Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120512

Financial Crisis
»Cyprus: Communist AKEL Drafts ‘Robin Hood’ Proposal
»Italy: Businessman Commits Suicide Near Molfetta
»Italy: Two Tax Inspectors Attacked Near Milan
»FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Finally Wins
Europe and the EU
»France: Hollande Owns Real Estate Worth Eur 1.17 Mln
»Italian Who Helped WWII Jews Recognised as Martyr
»Put Britain’s Future in Europe to the Vote
»Sardinia: Signatures for the “Referendum for Independence”
»UK: Bloodless Bean-Counters Rule Over Us — Where Are the Leaders?
»UK: Britons Want to Live Near a Pub, Research Finds
»UK: Child Sex Trial: Rochdale Council of Mosques Response
»UK: Clarification Regarding EDL Demonstration
»UK: Child Sex Trial Sparks Heated Question Time Debate
»UK: England’s Forgotten War Between North and South
»UK: Exclusive: Men Arrested as Police Launch New Child Sex Probe in Rochdale
»UK: Former Mayor: ‘Silly Mistake’ During Child Sex Grooming Trial
»UK: Giant Twisting Olympic Park Sculpture Unveiled But Critics Label it ‘Godzilla of Public Art’
»UK: Long Wait for Children in Care
»UK: Muslim Leaders Warn of Far Right Exploitation of Rochdale Child Sex Case
»UK: More Than 100 Homes Evacuated as Bomb Disposal Experts Carry Out Four Controlled Explosions After Two Terror Arrests
»UK: Police Uncover ‘Second Child Sex Ring’ In Rochdale After Woman Says She Was Abused Over Six Years
»UK: The Rochdale Diversity Awards Finalists Have Been Announced
Middle East
»75 Mln Euros Loan From EIB to Turkey
»Egyptian Minister to Non-Aligned: Back Palestine
»‘Powerful’ Explosion Hits Syrian City
»Turkey: Ankara’s Nightmare, Post-Assad Partition of Syria
»US to Resume Military Sales to Protest-Torn Bahrain
»Ukraine: Never-Seen-Before Shots of Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster That Cost Two of the Four Photographers Their Lives
South Asia
»From the DoD: “Most ‘Green on Blue’ Attacks Individually Motivated”
»India Becomes Main Rice Exporter in the World
»Indonesia: Islamic Paramilitary Group Defends Christians, Hindus and Buddhists
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Beer Sales Drop in Nigeria, But Metal Detectors Soar
»Germany: Candidates Vie for Immigrant Vote in Election
»Italy: We Need an EU Urgent Plan Over Illegal Immigration, Terzi

Financial Crisis

Cyprus: Communist AKEL Drafts ‘Robin Hood’ Proposal

(ANSAmed) — NICOSIA, MAY 11 — Ruling Communist party AKEL has drafted a legislative proposal which aims to set a so-called “luxury tax,” a scaled tax on vehicles above 3000 cc. The aim — as Cyprus Mail reports — is to tax the rich to benefit the needy. Exempted are vehicles used for public transport, ambulances, self-propelled caravans, vehicles for the disabled, and those used to transport merchandise. It has also tabled a proposal for a special construction fee for houses and apartments over 300 square metres. The fee would be paid on applying for a building permit. For properties with an area between 301 and 400 square meters, the special fee per square meter over and above the 300 square meters would be 50 euros.

For properties between 401 and 500 square meters, the fee would be 100 euros per square meter over and above the 400 square meters. AKEL proposes that the measure, if passed, be implemented as of July 1. Both proposals are currently being processed by the House Finance Committee.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Businessman Commits Suicide Near Molfetta

‘Financial woes after public agencies failed to pay him’

(ANSA) — Molfetta, May 11 — A businessman committed suicide near the southern Italian town of Molfetta Friday, adding to a rising toll being attributed to Italy’s economic crisis. Giuseppe Rennola, 46, an engineering entrepreneur, hanged himself from a tree.

He had been denied credit from banks after running into financial difficulties when public agencies failed to pay him for work, relatives said.

Austerity measures are beginning to hit hard in recession-hit Italy.

Italians who have killed themselves out of despair from the widespread economic crisis are on the rise, averaging one a day, according to the Eures think tank.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Two Tax Inspectors Attacked Near Milan

Construction entrepreneur ‘lashes out’

(ANSA) — Milan, May 11 — Two Italian tax inspectors were attacked by a construction entrepreneur in an accountants’ office near Milan Friday but were not badly hurt, local sources said.

The sources said the entrepreneur had “lashed out” at the inspectors.

The incident took place in the town of Melegnano. Attacks against the revenue collection service Equitalia have been rising as austerity bites in recession-hit Italy.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds Finally Wins

Sibel Edmonds’ new book, Classified Woman, is like an FBI file on the FBI, only without the incompetence.

The experiences she recounts resemble K.’s trip to the castle, as told by Franz Kafka, only without the pleasantness and humanity.

I’ve read a million reviews of nonfiction books about our government that referred to them as “page-turners” and “gripping dramas,” but I had never read a book that actually fit that description until now.

The F.B.I., the Justice Department, the White House, the Congress, the courts, the media, and the nonprofit industrial complex put Sibel Edmonds through hell. This book is her triumph over it all, and part of her contribution toward fixing the problems she uncovered and lived through.

Edmonds took a job as a translator at the FBI shortly after 9-11. She considered it her duty. Her goal was to prevent any more terrorist attacks. That’s where her thinking was at the time, although it has now changed dramatically. It’s rarely the people who sign up for a paycheck and healthcare who end up resisting or blowing a whistle.

Edmonds found at the FBI translation unit almost entirely two types of people. The first group was corrupt sociopaths, foreign spies, cheats and schemers indifferent to or working against U.S. national security. The second group was fearful bureaucrats unwilling to make waves. The ordinary competent person with good intentions who risks their job to “say something if you see something” is the rarest commodity. Hence the elite category that Edmonds found herself almost alone in: whistleblowers.

Reams of documents and audio files from before 9-11 had never been translated. Many more had never been competently or honestly translated. One afternoon in October 2001, Edmonds was asked to translate verbatim an audio file from July 2001 that had only been translated in summary form. She discovered that it contained a discussion of skyscraper construction, and in a section from September 12th a celebration of a successful mission. There was also discussion of possible future attacks. Edmonds was eager to inform the agents involved, but her supervisor Mike Feghali immediately put a halt to the project.

Two other translators, Behrooz Sarshar and Amin (no last name given), told Edmonds this was typical. They told her about an Iranian informant, a former head of SAVAK, the Iranian “intelligence” agency, who had been hired by the FBI in the early 1990s. He had warned these two interpreters in person in April 2001 of Osama bin Laden planning attacks on U.S. cities with airplanes, and had warned that some of the plotters were already in the United States. Sarshar and Amin had submitted a report marked VERY URGENT to Special Agent in Charge Thomas Frields, to no apparent effect. In the end of June they’d again met with the same informant and interpreted for FBI agents meeting with him. He’d emphatically warned that the attack would come within the next two months and urged them to tell the White House and the CIA. But the FBI agents, when pressed on this, told their interpreters that Frields was obliged to report everything, so the White House and other agencies no doubt already k new.

One has to wonder what U.S. public opinion would make of an Iranian having tried to prevent 9-11.

Next, a French translator named Mariana informed Edmonds that in late June 2001, French intelligence had contacted the FBI with a warning of the upcoming attacks by airplanes. The French even provided names of suspects. The translator had been sent to France, and believed her report had made it to both FBI headquarters and the White House.

Edmonds translated other materials that involved the selling of U.S. nuclear information to foreigners and spotted a connection to a previous case involving the purchase of such information. The FBI, under pressure from the State Department, Edmonds writes, prevented her from notifying the FBI field offices involved. Edmonds has testified in a court deposition, naming as part of a broad criminal conspiracy Representatives Dennis Hastert, Dan Burton, Roy Blunt, Bob Livingston, Stephen Solarz, and Tom Lantos, and the following high-ranking U.S. government officials: Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, and Marc Grossman.

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

France: Hollande Owns Real Estate Worth Eur 1.17 Mln

New President does not own shares and foreign accounts

(ANSAmed) — PARIS, 11 MAY — The new President of the French Republic, Francois Hollande, owns real estate worth EUR 1.17 mln and does not own any security listed on the Stock Exchange, according to his property statement published on the Official Journal. According to the French law, “the newly elected President’s statement about his/her property” is read on the same day of his/her official proclamation. Hollande’s real estate property consists of a house in Mougines, in the country’s South-East, which is worth EUR 800,000 and two flats in Cannes, in Cote d’Azur, worth EUR 230,000 and 140,000 respectively. Hollande’s total property, therefore, is below the threshold for the imposition of the property tax (EUR 1.3 mln).

Hollande has also declared he owns “several chatels” worth EUR 15,000. On the day of the statement, last March 15th, Hollande owned three bank accounts and a life insurance contract totalling EUR 10.000. Moreover, the new President pays EUR 1,500 a month for a bank mortgage. Francois Hollande also stated that he has never owned any securities, financial products and foreign bank accounts. He does not own art collection items, jewels and cars. During his campaign, the Socialist candidate had promised “total” transparency on his properties and his state of health.(

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italian Who Helped WWII Jews Recognised as Martyr

Pope puts Odoardo Focherini on track to sainthood

(ANSA) — Vatican City, May 10 — Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday recognised as a martyr an Italian who helped about 100 Jews escape the Holocaust, who died in a Nazi concentration camp, and was among the first Italians to be recognised by Israel as ‘Righteous Among The Nations’. Odoardo Focherini (1907-1944), from Carpi near Modena, is now on the way to beatification, a step away from sainthood.

An inspector for a Catholic insurance company, in 1936 Focherini became president of the Catholic activist association Azione Cattolica.

In 1939 he was named managing director of L’Avvenire d’Italia, a Catholic newspaper whose head office was in Bologna.

His activity in favour of the Jews started in 1942. The first he saved came from Poland on a train for injured people and arrived in Genoa, where the city’s cardinal directed them to Raimondo Manzini, L’ Avvenire d’Italia’s chairman.

Manzini trusted Focherini and asked him to help them.

His major activity in favour of the persecuted Jews, however, began in September 1943.

With support from his wife, Focherini contacted reliable people who helped him in providing blank identity cards, filling them in with false data and taking the persecuted Jews to the Swiss border.

He and a parish priest near Modena, Father Dante Sala, managed to help about 100 Jews to escape.

Focherini was arrested at Carpi hospital in March 1944, when he was organising the escape of the last Jew he was able to save.

He was taken to a prison in Bologna, then two labour camps in northern Italy, and deported to Germany on September 7, first to the Flossenburg camp and finally to Hersbrueck.

A septic wound on his leg caused his death on December 27, 1944.

Focherini was awarded the Gold Medal of Italy’s Jewish Communities in 1955 and the title of Righteous among the Nations from the Yad Vashem Shoah memorial site in Jerusalem in 1969. He received one of Italy’s top honours, the Gold Medal to Civil Merit, in 2007.

His canonisation process began in 1996.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Put Britain’s Future in Europe to the Vote

Britain’s increasingly fractious relationship with Brussels has become a running sore.

It was a symbolic moment in more ways than one. As the Olympic torch, freshly kindled, entered the ancient stadium to begin its journey to these shores, a strong gust of wind snuffed it out. The actress playing the high priestess was able to relight it, using a back‒up lamp kept close at hand. But the flickering fortunes of Greece’s economy — and the eurozone more generally — will not be so easily restored.

All around, the mood is grim. As capital flees Greece, its politicians struggle to form a government; unsurprisingly, given the voters’ flight to the extremes. In Italy, Germany and France, elections reveal a similar revolt against the established order. Spain has had to prop up one bank, and may have to rescue more. The Continent’s economy is shrinking, with targets for growth — and deficit reduction — receding into the distance. The departure of one or more countries from the eurozone has moved from possibility to probability: Germany appears to believe that the fallout from a Greek exit can be contained, but the Irish and Portuguese have reason to doubt it.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sardinia: Signatures for the “Referendum for Independence”

(AGI) Cagliari — This morning, in order to obtain the calling for a referendum on the independence of Sardinia, the “Malu Entu” movement has presented more than 12,000 signatures to the Court of Appeal of Cagliari. The promoters of the initiative would like to submit the following question to voters by the end of the year: “Do you agree on the basis of the International Law of the United Nations that the people of Sardinia have the the right to freedom, with the independence of Sardinia?” According to the representatives of the Malu Entu, lead by Doddore Meloni, more than 27,000 people have adhered, even emigrated Sardinians living abroad. Today, supposedly 12,999 signatures have been presented. The representatives of the movement for the independence of Sardinia have explained that this is a propitiatory number chosen to tackle bad luck too.

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

UK: Bloodless Bean-Counters Rule Over Us — Where Are the Leaders?

by Charles Moore

The inexorable march of the managerialists is creating resentment and social division.

Recently, a man got in touch with me who works for the defence services contractor QinetiQ. He wanted to complain about the way it was run. The company, in his view, suffers from “managerialism”. Managerialists, he says, are “a group who consider themselves separate from the organisations they join”. They are not interested in the content of the work their organisation performs. They are a caste of people who think they know how to manage. They have studied “The 24-hour MBA”. There is a clear benefit from their management, for them: they arrange their own very high salaries and bonuses. Then they can leave quickly with something that looks good on the CV. The benefit to the company is less clear.

I also spoke to a former senior employee of QinetiQ. He corroborated my informant’s points with gusto. He said managerialists were particularly unsuited to industries such as QinetiQ’s, where scientific knowledge is all. He put it simply: “People who are making bits of technology, or servicing them, should know about technology.” Skills are not infinitely transferable. “You used to be the editor of a broadsheet newspaper,” he said to me. “How do you think a former chief executive of Ford would perform if he suddenly came and edited a national title?” (or, he politely didn’t say, if the reverse were to happen).

The lack of knowledge at the top of a firm obviously creates a practical problem — “You don’t have people to get under the bonnet. They can only kick the tyres and change the oil.” They don’t understand the needs of the core customer. It also, in his view, creates a moral problem. The workers cannot respect their bosses. Management becomes “not symbiotic, but parasitic”.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Britons Want to Live Near a Pub, Research Finds

A third of Britons believe that it is important to have a pub close to their home as it demonstrates that they are part of a community, according to new research.

Mintel, the market research company, found that even infrequent pub-goers agree that it is important to have a good pub near where they live. “It is almost as if a pub is a bit of a status symbol for a community, even if they don’t use it much they want to know that they have the option to do so if they wish,” said Mintel. Research by the company found that more than twice as many people find it more enjoyable drinking in a pub than drinking at home. This is because of the “atmosphere and theatre” of a pub environment, Mintel said.

Despite Britons’ enjoyment of pubs, the research found that visits to pubs are falling. Mintel said that over six in ten adults over the age of 18 visit a pub regularly to drink. This is down from seven in ten people in 2007. The group found that more people visit pubs to eat than to drink.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Child Sex Trial: Rochdale Council of Mosques Response

The Rochdale Council of Mosques (RCM) has unreservedly condemned the “horrific crimes” committed by nine men convicted of sexually exploitating vulnerable young girls. Imam Chishti MBE, spokesperson for the RCM, commented: “In relation to the 9 men who have been convicted of various charges surrounding the sexual exploitation of vulnerable young girls, the RCM unreservedly condemns these horrific crimes. “The ripple effect of such crimes can sometimes be forgotten under such circumstances so as well as primarily remembering the victims, also the families, often young children of the perpetrators are left bereft of support especially when there is so much media attention. This is not a race, faith or creed issue, it is about crime and exploitation of young vulnerable girls and vulnerability goes across the colour divides. All our member Imams are at the forefront of addressing issues that are sometimes seen as taboo. The RCM will continue to work together with all agencies, the Police and the courts as part of the multi-agency approach to tackling this issue in our borough. We would like to assure the public that we have been working closely with the Consequent Management Group as well as with the Safeguarding Board and will continue to do so.”

Chairman of the RCM, Tahir Mahmood stated: “We are proud Rochdalians and will not tolerate any behaviour that seeks to divide the cohesion in our borough. We must stand together as one community and not allow any outsiders, especially from the far right, to damage the good relations that we have enjoyed for many years. We must also not lose sight of the fact that there is a wider issue of child exploitation, international trafficking and internet grooming that is almost a plague internationally. The RCM will continue to support the GMP, RMBC and other partners to work together for the betterment of our communities to eradicate such evil from our borough.”

The Rochdale Council of Mosques is an umbrella organisation established in 2004 representing 14 mosques and madrassahs across the borough. It is a non-denominational, voluntary organisation whose primary aim is to provide a platform for all the mosques, Imams and the respective management committees whereby they can jointly discuss faith and community matters.

[Reader comment missmoneypenny on 8 May 2012 at 19:54:24.]

One has to be very naive to overlook the belief of some Muslims, in the UK and worldwide, that 1) good women are virgins until their wedding day 2) those who are not are therefore dirty 3) most western women fall into the second category and are fair game. The various Muslim communities in the UK are terrified of having their dirty laundry exposed and deny the problem whenever challenged on this issue. Political correctness also scares off many white British.

[Reader comment by john from heywood on 9 May 2012 at 10:26:49.]

Well thanks for that RCM, very magnaminous of you to condemn this. Even if I accepted your assertion that this is not a race issue (I don’t) then there is no getting away from the fact that all but one of the convicted was of Pakistani heritage. The Asian community seems to be in denial of the problem to the extent that Rochdale councillors appeared in court as character witnesses for defendants. Those councillors should resign, as they obviously have such poor judgement — unfit for office.

[JP note: Unlike the national Daily Telegraph, the Rochdale News allows reader comments. The UK’s political establishment is complicit in allowing Muslims unhindered access to white girls — fair game in other words.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Clarification Regarding EDL Demonstration

Last July Sajjad and his young family were subjected to a vile and racist protest outside their Lancashire home. Readers of this website will know that 12 members of the English Defence League pleaded guilty for actions that day that included other unaceptable behaviour.

Sajjad welcomed the fact that the innocent victims that day were spared giving evidence and reliving their ordeal. In the past few days lawyers acting on behalf of the EDL have attempted to thwart and silence journalists in the Lancashire and Manchester area. The EDL claimed their guilty pleas had nothing to do with the demonstration at the Karim house. Journalists were told they would be sued or reported to the Press Complaints Commission. This afternoon the Crown Prosecution Service upon hearing about the EDL claims issued the following statement.

Chris Long Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor said: “The defendants in this case appeared before the Crown Court sitting at Preston and entered guilty pleas following a serious public order incident during a day of activity by English Defence League supporters. This included an incident earlier that day outside the home of Member of European Parliament Sajjad Karim. The events outside Mr Karim’s home form part of the prosecution case together with what later transpired in Brierfield. Twelve defendants are due to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on 25 May 2012.”

CPS Statement 11.5.12

Once again the EDL have sought to question the honesty of Sajjad and once again they have been found wanting. Shortly after the mob protested the leader of Britain’s fascists, Nick Griffin, supported the mob by calling Sajjad’s integrity into question. Griffin called him ‘dishonest’ and said it was a peaceful protest that was not racially motivated but about animal cruelty. Four of the twelve pleaded guilty to threatening racially aggravated violent behaviour, another admitted carrying an offensive weapon — a chisel and the rest admitted using threatening behaviour. Let me repeat the gang pleaded guilty. They did so minutes before they faced a jury. Like the EDL, Griffin has been found wanting. Sajjad also spoke about the incident in the European Parliament.

[JP note: It is more likely that the Crown Prosecution Service will be found wanting by decent public opinion.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Child Sex Trial Sparks Heated Question Time Debate

The child sex trial that saw nine local men being jailed for between four and nineteen years was at the forefront of political debate on BBC TV show “Question Time” — presented by David Dimbleby. The panel was made up of environment secretary and Conservative MP for Meriden, Caroline Spelman; shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant; Liberal Democrat peer Lord Matthew Oakeshott; Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, Mary Beard and Daily Telegraph columnist Peter Oborne.

Tempers flared as members of the audience asked the panel for their thoughts on this week’s court case which saw nine Asian men from Rochdale and Oldham jailed for the horrendous sexual abuse of underage girls. Peter Oborne said: “This is a shattering, disgusting and depraved case which shocked the nation, but it is important not to jump the gun.” A female member of the audience said: “We need an open and honest debate about race without fear of being labelled racist. People are too frightened to open their mouth but if we are not honest, we are playing into the hands of the BNP. As a society we have to address race issues and stop being so politically correct.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: England’s Forgotten War Between North and South

by Ed West

Compared to other major European countries, England is a fairly unified land. The north and south of France are quite distinct in terms of climate, geography and language; Germany is divided both north to south and east to west, a fact borne out by Misha Glenny’s recent series about German history. As for Italy, which fairly recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, the views of northern Italians are well known.

In comparison England’s regional differences are fairly minor, reflecting both its size and the antiquity of its political union, which dates to the time of Athelstan “the Magnificent” in 927. Roughly 50 years before that, in the face of the Viking invasion, the two surviving kingdoms, Mercia and Wessex, introduced a single currency, using the pound that was (probably) first introduced by Offa of Mercia in the 8th century. If this all sounds ridiculously obscure to many people, it gives some indication as to why Englishmen perhaps value their economic independence more than Germans or Italians do. Watching Michael Portillo’s excellent documentary about the euro the other night, it’s quite clear that Greeks and Germans alike appear to be under a powerful delusion similar to that described in When Prophecy Fails. (To be honest I was more shocked that the BBC had allowed an explicitly eurosceptic documentary — far more bizarre than finding Prince Charles doing the weather.)

Athelstan is, by one of those unexplainable quirks of history, almost entirely forgotten; perhaps it is because, unlike his grandfather Alfred, he did not hire a professional PR man like Asser. Another strangely forgotten part of English history is the Battle of Towton, in 1461, the subject of George Goodwin’s highly enjoyable recent book, Fatal Colours. Towton barely registers in the national consciousness, not even as famous as Crecy or Poitiers, let alone Hastings, Agincourt or Waterloo, yet it was the bloodiest battle ever fought on English soil. Up to 28,000 men died that Palm Sunday, 1461, comparable with the first day of the Somme, but in a country of around three million people. As the author notes, “it was not merely a military engagement — it was a national catastrophe”, with up to one-tenth of all Englishmen and Welshmen eligible to fight being present on the North Yorkshire battlefield fighting for Edward, Earl of March, son of Richard, Duke of York, the most powerful magnate in the kingdom, and his cousin, the weak-minded Henry VI.

The king had come to the throne in 1422 at just nine months, following the death of his father Henry V, but as well as inheriting the thrones of both England and France he had also inherited, from his French grandfather Charles VI, a serious mental illness (Charles was convinced that he was made of glass). The most recent theory is that Henry VI suffered from schizophrenia, which would match many of his symptoms, such as a chronic need to avoid conflict (rather difficult for a medieval monarch) as well as long periods of catatonia. Schizophrenia can be triggered by childhood trauma, and the king certainly suffered from many of those, as his warring uncles and cousins positioned for power in the two kingdoms. When Normandy was lost, and so with it England’s French empire and the 100 Years War, the English warrior-caste’s violent energies turned inwards.

A medieval society could not survive a weak king, and the people began to fear for their safety as rival lords and their “affinities” (entourages) robbed and murdered at will. Although I’ve yet to watch Game of Thrones, which everyone I meet seems to recommend, it is apparently not too dissimilar, although there’s also something of the Sopranos in this conflict. What would in the 19th century become known as “the War of the Roses” was a conflict of blood — inter-related aristocrats vying for power for themselves, their siblings and their children. The cycle of revenge grew steadily worse, and by 1461 the rules of chivalry, whereby noblemen were spared after battle, had disappeared. Goodwin illustrates this senseless blood-spilling with his description of the execution of Owen Tudor, an elderly courtier and soldier, at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross in early 1461:

The confused old man did not understand the temper of the times; even when faced with the axe and the block, he was still expecting a pardon. It was not until the collar of his red velvet doublet was ripped off to ease the passage of the coming blow that he grasped his fate. His head was taken and placed on the market cross, where it was later tended by a mad woman. After washing the blood from his face and combing his hair, she placed a hundred burning candles around the severed head. This act, tender, even pious, in its intent, but gruesome in its context, served to mirror the distortions of a troubled age.

Edward of March, who probably ordered Tudor’s execution, had recently lost both his father and his brother Edmund at the Battle of Wakefield, to whom he was very close, which may explain the ferocity of his actions. His father, a descendant of Edward III through his fourth son, had emerged in the 1450s as the most powerful man in the kingdom, but he would not win the crown. Instead York’s decapitated head was displayed in York with a paper crown on it.

That his son was able to return from certain defeat, and to take the throne in 1461 as Edward IV, is testimony to a little remembered aspect of the War of the Roses: that it was a war of North v South. The Yorkists did have some support in the northern counties, and the Lancastrians in the south (so called because Henry IV, who had seized the throne in 1399, was the Duke of Lancaster), but generally speaking their soldiers came from different sides of the country, and this, Goodwin believes, helped to explain the savagery, since men were marching through villages greatly distant to them in distance and speech.

That the Yorkists won was down to the support of London, which even then was vastly richer and more powerful than anywhere else in England, due to its role in the export of wool. Just as in the Civil War two centuries later, London’s commercial wealth was crucial — in the nine months before Towton the city provided £13,000 for the Yorkist cause, enough to pay 26,000 archers for 20 days’ service.

So when in late 1460 the Royal army headed south from Wakefield there was a genuine terror in the capital that the northerners would sack the city. This fear the Yorkists of course promoted, as recalled in the songs of the time:

Between Christmas and Candlemas a little before lent

All the lords of the North they wrought by one assent

For to destroy the south country they did all have intend

Had not the Rose of Rouen [Edward of March had been born in Rouen] been, all England had been shent.

Another goes:

The northern men made their boast when they had done that deed

‘we will dwell in the south country and take all that we need.

These wives and their daughters our purposes they shall see…

This may explain the brutality with which the final battle was fought, and the fact that many of the corpses at the site — which are still being dug up — suggest they were unarmed prisoners. In the end London’s financial muscle won the day, a constant throughout English history, and the city continued to expand under Edward IV, who would have been one of the country’s greatest rulers had he not eaten himself to death around his 40th birthday, one of the less dignified regal deaths of the time. After that his youngest brother Richard III had Edward’s sons murdered (almost certainly, despite recent attempts to rehabilitate him), and the throne was then taken by almost the last surviving royal, Owen Tudor’s grandson Henry — who went on to marry Edward IV’s daughter Elizabeth and so unite the warring clans. As part of the Tudor propaganda machine Towton, which dwarves Hastings in size and bloodshed, was effectively hushed up, and England began to heal; never again, even during the Reformation where the counties to the east of London were considerably more Protestant than elsewhere, would the country be seriously divided as north v south again. And poor old Henry VI ended up being maced to death, although his reign was not a total waste of time — he did build a rather successful school just outside Windsor, which still produces the odd prime minister.

[JP note: Odd is le mot juste.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Exclusive: Men Arrested as Police Launch New Child Sex Probe in Rochdale

Exclusive by John Scheerhout

Police who smashed the Rochdale child sex ring believe they have uncovered a SECOND grooming scandal in the town. The M.E.N. can today reveal that several men have been arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing the same girl. The alleged abuse is believed to have taken place over a six-year period when the girl was in her teens. Sources described her as ‘extremely vulnerable’. Detectives have carried out video interviews with the girl, who told them she knew the men only by nicknames. A string of suspects were tracked down by officers and a number of arrests have now been made. The men in question are all from Asian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, the M.E.N. understands.

Detectives are exploring possible links between the men, although none have been established so far. A file of evidence is expected to handed over to the Crown Prosecution Service within weeks. The news comes just days after nine Asian men from Rochdale and Oldham were jailed over the sexual exploitation of girls as young as 13. The gang was convicted on the back of evidence from five witnesses, who suffered horrific abuse between 2008-2010. The team of detectives who investigated the case encountered 47 other girls who they believe were also the victim of sexual abuse. One is the alleged victim behind the latest arrests. The suspects do not include any of the men jailed this week.

One senior detective told the M.E.: “Enquiries are continuing. Just because the trial has finished and nine men have been convicted does not mean the operation has stopped. We are continuing to chip away, gaining the confidence of the girls.” The conclusion of the case this week sent shockwaves through the Rochdale community and sparked a major debate about whether the crimes were racially motivated.

Judge Gerald Clifton, jailing the nine, suggested they had targeted their victims because they were ‘not of your community or religion’.

But police and political leaders denied the crimes were about race — saying the men had targeted their victims simply because they were vulnerable.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Former Mayor: ‘Silly Mistake’ During Child Sex Grooming Trial

A former Mayor of Rochdale admitted to a “silly mistake” in his decision to give evidence during the recent child sex grooming trial in Liverpool that saw nine local men being jailed for between four and nineteen years. Zulfiquar Ali, who held the mayoral office in 2010, told Rochdale Online that he had been approached by one of the accused, Abdul Qayyum around Christmas time last year and was asked to appear as a character witness. He went on to say that Qayyum, who was jailed for five years for conspiracy to engage in sexual activities with a child, was one of his constituents who he had previously helped to obtain a taxi-licence. As far as he then knew, Quayyum was a hard working family man and hence he agreed to appear as a witness in order to say this.

Mr Ali went on to say: “In fourteen years as a councillor, my decision to do this is my biggest regret. I made a silly mistake.” Speaking about the sentences, Mr Ali said that he was satisfied said that “justice had been served”. He said that it sent out “a clear message that this sort of crime was intolerable”. He added that he was “very sorry for the victims and their families” and that this case was “of wider concern to the community and that lessons needed to be learned”.

Mr Ali, who lives in Huddersfield, was a prominent politician in Rochdale until he retired. He was a Liberal Democrat councillor in Central Ward and Cabinet member for Children, Schools and Families. Another councillor who gave similar evidence, Aftab Hussain, who sits as a Labour councillor in Firgrove and Smallbridge ward, refused to comment and instead referred Rochdale Online to the Leader of the Council, Colin Lambert. Councillor Lambert said that he would comment when he had spoken with Councillor Hussain. In the meantime he issued the following statement: “While individual councillors have been reported in the media making statements regarding individuals in this case, they do not reflect the views of Rochdale Borough Council.”

[Reader comment by Chavdale Tearaway on 12 May 2012 at 07:29:03.]

A councillor giving testimony for a convicted paedophile — this is Rochdale!

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Giant Twisting Olympic Park Sculpture Unveiled But Critics Label it ‘Godzilla of Public Art’

Critics say it looks like a roller coaster gone badly awry. Fans say it’s a landmark to rival the Eiffel Tower.

London got a towering new venue Friday, as authorities announced completion of the Orbit, a 115-meter (377- foot) looped and twisting steel tower beside London’s new Olympic Stadium that will give visitors panoramic views over the city.

Some critics have called the ruby-red lattice of tubular steel an eyesore. British tabloids have labeled it ‘the Eye-ful Tower,’ ‘the Godzilla of public art’ and worse.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Long Wait for Children in Care

Children in Rochdale wait an average 733 days from entering care to moving in with adoptive parents. National guidance says the process should take 14 months or 426 days — but only four councils in the country meet the target. The Government set an interim target of 21 months (639 days) to bring councils up to scratch, but Rochdale even fails that test. The council will have to make significant improvements quickly: the Government is reducing the guidance to a 14-month maximum over the next four years. The “adoption scorecards” from the Department for Education is the first time such data has been produced and is based on figures from 2009 to 2011, and show there are widespread delays throughout the adoption process. Rochdale is one of 34 local authorities which averaged more than 700 days.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslim Leaders Warn of Far Right Exploitation of Rochdale Child Sex Case

Muslim groups report upsurge in hate mail and abusive phone calls since conviction of nine men over child sex ring

Far-right groups are exploiting the conviction of nine men who were part of a gang that groomed girls for sex to create a “climate of hate” against Muslims, community leaders have warned. Muslim groups say they have seen an upsurge in hate mail and abusive phone calls since the trial ended this week and community leaders are bracing themselves for more Islamophobic attacks on individual Muslims and mosques across the UK. “We are already receiving hate mail and hate phone calls even though we issued a very strong statement condemning those involved,” said a spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain. “If it can happen to MCB, you can just imagine what ordinary Muslims are facing as they go about their day-to-day business.”

Eight of the nine men convicted at Liverpool crown court for their involvement in a gang in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, that sexually exploited girls were of Pakistani heritage, and Muslim groups say far-right organisations such as the British National party and the English Defence League (EDL) have used the trial to demonise and abuse the entire community. Fiyaz Mughal, from Faith Matters, which has set up a new helpline to monitor anti-Muslim attacks, said the Islamophobic hatred prompted by the case had added to the “poison” against Muslims. “This is dangerous for community relations,” he said. “There’s lots of discussion about ‘Muslim paedos’, like saying the prophet married a young girl. All of this disgusting talk is adding to the poison against Muslims.”

The helpline, Tell Mama, was launched at the same time as the trial began in February and is the UK’s first for those wanting to report Islamophobia and record anti-Muslim attacks. About 20% of the cases so far are linked to the EDL, Mughal said, adding: “About half of those cases are online activity where there is invariably a mention of ‘Muslim paedos’.” Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations, who has held talks with EDL representatives in the past, said: “There’s a climate of hate in relation to this … We need to tackle the problem, but people within the BNP, the EDL are increasing the rhetoric … It does have an adverse effect within the city … I am sure it will build within the next few weeks.”

Security outside Liverpool crown court, where the nine men were tried, was stepped up after hundreds of EDL and BNP protesters picketed the building. The trial was almost derailed when the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, tweeted that seven verdicts had been reached. One of the defendants has now launched an appeal claiming Griffin’s tweet showed jury confidentiality was breached. The beginning of the trial was also delayed for a fortnight in February when two Asian defence barristers were attacked outside the courtroom.

The latest surge in Islamophobic abuse comes amid concern that the failure of the BNP in recent elections will see some smaller groups turning to more violent street action. There have been a growing number of attacks on anti-racists and trade unionists as well as rising hostility to Muslims. The MCB spokesman said Muslims were used to “low-level hatred”. “People expect that nowadays, from their fellow travellers on the underground or buses,” he said. “That sort of thing happens all the time.” But he said communities were preparing themselves for more serious attacks following the publicity surrounding the grooming trial. “The graffiti on the door of a home, mosques and community centres attacked, a pig’s head through the door … it is bound to increase because the racist are waiting for opportunities like this.”

The BNP lost every seat it was contesting in last week’s local council election and it is now left with just three councillors from a high of 57 three years ago. In a separate move, the EDL leader Stephen Lennon has announced that he is to become deputy leader of the small British Freedom party, which some analysts fear could replace the BNP as the main far-right party.

[JP note: When all else fails, pull out the Islamophobia canard. ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: More Than 100 Homes Evacuated as Bomb Disposal Experts Carry Out Four Controlled Explosions After Two Terror Arrests

More than 100 homes have been evacuated as bomb disposal experts carried out four controlled explosions this morning.

Two men were arrested last night on terrorism charges following the discovery of suspected explosives in a garage during raids on two properties in Cheltenham, according to police.

Officers arrested a 52-year-old man from the Hester’s Way area under the Explosive Substances Act.

They later found suspected explosives at a house in nearby Up Hatherley and arrested a 31-year-old local man, Gloucestershire Constabulary confirmed.

The controlled explosions took place at 11.30am today, after 15 residents spent the night in a nearby hall and 13 vulnerable people were rehoused.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Uncover ‘Second Child Sex Ring’ In Rochdale After Woman Says She Was Abused Over Six Years

Nine men have been arrested in what officers are treating as separate from that of the group of men jailed this week for similar offences

The alleged victim is thought to be one of 47 girls questioned in relation to the original child sex ring

Men arrested in latest inquiry are not thought to have known members from other grooming trial

Arrests come as police continue to hunt other suspected members of original case

Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk believes sexual exploitation is a ‘wider problem’ in the area

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: The Rochdale Diversity Awards Finalists Have Been Announced

Health Award: Great Places Housing Group, Rochdale Health Connections Team, and Rochdale MIND,

Housing Award: Abdul Jabbar, Great Places Housing Group, Khubsuret House — St Vincent’s Housing Association.

Workforce Diversity Award: Greater Manchester Police — Rochdale Division, Great Place Great Places Housing Group, and Rochdale Council Youth Service,

Cohesion Award: Dr Abdul Shakoor, Rochdale Council Youth Service, Syke Community Base, and the New Shamwari Project.

The awards are sponsored by Rochdale Safer Communities Partnership, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, Hopwood Hall College, Great Places Housing Group, A+B Carpets and Arif Cash & Carry. Anyone interested in further information on the Rochdale Diversity Awards should contact Abdul Hamied on 01706 516606 or email

The Rochdale Diversity awards, which are being run by Kashmir Youth Project (KYP), will culminate with an awards ceremony on Friday 18th May 2012. The awards aim to recognise the contributions made by local organisations and residents in promoting and supporting cohesion and diversity through service delivery.

Abdul Hamied, KYP Chief Executive (Secondment from Rochdale MBC), is co-ordinating the awards. He said: “Considering that this is the first year of the Rochdale Diversity Awards, the number of nominations and the quality has been very good. This shows the excellent diversity and cohesion work that is taking place within our great borough of Rochdale. We are confident that the success of this year will lead to further service improvement and that next year the awards will be even better.

[Reader comment by PhilScholes on 11 May 2012 at 00:51:48.]

After the way they ignored a 13-year-old cry for help from being raped by Pakistani men, Rochdale Police should not be up for any award.

[JP note: Bad timing, indecent and unseemly: ‘excellent diversity and cohesion work’ in the ‘great borough of Rochdale’? Perhaps Mr Hamied could be a bit more forthcoming about the criteria. Any decent town would cancel this tawdry initiative out of shame and disgust, but we know the liberal left has long passed the point of no return, and has therefore forfeited the right to be included in the UK or any decent society as a credible voice.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

75 Mln Euros Loan From EIB to Turkey

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 10 — Development Bank of Turkey (DBT) signed 75 million euro loan agreement with European Investment Bank (EIB) for Development of Small and Big Enterprises (DBT Loan for Renewable Energy and Energy Productivity). DBT has been cooperating with EIB since 2002 and the new agreement has been signed to continue the cooperation. The loan — as Anatolia news agency reports — will be used in the areas of preventing climate change, renewable energy for greenhouse gas emission, energy productivity and productivity of energy in losses of electricity in distribution. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egyptian Minister to Non-Aligned: Back Palestine

Ministerial meeting in Sharm, with Iranian minister

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, MAY 9 — Egypt has appealed to the countries of the Non-Aligned movement to continue to recognise the state of Palestine and to show solidarity towards detainees in Israeli prisons. The appeal came from Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohamed Amr during the opening session of the organisation’s ministerial assembly, with Egypt in the presidential chair before ceding to Iran in August. Iran was represented by Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi. Mr Amr also invited the non-aligned nations to support Palestine’s request to become a full member of the United Nations. The conference opening in Sharm el Sheikh today is the first high-level initiative to take place in Egypt since last year’s revolution. “Today’s conference and the documents it will approve constitute the pillars of the movement’s role as an active player in international multilateral relations and they will be the first step towards making the summit in Iran planned for this year a success,” the Egyptian minister said.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

‘Powerful’ Explosion Hits Syrian City

Syrian activists have reported a large explosion in Syria’s second city Aleppo, near regime offices. It comes hours after Syrian state television said security forces had foiled a would-be-suicide bomber in the city. A large explosion struck the Syrian city of Aleppo on Friday, close to the ruling Baath party’s headquarters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

“A big explosion was heard near Al-Jabiri Square. It targeted an office of the Baath party, according to initial reports,” the Britain-based watchdog said in a statement. “The blast was powerful but we do not know what was the origin of the explosion,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman added.

No casualties from the blast have yet been reported, although witnesses said a guard at the headquarters was shot dead by an unidentified gunman soon after the explosion.

It comes just hours after Syrian forces claimed to have foiled an attempted suicide bomber in the city. State television reported that the would-be bomber, whose car was laden with 1,200 kilograms of explosives, was killed in the operation.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Ankara’s Nightmare, Post-Assad Partition of Syria

With Alawi state on Mediterranean, risking domino effect

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The nightmare scenario for Turkish diplomacy takes the following form: an exploding of Syria that has up to now been held together in the iron grasp of the Assad dynasty, leading to the risk of a partition of the country along lines of ‘ethnicity’, leading to an Alawi state bordering the Mediterranean, a Kurdish state between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan and a Sunni state on the remainder of the territory.

This is not officially talked about in Ankara, but according to political analyst Abdullah Bozkurt, the idea gives rise to “true concerns” along Turkey’s corridors of power. There is indeed an impression that the moves of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad over the past months have been in this direction. Faced with a revolt by a Sunni majority, among which there is a strongly influential Alawi minority — that of the al-Assad clan — the regime appears to be working towards a kind of ‘community-based cleansing,’ preparing the way for a partitioning of the country. The rocky Mediterranean shore, a traditional territory of the Alawites who make up 12-15% of Syria’s population, around the cities of Latakya, Banyas and Tartous (which is the base for the Russian Mediterranean fleet), would form the nucleus of an Alawi state that would remain under Assad’s control. In this state the minority would be safe from pressures of the Sunni majority. Under the French protectorate following the First World War, there already was an Alawi state of Latakia between 1922 and 1936, which was allied with the French against the Sunnis. According to Bozkurt, Assad would try to enlarge this ‘state of Latakya’ to take in a slice of traditionally Sunni territory, especially at Homs, a key position on the Damascus-Aleppo axis. This is why the city has been the fulcrum of the heaviest clashes with the armed opposition. Another preparation for creating the Alawi state was the alleged bombing by the regime of Sunni areas of Latakya during Ramadan. This led to a mass exodus of thousands of refugees into Turkey. There is nothing new about tensions between Sunnis and Alawis or Alawites, followers of the sect founded by Ali, the Prophet’s son-in-law, who are considered to be liberal and pro-Western Muslims.

Tensions have been seen not only in Syria but in Turkey, too, where Alawis represent a fifth of the population. If the Syrian crisis were to lead to partition, Turkey and for other Middle Eastern states would risk seeing the opening of a Pandora’s box of minorities. According to daily paper Zaman, the Sunni part of Syria, close to the Erdogan government, would be cut off from the Mediterranean. An Alawi state would also upset Iran, cutting of communication lines with Lebanon’s Hezbollah. A possible division into three of Iraq, into Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites would then become more probable. The Alawi community in Lebanon might be tempted to join up with their Syrian brethren, and Turkey could be exposed to seeing the balance of power upset between the Sunni majority and Alawi minority, whose presence is especially strong in Istanbul and along the 300-mile-long border with Syria. This is an area where Turkish policies hostile to the Damascus government fall on stony ground. Among Turkish Alawis in Hatay and in Istanbul, pro-Assad demonstrations have taken place and the government has been forced to move the Sunni refugees from Syria further to the North in order to avoid incidents. The creation of a Kurdish state in Syria between ar-Raqqah and al-Qamishli would also aggravate the situation in Turkish Kurdistan.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

US to Resume Military Sales to Protest-Torn Bahrain

The United States says it will partly resume military sales to Bahrain despite the crackdown on popular protests by the Gulf emirate’s rulers since early last year. Bahrain hosts a major US naval headquarters.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Ukraine: Never-Seen-Before Shots of Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster That Cost Two of the Four Photographers Their Lives

These are the haunting images that captured the true scale of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The black and white shots, taken in the weeks following the 1986 Ukraine tragedy, revealed the truth behind the tragedy Soviet authorities were trying to hush up. But despite helping the outside world to understand what happened that fateful April 26 day, the pictures have had a devastating human cost.

Of the four photographers chronicling the tragedy, Anatoly Rasskazov and Valery Zufarov have died from radiation-related diseases and Igor Kostin is constantly ill from the exposure.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

South Asia

From the DoD: “Most ‘Green on Blue’ Attacks Individually Motivated”

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2012 — The Defense Department believes recent incidents in which members of the Afghan National Security Forces have attacked their coalition trainers are individual acts of grievance, a senior DOD spokesman said today.

“It’s often difficult to determine the exact motivation behind an attacker’s crime because they are, very often, killed in the act,” Navy Capt. John Kirby, deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Kirby said these types of attacks have only been tracked since 2007. Fifty-seven such attacks, he added, have occurred during this time.

“Based on the limited evidence that we have been able to collect, we believe that less than half, somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four out of every 10 [attacks] is inspired, or resourced, or planned or executed by the Taliban or Taliban sympathizers,” he said. “In other words, that it’s related to an infiltration attempt.”

Kirby said it may not even be a deliberate infiltration, but a “legitimate soldier or police officer [who] turned Taliban.”

Yet, the majority of attacks, he said, are acts of individual grievance.

“You know how seriously affairs of honor are to the Afghan people,” Kirby said. “We believe, again, that most of these [attacks] are acted out as an act of honor for most of them representing a grievance of some sort.”

The spokesman said Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, believes the recent video of U.S. Marines urinating on the bodies of Taliban inspired at least one attack….

[Return to headlines]

India Becomes Main Rice Exporter in the World

Indian exports should reach 7 million tonnes by 31 August. US Department of Agriculture data show that India should surpass Vietnam and Thailand. Favourable weather and more investments helped the bumper crop. The 3-year ban (2008-2011) on exports of non-basmati varieties also boosted supplies to local markets and reduced prices.

Mumbai (AsiaNews/Agencies) — India is set to surpass Vietnam and Thailand as the world’s biggest exporter of rice in the world. Already the world’s largest rice grower after China, India benefitted from favourable weather and government investments.

Exports could climb to 7 million metric tonnes in the year ending 31 August, said Samarendu Mohanty, a senior economist at the International Rice Research Institute. That is more than double the 2.8 million tonnes exported in 2010-2011.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, Thailand exported 10.5 million tonnes last year, but is expected to ship only 6.5 million this year. Vietnam should export 7 million tonnes this year, the same as last.

The harvest in India could climb by 7.7 per cent to 103.4 million tonnes from 96 million tonnes a year earlier. State reserves of rice and wheat jumped 21 per cent to 53.4 million tonnes as of 1 April.

The minimum purchase price of the common variety of raw rice increased to an all-time high of 1,080 rupees (US$ 20) per 100 kilograms.

In 2008, India banned exports of non-basmati varieties to stock local markets and keep a lid on prices. The measure was successful because rice prices dropped by 17 per cent.

Last September, the Indian government lifted the ban. Since then exports of non-basmati varieties have exceeded 4 million tonnes.

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

Indonesia: Islamic Paramilitary Group Defends Christians, Hindus and Buddhists

It’s called Banser and is a branch of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), a movement established in 1926 which aims to protect all minorities in the country. Recently, they foiled an attack by Islamic fundamentalists against a Canadian writer. According to members of NU “Muslims and Christians believe in the same God,” spread of radical Islam depends on the “ government that supports them for fear of losing votes.”

Yogyakarta (AsiaNews) — Canadian journalist and author Irshad Manji was threatened with death by Islamic fundamentalist groups for having written a book about Islam and freedom entitled Allah, Liberty and Love. For weeks, members of radical movements have stopped the author from presenting the book, often by attacking people attending meetings. Only during a speech at the headquarters of the Free Journalist Alliance in South Jakarta, were there no assaults, thanks to the intervention of members of Banser, the paramilitary group of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the Shiite Muslim movement that defends the country’s ethnic and religious minorities ..

Founded in 1926 by Kiai Hajj Hasyim Ashari — grandfather of the late Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, nicknamed Gus Dur — over the years has become a flag of moderate Islam. NU gave birth to the paramilitary unit Banser and the Gerakan Pemuda Ansor youth wing.

Kiai Hajj Husein Nuril Arifin, a Muslim leader of Semarang (Central Java province), told AsiaNews: “True Islam supports the spirit of tolerance and love among human beings. With Christians, we believe in the same God The differences are in how we practice our faith: there is no reason to worry about those who exercise a faith different from ours. Muslim leaders should practice this spirit of tolerance, rather than just talk at seminars and conferences. “

According Aan Anshori, a member of the NU, the problem in Indonesia is that “the government is afraid of losing the support of Muslim fundamentalist groups,” and this is why the will not take the necessary measures to stop them. “If we look at the attacks on Irshad Manji — he explains — they were radical Islamists: in the book he speaks of freedom [Hurriyah], Justice [‘Adalah] and social equality [musawwa]. Ideas that these groups do not adhere to”.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

Beer Sales Drop in Nigeria, But Metal Detectors Soar

(AGI) Abuja — The terrorism drama in Nigeria is changing the habits of Nigerian consumers. The attacks, the bombs and the almost daily violences of the Boko Haram islamic groups brought about, as Nicolas Vervelde, CEO of the Nigerian Breweries, the largest beer producer in the country, a drop in the consumption and sales in the North of Nigeria, the area most affected by terrorism. “The people — the manager said — are more reluctant to go out, because of fear, but also because they no longer feel inclined to have fun”. On the contrary, the problem of security caused an increase in the sale of metal detectors. The situation is the same in Abuja, the new capital purposedly built to move the administrative heart to the centre of Nigeria. It is easy to see that over the last few months there was a clear drop in the customers of hotels, restaurants, shopping centres and bars. Those who still dare to go, must patiently stay in a queue at the entrances, so that the security staff may conduct body and car searches, though it is difficult that these checks (as many people think) will be able to intercept bombs or terrorists. The most important effect of these checks seems to have been the boom in the sales of security devices, absolutely parallel to the drop in the sales of beer. Nigeria is the major consumer of beer in the Continent.

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


Germany: Candidates Vie for Immigrant Vote in Election

Ahead of balloting in Germany’s most populous state, candidates are trying to reach out to the many residents of migrant background. With 2 million such people eligible to vote, they could tip the scales. Voters go to the polls Sunday to elect a new state government in Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

The state’s previous minority government of Social Democrats (SPD ) and Greens collapsed in March after failing to win parliamentary backing for its 2012 budget. That made a snap election necessary. By the time polls close Sunday evening, the migrant-background vote could prove to be the decisive factor.

North Rhine-Westphalia has about 4 million inhabitants with a migrant background. More than 2 million of them are eligible to vote, making up 15 percent of the state’s electorate.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Italy: We Need an EU Urgent Plan Over Illegal Immigration, Terzi

(AGI) Rome — The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Giulio Terzi will ask the European Union for an “urgent plan” to cope with illegal immigration.The request will be made on the occasion of the meeting of the European Council for Foreign Affairs, to be held in Brussels next Monday. Immigration is “a theme that must be discussed on a European level, so that the tools the the Eu already has may be financed”, said Terzi, hinting at the alert over a worsening of the phenomenon launched by Tripoli. Terzi underlined that Italy and Libya signed a partnership agreement about the theme of migration flow and integrated control of borders .

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