
»France: 13 Salafis Before Judge for Indictment
»France 2012: Sarkozy Attacks in Paris, Freeze EU Check
»Italy: Journalist and Writer Miriam Mafai Dies
»Italy: Bossi’s Son Renzo Resigns as Lombardy Councillor
»Italy: Northern League Must Have Clean Up, ‘Look in All Drawers’
»Italy: Lega: Formigoni Welcomes Resignation of Renzo Bossi
»Italy: Berlusconi Plan to Give Away TV Frequencies Scrapped — Report
»Italy: Bossi Junior Steps Down, Rosy Mauro Urged to Follow Suit
»Italy: Bossi Jr Driver: ‘I Handed Over Lega Money for His Expenses’
»Italy: Public Prosecutor Acquires Video of Payment to Renzo Bossi
»Netherlands: Handshake Muslim Loses Court Case
»Norway Killer Breivik is Sane: Psychiatric Report
»Norway: Oslo Braces for ‘World’s Deadliest Shooter’ Trial
»Norway’s Mass Killer Breivik ‘Declared Sane’
»Norway: Breivik ‘Regrets Not Going Further’: Lawyer
»Norway: Breivik Trial: Facts and Figures
»Norway Gunman Anders Behring Breivik ‘Pleased’ Probe Finds Him Sane
»Norwegian Killer Deemed Sane After All
»Sweden: Obama’s Anti-Semitism Expert to Meet Reepalu
»There’s More to Nuclear Fusion Than ITER
»UK: Abu Hamza US Extradition Backed by European Court
»UK: Blackpool Council Grants Free Parking for Muslims, But Everyone Else Has to Pay
»UK: Hate Preachers Return to Quaker Venue
North Africa
»Court Suspends Egypt’s Constitutional Assembly
»Jihadists Say French Paper ‘Liberation’ Is Enemy of Islam
Middle East
»100 Vigilantes to ‘Cleanse Kubbar Island of Women’ — Girls Warned Against Going There
»Iraq Progresses Toward a Future Built on Oil Wealth
»Kofi Annan Will Seek Tehran’s Support for Syria Peace Plan
»Syria Accuses Turkey of Arming Rebels
»Turkey-Greece: Simit (Or Koulouri) Pretzel in Dispute
South Asia
»Asian Terrorism Poses an Increasing Threat to Global Security
»India: Red Academics Carry On
Far East
»China: Nike and Zara Accused of “Environmental Pollution”
»Pyongyang Puts Washington to the Test
»Report: Sony to Cut 10,000 Jobs Worldwide Through March 2013
»Sony Expects Record Annual Loss
Sub-Saharan Africa
»100 Boko Harams Took Control of Gao in Northern Mali
»Greece: “Absolutely Nothing” Done, Says Minister
»Italy, Libya Sign Anti-Migrant Pact
»UK: Key Events in Battle to Extradite Abu Hamza
»UK: Palestinian Ambassador Thanks Memo for Sheikh Raed Support
»UK: Theresa May Humiliated by Judge Over Attempted Deportation of Palestinian Activist
»UK: The ECHR is Right About Abu Hamza, But Britain Still Needs to Leave
»UK: What Today’s Abu Hamza Ruling Means
Culture Wars
»France: Imam Blesses Union Between Two Gay Muslims

Financial Crisis

EU: Italy and Spain Compete for Investors

Rome, 10 April (AKI/Bloomberg) — Competition between Italy and Spain for international investors’ funds will heat up this quarter as domestic buying stoked by the European Central Bank fades.

Italian and Spanish bonds slumped last week after demand dropped at a Spanish bond sale and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his country is in “extreme difficulty.” The decline reversed a first-quarter rally sparked by more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) of ECB loans to the region’s banks via its longer-term refinancing operation. Spain’s 10-year yield spread to German bunds widened to the most in four months, while Italy’s reached a six-week high.

“Spain and Italy are coming back down to earth after an incredible first quarter,” said Luca Jellinek, head of European interest-rate strategy at Credit Agricole SA in London. “The LTRO bought some time, but not a massive amount of time. Now the second quarter will be harder than the first unless policy moves convince foreign investors to come back in.”

Italian 10-year bonds fell for a fourth week, with the yield advancing 40 basis points to 5.51 percent. The yield difference over bunds widened to 378 basis points, compared with an average of 381 basis points in the first quarter. Spain’s 10- year yield spread to Germany reached 410 basis points last week after averaging 333 basis points in the first three months.

Recycled Cash

Yields dropped in the first three months of the year, suggesting Europe’s lenders were recycling ECB cash into regional bonds. Investors made 13 percent, including reinvested interest, on Italy’s bonds in the period between the ECB announcing the loans on Dec. 8 and the end of the first quarter. Spanish debt returned 6 percent.

“The two LTROs are a window of opportunity for governments to undertake fiscal consolidation and structural reforms,” ECB President Mario Draghi said in Frankfurt on April 4. “National policy makers need to fully meet their responsibility.”

Credit Agricole calculates that the ECB’s support, including loans to banks and direct purchases, prompted purchases of more than 250 billion euros of Spanish and Italian government securities between the third quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of this year. That’s more than the 216 billion euros of debt sold by the two nations during the same period.

Spain sold 2.59 billion euros of bonds on April 4, just above the minimum amount it planned for the auction and below the 3.5 billion-euro maximum target. The sale followed auctions on March 27 where both Spain and Italy failed to raise their maximum target amount.

Fading Effect

“The positive effect from the LTRO is fading and so the market is focusing on what the political developments will be,” said Werner Fey, a fund manager at Frankfurt Trust Investment GmbH, which oversees 6.5 billion euros of fixed-income assets. “The Spanish auction was not very well received and there’s a risk that forthcoming auctions could be difficult for other peripheral countries.”

Spain has to repay 44.3 billion euros of bonds in the second quarter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, while Italy has 87.8 billion euros to refinance.

Spain has already met 44 percent of its total financing needs for this year, according to UBS AG estimates. Italy has sold 28 percent of its requirement while France has issued 32 percent and Germany 25 percent, the calculations show. Most of the Spanish and Italian bonds were bought by local investors, the data shows.

Charity at Home

“Foreign investors have been reducing their holdings, there’s been a significant shift toward relying on domestic investors,” said Gianluca Ziglio, an interest-rate strategist at UBS in London. “This trend is likely to stay in place and that leaves the burden on the domestic investors, which aren’t being supported by the ECB’s liquidity anymore.”

Natixis Asset Management is buying Italian debt while remaining neutral on Spain, because Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government has removed much of the political risk surrounding his nation’s securities, while Spain’s situation remains clouded, according to Axel Botte, a Paris-based strategist at the $694 billion fund manager.

Monti, who replaced Silvio Berlusconi in November as Italian bond yields jumped to euro-era records, is implementing spending cuts and tax increases to eliminate the budget deficit next year and trim the nation’s 1.9 trillion-euro debt.

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

Far-Flung Demand Bolsters German Exports

Exports by Europe’s biggest economy picked up unexpectedly in February, with a second consecutive monthly rise. Rising import figures also provide a glimmer of hope for depressed eurozone members. German exports rose by 1.6 percent month-on-month in February, hitting a total of 91.3 billion euros ($119 billion), according to data released by the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) on Tuesday.

The second consecutive monthly rise in goods and services exported by Germany has driven the overall 2012 figure to 177.3 billion euros so far, 14.7 million euros more than in the first two months of 2011. Germany’s traditionally export-heavy economy is also being helped by strong domestic demand, resulting in rising import figures too.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: ‘17,000 Northern Businesses Went Bust Since 2009’

North-west hardest hit

(ANSA) — Milan, April 9 — Some 17,000 businesses have gone bust in the north of Italy since the global financial crunch in 2009, the think tank Cerved said Monday.

The northwestern regions of Lombardy, Piedmont and Liguria were harder hit than the north-east, Cerved said.

Of the nationwide total of bankruptcies up to last year, Cerved said, a quarter came in the south of Italy and 22% in the centre.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

JPMorgan Trader Iksil Fuels Prop-Trading Debate With Bets

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) trader Bruno Iksil’s outsized bets in credit derivatives are drawing attention to a little-known division that invests the company’s reserves and fueling a debate over whether banks are taking excessive risks with federally insured and subsidized money.

Iksil’s influence in the market has spurred some counterparts to dub him Voldemort, after the Harry Potter villain. He works in London in the bank’s chief investment office, which has assembled traders from across Wall Street to its staff of 400 who help oversee $350 billion in investments. While the firm describes the unit’s main task as hedging risks and investing excess cash, four hedge-fund managers and dealers say the trades are big enough to move indexes and resemble proprietary bets, or wagers made with the bank’s own money.

The trades, first reported by Bloomberg News April 5, stirred debate among U.S. policy makers over the Easter-holiday weekend as they wrangle over this year’s implementation of the so-called Volcker rule, the portion of the Dodd-Frank Act that sets limits on risk-taking by banks with government backing. The law passed after the collapse of the subprime mortgage market triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Alaska Expedition to Study Northern Lights From the Inside

A team of scientists is lofting weather balloons high into Alaska’s northern lights displays, getting a unique inside look at this dazzling atmospheric phenomenon.

The two-week expedition is called Project Aether: Aurora, and it’s slated to run through April 13. The goal is threefold: Learn more about the northern lights (also known as the aurora borealis), test out equipment and help get kids more interested in science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called STEM subjects.

“We think that the excitement of the whole expedition, and the drama involved in completing this cutting-edge science, helps play into the motivation to go into the STEM fields,” said project principal investigator Ben Longmier, a physicist at the University of Houston and chief research scientist at the Ad Astra Rocket Company.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Hate Preacher Abu Hamza Facing Up to 50 Years Behind Bars in the U.S. After Losing Extradition Appeal

Hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza and four other Muslim fanatics will be sent to the U.S. to face trial after they today lost their appeals against extradition.

Judges in Strasbourg dramatically ruled this morning that Hamza must be extradited to the U.S. where he could face the rest of his life behind bars.

Four other fanatics also lost their appeals against extradition. The ruling stated that the five men would not be subject to ‘ill-treatment’ in the U.S.

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg rejected the men’s claims that their human rights would be breached by leaving the UK.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Home Buyers Find Safety in Disused US Missile Sites

The anxious and wealthy buy luxury shelters in preparation of doomsday

Tucked deep beneath the Kansas prairie, luxury condos are being built into the shaft of an abandoned missile silo to service anxious — and wealthy — people preparing for doomsday.

So far, four buyers have splashed out a total of about €5 million for havens to flee to when disaster happens or the end is nigh.

And developer Larry Hall has options to retro-fit three more Cold War-era silos when this one fills up.

“They worry about events ranging from solar flares, to economic collapse, to pandemics to terrorism to food shortages,” Mr Hall said on a tour of the site.

These “doomsday preppers”, as they are called, want a safe place and he will be there with them because Mr Hall, 55, bought one of the condos for himself.

He says his fear is that sun flares could wipe out the power grid and cause chaos.

He and his wife and son live in Denver and will use their condo mostly as a vacation home, he says, but if the grid goes, they will be ready.

Mr Hall isn’t the first person to buy an abandoned nuclear missile silo and transform at least part of it into a shelter.

Built to withstand an atomic blast, even the most paranoid can find comfort inside concrete walls that are almost three metres thick and stretch 53 metres underground.

Instead of setting up shop in the old living quarters provided for missile operators, he is building condos right up the missile shaft.

Seven of the 14 underground floors will be condo space selling for €1.5 million a floor or €0.76 million a half floor.

Three-and-a-half units have been sold, two contracts are pending and only two more full units are available, Mr Hall said.

For now, metal stairs stretch down to connect each floor but an elevator will later replace them.

The units are within a steel and concrete core inside the original thick concrete, which makes them better able to withstand earthquakes.

He is also installing an indoor farm to grow enough fish and vegetables to feed 70 people for as long as they need to stay inside and also stockpiling enough dry goods to feed them for five years.

The top floor and an outside building above it will be for elaborate security.

Other floors will be for a pool, a movie theatre and a library, and when in lockdown mode there will be floors for a medical centre and a school.

Complex life support systems provide energy supplies from sources of conventional power, as well as windmill power and generators. Giant underground water tanks will hold water pre-filtered through carbon and sand.

And, of course, an elaborate security system and staff will keep marauding hordes out. The condo elevator will only operate if a person’s fingerprint matches its system, Mr Hall said.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

NASA Jumbo Jet Arrives to Ferry Shuttle Discovery to Smithsonian

Space shuttle Discovery’s chartered ride to retirement has arrived. The modified-Boeing 747, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA), touched down at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center here Tuesday (April 10). The jumbo jetliner came in from Dryden Flight Research Center in California to ferry Discovery to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where the iconic spacecraft is set to go on public display.

The SCA will not be returning to Florida after dropping off Discovery. Instead, another shuttle, the prototype Enterprise, will be loaded atop of the 747 at Dulles Airport for its own flight to New York the following week. While Enterprise never flew in space, it was the first to fly on a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for a series of approach and landing tests in the 1970s.

Since 2003, Enterprise has been on public display at the Udvar-Hazy Center. It is being moved to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, a converted aircraft carrier that is berthed in Manhattan, to make room for Discovery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Obama Administration Corruption in Solyndra Deal Confirmed

The report, “Consultation on Solyndra Loan Guarantee Was Rushed,” reveals that Department of Energy cut out the Treasury Department officials from issues regarding Solyndra, ignoring the agency’s advice and limiting its opportunity to review the high-priced, high-risk financing of what critics call “an Obama green pipe dream.”

Treasury Department officials previously testified last October before the Energy Committee regarding the agency’s role in the Solyndra debacle and the fact that DOE kept Treasury out of the loop at key points in the decision-making process, according to Congressman Upton.

“The Treasury report echoes what our investigation has shown over and over; Solyndra was a bad bet from the beginning that was rushed out the door while every red flag was ignored. Treasury’s report confirms the agency had been effectively cut out of the loan guarantee process despite federal laws and regulations that require their consultation,” Upton said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Portrait of a Failed “Messiah”

What we have come to learn is that he is a liar. He lies even when he does not have to and he lies all the time.

“His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe it.”

If you think this is a psychological profile of Barack Obama, you would be wrong. It is a quote from a profile of Adolph Hitler, prepared for the Office of Strategic Services—the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency—by Walter C. Langer and three others during World War II.

The fact that it rather closely resembles aspects of Obama’s personality we have come to know would be cause for alarm if we were living in the 1930s at the time of Hitler’s rise to power in Germany, but this is a very different time and the U.S. Constitution is still a powerful instrument.

Unlike the 1930s, the Internet has provided everyone with the ability to access information that, as often as not, conflicts with that the mainstream media would have us believe.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Santorum Suspends His Campaign, 2 Advisers Say

Rick Santorum is suspending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination on Tuesday, according to two people with knowledge of his plans. Mr. Santorum is due to make the announcement at a stop in his home state of Pennsylvania after a weekend in which he tended to his three-year-old daughter, Bella, who had been hospitalized with pneumonia.

The decision abruptly ends his quest for the Republican presidential nomination after weeks in which he has struggled to compete with Mitt Romney’s well-financed, highly-organized campaign apparatus.

[Return to headlines]

State Department Barred Inspection

(IPT) — The State Department broke with normal procedures last week when it ordered the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) not to conduct a secondary inspection on members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) on their way to visit government officials and think tanks in the United States.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Statism Needs Division

Statism, American liberalism, communism, socialism, fascism, or any other authoritarian ism you can think of, is not popular on its face, so it must force its way into our lives, even using deception to make the people desire it. Crisis fuels the desire by the people for the government to “gain control” of everything. But in order for the ruling elite to be able to ride in on their prized stallion to save the day, their must be division, so that the liberal statist can claim they are hear to resolve that division. . .

But what if the division is not severe enough for the statists to use it? What if, as individuals who are personally responsible and self-reliant, we are doing just fine without the intrusion of government in our lives?

Liberals need division, so if division is not present, they must create it.

Obamacare’s time in the Supreme Court, Trayvon Martin, and a whole bunch of other things going on, are the liberal left’s attempt to create division among Americans. That is how Obama won the Presidency in 2008 — by promising to unite our poor, divided nation.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Who Cares About John Derbyshire?

After two days of outrage over John Derbyshire’s outrageously racist rant, National Review announced that it was “parting ways” with the writer. Rich Lowry wrote in a post this weekend that the piece was “nasty and indefensible” (interestingly, he didn’t call it racist) and that Derbyshire wouldn’t be writing for the publication anymore. That’s all well and good-but does it really matter?

It’s easy (and correct) to criticize Derbyshire-his article was explicitly, unabashedly racist and hateful. Frankly, it was a gift to conservative writers. Because now they get to shake their heads in disappointment and condemnation, patting themselves on the back as non-racist by comparison. By holding Derbyshire up as a real bad guy, conservatives are hoping that people will ignore their own racism-not just the content of their media but their ideological principles and the policies they support.

Some people would like to believe that racism is just the explicit, said-out-loud discrimination and hatred that is easily identifiable. It’s not-it’s also pushing xenophobic policies and supporting systemic inequality. After all, what’s more impactful-a singular racist like Derbyshire or Arizona’s immigration law? A column or voter suppression? Getting rid of one racist from one publication doesn’t change the fact that the conservative agenda is one that disproportionately punishes and discriminates against people of color. So, I’m sorry, folks-you don’t get to support structural inequality and then give yourself a pat on the back for not being overtly racist.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

European Zoos Welcome Panda Breeding Discovery

The beloved black-and-white bears are notoriously hard to breed. European zoos are taking note of a new study that sheds light on the endangered mammal’s reproductive “clock.” It turns out male pandas have a cycle too.

It’s mating season for giant pandas — and right about now, males are at their peak for making cubs, a new study has found.

Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C., have discovered that male pandas seem specially adapted to ramp up their sperm production in advance of female panda ovulation.

Panda captive breeding programs face the ongoing challenge that female pandas ovulate just once a year.

The new findings, published last week in the Biology of Reproduction journal, may improve the chances of preserving genetic diversity in an already small population that is under ever more pressure in the wild.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Flemish Far Right Party Launches Racist Website

(AGI) Brussels — Flemish far right party Vlaams Belang launched a racist website inviting the population to denounce irregular immigrants in Belgium. It is not a new idea: over the past few months, Dutch Geert Wilders’s Pvv party had launched a similar site in the Netherlands, triggering fierce polemics in Europe.

Vlaams Beland leader Filip Dewinter explained that the denounces will be forwarded to police, because, “the presence of tens of thousand of irregular immigrants in the large Belgian cities worsens phenomena like under the table jobs, criminality and abuse of social services”. The anti-immigrants movement has 12 deputies and 5 senators in the Belgian Parliament.

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

France: 13 Salafis Before Judge for Indictment

Planned kidnapping of Jewish judge among charges

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 3 — Thirteen of the seventeen Salafis taken into custody by French police on Friday have gone before the investigating magistrate today who will be charging them with belonging to an illegal association linked to terrorism.

Among the charges against those detained, including the head of the Salafi group Forsane Alizza, is the “planned kidnapping” of a Lyon magistrate of Jewish origins, Albert Levy, said Paris prosecutor Francois Molins. The dissolution of Forsane Alizza (“the Knights of Pride”) was ordered by Interior Minister Claude Gueant, who accused the organisation of training its supporters for armed struggle, of being against Republican principles and of wanting to bring “the kingdom of Islam” to France.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France 2012: Sarkozy Attacks in Paris, Freeze EU Check

Hollande? “Rash of spending”.Programme and letter to French

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 6 — Nicolas Sarkozy is on the counter-attack. The French President, a candidate to his own succession at the forthcoming elections in April and May, has made his move following yesterday’s major rally by François Hollande, rigourously accusing his Socialist rival for the presidency of wanting to introduce a “rash of new spending” and has announced a plan that will see France balance its budget by 2016. Just as François Mitterand did before him, Sarkozy will also use a letter to explain his strategy, with six million copies sent to French households.

Speaking at a press conference in Paris, Sarkozy said that, if re-elected, the plan would see a freeze on the increase of Paris’ contribution to the European Union, allowing the country to obtain 3 billion euros over the entire period of the EU budget (2014-2020). “I can announce to you that France will ask for its contribution to the European budget to be frozen, which will mean savings of 600 million euros per year,” said Sarkozy, who, 17 days ahead of the first round of voting on April 22, today presented in detail his election programme, as well as a 34-page “Letter to the French people”, based on that sent by the former Socialist President, François Mitterand. Six million copies of the letter will be printed and sent to households across the country.

France’s contribution to the EU’s budget currently stands at 19 billion euros, putting the country in second position behind Germany. The President has already told his European partners that efforts to reduce France’s debt will cost 115 billion euros: 75 billion in cuts plus 40 billion in new revenue. Sarkozy also used the news conference in Paris to rail against Hollande, the overwhelming favourite in the polls, saying that his rival’s promises could drag France into a situation similar to that face by Spain or Greece.

Hollande’s plan, he warned, is a “rash of new spending, no-one knows how it will be covered”. “The situation faced by our Spanish friends, after what has happened to our Greek friends, brings us back down to earth,” Sarkozy said, insisting on the negative effect that the former Socialist government in Madrid had on Spain’s financial situation. “After 4 years of crisis, we must reduce deficit, we cannot say that it is time to party,” he added. The outgoing President also claimed that Hollande’s idea of bringing the pensionable age down to 60 “is the very denial of the existence of a crisis. This alone means 5 billion more in spending for nothing”. Sarkozy also pointed the finger at his rival’s tax proposals, which he said represent “a massacre” for families and the middle-class.

The Socialist candidate’s plan to renegotiate the EU fiscal compact agreement, Sarkozy continued “is simply utopian, because [talks] have just finished and there is no government in Europe that wants [such an outcome]”. Europe, he added, was “on the edge of the precipice” and emerging from the situation “has been very difficult”.

Sarkozy has brought the campaign back to an economic battleground after significant focus in recent days on the issues of security and immigration, after the trauma of the massacres in Toulouse and Montauban committed by the Islamic terrorist Mohamed Merah. The polls suggest that Sarkozy will be comfortably defeated by Hollande in the second round of voting on May 6. The first round, however, sees him in the lead. The far-left Front de Gauche party candidate, Jean-Luc Melenchon, also continues to gain ground.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Journalist and Writer Miriam Mafai Dies

Leftwing intellectual was 86

(ANSA) — Rome, April 9 — Distinguished former Communist journalist, writer and liberal intellectual Miriam Mafai died Monday aged 86.

The Florence-born Mafai was a former WWII Resistance fighter who suffered under Benito Mussolini’s racial laws because her mother was a Jew. She later became an official in the Italian Communist Party (PCI), the biggest Communist group in Western Europe and a major player in postwar Italian society.

She worked for PCI organ l’Unita’ and another leftwing newspaper, Paese Sera, before helping found La Repubblica, Italy’s leading progressive daily, in the mid-1970s.

She was looked up to by generations of leftwing women as a proto-feminist and gained a wide audience among both sexes as a waspish, libertarian critic of conservative policies.

From 1983 to 1986 she was head of the Italian journalists’ union FNSI and became an MP for the more moderate heirs to the PCI, most recently as a member of the national executive of the Democratic Party (PD), Italy’s main centre-left party.

Among her best-known works are Black Bread, Women and Daily Life in the Second World War (Mondadori); Goodbye Botteghe Oscure, Once Were Communists (Mondadori); and Forgetting Berlinguer, the Italian Left and the Communist Tradition (Donzelli).

PD leader Pier Luigi Bersani said Mafai was “one of the protagonists of our time”.

“Miriam Mafai lived many roles, always with intelligence, passion and curiosity,” he said. Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, a political opponent, said Mafai’s death was “a painful loss for the whole city of Rome and all its citizens, regardless of their political leanings”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Bossi’s Son Renzo Resigns as Lombardy Councillor

Northern League hit by fraud scandal

(ANSA) — Rome, April 9 — Umberto Bossi’s son Renzo resigned his position as councillor in the Lombardy regional assembly on Monday, four days after a big financial scandal caused Bossi elder to quit as the leader of the Norther League.

Prosecutors investigating alleged fraud by the populist party’s former treasurer Francesco Belsito suspect party money was misspent on members of the Bossi family.

“I’ve stepped aside in this moment of difficulty, without anyone asking me to,” Renzo Bossi told Mediaset television.

“I’m giving an example. I have peace of mind and I have faith in the judiciary, even though I’m not under investigation”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League Must Have Clean Up, ‘Look in All Drawers’

Maroni says auditors to examine party assets

(see related story) (ANSA) — Rome, April 5 — The Northern League must purge itself of any corruption that may exist within it, former minister Roberto Maroni said on Thursday, when Umberto Bossi resigned as party leader after being linked to a fraud probe.

“Now we must work hard to have a clean up, looking at all the accounts and opening all the drawers,” said Maroni, who is one of three senior League figures who have temporarily been put in charge of the party.

The former interior minister added that an external auditing company had been put in charge of checking the party’s assets.

Verona Mayor Flavio Tosi, another League bigwig, said Bossi had shown he “really loves the movement” by taking the painful decision to quit.

However, some politicians from other parties forecast more trouble ahead for the populist League, which campaigns for greater autonomy for the wealthier north of Italy.

“The judicial affair that has forced Umberto Bossi to resign is the tip of the iceberg of the crisis of the League,” said Marina Sereni of the centre-left Democratic Party.

“A party that 20 years ago responded to the demand for change after the crisis of the old political establishment is now the symbol of a period that is coming to an end”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Lega: Formigoni Welcomes Resignation of Renzo Bossi

(AGI) Milan — The president of Lombardy region, Roberto Formigoni, welcomed Renzo Bossi’s resignation from the regional council. Writing on Twitter he said: ‘I have read the announcement of the resignation of Renzo Bossi from Lombardy Regional Council. It’s for the best’.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Plan to Give Away TV Frequencies Scrapped — Report

Rome, 10 April (AKI) — Italy has decided to scrap plans to give away digital television frequencies and will hold an auction that can raise up to 1.2 billion euros for the cash-strapped government.

“I don’t think diving away valuable state property is a good thing,” industry minister Corrado Passera told the la Repubblica daily.

Italy has raised taxes, implemented pension reform and passed other painful measures in an effort to cut the world’s fourth-biggest debt load and put its financial house in order.

The unelected government that came to power in November after Silvio Berlusconi’s rule came to an end amid a debt crisis had given themselves until 19 April to decide if it would eliminate the decision to give away six digital frequencies.

Berlusconi’s media empire was set to benefit from the move to allow qualified broadcasters to snap up valuable frequencies for free in what has been dubbed a “beauty contest.”

Berlusconi is the owner of the country’s largest private broadcaster, prompting accusations of conflict of interest for his government’s decision to not sell the frequencies. The plan was also criticized for favouring incumbent broadcasters.

An auction of fourth-generation mobile telephone frequencies last year raised almost 4 billion euros for the Italian treasury.

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

Italy: Bossi Junior Steps Down, Rosy Mauro Urged to Follow Suit

(AGI) Rome — Umberto Bossi’s son Renzo has also taken a step back. The Lega has now invoked the Italian saying “there are never two without three”, and Roberto Calderoli has called on Rosy Mauro to make up the numbers by stepping down as Deputy Chairman of the Senate. It’s been a tough Easter for the Lega, which is going through what Roberto Calderoli called a ‘tsunami,’ which began with a leaked interview with Alessandro Marmello, Renzo Bossi’s driver and bodyguard. Marmello has apparently told Oggi magazine that he had withdrawn cash from “Lega funds” to pay Bossi Junior’s personal expenses. Just over an hour later came Renzo’s decision. “In this fraught period, I have decided of my own volition to take a step back and resign as regional councillor,” he announced. “I am not under investigation” he was at pains to point out, “it was a difficult decision, made to safeguard the movement and to respond to all the questions that will come out over the next few days.” The Lega leader was pleased with Renzo Bossi’s decision. “He was right to stand down,” said Bossi. But the former secretary also indirectly denied that this hand had been forced by the storm over the movement. “I had been fed up with working for the Region for two or three months,” was all he said. The “Senatur” gave a laconic reply on the subject of Rosy Mauro’s possible departure: “We’ll see” was all he said.

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

Italy: Bossi Jr Driver: ‘I Handed Over Lega Money for His Expenses’

(AGI) Milan — Renzo Bossi’s driver said he gave party money to Renzo Bossi for his personal expenses. Alessandro Marmello, driver and bodyguard of Renzo Bossi, told the magazine Oggi (on the newsstands tomorrow): ‘I can’t carry on. I don’t want to continue to pass money to the son of Umberto Bossi in this way.

It is cash that I withdraw from the coffers of the Lega in my name under my responsibility. He collects it without blinking an eye, putting it in his pocket as it were the most natural thing in the world. That’s enough now. I am an honest person. I don’t want to play this game anymore’.

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

Italy: Public Prosecutor Acquires Video of Payment to Renzo Bossi

(AGI) Milan — Milano prosecutors are in possession of the video that appeared on the ‘’ web site showing Renzo Bossi receiving money from his driver, Alessandro Marnello, which Marnello said proves he took money from the Northern League.

RCS investigators obtained the video.

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

Netherlands: Handshake Muslim Loses Court Case

Rotterdam council was right not to offer lawyer Mohammed Enait the job of client manager after he refused to shake hands with women, a court in The Hague said on Tuesday afternoon.

Enait had applied for the job at the social services department but said he would not shake hands with women on religious grounds. However, he would greet them in another respectful fashion, he said.

When he was refused the job, Enait brought a civil case against Rotterdam council, saying the rejection was religious discrimination.

The court found the refusal to shake women’s hands ‘unacceptable’ and that Enait is ignoring the equality between men and women, reports news website In addition, it would damage the relationship between the council and its clients.

In 2009, Enait was in the news for refusing to stand up in court when judges entered the room on the grounds that in Islam all men are equal.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Norway Killer Breivik is Sane: Psychiatric Report

Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, was not psychotic at the time of the twin attacks and can thus be held criminally responsible, a new psychiatric probe concluded on Tuesday.

“The experts’ main conclusion is that the accused, Anders Behring Breivik, is not considered to have been psychotic at the time of the actions on July 22nd, 2011,” the Oslo district court said in a statement which reopens the debate on whether the self-confessed killer can be sent to prison. “That means that he is considered criminally responsible at the time of the crime.”

The new evaluation counters the findings of an initial probe that found Breivik was suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” which meant he would most likely be sentenced to psychiatric care instead of prison.

On July 22nd, Breivik first set off a car bomb outside government buildings in Oslo, killing eight people, before travelling to the small island of Utøya north-west of the capital where he spent more than an hour methodically shooting and killing another 69 people, mostly teenagers.

The victims had been attending a summer camp hosted by the ruling Labour Party’s youth organisation.

The conclusions of the second psychiatric evaluation, which was ordered by an Oslo court amid an outcry over the initial exam findings, were published just six days before Breivik’s trial is set to start.

In the end however, it will be up to the Oslo court judges to determine his mental state when they publish their verdict around mid-July, thus deciding whether he will be locked up in a closed psychiatric ward or sent to prison.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Oslo Braces for ‘World’s Deadliest Shooter’ Trial

Anders Behring Breivik will go on trial in Norway next Monday charged with committing “acts of terror” when he slaughtered 77 people in twin attacks in July that shook the tranquil country to its core.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway’s Mass Killer Breivik ‘Declared Sane’

A second psychiatric evaluation of mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has found him sane enough to face trial and a jail term.

The findings contradict a previous evaluation, published in November, that found him legally insane.

Breivik is due to stand trial on 16 April over a shooting spree last July, in which he admits killing 77 people.

The question of his sanity decides whether he will be sent to a psychiatric ward or jail.

The second evaluation was approved by a court in January following widespread criticism of last year’s assessment that diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic who could not be held criminally responsible for his actions.

Many critics questioned whether such a well-planned attack could have been carried out by someone suffering from a mental illness.

Breivik himself last week blasted the first psychiatric assessment as “lies”, saying 80% of it was wrong.

In a letter to Norwegian tabloid Verdans Gang, he said being sent to a psychiatric ward would be a “fate worse than death”.

“To send a political activist to an asylum is more sadistic and more evil than killing him!” he wrote.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik ‘Regrets Not Going Further’: Lawyer

Right-wing extremist Anders Behring Breivik, whose trial for the killing of 77 people in Norway begins on Monday, plans to tell the court he regrets “not going further”, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

“This will be extremely difficult, an enormous challenge to listen to his explanations,” Geir Lippestad told reporters. “He will not only defend (his actions) but will also lament, I think, not going further.”

The 33-year-old right-wing extremist also said he was “pleased” with the results of a new psychiatric probe that found him sane and criminally responsible, contrary to a first official exam that concluded late last year that he was suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” and therefore criminally insane.

“His first reaction was that he was pleased with the conclusion” of the new expert report, Lippestad told reporters after discussing the new findings with his client. “He also said he was not surprised, that he had been expecting this conclusion,” the lawyer added.

Breivik, who has said being sent to a psychiatric ward would be “worse than death”, wants to be declared sane, according to his lawyers, so as not to damage the political message presented in his 1,500-page manifesto published online shortly before the twin July attacks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik Trial: Facts and Figures

The trial of Anders Behring Breivik opens next Monday and will last about 10 weeks, involving hundreds of people.

Here are some facts about the trial:

The actors

  • The judges: Breivik’s fate will be decided by a panel of five judges, comprising two professional judges and three lay judges whose votes will all weigh equally. The chief judge is one of the professionals, Wenche Elizabeth Arntzen
  • The defence: Breivik will be defended by Geir Lippestad and three assistants
  • The prosecution: two state prosecutors, Inga Bejer Engh and Svein Holden
  • The victims: more than 770 survivors and families of the victims, represented by 162 lawyers
  • The witnesses: close to 150 people are expected to testify

The verdict is expected in mid-July, though no specific date has been set yet. A majority vote by three of the five judges is needed, and will focus on the question of whether Breivik was criminally sane, which will determine whether he is sentenced to prison or a closed psychiatric ward.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norway Gunman Anders Behring Breivik ‘Pleased’ Probe Finds Him Sane

Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in Norway last July, said through his lawyer Tuesday he was “pleased” that a new psychiatric probe found him to be sane and not psychotic. “His first reaction was that he was pleased with the conclusion” of the new expert report, Geir Lippestad told reporters after discussing the new findings with his client, who had been found to be suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia” in an earlier probe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Norwegian Killer Deemed Sane After All

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik is not criminally insane, according to a new psychiatric assessment, which contradicts an earlier examination. It comes six days before Breivik is to go on trial on terror charges.

Anders Behring Breivik, who confessed to murdering 77 people in a bomb and shooting rampage in Norway last July, is not criminally insane after all, an Oslo court said on Tuesday. A new psychiatric assessment says he was not psychotic before, during and after the attacks, nor is he a paranoid schizophrenic.

“Our conclusion is that he is not psychotic at the time of the actions of terrorism and he is not psychotic now,” Terje Toerrissen, one of the two psychiatrists involved in the examination, told the Associated Press news agency. The experts also said that there was “a high risk of repeated violent actions.”

The findings contradict an earlier examination and pave the way for prosecutors to seek a prison sentence instead of compulsory commitment to psychiatric care. Breivik is set to go on trial on terror charges on April 17 for last year’s massacre.

The court will take both psychiatric assessments into account during the trial, which is scheduled to last 10 weeks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Obama’s Anti-Semitism Expert to Meet Reepalu

Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu, still in the doghouse for recent comments about the city’s Jewish community, will meet with President Barack Obama’s anti-Semitism representative, who is due to visit Malmö in two weeks. “This is not something she has decided hastily. She has wanted to visit for a long time,” said Julia Janiec, chief of staff at the Malmö mayor’s office to local paper Sydsvenskan.

According to the paper, US president Barack Obama persuaded Rosenthal to take on the role as his representative in the fight against anti-Semitism in November.

Rosenthal, whose father was a survivor of the Buchenwald concentration camp, has already provoked the Israeli government on a number of occasions by pointing out the difference between anti-Semitism and justified criticism against the state of Israel.

Spokesperson for the US embassy in Stockholm, Chris Dunnett, told the paper that Rosenthal has been following events in Malmö for some time and wants to make sure that there are no politicians in the area that encourage anti-Semitism, discrimination, and racism.

While in Sweden, Rosenthal will also meet with representatives from organizations such as Malmö mot diskriminering (‘Malmö against discrimination’) and ECCAR — the European Coalition of Cities against Racism, to which Malmö belongs.

Björn Lagerbäck, who works with an initiative by the city to combat racism and intolerance, told Sydsvenskan that the Americans want to stay informed about what Malmö is doing to combat the problems in the area.

“Anti-Semitism has existed since the beginning of time. There is every reason to look at what is going on today. We are all responsible,” Lagerbäck told the paper.

Malmö mayor Reepalu has been likened by some observers to British ex-mayor Ken Livingstone for his habit to put his foot in his mouth.

His recent statements in right-leaning magazine NEO that the Jewish community in Malmö had been infiltrated by the Sweden Democrats ruffled a lot of feathers in Sweden and abroad.

Reepalu has recanted his comments completely and is making every effort to reconcile with the local Jewish community.

Israeli ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, has noted his efforts but recently said that he is hoping to see more hands-on approach to sorting out the troubles in the area, according to Sydsvenskan.

           — Hat tip: Freedom Fighter[Return to headlines]

There’s More to Nuclear Fusion Than ITER

CONSTRUCTION is finally under way in southern France of ITER, the experimental fusion reactor that scientists hope will produce more energy than it consumes. It is a huge undertaking, needing the backing of the European Union and six powerful nations to get even this far.

But care needs to be taken that ITER does not overshadow other experiments. The US Department of Energy last month cited increased support for ITER as the reason it plans to axe funding for several smaller fusion projects.

In these penny-pinching times, tough choices need to be made. But ITER will not address a host of practical and operational questions that must be answered before fusion power can become a reality. It is a first step, not a last best hope. If that is forgotten, the distant dream of fusion power may remain just that.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Hamza US Extradition Backed by European Court

The European Court of Human Rights has backed the extradition of Abu Hamza and four other terror suspects from the UK to the US.

The Strasbourg court held there would be no violation of human rights for those facing life and solitary confinement in a “supermax” prison.

Judges said they would consider further the case of another suspect because of mental health issues.

Prime Minister David Cameron said he was “very pleased” with the news.

“It’s quite right that we have a proper legal process, although sometimes you can be frustrated by how long things take,” he added.

The court’s decision is one of its most important since 9/11 because it approves of human rights in US maximum security prisons, making it easier for the UK to send suspects to its closest ally.

There could still hypothetically be an appeal against the court’s ruling in its final Grand Chamber — but in practice, very few cases are re-examined in that final forum.

The men have three months to try to persuade the Grand Chamber to reopen the entire case and examine it. If the men fail to launch an appeal, they will be extradited to the United States.

The family of one of the men, Babar Ahmad, who has been held for a record of nearly eight years without trial, said he would fight on against extradition.

Last week, he appealed in a BBC interview to be charged and tried in the UK because his alleged crimes were committed here.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: “I welcome the decision of the European Court of Human Rights to allow the extradition of Abu Hamza and other terror suspects.

“In five of the six cases, the Court found that extradition would not breach their human rights and in the remaining case, it asked for further information before taking a final decision.

“I will work to ensure that the suspects are handed over to the US authorities as quickly as possible.”

The European Court said there would be no breach of human rights if the men were to be held in solitary confinement at ADX Florence, a Federal Supermax jail in Colorado, used for people convicted of terrorism offences.

Abu Hamza is unlikely to be held at that jail because of his disabilities. The court also held that the life sentences each man faces would not breach human rights.

But in one case, Haroon Aswat, judges said they could not yet give the go-ahead to extradition because they needed to see more submissions on his schizophrenia and how that would be treated were he sent to the US.

The court said that the range of activities and services at ADX Florence were better than many European prisons.

It said: “Having fully considered all the evidence from both parties, including specifically prepared statements by officials at ADX Florence as well as letters provided by the US Department of Justice, the court held that conditions at ADX would not amount to ill-treatment.

“As concerned ADX’s restrictive conditions and lack of human contact, the court found that, if the applicants were convicted as charged, the US authorities would be justified in considering them a significant security risk and in imposing strict limitations on their ability to communicate with the outside world.

“The court finds that there are adequate opportunities for interaction between inmates. While inmates are in their cells talking to other inmates is possible, admittedly only through the ventilation system.

“Save for cases involving the death penalty, it has even more rarely found that there would be a violation of Article 3 (that no-one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) if an applicant were to be removed to a state which had a long history of respect of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

Abu Hamza is charged with offences relating to hostage taking in Yemen and an alleged plot to set-up a terrorism training camp in the United States. Haroon Aswat is also accused in connection to the training camp.

Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan are accused of supporting terrorism through a website operated in London.

The final two men allegedly played a part in organising the 1998 US Embassy bombings in East Africa.

           — Hat tip: ICLA[Return to headlines]

UK: Blackpool Council Grants Free Parking for Muslims, But Everyone Else Has to Pay

WHEN BLACKPOOL FC were promoted to the Premier League in 2010 they staged an extremely busy event on the Promenade to celebrate, with the team riding through on an open top bus before taking to the stage to belt out that this was the “best trip they had ever been on”. I went to this event and parked on Blackpool South car park, paying a fairly ridiculous minimum charge of £3.50 for the trouble. But hey, it was a one-off (or maybe not if Ian Holloway can stop the team conceding cheap goals). I just checked and the minimum charge has gone up to £5.00 for this car park, and this is only enough to buy you 3 hours of time before the parking stasi come along and make your trip a whole lot more expensive. In tourist spots in Cornwall, £5.00 gets you the whole day making Blackpool very, very expensive. Expensive unless you are a Muslim that worships at the controversial Noor A Madina mosque on Waterloo Road, operated by Labour Party drone Tasurraf Shah.

This Sunni Islam mosque has been desperately trying to expand its capacity over the last year and boasts on its Wikipedia page that, ‘there are two 200-person capacity buildings at the mosque; three remain under development.’ Assuming the other three buildings are of equal size (they are all similarly sized shops), this works out at a current capacity of 400 and a prospective capacity of 1,000 Muslims. Unfortunately their expansion plans were quashed on the basis of insufficient car parking. On the 13th of February, 2012, Pam Goodwin from Blackpool Council confirmed that 8 parking permits, with no restriction on the vehicle used, had been issued to the Noor A Madina mosque permitting an hour’s free parking on Blackpool South car park every Friday. It seems like a token gesture, because this in no way covers the mosque’s capacity of 400 people. However, since the minimum charge at this car park is £5.00 per vehicle, this works out at a subsidy of £40 per week, or a colossal £2,080 per annum from Blackpool Council.

You might remember that Council Leader Simon Blackburn was asked, through a petition of over 2,300 signatures, to stop the council putting up the rent for the 1st Bispham Scout and Guides group from £10 to £1,400. In rejecting this request, he said;

The implication of granting the Scouts the discretionary payment they seek, while affordable in itself, would be to open the floodgates to a whole host of other equally venerable institutions, and that is a burden I am not prepared to ask tax payers to fund.

A fair point, I suppose, if a little disappointing. The council, however, are not operating in a consistent, fair manner on this. It appears that if the subject matter is a mosque, operated by a crony of the controlling Labour councillors, leading a minority group that could potentially cultivate Labour voters, the council are happy to throw away their stance of protecting taxpayers money and bung over £2,000 per year in benefits in kind to the cause. Simon Blackburn is a hypocrite. The Fairness Commission should be all over this because, as Tasurraf Shah highlights in her appeal against the rejection of planning permission, there are three other churches within sight of the mosque and, like the Noor A Madina, they do not have on-site parking for their congregations. As such, the council should in fact be supplying these churches with appropriate parking passes to maintain fairness. Similarly, other business owners in the area that I have spoken to have applied for parking permits and been rejected by the council, but it seems that handouts are only available if you pray to Allah rather than keep the town’s economy going.


10/4/12, 16.00

I’ve just been informed that following these revelations about free parking passes (which portfolio holder Fred Jackson is said to have been unaware of) and some sniffing around from the Gazette, the council have performed a massive U-turn on this issue and withdrawn all of the passes from the Noor A Madina mosque. Council officers have no authority to whimsically hand out free council services to those they favour. This is yet another insight into a laissez-faire, tail-wags-dog culture in which the officers rule until they are found out. Sound familiar? Of course, if KPMG had done a report about it, it would probably have been kept secret. That said, expect to see this in Wednesday’s Gasjet. Give yourselves a pat on the back, folks!

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Hate Preachers Return to Quaker Venue

Readers of Harry’s Place will be familiar with the strange phenomenon of the hospitality extended by The Quakers — a small religious sect which eschews violence in all its forms — to a variety of hate preachers and theocratic Islamist political movements, all of which explicitly sanction the most horrific violence, backed by religious injunction, against women, gays, Jews and religious dissenters. We have previously discussed the strange politics which renders The Quakers oblivious to the calls to combat, not promote, the politics of hatred. They won’t be moved. So I don’t propose to rehearse those arguments here. The Quakers are beyond reason. For a while, it looked as if hate preachers might possibly have been asked to take their custom elsewhere. No such luck. June sees the return of some of the worst inciters of religious violence in the United Kingdom to Friends House.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Court Suspends Egypt’s Constitutional Assembly

An Egyptian court has suspended the formation of the Islamist-dominated assembly that was poised to draft the country’s new constitution. It is unlikely that the Muslim Brotherhood will welcome the news.

An Egyptian court on Tuesday blocked the creation of a constitutional assembly appointed last month to draft the country’s new constitution. The move was made pending a ruling on its legality, following fierce complaints from liberal and Christian groups that the Islamist- dominated panel did not reflect the diversity of Egyptian society.

Judge Ali Fekri said the court “rejected the argument that the court is not specialized and decided to halt the decision.”

This case, presented by lawyers and activists, represented one of numerous lawsuits that had called for the assembly to be scrapped. Its creation last month sparked outcry over the lack of representation for youth groups, women and Christian Copts. Christian religious bodies also earlier withdrew from the commission.

“This means the assembly’s activities are frozen; it is suspended until further notice, until the judicial panel convenes,” said lawyer Khaled Abo Bakr.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has maintained that the assembly is representative of Egypt’s society.

The current constitution was suspended in February last year by the army. The military came to power after the country’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, was forced out of office by a wave of popular protests.

The new constitution could be key to determining which state institutions will rule Egypt and the extent and nature of individual freedoms and the terms of presidential power.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Jihadists Say French Paper ‘Liberation’ Is Enemy of Islam

(AGI) Paris — The Jihadists against French daily ‘Liberation’.

The renowned left-wing newspaper risks the same fate of the journal ‘Charlie Hebdo’, whose head office was set ablaze last year with molotov cocktails. According to another daily, ‘Le Figaro’, the fact that Liberation welcomed their colleagues, left without offices, unleashed the wrath of Forsane Alizza, the “Knights of Pride”, a pro-Jihad group which was joined by Mohammed Merah (the Franco-Algerian ‘killer of Toulouse’), which launched a crusade against the “enemies of Islam”.

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

Middle East

100 Vigilantes to ‘Cleanse Kubbar Island of Women’ — Girls Warned Against Going There

KUWAIT: Islamist activist Mubarak Al- Bthali said he will personally “cleanse Kubbar Island from sin,” and warned girls against going there. “Any girl found on Kubbar Island should only blame herself,” he said in a clear challenge to state laws and in the absence of any government reaction.

Al-Bthali said through his twitter account on Sunday that he will launch a campaign to cleanse the Island from sin. Al-Bthali said he previously made a visit to Kubbar Island, along with a ruling family member, and did not find any wrong doing.

He said he will repeat the visit, with ‘some youths in their boats’, and expressed hope that 100 vigilantes will join him. He said he will use cameras to film Island visitors and use loud speakers to hold prayers there.

           — Hat tip: RR[Return to headlines]

Iraq Progresses Toward a Future Built on Oil Wealth

When the US toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, few people imagined that it would take another decade before the Iraqi oil industry was rebuilt. Now, progress is finally being made, and the country’s massive reserves could bring untold wealth. But before that happens, Baghdad needs to improve security and get corruption under control.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Kofi Annan Will Seek Tehran’s Support for Syria Peace Plan

(AGI)Tehran- Kofi Annan will fly to Tehran on Wednesday to seek support for the peace plan from Iran, one of Syria’s major allies. Salvaging the crumbling peace plan will be a difficult mission for the U.N. and Arab League envoy as the bond between Damascus and Tehran is stronger than ever. On Sunday last the commander of the Guardians of the Revolution’s ground troops, General Mohamad Pakpur, praised the Syrian government’s grand resistance against the U.S., Israel and their allies. ..

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

Syria Accuses Turkey of Arming Rebels

(AGI) Moscow- Syria accused Turkey of arming Syrian rebels, undermining the peace plan proposed by UN-Arab Leage envoy Kofi Annan. “Turkey supports illegal Syrian militant groups, supplies them with weapons and lets them illegally cross into Syria,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem stated during a joint press conference in Moscow for his meeting with Russian counterpart Serghei Lavrov. “How can we [fulfill the plan] if there are still illegal arms deliveries and moving of militants from Turkey?” asked Minister Muallem. . .

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

Turkey-Greece: Simit (Or Koulouri) Pretzel in Dispute

Istanbul wants patent to snatch it from the Greeks

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, APRIL 6 — Even a pretzel can bear witness to the deep roots linking Turkey and Greece, united under the Byzantine and Ottoman empires to then become rivals over the Aegean Sea, and now forced to engage in dialogue due to the current economic crisis. The pretzel in question is the sesame-seed-covered in ‘simit’, which — known under a variety of names such as the Greek ‘koulouri’ — is also widely consumed in Serbia, Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans and Middle East, such as Lebanon.

Its spread went hand in hand with the conquests of Levantine empires and renders its culinary and national connotation uncertain. Now, in order to snatch it away from an attempt at appropriation by the Greeks, Istanbul’s vendors association has requested an international patent on the pretzel. This was reported by the Turkish daily Hurriyet, which underscored that the move has given rise to resentment in Greece, where another newspaper (Eleftheros Typos) spoke of a new stage in the debate over the origins of foods, as seen in the tooth-achingly sweet dessert baklava. However, this time it has also brought back up an age-old, territorial-nationalistic issue: that of the two small islands of Kardak (Imia) from the mid-1990s. In warning that they are taking action alongside the Turkish Culture Ministry, the chairman of Istanbul simit vendors association, Zeli Sami Ozdemir, said that “Greeks want to appropriate the simit, and we have decided to take possession of it” before they get to it.

However, the simit/koulouri has shared roots which are tricky to follow back to their source, as it has been eaten for centuries and enjoys an almost mythical character. The Greek newspaper quoted by Hurriyet noted that in the Roman province Epirus mothers hoped their sons would become simit vendors in the metropolis looking out over the Bosporus. The pretzel was widely known before Christ, and became popular in Constantinople (now Istanbul) and Thessaloniki (now part of Greece) in Byzantine times. As well-known, however, the Ottoman Empire which cemented this tradition also meant Turkish domination over Greece and painful deportations from both sides: first during the Balkan wars and then with the foundation of modern Turkey by Kemal Ataturk. The division of Cyprus and territorial disputes over other Aegean islands have often brought the two countries to the verge of war, averted solely by mutual membership in NATO. Due to conditioning and fostered by incendiary speculation, concerns have been sparked over the recent military exercises in the Mediterranean and hydrocarbons exploration in disputed waters over the past few months. But greater in number are the official statements and the initiatives indicating that the two countries are growing closer, especially due to the economy, with Greece’s in the depths of a serious crisis and Turkey’s prospering at a confirmed growth rate of 8.5% last year, the second strongest in the world after China’s and despite a 5.3% slowdown over the last quarter. In line with the conciliatory statements made by the two countries’ prime ministers in autumn, last month Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said that trade with Turkey would save Greece’s future.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Asian Terrorism Poses an Increasing Threat to Global Security

The US’ most-wanted list of terrorists in Asia seems to be expanding. Its most recent inclusion is Pakistani Islamist leader Hafiz Saeed — an addition that highlights the threat of Asian terrorism.

Recently, the US government put a bounty of 10 million US dollars (7.6 million euros) on the head of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Pakistan’s infamous Islamist leader and founder of the banned terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba. Saeed is accused of masterminding terrorist attacks carried out by Pakistan-based gunmen in India’s financial capital Mumbai in 2008. The US government also holds him responsible for bombings in Kabul in 2010 and an attack on Indian parliament in New Delhi in 2001.

The head money on Saeed is quite high. Only three militants, including Taliban’s leader Mullah Omar, have that high a bounty. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has a 25-million-dollar reward on his head.

Both Omar and al-Zawahiri are believed to be hiding in Pakistan — a nuclear power which many security and counter-terrorism experts consider an instable Islamic country.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

India: Red Academics Carry On

While people’s attention necessarily remains focused on the 2012 election and the domestic issues that animate it, leftist academics are moving at break neck speed in their efforts to poison young minds the world over against the United States. I had a chance to see and confront that head on during a recent trip to India when I was invited to address a seminar at Gautam Buddha University (GBU). The title, “The Marginalized and Excluded in Society,” suggested the same leftist tinge that most academic exercises have, but I had reason to hope that this one would be different.

By inviting me, the university signaled that the seminar would not shrink from identifying victims of Islamic hegemony, as I have done that time and again at universities and elsewhere in India, and the organizers knew it. And my topic, the ethnic cleansing of Bangladesh’s Hindus, took no prisoners in calling out Muslims as the perpetrators.

The seminar began with a grand plenary session and announced Professor Gopal Guru of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as the keynote speaker. His introduction was glowing. Evidently in India, as in the US, the academic left showers its own with self-congratulatory awards and honors in order to dismiss anyone who might dare take a contrary position as lacking credentials. Seated in the front as an honored guest from a foreign country, I nevertheless determined to listen politely. It was not long, however, before his hard-left bias put that to the test. Much of his speech was a rambling attack on capitalism as the source of all marginalization and big government as its solution. He coupled this with an unremarkable treatise about margins and centers so arcane and divorced from reality that it was the sort of thing that could keep audience members in their seats only in academia. Still, I sat quietly in deference to my hosts—until he started in on the United States.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Far East

China: Nike and Zara Accused of “Environmental Pollution”

(AGI) Rome — What do Nike, Wal-Mart, H&M, Levi’s, Adidas, Burberry and Zara have in common in China? Nothing about fashion, profits or even fame. These international brands hold a negative record in terms of pollution on the other side of the Great Wall of China. This is what comes out of a report called “Cleaning fashion up — Pollution in the textile supply chain” which has been drawn up by a number of environmental organizations, including Friends of Nature (FON), the Institute of Pubblic and Environmental Affairs (IPE) and Nanjing Greenstone. The report focused on 48 suppliers of major brands.

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

Pyongyang Puts Washington to the Test

As North Korea gears up for its planned rocket launch, Seoul, Tokyo and the West continue to lambast Pyongyang, with experts saying the plans are aimed at putting Washington to the test.

The countdown has begun for a North Korean rocket launch, expected for later this week. Officials in Seoul, Tokyo, Beijing and Washington have all expressed concern over the North’s plans, saying it would violate UN resolutions that ban Pyongyang from testing long-range missile technology.

“North Korea’s launch of a missile would be highly provocative, it would pose a threat to regional security,” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland told reporters Monday.

Washington’s call for a halt to the launch has been repeated by allies South Korea and Japan. Both East Asian states say they will shoot down the rocket if it strays too close to their territory.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Report: Sony to Cut 10,000 Jobs Worldwide Through March 2013

TOKYO (AP) — Sony Corp. will cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide over the next year as it tries to return to profit, Japanese news reports said Monday.

The Nikkei business daily and other media said Sony’s decision to slash 6 percent of its work force comes as it struggles with weak TV sales and swelling losses.

Sony spokeswoman Yoko Yasukouchi wouldn’t confirm the reports.

New CEO Kazuo Hirai is holding a press conference Thursday.

Sony has announced restructuring plans by selling its chemical unit. Sony is also merging its LCD panel operation with Toshiba and Hitachi. Yasukouchi said those changes could affect up to 5,000 employees who are subject to transfers.

Sony earlier this year reported a 159 billion yen ($2.1 billion) loss for the October-December quarter and more than doubled its projected loss for the full fiscal year through March 2013.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sony Expects Record Annual Loss

Japanese consumer electronics producer Sony has said it will book a much greater net loss for the past fiscal year than estimated in February. The period under revision ending on March 31 was marred by tax write-downs.

Japanese electronics company Sony announced on Tuesday that its net losses for the past financial year could reach 520 billion yen ($6.4 billion, 4.9 billion euros), more than doubling its previous projected loss, made public in February. The company has recorded a net loss for the past four consecutive years.

Sony said that the more negative outlook was mainly due to massive write-downs of deferred tax assets in the US, totaling 300 billion yen.

“Due to the recording of this additional tax expense, net loss attributable to Sony’s stockholders is expected to be significantly greater than the February forecast,” the company announced at a press conference in Tokyo.

But even before the write-down, Sony had been well on course to end the current fiscal year with a net loss of around 220 billion yen. Management cited slumping television sales and output disruptions from last year’s flooding in Thailand.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

100 Boko Harams Took Control of Gao in Northern Mali

(AGI) Bamako — At least 100 Nigerian Islamic Boko Haram guerillas crossed the frontier with Mali and took control of the town of Gao, in the north of the Country, according to Abu Sidibe, local deputy-governor. The news was confirmed also by the Bamako security forces. Seven people were killed today, including a girl of seven, in a new wave of attacks launched by the Nigerian Boko Haram Islamic group. In the north-eastern town of Dikwa, the terrorists killed a policeman, a civilian and a local politician during the night, as made known by the Nigerian army. The command attacked a police station, a bank, a hotel but was forced back by the soldiers, as lieutenant-colonel Sagir Musa, the Joint Task Force of the Borno State spokesperson announced. Three of the guerillas were killed, the others, though injured, managed to run away.

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


Greece: “Absolutely Nothing” Done, Says Minister

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 6 — Greek Citizen Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis has admitted the government has done “absolutely nothing” to contain the surge of undocumented migrants living in Athens. “We have done absolutely nothing — I want to be very clear,” Chrysochoidis told Mega television, referring to the immigration problem and a surge in HIV/Aids cases. “Not only has absolutely nothing been done, but in Omonia Square, out of the 100 drug users there, 35 are HIV positive.

For God’s sake, is there anyone who believes we can continue this way?” The minister defended his decision to impose draconian public health inspections and set up 30 migrant detention centres, mostly out of disused army facilities.

Residents, meanwhile, in the eastern Attican suburb of Menidi continued protests for a third straight day on Thursday against plans to create a detention centre in their area.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy, Libya Sign Anti-Migrant Pact

Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri visits Tripoli

(ANSAmed) — TRIPOLI — Italy and Libya on Tuesday signed an agreement to stop illegal immigrants leaving from the North African country. Under the accord, signed in Tripoli by Interior Minister Anna Maria Cancellieri, Italy will also train Libyan police forces. Illegal immigration from Libya has started again after last year’s Libyan war and there are fears that large-scale landings on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa will once more become a frequent occurrence as the weather improves. Before the war, a controversial so-called ‘push-back’ policy virtually halted migrant sailings from Libya.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Key Events in Battle to Extradite Abu Hamza

Radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza has lost his fight over extradition to the United States. Here is a timeline of key events in his case:

  • Hamza, who was born Mustafa Kamel Mustafa in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1958, came to the UK to study in the early 1980s.
  • He met and married an English woman, Valerie Fleming, and received British citizenship, but the couple divorced years later.
  • He suffered injuries to his hands and eye in Afghanistan, where he travelled to fight a “jihad” against Soviet occupation.
  • On his return to the UK, Hamza started preaching radical anti-Western sermons at the Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London.
  • Following the attacks on September 11 2001, Hamza’s comments in support of Osama Bin Laden sparked outrage.
  • In April 2002, he was formally suspended by the Charity Commission from his position at the mosque, over his inflammatory speeches.
  • On September 11 2002, Hamza spoke at a controversial conference at the mosque titled A Towering Day in History.
  • In January 2003, armed police arrested seven people at the mosque in a dawn raid. A stun gun, replica firearms and CS gas canisters were among the items seized.
  • In February 2003, Hamza again caused outrage when he described the Colombia space shuttle, which contained Christians, Hindus and a Jewish person, as a “trinity of evil” and said its destruction was a punishment from Allah.
  • In April 2003, then-home secretary David Blunkett announced new laws allowing British citizenship to be removed from immigrants who “seriously prejudice” the UK’s interests. Legal moves began to get Hamza deported to Yemen.
  • Two weeks later, his lawyers announced he would appeal against the move.
  • In May 2004, Hamza was arrested on a US extradition warrant. The US want him on charges of conspiring to take Western hostages in Yemen, funding terrorism, and organising a terrorist training camp in Oregon between 1998 and 2000.
  • In October 2004, he was charged with 15 offences under the Terrorism Act, including incitement to murder and possession of a terrorism document, temporarily staying the US extradition process.
  • On February 7 2006, Hamza was jailed for seven years after being found guilty on 11 of 15 charges.
  • In July that year, he was given the go-ahead to challenge the convictions for incitement to murder and race hate offences.
  • In November 2006, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against the conviction.
  • In May 2007, a preliminary extradition hearing took place in London.
  • This was followed, in July 2007, by a hearing where Hamza spoke by video link to fight the extradition.
  • In November 2007, a judge at London’s City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court ruled that Hamza had lost his legal arguments against his long-running extradition battle. Senior District Judge Timothy Workman sent the matter to the Home Secretary to make a final decision.
  • On February 7 2008, then-home secretary Jacqui Smith signed an extradition order, meaning Hamza would be handed over to US authorities within 28 days if he did not appeal.
  • But Hamza appealed, delaying moves to extradite him. He later lost his bid to avoid extradition on June 20 2008, when two High Court judges ruled that the decision was “unassailable”.
  • On July 23 2008, he was also refused permission to appeal to the House of Lords when senior judge Sir Igor Judge refused to certify that his case raised a point of law of such public importance to go before the highest court in the land.
  • On August 4 2008, the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled that Hamza should not be extradited until judges could examine his case. The Home Office said it would abide by the court’s request.
  • On January 18 2010, Hamza launched another legal fight to hang on to his British passport.
  • On February 9 2010, legal aid bosses seized Hamza’s house in Greenford, west London, to pay off his legal bills, despite the radical preacher claiming it did not belong to him. Officials hoped to raise £280,000 from the sale.
  • On November 5 2010, Hamza won his appeal against the Government’s attempts to strip him of his British passport. The move would have rendered him “stateless” as he had already been stripped of his Egyptian citizenship, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled.
  • On April 10 2012, Europe’s human rights judges ruled that Hamza, along with four other terror suspects, would not be subject to “ill-treatment” in America and their extradition was lawful.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Palestinian Ambassador Thanks Memo for Sheikh Raed Support

Following the success of Sheikh Raed Salah’s appeal against a deportation order, the Palestinian Ambassador to London, Professor Manuel Hassassian, has offered his thanks to those who have supported Sheikh Raed and helped to highlight the injustice of the government’s legal action. In particular, Prof. Hassassian thanked Middle East Monitor (MEMO), ITN Solicitors and other organisations who have done what he called “a tremendous job” in the 10-month battle to clear Sheikh Raed’s name against false accusations. Ambassador Hassassian declared the Upper Immigration Tribunal’s ruling to be “a victory for Palestine”, and said that the British justice system had acted in a fair and just way. “This has not only restored dignity and credibility to a man who has campaigned for the Palestinian cause, but has also symbolised victory for the Palestinians in their struggle for freedom, liberty and human rights,” he added. MEMO would also like to thank the Palestinian Embassy and Professor Hassassian in particular for his support for Sheikh Raed throughout his legal battle.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May Humiliated by Judge Over Attempted Deportation of Palestinian Activist

A judge has strongly criticised Theresa May’s attempt to deport a Palestinian activist over fears that he would stir up race-hate violence, ruling that she was wrong about the danger he posed and that her decision was “entirely unnecessary”.

The Home Secretary was “misled” about a supposedly anti-Semitic poem written by Sheikh Raed Salah, took “irrelevant” matters into consideration and tried to ban him from Britain on the basis of a “few sentences” in an old sermon, it was said. The judgment is a third humiliation for the Home Secretary in the case of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, who was able to walk into this country despite being banned and who later won damages for being detained without being told why. It also raises further doubts over the Government’s ability to deport those it considers dangerous extremists, coming just weeks before two notorious terror suspects, Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada, could be set free.

Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said: “By arresting, imprisoning and attempting to deport Sheikh Raed Salah on what the judge has determined as a ‘misapprehension of the facts,’ the British Government have acted in a shameful way.” Mr Salah, 53, is an Israeli citizen and a prominent activist for an independent Palestine who has previously been jailed for spitting at a policeman and for funding banned charities. He has been accused in the House of Commons of having a “history of virulent anti-Semitism”.

[JP note: Re Abu Hamza ruling, one step back, two steps forward on the road to the Islamic conquest of Europe.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The ECHR is Right About Abu Hamza, But Britain Still Needs to Leave

by Ed West

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that six terror suspects can be extradited. The famous hook-handed Abu Hamza, along with Babar Ahmad, Haroon Rashid Aswat, Seyla Talha Ahsan, Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz, will soon be off our hands for good. Over £4 million of taxpayers’ money has been spent keeping the men in British jails, paying for legal costs and keeping their families on benefits. All are wanted on terror charges in the US, but have been able to spend years fighting extradition because some argue that supermax prison would amount to inhuman and degrading treatment under Article 3 of the Human Rights code. Well, I’m sure we’ll all be horrified at the thought that men responsible for hundreds of innocent deaths, who have leached this country dry and filled Guardian column inches and Radio 4 minutes with sanctimonious drivel, might be treated inhumanely. None of this should have been allowed to happen in the first place. We should give asylum to our friends, not our enemies, and there are deep and fundamental problems with that system. But it also raises questions about the role of the European Court. And John Bolton, George Bush’s ambassador to the UN, said that Britain should renounce the jurisdiction of the court. He said:

It’s a question of what do British people want to do? Do you want to be an independent nation, or do you want to be a county in Europe? This is just another example of Britain’s mistake in allowing European institutions to develop to the extent they have. It is yet another infringement on British sovereignty that undercuts its ability to co-operate with the United States. It also calls into question the ability of Europe as a whole to be an effective partner in the war against terrorism.

The problem with the ECHR is not that just it is incredibly ineffective, with more than 100,000 pending cases, nor that by its very nature its prone to increasing its jurisdiction, nor that its understanding of “rights” are totally removed from those of the rest of humanity; but that by its very nature a supra-national judiciary inevitably leads to an supra-national government. Even if it was manned by the wisest men in Christendom, I would still not wish Britain to be a part of it.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: What Today’s Abu Hamza Ruling Means

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that five terror suspects, including notorious Islamist cleric Abu Hamza, can be deported to the United States — a decision welcomed by both David Cameron and Theresa May. Last year, Hamza and three of the other men appealed to the ECtHR against extradition to the US on a whole host of grounds — including that they might face the death penalty and that their trials would be prejudiced. The Court found almost of all their grounds inadmissible, but allowed the appeal to proceed on two grounds: that they would be held in the ADX Florence ‘super-max’ prison and would face extremely long sentences — both of which they claimed would contravene Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that ‘No one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’

In its judgement today, the Court found that the conditions at the super-max prison would not be so bad as to constitute torture or degrading treatment, and that — as Isabel McArdle at the excellent UK Human Rights Blog puts it — ‘given the seriousness of the criminal allegations against the applicants in question, and the fact that aggravating and mitigating circumstances would be taken into account by the sentencing judge, the sentences would not be grossly disproportionate’. This means that the five men will likely soon be deported. They do have three months to launch an appeal, but — as Joshua Rozenberg points out — the fact that the judges reached a unanimous decision without feeling the need for an oral hearing makes the chance that a request for appeal will be accepted slim. And the wider implications of the ruling? McArdle calls it ‘a very important victory for the UK government, coming at a time of increased public unease about deportation and extradition law’. Perhaps it will also go some way towards correcting the caricature many have propagated in this country of the European Court of Human Rights as a court that always sides with terrorists against our government.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

France: Imam Blesses Union Between Two Gay Muslims

‘Religious wedding in Sevran following sharia rules’

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, APRIL 10 — An imam has blessed the union of a same-sex Muslim couple in France. Several media, including France 24 and Al Arabiya, report that Ludovic Zahed Mohamed and his partner Qiyam al-Din Qiyam were not allowed to get legally married in France, but that they still received the blessing of the imam in the mosque of Sevran in February. Ludovic Zahed Mohamed, a Frenchman of Algerian origin, and his South African partner Qiyam al-Din reportedly got married in line with the sharia (Islamic law) in the presence of Jamal, an imam from the Mauritius islands. Jamal has blessed the union, following exactly the same rites that are performed at the marriage of heterosexual couples. Christian and Jewish prayers were said as well during the ceremony, in honour of the couple’s Jewish and Catholic friends. They also had a civil wedding ceremony in South Africa, where same-sex weddings are allowed while France does not recognise this type of union. Ludovic Mohamed Zahed, a practising Muslim, has recently published a book, ‘Le Coran et la chair’ (‘The Koran and the Flesh’), an attempt to reconcile Islam and homosexuality.

“Today I am convinced that if the Prophet Muhammad were still alive, he would celebrate gay weddings,” writes Mohamed in his book that was published in France on March 29. The man, born in 1977, has also founded an association for the defence of homosexual Muslims in France (HM2F).

The socialist candidate for the presidential elections that will be held in April and May, Francois Hollande, leading in the polls, has made marriage and adoption for same-sex couples part of his programme.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]