Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120419

Financial Crisis
»Barroso Believes Eurobonds Are Solution to Crisis
»IMF is a Troublesome Ally
»Italy: PM Monti: Fighting to Avoid Dramatic Fate of Greece
»Italy Will be ‘Close’ To Balancing Budget in 2013
»Spain: Cuts: Pensioners to Pay 10% of Prescription Medicines
»A War by Any Other Name is Still War
»Alabama Legislature Considering Anti-Agenda 21 Legislation
»Alcohol Banned for Visitors on Peanut Island
»ANWR: It’s Been 10 Years, We Could Have Been Reaping Rewards Now
»Bishop Says Obama on Hitlerian Path
»From Hackers to Slackers
»Levon Helm: Drummer and Singer for the Band, Dies at 71
»Liberty is Null and Void
»NASA’s Space Shuttle Museum Flights: Complete Coverage
»Negroes With Guns
»Tea Party vs. Netroots Nation — Game on?
»‘The Office’ Star’s Anne Frank ‘Jokes’ Appal TV Viewers
»The Guardian Gives a Platform to a ‘Self-Confessed Terrorist’; Using CIF to Defend the Killing of US Troops
»Urban Outfitters Selling T-Shirt That Features Holocaust Imagery
»Electricy Sector Merger a Liberal Red Herring
Europe and the EU
»48% of Brits Want to Get Out of the UK
»Antitrust Rules Against Alitalia Rome-Milan Monopoly
»Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm
»Blood Libel Not Bad Enough for UK Court
»Britain’s Duty to the Palestinian People
»Even More Oil Found Off Norway
»French-German Relations: What a Hollande Victory Would Mean for Merkel
»French Muslims Mobilizing to Unseat Sarkozy
»Germany: Minister Slams Salafism at Islam Conference
»Italy: Northern League to Sell Party’s Ex-Treasurer’s Diamonds
»Italy: Berlusconi Probed for Inducing Sex-Party Witness to Lie
»Merkel Ally Says Islam Not Part of Germany
»Norway: Breivik Planned to Behead Ex-Prime Minister
»Salafists Worry German Islam Conference
»The UK’s Leading Publisher [The Guardian] Of Jew-Haters
»‘Tortured’ US Muslim Seeks Asylum in Sweden
»UK: Breaking: Lord Sugar Comes Out Against Ken Livingstone
»UK: Don’t Ban Alcohol — We’ll Get the Blame, Say Muslim Students
»UK: Five Arrested Over ‘Race Hate’ Internet Posts
»UK: Galloway and Livingstone: Twins in So Many Ways
»UK: Lord Sugar: Nobody Should Vote for Ken Livingstone as Mayor
»UK: Police Visit Mosque in Community Initiative
»UK: William Hague: Britain Will Have a Global Diplomatic Network and the Best Diplomatic Service in the World
»UK: Will Respect Thwart Labour Gaining Control of Bradford Council?
»Victoria Cross Awarded to Scots Skipper Who Fought ‘David and Goliath’ WWI Battle to be Auctioned
North Africa
»Tunisia: Blasphemous Film Trial, Tensions Before Courthouse
Israel and the Palestinians
»Israel at a Halt to Mark Holocaust
Middle East
»UAE: Dispute Over Islands; GCC to Support UAE, Says Official
South Asia
»Italian Base in Afghanistan Attacked, No Soldiers Hurt
»Jail May Await Afghan Women Fleeing Abuse, Rape — HRW
»Leaving Afghanistan: NATO Members Spar Over Post-Withdrawal Financing
»Pakistan: Three Hindu Women Forced to Convert Have to go Back to Their Muslim Husbands
»Taliban Post on-Line Request for Donations
Australia — Pacific
»I Am Also a Victim, Tyrannical Wife Murderer Zialloh Abrahimzadeh Tells His Son
»Jeff Kennett Decries Prayer Rooms at Footy
»Outback Opal Community Fights Ban on Alcohol
»Without Consent
Sub-Saharan Africa
»As Sudanese Clashes Escalate, So Do Bellicose Exchanges
»Arizona: Countdown to the Showdown on S.B. 1070
»EU Irked as Swiss Clamp Down on Immigration
»Italy: Police Probed for Taping Deportees’ Mouths Aboard Flight
»UK: Abu Qatada Deportation: Appeal Was Made ‘Just in Time’, Says Council of Europe Official
»UK: Abu Qatada Deportation: Theresa May Did Get Date Wrong, Claim Legal Experts
»UK: May’s Bid to Deport Qatada Descends Into Farce
»UK: Theresa May and an ‘Understanding’ On Abu Qatada
»UK: Theresa May Versus Qatada
Culture Wars
»Eco-Communism Celebrated Annually on Earth Day
»Marriage and Family Are Obscene, Says School
»Only the Old Embrace God in Former East Germany
»The Ugly Brutishness of Modern Britain
»UK: Lord Carey: Christians ‘Vilified’ By Courts
»Al-Qaeda Bomb-Making Expert Publishes Magazine
»Heavy Elements Key for Planet Formation, Study Suggests

Financial Crisis

Barroso Believes Eurobonds Are Solution to Crisis

(AGI) Strasbourg — The President of the E.U. Commission, Jose’ Manuel Barroso has said that Eurobonds are a valid solution for overcoming the debt crisis that is far from being resolved. “I never said that the crisis was behind us,” reiterated the former Portuguese prime minister during a debate at the European parliament, emphasizing that Europe must still complete its long-term recovery that might be helped by a common financial system. This proposal, however, has many opponents in Europe, starting with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who believes that issuing eurobonds would simply allow weaker states to continue to fund themselves continuing to spend as before, raising financing costs for other states that respect European budget rules.

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

IMF is a Troublesome Ally

The International Monetary Fund, which recently warned Europe of the possibility of another crisis, forms part of the troika charged with rescuing countries in financial difficulty. However, over the last year under the presidency of France’s Christine Lagarde, the organisation which is often presented as a saviour has adopted a less conciliatory tone.

Last Christmas, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde offered the German Chancellor a trinket from Herme’s. Angela Merkel also had a small gift for Christine Lagarde: a CD of the Berlin Philharmonic playing Beethoven.

Notwithstanding this thoughtful behaviour, the personal relationship between the two women is now being sorely tested: in the wake of two years of intense involvement in the struggle to overcome the crisis in Europe, the IMF has begun to openly express its discontent.

In the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) era, it was reasonable to assume that China, Canada and Brazil would also adopt a similar line, but this is no longer the case. Today’s IMF is very different to the IMF of one year ago. For DSK, who had his sights set on the French presidency, a leading role in the campaign to save the euro was a godsend. Under Christine Lagarde, the IMF has become “a less stable partner”, points out a European civil servant.

A second-tier partner

The difference in personality between economist and politician DSK — who resigned amid rape allegations in May 2011 — and the lawyer and corporate CEO, Christine Lagarde, who succeeded him, only partly explains this change.

Perhaps more importantly, the IMF is increasingly uncomfortable with the role that has been attributed to it in the “troika” formed with the ECB and the European Commission. In the eurozone, the organisation, which is used to a high degree of autonomy, has become a “second tier partner”.

The Europeans in the troika, who are extremely strict in their approach, mainly take their orders from Germany. In the event of a divergence of opinion, the IMF is often the only member of the troika to argue in support of Greece.

“The IMF should never have allowed itself to become involved in this situation”, remarks Charles Wyplosz, of the Graduate Institute of Geneva. “It has been politically implicated.”

Already, under Dominique Strauss-Kahn, non-European countries were protesting, and critical voices were also raised from within the organisation. But the IMF’s second in command, America’s John Lipsky, was unable to to effectively counter his inspired European chief…

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

Italy: PM Monti: Fighting to Avoid Dramatic Fate of Greece

(AGI) Rome — PM Mario Monti said, “We are fighting every day to continue to avoid the fate of Greece.” Monti was speaking during a press conference at the close of the Council of Ministers meeting. He initially spoke of lives which have been dramaticly interrupted and then used directly the term “suicides”, updating the number. Mario Monti did not attempt to hide “the dramatic consequences of the crisis” and that it painted a grave picture which “in Italy we are trying to turn around, under very difficult conditions”. “Today, economic growth is the principal worry of the citizens. The word ‘growth’ is the term most used by Italian and European political leaders, but I would say by the G8 and the G20 as well. We see the dramatic effects of an economic and financial crisis,” Monti stated in the press conference. “We are paying an extremely high price in economic, social and human terms for families, businesses and workers,” the Prime Minister said. “We know how desperate Italy would have been if she had defaulted,” he recalled, underlining how the “ability act together in the spirit of civic responsibility” is “a resource to preserve”.

Monti says that “international conjecture is and remains difficult. Italy still finds itself in a difficult situation,” Monti repeated. “The task of renewing Italy’s ability to grow has just begun.”

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

Italy Will be ‘Close’ To Balancing Budget in 2013

Govt fighting to ‘avoid dramatic destiny of Greece’

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — Premier Mario Monti said on Wednesday that recession-hit Italy would be “close” to hitting its target of balancing the budget next year.

Media reports had said on Tuesday that the government intended to delay by a year its plan to balance the budget because of the country’s low growth prospects in the short term.

The reports cited a leaked draft of the government’s Economic and Financial document (DEF).

Monti has repeatedly said that Italy will not need any more austerity measures to balance the budget in 2013 on top of those in its tough 30-billion-euro austerity package passed in December.

“In last summer’s grave financial emergency the previous government (of Silvio Berlusconi) had to, and wanted to, accept the goal of balancing the public accounts in 2013,” Monti told a press conference after his Cabinet approved the DEF and a so-called National Reform Plan to boost long-term growth. “It’s an ambitious target that we made realistic with the efforts and sacrifices demanded from the public (in the austerity package)…

“We have only just started the job of making Italy capable of growing again. We are fighting every day to avoid the dramatic destiny of Greece”.

Monti, who took power at the helm of an emergency administration of technocrats after Berlusconi resigned in November, said earlier on Wednesday that the Italian economy would return to growth in 2013.

The International Monetary Fund, however, forecasted in a report released on Tuesday that the Italian economy would shrink by 0.3% next year.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Spain: Cuts: Pensioners to Pay 10% of Prescription Medicines

Healthcare Ministry plan aims to save 3.7 billion

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, APRIL 18 — Spain’s Healthcare Ministry will today be presenting to the Inter-regional Health Council (in which regional governments are represented) a plan for the co-payment of pharmaceutical expenditure aiming to save 3.7 billion as part of a budget measure worth 10 billion in cuts to reduce the public deficit, announced by the government for the Health and Education Ministry. According to PP government sources quoted today by the media, pensioners currently exempt from paying for medicines will have to pay 10% of the prescription cost, with a limit of between 10 and 20 euros per month, while those in the workforce (who currently pay 40% of prescription medicines) will see the percentage rise to 50 or 60% depending on their income level. The proposal, after being debated today in the Inter-Regional Health Council, will be approved on Friday by the Cabinet.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


A War by Any Other Name is Still War

According to Kevin D. Freeman, “Events of the past dozen years clearly show that America’s adversaries have gained ground in non-military ways. Could the 9/11 terror attacks, high gas prices, market volatility and the U.S. credit rating downgrade all be linked to the same strategy?”

The recently published 150-page United Nation’s “World Happiness Report” is attempting to indoctrinate us into Fabian Socialism as an absolute giver of wellness, which must be imposed on the entire population of the globe. Happiness no longer comes from within, it comes from socialism.

Indoctrination worked well with our children in the last fifty years. We are witnessing the result of dumbing down of American education and the blatant move toward open socialist and communist indoctrination in schools and universities. If you tell a lie often enough to children and ignorant adults, they will eventually believe it to be the truth.

A book by two Chinese colonels, Qiao Liang and Wang Wiangsui, “Unrestricted Warfare,” published by the People’s Liberation Army, listed several variables of “war by other means:” (The American Legion Magazine, Kevin D. Freeman, April 2012):

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Alabama Legislature Considering Anti-Agenda 21 Legislation

Anyone that resides in Alabama should consider contacting their Representative in Montgomery and urge them to support HB 861. Alabama Legislature Considering Anti-Agenda 21 Legislation.

The Alabama Legislature is finally taking up a measure that will effectively shut down parts of the United Nation’s Agenda 21 program in Alabama. First introduced by Majority Whip Gerald Dial on April 5, 2012, Senate Bill 477 contains strong language in support of property rights and due process for property owners. This bill passed the Senate last week, but the companion bill (HB 861) is still stuck in the Alabama House of Representatives.

In effect this legislation would prevent governmental policies that would violate the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions. Especially the issues surrounding the dissolution of due process of property owners by taking their land for environmental and developmental reasons. The legislation calls out Agenda 21 by name, and restricts all types of contracts with organization that are defined within it.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Alcohol Banned for Visitors on Peanut Island

Palm Beach County Officials announced they are banning visitors from drinking alcohol on the popular weekend hot spot, Peanut Island, The Palm Beach Post reported Monday.

Starting May 18, visitors will not be allowed to drink on the land unless they have a permit to use the county’s campsite, Eric Call, the Parks and Recreation Director told the Post.

But drinking onboard an anchored boat offshore is still allowed. “We want people to enjoy themselves on boats,” Call told the Post. “As long as they are acting responsibly, that’s fine.”

Call also said water taxis operators will not transport visitors to the island if they have alcohol with them. The reason for the ban? Call said that department has received a lot of complaints from police and the residents about the “inappropriate behavior of those engaged in alcohol consumption,” the Post reported. This was the last straw for officials after multiple offenses have occurred here.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

ANWR: It’s Been 10 Years, We Could Have Been Reaping Rewards Now

Well, it’s ten years, folks, and because the Democrats continually defeat new efforts to drill or explore for oil on American soil we are once again out of luck for exploiting our own sources of energy. Thanks to Obama and his party we stay dependent on foreign sources of energy.

The Illinois Review reminds us that gas was about $1.37 per gallon in 2002 when the ANWR drilling bill went before Congress but now that gas is edging toward $5 per gallon, it is certain that we sure could be using that ANWR oil today, right?

Once again, the left harms America in favor of its fealty to the religion of environmentalism.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Bishop Says Obama on Hitlerian Path

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky: Taking aim at Obama, Hollywood and the media.

“Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

“In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, President Obama—with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda, now seems intent on following a similar path.”


This is a story that just won’t go away. And it has the potential to alert the public, Catholic and non-Catholic, to the grave constitutional crisis we find ourselves in.

The notion of Obama as an “extreme secularist,” if not a dictator wannabe, is widely shared within the Catholic Church. A Priest recently told me that the Catholic Bishops, who usually divide into liberal and conservative factions, are united against Obama in this controversy.

He said Obama is viewed as someone who believes in freedom of worship, not freedom of religion, an important distinction that Jenky was alluding to. In other words, Obama believes Christians should be free to worship within the confines of their church, but that when they exercise their freedom of religion in public life, they must conform to the secular dictates of the federal government. In this context, however, the ability to exercise freedom of religion, as the Constitution means it, becomes essentially meaningless.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

From Hackers to Slackers

How a federal law can be used to prosecute almost anyone who uses a computer

by Jacob Sullum

If you are reading this column online at work, you may be committing a federal crime. Or so says the Justice Department, which reads the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) broadly enough to encompass personal use of company computers as well as violations of fine-print website rules that people routinely ignore.

Last week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit rightly rejected this view of the CFAA, which Chief Judge Alex Kozinski noted could make a criminal out of “everyone who uses a computer in violation of computer use restrictions—which may well include everyone who uses a computer.” Unfortunately, other appeals courts have been more receptive to the Justice Department’s interpretation, which gives U.S. attorneys the power to prosecute just about anyone who offends or annoys them.

Congress passed the original version of the CFAA in 1984, when the Internet was in its infancy and the World Wide Web did not exist, to protect government computer systems and financial databases from hackers. As a result of amendments and technological developments, George Washington University law professor Orin Kerr explains in a 2010 Minnesota Law Review article, “the law that began as narrow and specific has become breathtakingly broad,” potentially regulating “every use of every computer in the United States.”

The 9th Circuit case involved David Nosal, who left the executive search firm Korn/Ferry International in 2004 and allegedly enlisted two former colleagues to feed him proprietary client information with an eye toward starting a competing business. In addition to conspiracy, mail fraud, and trade secret theft, Nosal was charged with violating the CFAA, which criminalizes unauthorized computer access in various circumstances.

Although Nosal’s confederates were authorized to use Korn/Ferry’s database, federal prosecutors argued that improperly sharing information with him retroactively rendered their access unauthorized. As Judge Kozinski noted, “the government’s construction of the statute would expand its scope far beyond computer hacking to criminalize any unauthorized use of information obtained from a computer.”…

           — Hat tip: DS[Return to headlines]

Levon Helm: Drummer and Singer for the Band, Dies at 71

Levon Helm, who helped forge a deep-rooted American music as the drummer and singer for the Band, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 71 and lived in Woodstock, N.Y.

His death was announced by a spokeswoman for Vanguard Records, for which he had recorded several albums. He had been suffering from cancer for several years.

[Return to headlines]

Liberty is Null and Void

Unless we rebuild the reality of a balanced federal system we will soon find ourselves locked in the embrace of an all-powerful central government.


Today this debate over the relationship between the central government and the States has resurfaced. As an administration moves aggressively to transform America beyond any semblance of a federal structure into a centrally planned and totally controlled socially engineered society citizens from sea to shining sea are searching for ways to return to the limited government won by the Revolution and supposedly safe-guarded by the Constitution.

One of the most revolutionary proposals is a direct descendant of the Doctrine of Nullification. The Repeal Amendment is supported by citizens and their representatives in every State and in the Federal Congress. This proposed amendment states, “Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed.” As of today, no State has passed the Amendment, and it has not gained enough support in Congress to advance past the proposal stage.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

NASA’s Space Shuttle Museum Flights: Complete Coverage

The final chapter is about to close on NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program.

The space agency’s three remaining orbiters — Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis — each made their last flights in 2011, and are now being prepped for retired life in museums. Discovery has been gifted to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Stephen F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., while Endeavour is bound for the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Atlantis is due to stay close to home at the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. Additionally, the prototype orbiter Enterprise, which never flew to space, is set to move from its current home at the Smithsonian to New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.

UPDATE for 5 p.m. EDT Thursday, April 19

Space shuttle Discovery is officially property of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va., today, marking the end of its storied career as NASA’s most traveled space plane. Discovery arrived at Dulles International Airport near the Smithsonian annex, which is just outside Washington, D.C., on Tuesday and was removed from its carrier plane on Wednesday. NASA signed the space shuttle over to the Smithsonian during an emotional ceremony today.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Negroes With Guns

Liberals have leapt on the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida to push for the repeal of “stand your ground” laws and to demand tighter gun control. (MSNBC’S Karen Finney blamed “the same people who stymied gun regulation at every point.”)

This would be like demanding more funding for the General Services Administration after seeing how its employees blew taxpayer money on a party weekend in Las Vegas.

We don’t know the facts yet, but let’s assume the conclusion MSNBC is leaping to is accurate: George Zimmerman stalked a small black child and murdered him in cold blood, just because he was black.

If that were true, every black person in America should get a gun and join the National Rifle Association, America’s oldest and most august civil rights organization.

Apparently this has occurred to no one because our excellent public education system ensures that no American under the age of 60 has the slightest notion of this country’s history.

Gun control laws were originally promulgated by Democrats to keep guns out of the hands of blacks. This allowed the Democratic policy of slavery to proceed with fewer bumps and, after the Civil War, allowed the Democratic Ku Klux Klan to menace and murder black Americans with little resistance.

(Contrary to what illiterates believe, the KKK was an outgrowth of the Democratic Party, with overlapping membership rolls. The Klan was to the Democrats what the American Civil Liberties Union is today: Not every Democrat is an ACLU’er, but every ACLU’er is a Democrat. Same with the Klan.)

In 1640, the very first gun control law ever enacted on these shores was passed in Virginia. It provided that blacks — even freemen — could not own guns.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tea Party vs. Netroots Nation — Game on?

International Socialists and their Washington D.C. politicians have successfully divided the once United States into competing factions, both ready for all-out war in 2012.

As the Tea Party still struggles to find an identity, unity and direction, the international left steam rolls ahead, forcing the United States towards an economic abyss via policies that promise to enslave every citizen for generations to come. It no longer requires any imagination to see the Cloward-Piven Strategy in full bloom.

In a recent missive from DSA USA, (The Democratic Socialists of America) which operates through both the Progressive and Black Caucus’s in congress and the Obama White House, the marching orders are clear…

“Netroots Nation is an important gathering of the American progressive movement. It started in 2006 as a meeting of liberal bloggers organized by Daily Kos, but it has evolved into something much more. It is place where bloggers, labor activists, environmental and community groups, and progressive office holders can come together to discuss issues, develop strategies, and learn new organizing tools—both social media and conventional.” — DSA Memo

Democratic Socialists now in control of nearly every aspect of government, media and academia in America, keep their friends close and watch their enemies closely…

“Remember the December Pew survey showing that more and more Americans have a positive view of socialism. And that absent a strong socialist voice in the progressive movement and American politics, even the most moderate reforms to rein in corporate power will be red-baited off the map. (Not to mention that the Right continues to call even mildly progressive politicians socialist as a scare tactic.)” — DSA Memo

The subject Pew Poll provides some frightening statistics concerning America’s new attitude towards socialism. The left-wing Huffington Post sums it up by simply stating — “socialism has more fans than opponents among the 18-29 crowd. Forty-nine percent of people in that age bracket say they have a positive view of socialism; only 43 percent say they have a negative view.”

The dots are easily connected today, unlike the movement that operated in the shadows during the McCarthy era, when being a communist or socialist could get you black-listed in almost any industry, including Hollywood.“Young people — the collegiate and post-college crowd, who have served as the most visible face of the Occupy Wall Street movement — might be getting more comfortable with socialism.” — Huff Po

Contrary to the totally divided and grossly un-funded Tea Party operation, the leftist Netroots Nation is very united and very well-funded. Netroots is an international operation complete with wealthy financiers and big corporate sponsors like:

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

‘The Office’ Star’s Anne Frank ‘Jokes’ Appal TV Viewers

Viewers have threatened to boycott shows by Ricky Gervais, after he joked that Anne Frank’s family went into hiding from the Nazis because they did not want to pay rent. The comedian has been harshly criticised in the UK and across the Atlantic for using Anne Frank as “comedic fodder” on The Daily Show in the US. Host Jon Stewart, who is Jewish, looked visibly uncomfortable when Mr Gervais joked how the Nazis must have been “stupid” not to have found the 15-year-old diarist and her family sooner. Speaking about his TV show, An Idiot Abroad, with Karl Pilkington, Mr Gervais said Mr Pilkington had genuinely believed the family had been trying to avoid paying for their apartment. The Frank family were discovered, after two years in hiding, in August 1944. Anne, her mother and sister died in the concentration camps. Mr Stewart told Mr Gervais: “She didn’t live in a Nazi’s house… they didn’t come in every day,” before advising him to “read the book”. Mr Gervais has previously included jokes about Anne Frank in his stand-up routines, such as: “She had time to write a novel; mind you, it ends a bit abruptly. No sequel. Lazy.” Gillian Walnes, director of the Anne Frank Trust, said the jokes could be dangerous if viewers were not informed about the Frank story.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Guardian Gives a Platform to a ‘Self-Confessed Terrorist’; Using CIF to Defend the Killing of US Troops

Even one of the more sympathetic jurors who laments Mehanna’s long prison sentence acknowledges that he was a radical obsessed with violence, jihad and on the killing of U.S. troops. Perhaps Caputi’s defense of Mehanna would be less robust if it had been he that was targeted — or perhaps in such an extreme case, it would have driven him even further.

But ‘free speech’ is always the elephant in the room in cases like this. What is to stop The Guardian, Ross Caputi or even Tarek Mehanna from speaking their minds on such issues — even if it leaves the bitterest of tastes in our mouths?

The legal implications are complex, but in Britain, Caputi’s statements of support for Mehanna, including we assume from his words, his trip to Yemen and interest in fighting in ‘the resistance’ in Iraq is not just endorsement of terrorism but also proliferation, glorification and tantamount to incitement. His piece supports the killing of American soldiers abroad and could indeed be criminal under USC 2339A — ‘providing material support to terrorists’ and in Britain ‘inciting murder for terrorist purposes overseas’.

In Mehanna’s case under U.S. law, a 1969 Supreme Court case which the ‘Brandenburg test’ is derived from sets a precedent. For criminality of speech to be inferred, you have to be able to show that it would lead to ‘imminent lawless action’. Mehanna’s defence argued that he did not do this, but rather he was prosecuted for conspiring to kill American soliders and supporting Al-Qaeda — far more heinous crimes.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Urban Outfitters Selling T-Shirt That Features Holocaust Imagery

Marketing Nazi propaganda to impressionable youth doesn’t appear to be an isolated incident for Urban Outfitters.

In what can be considered yet another sign of the times that liberal ideology is elevating anti-Semitism back to mainstream acceptability once again, the international retailer Urban Outfitters is selling an item of clothing that can best be described as “Auschwitz chic”. It is a yellow t-shirt featuring a blue patchwork Star of David on the left breast pocket that harkens back to 1930s and 40s Europe where Jews were forced by the Nazis to wear a yellow badge in public until they were rounded up and sent off to the concentration camps.

While the reference might be lost on some Americans, the vintage yellow color of the shirt and homemade looking Star of David would serve as an unmistakable allusion to the Holocaust for most Europeans, where the practice of making the Jews visually distinguish themselves in public dates back over a millennia. For hundreds of years Jews have been made to wear yellow and sometimes blue, as was the case in Poland in 1939, badges in order to mark them as outsiders. Considering the long history of the practice in Europe, there is little doubt that the Danish brand Wood Wood, which produced the t-shirt for Urban Outfitters, could be ignorant of the anti-Semitic connotations that their design clearly conveys.


A few weeks ago it was revealed that they also carry the Obey Clothing brand which specializes in communist inspired themes and Christian bashing as evidenced by their upside down cross shirt. While Urban Outfitters doesn’t have a problem carrying merchandise that insult and defame Judaism and Christianity, curiously a review of their website revealed no such products that do the same for Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Electricy Sector Merger a Liberal Red Herring

The Ontario PC party would scrap the OPA altogether. It was formed seven years ago as a 15-person ‘transitional’ body created by Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal government to manage Ontario’s energy supply. Today it’s a 235-person permanent entity where 87 people earn over $100,000 and the CEO earns over $570,000.

In just seven years, it has burned through over $375 million in expenditures, and its expenses have risen from $14 million in 2005 to $76.4 million today.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

48% of Brits Want to Get Out of the UK

Shock Sun survey shows almost half are ready to emigrate overseas

ALMOST half of all Britons are “seriously considering” moving overseas, an exclusive survey for The Sun has found.

Australia is top of the relocation wish list followed by the US, Canada and New Zealand.

The cost of living, weather, unemployment and crime are the most common reasons for wanting to quit Britain.

Pollsters YouGov quizzed 1,650 adults after The Sun told last week about Dave and Jackie Jones who emigrated to Australia with their 12 kids.

The family from Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria — who have never claimed benefits — quit in despair at what they see as soft-touch Britain’s emphasis on state handouts instead of opportunities.

Dave, 42, said: “I have to do the best for my kids and I feel the opportunities I want for them will not be in the UK.”…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Antitrust Rules Against Alitalia Rome-Milan Monopoly

High-speed rail line ‘not competition’ says ruling

(ANSA) — Rome, April 18 — Italy’s antitrust authority has ruled that Italy’s flagship carrier Alitalia must give up an unspecified number of slots on its monopoly Rome-Milan route by October 28.

Alitalia said it would appeal the ruling that said the airlines “must open itself up to effective competition” during peak transit hours before 8am and after 6pm.

The ruling overturns an ad hoc legislative decree that amended the suspended antitrust laws in 2008, allowing Alitalia an attempt to salvage its leading position in the Italian market and repay a government bridge loan of 300 million euros to the then almost insolvent carrier.

Probes carried out by the antitrust authorities that led to the ruling said that there is “a lack of proper competition between rail and air transport” and that Alitalia, along with its unit AirOne, was running a monopoly.

Alitalia Chief Executive Andrea Ragnetti said he was “surprised” by the ruling.

The airline said that it lost 2 million passengers and 50% of its earnings in the space of three years as a result of high-speed rail companies like the Frecciarossa, effectively confirming the competitive threat.

Citizens’ rights organisation Cittadinanzattiva said that the ruling shook the “absolute dominance of Alitalia on one of the most popular Italian routes” and was a step forward in protecting citizens’ right to choose.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Blamed for Bee Collapse, Monsanto Buys Leading Bee Research Firm

Monsanto, the massive biotechnology company being blamed for contributing to the dwindling bee population, has bought up one of the leading bee collapse research organizations. Recently banned from Poland with one of the primary reasons being that the company’s genetically modified corn may be devastating the dying bee population, it is evident that Monsanto is under serious fire for their role in the downfall of the vital insects. It is therefore quite apparent why Monsanto bought one of the largest bee research firms on the planet.

It can be found in public company reports hosted on mainstream media that Monsanto scooped up the Beeologics firm back in September 2011. During this time the correlation between Monsanto’s GM crops and the bee decline was not explored in the mainstream, and in fact it was hardly touched upon until Polish officials addressed the serious concern amid the monumental ban. Owning a major organization that focuses heavily on the bee collapse and is recognized by the USDA for their mission statement of “restoring bee health and protecting the future of insect pollination” could be very advantageous for Monsanto.

In fact, Beelogics’ company information states that the primary goal of the firm is to study the very collapse disorder that is thought to be a result — at least in part — of Monsanto’s own creations.


It appears that when Monsanto cannot answer for their environmental devastation, they buy up a company that may potentially be their ‘experts’ in denying any such link between their crops and the bee decline.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Blood Libel Not Bad Enough for UK Court

by John Ware

A libel barrister once gave me some very good advice. I was producing a TV documentary about a senior member of the IRA who’d sanctioned a series of bombings and shootings. He was also an elected politician and I wanted to call him all the names under the sun. The barrister wisely counselled caution. Peering over his rimless spectacles, and drawing heavily on a Turkish cigarette, he mused: “Look. Why don’t you just report the facts?” So, what are the facts in the imbroglio over Raed Salah, the most prominent Arab leader living in Israel today? The most significant one is that the Home Secretary lost on all counts in her attempt to persuade the Upper Immigration Tribunal that Sheikh Salah’s presence in the UK was not conducive to the public good. Her case that he’s a rabble rousing antisemitic preacher was “not a fair portrayal” of his views or words as a whole” and that there was no evidence that his presence had caused “any difficulty of any sort”.

Salah’s presence, maybe. But the attempt to remove him did create a very nasty situation in north London. Extremists stormed into a mosque visited by MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer and called him a “Jewish homosexual pig” because he supported the ban on Salah. He had to retreat to a locked room for his safety. As if anticipating such events, the previous day, the lower immigration tribunal had found Salah’s “words and actions” did indeed have a tendency to be “inflammatory, divisive, insulting, and likely to foment tension and radicalism”. Their colleagues in the Upper Tribunal have now completely overturned this.

Hailed by his supporters as the “Ghandi of Palestine”, Raed Salah’s main purpose in visiting Britain was to promote the view that Israeli governments have been stealthily conspiring to destroy Islam’s third most holy site, the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and replace it with a third Jewish Temple. The slogan ‘Al-Aqsa is in danger’ was made up by Hitler’s wartime ally Hajj Amin al-Husseini,to instigate anti-Jewish riots and to raise funds. Nonetheless, if Salah’s allegation is true today, or even contains a wisp of truth, the right to freely express it would quite properly trump any concerns about how angry it might make British Muslims.

So I want to pose a simple question: does it seem even remotely likely that an Israeli government would plot such a sacrilegious act knowing it would inflame not only its 1.7million Arab citizens, the 2billion Muslims beyond its borders, and alienate almost the entire globe? However far-fetched Salah’s imagination might seem, several MPs and members of the Lords were keen to give him and his supporters a platform in Parliament. Ismail Patel, who heads the Leicester-based Friends of Al Aqsa, said the Home Secretary’s decision to try to deport Salah because he was an inflammatory antisemite was based on “nothing more than hearsay”. Other Islamist organisations, several MPs and Baroness Tonge suggested likewise. For the Labour MP, Jeremy Corbyn, Salah was a potential “partner for peace”; for a former associate foreign editor of the Guardian, the Home Secretary was being “absurd” in banning a “much respected” leader; the Guardian itself brushed aside the allegations against him of antisemitism and incitement, publishing instead several apologias; the New Statesman said he had been “the target of a vicious and concerted smear campaign by the pro-Israel lobby in the UK.”

So who is the real, so-called “Ghandi of Palestine”? The Israeli Police say that, in a sermon in 2007 outside the Al Aqsa mosque, Salah invoked the infamous “blood libel” that Jews used the blood from the ritualised murder of gentile children to bake bread at Passover. Salah’s hosts — the Middle East Monitoring Organisation (MEMO) — initially quoted Salah as having denied making these comments or that he had been charged with racism and incitement. When it was pointed out to MEMO that Salah had in fact been charged, MEMO said he was never convicted “due to lack of evidence.” Also untrue: the evidence has yet to be tested in an Israeli court. In court in the UK, Salah denied that his reference to “blood” being used in “holy bread” was a reference to the blood libel against Jews. “I have never invoked the blood libel” he protested and “would not do so.” The judges in the Upper Tribunal found that he had and that his 10-paragraph explanation as to what he actually meant, with his obscure references to the Spanish Inquisition and the conflict in Bosnia, was “all wholly unpersuasive.”

And yet, to these judges, this mattered not too much. They concluded that, with the exception of the blood libel, overall, Salah’s language — albeit “intemperate” — was in fact directed at the Israeli state “rather than Jews as such.” They based this on the fact that, in his sermon, Salah had offered Jewish synagogues protection when, as he evidently believes, Israel succumbs to a Caliphate. The judges came to a similar view over a poem that he had written in 2002 in which he spoke of “oppressors” who “decayed our land” and were “germs and monkeys”.Salah’s behaviour could not be defined as unacceptable, the judges concluded. Really? I don’t know how much the judges know about the Middle East but even the dogs in the street know that it is not uncommon for Muslim hate preachers to refer to Jews as a kind of bacillus and to regurgitate Qu’uranic references to Jews as monkeys. The judges did find Salah’s speech had promoted the idea of “violent protest” because he had called for an “intifada” and referred to the virtue of “bloodshed” and martyrdom as “the most beautiful moments of our destiny.” But because Salah had yet to come to trial in Israel, even though he had been charged, the judges held that the Home Secretary should not have taken the Israeli indictments into account. Again, I pose a simple question: if, as the judges accept, Salah said these truly dreadful things, can it be right that the safety of British Jews and the state of communal tension generally should be contingent upon the tardiness of an overseas judiciary?

Reading the judgment, one gets the impression that the judges consider that Jews are just a bit too touchy about criticism. Otherwise, why dignify the suggestion from Salah’s side that the CST (which provided accurate material to government lawyers) “may be oversensitive in its detection of antisemitism (in the sense of anti-Jewish rather than generally antisemitic attitudes).” I struggle to see the distinction, just as I imagine a Palestinian might struggle to see a distinction between Islamophobia and “anti Muslim attitudes.” But references to Jews as child killers, blood baking monsters, germs and monkeys — whether or not “germs” and “monkeys” relates to the Israel state or its citizens? This comes across as the language of deep, visceral, racist, loathing.

So for me, this cases raises not only some awkward questions about the insouciance of the Tribunal but also about the way the Government’s legal team prepared and presented the evidence. The judges asserted that the evidence was “not a fair portrayal” of Salah. The blood libel, and invocation to martyrdom was “not a sample (of the evidence before them), or ‘the tip of the iceberg’: it is simply all the evidence that there is.” In fact, the evidence before them was only the evidence that was tested in court. I understand the Treasury Solicitors had several examples of other alleged Jewish libels by Salah but, for whatever reason, chose not to put them before the court. For example, in October 2001, an article published in Salah’s name by the journal of his Islamic Movement, promotes another grotesque antisemitic libel, with its clear implication of Jews being behind 9/11: that “4,000 Jews… 4,000 Jewish clerks” were warned to avoid the Twin Towers that day. “On the other hand”, Salah is reported to have said, “this warning did not reach the 2,000 Muslims who worked in the World Trade Centre…”

And then, just last year, after the death of Osama bin Laden, Salah’s Islamic Movement described the Al Qaeda leader as “the sheikh, the martyr, bin Laden” and said the US special forces that killed him were “mercenaries who have sold their consciences to cursed Satan.” The Treasury Solicitors also chose not to use evidence from the Israeli Commission of Inquiry into the Arab riots of October 2000, which found that Salah was “responsible… for the transmission of repeated messages encouraging the use of violence and the threat of violence as a means to achieve the goals of Israel’s Arab sector.” In those riots, 12 Arab Israelis were killed, and one elderly Jewish man was stoned to death after an Israeli Arab mob went on the rampage using firebombs, gunfire, rocks, and slingshots against both Israeli citizens and police. At a “Peace” rally two weeks earlier organised by Salah’s Islamic Movement on his forever theme “Al Aqsa is in Danger”, Salah is reported to have told the crowd: “the Islamic world has exclusive rights to all the holy sites in Jerusalem and Israel has none.” The crowd is said to have responded: “In spirit and blood, we shall redeem Al Aqsa.”

None of this was put before the judges even though the Home Secretary was advised that the evidence against Salah was “very finely balanced.” Whether that applied to all of the evidence available to the lawyers, or just the few pieces they chose to test, I cannot say. Legal issues aside, one might reasonably have expected the Guardian — of all newspapers — so often in the vanguard of exposing racism, at least to have remarked upon Salah’s wild Jewish conspiracy theories and his movement’s praise for bin Laden. But it did not. Neither did the Independent, nor the New Statesman. Indeed, the latter expressed jubilation. The Independent is now a marginal newspaper, the once great New Statesman even more so. But the Guardian? It could not even bring itself to report the first immigration tribunal’s verdict that Salah had a tendency to be an “inflammatory, divisive” and “insulting” preacher “likely to foment tension and radicalism”.

The “Ghandi of Palestine” is now back in his home town of Umm al-Fahm Uhmm, just inside Israel where he has been the thrice elected Mayor. He spent 10 months here fighting to clear his name and, when victory came, it was followed by an explosion of righteous fury by his supporters. Before departing from London Salah was the guest of honour at a party for 350 at a West London location. According to his hosts, the “most poignant words” came, not from any of the many speakers queuing up to pay their respects, but when the Supreme Guide to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood telephoned to congratulate him personally. As most JC readers will know, the Brotherhood is the parent organisation of Hamas, to which the government lawyers said Salah’s Islamic movement in Israel is linked.

Mohammed Sawalha of the British Muslim Initiative, said the Home Secretary should resign “or be sacked by the Prime Minister.” Several others referred to what they clearly regard as the malign and disproportionate power of what they call the “Israel lobby. Jeremy Corbyn, supported by Salah’s lawyer, Tayyab Ali, has demanded an inquiry under the Public Inquires Act of 2005. With the greatest respect to Messrs Corbyn and Ali, this 2005 Act is intended for disasters of considerably greater significance than the banning of a single preacher whose views have yet to capture the imagination of the wider British public. To put it mildly. Still, it is a fact that many of those supporting the Home Secretary were indeed “Pro-Israel” to the extent that they would like to see a national homeland for one of the world’s smallest populations whose people have been persecuted throughout much of their history. It’s also a fact that those who habitually assign the “Pro-Israel” prefix to others, do so from what they consider to be a superior moral position. But whether one is “Pro-Israel” or “Pro-Palestinian”, why any British citizen, let alone MPs or liberal national newspapers, should have objected so passionately, and with such primeval fury to the Home Secretary putting the evidence against Salah to the test, is beyond my understanding. And that’s a “Pro British” view, by the way.

John Ware is a broadcaster

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Britain’s Duty to the Palestinian People

by Raed Salah

I came to the UK to talk about the plight of the Palestinians but ended up fighting deportation. This is what I wanted to say

In June 2011 I came to Britain to begin a speaking tour to draw attention to the plight of my people, the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The tour was meant to last 10 days. Instead I had to stay for 10 months in order to resist an attempt by the home secretary, Theresa May, to deport me — itself the result of a smear campaign against me and what I represent. I fought not just for my own sake, but for all who are smeared because they support the Palestinian cause.Since 1990 I have visited the UK several times to speak publicly. On this occasion I was arrested, imprisoned, and told I was to be deported to Israel because my presence in the UK was “not conducive to the public good”. A judge later ruled that I had been illegally detained, but bail conditions continued to severely restrict my freedom, making it impossible for me to speak as I had intended. After a 10-month legal battle, I have now been cleared on “all grounds” by a senior immigration tribunal judge, who ruled that May’s decision to deport me was “entirely unnecessary” and that she had been “misled”. The evidence she relied on (which included a poem of mine which had been doctored to make it appear anti-Jewish) was not, he concluded, a fair portrayal of my views. In reality, I reject any and every form of racism, including antisemitism. I have no doubt that, despite this, Israel’s cheerleaders in Britain will continue to smear my character. This is the price every Palestinian leader and campaigner is forced to pay.

My people — the Palestinians — are the longstanding victims of Israeli racism. Victims of racism, anywhere, should never condone or support the maltreatment of another people, as Israel does. The suffering of the Palestinian citizens of Israel has been ignored for decades. But there is today a growing awareness of it, which partially explains this smear campaign against me. In December 2011, EU ambassadors in Israel raised serious concerns about Israeli discrimination, noting that “not only has the situation of the Palestinian Arab minority in Israel not improved, but it has further deteriorated”. There are around 1.5 million Arabs in Israel. We make up 17% of the population, but we face a barrage of racist policies and discriminatory laws. We receive less than 5% of funds allocated by the government for development. Public spending on children in Arab municipalities is one-third lower than that of children in Jewish municipalities. The average hourly wage of Arab workers is about 70% of that of Jewish workers. Any Jew, from any country, is allowed under Israel’s law of return to migrate to Israel; Palestinian refugees are not allowed to exercise their right of return. While a Jew can live anywhere in Israel, a Palestinian citizen cannot. Jews can marry whoever they wish and live with them in Israel, Palestinian citizens cannot.

In the criminal justice system, a 2011 study commissioned by Israel’s courts administration and Israel bar association revealed that almost half of Arabs receive custodial sentences for certain crimes, compared to a third of Jews. While 63.5% of Arabs convicted of violent crimes were sentenced to prison, only 43.7% of similar Jewish offenders were.

Education is only one of several areas in which Palestinian citizens face discrimination in Israel. The Israeli government allocates less money per head for Arab children’s education than it does for that of Jewish children. One devastating consequence is that the drop-out rate from schools is three times higher among Arabs than among Jews. Nowhere is the injustice more striking than in the Negev. Living in poverty in “unrecognised” villages, the Arab Bedouin are ineligible for basic services such as water, electricity, and healthcare. The Negev village of al-Araqib has been demolished 35 times by the Israeli government; on every occasion it was rebuilt by its inhabitants.

Despite the Israeli policy of “transfer” — another term for ethnic cleansing — the Palestinians will not go away. The Israeli state can occupy our lands, demolish our homes, drill tunnels under the old city of Jerusalem — but we will not disappear. Instead, we now aspire to a directly elected leadership for Palestinians in Israel; one that would truly represent our interests. We seek only the legal rights guaranteed to us by international conventions and laws. The Palestinian issue can only be resolved if Israel and its supporters in Britain abandon the dogmas of supremacy and truly adhere to the universal values of justice and fairness. Britain has a special responsibility in this, because it is uniquely responsible for our suffering: our national tragedy began with the Balfour Declaration. While Britain enforced the first part of the declaration, which promised Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish people, but ignored the part that states: “It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.” If there is any lesson to be learned from this sordid affair, it is that there is nothing to gain from putting false words into my mouth, or casting me out of the mainstream of public discourse.

• In the thread below, there has been some discussion about statements that Raed Salah allegedly made. The Comment editor Becky Gardiner has commented, setting out the judgement here and here. Raed Salah has also replied here.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Even More Oil Found Off Norway

Wintershall, the largest internationally active German crude oil and natural gas producer, has struck oil at one of its licenses in a mature area of the North Sea. The discovery from a wildcat well at the Skarfjell prospect may be worth more than NOK 100 billion.

A 30-year-old Norwegian geophysicist is getting much of the credit for the latest in a series of new oil discoveries off Norway. Kari Langvik Østhus was given responsibility five years ago to survey the license Wintershall held on the site in the northeastern portion of the North Sea, which is off the west coast between Bergen and Florø.

“There’s always a team behind these projects,” Østhus told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN). “But for me, it’s also very exciting that this was my first license, my ‘darling,’ in a way. I was of course really glad when I heard there was an oil discovery.”

So were the top executives at Wintershall, which has been investing heavily in Norway’s oil and gas industry. Wintershall is Germany’s largest producer of oil and gas and logged historically high operating profits last year.

“The Skarfjell discovery is another important milestone for Winterhall and adds further growth potential to our portfolio on the Norwegian Continental Shelf,” said Martin Bachmann, a member of Wintershall’s board of executive directors responsible for exploration and production. “We’re confident of the quality of our projects, both in exploration and development, and continue to pursue ambitious targets for the northern North Sea.”

Wintershall has a portfolio of more than 40 licenses off Norway with operating rights on more than 20. The company aims to raise its daily production on both the Norwegian and British continental shelf by more than 10-fold by 2015.

Svein Ilebekk, managing director of license partner Agora, said Østhus was responsible for seismic interpretation, among other things, and is among the youngest in the organization of license partners. “I sent her a message of congratulations,” he told DN.

Wintershall Norge is known for having a solid staff of women, who make up nearly half of its employees in an industry dominated by men. DN reported recently that the company’s roughly 150 employees in Norway come from 17 different countries. Several have come from large companies, attracted by the opportunity to work for a smaller operation that’s building itself up in Norway.

Norway’s oil and gas industry continues to boom, with major new discoveries and expansion of new oil fields. Government officials last week approved development, for example, of the so-called Edvard Grieg field, valued at an estimated NOK 1,900 billion. Oil & Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe called the move “the start of a new chapter in Norwegian oil history. These are enormous values.”

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

French-German Relations: What a Hollande Victory Would Mean for Merkel

German Chancellor Merkel has made it clear that she would like to see French President Nicolas Sarkozy win a second term. Indeed, if his challenger François Hollande emerges victorious in the country’s upcoming election, she could face isolation in Europe. But a Sarkozy re-election might be problematic, too.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

French Muslims Mobilizing to Unseat Sarkozy

PARIS — France’s Muslim community is mobilizing voters to reject President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s election to punish the conservative leader for his anti-immigrant/anti-Islam rhetoric.

“[French] Muslims can’t stand it anymore. They are fed up with these debates about national identity, Halal meat, the veil or fundamentalism all over the place,” said Francoise Lorcerie, a sociologist with the Institute of Studies on the Arab and Muslim World near Marseille..

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Germany: Minister Slams Salafism at Islam Conference

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich condemned domestic violence, forced marriage and the fundamentalist Muslim branch the Salafists at the latest Islam conference on Thursday. Speaking at the opening of the conference in Berlin, Friedrich said, “We won’t allow the Salafists to set our agenda with their propaganda,” but he added that an “important signal” needed to be sent.

The Salafists, one of the strictest branches of Islam, caused a media controversy last weekend by handing out free copies of the Koran in several German cities.

This year’s Islam conference is to concentrate on the position of Muslim women in German society, but a number of politicians, including Lower Saxony state Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann, had called for a “clear signal” to address the Salafist Koran giveaway.

Friedrich also said that the conference’s declaration against domestic violence and forced marriage was the first time that Muslims of various backgrounds had “agreed on a text that unambiguously condemned such practices.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Northern League to Sell Party’s Ex-Treasurer’s Diamonds

(AGI) Rome — The diamonds handed back by former Northern League treasurer Belsito “will be sold”. Piedmont governor Roberto Cota, of the Northern League, said so speaking at the talk show Ballaro’, adding that “the proceeds will be given to the party’s constituencies”. According to Cota, “the Northern League is the injured party. Belsito is the only one being probed and he has been expelled. Bossi is not under investigation and he stepped down”.

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

Italy: Berlusconi Probed for Inducing Sex-Party Witness to Lie

Ex-premier’s lawyer hopeful case will be dropped soon

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Former Premier Silvio Berlusconi is under investigation in the southern city of Bari over accusations he induced a witness to lie about his alleged sex parties, judicial sources said on Thursday.

Berlusconi is suspected of bribing Bari businessman Giampaolo Tarantini to lie to magistrates about the role the latter allegedly played in supplying prostitutes to parties at the media magnate’s homes.

The ex-premier has been under investigation since October but the news only emerged in media reports on Thursday and was confirmed by judicial sources, who said prosecutors were notifying Berlusconi that the probe has been extended.

Berlusconi’s lawyer Niccolo’ Ghedini told Thursday’s Corriere della Sera that the ex premier had not been informed he was being probed, but added that he was expected to be put under investigation for procedural reasons.

“At this point we can only hope that the case is dropped as soon as possible,” added Ghedini, who is also an MP for Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PdL) party.

The case is related to an ongoing trial concerning allegations Berlusconi paid to have sex with an underage prostitute, Karima ‘Ruby’ El Mahroug, at his Arcore villa outside Milan and abused his power to try to cover the affair up.

Valter Lavitola, a Berlusconi associate who returned to Italy on Monday after living for over six month in South America as a fugitive of Italian justice, is also being probed for allegedly getting Tarantini to lie to magistrates.

Prosecutors suspect Tarantini denied that Berlusconi knew the women he took to the parties were paid during a 2009 interrogation because Berlusconi had given him money via Lavitola.

The Prosecutors had initially hypothesized that hundreds of thousands of euros had been extorted by Tarantini to not reveal the details of sex parties Berlusconi allegedly held in 2008 and 2009.

But subsequent investigations led them to suspect Berlusconi bribed Tarantini to lie.

Tarantini is suspected of providing at least 30 women for the former prime minister in a bid to exchange sex for public contracts.

Lavitola, the former editor of daily newspaper L’Avanti!, accompanied Berlusconi on some foreign trips during his time as premier even though he had no official government position.

Upon ending his exile this week Lavitola was told that he is also being investigated for alleged corruption with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli and his government regarding contracts for the construction of prisons in the central American country.

Lavitola was told he is also being probed for criminal association related to the use of public funds for the media along with several other people, including Sergio De Gregorio, a Senator with Berlusconi’s People of Freedom Party.

In addition to the Ruby case, the former premier is also on trial in two other cases.

One concerns accusations of fraud at his media empire while the other regards alleged involvement in the publication of an illegally obtained wiretap in his brother Paolo’s conservative newspaper Il Giornale.

He could also face another trial after Rome prosecutors requested that he be indicted along with 11 other people for alleged fraud at a subsidiary of his Mediaset broadcasting empire -Mediatrade.

In the ongoing and several other previous trials, Berlusconi has always denied wrongdoing, claiming he is the victim of a minority group of allegedly leftwing prosecutors and judges who he says are persecuting him for political reasons.

In more than a dozen cases, the premier has never received a definitive conviction, sometimes because of law changes passed by his governments, while some other charges were timed out by the statute of limitations.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Merkel Ally Says Islam Not Part of Germany

(Reuters) — A leading conservative politician said on Thursday that Islam did not belong in Germany, fuelling tension at a conference on integrating Muslims that also debated a controversial Salafist campaign to hand out copies of the Koran across the country. “Islam is not part of our tradition and identity in Germany and so does not belong in Germany,” Volker Kauder, head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives in parliament, told the Passauer Neue Presse.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norway: Breivik Planned to Behead Ex-Prime Minister

The gunman behind Norway’s massacres told court on Thursday he had planned an even bigger killing spree, with three car bombs, the beheading of an ex-prime minister, and more shootings on Utøya island and at targets across Oslo.

Anders Behring Breivik told an Oslo court he meant “to kill everyone” in his Utøya massacre, not just 69.

“The goal was to kill everybody,” the 33-year-old right-wing extremist told the court, adding he had first planned to capture former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and behead her on camera, before posting the video online.

Breivik also said he had once spent a year playing video games, including role-playing online game “World of Warcraft”, and a shooting game to prepare for what he believed would be a suicide mission.

The far-right extremist also testified he had named his murder weapons after terms from Norse mythology, calling his rifle “Gungnir” after Odin’s magical spear and his Glock pistol “Mjølner” after Thor’s hammer.

Breivik is on trial for the July 22nd twin attacks, when he killed eight people with a van-bomb targeting buildings housing the offices of Labour Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who was not present at the time.

He then travelled to Utøya island where, dressed as a police officer, for more than one hour he methodically shot at hundreds of people at a Labour Party youth summer camp, taking 69 lives, mostly teenagers.

On Thursday, the fourth day of his trial, the 33-year-old said that originally “the plan was three car bombs followed by a shooting”, describing the initial plan as a “very large operation.”

He said he had considered placing a bomb near Labour Party headquarters.

For the third location, he considered parliament, Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper and City Hall, before deciding on the royal palace, although he insisted he had planned to warn the royal family so they would not be hurt.

He said that, had he survived all three bombings, he would have used a motorcycle to drive first to a far-left squatter community, then to the Dagsavisen daily and finally to the headquarters of the Socialist Left Party, “executing as many people as possible” in each place.

“The plan was to not surrender before the whole plan had been carried out,” he told the court. “It was a suicide mission where the probability of survival was equal to zero.”

Breivik also answered questions from the prosecution about the year 2006, when he isolated himself to spend an average of 16 hours a day to play video games after returning to live with his mother at the age of 27.

“Some people dream about sailing around the world, some dream of playing golf. I dreamt of playing World of Warcraft,” he told the court.

He insisted the game was a very social, not very violent strategy game, which was “pure entertainment (and) has nothing to do with July 22.”

Instead, he said, it was a “hobby” and he decided to play it for a full year so as not to regret leaving a dream unfulfilled after his attacks.

“I felt it was right to do this to prepare myself mentally to sacrifice my life,” he told the court.

Breivik also mentioned another game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare”, which he said he had used as actual training for the shooting spree.

“It is a war simulator. It gives you an impression of how target systems work,” he explained, adding he used it to practice “shooting other people”.

Calm and more cooperative than Wednesday — when he refused to answer questions about a network of far-right militants he claims to be part of called the Knights Templar — Breivik smiled several times while discussing target shooting techniques.

When confronted about his smiles by prosecutor Svein Holden, he acknowledged the survivors and victims’ families watching were probably reacting “in a natural way, with horror and disgust”.

At the start of the day, the defendant refrained from making his habitual far-right salute — touching his chest and extending his clenched right fist in front of him — after objections from survivors and families.

Breivik, charged with “acts of terror”, entered a plea of not guilty at the start of his trial, saying his actions were “cruel but necessary”.

The gunman has told the court he wants to be executed or acquitted, deriding Norway’s maximum 21-year prison sentence as “pathetic”.

Breivik will only get prison if the court deems him sane — something he is fighting for so as not to delegitimize his Islamophobic and anti-multicultural ideology.

While the sentence then would be the maximum 21 years, it could be extended indefinitely if he was still considered a threat to society.

If found insane he could be sentenced to closed psychiatric care, possibly for life.

Meanwhile, Oslo police said they had deported a German woman expressing support for Breivik, amid reports she claimed to be the gunman’s lover.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Salafists Worry German Islam Conference

After the acrimony and uproar last year, Germany’s annual Islam conference this time around was more harmonious, but mistrust between the government and Muslims remains.

For German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich this year’s Islam conference was very constructive. During a break in meetings, he told journalists in Berlin that there was broad agreement among the conference participants. For example, Friedrich said, there was a consensus that forced marriage and domestic violence “did not come from religion, but from the patriarchal structures and traditions in the countries of origin.” Equality between the sexes was a key topic at this year’s conference. “No tolerance” was the watchword against domestic violence and forced marriage demanded by the participants in a joint position paper. “It is the first time that so many Muslim organizations and individuals were able to agree on such a declaration,” Friedrich emphasized.

No joint press conference

Nevertheless, the relationship between Friedrich and Muslims remains tense, after he said a year ago upon taking office that Islam, historically, did not belong to Germany. He faced some sharp criticism for those remarks from Muslims at last year’s press conference after the meeting. He was making a reference to former German President Christian Wulff who had urged more tolerance toward Muslims and who said that “Islam belonged to Germany.” This year, there was no joint press conference “for purely organizational reasons,” said Friedrich.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The UK’s Leading Publisher [The Guardian] Of Jew-Haters

So, you’re a poisonous antisemite who admits to peddling dangerous blood libels against Jews. You have something on your mind. Where would you go to get it published? Who would you give a column? The Guardian, of course. Who else? Well, to be fair, maybe the New Statesman would be worth a try. This is what the Court had to say about Salah’s antisemitic incitement:

The appellant is clearly aware of the blood libel against Jews. If his intention had been to draw an analogy between events of the Spanish Inquisition and actions of the Israeli state he could have said so in clearer terms that did not require over ten paragraphs of explanation for his true meaning to be made clear. If he had meant to refer to Christians using the blood of others to make bread, which he seems to consider less offensive than referring to Jews doing so, then he could have inserted the word “Christian” into the text of his the sermon as he does in paragraph 175 of his explanation. Allusion to historical examples of children being killed in religious conflict does not require reference to their blood being used to make “holy bread”. The truth of the matter is that the conjunction of the concepts of ‘children’s blood’ and ‘holy bread’ is bound to be seen as a reference to the blood libel unless it is immediately and comprehensively explained to be something else altogether.


Here’s an article the Guardian didn’t publish. And would never publish.

John Ware on Raed Salah

Why wouldn’t the Guardian publish a piece like this? Simple. It is a promoter of vicious Jew-hatred.

Update: The comments thread, which was hijacked by a couple of nasty and unenlightening commenters, has been closed, and those commenters have been banned.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

‘Tortured’ US Muslim Seeks Asylum in Sweden

A US citizen who claims he was imprisoned and tortured at the behest the American FBI is seeking political asylum in Sweden. Yonas Fikre, a 33-year-old American Muslim, is currently in Sweden awaiting word on his application for political asylum after having been imprisoned in the United Arab Emirates where he claims he was tortured for 106 days at the request of American government agents.

“He told me to lie down on the floor and he started beating the soles of my feet,” he said in a video clip published on the YouTube channel of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an advocacy group for American Muslims which has supported Fikre throughout his ordeal.

“This guy looked at me and said, ‘Look, your government doesn’t care about you. You’re in our hands now. You do what we tell you to do and you’ll get out of here as soon as possible. Otherwise you’re going to sit here for years and years to come and your government will never, ever find you.’“

Fikre’s problems first started back in 2009 while he was visiting Sudan and stem from his association with a mosque in Portland, Oregon in the western United States.

While he was in Sudan, Fikre, a naturalized US citizen from Eritrea who converted to Islam in 2003, was “harassed” by FBI agents from Portland looking for information about Portland’s Masjid as-Sabr mosque.

According to Fikre’s Swedish lawyer Hans Bredberg, the agents thought Fikre could help them learn more about the mosque, where Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali American charged with plotting the “Christmas tree bomb” attempt in 2010, had once worshiped.

“He refused to cooperate so they started harassing him,” Bredberg told The Local. “I think these agents were sort of working on their own initiative, that it wasn’t officially sanctioned, but the FBI isn’t saying anything.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Breaking: Lord Sugar Comes Out Against Ken Livingstone

by Andrew Gilligan

One of Labour’s biggest donors and supporters, Lord Alan Sugar, has today tweeted: “I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. I seriously suggest NO-ONE votes for Livingstone in the Mayoral elections.” And: “Livingstone must NOT get in on 3rd May.” Lord Sugar donated a total of £69,424 to Labour or to Mr Miliband’s office in 2011, including £12,576 as rcently as December. He is of course a prominent member of the Jewish community and was believed to have been extremely angry at Ken’s behaviour towards Jews.

Ken’s campaign is in crisis now.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Don’t Ban Alcohol — We’ll Get the Blame, Say Muslim Students

Muslim students at a university considering banning alcohol from parts of its campus have hit out at the plan — fearing they will be blamed for the move. Students at London Metropolitan University said banning alcohol in the name of Muslims will cause tension on campus, divide the community, and could be exploited by far-Right groups such as the English Defence League. Malcolm Gillies, Vice Chancellor of London Met, has said he might stop alcohol being served in parts of the university because some religious students view it as “immoral”. But Syed Rumman, vice president of the Student Union, warned that any ban would be “catastrophic”. Mr Rumman, who is a Muslim, said: “I do not drink, but it doesn’t mean that I will deprive another student from having alcohol.” He added: “It is unethical, catastrophic and it will isolate Muslims further in society. This will go against the ethos of London Met where students are so diverse but also socialise together. Students who do drink will resent Muslims. It will divide the student body. We must not allow this to become a religious issue. Muslim students never asked for this ban.” The debate began after a decision was made to close The Hub, a student bar on the university’s Aldgate campus.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Five Arrested Over ‘Race Hate’ Internet Posts

Five suspected far-right extremists were arrested by counter-terror detectives today after race-hate material was posted online. They are being held after raids by the North-East Counter Terrorism Unit in North Tyneside, County Durham, Merseyside, Barnsley and London. A spokeswoman for the unit said: “All five men have been arrested on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act, publishing or distributing written material which may stir up racial hatred.” The arrests are being linked with a splinter group of the English Defence League known as the North West Infidels. A 43-year-old from North Tyneside, a 46-year-old from County Durham, an 18-year-old from Birkenhead, Merseyside, a 21-year-old from Barnsley and a 56-year-old from Holloway, north London, are being held.

A spokeswoman said: “They have been taken to local police stations for interviewing. “Searches have now begun at the addresses, together with searches at an address in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, and Leeds, West Yorkshire On a North West Infidels Facebook page, a message posted at lunchtime said: “Heads up if you have posted any thing you might get in trouble for delete it now … while you still can … and don’t post anything considered racist folks you are responsible for your own actions.” Elsewhere on the page, there was a lengthy message explaining “Who are the Infidels of Britain?”. It said the group was an alliance of “right wing nationalists, patriotic and loyalist groups from different parts of the UK”.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Galloway and Livingstone: Twins in So Many Ways

by Nick Cohen

Step outside party politics and the differences between the two disappear like the morning mist

On the face of it, Ken Livingstone and George Galloway could not be further apart. Livingstone is the Labour candidate in the contest to be mayor of London. The party’s leaders defend him against every critic, and indulge his every excess. George Galloway hates Labour, and Labour hates him. He accuses it of being a nest of warmongers and capitalist lackeys. Labour replies that he is a dictators’ stooge, and adds that he is the worst possible politician to represent the urban poor because the record of the last parliament showed he preferred mewing like a cat on a reality TV show to turning up for work in the House of Commons. Step outside party politics, however, and the differences between the two disappear like the morning mist. For its contemptible willingness to exploit the suffering of others for the purposes of self-aggrandisement, no politician can beat Galloway’s claim that his by-election victory was the “Bradford spring” — West Yorkshire’s imitation of the uprisings against tyranny in the Arab world.


Labour’s grubby leaders bite their tongues because they hope Livingstone will help restore their fortunes by flirting with the language of sectarian strife. Some of us have been warning for a while that they and the rest of the left cannot have it both ways. They cannot condemn evangelical leaders in America and orthodox Jewish leaders in Israel for keeping their followers in a state of religious paranoia, while staying silent about the manipulation of the faithful in Britain; they cannot condemn conservatives’ sexism, racism and homophobia while excusing or encouraging sexism, racism and homophobia for their own ends. After its defeat in Bradford, Labour will be tempted to follow Livingston’e lead and outflank Galloway on the religious right. It is for this reason that it is important that Londoners reject Livingstone, not just for London’s sake or Britain’s sake but for the sake of the Labour party.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Sugar: Nobody Should Vote for Ken Livingstone as Mayor

A high-profile Labour peer has publicly stated that voters should not back Ken Livingstone to be mayor of London. Lord Sugar, the Apprentice boss and millionaire entrepreneur, wrote on Twitter: “I don’t care if Ed Miliband is backing Livingstone. “I seriously suggest NO ONE votes for Livingstone in the Mayoral elections.” In another message to his 1,848,793 followers on the social networking site, the former market trader wrote: “Livingstone must not get in” on May 3. Lord Sugar, who was made Baron Sugar of Clapton in July 2010, served as a government enterprise “tsar” under Gordon Brown. Adding further criticism, the Jewish businessman reposted a message from Conservative pundit Guido Fawkes that said: “Ken has claimed that he has no idea how much his wife earns. He is the director of the company that pays her.” However Lord Sugar did not offer himself up as an alternative. “It’s been suggested I run for mayor,” he wrote. “Not possible, too many commercial conflicts, no time, more to the point I would not know where to start.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Visit Mosque in Community Initiative

Keighley Neighbourhood Policing Team will have a mobile exhibition van outside a mosque tomorrow as part of a venture to build better relations with communities across the town.

The unit, plus various police vehicles, including an off-road bike, will be at the Markazi Jamia Mosque, in Emily Street, between noon and 4pm. Residents are invited to call in to speak to officers, who will visit the mosque itself to encourage people to raise issues. In addition, the team will be fitting anti-tamper screws to car number plates in the neighbourhood.

The initiative is the latest of several staged by the police to develop community relationships. Others have included a mentoring scheme with the national Mosaic charity project and Keighley schools, in which officers worked with young Asian girls and mums to raise their aspirations. The scheme was the first of its kind in Britain to break down barriers for young Muslim women and was backed by the Prince of Wales. Acting Inspector Craig Marshall, of Keighley NPT, said: “We are always working to make ourselves as accessible as possible and hope visiting the mosque and taking the exhibition van to Emily Street will encourage residents there to pop in and see us.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: William Hague: Britain Will Have a Global Diplomatic Network and the Best Diplomatic Service in the World

Last week the Foreign Affairs Select Committee published a report on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It praised the Department’s “impressive performance” representing the UK’s interests across the globe on a relatively small budget while arguing that the Foreign Office is underfunded. I welcome the report and the implication that the Foreign Office would make good use of a larger budget. But this is simply not possible at a time when our country is facing huge economic pressures. The Foreign Office has to shoulder its share of the burden of reducing the deficit. In any event it is not the size of the Foreign Office budget that matters, but what we do with it. Its budget will always be small compared to the expenditure needed to maintain our Armed Forces or the NHS. The real value of the Foreign Office lies in the power of the ideas it develops and the unique connections it forges overseas.

The Foreign Office I inherited in May 2010 was in a weakened position. Years of being sidelined by Labour Prime Ministers had taken their toll on its influence in Whitehall, as had endless ministerial changes. More than 30 British High Commissions, Embassies or posts had been shut in the space of ten years. The Foreign Office language school had been closed so that language skills declined. In an astonishing blunder, Labour Ministers stripped the Foreign Office of its protection against exchange rate movements — even though more than half its budget is spent in foreign currencies — leading to a raft of unplanned cuts to Embassies and to travel and training for diplomats. These bad decisions — which we highlighted in Opposition — diminished the Foreign Office and weakened British influence in the world. We promised to reverse them and to inject the long-term strategic vision for British diplomacy that had been missing for a decade.

My personal objective as Foreign Secretary is to strengthen the Foreign Office and to improve our country’s capacity to pursue effective foreign policy in the decades to come. We must do this while at the same time making the right decisions on Afghanistan and Iran, and using the best of our diplomacy to help stem the appalling bloodshed in Syria.

Britain is an outward-looking nation, highly integrated into the world economy and with a leading role in global affairs. Our country’s economy — and our international influence — both depend in part upon a strong Foreign and Commonwealth Office and effective British diplomacy. Like building a strong economy, maintaining a strong foreign policy requires a vision for the future, not just dealing with immediate crises.

Looking twenty years ahead, we can see that our country needs good economic and political ties with the new and emerging powers of the 21st century alongside our traditional alliances. We will need to be just as effective in Beijing, Brasilia, Pretoria, Delhi and Jakarta and other flourishing centres of influence as we are in Brussels and Washington. Fast-forwarding to the future, we must plug Britain into the world’s vibrant networks such as the G20, Commonwealth and ASEAN, seeking new partners as well as new opportunities. Britain’s engagement with the world needs constantly to break new ground, not to shrink in reach or ambition. A confident and capable Foreign Office with a global presence as well as highly skilled diplomats is critical to our national interest. This is our government’s vision and it is the path that the Foreign Office is now firmly on.

Today the Foreign Office is building the networks, alliances, and connections that our country needs to thrive long into the future. We have opened or are opening up to eight new Embassies and six Consulates and sending more diplomatic staff to over 20 countries, particularly in Asia. We are funding this by closing some small Consulates in Europe and making other savings. We have begun the biggest drive ever seen to reinforce the traditional diplomatic skills and institutional strength of the Foreign Office. We are re-opening an FCO language school. We will soon have 40% more Chinese language speakers in our Posts in China than in 2010, and the same increase in Arabic speakers across our network.

The foundation stone for this was restoring financial stability to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. This we did, securing a tough but fair flat-cash settlement in the current spending round and introducing a new protection against exchange rate movements so that the Foreign Office could once again plan sensibly for the future.

The results are there to see. We are reinvigorating neglected diplomatic ties from the Middle East to Latin America. Our increased emphasis on the Gulf meant that we were able to work with countries in the region when we intervened in Libya — a big change from the recent past. Our increased focus on using diplomacy to support jobs in our economy, led by the Prime Minister, is producing strong results. British exports of goods were up by £50bn last year, including significant increases to China, to Brazil, to Russia, to India and to South Africa.

So even with a constrained budget, today we are expanding British diplomacy in vital parts of the world while not moving Britain away from our indispensable alliance with the United States and deep partnership with the European Union. Our aim is that in twenty years time Britain will work highly effectively with new partners alongside our traditional allies on the shared problems of our time from piracy to cyber security to climate change. We will have increased Britain’s trade relations, supporting future generations of Britons. We will have a global diplomatic network and the best diplomatic service in the world. And we will continue to play a central role in averting conflict, addressing crises and advancing our values of human rights and democracy. This is British diplomacy on the advance, and it is the right course for our country.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Will Respect Thwart Labour Gaining Control of Bradford Council?

Labour currently run Bradford City Council as a minority administration. Last year a third of seats were up for election and they made five gains. This year another third are up for election. Gaining overall control in Bradford should be among Labour’s most modest objectives. They have 44 councillors out of a total of 90. The Conservatives have 28. But the victory of Respect’s George Galloway in the Bradford West byelection puts this in doubt. The Party are contesting a dozen wards. Most are safe Labour wards although one is Conservative held and a couple are held by the Lib Dems. Socialist Worker reports that some of the Respect candidates are former labour Party members. Labour gains from the Conservatives and Lib Dems might offset by losses to Respect. Some might welcome this difficulty for the Labour Party. I do not. Respect are a divisive and extremist party offering an equivalent brand of poison to the BNP. They are not democrats but are out to destroy our way of life. Conservative councillors are putting forward some strong positive messages about their approach — including proposing to save £438,000 currently spent employing 15 union officials at Council Taxpayers expense. But what is needed is for the mainstream parties to ensure that the people of Bradford are aware of the true nature of the Respect Party — an unpleasant alliance of Communists and Islamic fundamentalists. Faced with that sort of threat negative campaigning is a duty. Nick Cohen offers plenty of material.

[Reader comment by Faceless Bureaucrat on 19 April 2012.]

STOP PRESS!: Bradford spends past 20 years growing its Muslim population — now they unsportingly vote for pro-Muslim politicians!

Who could possibly have forseen that happening?…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Victoria Cross Awarded to Scots Skipper Who Fought ‘David and Goliath’ WWI Battle to be Auctioned

A VICTORIA Cross awarded to a Scots fishing boat skipper for taking on a cruiser five times bigger than his ship in WW1 is to go under the hammer.

The medal awarded to Joseph Watt is expected to sell for up to £160,000.

His medals and a gold pocket watch are up for sale at Spink in Bloomsbury, London, tomorrow.

Captain Watt, from Gardenstown, Banffshire, was awarded the VC in 1917 for his part in one of the great David versus Goliath battles of the war.

He became a national hero on May 15, 1917, when he engaged the Austro-Hungarian cruiser Novaro in his 87ft fishing boat Gowanlea.

The cruiser was 428ft long — five times bigger than the Gowanlea.

The attack happened in the Strait of Otranto between Italy and Albania after the Novara ordered Watt to back down.

But he instead urged his men to fight, telling them: “Three cheers lads and let’s fight to the finish.”

The Gowanlea then made straight for the cruiser and opened fire with her six-inch gun. The Novaro returned fire, with one shell detonating a box of ammunition, wounding Watt.

Two further shells landed on the boat before the Gowanlea limped away under her own steam after stopping to help remove the dead and wounded from their sister ship, the Floandi.

For his gallantry, Watt was awarded the VC, the Croix de Guerre and the Al Valore Militare.

The citation for the VC said Joseph was given the medal “for most conspicuous gallantry when the Allied Drifter Line in the straits of Otranto was attacked by Austrian light cruisers on the morning of May 15, 1917”.

Joseph returned to Scotland after the war but he never spoke about his wartime exploits. He died of cancer, aged 67, in February 1955.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Tunisia: Blasphemous Film Trial, Tensions Before Courthouse

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, APRIL 19 — Tensions were high this morning before the courthouse in Tunis where a hearing is being held for the director of Nessma TV, Kabil Kaorui accused of having aired the film Persepolis last October during the electoral campaign for the constituent assembly. The film in question is considered to be blasphemous.

Websites in the capital report of an ongoing dispute in front of the courthouse between the supporters of freedom of expression (backing Karoui) and those who are there instead to protest against the violation of the symbols of Islam.

The trial follows the accusation signed by 140 Tunisian lawyers for “attacking holy values and traditions”, presented after the transmittion of the animated feature film Persepolis by the Iranian director Marjane Satrapi in which Allah is depicted with human features, something which is strictly forbidden by the laws of Islam.

After the film (translated into Tunisian dialect) finished being aired, protests sprang all over the country and Kaorui’s home in Tunis was literally put under siege by dozens of Salafis who also set it on fire. Luckily his family escaped the attack unharmed.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Israel at a Halt to Mark Holocaust

The wail of air raid sirens has sounded across Israel as the country came to a standstill in tribute to six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust.

For two minutes this morning, pedestrians stopped in their tracks and motorists stood next to their vehicles, heads bowed. In homes and businesses, people suspended their daily tasks to pay homage.

The day is one of the most solemn on Israel’s calendar. Restaurants and places of entertainment shut down, and radio and TV programming focuses on Holocaust documentaries and interviews with survivors.

At the opening state ceremony yesterday, Israel’s leaders — president Shimon Peres and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu — linked the Nazi genocide to Iran’s suspected drive to acquire nuclear arms and urged the world to stop it. Iran denies such intentions.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Middle East

UAE: Dispute Over Islands; GCC to Support UAE, Says Official

Oil-rich monarchies meeting today on policies towards Iran

(ANSAmed) — DUBAI, APRIL 17 — The outcome of today’s meeting in Doha between the seven oil-rich monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) can easily be foreseen: support will be given to the United Arab Emirates in the dispute with Iran over the occupation of the three islands on the Strait of Hormuz.

“There is no doubt that the bloc will support the UAE, since the islands belong to it,” said the deputy secretary general for political affairs of the GCC, Sa’ad Al-Ammar, to the UAE daily Gulf News, describing the visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Abu Musa (the largest of the three islands) as “irresponsible and provocative”. Already on Sunday the six countries of the GCC — Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman — had jointly condemned the act, calling it a violation of the UAE’s sovereignty “not in keeping with good neighbourly relations withy Iran”. Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunb are the three rocky islands measuring just 24 square kilometres but rich in energy resources and strategically positioned at the mouth of the Strait of Hormuz, through which about 40% of the world’s crude oil transits and which in the past Ahmadinejad had threatened to close were international sanctions against him to grow harsher. In 1971, just a few days before the official constitution of the United Arab Emirates, British troops withdrew from the three islands and Iran immediately occupied them. Since then, the UAE has tried in vain to resolve the dispute in a friendly manner.

A number of analysts also predict that today’s meeting will see the GCC draw up a coordinated policy line to be taken as concerns Iran.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Italian Base in Afghanistan Attacked, No Soldiers Hurt

Insurgents repelled by ‘immediate’ response

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — An Italian base in western Afghanistan came under attack from insurgents late on Wednesday but no military personnel were hurt in the incident.

The attack was repelled by the “immediate” response of Italian and Afghan soldiers, the command of the Italian contingent that is taking part in the NATO-led ISAF mission said on Thursday

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Jail May Await Afghan Women Fleeing Abuse, Rape — HRW

KABUL, March 28 (Reuters) — For Afghan women, the act of fleeing domestic abuse, forced prostitution or even being stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver by an abusive husband, may land them in jail while their abusers walk free, Human Rights Watch said.

Running away is considered a “moral crime” for women in Afghanistan while some rape victims are also imprisoned, because sex outside marriage — even when the woman is forced — is considered adultery, another “moral crime”.

“From the first time I came to this world my destiny was destroyed,” 17-year-old Amina, who has spent months in jail after being forced into prostitution, told researchers from Human Rights Watch in a report published on Wednesday.

Despite progress in women’s rights and freedom since the fall of the Taliban a decade ago, women throughout the country are at risk of abduction, rape, forced marriage and being traded as commodities.

It can be hard for women to escape violence at home because of huge social pressure and legal risks to stay in marriages.

“The treatment of women and girls accused of ‘moral crimes’ is a black eye on the face of the post-Taliban Afghan government and its international backers, all of whom promised that respect for women’s rights would distinguish the new government from the Taliban,” the New York-based group said.

“This situation has been further undermined by President (Hamid) Karzai’s frequently changing position on women’s rights. Unwilling or unable to take a consistent line against conservative forces within the country, he has often made compromises that have negatively impacted women’s rights.”

The influential rights organisation said that there were about 400 women and girls being held in Afghanistan for “moral crimes”, and they rarely found support from authorities in a “dysfunctional criminal justice system”.

The plight of a woman called Nilofar illustrates the problem. She was stabbed repeatedly with a screwdriver in the head, chest, and arms by her husband who accused her of adultery for inviting a man into the house, the rights group said.

But afterwards, she was arrested, he was not.

“The way he beat her wasn’t bad enough to keep him in jail. She wasn’t near death, so he didn’t need to be in prison,” the prosecutor of the case told Human Rights Watch.


The dire treatment of women was the main reason Western countries gave for refusing to recognise the Taliban government as legitimate when it was in power.

As Afghan and Western leaders seek a negotiated end to more than 10 years of war, the future for women is uncertain.

The United States and NATO — who are fighting an unpopular war as they prepare to pull out most combat troops by the end of 2014 — have stressed that any settlement must ensure the constitution, which says the two sexes are equal, is upheld.

A law, passed in August 2009, supports equality for women, including criminalising child and forced marriage, selling and buying women for marriage or for settling disputes, as well as forced self-immolation, among other acts.

But women, especially in rural areas, lack shelters to flee abuse while only one percent of police are female, according to the report based on interviews from October to November with 58 women and girls as well as prosecutors, judges, government officials and civil society.

The ordeal for women does not stop with jail though.

Once leaving prison, women and girls face strong social stigma in the conservative country and may be killed in so-called “honour killings”.

“I just want a divorce. I can’t go back to my father because he will kill me. All my family has left me behind,” 20-year-old Aisha, who was sentenced to three years for fleeing an abusive husband she was forced to marry, told researchers. (Reporting by Jack Kimball; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani and Robert Birsel)

           — Hat tip: TV[Return to headlines]

Leaving Afghanistan: NATO Members Spar Over Post-Withdrawal Financing

NATO has promised it will provide significant financial support to Afghanistan over the next decade. Reaching agreement on who will pay how much is proving difficult, however. Aside from the US, all member states are doing their best to keep their share as small as possible.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Three Hindu Women Forced to Convert Have to go Back to Their Muslim Husbands

Pakistan’s Supreme Court rules against all three. Abducted back in February in Sindh province, they were forced to marry Muslim men. Families complain about pressure from powerful Muslim groups. All three received death threats.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) — Three young Hindu women abducted in February and forced to convert to Islam and marry three Muslim men must return to their husbands, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled. For the justices, the three women freely chose their fate. Their families object that they were placed under huge pressure from Muslim religious groups.

On 26 March, one of the three women, Rinkle Kumari (pictured), told the judges that she wanted to go back to her family. In her statement to the court, she said, “there is justice only for Muslims; there is no justice for Hindus. Kill me here in court, but don’t send me to Darul-Aman (Qur’anic school). All these people are hand in glove, they will kill us”.

The other two women expressed a similar desire to go back to their family.

“This is a great injustice,” said Hindu activist Dilip Kumar. “Three weeks ago, the three women said they wanted to go back to their parents, but the judges chose to send them to prison to put pressure on them.” If they had not returned to their husbands, he believes, Muslims would have killed them.

For Fr Anwar Patras, a priest from the diocese of Rawalpindi, the court bent to the will of Muslim groups who kidnap young Hindu and Christian women to force them to convert and become prostitutes.

“The government must adopt a law against forced conversions,” he said. “It is clear that the young women were put under pressure to convert. The Supreme Court was their last hope and it let them down.”

Rinkel Kumari, a 19-year-old Hindu student was abducted on 24 February in Mirpur Mathelo, a small village in Sindh (southeastern Pakistan), by a thugs hired by a rich Muslim scholar.

The two other women, Lata and Asha, were abducted in Jacobabad and Larkana.

In order to get their daughters back, the parents filed a petition with the Supreme Court to avoid the local Islamic court.

On 26 March, the three women appeared before the court, testifying that they had been forced to convert and that they wanted to go back to their families.

The justices incarcerated them to allow them “to reflect” on their choice without the possibility of meeting their parents.

Each month, 25 to 30 young women are abducted for a total of about 300 forced conversions and marriages a year.

Young Hindu but also Christian women and teenage girls are taken away from their families and handed over to their would-be husbands and torturers.

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

Taliban Post on-Line Request for Donations

(AGI) Kabul — The Taliban have posted a modern on-line an appeal to the Muslim world, requesting donations to finance their Holy War, jihad, against the “infidel invaders”. The message includes various toll-free numbers and email addresses so as to make things easier for “benefactors.” “According to Shari’ a, all Muslims everywhere have the duty to unite in jihad with money and with the spirit” says the request. “The Taliban are still carrying out their legitimate jihad alone and with no support, only the help of ordinary and honest believers of Islam and we urgently need financial aid from Muslim brothers all over the world for military and other expenses.” .

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

Australia — Pacific

I Am Also a Victim, Tyrannical Wife Murderer Zialloh Abrahimzadeh Tells His Son

IN a ranting letter to his son, murderous husband Zialloh Abrahimzadeh condemns those who “put wealth and materialism” before “integrity, principles and dignity”.

Yet Abrahimzadeh did exactly that when he murdered his wife, Zahra, in front of 300 shocked witnesses inside the Adelaide Convention Centre in March 2010.

He was, at the time, obsessed with the belief that she had blocked the sale of their Iranian home and denied him thousands of dollars.

Yesterday, Supreme Court judge John Sulan jailed Abrahimzadeh, 57, for at least 26 years.

He said there was no doubt the March 2010 crime was the deliberate act of an “autocratic” man who repeatedly abused his family.

He said the letter, sent by Abrahimzadeh to his son, Arman, showed his lack of remorse.

“It demonstrates how you are completely self-absorbed and fail to have any regret for the misery you have caused to your family,” Justice Sulan said.

In the letter, released to The Advertiser, Abrahimzadeh tells Arman he “deplores” enemies “who laid the foundation” for the murder.

“I condemn those who put wealth and materialism ahead of integrity, principles and dignity,” he says.

He blames Zahra and her family for driving him “towards insanity” by denying him three quarters of the equity in their former Iranian home. “How much do you think the body and mind of a human being can tolerate?” he says.

“How long can a human being live with fear and anxiety, and with no security?”

Abrahimzadeh fills 11/2 pages with details of the family’s possessions, including televisions, jewels and gold. “I will not allow anybody to take what is rightfully ours,” he says.

“When someone is trying to destroy you in any possible way, you would defend yourself and sometimes this defence results in the destruction of the opposing party.”

He closes the letter by asking Arman “as an Eastern man” to judge him fairly.

“In any case, I am really sorry about what happened,” he says.

“I think I am also a victim of what happened.”

In sentencing, Justice Sulan said Zahra’s decision to divorce Abrahimzadeh also fuelled his murderous mentality.

He rejected Abrahimzadeh’s claim that, at the time of the stabbing, he was hallucinating about his youngest daughter, Anita, being attacked by “dark, ugly men”.

“That was, in my view, fanciful … I am satisfied, beyond reasonable doubt, that your act was premeditated and deliberate,” he said.

“You were motivated by the fact you had lost control of your family, in particular your wife.

“You took action because she continued to disobey your demands that she not proceed with the divorce.

“I accept you were distressed by the family situation … that may go towards explaining your conduct, but it can never excuse it.”

Justice Sulan said he had reduced the non-parole period by 12 months because Abrahimzadeh pleaded guilty in the middle of his trial.

He also took into account incidents when Abrahimzadeh:

SLAPPED his wife and daughters on the face and shoulders.

THREW Zahra into a window.

BROKE a cordless telephone aerial across Atena’s throat.

WHIPPED Atena with a belt for an hour.

SMOTHERED Atena will a pillow.

DEMANDED Atena beg, on her knees, for his forgiveness.

BURNED Atena’s fingers for biting her nails.

VERBALLY abused Arman.

VOWED to kill his entire family by burning their house down while they were inside.

SAID he would rather kill a family member than be dishonoured by them.

           — Hat tip: Russkiy[Return to headlines]

Jeff Kennett Decries Prayer Rooms at Footy

HAVING succeeded in convincing the AFL to introduce prayer rooms at all venues, Bachar Houli was unfazed last night by a stinging backlash sparked by former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett, who called the idea “stupid” and “political correctness gone mad”.

Football fans took to websites to condemn and ridicule the move, but at his home in Melbourne the AFL’s first Muslim player told The Australian: “The main thing is we’ve got what we want, and you can’t change that. “At the end of the day, people want to go and enjoy the footy as well as continue with their beliefs, and if it means they have to pray once a day at the footy, we’re not asking for much.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Outback Opal Community Fights Ban on Alcohol

ASHLEY HALL: Residents of the South Australian outback town of Mintabie are up gearing for a fight against the State Government over new laws aimed at banning alcohol in homes.

It’s part of a new lease agreement, which forces anyone living or moving there to undergo criminal history checks. It also seeks to make it illegal to sell many foods with a high sugar content in local shops. The State Government says it will bring the town, about 100 kilometres south of the Northern Territory border, in line with other communities in surrounding APY (Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara) Aboriginal lands.

Nicola Gage reports.

NICOLA GAGE: While it’s a far stretch from the bustling mining town it was 30 years ago, about 80 people still live and work in Mintabie. It has a State Government-run school, outback pub, and several operating opal miners. But under the new town lease, residents won’t be able to drink an alcoholic beverage outside of that pub.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Without Consent

What happens when young, educated, Australian-born girls are forced into unwanted marriages — often with relatives overseas?

Samia was just seventeen when her father announced he was taking her on a holiday overseas. But this was a holiday with a difference. Back in the family’s village in rural Pakistan, Samia watched in horror as the local Imam walked in ready to conduct her marriage to her first cousin — without her consent. With pressure from her extended family, she was given papers to sign and threatened.

Returning to Australia, Samia sought help from local religious authorities in Sydney — but they ignored her and told her to accept the marriage.

For the first time young women, the victims of forced marriages, are speaking out — without disguise and despite the risks of backlash from their communities. Are these women entitled to the same protection as other Australian girls?…

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

As Sudanese Clashes Escalate, So Do Bellicose Exchanges

LAMU, Kenya — Less than a year after the nation of South Sudan was born out of a delicate peace agreement with Sudan, the two countries have plunged into war, a Sudanese government spokesman said Thursday.

Recent fighting between Sudan and South Sudan has grown from a struggle over the contested, oil-rich region of Heglig to inflame a number of areas along the border and beyond.

This week, Sudanese planes struck “deep into South Sudan,” hitting an important town, according to Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations. A United Nations compound inside South Sudan was also hit by bombs.

For its part, South Sudan has claimed to have shot down Sudanese jets and killed hundreds of Sudanese soldiers in battles over Heglig, which it said it captured from Sudan last week.

The African Union has condemned South Sudan’s seizure of Heglig as illegal, and the United Nations Security Council has demanded an immediate end to the fighting, a withdrawal of the South’s troops from Heglig, an end to Sudanese aerial bombardments and a halt to repeated cross-border violence.

But Rabie A. Atti, a Sudanese government spokesman, said Thursday that his nation was “fed up” with South Sudan’s leaders and would “make them learn a lesson” for seizing Heglig.

The two sides fought one of Africa’s longest civil wars before signing a landmark peace agreement in 2005 that ultimately led to the South’s independence. But Mr. Atti said the two nations were now back at war.

“We are not initiating this war,” Mr. Atti said. “The only way for us to teach them is to drive them and chase them out of Heglig and tell the people of the South to get rid of those people.”

The comments echo recent statements by Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who said that Sudan would “liberate” South Sudan from its governing party, and that the “boundaries of the old Sudan can no longer fit us together,” according to news reports.

The Sudanese government and South Sudan’s army have stepped back from the brink many times before. The two sides have clashed over the disputed area of Abyei and fought each other in Malakal, another oil-producing area.

Mr. Bashir is notorious for his fiery tongue, once saying that under no conditions would the United Nations be allowed into the vast, troubled region of Darfur and that Darfur would become a “graveyard” for foreign peacekeepers. That region is now home to one of the largest peacekeeping missions in the world. And several United Nations officials said they work closely with their Sudanese government colleagues.

The fighting that is now spreading along the north-south border is by far the most serious confrontation in years.

Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, the American special envoy who has been talking with both sides in recent days, said the South’s seizure of Heglig was “a dangerous act that had to be reversed.”

“This was an extremely dangerous step by South Sudan, and it threatened a much wider conflict,” he said in a call with journalists.

Despite the “very emotional, very powerful rhetoric coming out here from Khartoum, raising the stakes in many ways,” he said it was still possible to head off outright war.

Other analysts agreed that a wider war could still be avoided. “Neither side gains from a wider war,” said E. J. Hogendoorn, an analyst for the International Crisis Group, “but both leaders are daring the other to blink first.”

[Return to headlines]


Arizona: Countdown to the Showdown on S.B. 1070

Dan Stein, president of the Federation of American Immigration Reform, , talked about what Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law faces at the Supreme Court level.

“Beginning next week, Americans will be bombarded with coverage of Arizona’s first-in-the nation immigration enforcement law being heard in the Supreme Court,” said Stein. “SB 1070 is the bill which has become the focal point for the showdown between federal and state authority to enforce immigration laws, and the bill other states have replicated. FAIR’s position on SB 1070 is clear: The law is constitutional and effective and due to its efficacy, the Obama Administration has labeled it, and other state laws, a threat to its non-enforcement policy.”

In a Nutshell

“The question for the Court is going to be this: can the federal government stop states from participating in immigration enforcement; is it exclusively the role of the federal government?” said Stein. “A favorable ruling will pave the way for more states to enact bills, thus limiting the scope of the Obama Administration’s non-enforcement policy. An unfavorable ruling will mean continued dismantling of immigration enforcement at the federal level with no available legal means for states to protect themselves.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

EU Irked as Swiss Clamp Down on Immigration

European leaders expressed consternation on Wednesday as Switzerland re-introduced quotas for immigrants from eight Central and Eastern European countries.

The decision was taken by the Swiss government on Wednesday to activate a safeguard clause in its bilateral agreement witrh the EU, which will restrict the number of work permits available to people from Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

“The safeguard clause is not the ultimate solution that will solve the problems alone, but it is one of the instruments at our disposal and that is why we will use it,” Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga said on Wednesday, newspaper Tribune de Genève reported.

The EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, opposed the invocation of the clause, which she said infringed the rights of EU citizens to move freely in Switzerland. “I regret the decision of the Swiss Federal Council”, she said on Wednesday.

The new EU president, Martin Schulz, also criticized Switzerland for violating the spirit as well as the text of the agreement with the EU, and accused Switzerland of discrimination against these eight countries. No citizen from one EU country should be treated any differently than a citizen from another member state, he said. Switzerland has been considering activating the clause, which is contained in its bilateral treaty with the EU, for some time.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: Police Probed for Taping Deportees’ Mouths Aboard Flight

Image posted on filmmaker’s Facebook page

(ANSA) — Rome, April 19 — Rome prosecutors opened an investigation Thursday into the case of two Tunisian men being deported from Italy on an Alitalia flight who had their mouths sealed with duct tape and their hands cuffed with plastic bands.

The story came to light Wednesday when Italian filmmaker Francesco Sperandeo posted on Facebook the photo he took of a plain-clothes policeman standing over a seated man with his mouth taped.

“The indifference of the other passengers” was the worst part, Sperandeo said, adding he was ordered to return to his seat by officers when he requested that the deportees be treated humanely. Sperandeo said he was told that the methods used were “normal”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada Deportation: Appeal Was Made ‘Just in Time’, Says Council of Europe Official

A Council of Europe official says Abu Qatada’s lawyers made his appeal ‘just in time’, adding to concerns that Theresa May misinterpreted the appeal deadline date when she ordered the radical cleric Abu Qatada to be arrested and deported.

Mrs May ordered the rearrest and deportation of the extremist cleric on Tuesday morning, believing a time limit in which his lawyers could appeal against his removal had elapsed. However, Labour released advice from the research department of the Council of Europe — which is responsible for the court — suggesting it may have just beaten the deadline. The note, sent to the House of Commons Library, stresses that the final decision on whether the appeal is admissible now rests with a panel of five judges from the court’s Grand Chamber. “The Othman (Qatada) case was supposed to become final on 17/04/2012 and, according to the information provided by the European Court, the applicant requested a referral to the Grand Chamber on the 17/04,” the note said. “So I would say that it just in time but of course the Court (panel) may decide otherwise.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Abu Qatada Deportation: Theresa May Did Get Date Wrong, Claim Legal Experts

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, did misinterpret the appeal deadline date when she ordered Abu Qatada to be arrested, legal experts claimed today.

Mrs May ordered the rearrest and deportation of the extremist cleric on Tuesday morning, believing a time limit in which his lawyers could appeal against his removal had elapsed.

But yesterday, to the surprise of the Government, officials at the European Court of Human Rights said the deadline was 24 hours later and that it had received an appeal application from Mr Qatada’s legal team with an hour to spare. Now it has emeged that under European guidelines for calculating deadlines in legal disputes the time limit actually ran out at midnight on Tuesday 17 April because it requires deadlines to run to corresponding days of the month. However it is up to the Grand Chamber Panel to decide whether the referral was actually made in time. Writing on his blog barrister and former government lawyer Carl Gardner said: “I think their view of the time-limit is correct. They’re in time, which is all that matters.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: May’s Bid to Deport Qatada Descends Into Farce

The deportation of Abu Qatada descended into farce after a potential blunder by the Home Office allowed his lawyers to lodge a last-minute appeal which could extend his stay in Britain and derail attempts to remove him from the country.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered the rearrest and deportation of the extremist cleric on Tuesday morning, believing a time limit in which his lawyers could appeal against his removal had elapsed. But yesterday, to the surprise of the Government, officials at the European Court of Human Rights said the deadline was 24 hours later and that it had received an appeal application from Mr Qatada’s legal team with an hour to spare. As the situation descended into chaos on the eve of a government-hosted conference in Brighton to reform European human rights laws, the Home Office was accused by Labour of potentially acting illegally by starting the deportation process apparently before the deadline had passed.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, described the situation as a “shambles”, while MPs last night lined up to attack the situation as “chaotic”, “farcical” and “a big mistake” just a day after Mrs May was cheered in the House of Commons as she announced Mr Qatada’s rearrest. As Mrs May was forced to deny repeatedly any mistake by the Home Office, David Cameron last night intervened to declare his intention to have Mr Qatada deported, no matter how long it took. The latest twist in the case means the Government’s nine-year attempt to deport the man once described as Osama bin Laden’s “right-hand man in Europe” will be delayed even further.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May and an ‘Understanding’ On Abu Qatada

by Simon Hoggart

Yvette Copper tries to be merciless with the home secretary, playing the X Factor party card

Unlike omnibuses — you wait for ages then three arrive together — omnishambles just keep coming for this government, one after the other, regularly and frequently. Poor Theresa May was obliged to appear at the Commons on Thursday to explain the latest: the screw-up over dates that allowed lawyers for Abu Qatada to refer his case back to the European court of human rights. Mrs May is pretty tough. Home secretaries are like rodeo riders on bucking broncos — there is little elegant about the performance, but the audience gasps with admiration at anyone who can stay in the saddle at all. And Mrs May has been there for almost two years. But she was distinctly evasive on the matter of dates — had she not checked the deadline before she made her victory statement on Tuesday? Hadn’t scores of people — officials, the BBC, the Home Office cleaning ladies — not warned her that she was jumping in a day early?


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Theresa May Versus Qatada

by Tim Montgomerie

If you wanted to criticise Theresa May over the last few months in her handling of the Qatada case then you might fairly say that she was too submissive to the ECHR and too keen to follow the letter of the law. I think those would have been unfair criticisms — a Home Secretary cannot ignore or even bend the law. A Home Secretary must uphold the law and be seen to do so. I read yesterday’s news that Qatada has been allowed to appeal as proof (if further proof was needed) that the Strasbourg court will bend over backwards to help someone like Qatada — popularly known as Osama bin Laden’s ambassador to Europe. The Home Office is absolutely clear that his window to appeal expired at midnight on Monday. The officials at the Strasbourg court are saying that “within three months” from 17th January equalled Tuesday night. On the Today programme the leeway is apparently explained by the court receiving so much correspondence every day.

David Cameron made it clear that Qatada will be deported: “He is a threat to our security, he has absolutely no further call on our hospitality and he should be deported. That is what we are determined to achieve, no matter how difficult it is, no matter how long it may take.”

The Prime Minister must understand the importance of this issue. For many Eurosceptics the Qatada issue is an issue of sovereignty. Do we rule our own country or do ‘judges’* from foreign lands run Britain? It is also becoming an issue of competence, however. I have huge respect for Theresa May and believe she’s one of the Government’s most effective ministers. The papers aren’t giving her much benefit of the doubt this morning, however, because this episode follows numerous others in which the Coalition’s “grip” and effectiveness has been questioned. The papers are also hostile to the Coalition, in general, and this is another opportunity for them to kick David Cameron. What this latest episode will do is reinforce the increasing view that Britain will have to leave the ECHR. In his column for yesterday’s Evening Standard Matthew d’Ancona wrote that making the British Supreme Court the court of final appeal “is not loopy talk confined to dining groups of angry Right-wing Tories… increasingly — and crucially — this is mainstream Conservative thinking.” If the PM is looking for an issue to reunite the unhappy Conservative family he can’t get too tough towards the ECHR. The Lib Dems will protest but doomed in the opinion polls, let them.

* I use the inverted commas deliberately because many of the ECHR’s countries send politicians rather than legal experts to be their representatives at the court.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Eco-Communism Celebrated Annually on Earth Day

In the run-up to Earth Day on April 22nd—the birthday of Vladimir Lenin, the Soviet Union’s first dictator—Brian Sussman, author of the bestselling “Climategate”, has a new book, “Eco-Tyranny: How the Left’s Green Agenda Will Dismantle America” ($25.95, WND Books). If you read no other book about the relationship between environmentalism and communism this year, you must read this one.

Sussman has brought together all the relevant facts. “Karl Marx founded a philosophy that inspires dictators and demagogues,” writes Sussman. “Commencing with the Russian Revolution in 1917 to the present, Marx’s tyrannical ideology has been responsible for the documented deaths of more than 110 million individuals around the world.”

“Pollution,” writes Sussman, “never has been Earth’s most troubling foe— Marxism had. And Marxists have always seized upon pollution, both real and imagined, as an effective weapon in their unrelenting war on freedom.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Marriage and Family Are Obscene, Says School

What will it take to convince America’s Christian parents to stop sending their children to the public schools?

Earlier this month, a girl at Pilgrim High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, had her artwork censored by “educators.” The student had painted a mural that was deemed objectionable because it depicted a boy growing up, marrying, and having a child. In fact, the “educators” found it so offensive that they ordered it blotted out by painting over it.

The girl’s parents called a local radio talk show to complain, and the fat was in the fire. (Full story, plus photos)

Responding to public outrage, the superintendent of schools overruled the high school censors and allowed the student to paint her mural as she pleased, and the school board chairwoman said “the order to paint over the traditional marriage portion of the artwork should never have happened.”

Had the parents not called the radio show, and had the school district not been dragged onto center stage as an example of political correctness run amok, the censorship order would have stood. Marriage and the family, at Pilgrim High School, would have remained, for all practical purposes, obscene.

The story is not that the censorship was overruled. The story is that public educators think that marriage and the family are obscene. Really—what if kids should have to pass by that mural on their way to a Gay-Straight Alliance meeting? They shouldn’t have to see something like that!

School officials didn’t actually use the word “obscene.” What they did say was, “[S]some of the members of the Pilgrim High School community suggested that the depiction of a young man’s development may not represent the life experiences of many of the students at Pilgrim High School,” and that therefore the assistant principle “asked” the student “to look at other ways to show the outcome of the subject’s progression to adulthood.” Need we ask what “other ways” would have been found acceptable?

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Only the Old Embrace God in Former East Germany

Belief in God varies greatly between different countries, but the percentage of believers in the former East Germany is lower than anywhere else, “anchoring the secular pole” internationally, according to a new report by an American research organization. But even in this unpious region, the rate of believers increases with age.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Ugly Brutishness of Modern Britain

A demotic egalitariansim, allied with multiculturalism, has rendered civility passé.


A few days ago at a crowded bus-stop in the city of Nottingham, a fat youth of about 13 started to throw food at a friend. Some of it nearly hit me and landed on the ground just beyond me, making a mess.

“Excuse me,” I said to the youth, “could you pick that up?”

“Shut the f— up!” he snarled, with real hatred contorting his face.

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, in England, come—obscenities. No one at the bus stop dared say, much less do, anything. For increasingly, the English are a people who know neither inner nor outer restraint. They turn to aggression, if not to violence, the moment they are thwarted, even in trifles. And those who are neither aggressive nor violent are by no means sure that the law will take their side in the event of a fracas. It is better, or easier, for them to pretend not to notice anything, even if it means living in constant fear…

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

UK: Lord Carey: Christians ‘Vilified’ By Courts

Christians are being “vilified” by British courts and “driven underground”, Lord Carey, a former archbishop of Canterbury, has said.

In a written submission to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), he blames judges for treating some worshippers as “bigots”.

He also warns that believers are being sacked for expressing their faith.

The criticism is part of an appeal to Strasbourg judges to protect religious freedom ahead of a landmark case.

Lord Carey — who was archbishop from 1991 to 2002 — has voiced concern that a recent “secular conformity of belief and conduct” has meant that conduct in keeping with the Christian faith is effectively being “banned” in the public setting.

In his submission, he says the “the State and Courts… not parliament” are destroying the legal right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect” by insisting on stringent readings of equality law.

He also argues that if rulings against wearing crosses and expressing Christian faith are not reversed it could lead to believers facing a “religious bar” to employment.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Al-Qaeda Bomb-Making Expert Publishes Magazine

A top al-Qaeda bomb-making expert this week has joined his fellow terrorists in publishing information on the World Wide Web, but this time its an Internet magazine instructing readers on how to build bombs and other deadly devices.

“The webmaster of death” is veteran Islamist and explosives maven Abdullah Dhu al-Bajadin, who is considered al-Qaeda’s most feared weapons creator. In fact, law enforcement officials have told the Law Enforcement Examiner that al-Bajadin can go into any modern kitchen and within minutes create some type of offensive device.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Heavy Elements Key for Planet Formation, Study Suggests

Planets form more commonly in star systems with relatively high concentrations of elements heavier than hydrogen and helium, a new study suggests.

Such heavier elements are necessary to form the dust grains and planetesimals that build planetary cores, according to the study, which was carried out by researchers Jarrett Johnson and Hui Li of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Additionally, evidence suggests that the disks of dust that surround young stars don’t survive as long when the stars have lower concentrations of heavy elements, or lower “metallicities” in astronomers’ jargon. The most likely reason for this shorter lifespan is that light from the star causes clouds of dust to evaporate.

The planet epoch

Our cosmic history has several defining epochs, one of which is the point at which star systems began to form planets. Heavy elements such as carbon, silicon and oxygen first needed to be created from huge star explosions called supernovas and the stellar cores of the first generations of stars before the first planets could form.

“Our calculation is an estimate of the minimum amount of heavy elements that must be present in circumstellar disks before planets can form,” Johnson said. “Because these heavy elements must be produced by the first stars in the universe, the first planets could only form around later generations of stars.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]