Sunday, January 12, 2003

News Feed 20120516

Financial Crisis
»“Major Error” If Greece Leaves Euro, Spanish PM Rajoy
»Britain’s Cameron Says Eurozone Must Make Up or Break-Up
»ECB Strongly Prefers Greece Stay in Euro: Draghi
»Eurozone Debt Crisis: Fears of ‘Panic’ As Investors Pull Out 1.4billion Euro in Two Days
»Germany: ‘Blockupy’ Protests Paralyse Frankfurt
»Greece: Fear of Euro Exit, 700 Million Withdrawn From Banks
»Greeks Withdraw Millions of Euros From Banks
»IMF Warns Swedish Economy ‘Vulnerable’
»IMF: Italy a ‘Model’ For Reforms
»Italy: Europe Managed Greek Crisis ‘Very Badly’ Says Industry Min
»Lagarde: Outcome of Greece Euro Exit Could be ‘Quite Messy’
»Leftists Target Head of EU’s Greece Task Force
»Merkel and Hollande Want Greece to Stay in Euro
»Moody’s Blasted for Downgrading 26 Italian Banks
»Obama and Monti Agree to Speed Growth
»Portuguese Official Unemployment Rate Rises to Record 14.9%
»Tax Commissioner Lashes Out at Austria and Luxembourg
»The Netherlands Remains in Recession
»UK: Long-Term Unemployment is at Highest Level for 16 Years as King Warns Economy Won’t Return to Pre-Crisis Level Until 2014
»Wilders Seeks Injunction to Block Fiscal Pact
»Zero Growth in Eurozone
»Barack Obama Recycles a German Socialist Campaign Slogan From the 1960s
»Brookfield Council Approves Mosque
»CAIR: Kansas Governor Asked Not to Sign Anti-Sharia Bill
»Class Materials From Military’s Anti-Islam Class Repeatedly Cite Islamophobic Authors
»Does Sugar Make You Stupid?
»Muslim Leaders Explain Sharia Law Amid Mosque Concerns
»Mysterious Illness Strikes Hundreds of Flight Attendants, Causes Rashes and Hair Loss — Are ‘Toxic Uniforms’ Really to Blame or is it Fukushima?
»New Jersey Man Sues Walmart for $1m Over Racist Remark
»Stakelbeck: Will Iran Attack New York City?
»U.S. Leads Effort to Criminalize Free Speech
»United States Socialist Republic (USSR), Part 1
»Viruses May Someday Power Your Cellphone
»Dead Muslim Women as Opportunities
Europe and the EU
»Arab Press Blushes at New French PM’s Name
»Germany: Merkel Kicks Out Minister After Election Disaster
»Ireland: €40m Islamic Centre for Clongriffin
»Italy: Xenophobic Party Founder, Berlusconi Ally, Probed for Corruption
»Norway: Greens Hail Statoil Oil Sands ‘Victory’
»Norway: Terror Repair Costs Double
»Norway: 17th of May Even ‘More Meaningful’
»Politesse Trumps Policy as Hollande Meets Merkel
»Racial Relations in Czech Republic Strained, Poll Shows
»Spain: Islam Arrives in the Basque Country
»Sweden: Mosques’ Advice: ‘Don’t Report Abusive Husbands’
»Switzerland: Richemont Says Asian Demand for Luxury Goods Boosts Profits
»UK: 10,500 Army Personnel for Olympic Games
»UK: Complaints Over Use of ‘Asian’ Label in Grooming Cases
»UK: Enjoy Homemade Curries for Queen
»UK: Give All Police Taser Guns to Quell Riots, Federation Says
»UK: Health, Hajj and the Olympics: How Mass Events Medicine Affect Communities
»UK: Labour Selects Tower Hamlets’ New First Citizen and Council Chairman
»UK: Ofsted Investigates Children’s Home at Centre of Sex Abuse Ring
»UK: Ofsted Turns Sights on Children’s Home at Centre of Sex Abuse Ring
»UK: Rochdale Grooming Case: Nothing to be Gained From ‘Shying Away From’ Race, Says Children’s Minister
»UK: Single Mother of Three ‘Feral’ Children Known as ‘Ma Baker’ Is Run Out of Housing Estate After Three-Year Campaign of Terror
»UK: There’s a Vital Ingredient Missing in Downing Street — Pure Hatred
»Russia Warns Kosovo Against Training Syria Rebels
»Turkey in the Balkans: Myths, Illusions and Realities
Mediterranean Union
»EU-Turkey: Soon to Integrate Air Transport Says Kallas
North Africa
»Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians
»Egypt: Islamic Hate for a Dead Pope
»Egypt and Islamic Sharia: A Guide for the Perplexed
»Egypt: Artists Between Boycott and Islam Fears
»EU Working on Partnership With Tunis, Rabat
»Italy Signs Deal to Foster Tunisian Trade With EU
»Libya: Ex Guantanamo Inmate, Belhaj, Enters Political Fray
Israel and the Palestinians
»ENP Package, Country Progress Report — Israel
»IOC: No Silence for Munich at London Games
»Norris Seeks Middle East Debate
»Right of Return, Prisoners and Al-Aqsa Mosque Are “Indivisble”
Middle East
»Iranian Rapper Faces Death Threats for ‘Insulting’ Song
»Israel-Turkey: Ankara Suffers Spy-Bird Psychosis
»Kuwait: Two Rape Handicapped 15-Year Old in Mosque
»Turkey’s Attack on Civilians Tied to U.S. Military Drone
»Turkey: Did Mossad Send a Big-Nosed Bird to Spy on Turkey?
»Turkey: We Want to Pray in Hagia Sophia, Muslim Activists Say
»Turkey: Hollande Arrives and Ankara Dreams of Europe
»Russian Textbooks to Expose ‘Falsifications of History’
»Russia Kills Seven Caucasus Militants
South Asia
»A Cheaper BMW May be Bad News for India’s Carmakers
»Germany to Give Long Term Military Aid to Afghanistan
»Indonesia: Gag is Not the End to Gaga Saga
»Indonesia: Maluku: Christian Neighborhood Attacked
»Intelligence Officials Unveil Scale Model of Bin Laden Compound Used to Plan Raid
»Lady Gaga ‘Embargo’: Singer Refused a Work Permit to Perform in Jakarta, Indonesia
»Pakistan: Muslims Asked to Remove Wrong Perceptions of Islam
»Pakistan: Seminar on Muslims and Modernity: ‘Jihadi Danger is From the Elite, Not the Poor’
»Spot-Fixing Controversy Highlights Corruption in Indian Cricket
Far East
»Chinese and Indian Airlines Flout EU Carbon Rules
»Excuse Me, Do You Speak Chinglish?
»Philippines: Inquirer Apologizes for Labeling Muslim Woman ‘Security Risk’
Australia — Pacific
»Australian Muslims Farewell a Founding Father
»Northern Suburbs a Hotbed of Terror
»Western Sharia
Sub-Saharan Africa
»Nigeria: Kano Pays N10,000 Dowry on Each Bride at Mass Wedding
»Obama’s Father Exposed as Anti-White Terrorist by British, U.S. Intel
»60% of Belgian Residents Will be of Foreign Descent by 2060
»Beijing Launches Campaign Against Illegal Foreigners
»Canada Charges Two More in Human Smuggling Case
»Caritas Warns, New Flow From Libya Soon
»Greece’s Migrant Influx Spurs EU Anger Crossing Border From Turkey,
»Napolitano in Tunis, Immigration Enriches Social Texture
Culture Wars
»Dutch Prosecutors Seek Ban on Child Sex Advocacy Group
»Your Horse is Gay: MP’s Campaign Group Wants Insulting Language Law Scrapped
»Into the Darkness
»Liberalism After Liberalism
»The Trouble With Liberalism
»Uncovering Early Islam

Financial Crisis

“Major Error” If Greece Leaves Euro, Spanish PM Rajoy

(ANSAmed) — MADRID, MAY 16 — A possible Greek exit from the eurozone “would be a major error, very bad news,” because “the euro needs to be strengthened.” This statement was made today by Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy in a press statement. “I don’t want Greece to leave the euro, that would be very bad news,” he said. In a climate of rising market tensions caused by the uncertain political situation in Greece, he urged the European Union to defend the solidity of the public accounts of EU member states. “We must guarantee the sustainability of the public debt and honour all our commitments,” the premier continued. “Spain is doing this, as well as Italy and other countries are trying to do the same.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Britain’s Cameron Says Eurozone Must Make Up or Break-Up

(LONDON) — British Prime Minister David Cameron told eurozone leaders Wednesday to sort out their debt problems soon or risk the collapse of the single currency as they grapple with the crisis in Greece. Cameron’s comments were his most pessimistic yet on the issue and are sure to annoy European leaders who were angered by the refusal last year of Britain, which does not use the euro, to endorse a new EU fiscal treaty.

“It either has to make up, or it’s looking at a potential break-up,” Cameron said in his weekly question-and-answer session in parliament. “That is the choice they have to make and it’s a choice they cannot long put off,” he added.

“If the eurozone wants to continue as it is then it has got to build a proper firewall, it’s got to take steps to secure the weakest members of the eurozone, or it’s going to have to work out it has to go in a different direction.”

Fears that Greece could be forced out of the eurozone have rocked the financial markets after voters earlier this month deserted the main parties that had supported tough measures included in an EU-IMF bailout. Greece will go to the polls again on June 17 after the May 6 poll failed to produce a government.

British officials have said that they are making contingency plans for a possible break-up of the eurozone. The British leader meanwhile said he hoped to discuss European growth with new French president Francois Hollande when they have bilateral talks before this weekend’s G8 meeting in the United States.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

ECB Strongly Prefers Greece Stay in Euro: Draghi

(FRANKFURT) — The European Central Bank would like Greece to stay in the eurozone, its president Mario Draghi said on Wednesday, amid continued political uncertainty that threatens to force it out of the bloc.

“Our strong preference is that Greece will continue to stay in the euro area,” Draghi told a conference here, adding that it was not up to the central bank to decide the fate of the Greeks. “Since the (EU) Treaty does not foresee anything on exit, this is not a matter for the ECB to decide,” Draghi said.

He reiterated that the bank’s sole duty was “keeping price stability over the medium term in line with treaty provisions” and “preserving the integrity of our balance sheet.”

Greece’s inability to form a government since inconclusive elections in May has threatened to force it out of the eurozone, as the country goes to the polls a second time on June 17, according to the Athens News Agency.

For the ECB, keeping the 17-nation bloc intact has always been sacrosanct, but this latest round of Greek turmoil has seemingly reduced their attachment to the debt-wracked nation.

Belgian central bank chief Luc Coene has recently talked of an “amicable divorce” in the Financial Times. And Irish central bank governor Patrick Honohan has said that a Greek departure from the eurozone “isn’t necessarily fatal” and could “technically” be managed.

Draghi hailed the “difficult and significant reforms” carried out by several eurozone countries to tackle the crisis, while urging them to do even more. He also said Spain had asked the ECB to help the government reform its banking sector — a request the bank was considering.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Eurozone Debt Crisis: Fears of ‘Panic’ As Investors Pull Out 1.4billion Euro in Two Days

David Cameron will today express grave doubts about the survival of the euro amid fears that a collapse could drag Britain into a decade-long depression.

He will warn of ‘perilous economic times’ and launch a startling attack on the failure of Germany and other major European countries to take the necessary steps if they want to prevent the euro breaking apart.

‘The eurozone is at a crossroads — it either has to make up, or it is looking at a potential break-up,’ the Prime Minister will say, insisting that sticking to the Government’s austerity measures is the only way to ‘keep Britain safe’.

With signs of a full-blown bank run beginning in debt-stricken Greece, experts warned that if the crisis is not quickly contained, as much as 10 per cent of national income could be wiped out in countries across the EU.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Germany: ‘Blockupy’ Protests Paralyse Frankfurt

Germany’s financial centre was in lock-down on Wednesday, with Frankfurt police advising those bankers insisting on turning up to work early not to wear suits — as police moved in to clear a protest camp in the centre of the city.

The camp was peacefully cleared by midday on Wednesday, with police carrying the protesters away after a court had ruled they had to leave the area surrounding the Euro sign in front of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Around 40 groups had designated the long weekend one of action to protest the power of banks and “the Europe-wide impoverishment policies”. The groups, which included trade unions, the globalisation critics Attac and various left-wing initiatives adopted the slogan “Blockupy” for the weekend.

The protest was supposed to kick off on Thursday, a bank holiday, when the plan was to occupy central squares, and on Friday a blockade of the ECB was planned. A court had disallowed many of the planned demonstrations, although a rally on Saturday was granted permission. It was expected that many protesters would try to blockade the banks regardless and fears of violence rose during the early part of the week.

By Tuesday evening metro stations had been closed and the Commerzbank said it was going to close its two sky scrapers, while the German Central Bank confirmed on Wednesday it had held a meeting of ECB executives on Tuesday — a day earlier than planned.

And the farewell ceremony for departing ECB executive board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo, due to be held in a city centre luxury hotel on Wednesday, was moved to a venue in the countryside.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece: Fear of Euro Exit, 700 Million Withdrawn From Banks

(ANSAmed) — ATHENS — MAY 16 — The fear of a potential exit from the eurozone by Greece has led many Greeks to withdraw their savings from the banks. The amount taken out since Monday has apparently already reached 700 million euros. Radios from Athens have been reporting the news quoting a discussion by the governor of the central bank Giorgos Provopoulos with President Karolos Papoulias.

Papoulias spoke to the leaders of the parties who met yesterday in order to form a technical government and said “Provopoulos told me there is no reason to panic, but there is great fear which could lead to panic. The withdrawals carried out at their banks by citizens were, on Monday afternoon at four o’clock, when I called him, had already reached 600 million euros and were about to reach 700 million.” According to data from the Central Bank, at the end of March businesses and private citizens had 165 billion euros in the Greek banks, in other words what remained after they had withdrawn 72 billion euros from their accounts starting from January 2010.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Greeks Withdraw Millions of Euros From Banks

Around €700m were withdrawn from Greek bank accounts on Monday, AFP reports. “The governor of the bank of Greece, Georges Provopoulos, told me that situation of the banks was very difficult,” said President Carolos Papoulias. Greece has been in political uncertainty since the 6 May election.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF Warns Swedish Economy ‘Vulnerable’

Sweden’s economy is structurally sound but vulnerable because of its exposure to strained European economies which could impact its growth, the International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday.

Sweden has long secured strong growth thanks to its “robust policy frameworks and sustained reform initiatives,” the IMF said in its country report, but “after many years of success, the outlook for growth is clouded.”

Sweden’s economic health “is closely tied to that of Europe given that the economy is very open and that two-thirds of exports go to Europe, as does much of the financial sector’s external lending.”

The IMF noted that as elsewhere in Europe, stresses in Sweden’s banking system have risen since the autumn of 2011 and growth momentum has weakened, led down by exports.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

IMF: Italy a ‘Model’ For Reforms

Work still to be done, says European director

(ANSA) — Rome, May 16 — The director of the International Monetary Fund’s European department, Reza Moghadam, said at a meeting in Rome on Wednesday that Italy is “truly a model for Europe” and has made “notable progress” in the last six months.

Moghadam added that Premier Mario Monti’s government still needs to do more for growth, should press ahead with labor market reforms and said that public services need improving.

Monti’s government of non-political experts, which replaced Silvio Berlusconi’s in November, is now seeking to put growth at the top of both the domestic and European agendas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Europe Managed Greek Crisis ‘Very Badly’ Says Industry Min

Passera believes euro can survive without Athens

(ANSA) — Rome, May 16 — Italian Industry Minister Corrado Passera blasted the European Union for its handling of the crisis in Greece, but stressed that he believes the euro will survive even if Athens defaults and is forced to leave the single currency.

Greece is in political and economic turmoil with talks on forming a new government failing this week after the parties that backed austerity measures agreed with the EU to obtain bailouts performed badly at elections on May 6.

“It’s necessary to help Greece get out of this situation,” Passera, who stepped down as CEO of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank group to join Premier Mario Monti’s emergency government of technocrats in November, said on Rai television.

“The problem was relatively small (as Greece) represented a small percentage of European GDP. But the situation has been managed very badly.

“Perhaps even now Europe is demanding impossible things after the great sacrifices the Greeks have made”.

He added, however, that “the credibility of the euro is not in question” and that “the euro could hold up even without Athens”.

He also said that Europe has not put enough emphasis on economic growth.

“Europe has shown a great lack of leadership regarding growth,” Passera said.

“It seems to me that greater awareness is taking hold of the importance of growth, together with rigour (in public finances), but Europe must show this in practice”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Lagarde: Outcome of Greece Euro Exit Could be ‘Quite Messy’

The consequences of Greece leaving the euro zone would be difficult to assess, but the situation could easily degenerate into turmoil, the head of the International Monetary Fund said Tuesday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Leftists Target Head of EU’s Greece Task Force

A group of left-wing extremists in Germany has claimed responsibility for an arson attack aimed at the EU task force leader for Greece. His efforts to implement painful reforms there are unwanted, said the group, which has also threatened further attacks.

As head of the European Union task force that is helping Athens implement tough structural reforms, Horst Reichenbach is an unpopular man in Greece. Now it would seem that even in his native Germany the official can’t escape his critics.

Unknown perpetrators attacked his home in Potsdam, near Berlin, on Sunday night, torching his wife’s car and lobbing red paint at the property, a police spokesman told news agency Reuters late on Tuesday.

Left-wing extremists claimed responsibility for the attack on Tuesday, and the investigation points to a politically motivated crime, the police spokesman said.

The car destroyed in the arson attack belonged to Reichenbach’s wife, Dagmar Roth-Behrendt, who is a member of the European Parliament. In a letter to daily Berliner Morgenpost, a group calling itself “Friends of Loukanikos” wrote that the fire was a message for the task force leader.

“Loukanikos” is a scrappy stray dog famous for taking part in Athens protests in recent years. He and a handful of other “riot dogs” like him have become symbols of the Greek protests, gaining fans worldwide.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Merkel and Hollande Want Greece to Stay in Euro

France’s newly elected president and the German Chancellor on Tuesday (15 May) both said they want Greece to remain in the eurozone, even as coalition talks collapsed over the EU-sponsored bail-out and the country is set to hold new elections in June.

“We want Greece to stay in the euro,” Germany’s Angela Merkel said in Berlin alongside Francois Hollande. She added that their governments were ready “to study the possibility of additional growth measures in Greece.”

Hollande centred his election campaign around the argument that German-driven austerity alone is not the solution for Europe. He vowed to attach a “growth pact” to the Berlin-inspired fiscal treaty enshrining budgetary discipline in national law.

He repeated that stance on Tuesday: “I said it during my election campaign and I say it again now as president that I want to renegotiate what has been agreed to include a growth dimension.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Moody’s Blasted for Downgrading 26 Italian Banks

ABI says move ‘irresponsible, unjustifiable’

(ANSA) — Rome, May 15 — Italian banking association ABI on Tuesday blasted the Moody’s rating agency for downgrading the long-term debt and deposit ratings for 26 of the nation’s banks.

The agency said the recession Italy is enduring and government austerity measures that are hitting short-term demand were factors that contributed to the downgrades.

Italy’s two biggest banks, Unicredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, both saw their deposit ratings drop to A3 from A2. The rating of the third biggest, Monte Dei Paschi di Siena, went from Baa1 to Baa3. ABI described the downgrades as “irresponsible, incomprehensible (and) unjustifiable.

“It is an (act of) aggression on Italy, on its companies, on its families and on its citizens,” added ABI.

“Once again the rating agencies have proven to be an element of market destabilisation with partial, contradictory judgements”.

Pier Ferdinando Casini, the leader of a coalition of centrist political parties called the ‘Third Pole’, went even further.

“Moody’s decision is of unprecedented seriousness,” Casini said. “The ratings agencies have a criminal design against Italy and against Europe”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama and Monti Agree to Speed Growth

US President Obama and Italy’s Premier Monti agreed Tuesday in a telephone conversation on the need to “intensify efforts to promote growth and job creation,” according to a statement from the White House. The talks was part of Washington’s preparations for the G8 summit at Camp David starting on Friday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Portuguese Official Unemployment Rate Rises to Record 14.9%

The Portuguese unemployment rate set a record of 14.9 percent in the first quarter of 2012, official data showed on Wednesday, up from 14 percent late last year as the economy was hit by austerity measures. The number of those registered as looking for work rose to 819,300 in a workforce that totals 5.48 million people, an increase of 18.9 percent from the same period a year earlier.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Tax Commissioner Lashes Out at Austria and Luxembourg

“I will be blunt. The position that Austria and Luxembourg have taken on this issue is grossly unfair,” tax commissioner Algirdas Semeta said Tuesday after Austrian and Luxembourg ministers vetoed the start of negotiations on an EU-Switzerland deal allowing governments to tax savings held by their nationals in Swiss banks.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

The Netherlands Remains in Recession

Netherlands is still in recession. In the first quarter of 2012, the Dutch economy shrank by 1.1 percent compared to figures from last year. The Dutch Central Statistics Bureau released this information in a provisional estimate. When compared to the last quarter of 2011, the economy shrank by 0.2 percent during the first quarter of this year.

This means the Dutch economy has shrunk for three consecutive quarters. An economy is said to be in recession when it shrinks two quarters in a row. The Dutch economy was officially declared in recession in February, as a result of a poor showing during the third and fourth quarters of 2011, when the economy shrunk by 0.7 percent and 0.4 percent respectively.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Long-Term Unemployment is at Highest Level for 16 Years as King Warns Economy Won’t Return to Pre-Crisis Level Until 2014

The number of people out of work for more than 12 months has risen to the highest level in 16 years, official figures showed today.

Data from the Office for National Statistics showed the number of people unemployed for more than a year increased by 27,000 to 887,000 — the highest total since 1996.

In the three months to March, a third of all unemployed people had been out of work for more than a year. The number of people unemployed for more than two years rose by 5,000 to 428,000.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Wilders Seeks Injunction to Block Fiscal Pact

Freedom Party PVV leader Geert Wilders is seeking an injunction against the Dutch state in a bid to scrap the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent bailout fund which is part of a EU fiscal pact to reinforce economic surveillance. Wilders said on Wednesday that leading lawyer Bram Moszkowicz will represent him.

The PVV leader wants the court to block what he has described as “an unlawful action”. Wilders claims that by agreeing to the new pact, the Netherlands will be handing over more power to Brussels. He says that it is not right that a caretaker government should make such important decisions without taking voters’ wishes into account.

Wilders had tried to garner support on the issue in parliament, but only 41 out of a total of 150 MPs backed him — not enough to postpone a decision until after general elections on 12 September. Wilders referred to the MPs who backed him as “a substantial minority”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Zero Growth in Eurozone

Figures from the EU’s statistical office, Eurostat, on Tuesday showed zero growth in the eurozone, with Spanish GDP contracting by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2012, while the Italian economy shrank by 0.8% and France had zero growth. Germany returned to growth, 0.5% and Finland reported 1.3% growth.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Barack Obama Recycles a German Socialist Campaign Slogan From the 1960s

by Nile Gardiner

Barack Obama recently unveiled his new campaign slogan “Forward” in a seven minute “kitchen-sink” video. Sounds familiar? It may be to millions of Germans who voted in the 1961 West German federal election, contested by Konrad Adenauer of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Willy Brandt of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), and Erich Mende of the Free Democratic Party (FDP). The CDU ultimately won enough seats for Adenauer to remain as Chancellor, but he was compelled to form a coalition with the SPD and FDP.


[JP note: Forward — the only way is barack!]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Brookfield Council Approves Mosque

Islamic society’s project to begin in summer

Brookfield — The Common Council gave final approval Tuesday for construction of a mosque, the first in Waukesha County. The decision comes after months of discussion about fears of Islamic radicalism, the mosque’s impact on traffic and the environment, religious freedom and local Muslims’ desire to worship closer to their homes. The council voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit for the project. “We’re elated” said Mushir Hassan, a physician and secretary of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, which has been working to build a mosque in the Milwaukee area’s western suburbs for more than a decade. “The unanimous vote reflects the tremendous hard work that has gone into this project and the positive relationship we have with the city. We’ve done our best to make this open and transparent. And that will continue.” Groundbreaking is expected this summer on a 13,000-square-foot mosque and community center on Pheasant Drive east of Calhoun Road. The Islamic Society estimates 100 Islamic families live within a four-mile radius of the site — many of them Brookfield residents who have turned out at city meetings, including Tuesday’s, to advocate for the project. The mosque had garnered support from individuals and religious groups, including the Brookfield-Elm Grove Interfaith Network and the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee. But it also drew criticism from skeptics who voiced concerns ranging from traffic to terrorism.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

CAIR: Kansas Governor Asked Not to Sign Anti-Sharia Bill

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2012 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on Muslims and all other Americans who value civil liberties to contact Kansas Governor Sam Brownback to ask that he not sign a bill (House Substitute for Senate Bill 79), the sponsors of which admit is designed to attack Sharia, the religious principles of Islam.

On May 11, the Kansas Senate approved Senate Bill 79 by a vote of 33-4, sending it to the governor’s desk for approval. The bill is one of more than 25 similar pieces of discriminatory and unconstitutional legislation that have been introduced in state legislatures nationwide. These legislative initiatives are promoted by those who seek to marginalize American Muslims and demonize Islam.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Class Materials From Military’s Anti-Islam Class Repeatedly Cite Islamophobic Authors

A class taught by the military to officers at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, came under fire when a report on Wired’s Danger Room blog last week exposed it for teaching soldiers to engage in a “total war” on Islam and taking a war on Islam “to the civilian population wherever necessary.” The full set of course materials, hundreds of documents and slide shows obtained by ThinkProgress, reveal just how deep Islamophobia ran through the military instruction. The material contained dozens of citations to the work of some of America’s best known anti-Muslim bigots.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Does Sugar Make You Stupid?

A study on rats suggests that eating a high fructose diet for as little as six weeks may make you stupid. Luckily, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids can counteract this IQ loss, researchers suggest.

“Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think,” study researcher Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, of the University of California, Los Angeles, said in a statement. “Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. But adding omega-3 fatty acids to your meals can help minimize the damage.”

The study was published in the May 15 issue of the Journal of Physiology. The research was done on rats, but the researchers believe their brain chemistry is similar enough to humans to extend the findings.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Muslim Leaders Explain Sharia Law Amid Mosque Concerns

The Brookfield Common Council may vote Tuesday night on preliminary and final approvals for a mosque.

With Brookfield aldermen poised to vote Tuesday on a proposed mosque, one concern raised by critics has been Sharia law. At a public information session held at Gethsemane Evangelical Lutheran Church, leaders of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee explained how Muslims use Sharia law, that they do not apply it to non-Muslims and they obey the U.S. Constitution. Some residents were not convinced.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Mysterious Illness Strikes Hundreds of Flight Attendants, Causes Rashes and Hair Loss — Are ‘Toxic Uniforms’ Really to Blame or is it Fukushima?

(NaturalNews) Hundreds of Alaska Airlines flight attendants have filed a formal complaint about uniforms they suspect might be causing their skin to rash and develop lesions, and their hair to fall out. But based on the timing of the symptoms and their relation to similar symptoms in local marine life and polar bear populations, it appears as though radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster may also be a potential culprit.


But not everyone is convinced that the uniforms are to blame, including Alexander Higgins who recently connected the dots to discover a potential link to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. After comparing the flight attendants’ symptoms to those reported on polar bears and marine life from the northwest U.S. throughout the past year, the timing and correlation of the two is highly suspect.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

New Jersey Man Sues Walmart for $1m Over Racist Remark

Wal-Mart is being sued for $1 million by a man who claims he was traumatized by a racist comment made over an intercom at a southern New Jersey store two years ago.

Donnell Battie, of Winslow, accuses Wal-Mart of being negligent in failing to control access to the store’s intercom, which was used to broadcast an announcement ordering all black people to leave the Washington Township store. A 16-year-old boy was arrested days later and charged with harassment and bias intimidation.

Battie claims he has needed medical care due to the March 2010 comment. He says it caused him “severe and disabling emotional and psychological harm.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Stakelbeck: Will Iran Attack New York City?

From the 1993 World Trade Center bombing to 9/11, and more recently, the Times Square bomber, Islamic terrorists have repeatedly targeted Manhattan.

Now Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terror, is reportedly taking aim.

My latest report examines threats by the Iranian regime and its proxy, Hezbollah, against the Big Apple.

Click the link above to watch.

           — Hat tip: Erick Stakelbeck[Return to headlines]

U.S. Leads Effort to Criminalize Free Speech

by Ann Snyder

The Human Rights Council concluded its nineteenth session on March 23, 2012 and adopted, without a vote, yet another resolution aimed at restricting freedom of speech throughout the world. While its title[1], as usual, suggests it is about combating intolerance based on religion, its plain language shows that, once again, speech is the real target.

One of its sponsors, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (formerly the Organization of the Islamic Conference or “OIC” ), has, for over a decade, introduced speech-restrictive resolutions at the United Nations. In the past, these resolutions contained explicit language about “defamation of religions.” Last year, however, when the OIC introduced Resolution 16/18 without the term “defamation of religions,” the West’s resistance to the OIC’s efforts faltered (discussed here). The “defamation of religions” concept had been easy for Western countries to rally against, in part, because it seemed to attach rights to a concept (here, religion) rather than to individuals. But, dropping that term was little more than a cosmetic change leaving speech-targeting language behind and the OIC’s speech-restrictive agenda intact.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

United States Socialist Republic (USSR), Part 1

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 played havoc on the nation of Russia. According to Wikipedia

The Russian (Bolshevik) Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy. The Tsar was deposed and replaced by a provisional government in the first revolution of February 1917. In the second revolution, the October Revolution, the Bolshevik party, led by Vladimir Lenin, and the workers’ Soviets, overthrew the Provisional Government in St Petersburg. The Bolsheviks appointed themselves as leaders of various government ministries and seized control of the countryside, establishing the Cheka to quash dissent. Eventually, civil war erupted between the “Red” (Bolshevik), and “White” (anti-Bolshevik) factions, which was to continue for several years, with the Bolsheviks ultimately victorious. In this way the Revolution paved the way for the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). [1]

But, what gave Lenin the opportunity to succeed in his efforts to win the Russian (Bolshevik Revolution) and turn Russia into a Communist nation? According to Robert D. Clare in his article entitled “Why did the Bolshevik Revolution of November 1917 Succeed,” there are seven powers that Vladimir Lenin had. They are as follows:


Needless to say, President Obama does have most of the powers that Lenin had that he could use to turn America into a socialist state, but probably not into a Communist state, since it would require an army that would actually kill its own citizens. First, America’s elected Congress is weak, just like the Provisional Government in Russia prior to the Bolsheviks Communist takeover. The United States Congress is definitely unpopular and weak. Sadly, Congress is so weak that it cannot stop President Obama from usurping its power and the Constitution of the United States. Also, its popularity rating is less than ten percent. Unfortunately, though, the idea of checks and balances is almost null and void in America today. The President continually uses his executive powers to usurp the constitutional powers of Congress.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Viruses May Someday Power Your Cellphone

cientists have just put pesky viruses to work, for us, using the teensy particles to generate electricity. So far, they have produced enough energy with these harmless viruses to power a small liquid-crystal display.

The researchers think their findings could lead to a “personal power generator in the near future,” study researcher Seung-Wuk Lee of the University of California, Berkeley, told LiveScience. “Therefore, by walking around, we can charge our cellular phone.” The device could also replace batteries as a self-sustaining power source for environmental sensors. And being that the device would be biocompatiable, Lee foresees its use in biomedical devices, powering pacemakers and hearing aids, for instance.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Dead Muslim Women as Opportunities

By Sana Saeed, May 15, 2012

In April of 2011, 20 year-old Jessica Mokdad was allegedly gunned down by her stepfather Rahim Alfetlawi. The media uproar over the murder was immediate and, unsurprisingly, cloaked under the sensationalized trope of “honor killing.” While Mokdad’s family, including her biological father, stressed that Alfetlawi had issues of control and was not acting out of some religious convictions, the use of “honor killing” continued and served, also, most poignantly as a source for protest against even attempted popular normalization of Muslims a la TLC.

Despite evidence that emerged earlier this year that Jessica, herself, had gone to the police two weeks prior to her murder, claiming that her step-father had raped her as a teen and she now feared for her life (falling in the face of the reductionism of “Islamic honor”), her murder still ignites whispers of an honor-based killing. And these particularly loud “waswasa” have come from-wait for it-the efforts of the ever-lovable trifecta of Pamela Geller-Robert Spencer-Tasteless Opportunism.


Sana Saeed is a white-washed Kashmiri looking for some culture, based in Canada with roots in the United States. She is currently a Masters student in Islamic Studies, writing a political history relating to the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon during the Oslo period. She hopes for her PhD to be a little bit more uplifting. In terms of writing, she knows no bounds — topical or ethical. She is interested in issues relating to western Muslim identity formation, shar’iah in the modern context, civilizational wardrobe wars, everything hip hop, skin-bleaching and state-citizen relations. When she’s not at MMW, she’s blogging at the ever-irreverent She aspires to be paid one day for doing what she does.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Arab Press Blushes at New French PM’s Name

The Arab-speaking media was in a quandary after the appointment of Jean-Marc Ayrault as France’s new prime minster on Tuesday — about how to mention the head of the French government without causing offense. Transcribed into Arabic from the French pronounciation of his name, “Ayrault” refers to the male sexual organ in several Arabic dialects.

The problem lasted for hours after French President Francois Hollande named the head of the Socialist bloc in parliament as his prime minister, with Arab journalists trying different possible pronunciations of his name. Some newspapers referred to him as “Aro,” others prefixed his name with an “H,” while some chose to spell out the last two silent letters.

The conundrum was finally resolved by the French foreign ministry, which issued an official edict on subject permitting his name to be transcribed as written, and saving the blushes of many an Arabic editor.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany: Merkel Kicks Out Minister After Election Disaster

Chancellor Angela Merkel fired her environment minister on Wednesday afternoon, kicking out Norbert Röttgen who led her conservative party to a historic loss in the country’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia on Sunday.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Ireland: €40m Islamic Centre for Clongriffin

A DUBLIN-BASED Muslim group is in advanced discussions to develop a € 40 million Islamic Cultural Centre including a substantial Mosque at Clongriffin on the northern fringe of the city. A formal planning application for the six-acre campus is to be lodged with Dublin City Council by the end of this summer. The complex is expected to give a major boost to Dublin’s newest town centre and lead to the creation of up to 500 construction jobs over a three year period. The promoters have agreed purchase terms for the extensive site with Gerry Gannon’s development company, which has already spent a fortune on providing a range of public facilities at Clongriffin including an impressive new Dart railway station, an internal street network, a 460-space park-and-ride facility, supermarket and department store, apartments and houses as well as a string of retail units.

Dublin’s other sizeable Mosque at Clonskeagh — there is also a small one at South Circular Road — caters for only a fraction of the 40,000 Muslims currently residing in the city and suburbs. A two-year search for a suitable site for another Mosque along with a range of support facilities including a 34-classroom school, conference centre, assembly hall, playground, swimming pool and on-site apartments, has culminated in an agreement to locate the development on part of the extensive lands owned by Gannon Developments near the recently-opened Dart station. Swords estate agent Shane Redmond was involved in the negotiations between the Muslim group and Gannon Developments.

The group is anxious to make it known that the proposed amenities will be available not only to the Muslim population but also to families of other faiths — or no faith — with the intention of promoting harmonious relations. Funding for the development has been promised by 10 wealthy individuals as well as charitable organisations in the Middle East.

Most of the Dublin-based group promoting the Islamic Cultural Centre are professionals working in medicine, research and the universities. Once the centre has been developed, it will be capable of accommodating up to 5,000 people at any one time. The new campus will also include 147 houses and apartments.

Gannon Developments, whose loans are currently managed by Nama, is awaiting planning permission for 147 houses close to the six-acre site. Nama will have to give its approval for the Islamic centre. Only about one-third of the 3,678 new homes already approved for the Clongriffin area have so far been built, while no more than 20 per cent of the commercial projects have also been completed. Building operations in the area have virtually ground to a halt since the collapse of the property industry. There is considerable optimism among those associated with the proposed Islamic centre that if it works out successfully “it could put Ireland in a very favourable position in the Muslim world and lead to significant inward investment”.

Plans for the Islamic centre drawn up by architects and urban designers Conroy Crowe Kelly show that the proposed buildings will cover an area of 16,257sq m (157,000 sq ft) next to Panhandle Park, halfway between Fr Collins Park and the railway station. The mixture of cultural uses will be arranged around a series of public civic spaces and private courtyard gardens. The Mosque will be dominant and will define the complex. The various building will be accessed from a central civic space. The architects say the centre will have a “strong sense of place, be of unified design, encompass high-quality public civic spaces and provide glimpses through to calm, private enclosures within: the Islamic tradition of the wall and the garden.

[JP note: “The Mosque will be dominant … “ note the early onset of inappropriate capitalization.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Italy: Xenophobic Party Founder, Berlusconi Ally, Probed for Corruption

Milan, 16 May (AKI) — Umberto Bossi, the ex-leader of an Italian anti-immigrant party whose support kept Silvio Berlusconi governments afloat is under investigation for knowing of the defrauding the state of campaign funds.

Northern League party founder Bossi and his sons Renzo and Riccardo are also targets of the probe by Milan investigators for using campaign reimbursements for personal use.

The investigators say that Bossi who signed off on party accounts last summer had to know that some of the tens-of-million-of-euros of campaign funds were being misused.

A determining factor to open the probe against Bossi was the declaration of the head of the party’s administration who told investigators that Bossi gave his okay the party’s accounts.

The gruff 70-year-old cigar-chomping politician who morphed a northern secessionist movement into a powerful force from Italy’s wealthy industrial north had won a cult-like following in part by boasting of a corruption-free party while accusing Rome of thievery.

Bossi, who stepped down as League secretary last month amid news that his son Renzo was receiving personal spending money from the party treasurer, earlier this week announced he wouldn’t try to regain his position.

Prosecutors in Naples, Milan, and Reggio Calabria have opened investigations into into the financing.

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

Norway: Greens Hail Statoil Oil Sands ‘Victory’

STAVANGER: A pleased environmental front has been celebrating some progress in getting Statoil to pull out of its Canadian oil sands project following the company’s AGM in Stavanger, Tuesday. At the same time, Statoil’s board voted to pour 20 billion kroner into owners’ pockets.

According to Greepeace, this year’s share value vote for withdrawal is almost twice that of last year’s. 2.14 percent (equivalent to to a share value of 7.6 billion kroner) voted in favour.

Amongst the voters were Norwegian financial services company Storebrand and Sweden’s Folkesam insurance company. As previously threatened, the Norwegian Church also sold its portfolio of shares to the value of 15 million kroner.

“The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) and Greenpeace are pleased that support for our cause is increasing amongst private and professional shareholders. Simultaneously, we are disappointed that the government still maintains its support for Statoil’s tar sands,” head of WWF Arild Skedsmo and Greenpeace leader Truls Gulowsen say in a joint statement.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Norway: Terror Repair Costs Double

Clean-up and repair costs following last summer’s terrorist attacks in Oslo have more than doubled from the initial estimates made last fall. As the government rolled out its revised state budget on Tuesday, officials were already facing billions worth of unwanted bills.

“This just shows what enormous damage resulted from the attacks, what consequences it has for the state and how much money it’s going to take to repair,” Rigmor Aasrud, the government minister in charge of renewal and administration, told newspaper Aftenposten.

The government initially thought the cost of clearing the rubble, immediate repairs, new temporary offices for all the ministries hit by the bombing of July 22 and increased security in the area around the government complex downtown would amount to around NOK 590 million.

Now that’s been increased by another NOK 770 million, to a current total of NOK 1.45 billion (around USD 26 million). “It’s a huge cost,” Aasrud said. “There are a lot of other things we could have used that much money for.” She also warned the costs can keep rising.

The increase is blamed on expensive clean-up measures that have taken much longer than expected. Discovery of asbestos inside the buildings, for example, meant that every single page of recovered documents needed to be carefully vacuumed of all dust, and safety measures have been expensive and extensive as well.

The need to move several ministries into new quarters has also been expensive, at least NOK 133 million in unexpected leasing costs so far. The need to more than double the budget comes even before plans are laid for reconstruction of the area. That will cost billions more.

Economy strong, budget restrained

Finance Sigbjørn Johnsen, meanwhile, could report that Norway’s economy remains strong as he unveiled the state’s revised budget through the rest of the year. The state has collected far more taxes and fees than expected, but Johnsen nonetheless claimed it was necessary to cut back on spending.

He delivered a revised state budget that calls for using NOK 16 billion less of the oil revenues Norway could use under generally accepted spending rules. That’s NOK 6 billion less than originally budgeted, because of the boost in tax and fee revenue, and the total will amount to 3.5 percent of the size of Norway’s oil fund. Johnsen could have used up to 4 percent of the fund under Norway’s so-called handlingsregelen, the rule that governs use of oil revenues.

“It’s naturally tempting to spend more money,” Johnsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He said that other economic factors affecting inflation and the strength of the Norwegian currency meant that it was wisest to avoid the temptation.

The bottom line seems to be that Norway has so much money it literally can’t spend it all, even though demands continue for better roads, better schools and better health care. Government officials are allocating more funding in the transport sector and Health Minister Anne-Grethe Strøm-Erichsen could present funds for a few new projects that meet demands, for example, for reconstructive breast surgery after cancer operations and continued use of Aker Hospital.

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Norway: 17th of May Even ‘More Meaningful’

As Norwegians prepared for their annual, festive Constitution Day holiday on the 17th of May, a new public opinion poll indicated that it would be even “more meaningful” this year than it usually is. Last summer’s terrorist attacks on Norway’s democracy have given the Norwegians yet another reason to wave the flag.

Flags will be waving all over Norway on Thursday, when Norwegians celebrate the signing of their constitution on the 17th of May in 1814. PHOTO: Views and News

The poll, conducted for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), showed that 30 percent believe the 17th of May will mean more for them this year. Among young persons responding to the poll, the number was even higher. Fully 40 percent said the holiday will have greater meaning for them this year.

“I feel that Norwegian solidarity has become much more important after what happened last summer,” Trond Ikdahl Anderson, an 18-year-old physics student at the University of Oslo, told NRK. “And the 17th of May is a day when everyone is more more together than ever.”

Asked whether the terrorist attacks, carried out by a Norwegian who claims he was attacking those who have allowed immigration to Norway, also were an attack on Norwegian values, Andersond respond, “Yes, clearly. We have always been proud of accepting all kinds of cultures and most like diversity. That’s exactly what (the confessed terrorist) opposed.”…

           — Hat tip: The Observer[Return to headlines]

Politesse Trumps Policy as Hollande Meets Merkel

Just hours after his rain-soaked inauguration, new French President François Hollande flew to Berlin to meet with the German chancellor. The pair did all they could to exude amiability, but with Hollande now intent on fulfilling his myriad campaign promises, it remains to be seen how long the congeniality will last.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Racial Relations in Czech Republic Strained, Poll Shows

More than four out of five Czechs say whites and Roma minority generally do not live peacefully side by side

The latest poll on public perceptions as to the state of relations between the white majority and Roma (“Gypsy”) minority found that 82 percent see coexistence of the two groups in the Czech Republic as generally bad, with 56 percent of respondents saying it was problematic in the area where they live.

The April survey of Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) of the Academy of Social Sciences found that 60 percent of Czechs think that Roma people have a harder time finding work than do the majority population, with 36 percent saying they think the group has disadvantages in public and civic life.

The CVVM said the percentage of respondents who said racial relations were “very bad” (40 percent) had increased slightly but otherwise attitudes have remained largely unchanged.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Spain: Islam Arrives in the Basque Country

by Soeren Kern

The Basque regional government in northern Spain is drafting a controversial new Law on Religious Institutions, which states that mosques and prayer rooms with a capacity of fewer than 300 people will no longer require prior local government approval.

The draft law is generating considerable opposition from elected officials of all political stripes, who fear the new measure will encourage the proliferation of mosques throughout the Basque region. The mayor of the Basque capital Vitoria-Gasteiz, Javier Maroto, said in an interview that the practical effect of the new law will be that “any fruit and vegetable shop can be converted into a mosque and there will be nothing we can do about it.” He has promised to fight the new law, which he believes will encourage “mosques to spring up like mushrooms.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Mosques’ Advice: ‘Don’t Report Abusive Husbands’

Six out of ten mosques in Sweden gave women advice about how to deal with spousal abuse and polygamy that contradicted Swedish law, a media investigation has revealed.

Using hidden cameras and telephone recording equipment, two women posing as abused spouses visited ten of Sweden’s largest mosques as part of a report put together by Sveriges Television (SVT) investigative news programme “Uppdrag granskning”. The women then asked leaders at the mosques for advice about how to address issues such as polygamy, assault and non-consensual sex.

Six out of the ten mosques visited by the women, who had also claimed that their husbands had multiple wives, told them that they should nevertheless agree to have sex with their husbands even if they didn’t want to.

Six of the mosques also advised the women against reporting spousal abuse to the police. Leaders at another mosque were divided on the issue, while women received vague advice from yet another mosque. Only two of the mosques gave the women clear advice directing them to report their abusive husbands to police.

The women were also told by nine of the ten mosques that men had the right — under certain circumstances — to have more than one wife. Only one mosque told the women that men didn’t have the right to be married to several women at the same time and that their husbands needed to follow Swedish law. The advice, which in many cases advocated violating Swedish laws, came from imams or family counselors at the mosques.

When “Uppdrag granskning” host Janne Josefsson approached two of the largest mosques featured in the programme to inquire about their official position on matters discussed by the women, the answers he received were totally different than what the women heard.

The chair of the Islamic Association in Uppsala claimed in the story that people should follow Swedish law. When confronted by what the imam at the Uppsala mosque told the women, the Islamic leader explained that the imam had expressed his personal opinion in urging the women to forgive their abusive husbands rather than report them to police.

The imam with whom the woman met at the mosque in Stockholm defended polygamy and also advised against filing a police report about husbands who beat them.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Switzerland: Richemont Says Asian Demand for Luxury Goods Boosts Profits

Swiss luxury goods group Richemont posted a steep rise in annual net profit on Wednesday as Asian demand for watches and jewellery showed no signs of abating. Richemont, which owns the Cartier, Piaget and Montblanc brands reported that net profit rose 43 percent to 1.5 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in the year ending March 31.

Operating profit increased 51 percent to 2.0 billion euros, while sales grew 29 percent to 8.9 billion euros, Richemont said in a statement. The Asia-Pacific region generated the highest level of demand and following several years of “very strong” growth, now represented 42 percent of total sales.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: 10,500 Army Personnel for Olympic Games

Britain’s armed forces minister says approximately 10,500 army personnel will be deployed to help protect the London Olympics. Responding to a written parliamentary question about how many army members will be on duty, Nick Harvey said Wednesday that under current plans, about 1,700 army reservists and 8,800 regular army personnel will be deployed during the games, which run from July 27 to August 12.

Britain previously had said that up to 13,500 troops would be deployed on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards. Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be on duty as part of the security operation, and the Ministry of Defense is considering deploying surface-to-air missile systems during the games.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Complaints Over Use of ‘Asian’ Label in Grooming Cases

Groups representing Sikh and Hindu communities have complained about the term “Asian” being used to describe the men involved in grooming trials.

Earlier this month, nine men were jailed for being part of a sex ring in Rochdale which groomed girls for sex.

The groups said the men involved were “almost always of Pakistani origin” and the term “Asian” was inaccurate.

The Ramadan Foundation has said grooming is “a significant problem for the British Pakistani community”.

The joint statement was released by the Network of Sikh Organisations UK, The Hindu Forum of Britain, and The Sikh Media Monitoring Group UK.

It says the reluctance of the media and the government to discuss the “disproportionate representation of Muslims in such cases” and the fact victims are “almost always non-Muslim girls” is adding to the cause of far-right groups such as the BNP.

It said blanket use of the word “Asian” was “unfair to other communities of Asian origin”.

“We believe that in this case the government itself is sanctioning the use of term Asian as a way of clouding responsibility,” the groups say.

Stifled debate

The groups say sex gangs have targeted Hindu and Sikh girls but the cases are rarely reported as they seldom reach the courts.

The statement says: “We believe that political correctness stifles debate and will not facilitate a frank and mature discussion or solutions to get to the root of why the above pattern is emerging in these crimes and how to help find a solution to the problem.

“We will not be able to do that if we mask the identity of those involved based on misguided views of ‘protecting a vulnerable community’ of the perpetrators and not looking at the vulnerable community of victims.”

Last Week Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of The Ramadhan Foundation, said: “There is an over-representation [of Asian men] amongst recent convictions in the crime of on-street grooming [and] there should be no silence in addressing the issue of race as this is central to the actions of these criminals,” he said.

He said community elders were “burying their heads” over the issue and police and local councils should not “be frightened” to address the problem, as there was “a strong lesson that you cannot ignore race or be over-sensitive”.

On Monday, the chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, said the race of the men involved could not be ignored and it was “fatuous” to deny racial and cultural factors.

But assistant chief constable Steve Heywood, of Greater Manchester Police, said the case was not about race, but about “adults preying on vulnerable young children”.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the nine men plied their victims, one as young as 13, with drink and drugs so they could “pass them around” and use them for sex.

The case sparked protests by far-right groups but police insisted the grooming was not “racially motivated”.

           — Hat tip: Nick[Return to headlines]

UK: Enjoy Homemade Curries for Queen

THOSE who would like a change from cream teas can celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee by tucking into homemade curries at a food fair organised by the Leamington Mosque’s women’s association. Visitors to the event, which takes place at the mosque in Adelaide Road on Saturday May 26, will be offered freshly prepared biriyani, korma, saag aloo, lentil curry, naan, chapattis, onion bajis — as well as cakes and free tea and coffee. People will also be able to indulge in pampering treatments, including threading, hairstyling and manicures and there will be stalls offering henna tattoos, chappatti-making sessions and children’s activities. Every penny made at the fair, which will be open from 11am to 3pm, will be donated to the Queen’s charities, of which there are more than 600. To find out more about the causes, visit

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Give All Police Taser Guns to Quell Riots, Federation Says

All police officers should have access to Taser stun guns to quell future riots, a senior figure has said.

Paul Davis, responsible for firearms policy on the Police Federation, made the demand as part of a £111million shopping list of weaponry and armour including water cannon, which he said was needed to maintain public order and avoid a repeat of last summer’s looting and arson. He also said that tripling the number of Tasers in the hands of police to 36,000 would help keep officers safe.

Mr Davis told the Police Federation conference in Bournemouth on Wednesday: “In more recent months I along with many others have seen too many of our members being assaulted in the line of duty.”

He said that “most if not all frontline officers” should be given access to Tasers, the “less lethal” devices that incapacitate suspects by firing metal barbs that deliver a 50,000v shock.

During a debate on the effects of August’s disorder, Mr Davis showed on-screen images from a spoof website called “Amacop” and went through a shopping list of items he said were necessary in case the riots were repeated.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

UK: Health, Hajj and the Olympics: How Mass Events Medicine Affect Communities

Half-day Symposium

2.00 — 5.30pm, Thursday, 17 May, 2012

London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1 7HT

Click here to reserve your place

In July, the city and communities of London will welcome the world for the Olympic Games. With millions of additional visitors expected in the capital, the event will prove to be an immense logistical challenge for the organisers, public services and the people of London. From transport, to accommodation, health and hospitality, London’s infrastructure will be put to the test. As the Games fall during the holy month of Ramadan, the occasion will also be a challenge for Muslims choosing to observe the fast — be they visitors or the community in the UK. The symposium will therefore also hear from volunteers and service-providers ready to cater for fasting Muslims during the Olympics. The Muslim Council of Britain is pleased to host a symposium at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, bringing together practitioners and volunteers to exchange good practice and benefit communities.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Labour Selects Tower Hamlets’ New First Citizen and Council Chairman

Labour has voted its candidate to take over as chairman and Speaker of Tower Hamlets council in London’s East End.

The majority Opposition Labour Group’s annual meeting last night (Mon) agreed to put up Cllr Rajib Ahmed. Retired nurse Lesley Pavitt, a newcomer who was only elected a councillor in 2010, has been named candidate for Deputy Speaker who would, by tradition, be in line to take over the role of chair this time next year. Cab driver Rajib held a celebration party at Brick Lane’s Preem restaurant, owned by former Respect chair Asmal Hussain, immediately after the Labour Group meeting at the Town Hall. His selection and Cllr Pavitt’s selection as his deputy goes before tomorrow night’s full council meeting to be ratified-but with Labour holding a large majority on the authority, run by the independent administration of Mayor Lutfur Rahman, both are certain to be elected. Cllr Ahmed takes over from Labour’s Mizanur Choudhury as council chairman and Tower Hamlets’ controversial First Citizen who clashed with Executive Mayor Rahman over his civic role and loss of his Town Hall office and official car during his term. But Cllr Ahmed is not without his own controversy, having had to apologise for parking his minicab at the entrance to a car park on Poplar’s Birchfeld housing estate on Saturday evening-blocking 20 motorists for three hours who were unable to get out. The minicab had to be moved by police.

[JP note: Creepy. OBL may have obtained inspiration from Asimov’s Foundation series in naming al-Qaeda and now we have a First Citizen appearing in Tower Hamlets … join the dots! But would the Mule have allowed the police to move his ‘minicab’? See ]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ofsted Investigates Children’s Home at Centre of Sex Abuse Ring

The privately-owned children’s home accused of failing to protect a victim of the Rochdale sex abuse ring is being investigated by standards watchdogs, reports the Independent.

Inspectors turned up unannounced at the single-occupancy home which is now part of a group owned by an Anglo-American private equity company. The education watchdog Ofsted, which is responsible for standards in care homes for children, is also “reviewing” its inspection plans for other homes in the same group. After the conviction of nine Asian men last week for the grooming and sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rochdale, it emerged that one victims was the sole resident of a home in the town billed by its owners as offering “intense and individual” care costing £250,000 a year. In reality, the girl regularly went missing and during this time was sexually exploited by men. The Green Corns home at the centre of the Rochdale allegations provided a staff of six to look after the victim of the grooming gang, who was 14 when she arrived. At the time when the abuse was at its height, an Ofsted inspection found that it was not employing enough qualified staff and specific training was required on sexual exploitation. Owners, Advanced Childcare, that had no involvement with Green Corns at the time of the abuse, last week said it was undertaking a “full review of policies, procedures and systems” at the homes.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Ofsted Turns Sights on Children’s Home at Centre of Sex Abuse Ring

Mr Loughton said he expects Ofsted to use all of its enforcement powers on failing homes

The privately-owned children’s home accused of failing to protect a victim of the Rochdale sex abuse ring is being investigated by standards watchdogs. Inspectors turned up unannounced at the single-occupancy home which is now part of a group owned by an Anglo-American private equity company. The education watchdog Ofsted, which is responsible for standards in care homes for children, is also “reviewing” its inspection plans for other homes in the same group. After the conviction of nine Asian men last week for the grooming and sexual abuse of teenage girls in Rochdale, it emerged that one victims was the sole resident of a home in the town billed by its owners as offering “intense and individual” care costing £250,000 a year. In reality, the girl regularly went missing and during this time was sexually exploited by men.

The Green Corns home, one of 30 of that name operated across north west England, was part of a wider children’s homes provider owned at the time by 3i, a private equity company. Shortly before the conclusion of the Rochdale trial, 3i sold the group to Advanced Childcare Ltd, another specialist care provider which is owned by another private equity company, GI Partners. The inspection of the home, one of 18 Green Corns “solo care” homes in Rochdale, was announced by Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, who is under pressure to clear up the chaotic system which has seen some homes fail to keep tabs on the young people in their care. He said: “Over the course of many years, children in care have been repeatedly and disproportionately targeted by abusers and it is an issue that we need to tackle urgently.” Mr Loughton added that he expected Ofsted to use “all its enforcement powers” on failing homes, which include a sanction of closure.

The Green Corns home at the centre of the Rochdale allegations provided a staff of six to look after the victim of the grooming gang, who was 14 when she arrived in Greater Manchester. At the time when the abuse was at its height, an Ofsted inspection found that it was not employing enough qualified staff and specific training was required on sexual exploitation. Advanced Childcare, which had no involvement with Green Corns at the time of the abuse, last week said it was undertaking a “full review of policies, procedures and systems” at the homes. Detective Superintendent Debbie Platt, who led the investigation which broke a sex abuse ring in Derbyshire, said the protection of vulnerable girls was failing because of a reluctance to break doctor-patient confidentiality. She said that she would like health professionals to share more information with police to identify victims earlier.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Rochdale Grooming Case: Nothing to be Gained From ‘Shying Away From’ Race, Says Children’s Minister

“Shying away” from the fact that the Rochdale sexual grooming gang came from Pakistani backgrounds can only do more harm, the Children’s Minister has warned.

Tim Loughton said “nothing would be gained” by denying the cultural aspects of the case which saw nine men from Muslim backgrounds convicted of abusing white girls last week.

But he insisted that there was a need for a “long hard look” at wider society and said that focusing too closely on one community would let everyone else “off the hook”.

Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Loughton also said that a complete failure by councils to get grip with the problem of sexual exploitation had led to “hundreds, if not thousands” of children being abused. The judge in the case at Liverpool Crown court said last week that the men had treated their victims as “worthless” at least partly because they were not from their community or religion. Police and politicians played down the cultural aspects of the case in comments afterwards.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Single Mother of Three ‘Feral’ Children Known as ‘Ma Baker’ Is Run Out of Housing Estate After Three-Year Campaign of Terror

A single mother dubbed ‘Ma Baker’ after she let her three feral young children run wild on a housing estate has been run out of town.

Karla Walker, 32, was evicted from her rented home in Prestwich, near Manchester, after her out-of-control sons, now aged 11, 12 and 13, brought misery to neighbours for three years.

They invaded gardens, jumped on cars, vandalised fences and smashed windows. One neighbour was wrongly branded a ‘paedophile’ while another’s pet rabbit was mauled to death by the family dog.

Police were inundated with complaints of loud music, late night parties and the youngsters hurling foul mouthed abuse.


And today she hit back at the eviction saying her sons got the blame for all crime in the neighbourhood and she should have had ‘more support’ from the authorities to curb her children’s behaviour.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: There’s a Vital Ingredient Missing in Downing Street — Pure Hatred

by Benedict Brogan

The Tory leadership does not understand the importance of loathing its enemies

With every week that passes, Gordon Brown’s success in denying the Tories true power becomes apparent. A number of reasons can be adduced to explain his feat — the calculation with which he spread the poison of welfare addiction, the unexploded bombs he left under the carpet, such as the 50p top rate of tax — but the quality that gave Mr Brown his strength, and that Tories must understand if they are ever to stand a chance of returning to government in their own right, was his unrelenting, all-consuming hatred of his enemies.


Some of Mr Cameron’s critics have argued that what holds him back — and Mr Osborne, for that matter — is a background that has been too effortless to make failure a frightening prospect. Mr Hilton might stop short of that analysis, arguing that his friend has untapped reserves of drive and hunger which, in adversity, will emerge. But as he handed in his pass and cycled off, it was possible to imagine his disappointment that the revolution he hoped for has been stymied by complacency. Without Mr Hilton, how much will survive? His proposed public sector reforms, let alone his ideas for slashing the Civil Service, are likely to stall. He worries that not enough will have changed by 2015 to justify a Tory victory. Mr Cameron insists that he and his ministers are more than just accountants, focusing narrowly on the deficit. But the departure of Mr Hilton deprives the Government of a significant voice that understands how important it is to nurture a loathing of socialism and what it stands for — and to be truly angry at the idea of being out of power.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Russia Warns Kosovo Against Training Syria Rebels

Russia on Monday warned Kosovo against allowing the training of Syrian opposition rebels on its territory, with its UN envoy saying it could cause international friction.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin condemned what he called “disturbing information” that Kosovo authorities had been “establishing contacts with the Syrian opposition to train insurgents” in Kosovo. Kosovo’s foreign minister denied any training was planned.

Diplomats and media reports said that at least three exiled Syrian activists have been in Kosovo recently for talks with the former Kosovo rebels who fought a separatist war against Serbia in 1998-99. Churkin told a UN Security Council meeting on Kosovo that any training of Syria rebels would “run afoul” of the peace mission by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

“Moreover turning Kosovo into an international training center for insurgents of various armed units could become a serious destabilizing factor, one going beyond the Balkan region,” he said. Churkin called on the European Union and United Nations which have missions in Kosovo to act to prevent a presence by Syrian rebels.

Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Enveer Hoxhaj told reporters that there had been “some diplomatic contacts” with the Syrian opposition. “We are supporting very much their cause,” Hoxhaj said. But when asked if there would be training, he replied: “Not at all.”

The ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army started fighting for independence from Serbia in 1997. President Slobodan Milosevic’s strong-arm response led to a NATO bombing campaign in 1999 that ended the crackdown and brought Kosovo under UN administration until it declared its independence in 2008.

Russia strongly supports Serbia in insisting that Kosovo remains a Serbian province. Ninety countries have recognized its independence, including most of the European Union and the United States.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey in the Balkans: Myths, Illusions and Realities

What is behind Turkey’s new assertiveness in the western Balkans? Is it an example of “neo-Ottoman” imperial dreams, economic interests or strategic goals?

Turkey’s new confidence in the western Balkans and the country’s growing political, economic and cultural influence have sparked divergent views about the goals of the Turkish government, formed out of the Islamist-rooted, conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Under AKP rule, Turkey has adopted an increasingly assertive foreign policy in the Balkans. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has tried hard to solve political deadlock in Bosnia, offered mediation between Kosovo and Serbia, and has taken various initiatives to solve problems between the uneasy neighbors in the region.

Turkey’s growing influence is not limited to politics. With its booming economy, Turkey has recently become a magnet for the Balkan people. Trade and tourism have flourished, Turkish soap operas have become the most popular TV serials in most Balkan countries, and Turkish universities have become good alternatives for the young, with hundreds of scholarships on offer.

While Turkey’s new assertiveness is viewed positively among the substantially Muslim populations of Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo; in Serbia, suspicions are stronger. According to a Gallup poll, fewer than 15 percent of Serbians consider Turkey a friendly power. Türbedar stresses that Turkey’s active policy in Balkans is in fact a reflection of its increased international standing, and its economic boom of the last decade.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU-Turkey: Soon to Integrate Air Transport Says Kallas

Talks in Ankara on road map and start of rail project

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, MAY 16 — “We want to reach as soon as possible Turkey’s full integration into the EU’s air transport system”. This was the message sent forth by the European Commissioner for Transport, Siim Kallas, in occasion of his official visit to Ankara today, a few hours prior to the arrival of the Commissioner for Enlargement, Stefan Fule. According to Kallas this objective “will give Turkish and EU citizens more and safer connections which will also cost less”.

The objective of the mission by Kallas is to increase the transport cooperation between the EU and Turkey, for this reason he has included in his talks the creation of a specific road map which includes regular high-level meetings and the start of targeted discussions with Turkish authorities. The European Commissioner added that “In these talks we focused on the future of our partnership in transport”.

Priorities were set in the aviation field regarding a strengthening of ties between Turkey and the European Agency for air safety, but also progress towards the unified European airspace. The next step is for both parts to sign an agreement which will adjust all bilateral deals in the air transport field between Member States and Turkey into the current Communities’ rules.

During the mission, Kallas took part in the ceremony for the start of the Irmak-Karabuk-Zonguldak rail line, the largest contract financed by the EU in Turkey (188 million euros) with the funds allocated to countries who are in the process of joining the EU. The project will consent a modernisation of cargo transport between the western Black Sea region of Turkey and Europe.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egyptian Policeman Sentenced to Death for Killing Christians

by Mary Abdelmassih

(AINA) — Yesterday an Egyptian court in Minya sentenced a Muslim man to death for the killing and wounding of six Christians. Judge Mahmoud Salama pronounced the sentenced against 29-year-old policeman Amer Ashour Abdel-Zaher. During its previous session, the court had referred the case to the Egyptian Grand Mufti, as is usual with a death penalty verdict, who supported the court’s decision. Yesterday’s court session was to pronounce the verdict.

In December, 2010 Abdel-Zaher, who worked as a policeman at the Bani Mazar police investigations unit, went on a train bound for Cairo from Assiut in the upper Egyptian town of Samalut and fired his gun at six Copts after chanting “Allahu Akbar” (AINA 1-12-2011).

According to eye-witnesses, he walked up and down the train car, looking for passengers with the sign of the cross tattooed on their wrist, which the majority of Copts have, or any other sign revealing their Christian identity. He aimed at six Copts sitting together, dressed in western-style clothes and singing Christian hymns. He opened fire on them, killing a 71-year-old Fathy Ghattas, who died immediately as he slept. Another five Copts were seriously injured including the murdered man’s wife, Emily Hanna, who underwent an operation to remove her left kidney and spleen. Another Coptic woman, Sabah Saniod, 54, underwent an operation on her liver. Three young Copts, Marianne, Maggie and her fiance Ashraf were severely wounded and were and taken by helicopter to a Cairo hospital. Abdel-Zaher attempted to escape but was apprehended by a passenger.

The Egyptian interior Ministry issued several statements to cover-up the sectarian motives behind the incident and said the assailant shot indiscriminately at passengers and was “mentally unstable” and had previously undergone medical treatment.

Today’s verdict came as a surprise to the Egyptian Christians, as “usually killers of Christians, literally get away with murder,” commented Coptic activist Mark Ebeid. “They are usually referred to hospital for being ‘mentally unstable’ and after the matter has died down, they are just quietly discharged from hospital for being cured and this is usually the end of the story for the families of victims.”

Coptic activist Mina Yacoub, of the Maspero Coptic Youth Federation, was less optimistic. He said the ruling is because of this week’s Egyptian presidential elections, where Islamists are hoping to get some of the Coptic votes and are trying to prove to them that “Islam is a ‘just religion’ and they have nothing to worry about with the application of Sharia, which they are advocating. Why has the death penalty never been passed on a Muslim for killing a Christian, it is because Islam plainly says in Hadith 9:50, 57 ‘No umma [a member of Muslim community] should be killed for killing a Kafir [infidel]’ and this has been applied diligently by judges.”

Referring to the death penalty passed in January 2011 on Muslim Hammam el-Kamouni, who shot dead six Copts as they left church on Coptic Christmas Eve on January 6, 2010 in Nag Hammadi, he explained that with the six murdered Copts was a Muslim policeman who died by mistake and this death penalty was in lieu of his blood (AINA 1-7-2010).

           — Hat tip: Mary Abdelmassih[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Islamic Hate for a Dead Pope

Inasmuch as the recent death of Coptic Pope Shenouda III exposed the humanity of some Muslims, it also exposed the inhumanity of Islamic teachings. Consider some examples of Muslim sympathy following his death: Egypt’s Al Akhbar newspaper called the Pope’s burial “the funeral of the century,” reporting that a million Egyptians-likely more Muslims than Christians-came out to mourn him; “His death is a tragedy and a great loss for Egypt and its people, Muslims and Christians,” declared Egypt’s Grand Mufti; a recent episode of Al Dalil, famous for criticizing Islam, gave several more examples of Egyptian Muslims mourning and sympathizing with their Christian counterparts-including one Muslim who had tried to give his kidney to the ailing Pope.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt and Islamic Sharia: A Guide for the Perplexed

Egypt’s post-revolutionary environment-and especially its constitutional process-has touched off debates within the country and confusion outside of it regarding the role of the Islamic sharia in the emerging legal and political order. In a Q&A, Nathan J. Brown explains what the Islamic sharia is-and is not-and how it might be interpreted in Egypt’s new political system. In explaining the complexity of the Islamic sharia, Brown warns that one of the most striking features of the debate is the flexibility of key concepts and positions. Therefore it is far more important to understand who is to be entrusted with interpreting and applying sharia-based rules than it is to search for the precise meaning of the sharia.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Artists Between Boycott and Islam Fears

Al Ahram poll, concerned about impact pro-Islamic victory

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO — Tempted to boycott the first presidential elections after Mubarak, held on May 23 and 24, after the exit of Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the movement for change Mohamed el Baradei, Egyptian artists are now focusing on the Nasserist candidate, Hamdeen Sabbahi, al Ahram online writes. The newspaper has carried out a poll to understand the intentions of actors, directors and artists, who are concerned about the impact of the victory of a pro-Islamic candidate on culture and freedom of expression. These concerns have become stronger after a torrent of trials for insulting religion against Egyptian film star Adel Imam.

“Holding presidential elections under a military regime and without a Constitution is a farce,” wrote the famous actor, who has played roles in Hollywood films like Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven, on the social networks. The actor has advised a fan to vote for Sabbahi, al Ahram writes. Founder of the Arab Nasserist party, Al-Karama, jailed several times during his political career, Hamdeen Sabbahi has already won the support of Alaa el Aswany, writer of the novel ‘palazzo Yacoubian’, and of director Khaled Youssef.

Actor Khaled el Sawy has said that Sabbahi is “the only one who is able at the moment to recover Egypt’s status with a concrete plan and vision.” Another actor, Nabil el Halafawy, explained that he made the choice for Sabbahi after seeing the television debate, the first in Egypt’s history, between the former leader of the Arab League and former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak, Amr Mussa, and the pro-Islamic moderate former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Monein Abul Fotouh. “Our country urgently needs a civil leader with a broad view and Sabbahi is perfect, he told al Ahram. “At a different time I may have chosen Abul Foutuh but now I give my support to a civilian state without any Islamic ideology,” he explained. Several Egyptian artists also support Khaled Ali, lawyer and human rights activist, the youngest of the 13 candidates with his 40 years, the minimum age to run for president in Egyptian law. But this Benjamin of the Egyptian revolution is considered to have waged the worst electoral campaign.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU Working on Partnership With Tunis, Rabat

Jordan interested, Cairo rejects dialogue

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS — The European Unions has begun to engage in dialogue with Morocco and Tunisia on immigration, while Jordan is also interested and Egypt rejected the offer. These are the initial results that emerged from a report published today by the European Commission a year after a new strategy with the Arab Spring countries was launched. Brussels’ goal for 2012 is to establish agreements with Tunisia and Morocco and to open negotiations with other countries in the region, including Libya and Algeria. The EU is offering these countries collaboration to increase mobility for their citizens. For example, this would involve streamlining the visa process for students and businessmen, but in exchange the EU is asking for these countries to fight illegal immigration, corruption, organised crime and human trafficking. In Tunisia, the EU is currently involved in providing assistance in the field of asylum policy in addition to assisting the UNHCR with refugees in the country. Brussels initiated dialogue with Rabat on mobility in October of last year, but in Morocco asylum law is not part of the Constitution yet and refugee status is not yet recognised for individuals who are identified as such by the UNHCR. The EU has not yet established an action plan for Algeria, but they have included 10 million euros in Libya’s short term aid package to “assist in managing migratory flows”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy Signs Deal to Foster Tunisian Trade With EU

‘Capable of consistent development’ says Napolitano

(ANSA) — Tunis, May 16 — Italy on Wednesday signed a deal in Tunisia aimed at fostering economic activity between Europe and the North African nation. The deal affirms Italy’s pledge to open a ‘privileged partnership’ between its Mediterranean neighbor and the European Union that would promote “economic and social development in Tunisia”. The accord was signed by Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi and his Tunisian counterpart Rafik Abdessalem at the end of a two-day visit by Giorgio Napolitano. “Tunisia is moving in the right direction,” said Napolitano. “It is capable of shared and consistent economic development”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Libya: Ex Guantanamo Inmate, Belhaj, Enters Political Fray

Military head of Tripoli lays down arms to form party

(ANSAmed) — ROME — The die is cast: “The time has come to rebuild Libya,” and the Head of the Military Council of Tripoli, Abdel Hakim Belhaj, a strongman of the revolution, has decided to enter the political arena, resigning from his post to dedicate himself full time to this new goal. The former leader of the Combatant Group of Islamic Libyans (LIFG), an anti-Gaddafi formation that arose in the mid 1990s with several insurrections on the Eastern seaboard, and (according to some observers) responsible for three attempts on the dictator’s life, is to form his own party. It is not clear what the next move will be: analysts speculate that the new political formation will not manage to make its appearance in time for the elections to the Constituent Assembly, scheduled for June 19, but will aim instead for the political elections that are due to take place once the new constitution has been approved. Meanwhile Mr Belhaj has made his resignation official and the National Transitional Libyan Council (NTC) will have to appoint a new head of the Military Council in Tripoli, which runs an armed force of more than 25,000 service personnel. Born in the Libyan capital in 1966 and with a degree in Engineering, Belhaj moved on to fighting at the side of the Afghan Mujahidin at the time of the Soviet invasion. On his return to his country, he set up an anti-Gaddafi Islamic group and then returned once again to Afghanistan, this time fighting under the Taleban. In 2002 the Gaddafi regime issued a warrant for his arrest, accusing him of having “close ties” with Al Qaeda and with Mullah Omar. Two years later he was captured in Thailand with the collaboration of the CIA and MI6 and sent back to the Gaddafi regime, following a period spent in Guantanamo, as one of the many subjects of ‘rendition’ much used by US intelligence. Belhaj left prison in 2010 on an amnesty by Saif al-Islam. A few months later, leading one of the hard-line factions in the revolt and with help from the Tuwar (revolutionaries)of Jebel Nafusa, he helped bring Gaddafi’s reign of power to an end, forcing him and his family to withdraw hurriedly from the capital, leaving it in rebel hands. But what concerns the NTC is not so much the man’s past as the suspicion that Belhaj is being directly backed by Qatar, with generous contributions both of money and military hardware.

Mr Belhaj defines himself as a “normal citizen who fights for a shared cause,” but he is undoubtedly one of the most popular leaders in a country where a constitution appears to be on its way in which ‘Sharia law’ will provide the principal source of legislation, as many members of the NTC expected. And he could indeed become the “strong man” that the polls say the Libyans are waiting for to take over in the post-Gaddafi order.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

ENP Package, Country Progress Report — Israel

The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy published on 15 May 2012 the annual “neighbourhood package”, consisting of a joint communication (“Delivering on the new European Neighbourhood Policy”) making an assessment of the first year of implementation of the new ENP adopted in 2011, a separate joint communication proposing an “Eastern Partnership Roadmap”, a report on the “Partnership for Democracy and Shared prosperity” with Southern Mediterranean (including a roadmap for future action), an Eastern Partnership progress report, 12 country reports (on developments in 2011 and with a set of recommendations for the future), including one on Israel, and a statistical annex.

Throughout 2011, an effort was made to infuse greater dynamism into EU-Israel relations. The Association Council met in February, and the EU and Israel agreed to further explore the opportunities still offered by the current Action Plan in a number of sectors and policy areas, as well as to pursue “technical talks” in order to identify areas for future potential cooperation. On the basis of this year’s report and with a view to the sustained implementation of the ENP Action Plan in 2012, Israel is invited to:

  • Enhance cooperation with the EU on exhausting the opportunities offered by the current Action Plan and on considering possible areas of future co-operation to be addressed when the regional situation allows.
  • Continue to step up its efforts to minimise settler violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and to bring all perpetrators to justice.
  • Address the excessive use of administrative detention.
  • Step up efforts to reverse the trend of deteriorating conditions for the functioning of a vibrant civil society.
  • Ratify the Second and the Third Protocol to the 2003 UN Convention in Transnational Organised Crime on the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, their parts, components and ammunition.
  • Take the necessary measures to ensure the independence of the Israeli Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
  • Address the control deficiencies for plants and plant products for export.
  • Sign and ratify the Regional Convention on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Rules of Origin.
  • Amend the legislation on intellectual property rights in line with OECD commitments.
  • Take measures to lower carbon emissions, in line with international agreements.

Political dialogue and reform

  • In the field of deep and sustainable democracy, a trend that became apparent in 2010 continued with an unprecedented number of bills that can be labelled as “discriminatory” or even “anti-democratic” being tabled in the Knesset. The democratic process still ensures that many of these bills do not become law, but their number, and the little effort made by their proponents to hide the fact that they were intended to benefit or target specific individuals or organisations, is worrying.
  • The adoption of an amendment to the law of defamation and a certain politicization of media appointments indicate a worsening climate for investigative journalism.
  • Israel has a good performance in the fight against corruption and continues to protect the independence of the judiciary.
  • Progress on the situation of the Arab minority was limited. Women’s rights have become the subject of increasing debate as a result of a more aggressive attitude on the part of the ultra-Orthodox groups.
  • The EU remains one of the largest donors supporting Israeli civil society efforts to promote human rights and conflict resolution. This exposes the EU to some public and government criticism.
  • The situation in the occupied territories, in the context of a stalled peace process and worrying developments on the ground, including increased settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, remained tense.
  • The EU continued to encourage both the Israelis and the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table while also leading efforts to reinvigorate the Quartet. In its statement on 23 September, the Quartet called for the resumption of direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions and called upon the parties to refrain from provocative action and reiterated their obligations under the Roadmap.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

IOC: No Silence for Munich at London Games

The International Olympic Committee has confirmed it will not hold a minute’s silence at this summer’s games to mark the 40th anniversary of the terrorist attack at the Munich Olympics. Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon had written to the IOC last month supporting the widows of two of the victims after they called for a specific memorial during the London Olympics. They had been backed by thousands of supporters around the world who signed petitions appealing for the IOC to mark the anniversary of the attack in which 11 Israeli athletes were murdered. But IOC president Jacques Rogge said a minute’s silence would not be held. He will attend a special memorial service at London’s Guildhall and said IOC officials would attend commemorative events organised by Israel. In his reply to the Israeli request Mr Rogge wrote: “The IOC has officially paid tribute to the memory of the athletes on several occasions. Within the Olympic family, the memory of the victims of the terrible massacre in Munich in 1972 will never fade away.” The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the decision was a “shame” and added: “Perhaps the IOC thinks anything to do with Israel is controversial. It is not a display of great courage and integrity.” The Israeli National Olympic Committee will hold its own ceremony during the London games.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Norris Seeks Middle East Debate

SEANAD: GERMANY WAS systematically assisting in the destruction of a Semitic race in the Middle East, David Norris (Ind) said. Calling for a debate on the situation in the troubled region, he said he wished to salute Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore for addressing the issue. Mr Gilmore was the first political figure to state that consideration must be given to a boycott of goods from illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine unless human-rights protocols attached to the Euromed agreement were properly observed. The Minister had further said that he would consider it appropriate for Ireland to use its influence during its EU presidency to advance this issue. “This is being stalled by Germany because of their bad conscience. Having destroyed one Semitic race in Europe they are now setting about the systematic assistance in the destruction of another Semitic race in the Middle East,” added Mr Norris.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Right of Return, Prisoners and Al-Aqsa Mosque Are “Indivisble”

The Office for Refugees’ Affairs of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) has reaffirmed the organisation’s belief that the principles of the Palestinian people are a “single, linked unit” which does not lend itself to being split-up. The Palestinian people, said Hamas, are united behind them, particularly in respect of the right to return to their land and properties which were taken from them by Zionist gangs during the occupation of Palestine in 1948. A statement issued on Monday said that the Palestinian situation is always witnessing a popular and international dynamic which never stops: “At the moment, we are witnessing the uprising of Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli prisons as they struggle to ‘live with dignity’; before that we saw the million-man marches in support of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Iranian Rapper Faces Death Threats for ‘Insulting’ Song

The Iranian rapper, Shahin Najafi, is in fear for his life following the release of a song called, Naqi. The song title refers to the 10th Shia Imam, Ali Ibn Muhammad, also known as al-Naqi. According to Shia tradition the Imam is the infallible spiritual leader of the Muslim community, directly descended from the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima and son-in-law Ali. Most Shia believe that since the 10th Century the Imam has not been physically present on earth, and that the return of the 12th Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, will herald the final days of mankind. Najafi’s reference to 10th Imam in a satirical song has sparked an outcry among religious conservatives in Iran, a predominantly Shia state. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem-Shirazi, a “sources of emulation” for many Shia Muslims, even issued a fatwa on Sunday declaring the singer an apostate. This came after another Grand Ayatollah, Lotfollah Safi Golpaygani, issued a written statement in response to a question about the song, in which he wrote: “If they have insulted the imam, they are apostates.” More than 800 people in Iran have joined a Facebook campaign calling for Najafi to be executed, saying they are ready to assassinate him if necessary. Another religious site, Shia Online, has offered $100,000 reward for anyone who kills the rapper.

Religion and sex

In an interview with BBC Persian, Najafi accused the people leading the campaign against him of “using religion to serve their own interests”. He lives in Germany but for security reasons he did not say from which city he was speaking. The song, which was published on YouTube a week ago, has been considered by some as blasphemous because of its satirical tone. Some have criticised it for associating Shia culture with sexuality. The album’s cover depicts the dome of the 8th Shia Imam, Reza, as a female breast, with a rainbow flag flying on it. But Mr Najafi told BBC: “Islam is the most transparent religion when it comes to sexuality and it has always been open to such concepts.”


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Israel-Turkey: Ankara Suffers Spy-Bird Psychosis

Angry birds from Mossad? Flocks of bee-eaters suspected

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, MAY 15 — These brightly feathered migratory birds, with their habit of crossing the Middle East and Central Asia, usually attract the attention of ornithologists and amateur bird spotters. But this season, the bee-eaters may fall victim to the climate of mistrust that has ballooned between Turkey and Israel, former strategic allies in the region. In Ankara, the birds are now being pointed at as mysterious Zionist spies, bearing small detection devices that have been attached to their feet by shadowy Israeli spy masters. The affair has been spoofed to some extent in today’s Israeli press, who comment sarcastically on the psychosis over ‘Angry Birds’ launched by Mossad. As the tabloid Yediot Ahronot puts it, the whole thing started with the casual discovery of a poor dead bee-eater in Turkey. Upon examination, the exemplar of the species merops apiaster was discovered to be have a ring around its leg with Israeli writing on it. It would indeed appear odd that anyone should think that Mossad would leave its signature.

Indeed, there is no hint of surprise among Turkish ornithologists, as this method of marking migratory birds has long been used by researchers interested in following their migratory cycles. But suspicion was fed by the fact that this particular bird had much larger nostrils than usual. This was enough for the specimen to land in the laboratory of Turkey’s ministry of agriculture, and for the dossier to be passed on to the country’s secret services, who were tasked with deciding whether those two enlarged nostrils may have contained an antenna, or other nefarious devices. No crushing evidence has yet emerged. But the skies of Turkey are presently full of circling bee-eaters, and if Yediot Ahronot is to be believed, the whole lot remain under surveillance.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Kuwait: Two Rape Handicapped 15-Year Old in Mosque

Kuwaiti police arrested two Indian men on charges of raping a 15-year-old local handicapped boy at a mosque where they are doing maintenance work. The boy’s father told police his son revealed to him that the two molested and sodomized him twice while he was at the mosque praying. “The two were arrested and would be tried on charges of committing indecent acts against a handicapped boy,” Alanba daily said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey’s Attack on Civilians Tied to U.S. Military Drone

ULUDERE, Turkey—After winding along a narrow mountain ridge, a caravan of 38 men and mules paused on the Turkish-Iraqi border. Then they heard the propellers overhead. Minutes later, Turkish military aircraft dropped bombs that killed all but four of the men.

The strike in late December was meant to knock out Kurdish separatist fighters. Instead it killed civilians smuggling gasoline, a tragic blunder in Turkey’s nearly three-decade campaign against the guerrillas. The killings ignited protests across the country and prompted wide-ranging official inquiries. The civilian toll also set off alarms at the Pentagon: It was a U.S. Predator drone.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Did Mossad Send a Big-Nosed Bird to Spy on Turkey?

by Jennifer Lipman

Could a Jewish Mossad agent have been masquerading as a bird to gather intel about Turkey? Remember when the Saudis captured a vulture on suspicion it was spying for Israel? Or the bizarre claim that the Sharm el-Sheikh shark had been sent by Israel to attack unsuspecting tourists? Well, to add to your list of spurious claims made by Israel’s enemies about Mossad’s dastardly tricks, I bring you the big-nosed bird spy. Apparently, the Turkish authorities are in a bit of a flutter about a European Bee-Eater (it’s a species of bird — who knew?) that was recently found dead in a field in Ankara.

The late bird was handed to Ankara’s intelligence service after the farmer who found it noticed an Israeli identification ring on its legs. And, given that Israel and Turkey aren’t exactly the best of friends at the moment, they decided the poor creature posed a security risk.

But according to Ynet, that’s not all that raised suspicion: “The bird-beak in question reportedly sported ‘unusually large nostrils,’ which — combined with the identification ring — raised suspicions that the bird was ‘implanted with a surveillance device’ and that it arrived in Turkey as part of an espionage mission.” So, basically, the bird had a big nose and was therefore considered an enemy of the state.

Oh, history, you repeat yourself in such marvellous ways.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Turkey: We Want to Pray in Hagia Sophia, Muslim Activists Say

Transformed into a museum in 1935 by Ataturk

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA — A group of Turkish Muslim activists today asked the government of conservative Islamic Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan to make the Hagia Sophia a place for Islamic prayer again, as happened after it was conquered in 1453 by Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II. The basilica was used as a mosque until 1935, when the founder of the modern secular Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal ‘Ataturk’, transformed it into a museum. The activists of the religious group the Young People of Anatolia, press agency Dogan reports, held a press conference this morning outside the basilica. They asked for Muslims to be allowed to pray again in the Hagia Sophia and announced that they will hold a Friday prayer on the square outside the most famous building in Istanbul.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Hollande Arrives and Ankara Dreams of Europe

EU bid stalled by Sarkozy veto, Berlin expects revival

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, MAY 16 — The end of the Ottoman empire was perhaps the last time that Turkey had so openly supported a candidate in the French presidential elections. Now, with Francois Hollande’s victory and the exit of Nicolas Sarkozy, the “veto man”, Ankara is once again dreaming of Europe.

After the freeze in relations over the last few months, aggravated by the position taken up by Paris over the Armenian genocide, which Ankara denies, Turkey has reacted very warmly to Hollande’s election, with congratulatory messages and phone calls from President Abdullah Gul and the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The press in Ankara and Istanbul are now looking towards a revival of talks on EU accession which were opened in 2004 and proceeded at snail’s pace due to reticence shown at the time by Berlin, and stopped completely in 2010 by Sarkozy. In 8 years, Brussels and Ankara have opened only 5 of the 35 negotiation chapters, concluding just one.

Of course, there has been no shortage of problems. It is difficult to imagine integration of an enormous Muslim country of 75 million people, the size of Germany into a European Union that is already wobbling politically due to its enlargement to the east and close to monetary implosion under the weight of speculation. But Turkey has changed considerably in the last few years. The country has taken on board a large number of EU regulations, has been stabilised politically since the rise to power in 2002 of Erdogan’s conservative Islamists, and is now in the midst of an economic boom, with growth at 8.5% (with a peak of 11% in the first quarter of 2012). The country is a sort of new promised land for European businesses, with hundreds of billions in investments due between now and 2023, and currently has the world’s 16th largest economy, aiming to become the 10th in the world within 10 years. Moreover, the country is already in line with the parameters of Maastricht. It appears that ideas are changing with regard to Turkey’s bid to join the EU. Some are even starting to think that the EU could need the country, a regional and political power and an emerging economy.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Russian Textbooks to Expose ‘Falsifications of History’

Russia has commissioned new school textbooks that condemn “falsifications of history” and paint the Soviet Union in a more positive light in a bid to boost patriotism among the young. The education and science ministry this month posted a call for new teaching materials for senior classes “on the problem of the falsification of history,” according to the Zakupki official tender website.

New textbooks should be aimed at “creating a positive image of contemporary Russia in the world and among Russians themselves,” the ministry said. “Falsification of history” is one of the buzz words of the Russian leadership, referring to revisionist or more Western-oriented interpretations of the role of the Soviet Union, particularly in World War II.

While the Soviet Union’s sense of identity revolved around victory in World War II, Russia is particularly sensitive about the postwar role of the Soviet Union in the Baltic States, which consider it to have been an occupier.

In 2009, then president Dmitry Medvedev warned “we are more often encountering what is is now called historical falsifications,” saying they were becoming “more and more harsh, angry and aggressive.” “We must not allow anyone to put in doubt the feat of our people,” he said.

The education and science ministry said that “falsification of history is becoming one of the means of political struggle”. Such views are leading to “young people’s lack of understanding of modern Russian history and opposition to the policies of the country’s leadership to the detriment of Russia’s interests,” it said.

The budget for the teaching materials is over 9 million rubles ($293,000), with the deadline for entries in early June. Some historians agreed new textbooks were needed. “If children learn that this is part of the world around us and learn to recognise falsifications, I can only see this as a good thing,” Vladmir Kolotov of the Saint Petersburg State University told Izvestia daily.

But Ilya Usov of the Higher School of Economics warned in Izvestia against “an attempt to give a single right answer to the contradictory questions of Russian history”. “This could halt the development of history studies,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]


Russia Kills Seven Caucasus Militants

Russia’s security services on Monday reported killing seven militants in a five-day security sweep in the restive North Caucasus that also claimed the lives of two federal troops. Russia’s anti-terror committee said the militants were responsible for organising deadly blasts and killing priests in northern Dagestan, a Caspian Sea region that has borne the brunt of attacks blamed on Islamists.

Regional police said nine soldiers and officers were also hospitalised with gunshot wounds. The anti-terror committee said special forces and interior ministry troops launched the operation in the Dagestan village of Tsvetkovka after learning that the village was being used as a militant base.

Security forces came under attack from a grenade launcher, but managed to block the attackers and followed them through the woods for several days. Officials said one of the slain militants organised a blast that damaged a railroad in February 2011 and was behind other attacks and explosions that killed police officers and soldiers.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

South Asia

A Cheaper BMW May be Bad News for India’s Carmakers

Indian auto manufacturing has been one of the few bright spots on the factory landscape in the past few years, with sales of cars and utility vehicles almost doubling from six years ago, and Chennai and other cities booming from the business.

But proposals that are part of India’s discussions on a free trade agreement with the European Union threaten to undermine those gains by giving European automakers an unfair advantage and hindering future investments in Indian manufacturing, according the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, a lobby group of global automakers in India. The reason: The agreement proposes drastic cuts in import duties on automobiles that are made in Europe, to a sixth of the current rate in some cases.

If European vehicle makers “can import cars cheap, then why will they invest?” asked Sugato Sen, senior director at SIAM. “Japanese, Korean and even American vehicle makers have invested much larger amounts in India, focusing not only on the local market but also using their factories to export cars out of India.”

He said European car makers have been reeling under weak demand in their home markets and slashing the import duty on European-made cars will convert India into a “dumping ground” for vehicles companies couldn’t sell in their home markets or to utilize idle capacities at their local plants. “This will safeguard jobs in Europe not in India,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Germany to Give Long Term Military Aid to Afghanistan

Germany has pledged ongoing annual aid to the Afghan security forces after western troops withdraw from the country in 2014.

On his way to the NATO summit in Chicago this weekend, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Germany pledged 150 million euros (190 million dollars) in annual aid to the Afghan security forces after western troops withdraw from the country in 2014.

Signing the agreement on Wednesday that secures German funding for security training in Afghanistan after 2014 Merkel said: “This shows we are committed to Afghanistan in the long term.” Germany’s engagement in Afghanistan is “not just words,” Merkel added. “Afghanistan’s fate is close to our heart.”

Karzai said he estimates Afghanistan will need 3.21 billion euros annually to run its security services, of which it could pay 392 million euros itself and possibly more as its economy strengthens. Further pledges are expected at the NATO summit in Chicago on Sunday and Monday.

The two leaders also signed a partnership agreement for education assistance, infrastructure and economic cooperation.

Germany is the third biggest supplier of troops to the 130,000-strong NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) after the United States and Britain. It has 4,900 soldiers in Afghanistan. Five hundred troops are to be withdrawn by 2013 before a complete pullout.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Gag is Not the End to Gaga Saga

The battle to hold a concert for American pop diva Lady Gaga in Jakarta reached new heights Tuesday with attacks coming from many corners against the Jakarta Police’s decision not to endorse the issuance of a permit for the long-awaited event. Although Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said they had met with local promoter Big Daddy Entertainment earlier in the day and that the latter “understood the reasons behind the police’s refusal to issue a permit for the show”, and that the police would oversee ticket refunds, the organizer wrote on its Twitter account @bigdaddyid on the same day that the show was still on. “We’ve met several public representatives. Be patient, Little Monsters,” the account read at 6:51 p.m., referring to the fans of the Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter of such global hits as “Poker Face” and “Born This Way”. “We’ll keep updating you. The fight is still on.”

The Mother Monster’s concert was due to take place on June 3 at Bung Karno Main Stadium in Senayan, Central Jakarta. Rikwanto said the police had received input from various organizations — including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the Muslim-based United Development Party (PPP) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), and the Islamic People’s Forum (FUI) — in reaching the decision to withhold a permit for Lady Gaga. He said it was the first time authorities had ever banned a foreign singer from performing in Indonesia. Over the years, several foreign performers have canceled their scheduled concerts in Indonesia for various reasons, but none of them were banned by law enforcement agencies. National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Saud Usman Nasution claimed the decision was aimed at maintaining Jakarta’s calm, given the rampant rejections from the groups.


[JP note: Gaga heaven for headline writers — Rampant Muslims bung Gaga mania?]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Indonesia: Maluku: Christian Neighborhood Attacked

Unidentified persons set fire to houses and cars. Dozens of families have fled their homes for fear of new attacks. The clashes began last May 14 during the celebrations of the Indonesian hero Thomas Matulessy. Police rule out the Islamists.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — For the third straight day there have been attacks in Ambon (Moluccas), where last night a group of unidentified persons set fire to houses and motorbikes in a predominantly Christian neighborhood. AsiaNews sources say that dozens of families have fled their homes for fear of attacks. Many fear the involvement of Islamic extremist groups.

The violence started early last May 14 on Pattimura Day, which commemorates Indonesian national hero Thomas Matulessy (1783-1817) who was born in Ambon, contested by both Christians and Muslims. In the night a group of men attacked the candlelight vigil in Saparua village which was due to end in downtown Ambon. In the clashes 44 people were injured. Yesterday, General Saud Usman Nasution said that the violence was deliberately caused by people close to the radical movements, but has ruled out the involvement of Islamic terrorists.

Between 1999 and 2001 a bloody war between Christians and Muslims was fought in the Moluccas. There were thousands of victims, hundreds of churches and mosques destroyed, thousands of homes destroyed, and almost half a million refugees. In February 2002 a truce between the two fronts -of equal strength in the Christian and Muslim areas — signed in Malino, South Sulawesi, halted the violence through a peace plan promoted by the government.

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

Intelligence Officials Unveil Scale Model of Bin Laden Compound Used to Plan Raid

The U.S. intelligence community wheeled out one of its prized possessions Wednesday — a scale model of the notorious Pakistan compound where Usama bin Laden spent the last few years of his life in hiding.

The model made its public debut in one of the Pentagon’s busiest hallways, drawing the attention of gawkers and passers-by. It was built in six weeks by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and used by military and intelligence leaders to plan the daring nighttime raid on May 2, 2010, that killed the Al Qaeda leader.

And this model is not short on detail. It’s scale is an exact 1 inch to 7 feet. Every tree, bush, wall, animal pen, trash can and physical structure in the model existed at one time at the original compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. (The actual compound was torn down by Pakistani authorities earlier this year.)

Even the red van parked out front and the white Land Cruiser parked inside were vehicles often seen at the real compound. Remember, it was the courier that eventually led intelligence officials to bin Laden’s hideout.

Everything in the model was based on details learned about the actual hideout, said Greg Glewwe, one of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency officials presenting the display at the Pentagon. “Nothing you see would have been included if we didn’t see it there.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Lady Gaga ‘Embargo’: Singer Refused a Work Permit to Perform in Jakarta, Indonesia

Lady Gaga has been refused a work permit to perform in Jakarta, Indonesia, after objections from, inter alia, the Islamic Defenders Front.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Muslims Asked to Remove Wrong Perceptions of Islam

ISLAMABAD: It is high time to clear wrong perceptions about Islam and Muslims,” said Al-Sheikh Al-Sayyed Affeefuddin Al-Gailani, a renowned Islamic scholar of Malaysia, during his visit to the International Islamic University Islamabad (IIUI) on Tuesday. He said that the IIUI played a great role in portraying the true picture of Islam, adding that Pakistan was a precious gift of God for Muslim Ummah and he was very happy to visit the country. He said it was the responsibility of every Muslim to convey the message of Islam to human beings and remove misunderstandings about Islam created by anti-Islamic elements.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: Seminar on Muslims and Modernity: ‘Jihadi Danger is From the Elite, Not the Poor’

LAHORE: Most global jihadis are not illiterates raised in poor slums, but from well-off families and with advanced education degrees.

“Most of the danger comes from us,” said Majid Nawaz, founder of Khudi, at a seminar titled ‘Muslims and the Modern World The State of the Muslim Ummah’. Young people being educated at “elite” schools and colleges were joining the extremists, he said. “Terrorists are not just from slums — statistically, a disproportionate number of global jihadis come from a higher education background,” said Nawaz, who was formerly a member of the Hizbut Tahrir (HT). He quit the group to found Khudi, which works to counter extremism. Nawaz said there was a difference between the political and the religious definitions of the word ‘ummah’. He said there was no contradiction between being a Pakistani and being a Muslim. Pakistanis could carry multiple identities, he said, owing to religious or social affiliations. “People themselves organically determine who they are, as a group or a nation,” he said.

He said it was “politically naive” to demand the implementation of the Sharia, the main aim of the HT. He said that when imposing Sharia, a society chooses a particular interpretation of Islam and closes the door on ijtehad. “Islam must be kept free of political interference,” he said.


[JP note: Good luck with that. We have our problems with the elite too.]

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Spot-Fixing Controversy Highlights Corruption in Indian Cricket

Indian premier cricket league has suspended five of its players for fifteen days for allegedly fixing cricket matches. The controversy has recently been uncovered by an Indian TV channel.

On Tuesday, the Indian Premier League’s (IPL) governing council asked Ravi Sawanti, head of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) anti-corruption unit, to conduct an inquiry into spot-fixing allegations against its players.

Spot-fixing is a term used for deliberately losing a match for money. A number of cricketers have recently been found guilty of fixing matches, including three of Pakistan’s international cricketers.

The recent spot-fixing controversy was highlighted by an Indian TV channel, which showed a number of domestic cricketers confessing to match-fixing and claiming that the IPL paid them money. Reacting to the TV footage, the IPL referred the allegations to the BCCI.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Far East

Chinese and Indian Airlines Flout EU Carbon Rules

Ten Chinese and Indian commercial airlines have not complied with the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, which charges air companies according to their pollution, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Tuesday. “We have given them until mid-June to report back their data,” she said, with all other international carriers having complied.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Excuse Me, Do You Speak Chinglish?

There are more speakers of English in Asia than anywhere else. Once the language of the colonials, it has become the neutral language of business, a lingua franca for a vast continent whose economic might is growing.

“To give millions a knowledge of English is to enslave them,” Gandhi once said. “Is it not a painful thing that, if I want to go to a court of justice, I must employ the English language as a medium; and that someone else should have to translate to me from my own language?”

Decades later, in post-colonial Asia, English is the official (first or second) language in several countries of the region. In most others, it is the first foreign language taught to children and in all it is used as a facilitative language by people of different mother tongues wanting to interact for business or social purposes.

Globalization has also led to the development of new varieties of English such as Chinglish, Hinglish, Konglish, Manglish and Engrish. Increasingly, native speakers of Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Malay or Japanese are mixing their mother tongues with English to form new languages.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Philippines: Inquirer Apologizes for Labeling Muslim Woman ‘Security Risk’

The Philippine Daily Inquirer has apologized for a lead-in caption that labeled a Muslim woman in a front-page photo wearing a traditional dress a “Security Risk?” last May 9, saying “sorry to those who have taken offense over the caption head.” The photo was taken during the swearing-in of the new members of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Legislative Assembly at Malacañang Palace. The Inquirer photo shows President Benigno Aquino III shaking the hand of a woman wearing a niqab, a traditional Muslim garb that covers nearly the entire body, including the face. The eyes are visible through an opening in the facial cover.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australian Muslims Farewell a Founding Father

It is with great sadness that I write the obituary for a true community giant and visionary, a man of endless new enthusiasms and ardent commitment to the creation of a harmonious and united Australian Islamic Community — Haj Adib Marabani. I will truly miss the man who became my second father. I will miss the gentle re assuring voice, saying “Allah Yarr dah Alaak” ( Allah be pleased with you) and encouraging me in what ever new endeavor that I was pursing and saying “reach for the stars my son, reach for the stars, you might just clear the trees!”

Haj Adib served the community for more than half a century and from the day he arrived in Australia till the day he passed, he was always at the service of the community, solving its problems, settling its issues and preparing the next generation of Australian Muslims.

Haj Adib was of the old kind of committed, trusted and trustworthy communitarian, where his word was truly his bond, where due to the unstinting high regard and respect he was held in, meant that no one said no to Haj Adib; to his good Samaritan ideas and ‘latest project ‘for the community.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Northern Suburbs a Hotbed of Terror

UPDATE: MELBOURNE’S northern suburbs were regarded as a hot spot for potential home-grown terrorists, a Labor MP revealed yesterday.

Maria Vamvakinou, whose federal seat of Calwell includes suburbs with high populations of Muslims — such as Broadmeadows and Dallas — said the area had been under surveillance by national security agencies. “My area, having such a high concentration of Australians of Muslim faith, was an area of interest to the federal police and to ASIO, especially immediately in the aftermath of September 11,” she said. “Most people who live in Broadmeadows, they might be of Muslim background, but they pretty much live ordinary lives.” The federal Attorney-General’s Department has admitted several places have been identified as potential breeding grounds for terrorism, but will not name them for security reasons.

Ms Vamvakinou told a public hearing on multiculturalism that it was obvious to her constituents the area was under surveillance.

“There was a time in that early period especially…where the constant presence of Federal Police, even the Federal Police Commissioner himself, would attend our (functions) and the Federal Police would have little booths,” she told the Herald Sun. “It was community building on the one hand, but on the other the presence there did make people feel that the area was of special interest. ASIO and the Federal Police have very specific jobs and they conduct their affairs in specific ways and I understand that. But there’s a point where the community needs to be allowed to develop as a community and not as a community that’s of concern.”

Ms Vamvakinou, who chairs a parliamentary inquiry into multiculturalism, told a recent hearing that surveillance of her community had had negative effects on young people born in Australia. Attorney-General’s Department security spokeswoman Jamie Lowe told the inquiry the main terrorist threat to Australia was from a few people who followed a “distorted, militant interpretation of Islam that espouses violence as the answer to perceived grievances”. The department runs a $10 million program that gives grants to community groups to counter local extremism. But Ms Vamvakinou said giving community grants based on national security concerns was sending the wrong message, and the program should be run by other departments. “If it’s coming from Attorney-General’s and Federal Police it’s got an obvious connotation, hasn’t it,” she said. “The idea that you are potentially at risk of radicalisation could be counterproductive.

Young people generally are very sensitive about the way they are viewed, across the board.”

Australian Multicultural Foundation director Hass Dellal said the strategy gave communities a chance to develop positive programs. Muslims had been able “to engage with the community and dispel some of those stereotypes and myths where the entire community was getting branded with terrorist labels and slogans”, Mr Dellal said.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Western Sharia

Ismail Belghar, a 36-year-old Muslim man living in Australia, assaulted, abducted, and nearly killed his sister-in-law. The victim, a 25-year-old Moroccan named Canan Kokden, had dared to take her older sister, Mrs. B, to the beach without Belghar’s permission. This heinous effrontery was amplified, Belghar later recounted for police, when Mrs. B thereupon “displayed her body,” sustaining the shoulder sunburn that tipped him off. To Australians, this may have been, well, just a day at the beach. For Belghar, though, it was an “abhorrent” offense against sharia, Islam’s legal code and comprehensive societal framework. The telltale burn is also starting to show on the West’s shoulders, our courts of law. Australia has not changed Belghar, but the Belghars are changing Australia.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria: Kano Pays N10,000 Dowry on Each Bride at Mass Wedding

KANO — A blind couple, Batula Umar and Adamu Faidawa, and a Muslim convert, Isa Gamber from Lantang in Plateau State were among the first set of 100 couples who tied the knot at a mass wedding conducted yesterday at the Kano Central Mosque by Kano State Shariah Police, Hisbah Command. Commercial activities were temporarily halted in the city as a large crowd turned up to witness the marriage ceremony that took place at the Kano Central Mosque located within the precinct of the Emir Palace. In line with Islamic tradition, the grooms and their accredited representatives were present at the mosque in a ceremony that was solemnized by the Chief Imam of Kano Central Mosque, Professor Sani Zaharadeen.

The brides were the first set of 1,000 divorcees and widows the sharia police screened for marriage to available suitors. Grooms were dressed in flowing robes as a Hisbah official read out the names of the couples at the mosque.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Father Exposed as Anti-White Terrorist by British, U.S. Intel

Newly released, declassified files released by the United Kingdom reveals U.S. officials’ concerns that Kenyans studying in America, including President Obama’s father, may have had ties to Kenyan terrorist groups that were supported by communist nations in the 1950s and early 1960s.

As yet the documents exist only in physical form at the National Archives in Kew, Southwest London — but they are open to the public, a British police source told the Law Enforcement Examiner on Sunday.

Documents released in April by the British government — but ignored until the left-leaning, London-based newspaper The Guardian printed a story — reveal that the President’s father, Barack Hussein Obama, Senior, was the target of an international investigation due to his ties to Kenyan terrorist groups in the 1950s such as the group responsible for the so-called Mao-Mao Uprising in Kenya.

The declassified documents, which had been kept secret for decades, “were privately condemned by Obama administration officials,” a British source told the Law Enforcement Examiner.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


60% of Belgian Residents Will be of Foreign Descent by 2060

At present, 1 in 4 Belgian residents have at least one parent who was born abroad. That’s according to figures collected by the think tank Itinera. “Belgium has become a real migration country, and the government should adapt its policies accordingly”, researchers say. Over the past 10 years, Belgium saw some 500,000 immigrants. These so-called “new Belgians” account for 4.5 percent of the present population.

“Globally speaking, 10 percent have a foreign passport, 7.5 percent are Belgians of foreign descent and 7.5 percent are second- or third generation immigrants”, explains Laurent Hanseeuw of Itinera. A quick calculation brings us to 25 percent. “This does not mean that only 75 percent are Belgians. What we want to show, is that foreigners or people of foreign descent account for a bigger part of the population than 50 years ago and that their number will keep on growing.”

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Beijing Launches Campaign Against Illegal Foreigners

Foreigners in Beijing are bracing for a clamp down on illegal workers in the Chinese capital, but the sweep could be aimed at journalists.

China’s rapid economic growth has attracted people from all over the world. Some 120,000 foreigners currently live and work in Beijing alone, and many more visitors are there on tourist visas.

In order to stay in China for the longer term, foreigners require a visa and work permit. Upon entering the country they must register where they live and notify the local police within 24 hours.

Many foreigners, however, arrive in China on a simple and temporary tourist visa and work illegally. The authorities in Beijing have now started a campaign to rein in this practice.

The Beijing police on Tuesday announced on its microblogging website that it was “undertaking increased efforts to punish foreigners who come to Beijing illegally or who live and work in Beijing illegally.” The police have called on residents of the capital to report suspicious foreigners and have installed a telephone hotline for them to do that. The campaign is expected to last at least 100 days.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Canada Charges Two More in Human Smuggling Case

Canada’s immigration minister said Wednesday two more people have been arrested in connection with the smuggling of hundreds of Tamils aboard a rickety cargo ship. Kunarobinson Christhurajah and Lesly Jana Emmanuel were charged with human trafficking for bringing 492 Tamil asylum seekers aboard the MV Sun Sea to Canada in August 2010.

Christhurajah reportedly purchased the MV Sun Sea to facilitate the voyage from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand, while Emmanuel was onboard the 57-meter (187-foot) ship when it arrived on Canada’s Pacific Coast. The two men were arrested in British Columbia province, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said. They were expected to appear in a Vancouver court on Wednesday.

Thayakaran Markandu, a Sri Lankan national, arrested last month in France, is also facing deportation to Canada to stand trial for organizing the voyage across the Pacific Ocean. New legislation aimed at cracking down on human smuggling, partly in response to the MV Sun Sea case, is to be considered by parliament next week.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said it “will send a clear message to human smugglers around the world that they can no longer treat Canada like a door mat, that Canada’s generosity will not be abused. “We will enforce our immigration laws against human smugglers and their customers who would pay them tens of thousands of dollars to come to Canada illegally and in the most dangerous way possible,” he added.

Canada and Sri Lanka had said the migrants may have included members of the Tamil Tigers, outlawed in Canada as a terror group before their defeat in 2009 after a lengthy civil war.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Caritas Warns, New Flow From Libya Soon

Reception in Italy discussed at Migramed conference in Cagliari

(ANSAmed) — CAGLIARI — “When the weather is good, thousands are ready to come to Italy. The country must prepare to deal with this flow from North Africa,” said Oliviero Forte, head of the Immigration Office of Caritas Italy, referring to Libya in particular. He issued this warning this morning during the 3-day conference MigraMed 2012 in Cagliari, which focuses on the emergency of refugees with the Caritas organisations in the Mediterranean area.

Lampedusa is still the most attractive port for migrants arriving over sea, but the Sardinian coasts could also draw many African refugees once again. “The transitional government in Libya is unable to manage the flow of migrants,” said Forti, “and although this is not a mass exodus as happened during the Arab Spring, the phenomenon will still overload an already saturated reception system.” Therefore Caritas Italy and the diocesan Caritas network urge the institutions to grant refugees who come to Italy in the context of the national emergency plan for North Africa a temporary permit for humanitarian reasons.

“It’s a matter of freeing space to be able to receive the new wave arriving from the Horn of Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, via Libya, at our coasts,” Forti explains. Today was the first day of MigraMed 2012 in Cagliari. “An opportunity to ask reception, freedom and work for these individuals, the three cornerstones of this conference, in a productive discussion between representatives from Libya, Morocco, Algeria, Lebanon, Turkey and Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Greece, Malta and Albania”, underlined Don Francesco Soddu, director of Caritas Italy. The number of people in Italian reception centres has reached 20,000 and another 3,000 are being taken care of by Caritas, nearly all of them from sub-Saharan Africa.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Greece’s Migrant Influx Spurs EU Anger Crossing Border From Turkey,

As Greece struggles with political upheaval and deepening economic malaise, its 126-mile-long land border with Turkey has become the flash point for a crisis of another sort—a tide of refugees and illegal immigrants.

Thousands of people fleeing poverty and turmoil in the Middle East, Africa and southern Asia are stepping across Greece’s muddy boundary with Turkey each month. The trend is testing government resources, fueling support for ultranationalist groups in blighted urban areas and raising tensions between Athens and the European Union.

But once they have experienced desperate conditions and joblessness in Greece, few migrants express a desire to stay. Many say it is far easier to enter Greece than to sneak into another EU country, a journey that often requires paying smugglers for fake documents to board a flight, or attempting risky overland and overseas routes.

Greece is “a big cage,” said one Afghan migrant…

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Napolitano in Tunis, Immigration Enriches Social Texture

Strengthen euromed ties,allow religious freedom and pluralism

(ANSAmed) — TUNIS, MAY 16 — “In the past decades human heritage and economic contribution brought by immigrations from Tunisia and other Mediterranean countries has enriched our social and cultural texture”. The President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano, visiting Tunis today and tomorrow, was quoted saying this during an interview with the Tunisian weekly magazine “Réalités”. Napolitano pointed out that with Tunisia “we have been cooperating for quite some time with regards to illegal immigration, and have continued to do so also in relatively difficult times. The dialogue between the two countries not only embraces the prevention of illegal migration but also the integration of regular immigrants into Italian society.” Napolitano continued in his interview to the weekly magazine saying that “the crisis in Europe is pushing us to strengthen ties with the southern Mediterranean areas”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Dutch Prosecutors Seek Ban on Child Sex Advocacy Group

Dutch prosecutors on Wednesday called for the disbanding of a paedophile group named Martijn which advocates consensual sex between adults and children, saying it threatened society. “The banning and dissolution are necessary to avoid a dangerous situation for society,” they told a civil court in the northern city of Assen, according to documents published online.

They said the group created a “sub-culture in which sexual relations between adults and children are tolerated and even glorified.” Prosecutors turned to the Assen court after an appeals court in Leeuwaarden refused a plea to start a trial. The Dutch justice ministry last year said the association’s activities were not illegal under the country’s laws.

Martijn’s lawyer Bert Swier told AFP the group had committed no “reprehensible act,” and added: “It’s banning would be going against freedom of expression.” Founded in 1982, the group has about 60 members.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Your Horse is Gay: MP’s Campaign Group Wants Insulting Language Law Scrapped

A law banning “insulting” language and behaviour is strangling free speech and should be scrapped, a campaign spearheaded by a senior Tory MP has demanded. Former shadow home secretary David Davis said Section 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act was having a “terrible, chilling effect on democracy”. Polling suggests almost two-thirds of MPs back Mr Davis, according to a campaign which has brought together religious and secular groups along with human rights and minority organisations. Under the legislation, the use of “insulting words or behaviour” is outlawed, but opponents say there is too little clarity of what that includes, leading to spurious arrests. One teenage boy was arrested for holding a “Scientology is a dangerous cult” placard and a student was held for telling a police officer his horse was “gay”, they said.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]


Into the Darkness

by Melanie Phillips


In other words, the BBC is now peddling the ancient racial libel that the Jews exercise a unique control over the levers of power. And that is unvarnished Judeophobia. On the BBC. Paid for by the British public. The BBC won’t report the Muslim element of paedophile gangs in northern towns, but they will libel the Jewish people by stating a notorious bigoted trope as fact.


           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Liberalism After Liberalism

by Wilfred M. McClay

How can we affirm human dignity when liberalism no longer can?

“Liberalism After Liberalism” is one of three addresses given to a symposium on “After Liberalism,” put on in late February with the support of the Simon/Hertog Fund for Policy Analysis and of Fieldstead and Company. Yuval Levin and James Rogers responded to this paper. The other two addresses and the responses will appear in the June/July and August/September issues.

Like other key words of American political and cultural discourse, the term liberalism suffers from a frustrating, even maddening, degree of ambiguity and imprecision in the way it is used. It can provoke heated arguments in which the disputants seem agreed in embracing liberalism, according it high and even talismanic qualities-but then go on to use it in such manifestly divergent ways that the ensuing discussion hardly rises to the level of a coherent disagreement. Something of the same confusion occurs among those who start out arm-in-arm as staunch opponents of liberalism but soon find it hard to agree on exactly what it is they are opposing, let alone what they are for, and even harder to ferret out the extent to which they may be presuming liberal tenets even in the act of challenging them.


In other words, there are liberal ideas that deserve to survive, but they can do so only if they can find confirmation in deeper and more enduring sources. In this regard, the task after liberalism is the very one that John Paul II pursued so energetically, of trying to “save modernity from itself,” by regrounding the concept of liberty upon the only foundation capable of sustaining “a culture of freedom.” It also resembles the task undertaken by John Courtney Murray, who sought, in We Hold These Truths (1960), to affirm the work of the American Founders by situating their achievement on a foundation that was older and more stable than their own vulnerable Enlightenment premises.

Liberalism’s recognition and elevation of the individual was salutary so long as it could presume a moral order that preceded it, an order it had not itself produced. But now, untethered to any such order, but tightly bound instead to emotivism as its sole moral calculus, it has become more and more chaotic and impossibly compromised, and Ortega’s gloomy prophecy looms larger. The question before us, then, is less one of liberalism’s future than of what kind of “after” we will seek for it.

Wilfred M. McClay is the SunTrust Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a member of FIRST THINGS’ advisory council. This paper was given to FIRST THINGS’ “After Liberalism” symposium, produced with the support of the Simon/Hertog Fund for Policy Analysis and of Fieldstead and Company.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

The Trouble With Liberalism

Politics is full of slippery words, but none is harder to pin down than ‘liberal’. In America, to be a liberal is to be on the left of the political spectrum; in many parts of Europe, the opposite is the case. In Britain, it all depends on which words you use in combination with ‘liberal’ and whether or not you capitalise the initial letters. Most perplexing of all is Denmark, where the Liberals are the main party of the centre-right, but whose name in Danish — Venstre — literally means ‘Left’.

But if the terminology is confusing, then the ideology is even worse. Because, as Wilfred McClay explains in a brilliant essay for First Things, the philosophy of liberalism is riven with contradictions:

“…there are two basic ways we can understand liberalism. The first, and older… is above all a doctrine upholding the independence and supreme value of the individual person as a free agent who bears fundamental rights that exist prior to and independently of government…”

The second and newer kind of liberalism “saw the achievement of a high degree of equality as the essential precondition for the exercise of any meaningful political liberty”:

“The goal of [this kind of] liberalism… was still ultimately about the establishment of a society of free and equal citizens. But the means of achieving that goal were changing dramatically. Thus began the transformation of what had been a philosophy of limited government into a philosophy of expansive and activist government…”

Crucially, the first kind of liberalism still survives in the form of a “fundamental commitment to the ideal of the autonomous self, boundless in its desires, and the self-legitimating creator of its own values.” Thus we live in a world of “bureaucratic individualism” — a “logic-defying hybrid” composd of an anything-goes “personal realm” and an “organisational realm” dominated by the centralised state:

“Such a bifurcation… has had a terrible effect on our common life. There is surely by now ample reason to believe that our growing culture of government entitlements supported by an ever-enlarging national state engenders not the positive sense of freedom and self-mastery that would enable active participation and republican citizenship but a culture of sullen and suspicious dependency, of bitter ingratitude and crippling moral nihilism. In the years of public austerity that likely lie ahead, this will probably only get worse…”

Anyone who thinks that the idea of the Big Society (or whatever you wish to call it) is irrelevant, should consider just where our existing model of society is heading. (Hint: handcarts may be involved).

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Uncovering Early Islam

The year 1880 saw the publication of a book that ranks as the single most important study of Islam ever. Written in German by a young Jewish Hungarian scholar, Ignaz Goldziher, and bearing the nondescript title Muslim Studies (Muhammedanische Studien), it argued that the hadith, the vast body of sayings and actions attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad, lacked historical validity. Rather than provide reliable details about Muhammad’s life, Goldziher established, the hadith emerged from debates two or three centuries later about the nature of Islam.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]