Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120413

Financial Crisis
»Greece: Easter: Poorest Migration in Years Begins
»Italy’s Budget Adjustment ‘Less Urgent’ Says OECD
»Monti Clears the Air With Spanish Premier
»Obama and Redistribution of Your Wealth
»The Keynesian Spending Spree is Over
»The North-South Mortgage Divide: Negative Equity Map of UK Shows Clear Disparity
»UK: The £54bn Pensions ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ That Could Drive Up Council Tax
»Allen West Exposes Red Influence in Congress
»Americans Oppose Anti-Islam Nominee to USCIRF
»FBI Led to Anonymous Hacker After He Posts Picture of Girlfriend’s Breasts Online
»Google Founders Tighten Grip on Firm and Record Profits
»How Racially Divided is the United States Today?
»Judicial Cowardice — A Stench Rolling Across America
»Massachusetts “Educational Center” Uses Violent Electroshock on Teenager
»Mosque Growth Study Good News for Americans
»Obama Admirer to Teach ‘Understanding Obama’ Class at Harvard Law School
»Repeat After Me: The Identity Thief is a Socialist
»Strike Two for Marlin Manager Ozzie Guillen
»The Heart of the Problem is in the Heart
»You Feel Me, My Fellow Americans?
Europe and the EU
»Children Stolen by the State Needlessly, Causing Utter Misery in One of Britain’s Most Disturbing Scandals
»Conversion to Islam Growing Dramatically in Austria
»Danish Court Puts Four Men on Trial on Terror Charges
»Denmark: Mohammed Cartoons Have Lasting Effect
»France: Abdennour Bidar: Mohammed Merah, A Monster Created by Islam’s Illness
»German Civil Servant Says ‘He Did Nothing for 14 Years’
»Greece: Ex Defense Minister Tsochatzopoulos Arrested
»Greece: Bakoyannis Immunity to be Lifted, Asks Supreme Court
»Italy: Scandal-Hit Northern League Expels Senate Deputy Speaker
»Italy: Ruby: Ghedini: Berlusconi Payments Not Connected to Trial
»Sweden: Welcome to Ikea-Land: Furniture Giant Begins Urban Planning Project
»The New German Problem
»The Nation as a Family
»UK: 25 Firemen Who Scrambled to Rescue a Seagull From a 3ft-Deep Pond Refused to Wade in Because of Regulations — Leaving it to Joe Public to Save the Bird
»UK: British Muslims Have Given David Cameron an Object Lesson in Democracy
»UK: Great-Grandmother, 94, Suffers Horrific Injuries After Falling Out of Hospital Bed Because ‘Elf and Safety Rules Ban Side-Bars
»UK: London Metropolitan University Mulls Alcohol Ban for ‘Conservative Muslim Students’
»UK: Mehdi Hasan: A Beacon for Islam [Reader Comments Only]
»UK: New £1m Mosque to Open Its Doors to 1,000 Worshippers in Moss Side
»UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11
»UK: Stamp Collectors Shouldn’t Keep Their Lonely Pleasures to Themselves
»UK: The Hollow Men of British Politics
»UK: University to Have Alcohol-Free Areas for Muslims
»UK: Watchdog Criticizes Scotland Yard Over Phone Hacking Scandal
North Africa
»Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists Bar Former Mubarak Regime Officials
»Egypt Candidate: Moderate Islamist, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh
»Libya: So it Was All About Oil After All!
Middle East
»Osama Bin Laden’s Three Wives and Two Daughters to be Deported to Saudi Arabia, After Ruling by Pakistani Court
»Leading Member of Moscow’s Muslim Community Killed
South Asia
»Indonesia: West Java: Yasmin Church Members Celebrate Easter Underground
»Pakistan: Forced Conversions Spark Anger
Far East
»China Censors Bo Xilai Debate, But Chinese Work Around it
»Defectors Link North Korea’s Weapons Program to Food Shortage
Sub-Saharan Africa
»ENI Nigeria Facilities Attacked by Oil Militants
»Students From Pakistan Face Tough Tests to Enter Britain as Four in Ten Applicants Could be Bogus
Culture Wars
»Boris Blocks Christian Anti-Gay Poster Campaign on London Buses That Claimed Homosexuality Could be Cured
»Britain’s Christians Are Being Vilified, Warns Lord Carey
»Last Hope for the Left
»Liberals or Conservatives: Who’s Really Close-Minded?
»The ‘Bus Advert Storm’ Confirms That Christians Are Now More Progressive Than Gay Rights Activists
»Why Liberals Don’t Understand Conservatives
»Islam’s Real Origins?
»New Spencer Book Denies Existence of Muhammad

Financial Crisis

Greece: Easter: Poorest Migration in Years Begins

Lack of money, Greeks buy only what they strictly need

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — The Easter exodus of Greeks from the major cities begun yesterday and has continued this morning, although those leaving are perhaps as poor as they have been in decades as a result of the serious economic crisis gripping the country. Greek Orthodox Easter will be celebrated on Sunday April 15 this year. After the strike by maritime workers on Tuesday and Wednesday, that caused huge disruption for those due to travel to the islands, boats and all other means of transport are functioning as usual today. The effects of the economic crisis, though, are being felt.

The lack of money is forcing Greeks to buy only what they strictly need, despite the fact that ingredients for the Easter meal cost 10.5% less than last year, according to figures provided by the Greek Confederation of Trade.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy’s Budget Adjustment ‘Less Urgent’ Says OECD

Market reaction bigger issue says senior economist

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italy’s need for budget adjustment is lower than other eurozone members, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development says.

“The need for budget repositioning may be considered less urgent than other countries,” Douglas Sutherland, author of the Paris-based organisation’s latest policy paper on Italy, told ANSA.

“The biggest issue now are the markets and their reaction.

Aside from that, the Italian situation would be less worrying,” said OECD Senior Economist Sutherland.

Italy has approved austerity measures to balance the budget next year.

Markets are renewing pressure on Italian bonds amid Spanish debt doubts and fears about lack of growth.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Monti Clears the Air With Spanish Premier

Rajoy calls for ‘prudence’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 12 — Italian Premier Mario Monti phoned Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy to clear up comments allegedly made by Monti linking the Italian spread increase to the Spanish economic situation, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais on Thursday.

Speaking before a Spanish parliament meeting on Wednesday, Rajoy cautioned European leaders to exercise “prudence”. On Thursday Rajoy, while speaking to the press, called for leaders to act with “intelligence, will and courage,” and to avoid “unnecessary alarmism”.

Monti’s government, like Rajoy’s, is trying to steer Italy away from debt-crisis contagion and introduce reforms to strengthen their economies.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama and Redistribution of Your Wealth

In a speech earlier this week (April 10), President Obama said the following: “So these investments — in things like education and research and health care — they haven’t been made as some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another…this is not some socialist dream.”

Yet, in 2008, Obama summarized his plan to make the tax code fairer by saying “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.” Obama may not be cut out of the same cloth as Lenin, but he is a socialist and socialism is his agenda.

Marxism spawned Socialism. Marxism produced the foundation of European welfare state socialism. The European model tried to nationalize Socialism, as with the Bolshevik revolution, but with less success. After the failure of nationalization through revolution, European socialists realized that free enterprise in private hands produced capital (money) which they could then steal through taxation and then redistribute to all through social programs, thereby achieving socialism. Where European socialism prevails, there is a cost. According to Paul Roderick Gregory, “The European welfare state takes one half of national output to provide state health care, pensions, extended unemployment benefits, income grants, and free higher education.” Obama feverishly promotes socialism as just described.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Keynesian Spending Spree is Over

John Maynard Keynes taught that it helps our economy when the government borrows so it can spend more than it is taking in. Generations of spendthrift politicians, economists, and ordinary citizens, who enjoyed government benefits beyond the means of the present generation, funded by borrowed money, have been very eager to believe in it. Many have questioned this view. If Keynes were right, then the massive deficit spending represented in the $10 Trillion plus in new official US debt since Bill Clinton left office early in 2001 ($5 trillion during Bush IIs 8-year watch, and another $5 trillion in just over 3 years of Obama’s watch), not to mention all the off budget promising, should have produced massive improvement in the economy. It hasn’t. QED: Keynes is wrong. See my previous article “The Central Fallacy of Keynes and Our Politicians.”

Even for Keynesians, however, the party has to end when people will no longer loan to the government by purchasing US Government debt. Recent news reports make clear that that day arrived some time ago, but that the government and Fed are doing everything they can to disguise the fact.

As reported by Lawrence Goodman in his March 27, 2012 Wall Street Journal article, the recently released Federal Reserve Flow of Funds report for all of 2011, reveals that the Fed (not real buyers) purchased a stunning 61% of all new US Debt issued during 2011, up from negligible amounts prior to the 2008 financial crisis. This not only creates the false appearance of limitless demand for U.S. debt but also blunts any sense of urgency to reduce supersized budget deficits.

This is a crucial fact.

Real buyers willing to buy US Treasuries have already headed for the exits, and have been out of the market for some time. This includes foreign and domestic governments and private buyers (the Chinese, for example, have been reducing their holdings of dollars and US Debt, according to several reports in recent months). See Lawrence Goodman’s article, “Demand for US Debt is Not Limitless,” in Wall Street Journal Online (April 27, 2012).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The North-South Mortgage Divide: Negative Equity Map of UK Shows Clear Disparity

Plunging house prices have triggered a new negative equity crisis, with the North bearing a far greater burden than the South, a report revealed yesterday.

Hundreds of thousands more families have become trapped in the nightmare of having a mortgage bigger than the value of their home over the last 18 months.

The report, from the ratings agency Standard and Poor’s, said 3.6 per cent of mortgage-holders were in ‘negative equity’ during the spring of 2010. By the end of last year, the number had risen to 5.6 per cent.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The £54bn Pensions ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ That Could Drive Up Council Tax

Britain is sitting on ‘a ticking time bomb’ created by the generous pensions enjoyed by council workers, a report warns today.

The shocking analysis reveals councils across the UK have a pensions deficit of £54billion — amid warnings it could get even bigger.

Experts warn council tax bills will have to rise sharply in the future to pay for pensions paid to council workers, from bin men to town hall staff.

The equivalent of around £1 in every £5 of council tax is already spent on local authorities’ contributions to their workers’ pension scheme, according to the report by campaign group the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The average pension paid to a council worker is around £4,200 a year, which covers all council workers, many of whom are on very low pay. But more than 2,700 scoop pensions worth at least £37,000 a year and more than 35,000 get at least £17,000 a year, according to official figures.

By comparison, most private sector workers do not have a pension — and it is worth only £1,400 a year to those who do.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Allen West Exposes Red Influence in Congress

Rep. Allen West’s comments about alleged communists in Congress have led to what West calls “A lot of buzz and inaccurate reporting” in the media. Some reporters have nitpicked West on whether he has concrete proof of actual card-carrying members of the Communist Party USA in the Congress.

Politico called him a McCarthyite and actually quoted a spokesman for the Communist Party as saying that West didn’t know what he was talking about.

But the alternative media, led by, have been covering the story of how the international communist movement, responsible for about one hundred million dead, is very much alive and has collaborators in the U.S. Congress. Rebel Pundit is the work of Jeremy Segal, a disciple of the late Andrew Breitbart who produced the recent video of Rep. Danny K. Davis being honored by the People’s World at the Communist Party U.S.A.’s headquarters in Chicago for a lifetime of “inspiring leadership.”

Davis serves on the Homeland Security Committee where his subcommittee assignments are the Subcommittee on Transportation and the Subcommittee on Oversight. He is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

When Segal started questioning the congressman outside the party headquarters, CPUSA members and a Davis handler wearing an Obama jacket tried to intervene to protect Davis from further questioning, with one person calling Segal “disgusting.” Segal protested, “Don’t touch me!”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Americans Oppose Anti-Islam Nominee to USCIRF

A broad national coalition of 64 organizations and individuals sent a letter to Senators Inouye, McConnell and Durbin expressing “deep concern” at the recent appointment of Zuhdi Jasser to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). “The USCIRF promotes the freedom of religion and belief, and it seeks to combat religious extremism, intolerance, and repression throughout the world. In contrast with these laudable goals, Dr. Jasser believes, ‘operationally, Islam is not peaceful.’ His consistent support for measures that threaten and diminish religious freedoms within the United States demonstrates his deplorable lack of understanding of and commitment to religious freedom and undermines the USCIRF’s express purpose.” The coalition noted that Jasser’s organization, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “applauded” an amendment to Oklahoma’s constitution that both a federal district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals 10th Circuit have held is in violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment by clearly favoring all other religions over Islam. That amendment specifically targeted Islam for official censure.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

FBI Led to Anonymous Hacker After He Posts Picture of Girlfriend’s Breasts Online

This is the picture that led the FBI to a catch prolific hacker allegedly responsible for releasing the personal information of scores of police officers throughout the United States.

Higinio O. Ochoa III has been charged with illegally hacking into at least four U.S. law enforcement websites — feats he allegedly boasted about across social networking sites.


At the bottom of the website, there was the picture of the woman wearing the sign. Data taken from that picture showed it was taken by an iPhone, according to the FBI.

GPS co-ordinates embedded in the photo — as are found in all pictures taken by a smartphone — showed authorities the exact street and house in Wantirna South, Melbourne where it was taken.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Google Founders Tighten Grip on Firm and Record Profits

The online search leader has reported a 61 percent increase in net income for the first quarter of 2012 and has said it will issue a new class of stock aimed at helping Google’s senior leaders keep control of the firm.

Google’s first quarter revenues rose to $10.6 billion (8.04 billion euros) in 2012 — up 24 percent from the same period a year ago, and the second consecutive quarter in which revenues surpassed the double-digit billion dollar mark, the California-based firm announced Thursday.

Net profits came in at $2.89 billion after $1.8 billion in the first quarter of 2011, marking a staggering 61 percent increase in the course of last year.

Speaking of “another great quarter,” Google Chief Executive Larry Page said that the firm saw “tremendous momentum from the big bets we’ve made in products like Android, Chrome and YouTube.”

“We are still at the very early stages of what technology can do to improve people’s lives and we have enormous opportunities ahead,” he added.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

How Racially Divided is the United States Today?

As the national debate over the killing of Trayvon Martin rages on, a new poll suggests that a majority of Americans believe the country is divided by race. The Newsweek/Daily Beast poll shows that 72% of whites and 89% of blacks say the country is racially divided.

And almost four years after the election of the nation’s first black president, majorities of whites and blacks say race relations have either stayed the same or gotten worse.

There continue to be fundamental disagreements about when blacks will achieve racial equality. Whites are much more likely to think blacks have the same chance as they do to get housing and jobs.

As for the killing of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black Florida teen, there are more differences along racial lines. Blacks are more than twice as likely as whites to say Martin’s death was racially motivated. African-Americans are convinced that Martin was targeted because he was a young black man, while whites are divided.

Blacks overwhelmingly approve of how President Obama has handled the controversy, while a majority of whites disapprove. The differences go on and on. It’s a sad statement on race relations in the U.S. in 2012.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Judicial Cowardice — A Stench Rolling Across America

“Is there anything more shameful than the man who lacks the courage to be a coward?” — Peter Blaunder

On April 10, 2012, another Obama/Soetoro ballot access hearing took place in New Jersey. Objectors were represented by superior legal counsel, Mario Apuzzo. Barry Soetoro’s attorney’ argument can only be described as delusional:

“Obama’s attorney made a motion to dismiss the Objection in its entirety. She argued that it was not relevant to being placed on the ballot whether Mr. Obama is a “natural born Citizen,” where he was born, and whether he was born to U.S. citizen parents. She said that no law in New Jersey obligated him to produce any such evidence in order to get on the primary ballot.”

What Ms. Hill is saying is that anyone can be a presidential candidate on their state ballot. Doesn’t matter where the individual was born or whether he was even born to U.S. citizen parents. The hell with the U.S. Constitution and why the framers grand fathered in the clause about ‘natural born citizen’.

The implications behind such lunacy, never mind stomping on the U.S. Constitution, are horrendous. But, of course, the useful fools who serve their master don’t give a damn. They care only for their paychecks and protecting the empty suit camped out in our White House.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Massachusetts “Educational Center” Uses Violent Electroshock on Teenager

[WARNING: Extremely disturbing content.]

The Judge Rotenberg Educational Center is a facility that provides services for children and adults with “severe developmental disabilities and emotional or behavior disorders”. In the past decades, the Center garnered negative criticism due to its use of aversives such as electric shock, the withholding of food, spanking with a spatula, pinching of the feet and forced inhaling of ammonia.

The recent release of disturbing footage from the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center — featuring a restrained teenager who gets electroshocked 31 times — brought the controversy to a whole other level. While the Center claimed that the use of electroshock was a form of “therapy” to change behavior, the footage shows an all-out torture session under the watchful eyes and laughs of Center employees.

Here’s a news report on the recently released of the footage from 2002 (the administration of the Center somehow managed block the broadcasting of the tape in the past).

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Mosque Growth Study Good News for Americans

New York, New York — You don’t have to be Muslim to find good news in a recent study on mosque growth in the United States. Co-sponsored by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Hartford Institute on Religion, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), and Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), this national survey of mosque leaders in the United States found that more than 900 new mosques have been built in the United States since 2000-a period of increased scrutiny by government officials and increased controversy over mosque building. Of the 2,106 Muslim centres across the United States, a quarter of them were built in the last 10 years.

The first piece of good news in this discovery for non-Muslim Americans is that the First Amendment of the US Constitution-the part stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” — is in considerably better working order than it appeared in the summer of 2010. At that time, protests raged against a planned Islamic centre near the site of the World Trade Center and erupted into a national debate; anti-mosque demonstrations stretched from Tennessee to California. The too-commonplace anti-Muslim vitriol on the airwaves and over the internet that summer — similar in content and tone to the anti-Catholic tirades of the early 19th century-was, it now appears, a momentary setback in our 235 year on-going struggle for a more perfect union.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama Admirer to Teach ‘Understanding Obama’ Class at Harvard Law School

According to the Harvard Law School course catalog, professor Charles Ogletree will be teaching a reading group called “Understanding Obama” for one classroom credit during the 2013 spring term.

Obama graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991. He was elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. Ogletree was a mentor to both President Obama and Michelle Obama while they were Harvard law students.

In an interview, Ogletree explained to The Daily Caller that the reading group will deal with both the positive and negative issues surrounding Obama and his presidency.

According to Ogletree, his personal experience with the president, as Obama’s mentor, will not be a part of the reading group, though he made no bones about his admiration for Obama.

“I’m an Obama fan, I love the president — love him and his wife,” he explained. “They were wonderful people to serve as a mentor when they were here in the law school at separate times in the 1980s. There’s a lot to learn.” He asserted that none of his personal feelings about the president will be a factor in the class and that there will be no grade, paper requirements or exam requirements.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Repeat After Me: The Identity Thief is a Socialist

by Diana West

Now that Election 2012 is shaping up as a contest between President Obama and Mitt Romney, an observation and a prediction.

Our nation heads into a presidential campaign with an incumbent whose online birth certificate and Selective Service registration card are almost certainly forgeries, and this is a nonissue. (Don’t ask about the subpoena from a Georgia court that Obama ignored. Everyone else did, too.)

That’s the observation. The prediction is that unless voters come to view Barack Obama as a “socialist” — even a “democratic socialist” — and, as such, an existential threat to our (in theory) constitutional republic, President Obama, funny papers and all, will be re-elected in November.

The two stories are related. Both turn on the relative power of “evidence” vs. “narrative.” By evidence, I mean the facts and clues that support an argument or hypothesis. By narrative, I mean propaganda. For example, there is evidence of fraud in Obama’s identity documents, but such evidence does not fit the narrative that Obama’s identity documents are authentic. In the face of narrative, We the People are supposed to ignore the evidence. All of our officials and elites do.

Similarly, there is plentiful evidence of Barack Obama’s socialist beliefs and ties — Stanley Kurtz’s 2010 book “Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism” meticulously lays it out — but the narrative insists that Obama is anything but a socialist. And, as with the evidence of identity fraud, woe and besmirching to anyone who mentions it.

Now, what do I mean by socialism? Too often, and sometimes by design, defining socialism becomes an absurdly contentious exercise. If we narrowly define socialism as “government ownership of the means of production,” however, we’ll never know what hit us until it’s too late. I found it helpful to learn that Alexander Solzhenitsyn recognized there was no “single precise definition of socialism” out there. This is probably due to vagaries of time and place, and to the fact that, short of a violent revolution, socialism is a complex, messy work in progress. What’s vital to identify is the direction of that progress. If the progress tends toward increasing economic collectivism and political centralization, the movement is socialist. If the progress is in the other direction, the movement is known as capitalist.

By leaps of collectivism and bounds of centralization, Barack Obama has been taking the country in a socialist direction since he took office…

           — Hat tip: Diana West[Return to headlines]

Strike Two for Marlin Manager Ozzie Guillen

Last week Miami Marlin’s manager Ozzie Guillen told Time magazine that he “loves and respects” Fidel Castro. This week, reacting to outrage by Americans of Cuban heritage (i.e. a huge chunk of Marlin ticket-buyers,) the Marlin’s suspended Guillen for five games. Apparently eager to head-off worse retribution (and damage—control ticket sales) on April 9th a moping Guillen issued a groveling apology at a Miami press Conference.

“I am here on my knees,” he whimpered. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands…I hurt a lot of people’s feelings. Now I want to apologize because I did the wrong thing. It was a very stupid comment…If I don’t learn from this mistake, then I will call myself dumb.”

As if hailing a Stalinist dictator who jailed political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin himself during the Great Terror, murdered more Cubans than Hitler murdered Germans during the Night of Long Knives, repeatedly craved to nuke Ozzie’s adopted country and shattered the lives of half of Miami’s families were some kind of offense in this country! (except for ticket-sales.)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Heart of the Problem is in the Heart

Benjamin Franklin told us, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

Socialism is a debilitating confidence game dressed up as an ideology used by demagogues and want-to-be dictators to fool its victims into believing it is possible to have your cake and eat it too. Those who fall under the spell of the charlatans singing this siren song actually come to believe it is fair and just to force some people to labor for the good of others. This is the same type of sophistry and rationalization that was used by the clergy and philosophers of the Antebellum South to justify unending human bondage for an entire race of people because it was for their own good.

This twisted tool of central planners and bureaucratic tyrants teaches those who have not that it is fair and just to take from those who have and re-distribute the plunder as the government decrees. This is not fair! This is not just! To teach that it is raises up generations of people who believe they have a birth-right to that which is not their own forfeiting their true birth-right: the opportunity to succeed through their own efforts. The products of such an educational system are citizens without virtue voting pawns without honor. Not because they have made a personal decision to live without these two attributes but because they have been programmed to believe taking the fruit of someone else’s labor is permissible as long as it will be given to someone else. Theodore Roosevelt said, “To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

You Feel Me, My Fellow Americans?

Last time I checked, conservatives in general, and Republicans in particular, were racist Neanderthals engaging in a “war on women” as a hobby, which is not to be confused with their full-time jobs of screwing over the 99 percent by not paying their “fair share” of taxes. Thus, you can imagine my surprise when a couple of outbursts from the oh-so-tolerant precincts of the left upset the proverbial apple cart.

Exhibit A is the well-mannered and even-tempered chief of staff for the New Black Panther Party, Michelle Williams. Expressing her frustration with the fact that the George Zimmeman/Trayvon Martin case has insufficiently ignited the kind of racialist passion Ms. William deems necessary, she offered America the kind of level-headed reasoning we were promised as an integral part of the Obama administration’s post-racial 2008 hope and change campaign. In a call to a radio program, Ms. Williams said the following:

“I just want to say to all the listeners on this phone call, that if you are having any doubt about getting suited, booted, and armed up for this race war that we’re in that has never ended, let me tell you something the thing that’s about to happen these honkies, these crackers, these pigs, these people, these motherf*er it has been long overdue.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Children Stolen by the State Needlessly, Causing Utter Misery in One of Britain’s Most Disturbing Scandals

[WARNING: Disturbing content.]

Yesterday the Daily Mail reported that applications to take children into care in England have soared to an all-time record, for the first time topping 10,000 in just 12 months.

Since 2008 alone, the figure has much more than doubled, to some 225 cases a week — bringing the total number of children in care in the UK as a whole to at least 90,000.

The official reason given for this explosion in the number of children being removed from their families by social workers in only four years is that 2008 was the year when the nation was shocked by the events leading to the death of Baby P — later named as Peter Connelly.

He was just 17 months old when he died in North London at the hands of his mother Tracey and her violent partner, suffering more than 50 injuries.

The story goes that social workers have become much more eager to take children into care because they do not wish to see any repetition of the scandal surrounding their failure to save Baby Peter, even though they and other officials had visited his home 60 times.

But one hugely important ingredient is missing from the way this version of events is being put across by the authorities responsible for ‘child protection’.

Evidence is accumulating on all sides to show that far too many children are now being removed from their parents wholly unnecessarily, often for laughably inadequate, even absurd, reasons.

No one could object if the rise in the number of families being torn apart was simply due to the increased determination of our social workers to intervene in situations likely to lead to another Baby P tragedy.

But the fact is, happy children are today being snatched from loving parents for reasons they cannot begin to fathom, leaving all concerned in a state of utter misery. And this can constitute a tragedy in its own way scarcely less heart-rending than those where a child has been genuinely abused.

Having investigated scores of such cases over the past three years, I do not hesitate to describe this as one of the most disturbing scandals in Britain today.

The manner in which, every week, dozens of families are wantonly ripped apart has become truly horrifying. And the only reason this does not itself make headline news is that our so-called ‘child protection’ system has become so ruthlessly hidden from view by the wall of secrecy built round it by our family courts.


Meanwhile, countless children find themselves living with strangers in foster homes, where all the evidence shows — despite many shining exceptions — they may risk physical abuse or emotional harm far worse than anything their parents were accused of inflicting on them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Conversion to Islam Growing Dramatically in Austria

Official records suggest a dramatic growth in conversions from Christianity to Islam, in the predominantly Christian European country of Austria, Press TV reports.

“We see that people have spiritual longing that they feel there is something missing in their lives, if there is no dimension, no horizon as to the hereafter, or where am I? Why am I here?” Says Mr. Bagajati, an Austrian convert to Islam. Austria is a predominantly Catholic Christian European country of over eight million people with strong and deep historical roots in Christianity. Many Christians express that they were disillusioned and had lost their faith in Christianity, and of course the recent recurring sexual scandals of Catholic Church has played a major role in their exodus, which at the end led to many of them convert to Islam, where they could find comfort. Most non-Muslim, European citizens have always been presented with an ugly and awful image of Islam, linked mainly to extremism and fundamentalism, by the Western culture. Meanwhile, Ms. Bagajati believes that it is the “perfect time” for Islam to show its “peaceful nature” to non-Muslims, in a time when the United Nations has expressed concerns over growing religious discrimination and violence against religious groups. Estimations show that almost half a million Austrian Christians have converted to Islam since roughly two years ago, with the numbers of conversions keeping thriving.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Danish Court Puts Four Men on Trial on Terror Charges

Four men have been put on trial in Copenhagen for allegedly trying to attack the offices of a newspaper that published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. The 2005 cartoons sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

Four men accused of plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that published controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad have gone on trial in Denmark.

If convicted, the three Swedish citizens and one Tunisian resident of Sweden could face a maximum of 16 years in prison.

All four men were arrested in December of 2010. At the time of their arrest, three of the suspects were allegedly on their way to the offices of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in downtown Copenhagen, where police said they planned to “kill as many people as possible.”

Police, who had been wiretapping the three suspects, said they arrested the them after hearing one of them say they were “going to” the newspaper’s offices.

During the arrest, police found a machine gun with a silencer, a revolver and more than 100 bullets. The fourth suspect was arrested in Stockholm and subsequently extradited to Denmark. Danish security officials described the men as “militant Islamists with relations to international terror networks.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Denmark: Mohammed Cartoons Have Lasting Effect

The trial of four men suspected of plotting an attack on a Danish newspaper that published cartoons considered offensive to Islam begins Friday. The cartoon controversy marked a turning point for political cartooning. The editorial headquarters of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in Copenhagen resembles a maximum security facility, with plenty of gates, metal detectors and guards intended to keep undesired guests out.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

France: Abdennour Bidar: Mohammed Merah, A Monster Created by Islam’s Illness

A great French Muslim philosopher asks whether salafist violence — like that which killed the children of Jewish school in Toulouse — is not a symptom of something deeply wrong with the Muslim tradition. A religion that has closed in on itself. To renew Islam today, the challenge of modernity and humanism must be accepted. “Who will have that courage? Who will take this risk?”. The analysis of Fr. Samir Khalil.

Beirut (AsiaNews) — Mohammed Merah, killed at age 23, is infamous as the author of the slaughter of Jewish children at the school of Toulouse (France), on March 19, and a few days earlier the killing of French paratroopers in Montauban. Besieged by police for hours in the house where he was imprisoned, he died in shoot-out on March 22.

Abdennour Bidar is a French Muslim philosopher[1], I have had the joy of knowing. On 23 March, he published an article in the newspaper “Le Monde”, entitled: “Merah, a monstre issu de la Maladie de l’Islam (Merah, a monster created by Islam’s illness).” Given its importance, I would like to present it here.

“When the killer of Toulouse and Montauban was identified as’ Salafi jihadist ‘… the declarations made by Islamic dignitaries in France were careful to avoid any’ amalgam ‘between the radicalism of this individual and the peaceful nature of France’s Muslim community to “clearly” distinguish between Islam and Islamism, Islam and violence. “

However, a serious question remains: “On the whole, can the religion of Islam be declared alien to this type of radical action? … Or perhaps, is this gesture the extreme expression of an illness within Islam itself?”.

Bidar recallsr that in Islam there is a “degeneration” that takes multiple forms: “ritualism, formalism, dogmatism, sexism, antisemitism, intolerance, religious illiteracy or ‘subculture’ are ills which afflict it”.

These diseases are prevalent, but there are also “Muslims morally, socially, spiritually enlightened by their faith.” One can not say therefore that “Islam is essentially intolerant.” You can however say that Islam contains — beside certain moral demands — elements of intolerance that at times reappear in different circumstances. He adds: “All of these ills I have enumerated alter the health of the Islamic culture in France and elsewhere.”

Faced with this situation, Muslims must respond with courage. The author says that Islam must recognize “that this kind of gesture, despite being outside its spirituality and culture, however, is the most serious, most outstanding symptom of the deep crisis that it is experiencing.” And he asks: “Who will have that courage? Who will take this risk?”

One may wonder why the author speaks of courage. The reason is that for “several centuries” Islam has been stuck in its certainties. It does not dare to question itself. It is content to affirm and reaffirm its “truth”. The more it states this with force, the more it reveals its internal weakness. Before a world which contests it, it responds with violence, because it dare not face the outside world, except to declare it evil and corrupt. It “is incapable of self-criticism,” says Bidar.

This is Islam’s illness: “considering with paranoia that any calling into question of its dogmas is a sacrilege. The Koran, the Prophet, Ramadan, halal, etc. ..: even among educated people, cultured, ready for dialogue in many areas, the slightest attempt to call into question these totems of Islam, meets with a final refusal. “

In their majority, Muslims deny anyone to be able to call into question their traditions, their rituals, their customs and habits. They have walled themselves in to their own world, which they worship, declare absolute and sacred. “Most Muslim consciences refuse and even to refuse anyone else the right to discuss what tradition established as untouchably sacred thousands of years ago: rituals, principles, customs, which, however no longer meet all the spiritual needs of the present time. “

They have remained deeply attached to these traditions, set in the 7 th century, in a Bedouin context and “do not realize that ever more frequently even they themselves and their demands have changed in nature.” The values that they claim as authentically Muslim, because faithful to the practice of the “Ancients” (the Salaf, hence the word Salafi), no longer meet the current criteria of all Muslims, established criteria “in the name of completely profane values: the right to difference, tolerance, freedom of conscience. “

And our author adds: “Is it no wonder that in this general climate of frozen and schizophrenic civilization, some ill spirit would transform and radicalize this collective closure into murderous fanaticism?”.

In fact, for the Salafists, the model remains fixed to the past, to the era of the “Prophet”, the seventh century, the model of Bedouin society. The model goes backward and not forward. The true Muslim, according to these Salafists, to find the true essence of Islam, must go back to the past and not look ahead to the future, this “forward” represented by Western culture, is branded as corrupt and depraved.

The average Muslim reacts by saying that these Salafis are the exception, they do not represent true Islam, an Islam that is retrograde, etc. …. At the same time, the Salafis, present themselves as the only “authentic” ones because they are faithful to the “Tradition of the Prophet” (sunnat al-Nabi), and that the Prophet is presented in the Koran as the model par excellence (Koran 33: 21 ). In turn, the average Muslim says that true Islam is peaceful Islam, in accordance with the Koran that says “there is no compulsion in religion” ((Koran 2, 256).

The average Muslim says that “a similar fanaticism is [only] specific to an individual and is the tree that hides the forest of a peaceful Islam.’“

But Bidar raises the question: “What is the real state of the forest in which trees like this take root? Could a healthy culture and a true spiritual education create such monsters?”

These cases are too numerous to be just a tree in the forest! How come there are so many “fanatics” who are often educated people who, far exceeding the Muslim average? How is it that so many Western converts to Islam, or Muslims who live in the West for so long, feel attracted to this extreme?

And even more so, how is it that so many imams and guides, trained in the best and most authentic Islamic centers worldwide, go on to promote this form of Islam?

“Some Muslims — says the author — sense that this type of issue has been delayed for too long. They are gradually becoming aware [over time] that it will become more difficult to remove responsibility from Islam for its fanatics, and behave as if it is enough to draw the distinction between Islam and radical Islam. “

Faced with frequent manifestations of radical Islam it is only too easy to say that this is not Islam. The “Arab spring” that we see developing before our eyes is too often turned into an “Islamic autumn.” And Islamism is likely to bring us back to the civilization of the desert.

And Bidar proclaims: “But for many more Muslims it should now become clear that in this religious culture, the roots of the sick tree are too absorbed and too numerous for it to continue to believe it can be satisfied with simply denouncing its black sheep… ‘Islam must accept the principle of its complete re-establishment or — without doubt — its integration into a broader humanism, which leads eventually to overcome its frontiers and horizons. “

It is therefore a case of superseding itself, “its borders and its own horizon,” says Prof. Abdennour. The choice is this or death. A case of a “complete re-establishment” in a “broader humanism.” And at this point he asks the question: “But will [Islam] agree to die in this way so that a new form of spiritual life can be reborn from its legacy? And where can we find the inspiration for this?”.

As a good philosophy professor, Abdennour (“the servant of the Light”), gives this answer: “As a specialist of Islam’s deepest thoughts, I see that the philosophical and mystical thought of Averroes (1126-1198) and Ibn Arabi (1165-1241) [have] a wisdom that has been lost — the majority of Muslims do not even know their names. However, it is not a case of resurrecting them, or repeating them. It is now too late for that . It is about finding their equivalent for our time. From this point of view, it is not enough to be ready to admit that ultimately there is “a general illness within Islam” and that we must return to these “wisdoms of the past.”

So there is a “general illness of Islam”. For several decades, Islam has been facing a crisis of the strongest nature. Most of the intellectuals and enlightened thinkers have said it and repeated it. Many are trying to emerge from this crisis, but the fundamentalist trend is stronger and blocks any effort to renewal or reform, as Bidar says. The point is that the leap forward is a leap into the unknown, with all the risks this entails, while going backwards appears more certain, in accordance with the Sunnah and it is reassuring. For Bidar, Islam “has to re-invent itself a spiritual culture.” This last word is one of the key words of our philosopher, in all his works: spirituality. Thus we quote his conclusion:

“The challenge is much more important. Islam should come to this completely new lucidity in which to understand that it must reinvent a spiritual culture from the ashes of the material death of its traditions. But, another important problem, it can not do by itself and for itself: today it would serve no purpose to establish an “Islamic humanism” next to a “Western humanism” or “Buddhist humanism.” If the tomorrow of the twenty-first century is spiritual, this will not occur in separate modalities between the different religions and worldviews, but on the basis of a common faith in man. To be found together. “


[1] Born in Clermont-Ferrand 13 January 1971 to a French Muslim mother. Educated by his grandfather, an extreme secularist, he sought his path in a reflective and spiritual Islam. I personally met Bidar on July 12, 2007 at the Senate in Paris, during the Colloquium, “East Europe: Dialogue with Islam,” sponsored Christian Poncelet, President of the Senate (see:,-a-monster-created-by-Islam’s-illness-24478.html

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

German Civil Servant Says ‘He Did Nothing for 14 Years’

A German civil servant has admitted that he “did nothing for 14 years” in frank retirement email sent to colleagues.

The man, aged 65, sent a farewell message to 500 colleagues on his retirement day after learning his job was axed due to cuts. In the email round robin to other civil servants in Menden, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia, he boasted that he had earned £613,000 (745,000 euros) for doing no work. “Since 1998, I was present but not really there. So I’m going to be well prepared for retirement — Adieu,” he wrote, in an email leaked to the Westfalen-Post newspaper. The admission that a civil servant could be paid for 14 years without doing any work is embarrassing for Germany because it is leading calls for austerity cuts to the public sector in eurozone countries such as Greece and Spain.

The unnamed man, who has worked in a municipal state surveyor’s office since 1974, accused the municipal authorities of creating inefficient, overlapping and parallel structures, even employing another surveying engineer to do the same job, leaving him with nothing to do. Of course, I well benefited from the freedom that came by to me,” he wrote. He also accused the Menden city authorities of buying unusable computers and software but has since refused to publicly detail his allegations. “I do not wish to say anything else. That email was not intended for public view,” he said. Volker Fleige, the mayor of Menden, said that he had felt a “good dose of rage” when he saw the email, as the employee had not once complained about not having enough to do during his 38 years of employment. “This kind of behaviour is very worrying,” he said. Mr Fleige said that there would be no sanctions against the former civil servant and that following budget cuts his job would not be filled.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Greece: Ex Defense Minister Tsochatzopoulos Arrested

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 11 — Former Greek Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was arrested on Wednesday in connection with charges of failing to declare a property he owns in central Athens on his origin of wealth form in 2010. Tsochatzopoulos, as daily Kathimerini website reports, was arrested outside his home on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street and taken to the headquarters of the Athens police, known by its acronym GADA, shortly before noon. The minister made no statements to reporters. His arrest came swiftly after the decision by judicial authorities on Wednesday morning to issue an arrest warrant. Officers of the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) were immediately dispatched to the former minister’s home. According to sources, warrants have also been issued for the arrest of other individuals alleged to have helped Tsochatzopoulos conceal his assets. Appeals prosecutor Galinos Bris had recommended on Tuesday that Tsochatzopoulos stand trial for declaring an income of almost 251,000 euros, which included two bank loans totaling 150,000 euros, but not the building on Dionysiou Areopagitou Street. Tsochatzopoulos insists the property came into his possession after the form was submitted.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greece: Bakoyannis Immunity to be Lifted, Asks Supreme Court

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS, APRIL 12 — Greece’s Supreme Court has asked for Parliament to lift the parliamentary immunity of Democratic Alliance leader Dora Bakoyannis so she can be investigated in connection with the alleged non-declaration of 1 million dollars, as daily Kathimerini website reports. The sum relates to money that Bakoyannis’s husband, Isidoros Kouvelos, made on the US stock market and then used to buy a ship in the UK. Kouvelos has been accused of not declaring the amount on the source of wealth form that the couple submitted. Bakoyannis insists that there was no wrongdoing and that she has been victimised. As elections were announced on Wednesday, Parliament has now been dissolved so the Supreme Court’s request will not be examined until after the May 6 elections.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Scandal-Hit Northern League Expels Senate Deputy Speaker

Rosy Mauro latest victim of party-funding furore

(ANSA) — Milan, April 12 — The scandal-hit Northern League on Thursday expelled Senate Deputy Speaker Rosy Mauro for her rumoured role in the alleged financial misdealing that has damaged the image of the party.

The League also expelled former treasurer Francesco Belsito, who is under investigation for allegedly channelling public funds to the family of ex-leader Umberto Bossi, who stepped down a week ago.

Mauro, who has denied all wrongdoing, has been boycotted by Senators since the allegations broke

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Ruby: Ghedini: Berlusconi Payments Not Connected to Trial

(AGI) Rome — Niccolo Ghedini denied any connection between payments made by Silvio Berlusconi and evidence in the Ruby case. Ghedini explained: “In relation to the article published today in Corriere della Sera on certain payments made by Silvio Berlusconi we would like to point out that they are clearly sums paid by bank transfer, fully tracked, from a personal account of the same Prime Minister Berlusconi. The juxtaposition between contributions and the status of witnesses in the so-called Ruby case is absolutely preposterous and devoid of merit. Moreover, it is very normal and unproblematic for there to be economic relations existing between persons suspected or accused persons and witnesses. Just consider the owner of a company with employees or witnesses who are family members or relatives. Actually Mr Berlusconi with his usual generosity decided to help, in total transparency and clearly through his bank, persons who, owing to the hype created on non-existent legal events, are going through times of great family, professional and economic difficulties. So there is nothing in the least illegitimate.”

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

Sweden: Welcome to Ikea-Land: Furniture Giant Begins Urban Planning Project

Would you like to feel that way all the time? The people who run the Swedish home-furnishings behemoth are launching a bold push into the business of designing, building and operating entire urban neighbourhoods. Where once they placed a couch in a living room, the Swedes now want to place you and 6,000 neighbours into a neglected corner of your city, design an entire urban world around you, and Ikea-ize your lives. Their bold, high-concept notion of an urban ‘hood could be an important solution to the housing-supply shortages that plague many large cities — but it could take some getting used to.

I recently made the long drive into the vanguard of Ikea’s city-building ambition, in a triangle of post-industrial wasteland surrounded by goods-shipping canals and highway ramps in the far reaches of East London, not far from the 2012 Olympics grounds. Here is the site of Ikea’s effort to bring a very Scandinavian model of urban design and managed living into the English-speaking world.

Amid this 11-hectare expanse of ancient rusting machinery, waste piles and grinding construction equipment is a converted brick sugar warehouse where a team of Swedes and Brits are poring over blueprints and renderings. LandProp Services bought the land in 2009. Their vision is to turn this grey netherworld, once planning approval is done, into a tightly packed neighbourhood they’ll call Strand East.

It will look, once complete, like a reproduction of the sort of historic, chic downtown neighbourhoods you find in the far more central parts of London or Paris, not in this distant expanse of former dockyards and bloodless public-housing project. At its core are straight, car-free streets lined with simple townhouses and ground-floor-access flats in five-storey rows. In the alleyways behind — an imitation of the classic London backstreet, the mews — will be little two- and three-storey homes, all with direct access to the street.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The New German Problem

Christopher Caldwell knows how to grab our attention:

“Once again, Europe has a country at its centre that is too big for its neighbours. Merely by keeping on its best behaviour, Germany has managed to reawaken the historic ‘German problem’.”

However, as his troubling article for Standpoint makes clear, today’s German problem is very different to its earlier incarnations. While Germany once threatened the sovereignty of its neighbours, the German response to the current crisis in the Eurozone is to sacrifice its own independence on a European altar:

“Germany is in a position where it is going to haemorrhage either cash or sovereignty. The government has decided it would rather haemorrhage sovereignty. Voters will notice it less. They get to accumulate money in the short term. The EU gets to accumulate sovereignty in the long term.”

A transfusion of power from Berlin to Brussels might not be such a bad thing if accompanied by German qualities of discipline and efficiency. However, as Caldwell point out, these qualities are under threat:

“Germany is experiencing more political tumult now than you would expect from perhaps the world’s most successful major economy. The country is clearly moving left.”

By way of evidence, he cites the electoral collapse of the free-market FDP (so much for liberal conservatism), the strength of the Greens and the resurgence of the Left Party (successors to the East German Communists):

“Chancellor Merkel can read the writing on the wall… she must now audition a new cast of coalition partners. The Social Democrats, with whom she shared power to the satisfaction of the public between 2005 and 2009, appear most likely to get the role… Observers speak of a “Social Democratisation” of the CDU.”

What changes Germany changes Europe; and that — one way or another — includes us.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Nation as a Family

As well as introducing us to Jonathan Haidt’s work, David Goodhart’s review is an important article in its own right, exposing the extreme universalism of Britain’s cultural elite:

“My fellow partygoers were all too representative of a part of liberal, educated Britain. Shami Chakrabarti, of the human rights group Liberty, has argued: ‘In the modern world of transnational and multinational power we must decide if we are all ‘people’ or all ‘foreigners’ now.’ Oliver Kamm, the centrist commentator, said to me recently that it was morally wrong to discriminate on grounds of nationality, ruling out the ‘fellow citizen favouritism’ that most people think that the modern nation state is based on. And according to George Monbiot, a leading figure of the liberal left, ‘Internationalism… tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington… Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How… do you distinguish it from racism?’“

The obvious answer — at least to a conservative — is that the nation is analogous to the family. One presumes that Chakrabarti, Kamm and Monbiot feel a particular attachment and responsibility to their own families, but does that mean they consider people in other families to be of lesser worth? Of course not. If such a principle can apply to one’s family, then why can’t it apply to one’s country?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: 25 Firemen Who Scrambled to Rescue a Seagull From a 3ft-Deep Pond Refused to Wade in Because of Regulations — Leaving it to Joe Public to Save the Bird

It looked like a major emergency — 25 firemen standing at the water’s edge assessing the life-threatening situation before them.

Stranded 200ft out and struggling for survival was the victim they had come to rescue…a seagull.

And if that scenario were not ludicrous enough, there was worse to come.

The firemen were then barred from going into the 3ft-deep water because it was judged to be a health and safety risk.

As crews from five fire engines stood beside the pond in South London for up to an hour, it fell to a member of the public to pull on his waders and rescue the bird, which was caught up in a plastic bag.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: British Muslims Have Given David Cameron an Object Lesson in Democracy

by Parveen Akhtar

In Indonesia, Cameron called for Islam to embrace democracy; the young Muslim voters of Bradford West would agree

In his speech in Jakarta on Thursday, David Cameron told Muslims in the east that “democracy and Islam can flourish together”, the implication being that they often don’t. Especially with a focus on Britain, these comments are not without irony. Exactly two weeks previously, Muslims in a northern city of Britain had exercised their democratic right to vote, helping to elect George Galloway as MP for Bradford West. In so doing, they highlighted that although the issues of Islam, Muslims abroad, the east and the Middle East matter to them, of equal importance is local life.

Galloway’s “Bradford spring” saw politicians and journalists bandying about terms such as “biraderi”, “clan” and “kinship politics”. Biraderi, which literally translates as “patrilineage” is commonly used by Pakistanis to refer to networks of individuals who share a common ancestry. Kinship networks are indeed an important form of social organisation amongst British Pakistanis, a type of internal welfare system for family and blood relations. However, the biraderi politics referred to in comment pieces discussing Bradford West is a very British phenomenon. Biraderi politics in the UK refers to the practices of British politicians of using community leaders in British constituencies with significant Pakistani voters to attain bloc votes. Roy Hattersley, who held the Sparkbrook constituency in Birmingham with a large Pakistani population, once remarked that whenever he saw a Pakistani name on a ballot paper he knew the vote was his.

In Bradford West, Galloway’s supporters are largely young, British-born Bradfordians of Pakistani Muslim descent. They are the children and grandchildren of postwar economic migrants: manual labourers in the textile mills and manufacturing industries of the north. Biraderi-based politics had a successful run for nearly 40 years in these areas, but the children of the pioneer generation, born and bought up in the UK, do not identify with this kind of politics. They believe that community leaders do not engage with the issues that concern them.

The whole point of patronage-based politics is that politicians don’t have to work for their votes. Alienated by this system, these young people were drawn to George Galloway. Galloway’s oratorical skills and abilities in public debate have led some to suggest that Bradford West was a one-off result engineered by a truly individual politician who is a “standard bearer” for British Muslims in a constituency with a large Muslim population. Galloway is certainly regarded as a hero among British Pakistanis, because he is seen as the only politician to challenge the status quo with regards to Iraq and other issues of Muslim concern. This may have won him the election in 2005 in Bethnal Green and Bow, but it would be misleading to think that he won in Bradford West because young British Muslims are preoccupied with the war. They may have an interest in Muslim issues abroad, but international politics plays only one part in their attitudes. What really matters is the unglamorous world of local politics: street lighting, children’s schools, rubbish collection, the problems of vermin and drugs, the lack of opportunities: the bread-and-butter issues of life in the UK.

In electing George Galloway, some Pakistanis made a cognitive leap and reasoned that if Galloway is speaking positively about Muslims abroad, he will also care about them here, and help fight a fight which they believe the older generation of Pakistani community leaders has abandoned, by accepting patronage roles from mainstream politicians who want to stay propped up in their constituencies. Trying to explain the defeat in Bradford West, John Mann, Labour MP for Bassetlaw, blamed the party for having no strategy in the area. On the contrary: the party did have a strategy. The problem was that it was an old strategy, based on the belief that community leaders could guarantee the local Labour candidate a win.

What the Bradford West byelection highlighted so dramatically was that Labour, and indeed all the mainstream political parties, can ill-afford to rely on the patronage-based relationships they enjoyed with the older generation of Pakistanis. Young British Pakistani Muslims are actively participating in British democracy. Religious identity and local concerns flourish side by side. Politicians have to earn and not expect their votes. That is democracy, in east and west.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Great-Grandmother, 94, Suffers Horrific Injuries After Falling Out of Hospital Bed Because ‘Elf and Safety Rules Ban Side-Bars

[WARNING: Disturbing Content.]

A great-grandmother looked like she had ‘been beaten up’ after falling out of bed at her care home — because of ‘stupid’ new health and safety rules banning bed bars, her family claims.

Elderly Jane Jones, 94, was rushed to hospital after cutting her head, arm, hand and nose when she fell three-and-a-half feet out of her care home bed.

The sides of her bed had not been put up after a Health and Safety Executive (HSE) warning against using side bars because they restrict ‘free movement’ — allowing Mrs Jones to freely tumble out of bed.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: London Metropolitan University Mulls Alcohol Ban for ‘Conservative Muslim Students’

A London University may become the first in the country to ban alcohol from part of its campus to attract more Muslim students, its Vice Chancellor has said.

London Metropolitan University is considering banning the sale of alcohol from some parts of the campus because a “high percentage” of students consider drinking “immoral,” Prof Malcolm Gillies said. One-fifth of the University’s students are Muslim, and of those the majority are women. It is an issue of “cultural sensitivity” to provide drink-free areas, Prof Gillies told a conference, adding he was “not a great fan of alchol on campus”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Mehdi Hasan: A Beacon for Islam [Reader Comments Only]

by Rod Liddle


[Reader comment by YA on 12 April 2012 at 5:03pm]

The phrase “rational message of the Quran” reminds other pearls of islamist propaganda, as “secular muslims”, “islam is indigenous to Britain”, “science of the Quran” and alike.

another method of making news from Islam is calligraphy jihad — “kaffar”, “Maccah”, “Mashaal”, all that countless “Etihads” and “Emirates” looking at you from every wall today.

Basically, the message to unbelievers is “we are here already in big numbers, not only to colonize your lands, but also to suppress and deform your minds”. For which purpose islamists are skilled in hijacking words. And to keep it interesting, they will continue hijacking airplanes. Hasan is much more dangerous than Qatada or Hook, because he has the same goals but also a voice in the UK granted to him by “progressive” traitors — no other conclusion might be made from all of the above. Thanks Rod for Your honesty.

[Reader comment by Redneck on 13 April 2012 at 11:53am]

Henry, YA, Master Cobbett, Nicholas & Wilhelm

Agree with your posts. How do those who support open-door immigration think this is all going to pan out? If you look around, in most parts of the UK, there are significantly increasing numbers of people who have no reason to feel loyalty to our country. Presumably all enjoy our freedoms at present but many, sadly, want to radically change them.

They are being aided by far too many who should be able to see the logical conclusion. Part of this is the ability to castigate any attempt at debate on the value of mass immigration. Any attempt to open this discussion is immediately branded as “racist”: this is effectively the most toxic label with which to be branded in the UK and US now. It silences completely dissent from the “party line”.

I do not see any way “the Left” can integrate these radical-religious groups into mainstream UK life. These groups are intolerant, aggressive and broadly cohesive in their aims. I am yet to be convinced of a single benefit they’ve brought to me or my fellow UK citizens. I don’t hate them but regard their intolerance and clearly expressed distaste for my way-of-life as an unequivocal threat. I fear them but will not take their belligerence passively: I think we (the UK population) are signing our own death warrant, should we allow this to continue.

I am fearful that too many on the Left are patsies and grossly naive if they think this can be a peaceful integration, bringing untold benefits for our country and at the same time cleanse their souls of past-colonial “stains”. They, like the rest of us, are going to rue the day when we “kaffars” are brought to heel.

[Reader comment by AY on 13 April 2012 at 1:49pm]

daniel maris -

de facto all normal people in the country already feel like they are “coalition”. the only way to bring counterjihad movement to political domain is to vote for BFP party. Paul Weston is an example of decency and loyal service to people. Why do I know that — because he says explicitly that he doesn’t mind if even BFP policies and solutions would be “borrowed” by conservatives or whatever. BFP are patriots, not greedy for power, and with clear vision of country’s protection from islamic enslavement. listen to Paul’s latest speech at BFP meeting 7 April — it is remarkable. He is British Geert Widers.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: New £1m Mosque to Open Its Doors to 1,000 Worshippers in Moss Side

A major new mosque to serve Muslims across the region is set to open within weeks after a three-year building project. The £1m Darul Aman Mosque in Moss Side, Manchester, will accommodate up to 1,000 worshippers. Built to serve the revisionist Islam movement Ahmadiyya, it will be the sect’s second largest mosque in western Europe. Work to create the new building, complete with domed roof and minaret, began three years ago, funded mainly by donations from worshippers. The existing building at the site on Greenheys Lane has also been refurbished and incorporated into the new design. The Ahmadiyya movement, which has around 1,000 members in Manchester, focuses on promoting peace and understanding between Islam and other religions. Working with the motto ‘Love for all, hatred for none’, the mosque’s name translates as ‘abode of peace’.


[JP note: While public houses continue their unwelcome decline in the UK, ‘abodes of peace’ flourish unchecked.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Oxford Child Sex Trafficking Probe Widens as Number of ‘Victims’ Doubles to 50 Girls, Some as Young as 11

A suspected sex trafficking ring in which girls as young as 11 were allegedly targeted was far larger than previously feared, according to police.

As many as 50 young girls have come forward claiming to have been sold for sex in Oxford, detective confirmed today.

It was originally thought that 24 girls, aged between 11 and 16 years, were the only victims but more youngsters have since contacted the police alleging they were also victims.

Oxford police commander, Acting Superintendent Chris Sharp, said more ‘potential victims’ had come forward as a result of the publicity the case had received.

A total of 13 men were arrested when more than 100 police swooped in the raids across Oxford, codenamed Operation Bullfinch.

A group of six Asian men — including two sets of brothers — have been charged by police in connection with allegedly running the sex trafficking ring in the university city known for its dreaming spires.

Since the initial dawn raids last month, officers had made a further two arrests as part of the probe, a police spokesman said.

A 39-year-old man and a 40-year-old woman were detained on suspicion of ‘grooming’ this week.

The man has been freed on police bail to return to a police station in May, pending further inquiries and the woman was released without charge.

Police arrested 13 men in raids across Oxford on Thursday, March 22, after investigating the suspected ring since May last year.

Six men were charged and appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court, sitting at Amersham on Friday, March 30, for a preliminary hearing and were all remanded in custody.

Father of two Kamar Jamil, aged 26 years, of Summertown, Oxford, who is charged with four counts of rape, two counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of possession with intent to supply class A drugs, has since been granted conditional bail by the court.

Seven men returned to a police station to answer bail on Thursday and had their bail extended for a further eight weeks.

High Wycombe Magistrates Court heard during the first hearing last month how the accused men are believed to have groomed 24 girls for sex between May 2004 and March, this year.

Four girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were allegedly given alcohol and drugs, and forced to have sex with some of the men.

Clare Tucker, prosecuting, said during that hearing: ‘These charges relate to the sexual exploitation of girls between 11 and 16 across the Oxford area over a period of several years.’

Zeshan Ahmed, 26, is charged with ten counts of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

Anjum Dogar, 30, is charged with one count of conspiring to rape a child, one count of arranging prostitution of a child and one count of trafficking.

His brother, Akhtar, 31, is charged with three counts of rape, one count of conspiring to rape a child, three counts of arranging the prostitution of a child, one count of making a threat to kill and one count of trafficking.

Mohammed Karrar, 37, has been charged with two counts of conspiracy to rape a child and one count of supplying a Class A controlled drug to a child.

His brother Bassan, a 32-year-old father of two, is charged with one count of raping a child in 2006.

Detective Inspector Simon Morton, of Thames Valley Police, said at the time of the arrests: ‘We are working closely with social services to make sure the young girls involved are safe.’

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

UK: Stamp Collectors Shouldn’t Keep Their Lonely Pleasures to Themselves

by Harry Mount

Philatelists are up in arms about the Royal Mail for a very odd reason — because they’re issuing too many stamps. This year, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, the Royal Mail are releasing more stamps than ever before. Each collector has to get — or feels like they have to get — the complete set: postcard, international stamp and recorded delivery stamp. The expense, they say, is getting too much. Military memorabilia collectors don’t complain when a cache of Waterloo artefacts appears on the market. And addicts — stamp collectors, like all collectors, are addicts, usually male ones — should be delighted when their drug of choice is made more widely available. In any case, stamps are not for sealing away in mausoleum-like albums, but for sending, and for looking at in their real habitat: on the tear-drenched envelope from your first girlfriend, or the last postcard your granny sent from Hastings.

How nice it is to look at the latest issue from the Royal Mail — a charming collection of UK landmarks from A to Z. Presumably, those raging philatelists would have preferred a collection that went from A and stopped at B. The pleasure in the landmarks collection comes from the same quality that brings the collectors such pain — their number and variety. Some of the heritage greatest hits are there: the Roman Baths in Bath, York Minster, the White Cliffs of Dover. But, because the collection is dictated by the random nature of the alphabet, there are also some oddities. Not many tourists make their way to Manchester Town Hall — one of the featured sites — but it is one of the great municipal buildings of Britain. Inky, bristling and spiky, Alfred Waterhouse’s 1877 Town hall is English Gothic Revival at its most self-confident; it represents the British Empire’s trading cities at their most prosperous; and it takes you back — stamps have an inherently nostalgic quality; all those weeping girlfriends and grannies in Hastings again — to a time when municipal government was a vital, reforming force for good, not the bloated, council tax collection service they now are.

Not everything in the landmark collection is as distinguished as Manchester Town Hall. Handsome as Narrow Water Castle, County Down, is, it isn’t out of the ordinary: a plain, 16th century, crenellated tower house, familiar throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic. And the Kursaal in Southend is, almost at its own admission, a joke building — the first ever theme park, built in 1901, with the first female lion tamer, it is frothy Edwardian classicism gone haywire, with Dutch gables cheerfully matched with a baroque dome and banded columns. Illuminate it with candy-striped lighting, stick a ten-pin bowling lane inside, and you have gloriously silly British seaside architecture at its best.

It would be perverse to say that British architecture ever hit the original heights of the Italian Renaissance (although our Gothic cathedrals and country houses are unmatched). But we are unique in so many other architectural fields: in our seaside buildings, in the range and quality of our medieval castles, in our obsession with follies. More than any other country, we have mined the past to produce original confections of ancient styles borrowed from other countries. Only in Britain do you get this odd mixture of form clashing so happily with function: with a tea-house disguised as a pagoda, say, as in Sir William Chambers’s 18th century folly in Kew Gardens; or a prison wrapped in the skin of a medieval castle, as at Victorian Holloway Prison in north London.

Portmeirion, Gwynedd, also featured in the stamps, is the perfect example. Here in north Wales — natural home to mammoth invaders’ castles, nestling next to small native, Gothic and Italianate chapels — Clough Williams-Ellis built an architectural historian’s dream model village. A mock Gothic castle huddles next to a baroque church tower, alongside an Ionic portico and a Bavarian onion dome. A crazy combination — utterly unsuited to the Welsh climate, and foreign in all its influences, except one: the sometimes infuriating, sometimes engaging, British desire to entertain. As the summer season begins, a lot of these places, like Portmeirion, will fill up and lose some of their appeal. It’s hard to appreciate Roman and Regency Bath, when you’re swamped by Jane Austen obsessives and French teenagers with their lethal, swinging rucksacks.

But plenty of Britain’s unsung beauties are empty, even at the height of August. On high summer days, I have had Pembrokeshire beaches and the chapel of Queen’s College, Oxford — an under-appreciated college, also on the Royal Mail list — to myself. It is when they are empty that buildings and natural scenery are at their most affecting, with a near-religious power to calm and enchant. Stamp collectors know that power of lonely pleasure better than most. But there’s no shortage of lonely pleasures to go round, and no need to ration them or selfishly keep them to yourself.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: The Hollow Men of British Politics

by Melanie Phillips

A poll of voters in the south London borough of Bromley, taken by the Times (£) to gauge support for Labour’s Ken Livingstone and the Conservatives’ Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral contest, is fascinating — not just for what those polled were saying about the two candidates but also about the Tory Prime Minister, David Cameron:

‘“All the time things were going quite well, Mr Cameron seemed quite impressive,” Graham said. “But as soon as they don’t, he doesn’t come across so well…When things go wrong he doesn’t seem to know what to do. He pretends he’s a man of the people but he’s not.”

‘“We need a strong leader, another Margaret Thatcher. At least she had the courage of her convictions. She’s like Boris Johnson, but in a different way. In a dress,” Gary said.’

This chimes with the opinion expressed in the Telegraph by Don Porter, former chairman of the National Conservative Convention and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party Board, who writes that the party has lost sight of its true values and disconnected itself from its grass-roots through a ‘loss of clarity, principle and policy direction’. Such opinions will undoubtedly be causing concern to the Tory leadership — but on past form, are unlikely to lead them to draw the right conclusion. This is that their entire strategy of decontaminating the brand to regain power was totally misconceived. As I have been writing consistently since this strategy was first developed when the Tories under Cameron were in opposition, it was based on a fundamental misreading of why they had lost the previous three general elections, and a corresponding misreading of why Tony Blair had won them.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: University to Have Alcohol-Free Areas for Muslims

A university Vice-Chancellor is planning to ban the sale of alcohol in parts of the campus because some Muslim students believe it is “evil” and “immoral”.

Prof Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan University said he wants to create alcohol free areas on campus out of “cultural sensitivity”. About a fifth of students at the university come from Muslim families — many of them young women from traditional homes. For many of them, the drinking culture among students marred rather than heightened their student experience, he said. Prof Gillies, an eminent Australian music scholar, said that he was consulting with staff and students about creating alcohol-free areas on the universty’s two campuses as part of a major redesign. It is expected that the informal dry areas will be created within the next six months.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Watchdog Criticizes Scotland Yard Over Phone Hacking Scandal

An inquiry into senior police officials in connection with the News of the World phone hacking scandal has found no evidence of corruption. The watchdog, however, criticized the officials for unprofessional conduct.

An independent watchdog on Thursday rejected allegations of corruption against senior former officials at London’s Metropolitan Police in connection the News Corp. phone hacking scandal, while criticizing them for using poor judgment and becoming too cozy with journalists.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said that senior people at Scotland Yard had been “oblivious to the perception of conflict” when they hired former News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis as media advisor.

Wallis joined the Metropolitan Police in 2009, shortly after leaving the Sunday tabloid, which faced mounting allegations that it had hacked the voicemails of public figures. The former deputy editor was arrested in July 2011 in connection with the hacking scandal.

“It is clear to me that professional boundaries became blurred, imprudent decisions taken and poor judgment shown by senior police personnel,” IPCC deputy chair Deborah Glass said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists Bar Former Mubarak Regime Officials

Parliament passed the bill yesterday but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must still approve it. Any prime minister or top official from the Mubarak regime is barred from active politics for ten years. Various presidential candidates could be excluded.

Cairo (AsiaNews/ Agencies) — Egypt’s parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, has approved a law that would bar members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s party from running for office. Anyone who has served as prime minister or was a senior member of the old regime would be barred from political activity for 10 years.

Adopted yesterday, the law still needs to be ratified by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), but the Justice Minister has already described it as unconstitutional.

The new law comes a few days after Omar Suleiman, a former vice president and intelligence chief under Mubarak announced that he was seeking the presidency in the upcoming elections. In order to attract the support of secular votes, he said he was running to prevent Egypt from becoming an Islamic state. If adopted, the law could jeopardise May’s presidential elections.

Experts say the race is dominated by Islamist parties and former officials in Mubarak’s regime and his National Democratic Party, who have come out of the shadow after a year of silence. Pro-democracy parties, which led the Jasmine Revolution, are de facto excluded from the election.

Out of 23 candidates, only three moderate figures have any chance of challenging the stranglehold of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and old Mubarak cronies. They are: Khaled Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist and a former director of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Ayman Abd el Aziz Nour, head of the El-Ghad Party (a liberal secular party) who first challenged Mubarak in the sham 2005 election, and Amr Moussa, a former secretary general of the Arab League and a onetime foreign minister under Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood is putting forward Khairat and l-Shater, a rich businessman and the party’s treasurer who was released from prison in 2011.

Salafists are presenting Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. A fixture on national TV, he is one of the radical Muslim leaders with the largest followings, especially among young Islamists who recently organised demonstrations across the country against his exclusion from the race on a technicality.

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, secretary general of the Arab Medical Association and a former member and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, is one of the independent candidates.

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

Egypt Candidate: Moderate Islamist, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fatouh was a prominent figure within Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood but was forced to leave after he declared his intention last year to stand for the presidency.

At that stage, the mainstream Islamist group, which was keen to show it did not seek to monopolise the new political scene, had said it would only nominate candidates for the parliamentary vote. Dr Aboul Fotouh, a respected moderate who is head of the Arab Medical Union, decided to run for office as an independent. Speaking to a crowd of thousands of supporters after handing in his candidacy papers in early April, he presented a presidential platform focusing on social justice with plans for development and security. “We can realise our dreams and the co-operation of the great Egyptian people,” he said, promising to make use of the country’s “most valuable source of wealth”, human potential, if elected. “Let us work as groups, not as individuals, the era of the all-inspiring president and all-knowing leader is over,” he added. His plans include establishing a minimum standard income, restoring security within 100 days of taking office, re-equipping the Egyptian military from sources not funded by the United States and appointing a young vice-president, aged under 45. He has attracted the support of many Muslim Brotherhood youth who have grown weary of the group’s hierarchical structure and hostility to change. This remains a source of contention with the Brotherhood leadership. It has now put up its own presidential candidate and demands that members of the group support him.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Libya: So it Was All About Oil After All!

Last year NATO countries bombed Libya, demanding “democracy” in the country. But now it’s clear it was all about oil and it’s not like the Americans and Brits are going to be democratic about it, and share those spoils equally with France and Italy.

So… oil giants Total from France and ENI from Italy are just going to have to wait in the sidelines while the hungry American and British big boys take their juicy oil slices first… ExxonMobil, Chevron, Texaco, BP, Shell…

It’s no surprise then to read in The Wall Street Journal that the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), together with the puppet Libyan “authorities” are launching “investigations” into both companies’ “financial irregularities” in their shady dealings during the forty-two years of Gaddafi’s power. Now who would have imagined this! An Italian oil company involved in kick-backs? Corruption at the highest echelons of the French oil industry?!? Tsk, tsk!!! Unheard of…! The US and UK would never do something like that!! Just ask Enron, ask Halliburton, ask BP…

Clearly, major oil companies will now be judged on how close or how far they were from the Gaddafi’s, and on how much their respective countries contributed to last year’s war effort. Perhaps even on how much and how far and wide they shared their huge ill-obtained profits. It seems that scorecards must now be completed…

It’s worth remembering that at the height of the Libyan fighting last year, the “rebels” found the necessary time, between their “freedom fighting” shifts, to set up a new national oil company. As Bloomberg reported on 22nd March 2011, “The Transitional National Council released a statement announcing the decision made at a March 19 meeting to establish the “Libyan Oil Company as supervisory authority on oil production and policies in the country, based temporarily in Benghazi, and the appointment of an interim director general” of the company.”

And just as big oil and big finance always dance together, that report then went on to explain that “The Council also said it “designated the Central Bank of Benghazi as a monetary authority competent in monetary policies in Libya and the appointment of a governor to the Central Bank of Libya, with a temporary headquarters in Benghazi.”

Like Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, or Abelard and Eloise, Oil and Money are probably the West’s most universal and paradigmatic duo. Their love affair has been going strong for many decades.

Oil is a mighty powerful global business. Oil companies can make or break governments and entire countries. Nationalizing a foreign oil company like Iran did in the early fifties can put the CIA and MI6 spy agencies into full-gear ousting democratically elected governments and replacing them with “more suitable leaders’.

Trading oil in any currency other than the US Dollar as Saddam Hussein dared to do in November 2002 can get you invaded just a few months later. Even weak Argentina’s finger-pointing at illegal British oil escapades in the Falkland Islands resulted in the Royal Navy dispatching super destroyers and nuclear subs to the region…

Libya is the world’s 9th largest oil producing country and holds Africa’s largest oil reserve. Gaddafi was planning to introduce a new currency for Libyan and regional oil: the Gold Dinar which, contrary to the US Dollar, would have had true intrinsic value. Gaddafi’s central bank, in turn, was fully independent of the global financial usury-based system presently in global free-fall. Gaddafi was using oil revenues for his own people and not for the US/UK/EU/Israeli war efforts in the Middle East and further afield.

So, when the Persian Gulf became the very, very hot spot it is today, the global oil cartel together with the mega-bankers who shuffle those trillions upon trillions of Petro-Dollars all over the world, had to make sure that their respective governments would put their military on red-alert, as the oil giants scrambled for new sources…

The focus is increasingly on oil fields lying in “kinder, gentler” parts of the world: the Falkland Islands, the Brazilian Coasts, and Libya that lies smack in the middle of that easy-to-attack “it’s our-bloody-Mediterranean-Sea” North African Coast.

Last year’s destruction of Libya was a reflection of just this type of complex behind-the-scenes engineering of all these key oil, financial, military, media and political players. It’s the kind of Real News that seldom if ever hits the headlines… just because it is the Real News!

During the better part of last year until the public execution of Muhamar Gaddafi by the Western Power’s proxies inside Libya — i.e., mercenaries, criminals, thugs and CIA/MI6/Mossad agents, aka “Freedom Fighters” — the Western media repeated time and again how very bad Gaddafi had suddenly become overnight; how the poor Libyans were clamouring for “democracy”; and how the heroic Libyan “freedom fighters” based, armed, trained and financed in Benghazi were battling to “liberate” Libya and impose Clintonite “democracy” and “human rights”. Actually these “freedom fighters” overshot their runway: now that Libya is finally “free”, they’re asking for the Eastern Cyrenaica region to secede from the rest of the country.

Was civil war part of the West’s plan for Libya? Last year, after securing full UN backing via Resolution No. 1973 allowing NATO air strikes to devastate the country and impose the most violent regime change seen in recent times, NATO-backed thugs have plunged the country into chaos.

As the “Libya Business News” publication mentions on Tuesday, “About 3,000 people gathered in Benghazi last month to announce that Barca (Cyrenaica) was an autonomous region within a federal state. Barca is at the centre of Libya’s oil industry, with two thirds of production and three quarters of reserves there.” It is one of the three historic regions into which the country is divided. And while Barca has the most oil, the other two is home to two thirds of the population. So the question now is how the rich revenues from rich oil reserves will be “democratically” distributed among the population.

Adrian Salbuchi for RT

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Osama Bin Laden’s Three Wives and Two Daughters to be Deported to Saudi Arabia, After Ruling by Pakistani Court

Osama Bin Laden’s family will be forced to take a flight from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia next Wednesday, following a court decision in the capital of Islamabad.

Two of the terrorist leader’s former wives — Khairiah Sabar and Siham Sabar are Saudi nationals, while the third — Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh is from Yemeni.

According to their lawyer Aamir Khalil, the relatives of the dead terrorist leader will be deported as soon as their 45 day house arrest was served.

All three, along with Bin Laden’s 17 and 21 year old daughters, were placed under house arrest earlier this month having pleaded guilty to living illegally in Pakistan.

Just a few days ago the Al Arabiya television network released footage from inside the ‘guest house’ in Islamabad, where Bin Laden’s family members have been holed up .

Toddlers and children are seen playing with teddy bears and cricket bats, while the three widows of Bin Laden look on or read the Koran.

But the boarded-up windows and a heavy armed presence outside given an indication that while the place may serve as a home for the occupants, it is also a prison for Osama’s relatives.

It is still not clear whether the Yemeni widow, Amal Ahmed Abdul Fateh, would stay in Saudi Arabia or would be transported on to her own country of origin.

According to CNN a source familiar with the widows’ case said the Yemeni government has expressed a willingness to let Fateh return to her homeland.

The three former wives of Bin Laden have been in Pakistani custody since U.S. Navy SEALs raided the terrorist’s compound in Abbottabad and killed the al Qaeda leader in May 2011.

All the women confessed to impersonation, illegal entry into Pakistan and staying illegally, so a trial was not required. Mr Khalil said his clients would not appeal the ‘lenient” sentence.

Fateh told Pakistani investigators that Bin Laden spent years on the run in Pakistan after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, moving from one safe house to another and fathering four children.

A deposition taken from Fateh gives the clearest picture yet of bin Laden’s life while international forces hunted him. He and his family move from city to city with the help of Pakistanis who arranged ‘everything’ for them. she is reported as saying.

She told police she never applied for a visa during her stay in Pakistan.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Leading Member of Moscow’s Muslim Community Killed

Metin Mekhtiev was from Azerbaijan. Suspicions of yet another racially motivated attack perpetrated by militant ultranationalist. In 2011, 21 murders were racially motivated.

Moscow (AsiaNews) — A leading exponent of the Russian Muslim community was stabbed and killed in Moscow near the Belorusskaja station. Many suspect that the crime was perpetrated by militant right-wing ultranationalists. Metin Mekhtiev (pictured) was a native of Azerbaijan. According to preliminary reports, on the night between 10 and 11 April, he was waiting for the arrival of his wife and son of two months at the station. Ria Novosti agency police sources report that his body bore several stab wounds on the neck and face.

Mekhtiev was head of international department of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Russia, an organization founded in the Federation in 1991 with support from the Saudi embassy and banned by the Russian Supreme Court last year. According to the group, the judges’ initiative was instigated by the Russian secret services. According to website, Mekhtiev worked with all major Muslim organizations in the country and was very active in working with students and young people from the Caucasus. “It is a brutal, barbaric and medieval murder,” reported the head of the Islamic Cultural Centre in Moscow, Abdul-Wahid Niyazov, according to whom the man was attacked by a gang of five persons, one of which was a young woman.

For now, the police have released no details on the possible motive for the killing, but among the Russian bloggers many support the hypothesis that crime is linked to the ultra-nationalists.

After the collapse of the USSR, Russia experienced a sharp rise in nationalist sentiment. Racially motivated violence killed 21 “non-Slavic-looking” people in 2011 alone, a figure down from 42 similar murders recorded in 2010, according to data organization Sova.

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

South Asia

Indonesia: West Java: Yasmin Church Members Celebrate Easter Underground

Forced by extremists and the authorities to meet in secret, churchgoers still hold Holy Week services, meeting at various private homes to avoid attacks. The head of the Synod of Indonesian Churches appeals to the authorities to respect religious freedom.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — Against a background of threats from Muslim extremists and great pressure from the authorities of the city of Bogor (West Java), especially the major, the members of a Protestant community, the Taman Yasmin Church (GKI), celebrated Holy Week and Easter services in secret, opting to meet and hold services in different private homes. In one case, at least 78 GKI members met in great secret on Easter Sunday for an underground ceremony to mark the Resurrection of Jesus. “This time, the secretary general of the Synod of Indonesian Churches (PGI), Rev Gomar Gultom was also present,” a GKI spokesperson told AsiaNews.

Since church members have been prevented from holding their services in public, prayers and celebrations have been held underground. Although churchgoers “have been targeted by hard-liners,” the police has refused to protect them, GKI spokesperson Bona Sigalingging said. “This is really a paradox. When we informed them [the police] of the place where we wanted to worship, fundamentalists would easily find us and attack us,” Sigalingging explained, without eliciting any police intervention.

Speaking to his fellow Christians, Rev Gomar Gultom expressed his strong appreciation for their strong commitment to practice their Christian faith despite intense attacks and violence.

The Protestant leader also made an appeal to Bogor authorities to uphold the law and protect human rights, including religious freedom.

The Yasmin Protestant Church has been the scene of open violations of the law and the principle of religious freedom by Bogor mayor Diani Budiarto. In total contempt for a ruling by Indonesia’s Supreme Court in favour of the local Christian community, he has prevented Christians from holding their services.

In spite of the fact that it was built by the book and had all the building permits necessary for places of worship, the authorities seized the church.

In October, the mayor ordered the security forces to remove worshippers who, deprived of their church, had opted to hold their services in the street. Now even that has been denied to them.

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

Pakistan: Forced Conversions Spark Anger

Lahore, 13 April (AKI/Dawn) — Prof. Ashok Kumar is not afraid of taking a prominent stance on the Rinkle Kumari issue.

Fear, he says, is secondary compared to what is happening to the Hindu community in Pakistan, in particular Sindh. “We can’t just sit back and watch what our community is going through,” he says.

The recent case of Rinkle Kumari is not altogether an uncommon occurrence. Several young Hindu girls have been kidnapped in the dead of night from their homes, and dragged off to be forcibly converted to Islam, as they and their family members have later alleged. Usually this conversion is accompanied by a signing of the ‘nikahnama’ which strengthens the kidnappers’ side of the story, but still does not provide any kind of proof whether the marriage was done under duress or not.

On Thursday, protesters belonging to the Hindu and Christian communities in Lahore, accompanied by representatives of the Joint Action Committee (a group of social organisations), gathered outside the Lahore Press Club and shouted slogans in response to the slow treatment of the case, venting anger at religious fascism, forcible conversion, and a lack of support from the government.

Ashok Kumar, a professor of Sindhi language in the Linguistics Department of the Punjab University, is one of the protesters.

There are others too, students, professionals, young women, social workers, but the turnout has not been very high.

“We only decided this last night so couldn’t inform everyone on such short notice,” said Shahtaj Qizalbash from AGHS Legal Aid.

But Tanveer Jahan, also a member of the JAC, gives a more direct reply. “When it comes to minority rights, or any such sensitive issue, one just cannot expect any mass participation in Pakistan,” she says.

“You can just forget about the masses.” She says that both sides of the picture are grim — one side which does not support, and only watches the situation passively, while the other side which does come out on the streets but does so for its own vested interests and exploitation. “It is social workers like us who are stuck in the middle.”

“Down with mullah-ism!” shout the protesters, and a small number of drivers slow down on the busy section of the Simla Hill roundabout to see what the commotion is about. While many simply shake their heads and carry on, some are affected nevertheless, like Mehr Muhammad, a contractor.

“It is a sin to take away anyone’s rights like that,” he says, as he stands by watching the protest. “No religion allows this trampling of religious freedom. These girls should not be kidnapped and converted through force…how is it even conversion?” he questions, his brow furrowing over the worrying situation.

But another man has a completely different opinion. “Isn’t it a blessing if anyone is being converted into a Muslim?” he questions.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected two petitions, one filed by Rinkle’s husband, and the other filed by the father of another Hindu girl Dr Lata, from Jacobabad.

The two wanted to meet the girls, but the apex court observed that the two girls should be allowed to make a decision on whether they want to go with their parents or husbands based on a freewill therefore they were sent to Panah, a shelter home run by human rights lawyer Dr Majida Rizvi, where they will stay isolated till the court summons them again. The matter is to be taken up again on April 18.

The matter has been tangled yet further with the alleged involvement of Mian Mithu, a PPP MNA from Ghotki, where Rinkle was kidnapped, and also one Naveed Shah, who was a close associate of Mithu.

“Even when Nafisa Shah and some other PPP MNAs tried to move a resolution against this issue in the assembly, Mian Mithu did not support it,” says Tanveer Jahan. “I simply ask if an FIR has already been lodged against these two then why are they not under arrest?”

Another girl, Asha is still missing and Dr Ashok says: “The state of the Hindu girls being converted is terrible. Since January there have been at least 47 kidnappings. Another point to observe is that this is only happening to young girls, never boys or elders.”

Peter Jacob, worker for minorities’ rights, says this forcible conversion is not restricted to just Hindus and in Sindh. “In the last five years, there have been up to 400 to 500 conversions of Christians. And something equally horrifying, I know of: forcible circumcision of young men in Punjab and one in Balochistan…where are we going, one asks.”

In feudal terms, owning another party’s woman is having the upper hand. That coupled with marriage, gives the perpetrator more strength. No one knows what becomes of many of the girls after being married. Meanwhile, many Hindus feel that they are simply being harassed so they leave the country forever.

“But this is not just an issue restricted to Sindh,” says one. “This protest is meant to be calling out to the whole nation…Why does no one raise their voices for our rights too?” he asks.

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

Far East

China Censors Bo Xilai Debate, But Chinese Work Around it

In a sign of how sensitive the issue is for the ruling Communist Party, censors blocked online searches for the name of Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing party boss who fell from grace this year amid scandal.

Chinese on Wednesday streamed onto the Internet in forbidden debate over China’s biggest political upheaval since the 1980s after a top official was flung from the inner circle of power and his wife detained over the murder of a British businessman. In a sign of how intensely sensitive the issue is for the ruling Communist Party, censors continued to block online searches for the name of Bo Xilai, the former Chongqing party boss cast out of the party’s Central Committee, according to state media reports late on Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Defectors Link North Korea’s Weapons Program to Food Shortage

North Koreans living in South Korea say the North’s military program is responsible for the country’s poverty and hunger and they fear their countrymen in the North will not even find out the mission failed.

North Korea’s failed attempt to launch a rocket into space on Friday is a grim reminder to those who’ve fled the repressive nation that nothing has changed under the leadership of Kim Jong Un. Some defectors had hoped that when Kim, who is only in his late 20s, assumed power last December that the lives of ordinary North Koreans might improve. That’s because as a boy, Kim studied in Switzerland and might have learned a thing or two about human rights.

But that appears not to be the case, says Han Gi-hong of the Committee for Democratization in North Korea, an organization comprised of refugees in Seoul.

“Kim Jong Un has no interest in the lives of the people. He is only interested in the survival of the regime,” he said during a press conference on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

ENI Nigeria Facilities Attacked by Oil Militants

MEND rebels say well and pipeline ‘destroyed’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 13 — Oil militants in Nigeria on Friday attacked facilities belonging to the Italian fuels giant ENI.

The rebels, belonging to the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said they had “destroyed” a well and a pipeline run by ENI subsidiary Agip.

ENI confirmed the attack and said it was trying to establish the amount of damage.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Students From Pakistan Face Tough Tests to Enter Britain as Four in Ten Applicants Could be Bogus

Every Pakistani student wanting to come to Britain will face tough new tests after a pilot scheme found that as many as four in ten applicants may be bogus.

Home Office figures have revealed that thousands of student visa applicants cannot speak English, despite claiming they want to study here.

Home Secretary Theresa May has now decreed that anyone wanting to come to study in Britain from Pakistan must be interviewed by border agency officials before a visa is granted.

An estimated 10,000 students apply to come to the country from Pakistan every year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Boris Blocks Christian Anti-Gay Poster Campaign on London Buses That Claimed Homosexuality Could be Cured

Boris Johnson has blocked Christian campaigners from using advertisements on London buses to promote their message on homosexuality.

The London mayor personally vetoed the campaign, which was due to start next week, because he said it suggested gay people can be cured.

The Christian adverts, which mimic an initiative by pro-gay group Stonewall, were intended to advertise ‘gay conversion’ through therapy.


The adverts were expected to appear for two weeks on five routes covering top tourist destinations including St Paul’s Cathedral and Oxford Street.

They were a direct response to Stonewall’s most recent campaign, which suggested being gay is innate and unchangeable.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Britain’s Christians Are Being Vilified, Warns Lord Carey

Christians are being “persecuted” by courts and “driven underground” in the same way that homosexuals once were, a former Archbishop of Canterbury has warned.

Lord Carey says worshippers are being “vilified” by the state, treated as “bigots” and sacked simply for expressing their beliefs.

The attack is part of a direct appeal to the European Court of Human Rights before a landmark case on religious freedom.

In a written submission seen by The Daily Telegraph, the former leader of more than 70?million Anglicans warns that the outward expression of traditional conservative Christian values has effectively been “banned” in Britain under a new “secular conformity of belief and conduct”.

His comments represent one of the strongest attacks on the impartiality of Britain’s judiciary from a religious leader.

He says Christians will face a “religious bar” to employment if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing their beliefs are not reversed.

Lord Carey argues that in “case after case” British courts have failed to protect Christian values. He urges European judges to correct the balance.

The hearing, due to start in Strasbourg on Sept 4, will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith. It will also take in the cases of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor sacked for saying that he may not be comfortable in giving sex therapy to homosexual couples, and a Christian registrar, who wishes not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

Lord Carey, who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002, warns of a “drive to remove Judaeo-Christian values from the public square”. Courts in Britain have “consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians”.

They show a “crude” misunderstanding of the faith by treating some believers as “bigots”. He writes: “In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by State bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong.

“It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

He outlines a string of cases in which he argues that British judges have used a strict reading of equality law to strip the legally established right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect”.

“It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists,” he says. “Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom require guidance.”

He says the human rights campaign has gone too far and become a political agenda.

Keith Porteous-Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, said: “The idea that there is any kind of suppression of religion in Britain is ridiculous.

“Even in the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to religious freedom is not absolute — it is not a licence to trample on the rights of others. That seems to be what Lord Carey wants to do.”

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Last Hope for the Left

by David Goodhart

The liberal, secular world view may hold sway over western elites, but it is struggling to answer the conservative challenge

Elite colleges produce WEIRD people: Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic

The Righteous Mind

by Jonathan Haidt (Allen Lane, £20)


by Richard Sennett (Allen Lane, £25)

A few years ago I was at a 60th birthday party for a well-known Labour MP. Many of the leading thinkers of the British centre-left were there and at one point the conversation turned to the infamous Gordon Brown slogan “British jobs for British workers,” from a speech he had given a few days before at the Labour conference. The people around me entered a bidding war to express their outrage at Brown’s slogan which was finally triumphantly closed by one who declared, to general approval, that it was “racism, pure and simple.” I remember thinking afterwards how odd the conversation would have sounded to most other people in this country. Gordon Brown’s phrase may have been clumsy and cynical but he didn’t actually say British jobs for white British workers.

In most other places in the world today, and indeed probably in Britain itself until about 25 years ago, such a statement about a job preference for national citizens would have seemed so banal as to be hardly worth uttering. Now the language of liberal universalism has ruled it beyond the pale. My fellow partygoers were all too representative of a part of liberal, educated Britain. Shami Chakrabarti, of the human rights group Liberty, has argued: “In the modern world of transnational and multinational power we must decide if we are all ‘people’ or all ‘foreigners’ now.” Oliver Kamm, the centrist commentator, said to me recently that it was morally wrong to discriminate on grounds of nationality, ruling out the “fellow citizen favouritism” that most people think that the modern nation state is based on. And according to George Monbiot, a leading figure of the liberal left, “Internationalism… tells us that someone living in Kinshasa is of no less worth than someone living in Kensington… Patriotism, if it means anything, tells us we should favour the interests of British people [before the Congolese]. How do you reconcile this choice with liberalism? How… do you distinguish it from racism?”

It is not only people on the left who think like this. On a recent BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze programme about development aid, the former Tory cabinet minister and born-again liberal Michael Portillo had this to say: “It is quite old fashioned to think about national borders, and rather nationalistic to say we must help people who are only moderately poor because they happen to be in the UK rather than helping people who are desperately poor because they happen to be a long way away.” All of the above are, in the formulation of a group of North American cultural psychologists, WEIRD-they are from a sub-culture that is Western, Educated, Industrialised, Rich and Democratic. They are, as we have seen, universalists, suspicious of strong national loyalties. They also tend to be individualists committed to autonomy and self-realisation. Balancing that they are usually deeply concerned with social justice and unfairness and also suspicious of appeals to religion or to human nature to justify any departure from equal treatment-differences between men and women, for example, are regarded as cultural not biological.

This is what one might call the secular liberal baby boomer worldview and it is in many ways an attractive and coherent one. It is also for historical reasons, to do with empire, unusually ingrained in the British cultural and political elite, the default position in much of the education system (especially higher education) and the public services more generally, plus significant parts of the media. The Daily Mail is dedicated to a Kulturkampf against it precisely because it is so powerful. In the neat slogan about British politics since about 1975, “the right won the economic argument, the left won the cultural argument.” But is the left now losing the cultural argument too? Or, to put it another way, is the WEIRD elite coming up against some of the boundaries of everyday morality?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Liberals or Conservatives: Who’s Really Close-Minded?

by Andrew G. Biggs

Conservatives understand their ideological opposite numbers far better than do liberals.

To be “close-minded” is, according to the dictionary, to be “intolerant of the beliefs and opinions of others; stubbornly unreceptive to new ideas.” To be conservative and close-minded, according to popular portrayal, is a redundancy-a package deal that liberals can and do take for granted. But University of Virginia Professor Jonathan Haidt’s new book The Righteous Mind doesn’t simply suggest that conservatives may not be as close-minded as they are portrayed. It proves that the opposite is the case, that conservatives understand their ideological opposite numbers far better than do liberals.

Haidt’s research asks individuals to answer questionnaires regarding their core moral beliefs-what sorts of values they consider sacred, which they would compromise on, and how much it would take to get them to make those compromises. By themselves, these exercises are interesting. (Try them online and see where you come out.) But Haidt’s research went one step further, asking self-indentified conservatives to answer those questionnaires as if they were liberals and for liberals to do the opposite. What Haidt found is that conservatives understand liberals’ moral values better than liberals understand where conservatives are coming from. Worse yet, liberals don’t know what they don’t know; they don’t understand how limited their knowledge of conservative values is. If anyone is close-minded here it’s not conservatives. Haidt has a theory regarding why this is the case, based on the idea that conservatives speak a broader and more encompassing language of six moral values while liberals embrace three of the six in a narrow set of core values. I see nothing wrong with this explanation.

But let me present a complementary, more practical explanation: If you’re a conservative who lives in a major metropolitan area or who simply reads the New York Times, you get used to being outnumbered by liberals. Liberals, by contrast, get used to being surrounded by other liberals, both in person and in culture and the media. As a result, liberals speak their minds freely, often in ways that are harshly condemnatory of conservatives and their stands on issues. As a conservative, you can defend your values against friends and acquaintances who essentially just called you stupid and evil or you can keep quiet.

Most conservatives, most of the time, choose the latter. That is, they stay in the closet to avoid being accused of hating the poor, gays, or polar bears. As a result, liberals aren’t gaining any commensurate information. In fact, the silence of their conservative friends helps reinforce their views. Much of the time, liberals’ views of conservative positions and values are simply a caricature that bear little resemblance to what conservatives actually think and, more importantly, why they think it. But during that time when conservatives’ mouths are shut, their ears are open. They’re listening and understanding what liberals think-and what liberals think of them. Conservatives understand their own world-whether it’s of religious organizations, talk radio, Fox News, or whatever-along with the New York Times, network news world of liberals. That helps explain why a conservative’s reaction to a liberal critique often isn’t “you’re wrong.” It’s “you don’t even know what I’m trying to say.” Haidt’s research seems to show that this reaction is warranted.

Andrew G. Biggs is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The ‘Bus Advert Storm’ Confirms That Christians Are Now More Progressive Than Gay Rights Activists

by Brendan O’Neill

The fuss over the anti-gay bus advert confirms that there has been an extraordinary shift in the debate about homosexuality. Once upon a time, conservatives and Christians argued that homosexuality was a genetic trait, while gay-rights activists insisted it was a lifestyle choice. Now, in an eye-swivelling turnaround, their arguments have reversed. Surely, this is the most comprehensive position swap in the history of culture wars? The reason the bus advert riled gay-rights activists was because it implied that homosexuality is a phase that some people go through — one that can be rectified with therapy. The ad was designed by a Christian outfit called the Core Issues Trust in response to a Stonewall ad. It reads: “Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!” Transport for London has now blocked it.

The ban has delighted gay activists since they claim it is wrong to depict homosexuality as something “freely chosen”. The assumption is that the Christian lobby is backward and the gay-rights lobby is correct. But is it really? The idea that homosexuality is a determined trait is new in gay-rights activism. It would have been anathema to the gay campaigners of yesteryear. Indeed, they once kicked against the idea. In the bad old days, the conservative side claimed homosexuality was “an involuntary physical condition”, arguing that there was something different in the “cerebral cortex” of homosexuals — that they were somehow diseased.

Today’s trendy belief in the “gay gene” echoes these old ideas about a “gay germ” that carried through to the 1950s. We see this in 1955 when the British Christian theologian Derrick Sherwin Bailey described gayness as “an inherent condition” with “biological, psychological or genetic causes”. And then again, as late as 1980, when Catholic writers like the American John Boswell (who was very sympathetic to homosexuals) referred to homosexuality as something that was “biologically predetermined”. So for much of the twentieth century it was only those who were disgusted, confused or pitying of homosexuals who thought it was biological.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Why Liberals Don’t Understand Conservatives

It is, for many conservatives, a familiar feeling — the sense that our counterparts on the liberal left not only disagree with us, but don’t even understand us.

Well, it seems there is hard evidence to support our suspicions. It comes from an unlikely source — the American psychologist (and political liberal) Jonathan Haidt. The basis of his research is a framework of five moral ‘foundations’: care/harm, fairness/cheating, loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion and sacredness/degradation. Gathering masses of survey data (to which you can contribute here), Haidt and his colleagues have built-up a detailed picture of the degree to which these various foundations underpin the liberal and conservative worldviews.

In a book review for Prospect, David Goodhart provides an excellent summary of Haidt’s findings:

  • “His main insight is simple but powerful: liberals understand only two main moral dimensions, whereas conservatives understand all five.
  • Liberals care about harm and suffering (appealing to our capacities for sympathy and nurturing) and fairness and injustice. All human cultures care about these two things but they also care about three other things: loyalty to the in-group, authority and the sacred.
  • As Haidt puts it: ‘It’s as though conservatives can hear five octaves of music, but liberals respond to just two, within which they have become particularly discerning.’“

Haidt’s recommendation to his fellow liberals is to make a greater effort to understand conservative concerns:

  • “For example, if you want to improve integration and racial justice in a mixed area, you do not just preach the importance of tolerance but you promote a common in-group identity. As Haidt puts it: ‘You can make people care less about race by drowning race differences in a sea of similarities, shared goals and mutual interdependencies.’“

For David Goodhart — a prominent liberal opponent of multiculturalism — the Haidt approach is the “last chance for the left.” However, one might also argue that if you start acting upon conservative moral insights you might as well become a conservative.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Islam’s Real Origins?

In the Shadow of the Sword: the battle for global empire and the end of the ancient world by Tom Holland (Little, Brown, £25)

Memory is a double-edged sword in the human consciousness. We relish, and even idolise, memories of the past, but we often overlook memory’s enduring partner: forgetfulness. Our memories are rife with deliberate amnesia, and history, at best, is a selective remembrance. Historians edit and repackage the past, sometimes invidiously omitting those “inconvenient truths” which could upset their preferred interpretations. Memory’s imperfect fabric is the platform from which Tom Holland plunges into the story of the rise of Islam in his latest book, In the Shadow of the Sword.

Ostensibly, Islam was born “in the light of history” — the details of Islam’s origins and rapid expansion in the Near East purportedly have been faithfully remembered by the Muslim tradition. But Holland questions whether Islam’s version of history can be trusted: after all, most Arabic primary sources were written some centuries after Muhammad and naturally were subject to the selective biases of Muslim historians and theologians. In a direct challenge to the tradition’s authenticity, Holland marshals alternative sources, principally Byzantine and Persian, to explore how others saw Islam’s rise and he weaves a complex historical critique into a dramatic narrative.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

New Spencer Book Denies Existence of Muhammad

Robert Spencer, professional Islamophobe, has a new book coming out in which he attempts to show the historical problems with the historical record of Muhammad and Muslims. Unfortunately, the Islamophobia industry will likely get the book wide exposure. A press release about the book, lays out several “questions” about Muhammad and the origins of Islam. I show below why the book is really a “so what” rather than a “oh wow.”

How the earliest biographical material about Muhammad dates from at least 125 years after his reported death.

Yep. Any decent historian or scholar of religion will tell you this. It’s like asking why earliest biographical material about Jesus dates from at least two generation after his life. Welcome to the wonderful world of pre-modern history. Literacy is not such a big deal. A good resource for learning about this is Monty Python’s “Holy Grail.” It’s probably a more accurate portrayal of Medieval English history than anything Spencer concocts.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Anonymous said...

"Libya : So it was all about oil after all !"

This, on the Russian site RT. Russia has no interest about oil whatsoever, and Russian reporting about oil is completely unbiased, obviously.