Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/23/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 7/23/2009I’ll let Mark Steyn do tonight’s summary of the latest enrichment news from Canada:

Watery Graves

Police say 14-year-old Kinza Kaianad died Monday evening at Kingston General Hospital as a result of injuries she sustained Saturday in a hotel pool in Gananoque, roughly 30 kilometres east of Kingston.

Her mother, 43-year-old Naila Yasmin, died in hospital on Sunday.

Yasmin, Kaianad and another daughter, age 11, were found unconscious in the indoor hotel pool just before 9 a.m. Saturday.

There would seem to be a statistically improbable number of multiple drownings of female members of Muslim families in Kingston this summer. If you’re a young female Muslim, and you have any say in the matter, you might want to vacation elsewhere.

In other news, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons has been reported killed in Pakistan by a Predator drone. Also, a man in Saudi Arabia was arrested after bragging about his sexual exploits on television.

Thanks to Barry Rubin, C. Cantoni, Fjordman, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, KGS, Lexington, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, The Lurker from Tulsa, Tuan Jim, VH, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
- - - - - - - - -
Financial Crisis
Chianti Classico to Cut Sales
Obama’s Insidious War on the Middle Class
Change You Never Expected: Health Care for Illegals
HWB — Home While Black
Imam at Windy City Islamist Confab: We’ll Fight Til ‘Islam Becomes Victorious or We Die in the Attempt’
Islamist Asault on the U.S. Constitution
Obamacare for Old Folks: Just ‘Cut Your Life Short’
Rationing for Dummies
The Doctor Will Kill You Now
Video: Schwarzenegger, Knife Star on Twitter
An Honour Killing?
Europe and the EU
Denmark: Terror Suspect Deported
France: Terrorists on the Moon
Islam: Ramadan, Rome Initiative for Inter-Religious Dialogue
Italy, PD: Beppe Grillo Becomes a Member of ‘Luther King’ Association
Italy, PD: Grillo Calls it a Fatwa, Cites Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’
Kissinger Never Wanted to Dial Europe
UK: ‘Harsh Islamic Punishments Will Make Britain Safer’
UK: Big Brother State Wants Even More Spy Powers
UK: Muslims Could Get Own Police
UK: Police Powers for 2012 Olympics Alarm Critics
UK: Sharia Penal Codes Would Benefit Britain Says Muslim Sheikh Suhaib Hasan
Kosovo Let Down by Failing Judiciary
Serbia: Gay Pride March in Belgrade on September 20
Serbia: Media Report Competition on EU Integration Announced
Mediterranean Union
A Fading Mediterranean Dream
Italy: Berlusconi Urges More Trade With Mediterranean Countries
Italy: Northern Region Looks to Expand Trade With Libya
North Africa
Fisheries: 2 Mazara Del Vallo Fishing Boats Seized in Libya
Israel and the Palestinians
Bomb Explodes at Fatah Wedding Party
Breaking the Rules
Civil Fights: Listen to the Left
FM Invokes Hitler in Shepherd Spat
Gaza: Bomb at Wedding Gives Rise to Fatah-Hamas Tension
Illegal Outpost Dismantled in the West Bank
Netanyahu Denies Removal of Barrier
Vatican Teaching Hezbollah How to Kill Jews, Says Pamphlet for IDF Troops
Middle East
Analysis: Shi’ite Missiles, Zionist Cows and the Lebanese Army
Israel Sees Brazil Help With Iran
Jordan: Activists Protest Against Violence in China
Turkey: Women Drivers Double Over Past Ten Years, Official
TV Sex Boast Lands Saudi Man in Jail: Report
EU Mulls Including US in Georgia Mission
South Asia
Afghanistan: Italian Defence Minister Rules Out Troop Withdrawal
Afghanistan: Minister Vows to Ensure Security for Italian Troops
Bin Laden Son Reported Killed in US Drone Strike
Jakarta Mastermind’s ‘Wife’ Held
Far East
China’s Economic Colonisation of Africa
Life for China’s Tens of Millions of Homosexuals Has Improved Markedly
Asylum Seeker Figures Soar in Finland
Germany: Berlin Accepts Highest Concentration of Immigrants
Inmates Deported Under New Oklahoma Law
Italy, Fini: Shortsighted Libyan Policy; Tripoli Reacts
More People Are Leaving Germany Than Arriving
Netherlands: What Do Immigrants Cost Society? Asks PVV
Wilders: Calculate Cost of Immigrants
Culture Wars
Catholic Nurse Ordered to Help With Abortion
Vinland Map of America No Forgery, Expert Says

Financial Crisis

Chianti Classico to Cut Sales

Reduction in market supply aimed at stabilising prices

(ANSA) — Florence, July 23 — The consortium of Chianti Classico producers has decided to put less of the famous wine on the market in order to stabilise prices.

Similar initiatives have recently been adopted by producers of other prestigious wines including those making Champagne in France.

Prices for upscale wines have been falling due to a drop in demand linked to the current global recession.

“The economic downturn, together with a strong euro over the dollar, has hurt us and forced us to adopt measures to counter the decline in prices,” explained Chianti Classico consortium chief Marco Pallanti.

“We are fortunate that in our favor we have been producing excellent vintages over the past five years and all indications are that this year will be the same,” he added.

“For this reason we have decided not to cut production but to store more wine for the future and put less on the market,” Pallanti said. The Chianti Classico consortium decided to limit the amount of its wine it will bottle for sale for a period of up to two years. Chianti Classico is an upmarket version of the famed Tuscan blended wine and by definition can only come from a 7,000-hectare area between Florence and Siena.

In 2005, the two leading consortiums which produce quality Chianti Classico wine, Vino Chianti Classico and Marchio Storico-Gallo Nero, merged into a single body to better produce, promote and protect their product.

The new, single consortium was called Gallo Nero (Black Cock) and oversees the production of quality registered wines in the area of Chianti.

At the time of the merger it was decided that all bottles of ‘real’ Chianti Classico would have the Gallo Nero trademark, which underwent a restyling to modernise the rooster logo originally drawn in 1924, when the first consortium was founded.

The new trademark also has the date of 1716, the year that the Grand Duke of Tuscany Cosimo III established Chianti’s borders, in what was the first document in history to define a specific winegrowing area.

The merger actually returned the situation to how it was before 1987, when for technical and legal reasons the Chianti Classico consortium was divided into two, with Marchio Storico responsible for promotion and marketing, while the other handled production.

The Chianti Classico Gallo Nero consortium counts some 600 members with an annual turnover estimated at 500 million euros and an average production of 260,000 hectoliters, equal to around 35 million bottles of wine.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Obama’s Insidious War on the Middle Class

While Obama rides his luxury 747 around the globe, glad handing with other world leaders discussing “healing the planet” and other grandiose plans, the average American is struggling to find work. As Michelle Obama totes around a $6,000 Italian alligator-skin clutch, the only thing most Americans are “clutching” is their wallets, trying to figure out how to get by this month. Obama is out of touch with Middle America. However, even worse than his overt elitism is the damaging effect his agenda is having on middle class taxpayers.

Obama came to office promising an economic stimulus to help get people back to work and ward off an impending economic disaster. Instead, he pushed through Congress a grab bag of pork projects for his cronies. Obama is using government largesse to try and win votes by making people dependent on his generosity. A recent USA Today analysis revealed counties voting for Obama received twice times the stimulus money per capita as those voting for McCain. This suspiciously looks like payback, not an economic stimulus program.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Change You Never Expected: Health Care for Illegals

Barack Obama, the first non-citizen of the United States to become president, promised change for all American citizens.

While he conceals his birth origin, Obama and Congress practice “Obfuscation-101.” Obama and democratic House leaders conceal the fact that their health care bill covers unlawful immigrants.

Last week, our intrepid albeit dishonest U.S. House of Representatives unveiled their health care reform legislation entitled, “America’s Affordable Health Care Act of 2009.” They might have added, “America’s Affordable Health Care for 20 million unlawful Mexicans Act.”

The Federation for American Immigration Reform,, said, “Despite the language in section 246 of the bill that states: “nothing—shall allow Federal payments [for] individuals who are not lawfully present in the United States,” the bill actually raises more questions than it resolves with respect to whether the bill will burden American taxpayers by giving health care benefits to legal and illegal aliens.

“The draft House bill — consisting of 1,018 pages — was introduced by Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) and cosponsored by the chairmen of the three House committees of jurisdiction: Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee; Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Chairmen of the Energy & Commerce Committee; and Rep. George Miller (D-CA), Chairman of the Education & Labor Committee.”

With great irony, Waxman and Miller representatives from the overrun State of California by unlawful immigrants—lead the charge to give away your dollars. Their former muscle man governor runs a $26 billion state deficit while hosting five million illegals. Schwarzenegger handed out $56 million in IOUs to pay his bills this month, but didn’t touch the “sacred cow” of billions in payments to criminal aliens.

[Return to headlines]

HWB — Home While Black

Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of Harvard University’s W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, retained a lawyer. Why? He claims cops in Cambridge, Mass., racially profiled him.

Here’s what happened.

The Chronicle writes: “A witness had called police when she saw a black man, apparently Gates, wedging his shoulder into the door, trying to gain entry, according to the arrest report….

“In the arrest report, police said Gates initially refused to step onto his porch when approached by (Cambridge Police Sgt. James) Crowley. He then allegedly opened his door and shouted, ‘Why, because I’m a black man in America?’

“As Crowley continued to question Gates, the Harvard professor allegedly told him, ‘You don’t know who you’re messing with.’ When Crowley asked to speak with him outside, Gates allegedly said, ‘Ya, I’ll speak with your momma outside.’“

Crowley says he responded to a call of a possible break-in by a woman on the sidewalk, who said she’d seen a black male “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.” Crowley reported he “could see an older black male standing in the foyer.” He continued: “As I stood in plain view of this man, later identified as Gates, I asked if he would step out onto the porch and speak with me. He replied ‘no, I will not.’ He then demanded to know who I was. I told him that I was ‘Sgt. Crowley from the Cambridge Police’ and that I was ‘investigating a report of a break in progress’ at the residence. While I was making this statement, Gates opened the front door and exclaimed ‘why, because I’m a black man in America?’ I then asked Gates if there was anyone else in the residence. While yelling, he told me that it was none of my business and accused me of being a racist police officer.”

Crowley’s report, as well as that of another responding officer, describe Gates yelling repeated accusations of racism while asserting that the officer “had no idea who (he) was ‘messing’ with” and that the officer “had not heard the last of it.”

After initially refusing to produce any identification confirming his residence, Gates finally supplied a Harvard ID. By that time, a crowd of officers and passers-by was outside. In front of the house and “in view of the public,” Crowley states he twice warned Gates that he was becoming disorderly. But Gates’ yelling and “tumultuous behavior” continued, causing “surprise and alarm” in the citizenry outside. Crowley then placed Gates under arrest.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Imam at Windy City Islamist Confab: We’ll Fight Til ‘Islam Becomes Victorious or We Die in the Attempt’

Shariah Must Take Precedence over U.S. Constitution

LAWN, Illinois — Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), the international movement to re-establish an international Islamic state, or Caliphate, kicked off a new campaign to win American recruits Sunday afternoon in this Chicago suburb.


Later, the following dialogue ensued between the imam and a member of the audience over whether Shariah or the Constitution should be the supreme law of the land in the United States:

Audience member: “Would you get rid of the Constitution for Shariah, yes or no?”

Imam: “Over the Muslim world? Yes, it would be gone.”

Audience Member: And so if the United States was a Muslim world, the Constitution would be gone?”

Imam: “If the United States was in the Muslim world, the Muslims who are here would be calling and happy to see the Shariah applied, yes we would.”

Audience Member: “And the Constitution gone. That’s all.”

Imam: “Yes, as Muslims they would be long gone.”

While Hizb ut-Tahrir’s controversial message attracted demonstrators and some media attention, the group at least is open about its ambitions. It not only is determined to destroy capitalism — it would shred the United States Constitution as well in favor of Shariah law.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Islamist Asault on the U.S. Constitution

The U.S. Constitution.This past weekend, a fanatical Islamist group, Hizb ut Tahrir, which calls itself a “Global Islamic Political Party,” convened at the Hilton Hotel in Chicago in order to rally the jihadi troups to overthrow the U.S. Constitution and to impose Islamic sharia law, with all its oppression, brutality and censorship.

In the first place, the double standard held by hotels lately is blatant: The conference featuring Islam critic and Dutch politician Geert Wilders in Florida was cancelled at the last minute after the Delray Beach Marriott hotel refused to hold it. We know the culprits behind that piece of censorship. Now, however, we find individuals essentially attempting to conquer the U.S. given free rein at another hotel.

If these individuals calling for the destruction of the U.S. Constitution are American citizens, they have basically committed treason and should be charged with that crime. If they are not American citizens, they should be deported as soon as possible. How long would such anti-government rabblerousers have lasted in Saudi Arabia or Iran, calling for the destruction of the constitutions there?

Free Speech is Sacred

Secondly, availing themselves of the First Amendment these anti-American fanatics in Chicago were evidently carrying signs declaring, “Freedom of Speech is an Attack on Islam.” Many people outside of the Muslim world hold free speech as a sacred tenet; hence, the censorial commentary itself represents an attack on their religion. These same individuals cherish the U.S. Constitution as a truly sacred scripture.

Regarding this gathering, American Atheists president Ed Buckner remarked…

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Obamacare for Old Folks: Just ‘Cut Your Life Short’

Health plan provision demands ‘end-of-life’ counseling

The version of President Obama’s universal health care plan pending in the U.S. House would require “end-of-life” counseling for senior citizens, and the former lieutenant governor for the state of New York is warning people to “protect their parents” from the measure.

At issue is section 1233 of the legislative proposal that deals with a government requirement for an “Advance Care Planning Consultation.”

Betsy McCaughey, the former New York state officer, told former president candidate Fred Thompson during an interview on his radio program the “consultation” is no more or less than an attempt to convince seniors to die.

“One of the most shocking things is page 425, where the Congress would make it mandatory absolutely that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session,” she said. “They will tell [them] how to end their life sooner.”

The proposal specifically calls for the consultation to recommend “palliative care and hospice” for seniors in their mandatory counseling sessions. Palliative care and hospice generally focus only on pain relief until death..

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Rationing for Dummies

It’s beginning to sink in that Obama’s nationalized healthcare will lead directly to rationing, which Americans desire about as much as a case of salmonella.

The president told five governors last month to avoid the term “rationing,” since it might give away the game. But the word keeps popping up, so it was time for a more aggressive approach — embracing it!

Out came one of the Left’s big guns, Princeton ethicist Peter Singer, to fire away in the July 19 New York Times Magazine with a long article, “Why We Must Ration Health Care.”

Singer — known for such gems as, “The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval,” and “An animal experiment cannot be justifiable unless the experiment is so important that the use of a brain-damaged human would be justifiable” — says rationing is already here in different forms. Hence, we have nothing to fear from men in white coats directed by government bureaucrats.

Written to allay our fears, the article instead provides plenty of insight into the rationality of rationing and why Americans might want to drop what they’re doing, grab pitchforks and torches, and descend upon Washington to slay this Frankenstein monster.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Doctor Will Kill You Now

I have commented before that the purpose of socialized medicine is not health care, but rather government-run death care. The choker bill presently being rammed down America’s throat in the Congress is no exception. In light of the recent history where hospitals have forcibly dehydrated people to death, everyone should pay attention to their gag reflex.

On page 430 of the 2009 Death Care Act we find:

(B) The level of treatment…may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions… (iv) the use of artificially administered nutrition and hydration.

What “level of treatment”? Huh?

Buried in the arcane Death Care Act’s 1,000 pages of detail is this little description of how the government will dictate to you, educate you and control your very survival with an “order regarding life sustaining treatment.”

See, you might give “indications” that the “specified interventions” known as “nutrition and hydration” need to be taken away from you. The vigilant government must be hyper-attentive to starve and dehydrate [useless people] to death, at any time.

You may not be surprised to find out that “you” don’t need to give consent to your own murder. Only a theoretical “you” is really required. That’s one of the “options” Uncle Barack is going to supplement you with.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Video: Schwarzenegger, Knife Star on Twitter

Ever the entertainer, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has posted a Twitter video related to the state’s budget crisis in which he picks up an oversized knife and jokes about autographing state vehicles that will be auctioned to raise cash. (July 23)

           — Hat tip: VH[Return to headlines]


An Honour Killing?

Kingston Police have arrested at least three people in connection with the mysterious deaths of four Montreal women found in a submerged car in Kingston Mills on June 30.

Police sources confirmed the dramatic development in the case yesterday, 22 days after a black Nissan Sentra was found in roughly three metres of water near one of the four locks.

Three teenage sisters were found dead in the car, Zainab Shafi, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13, along with a 50-year-old woman, Rona Amir Mohammed.

La Presse newspaper in Montreal said three people who were heading to Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport were arrested yesterday morning.

Initially, police said the case was suspicious but that they had not found evidence of foul play.

It’s not clear what charges are being laid, but the Whig-Standard learned that Kingston Police have been investigating, for at least two weeks, the allegation that the deaths were an honour killing.

“We are convinced that this is a crime of honour,” Diba Masoomi told Kingston Police, in an e-mail sent to the police chief’s office roughly two weeks ago.

The newspaper obtained a copy of the e-mail from Masoomi, who lives in Niort, France. She claims she is the sister of Rona Amir Mohammed and she also offered the stunning allegation that the dead woman was the first wife of Mohammed Shafi, the father of the three dead girls.

She provided photos that she claims show Shafi and Mohammed at their wedding in Afghanistan 30 years ago. The couple never divorced.

Masoomi said the marriage has been hidden since the family moved to Canada two years ago.

In interviews after the deaths, Shafi and the woman he presented as his only wife, Tooba Mohammed Yhaya, said Rona Mohammed was a cousin.

Ali Shafi, a 15-year-old brother of the dead girls, told the Whig-Standard in an interview July 8 that Rona Mohammed was his aunt.

“For some time, my sister, as well as the Shaficouple’s oldest daughter, Zainab, had been receiving death threats for social, cultural and family reasons,” Masoomi’s e-mail to Kingston Police states.

In an interview through translation, Masoomi, who does not speak English or French, explained that Rona Mohammed has stayed in regular contact with relatives in Europe, and has told them she feared for her life.

“She was really afraid,” Masoomi told the Whig-Standard, through her daughter, Elaha Masoomi. “There were death threats.”

Diba Masoomi said that Rona Mohammed married Shafiin Kabul, Afghanistan. When she could not have children, he took a second wife, a practice that is not uncommon in Afghani culture.

Shafiand his second wife had seven children.

Masoomi said her sister remained with the family and raised the children, even when they moved to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, 17 years ago.

TheWhig-Standardreached another relative of Rona Mohammed, sister Homa Kahoush, who lives in Sweden. She also does not speak English or French.

In an interview translated by her son, Naveed Mohammed, she also said that Rona Mohammed was Shafi’s first wife, a fact that was hidden by the family in Canada.

Kingston Police have refused to comment on any of the information.

“Nothing will be released until tomorrow,” Const. Mike Menor said late last night.

Police have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. today.

“Police investigators are announcing a change in the status of this ongoing investigation,” police said in a release yesterday.

In interviews four days after the car was found underwater at Kingston Mills, Mohammed Shafiand Tooba Mohammed Yhaya surmised that the car ended up in the water as the result of a joyride.

They said their eldest daughter, Zainab, had taken the car without permission in the past, even though she did not have a licence. She was trying to learn to drive.

“My big daughter, she sometimes wants to try” to drive, Yhaya told theToronto Star.

The family said they were returning to Montreal from a family trip to Niagara Falls on June 29 when they decided to stop in Kingston because they were fatigued.

They had driven in two cars, a Lexus SUV and the Nissan.

They stopped at a motel for the night at about 1 a. m., they said.

The four women who were later found dead slept together in one of two motel rooms the family rented.

Yhaya said some time later, Zainab came to her room and asked for the keys to the family’s Nissan so she could get some clothes from the car.

The next morning, when she awoke, the mother said the Nissan was missing along with her three daughters and Rona Mohammed. The family could not reach anyone by cellphone. They filed a missing-persons report with police and drove on to Montreal, believing the other group had left without them.

Ali Shafi, who was on the trip to Niagara Falls, told the newspaper he could not remember at which motel the family stayed.

A longtime tenant at the Lord Nelson Motel on Hwy. 15, Bob Asselstine, told theWhig-Standard that he recalled seeing a large family, driving in two cars, silver and black, who arrived at the motel one evening a day or two before Canada Day.

He said he believed they arrived around 9 or 9:30 p.m.

The motel’s guest receipts for that night did not show that anyone by the name Shafi stayed at the motel, which is roughly two kilometres from Kingston Mills. It is the first motel visible to a traveller on Hwy. 401 who turns south onto Hwy. 15.

In the past weeks, Kingston Police have been collecting video surveillance footage from gas bars and other retail operations along the highway.

A Kingston woman, Shirley Gibson-Langille, told the newspaper that she’s certain she saw the four women who were later found in the car at Kingston Mills in the early evening of June 29, walking around the property.

Kingston Police said previously that information was incorrect.

Police were at the Shafi family home in Montreal on Tuesday evening for roughly three hours, according to a neighbour.

Mario Carpanzano has been a neighbour since the Shafis moved into the multiplex directly across from his home on Rue Bonnivet.

On Tuesday night, Montreal police officers parked in front of his house at about 6 p. m., accompanied by an unmarked car, he said.

“The police car came and parked in front of my gate. Then another car from Kingston arrived. It was people dressed in suits,” Carpanzano, 65, told the Whig-Standard yesterday.

“It had an Ontario licence plate,” he said when asked how he knew it was Kingston Police.

All of the officers went into the Shafi home. He saw camera flashes through the windows. Three hours later, at about 9 or 9:30 p.m., the officers left.

Carpanzano said the family remained at the house, including the father, mother and brother.

“I was on my neighbour’s balcony talking,” he said. “They waved at us and we waved back.”

Later, he noticed members of the Shafifamily leave in a van. He went to bed, so he didn’t know if or when they returned that evening. When he left his house at 5 a. m. Wednesday, he didn’t notice anything suspicious.

Rue Bonnivet is a tree-lined street in the middle of a predominantly Italian neighbourhood in the east-end Montreal suburb of St. Leonard. All of the houses in the district are four-plexes. The Shafifamily rented the middle and lower floors at 8644 Bonnivet.

The homes all have balconies where residents closely watch their neighbours’ comings and goings. Carpanzano said that over the past two years, many Moroccan and Algerian families and people of middle eastern origins have been moving into the area.

Since the deaths, Carpanzano said, the father, Mohammed Shafi, “always had his eyes red like a person who was crying.”

He said Rona Amir Mohammed “was presented to us as a cousin of the man.”

Carpanzano said the family members seemed to be close, but he did notice that Rona “was very often alone” when she went for walks.

“They were very private people. It seemed they didn’t have a lot of friends or relatives in Canada or Montreal. They were so close to each other in the family,” he said. “We didn’t notice anything different. The kids, they used to play with her.”

The only turmoil the family displayed, according to Carpanzano, occurred about a month before the deaths at Kingston Mills when the oldest brother told him that his sister, 19-year-old Zainab, had left home suddenly.

“The older brother said, ‘We called the police because my sister, she ran away,’ “ recounted Carpanzano. “From what we heard, it seemed she was going out with somebody the parents didn’t want and she ran away, defying her parents’ authority.”

He said the brother didn’t mention anything about her possibly having married.

“The only thing I know is he said she was seeing a guy, but the family did not agree with that. The family didn’t say why,” said Carpanzano.

Kingston Police have described the incident as perplexing from the start, noting that a car would have had to negotiate many obstacles to make it into the water at that spot in Kingston Mills.

There was no damage to any of the lock equipment, tables or other objects around the edge where the car is presumed to have plunged into the water.

The submerged car was first spotted by a lock worker who was preparing to move the first boats through the canal that day just after 8:30 a.m.

The car was resting on its wheels, its front end up against the lock wall, as if the vehicle plunged in backwards.

Police have never released any information about what was learned when autopsies were done on the victims.

- — -


What allegedly happened, according to statements from family and police.

June 30

* 1 a. m.: Shafifamily arrives at east-end motel driving a black 2004 Nissan Sentra and a silver Lexus SUV, they say.

* 1:30 a. m. or later: Zainab Shafi, 19, enters her parents’ room and asks for keys to Nissan to get clothes out of car.

* 7:30 a. m.: Tooba Mohammed Yhaya and her husband, Mohammed Shafi, awake to find Nissan missing. They go into police headquarters that morning to file a missing person’s report before heading back to Montreal.

* 8:30 a. m.: First boats head into locks at Kingston Mills. Parks Canada workers notice oil plume on water and then see a submerged car at the northeast corner of the upper lock gates. A police dive team is called in and the car and bodies are removed in the afternoon.

July 2

* Autopsies performed on the four women found in the car — Zainab, her sisters Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13 and their relative Rona Amir Mohammed, 50, described by family as their aunt.

July 3

* Police send two-man survey crew to plot the terrain around the lock station. There are very few hints of a car coming through the area and tire tracks don’t appear to be conclusive.

July 5

* Shafifamily buries the four dead women at an Islamic cemetery in Laval, Que. Further services are held in the coming days.

July 1 -10

* Kingston Police visit area businesses along Hwy. 15 to check security video and hotel logs.

July 22

* Police arrest three people but remain mum about further details. An afternoon news release announces a 2 p. m. news conference today to announce “a change in the status of this ongoing investigation.”

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Denmark: Terror Suspect Deported

A man considered dangerous to national security has been deported at the request of the national intelligence agency

The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) has deported a suspected terrorist after he was arrested in Iraq.

Politiken newspaper learned from an internal source that the man, who has been a permanent Danish resident since 2002, was subject to the secret administrative deportation order and remains in an Iraqi prison. The administrative deportation means that even though the man was in Iraq during the hearing, he will never be allowed to return to Denmark.

The 37-year-old known as Aslan is one of ten foreign-born people that have had their residency revoked in recent years and deported because PET believes they present a serious risk to state security.

The law allowing these kinds of deportations was introduced seven years ago and they have been plagued with controversy as PET does not have to make their evidence public as to why they want the residency revoked and the suspect deported.

Aslan originally came to Denmark from Iraq in 1997 and received his residency in 2002. According to his family, he returned to Iraq in 2005 for marriage but was later arrested by the US military there on suspicion of terrorism.

According to PET telephone transcripts seen by the newspaper, Aslan had numerous contact with other men suspected of planning terror attacks in Denmark.

The records show that Aslan was in regular contact with some of the young men who were later found guilty in one of Denmark’s first terror cases back in 2005. In one phone conversation, the suspect complained to Aslan that there was no one in Denmark who would take action against the cartoonists behind the Mohammed drawings.

The man then passed on greetings to Aslan from the Turkish Dane Abdulkadir Cesur who was then arrested the next week in Bosnia. When arrested he was found to be in possession of 20 kilos of explosives and a suicide belt.

Aslan was also close friends with Mohamad Hamid, who is currently living in a Danish asylum centre with a tolerated stay permit after his residency was revoked. Hamid has previously admitted to having contacting with several terrorist organisations in Syria and said that Aslan may also have had contact with such organisations in Iraq.

‘But just because he possibly talked with these people does not make him a terrorist,’ said Hamid.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

France: Terrorists on the Moon

[see link for photo]

Seen yesterday on the front of Paris’ Institute du Monde Arabe was this coat-tail jumping load of revisionism. The very idea of putting contemporary Arab society, one of the most under-achieving, self-destructive, and violent in the context of the 40th anniversary of the US landing a man on the moon is, like so many other products of France’s pandering “cultural governance” types, simply absurd and vile.

The fallback position in all of these meme-constructing exercises, is to simply call it shabby street art, but for a class of people touting their advancement and sophistication at every turn in that area, there seems to be a awful lot of it. This class of French person, the government funded types who are rapidly becoming humanity’s circus people

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Islam: Ramadan, Rome Initiative for Inter-Religious Dialogue

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 21 — Four events have been arranged on the theme of inter-religious dialogue to be held during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, to reinforce relations between different religious followers in Rome and develop dynamics to encourage peaceful and harmonious coexistence. The events are being organised once weekly by the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy and the Rome City Council starting August 22 when Ramadan begins. “Rome has the ambition and the vocation to be the city of dialogue thanks to the presence of the Vatican, the oldest Jewish community in Europe, and the biggest mosque of the Old Continent,” said Abdellah Redouane, secretary general of the Islamic Centre. Rome can really become a model of coexistence and religious dialogue “where each community, including the last one to arrive — the Muslim one — can really feel itself to be an integral part.” A city where relations with the First citizen are considered excellent, as Redouane recalled, both during the election campaign and after, as shown by the visit by mayor Gianni Alemanno during the holy month after his entering office. The secretary general conceded there are still some issues. “What is lacking is a person at the mayor’s office who deals with religious matters and there are numerous dossiers still open — male circumcision and cemeteries for followers of Islam, for example.” The area dedicated for the deceased of Muslim faith at Prima Porta is full, said the secretary general. “We want local authorities starting with the Regional Council to allocate a building where we can circumcise our little ones in full safety.” Other issues are linked to wider immigration issues. “We ask the city council to resolve problems linked to social services, public services and education,” said Redouane, “in schools our requests are the same as those of other religions that is that there be more scope to teaching religions other than Catholicism.”(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy, PD: Beppe Grillo Becomes a Member of ‘Luther King’ Association

(AGI) — Avellino, 17 July — Beppe Grillo is the card-carrying member number 40 of the Martin Luther King political club in Paternopoli. The enrolment was authorized by the secretary of the local association, Andrea Forgione, who wanted to launch ‘‘a strong provocation’’ to the national leadership of the party: ‘‘The Grillo affair constitutes a very serious precedent,” Forgione said. “In fact, no one should have the power to decide who can become a member and who can’t. Beppe Grillo is not a member of any other party and has no criminal record, so why should we membership to him? We don’t want the Democratic Party to become a bureaucratic party”.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy, PD: Grillo Calls it a Fatwa, Cites Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

(AGI) — Rome, 15 July — “The PD watchdog commission has issued a fatwa against me,” was Beppe Grillo’s comments on his being refused party membership. “In a single sentence,” he said, referring to the ‘hostile movement’ which has kept him from becoming a member, “they admitted that 1. there is a people’s political movement 2. this movement is ‘hostile’ to PD and 3.

whether or not a citizen can become a PD (in which the D stands for Democratic) member is decided on by a shady watchdog commission, not the party’s statute. The ‘Hostile Political Movement’ is hostile perhaps because its programme is the opposite of the PDL? While that of the PD is the same as the PDL? The Hostile Political Movement is the exact opposite of the PD in terms of programme, if you can actually say that there is a PD programme and not just tactical choices of a group of people looking for employment. I remember, for example, that Fassino and his wife have racked up a total of 13 legislatures. How many millions of euros have they cost and with what results for citizens? The Hostile Political Movement is hostile to a small group of people who, like the pigs in ‘Animal Farm’, are animals that are more equal than others and exploit the good faith and lack of alternatives of millions of citizens, it is hostile to those who put the thief Bottino Craxi in his own little private Pantheon.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Kissinger Never Wanted to Dial Europe

Whenever European leaders want to justify the drive for ever-closer union in foreign policy, they quote Henry Kissinger’s famous remark — “Who do I call if I want to speak to Europe?”. The comment is meant to epitomise Europe’s failure to get its act together on the world stage. The hope in Brussels is that if the Lisbon Treaty goes through, the Americans will finally get that single number to dial; it will be the new EU foreign secretary for Hillary Clinton, and new EU president for Obama.

The Kissinger “who do I call” remark was trotted out at almost every seminar I ever went to Brussels. So I’m delighted to add it to the list of “famous sayings that were never said”…

Reginald Dale of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington (and before that of The Financial Times) has written to me to say: “Kissinger never made the famous remark about Europe’s telephone number. According to the late Peter Rodman, who knew him well, the saying is apocryphal, and in fact Kissinger’s concern was the precise opposite — he was fed up with having to deal with a Dane whom he regarded as incompetent and ineffective, who was trying to represent the whole of the EU as President of the Council. Kissinger himself has disowned the remark, and it seems that he was actually seeking to divide and rule in Europe, rather than be restricted to a single voice on the telephone.”

Any more myths need puncturing?

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

UK: ‘Harsh Islamic Punishments Will Make Britain Safer’

London, July 22 (ANI): The Founder of Britain’s oldest Sharia court has said that harsh Islamic punishments, such as the amputation of limbs, will make Britain a safer place.

The Daily Times quoted Sheikh Suhaib Hasan, secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council, as saying that the enforcement of Sharia lawas “something to bring you more peace and security”.

Hasan, president of an East London Sharia court, admitted that that he doesn’t expect Britain to implement Islamic criminal laws as it is not a Muslim country.

He, however, added that problems such as ‘knife crimes’ would be resolved if harsher punishments were meted out because they worked as a deterrent.

Acknowledging the controversy surrounding any notion of support for hardline Islamic law in Britain, he said he was merely expressing his point of view as a devout Muslim. (ANI)

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

UK: Big Brother State Wants Even More Spy Powers

Ministers were attacked by their own surveillance watchdog last night for wanting to make it easier for public bodies to spy on the public.

Sir Christopher Rose, Chief Surveillance Commissioner, also revealed Government organisations were using tracking devices and private investigators to snoop on residents.

And he warned that councils are still using covert tactics to check on suspected minor offenders, despite being banned by law from doing so.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Muslims Could Get Own Police

By Katherine Fenech MUSLIM crime victims could gain the right to have their cases overseen by police from their own religion, it emerged last night.

Police in London already give victims the right to ask for a Sikh officer to be involved in an investigation but the scheme could be introduced for other religions elsewhere.

Chief Supt Joanna Young, from the Met’s Criminal Justice Policy Unit, said: “If it’s a success, I would encourage the other (police) associations to do likewise.”

The project is intended to help investigate “honour” killings and forced marriages but Metropolitan Police Federation chairman Peter Smyth said: “We’re stretched thin enough already. Are Sikh officers going to have their rotas changed so there’s always one on duty?

“It’s political correctness gone mad. We talking about the creation of a separate force within a force.”

But Palbinder Singh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Sikh Association, said: “I don’t believe a white officer is ever going to be fully conversant with a Sikh.”

           — Hat tip: Lexington[Return to headlines]

UK: Police Powers for 2012 Olympics Alarm Critics

The government was accused tonight of giving itself draconian powers to clamp down on protests at the 2012 Olympics. Critics said the powers were so broad they would potentially give private contractors the right to forcibly enter people’s homes and seize materials.

Opposition parties and civil liberties groups criticised the powers as top security officials announced plans concerned with keeping the games, to be held mostly in London, safe from terrorist attack and from “domestic extremists” and public order problems like disruptive protests.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Sharia Penal Codes Would Benefit Britain Says Muslim Sheikh Suhaib Hasan

Hardline Islamic penal codes, such as the amputation of limbs as punishment for theft, would make Britain a safer and better place, the founder of the country’s oldest sharia court has told The Times.

Sheikh Suhaib Hasan, the secretary of the Islamic Sharia Council, said that the enforcement of such laws was “something to bring you more peace and security”.

Dr Hasan, who presides over a sharia court in East London that rules on civil matters such as divorce, emphasised that he neither sought nor expected the implementation of the criminal penal code in Britain because it was not a Muslim country.

He said, howe ver, that problems such as knife crime would be better resolved if harsher punishments were meted out because they worked as a deterrent.

Acknowledging the controversy surrounding any notion of support for hardline Islamic law in Britain, he said that he was merely expressing his point of view as a devout Muslim.

Dr Hasan, who was born in Pakistan and studied sharia in Saudi Arabia, was responsible for the introduction of the Islamic court system to the United Kingdom in 1982.

The Islamic Sharia Council began ruling on divorce cases for Muslims in Birmingham, and its remit has since spread to Leyton in East London, Manchester, Rotherham and Bradford.

Dr Hasan told The Times that such courts were a necessity for British Muslims dealing with personal matters such as marriage and inheritance: “This is a service we are providing to the community that can’t be provided within the British legal system.

“We don’t want to be in conflict with the British legal system at all; we are not interfering with it. We are only concerned here with the religious aspect, no more than that,” he added.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]


Kosovo Let Down by Failing Judiciary

Watching Francesco Florit in action, it is hard not to be impressed.

For a start, this judge from the north-east of Italy is speaking Albanian, apparently with some fluency.

He has been learning the language for less than a year, but more impressive still is the task he faces.

Mr Florit volunteered to work for Eulex, the European Union’s justice mission in Kosovo.

At the central criminal court in Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, he trains and mentors local judges, trying to help them operate more efficiently, and also more fairly.

It is a challenging environment.

“Witnesses come before the court, but very often they are reluctant to speak the truth, because they are threatened,” he says.

“And they have a loyalty to their clan which is stronger than what they feel towards society in general.”


One of the Kosovan judges whom Mr Florit is mentoring acknowledges this problem.

But Hamdi Ibrahimi makes it clear that witnesses are not the only ones who face intimidation.

“We judges are dealing with organised crime, war crimes, and cases of ethnic conflict,” Mr Ibrahimi says.

“In most of these cases, local judges cannot take part, because of the lack of security. It’s a fact that we — judges and prosecutors — we are not safe here in Kosovo.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Gay Pride March in Belgrade on September 20

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JULY 21 — Pride Parade 2009’s organizational committee says that it will hold a gay pride march in Belgrade on September 20, radio B92 reported. The organizers say that they will do everything necessary to avoid incidents like those that marred a similar march in 2001, when extremists attacked participants. According to a statement, LGBTs, their friends, relatives and colleagues in the struggle for equality and freedom will say: “Enough of the discrimination, it’s time for equality.” The date was chosen on the basis of a study conducted by a team of security experts, says Marija Savic from Pride Parade 2009. “The actual security study stated that the rally would be possible, and, although the rally is high risk, the study didn’t reveal anything groundbreaking. I must say that our goal was in some sense to receive signposts as to what steps to take, and to fit that in with our future work, which is cooperation with the police,” she says. The organizational committee states that the Constitution, which guarantees the right to diversity and the freedom of assembly, has made it possible to hold a gay pride parade for the first time in Belgrade. “Pride Parade 2009 will not, I should stress, be any act of provocation, nor any kind of parading. Pride Parade will be a political protest where we will say ‘no’ to discrimination, invisibility and hiding, ‘no’ to human rights violations, and say ‘yes’ to a fundamentally free society,” says Dragana Vuckovic of the organizational committee. The holding of Pride Parade 2009 has so far received support from the Ombudsman’s office, the Human and Minority Rights Ministry and over 60 NGOs, while cooperation has also been established with the Interior Ministry. (ANSAmed))

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Media Report Competition on EU Integration Announced

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, JULY 21 — Representatives of the European Commission, the Serbian government as well as Erste Bank presented a competition for the best media report on the European integration process for 2009, reports BETA news agency. The award will be given to contributions in five categories: television report, radio report, newspaper report, local media report and report in the field of small to medium-sized enterprises. The competition is open until Nov. 1, 2009. The award comprises an educational visit to Brussels where the winners will have the opportunity to meet with European Commission and European Parliament officials. Milica Delevic, the director of the government’s European Integration Office, said at a press conference that the themes of the competition were: “European integration, Serbia’s EU stabilization and association process, and above all its effect on the everyday life of citizens.” Delevic announced that “the process of European integration loses its meaning if the citizens of Serbia do not understand why it is good to be a part of the European Union” and especially underlined the role of the media. European Commission Delegation in Serbia chief Josep Lloveras said that the tender documentation for a new media support project within the framework of IPA 2008, in which the European Commission will invest EUR3.3 million, was currently being prepared.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

A Fading Mediterranean Dream

The Barcelona Process was scrapped without thought for its strengths or weaknesses. The result is a replacement that is worse.

The Union for the Mediterranean was born a year ago on 12-13 July, amid great fanfare in Paris. A year later, it has failed to justify its existence or the transformation of its forerunner, the Barcelona Process.

Nicolas Sarkozy — then a candidate for the French presidency — initiated what was undoubtedly an overdue debate on the state of Euro-Mediterranean relations when, in 2007, he suggested the creation of some kind of Mediterran-ean union. That debate was, however, soon overshadowed by the Franco-German row over Sarkozy’s unilateral and unco-ordinated approach, as well as his plans to exclude most EU member states. As a consequence, the compro-mise reached was not the result of a collective analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the Barcelona Process, but was the product of bluster and horse-trading. The new union’s framework became the lowest common denomi-nator upon which the EU27 could agree.

Another problem is the size of the Union for the Mediterranean. The decision in favour of an all-inclusive and Europeanised union certainly had its benefits; for one, it prevented the duplication of Euro-Mediterranean co-operation frameworks. But French insistence on the inclusion of all Mediterranean riparian states and even the 22-member Arab League increased the number of actors with the power to block decisions. A lack of foreign-policy interests shared by its EU and non-EU members — or, at least, the absence of some shared standards — has stymied the union’s development.

Sarkozy also underestimated the dynamics that a bloated framework of 43 members with such different political, economic and socio-cultural backgrounds would generate. The result is that discussions have revolved around the statutes and the funding of the union’s future secretariat, the nationality and the powers of both the secretariat’s secretary-general and his deputies, and whether the European Commission should be allowed a role.

Consider also how the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out in the Union for the Mediterranean. The conflict poisoned the Barcelona Process from its inception: it prevented any Euro-Mediterranean political and security co-operation, and resulted in the occasional boycott by Arab partners. But the Barcelona Process always maintained at least some momentum. That is not the case with the Union for the Mediterranean. Indeed, since the Gaza war in December 2008, France, in its capacity as co-president and self-proclaimed leader of the union, has allowed the Arab group to kidnap the entire union.

That deadlock was broken only on 7 July, when ambassadorial meetings resumed. But the prospects that the union will work in the long term, that it will be sustainable or that it will prove better than the widely criticised Barcelona Process are extremely bleak, a view shared informally even by some French diplomats. Why?

First, it is only a matter of time until a period of volatility in the Middle East prompts the union’s Arab members to flex their muscles again, throwing Euro-Mediterranean relations into yet another crisis.

Second, the enlarged membership of the union and creation of new organs will ensure decision-making is complex and time-consuming.

Third, the union’s preoccupation with project-based co-operation means that vital issues such as democracy, political reform and the strengthening of human rights and civil society will receive even less attention than before.

Fourth, there is the decision of the EU’s Swedish presidency to allow France to continue to co-chair all high-level meetings of the Union for the Mediterranean on the EU’s behalf, a situation that puts it at odds with the EU’s system of representation on foreign policy and with stipulations in the Lisbon treaty. This increases the risks of poor management and empty promises.

Eighteen months ago, non-Mediterranean EU member states, led by Germany, opposed Sarkozy allegedly in the interests of preserving a genuine, albeit flawed, Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Today, Berlin and other capitals are very passive. Perhaps that is no coincidence. But as the French say: Honi soit qui mal y pense…

Tobias Schumacher is a senior research fellow in political science at the Centre for Research and Studies in Sociology at the Lisbon University Institute.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Italy: Berlusconi Urges More Trade With Mediterranean Countries

Milan, 20 July (AKI) — Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi on Monday called for more trade between European and southern Mediterranean countries. He launched the appeal during a speech at the opening of the Mediterranean Economic and Financial Forum taking place in Italy’s northern city of Milan, the country’s business capital. Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak and France’s finance minister Christine Lagarde also addressed the meeting.

“Italy is the Mediterranean countries’ number one partner. One-quarter of their trade is with Europe and we want to see this proportion increase to one-third,” Berlusconi said in an opening address to the meeting.

Mubarak said the current economic crisis represented a “new challenge for us and for the world”. Poor countries risked “paying a high price” by losing competitiveness and becoming less attractive for foreign direct investment, he warned in his inaugural speech to the forum.

Wealthy European countries in the Mediterranean region should move to manage the recession “so that corrections do not negatively impact on developing countries,” Mubarak stated.

He urged greater dialogue between rich and poor nations and more cooperation among Mediterranean countries.

More than 230 environmental projects and projects to boost research and development and help small and medium sized firms in the Mediterranean are already underway as part of French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union initiative, he noted.

“The Mediterranean Union is alive and well,” agreed Lagarde in her address. The initiative is aimed at boosting trade and security cooperation between European and the southern Mediterranean countries and developing projects to help small and medium sized firms.

France will invest six billion euros via its development agency over the next five years, she noted.

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

Italy: Northern Region Looks to Expand Trade With Libya

Milan, 2 July (AKI) — The northern Italian region of Lombardy is seeking to expand trade with Libya, following a recent visit to Italy by controversial Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Business leaders from the regional capital and financial centre, Milan, intend to expand business links on a visit later this year.

“In October, we will organise a key business visit to Libya, in order to develop new ways to collaborate in the business sector,” said Claudio Rotti, deputy president of Milan’s special agency of the Chamber of Commerce for International Activities, also known as PROMOS, on Thursday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a conference entitled “Developing economic ties between Libya and Italy-Lombardy.”

Data provided by PROMOS said that Lombardy accounted for 20 percent of total bilateral trade between Italy and Libya, worth over 20 billion euros.

“In the light of improving political and commercial links between Libya and Italy, Lombardy, being the engine of the Italian economy….has the task of playing a key role,” Rotti said.

Gaddafi visited the Italian capital Rome in June to boost political and economic ties (photo). In a speech to corporate leaders in Rome, he pledged to give greater priority to Italian companies doing business in his country.

Libya has earmarked spending of 11.8 billion euros to attract foreign investment to the North African country.

But Gaddafi — also the current chairman of the 53-state African Union — also warned that any company which took advantage of the Libyan people would be forced to leave his country.

In regard to Italy’s energy needs, Libya also said Italy would have preferential treatment.

During Gaddafi’s visit, Italy’s farmers’ association, Coldiretti, reported that the export of Italian agricultural products to Libya rose by 51 percent to a record 105 million euros in 2008.

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

North Africa

Fisheries: 2 Mazara Del Vallo Fishing Boats Seized in Libya

(ANSAmed) — MAZARA DEL VALLO (TRAPANI), JULY 22 — Two Mazara del Vallo fishing boats, the Tulipano and the Monastir, were intercepted at sea this morning by a Libyan patrol boat which took them to the North African country. The incident occurred at approximately 6.40am, when the two fishing boats were in the waters north of Libya. Overall, 14 crew members were onboard the boats including 6 Tunisian nationals.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Bomb Explodes at Fatah Wedding Party

Gaza, 22 July (AKI) — Dozens of people were injured in the southern Gaza strip when a bomb exploded late on Tuesday at a wedding party for the nephew of former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. The attack took place at the wedding of Mahmoud Dahlan in the refugee camp of Khan Younis.

Police from the ruling Hamas faction arrived at the scene shortly after the bomb had exploded and found another unexploded bomb, reports said. The police said the bomb appeared to be a homemade device and that fireworks set off at the party could have worsened the impact of the blast.

Witnesses said that the explosions occurred while members of the Dahlan family were celebrating the marriage of their relative. The bomb exploded under a street stage set up for the marriage of Dahlan’s nephew Mahmoud,Palestinian medics said.

Reports on the exact number of casualties varied from 40 to 60 people, who included women and children. Palestinian news agency Maan reported that some 25 people were taken to Gaza City’s Nasser Hospital and at least four were in a critical condition.

Anther 30 were taken to the hospital in Khan Younis and at least ten of those injured were in critical condition, reports said. The groom was slightly injured in the explosion, while his father was in a critical condition, reports said.

Mohammed Dahlan himself was not present at the festivities.

The hated one-time chief of Gaza’s powerful preventative security force fled the coastal strip in June 2007 after the Islamist Hamas movement seized power there.

He is currently a Fatah deputy and lives in the West Bank town of Ramallah, the Palestinian territories’ administrative capital.

Local sources have said that they believe that there is a link between Tuesday’s bomb and previous bombs that detonated in several music stores, Internet cafes, and hair salons in recent years, allegedly carried out by Islamist extremists linked to Hamas.

Hamas has denied this claim and said their investigation of the scene had uncovered evidence that proved their innocence.

Since the death of the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Yasser Arafat in 2004, the various political factions in the Palestinian territories have been seriously divided. The most dramatic and often violent differences have emerged between the ruling secular-nationalist Fatah party and Hamas, but divisions have also emerged within the Fatah party.

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

Breaking the Rules

It is clear from its latest report that the goal of Breaking the Silence is not to bring offending soldiers to justice or even to encourage reforms in IDF policy. If these were its goals, it would include names, ranks, facts, place names and dates; it would have released a detailed report to the authorities to encourage an investigation. Without this information, it is impossible to probe the veracity of the claims.

The organization’s efforts to defame Israel in the international arena are successful. Despite the precedent of previous claims made against the IDF being disproved, and without waiting for an investigation into the allegations, supposedly reputable media organizations such as the BBC choose to report them as fact. Defamation of Israel is the order of the day.

Breaking the Silence is misleading in its name and its aim. There is no silence to break. Israel is an open and democratic society that regularly criticizes its own actions, but this one-sided and shoddy report fails to stress the context of the war — a battle against Hamas terrorists hiding behind civilians and it omits names, ranks and facts about soldiers and their stories.

THE REPORT writers are keen to thank their funders, which shamefully include the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, Christian Aid and OXFAM, two charities which have in the past launched vitriolic anti-Israel campaigns, as well as the European Union which gave them $75,000 to “contribute to an atmosphere of human rights respect and values” and “to promote prospects for peace talks and initiatives.” The EU is deceiving taxpayers if it is telling them that their money paying for this shoddy report is helping to promote peace.

If members of Breaking the Silence were sincere, they would be presenting accurate facts about terrorism, the goals expressed in the charter of Hamas, the deadly rocket fire coming from Gaza, the anti-Israel incitement and the ways the Palestinians have contributed to perpetuating the conflict and to harming the lives of ordinary Palestinian civilians. If they were sincere, they would be raising awareness about the moral dilemmas the IDF faces. But this vital context is missing from their account.

In response to this report, our organization set about filming testimonials and uploading them to a Web site called Soldiers Speak Out — a platform for Israeli soldiers to share their personal combat experiences with the world. The site, created by soldiers to share their personal experiences of serving in the IDF, contains testimonials from soldiers which contrast sharply with the reports of alleged IDF misconduct made by Breaking the Silence.

Breaking the Silence is breaking the rules for any kind of serious reporting. Its report is compiled from anonymous “testimony” from up to 30 people. In contrast, the soldiers who feature on our Web site give testimony on camera without their face blurred out and speak from their own personal experience.

The IDF has more than 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists — thousands of whom served in Gaza in the campaign against Hamas — who try to live up to its high ethical standards. Attempting to slander an IDF campaign on the basis of the anonymous reports is ridiculous.

It is unlikely that the international media will give the Soldiers Speak Out site the kind of publicity they are currently lavishing upon Breaking the Silence. When it comes to Israel, good news is no news, but, as in previous occasions and despite those who exist to defame the IDF, the truth will out.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Civil Fights: Listen to the Left

Too many articles lambasting the continued Jewish support for US President Barack Obama have overlooked a crucial point: Many American Jews agree with his positions on Israel. Like him, they think Israel should completely freeze the settlements, withdraw to the 1967 lines and divide Jerusalem, and that peace would break out if only it did so. None of these views are shared by a majority of Israelis. But as long as American Jews hold them, expecting them to echo mainstream Israeli concerns over these policies is delusional.

What is genuinely puzzling, however, is why Obama supporters appear equally deaf to the anguished cries of Israel’s left, which has long advocated precisely these policies. When the editorial staff of Haaretz, a bastion of Israel’s hard left, pens three opinion pieces criticizing Obama in the space of 10 days, it ought to be clear even to left-of-center American Jews that Obama has an Israel problem.

THE FIRST, by veteran diplomatic correspondent and columnist Aluf Benn, appeared on July 10. Titled “The left went to the beach,” it sought to explain why Israeli leftists, who vocally supported previous American demands for a settlement freeze, have not rallied behind Obama’s. Not only have there been no demonstrations, but at a Knesset debate in early July, he noted, not a single MK urged compliance with Obama’s demand.

One reason, Benn posited, is that Obama never tried “to communicate with the Israeli public.” He “spoke to Arabs and Muslims, but not Israelis. His neglect increased Israelis’ fears that we do not have a friend in the White House.”

This impression was bolstered by “the administration’s pathetic attempt to deny the existence of understandings on settlement construction” between Obama’s predecessor and Israel: “It was possible to accuse Israel of violating its promises, or to say that the policy had changed and explain why, but not to lie.”

Additionally, “Obama obtained nothing from the Palestinians and the Arab states in exchange, and his insistence on a settlement freeze only encouraged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his refusal to negotiate with [Binyamin] Netanyahu. Under these circumstances, it is hard for the Israeli left to blame the government for ruining the chances for peace.”

Finally, “the more time passes, the more it appears that the demand to freeze settlement construction was meant to demonstrate a distancing from Israel.” Obama has turned a settlement freeze “into a matter of honor,” and “when the argument is about who is stronger instead of the real issue, anyone who urges Netanyahu to give in to Obama will be accused of being unpatriotic. And the Israeli left does not want to be backed into that corner.”

Thus after six months in office, Obama has made even Israeli leftists, who enthusiastically supported his election, doubt his friendship with Israel, rendering them unable to support his policies without appearing unpatriotic.

And, equally grave, he has actually undermined the peace process by encouraging Abbas’s refusal to negotiate.

A week later, Haaretz devoted its editorial to the Obama problem. Titled “Speak to us, too,” it began by slamming Netanyahu for “entering into an unnecessary and harmful conflict” with Obama’s administration and “rejecting Obama’s essential desire” to bring peace. Obama’s presidency, it asserted, has created “a unique opportunity” for peacemaking that “it would be a shame to miss.”

But then came the punch line: “Now, the US administration must convince the Israeli public that it has a friend in the White House, and that the administration’s positions correspond with Israel’s national interests. After talking to the Arabs, Muslims and Iranians, in speeches and on television, it is only right that Obama also address the Israeli public.”

Again, the message was clear: Even Israel’s left wants convincing that Obama will not sacrifice Israel’s interests.

THEN, LAST Friday, star columnist Yoel Marcus chimed in. For all Obama’s goodwill, he wrote, “there is something naive, not to say infuriating, about his policy of dialogue and about the whistle stops he has chosen in his travels regarding our issue. He spoke in Turkey, he spoke in Egypt, he appeared before students in Saudi Arabia, Paris, England, Ghana and Australia.

Even there the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was mentioned… The only place he hasn’t been is Israel. He has spoken about us, but not to us.”

Moreover, Obama “is behaving as though everything starts and ends with the question of whether Israel will or will not freeze construction in the settlements,” completely ignoring such crucial details as that the Oslo Accords resulted in waves of suicide bombers and the Gaza pullout in daily rocket attacks. His “obscuring of the fact that the Palestinians have not managed to overcome their passions and be worthy partners for a peace agreement” is “upsetting.”

Finally, while “Obama assumed he did a great thing when he spoke in Cairo about the Jewish people’s suffering in the Holocaust,” the “implied distortion: that we deserve a state because of the Holocaust” is “infuriating.”

“As a leader who aspires to solve the problems of the world through dialogue,” Marcus concluded, “we expect him to come to Israel and declare here courageously, before the entire world, that our connection to this land began long before the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Holocaust, and that 4,000 years ago, Jews already stood on the ground where he now stands.”

In short, Obama is placing the onus entirely on Israel, thus absolving the Palestinians of any need to amend their behavior.

Moreover, by basing Israel’s claim to statehood on the Holocaust rather than the Jews’ historic connection to this land, he has fed the Arab fantasy that Jews are colonialist interlopers with no right to be here, and that the Palestinians are being sacrificed to atone for European misdeeds — thereby fostering Arab intransigence and unwillingness to end the conflict.

When even the hard-core leftists of Haaretz’s editorial board feel that a) Obama seems hostile to Israel and b) his policies actually undermine the peace process, his American Jewish supporters ought to take note.

Because no matter how sincerely Obama wants peace, a president who has lost even Israel’s hard left has no chance of delivering it.

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

FM Invokes Hitler in Shepherd Spat

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s directive this week to circulate a 1941 picture of Hitler sitting with Jerusalem mufti Amin al-Husseini represents an effort to put international reports about the Shepherd Hotel controversy into perspective, after plans to build apartments at the site were portrayed by some abroad as another Israeli attempt to usurp what belonged historically to the Palestinians, government officials said Thursday.

The idea is to show who the original owner was, a spokesman for Lieberman said, to put the issue into some kind of context. “We thought the world should have all the facts,” he said.

The building was built in the 1930s for Husseini, an extremist Arab leader in Palestine in the 1920s and 1930s, and one of the heads of the three waves of violent Arab riots during this period.

After he was deported by the British, the building became a British military outpost and later, under the Jordanians, became the Shepherd’s Hotel. It became an Israeli district courthouse after the Six Day War, and was purchased by US businessman Irwin Moskowitz in 1985.

Some inside the Foreign Ministry objected to Lieberman’s directive to circulate the picture, saying the photo was irrelevant to the issue at hand.

“This is counterproductive,” a ministry source said. “If we want to argue that we have the right to build anywhere in the city because we are the sovereign there, that is one thing. But bringing in the mufti’s connection with Hitler just diverts the argument.

“This doesn’t win points, but will merely cause people to say that when the Jews can’t win an argument, they invoke Hitler.”

Another source deeply involved in hasbara work said that putting the focus on the mufti’s connection to Hitler when arguing for the legitimacy of the Shepherd’s Hotel project was simply ludicrous.

“This is providing a history lesson,” the source said. “But people don’t care about what happened in 1941, they want to know why we are taking certain actions now. They want to know what Israel is doing in the Shepherd’s Hotel in 2009.

But some experts saw value to the move.

Yariv Ben-Eliezer, a professor at the Sammy Ofer School of Communications at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, said that there was something to be said for taking an offensive public diplomacy position, rather then a defensive one.

“Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab entity,” said Ben-Eliezer, who categorizes himself as center-left.

“It was always the capital of Israel, but the world doesn’t recognize it as such. It is our right to say to them, ‘Guys, look who are the friends of those who claim right to Jerusalem. This is called guilt by association’.”

Ben-Eliezer said that the Foreign Ministry is peopled by diplomats who “are used to talking in a politically correct manner and in cocktail party conversations. That is good, and maybe it helps develop person-to-person relationships.

“But if you are talking about propaganda it has to be for the masses, and not only politically correct. I want the whole world to know that they cooperated with the Nazis to kill Jews, and we need to defend ourselves not only in Jerusalem but everywhere else.”

Whether this approach is effective, he said, will depend on the results.

So far, however, the results seem underwhelming. Following condemnations from a number of European countries earlier this week calling on Israel to cease all construction in east Jerusalem, the French Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s Ambassador to France Danny Shek in for a meeting to discuss the matter.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said the ministry’s political director told Shek that France opposes any construction in the settlements.

According to Chevallier, “An immediate freeze in settlements, including in east Jerusalem, is indispensable for preserving the two-state solution and allowing the resumption of negotiations.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor responded by saying “a solution to the question of the settlements can only be solved through the achievement of a permanent peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The French know that very well, and that if they want to make a contribution to peace they should convince the Palestinians to resume peace talks with Israel immediately, rather than automatically repeating slogans.”

Government officials said that the French, in an effort to increase their visibility in the region, were jumping on the anti-settlement bandwagon triggered by US President Barack Obama’s position on the settlement issue.

The Shepherd’s Hotel controversy made the news on Sunday a few days after the State Department discussed the matter with Michael Oren, Israel’s new ambassador in Washington.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Gaza: Bomb at Wedding Gives Rise to Fatah-Hamas Tension

(ANSAmed) — GAZA — Tension is running high in Khan Younis (Gaza) after dozens of people were injured when a bomb exploded during the wedding of a relative of Mohammed Dahlan, a Fatah leader forced to flee the Gaza Strip after Hamas took power in June 2007. Hamas police spokesman Islam Shahwan played down the importance of the event which originated, in the version he told ANSA, from a clash between rival families. He said that the explosion had been caused by a bomb which deafened those in the near vicinity, and that three suspects had already been arrested. From what has been reported, the explosive device had been placed underneath the stage. The explosion happened around midnight and severely injured the groom, Mahmud Dhalan, his father Mohammed and a boy who was standing next to the stage. The Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan, former hardliner in the Gaza Strip and still working as an advisor to PNA president Mahmoud Abbas, is one of the groom’s uncles. Medical sources reported a few dozen casualties, estimating the figure at between 35 and 50. Palestinian press agency WAFA reports that 30 minutes before the explosion Hamas police had phoned the wedding’s organizers and asked them to immediately call it off. Immediately after the explosion, Dahlan family members then threw stones at the first Hamas police squads that reached the location and a protest was held at the site of the incident in which anti-Hamas slogans could be heard. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Illegal Outpost Dismantled in the West Bank

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 20 — The Israeli army has today taken steps to dismantle the illegal Jewish outpost of Adei-Ad, in the area of Ramallah in the West Bank. The news was broadcast by the settlers-run Channel 7 radio station. Twenty-five families working in agriculture currently live in this outpost, added the broadcast. As far as is known, the dismantling was carried out without incident. The news was confirmed by military radio, according to which the servicemen were preparing to dismantle a second outpost nearby. The Obama administration has been forcefully urging the Israeli government to remove dozens of illegal outposts in the West Bank over recent weeks. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Netanyahu Denies Removal of Barrier

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, JULY 22 — The state of Israel has no intention of dismantling the barrier that separates its borders from the Palestinian territories in the West Bank. So said Premier Benyamin Netanyahu, who today claimed the wall was the primary cause of current peace and freedom from continued terrorism. “I have recently spoken to some who believe it would be possible to dismantle the security barrier because the situation in the West Bank has remained calm, but it is in fact because of that very barrier — as well as improved performance by the security forces of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) — that a state of calm has been maintained”. Netanyahu finished, dryly stating: “The barrier will thus stay in its place”. Netanyahu’s words represent an immediate answer to reports from the Maariv newspaper which reported the PNA had requested the American president Barack Obama to pressure Israel for the removal of walls and fences which restrict Palestinian territory. The line of defence — called the “security barrier” in Israel — is seen by a large number of Palestinians as a collective punishment, and an enduring sign of “apartheid”. The wall is 709 kilometres long — 85% of it through Palestinian territory, only 15% in Israeli. The barrier was erected under the leadership of Ariel Sharon, who had called a red alarm for Israeli civilians who had suffered frequent terrorist attacks from the West Bank. In 2004 the wall was ruled “contrary to international rights” by the European Union’s Court of Justice. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Vatican Teaching Hezbollah How to Kill Jews, Says Pamphlet for IDF Troops

The Pope and the cardinals of the Vatican help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews, according to a booklet being distributed to Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

Officials encouraging the booklet’s distribution include senior officers, such as Lt. Col. Tamir Shalom, the commander of the Nahshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade.

The booklet was published by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, in cooperation with the chief rabbi of Safed, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, and has been distributed for the past few months. The booklet, titled “On Either Side of the Border,” purports to be the testimony of “a Hezbollah officer who spied for Israel.”

“The book is distributed regularly and everyone reads it and believes it,” said one soldier. “It’s filled with made-up details but is presented as a true story. A whole company of soldiers, adults, told me: ‘Read this and you’ll understand who the Arabs are.’“

The copy obtained by Haaretz included a Pesach greeting from Shalom, “in the name of the Nahshon Brigade.”

The story is narrated by a man named Avi, who says he changed his name from Ibrahim after he left Hezbollah and converted to Judaism. Avi says he was once close to Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and describes Hezbollah’s purported close relationships with the Vatican and European leaders.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said in a statement: “The book was received as a donation and distributed in good faith to the soldiers. After we were alerted to the sensitivity of its content, distribution was immediately halted.”

According to the book, Nasrallah was invited to join a delegation to tour France, Poland and Italy, including the Vatican. Nasrallah could not refuse an invitation from the Vatican, Avi explained: “We knew [the Pope] identified with Hezbollah’s struggle.”

The book describes the alleged visit of Hezbollah officials to Auschwitz, led by the Vatican: “We came to the camps. We saw the trains, the platforms, the piles of eyeglasses and clothes… We came to learn… Our escort spoke as he was taught. We quickly explained to him: Every real Arab, deep inside, is kind of a fan of the Nazis.”

The booklet also describes how European politicians and journalists ostensibly work against Israel.

“Our escort introduced us to important figures who identify with our causes. Rich people, people with authority… They allocate big budgets to all sorts of Israeli organizations that erode the standing of the IDF… We have a special budget for encouraging politicians and journalists who serve our purposes. Every opinion piece that conforms to our position is rewarded generously.”

Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, the son of former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliahu, is known for his extremist views, and was once charged with incitement to racism after calling for the expulsion of all Arab students from Safed College after a terror attack in the area.

The younger Eliahu was also behind an online video in which he described the “miracle of our matriarch Rachel,” whom he claims appeared before Israeli soldiers in Gaza to warn them of booby-trapped buildings during Operation Cast Lead.

“In some of the places we went in Gaza there was a woman who warned them… ‘Did they tell you who I am,’ she said, ‘I am the matriarch Rachel,” Eliahu says in the video. He claims his father confirmed the veracity of the story, and told him that he had prayed to Rachel: “I told her: Rachel, there’s a war… Go to God, Blessed Be He, pray over the soldiers who sacrifice themselves for the People of Israel, so that they will strike and not be struck.”

David Menahemov, an aide to Eliahu, claims the book is not fiction. “Avi is a real person and everything in the book is absolutely true,” insists Menahemov. “It’s a totally true story, I know the guy personaly. He’s an Arab, who even though he converted still acts like an Arab. We helped him to write and to translate it. We changed a few details to protect him and his family.”

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Analysis: Shi’ite Missiles, Zionist Cows and the Lebanese Army

By Jonathan Spyer

The explosions in a Hizbullah arms storage facility in the south Lebanese village of Khirbat a-Silm on Tuesday are testimony to the successful efforts of this organization to rebuild its strength south of the Litani River.

This success has come although UN Security Council Resolution 1701 expressly forbids a Hizbullah armed presence south of the Litani, and despite the presence of two military forces in the area supposedly committed to ensuring the implementation of the resolution — UNIFIL, and a contingent of the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Following the explosion, the Lebanese army maintained that it took place at a facility dating from before July 2006.

Hizbullah, for its part, initially tried to claim that the explosions were of Israeli cluster bombs scattered in the area during the 2006 war. The organization is now keeping silent on the matter.

According to the Lebanese media, Hizbullah members deployed in the area following the blast, preventing civilians from entering, as the army and security services began their “investigation.”

The explosion came as the Lebanese army was busy focusing on a different threat to national security — namely, violations of Lebanese sovereignty by Israeli forces close to the international border (the “Blue Line”).

According to Lebanese media reports, a clash between Lebanese and Israeli forces was narrowly avoided earlier this week…

           — Hat tip: Barry Rubin[Return to headlines]

Israel Sees Brazil Help With Iran

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says Brazil perhaps “more than other countries” can help convince Iran to suspend its nuclear programme.

Mr Lieberman is on a 10-day visit to Latin American partly to promote trade but also to try to counter the influence of Iran in the region.

He said Brazil traditionally had strong ties with Arab countries and Israel and could be a “good negotiator”.

Mr Lieberman is also due to visit Colombia, Peru and Argentina.

Mr Lieberman is in Brazil, where he held what were described as “constructive talks” with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in the capital, Brasilia.

Israeli diplomats had acknowledged that unease about Iranian influence in Latin America would be a major issue on this trip, and that Mr Lieberman would be keen to raise those concerns.

However while Israel appears uncomfortable with Brazil’s cordial relations with Iran, its foreign minister suggested this might also offer an opportunity.

“I think that Brazil more than other countries can try to convince Iranians to stop their nuclear programme and, of course, to convince the Palestinians to start direct talks,” Mr Lieberman said.

However Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim indicated support for Iran’s goal of nuclear development for “exclusively non-military purposes” and within a “verifiable framework”.

In what could be seen as a message for Israel he also spoke of the desire to see a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

No detail was given about any potential role Brazil might play but there could soon be a chance to test the idea.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unexpectedly cancelled a visit to Brazil earlier this year, but is said to have promised it will be his first overseas trip after he is sworn in for a second term of office.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Jordan: Activists Protest Against Violence in China

(ANSAmed) — AMMAN, JULY 22 — Dozens of protesters gathered today in front of the Chinese embassy in Amman to protest against violent incidents that lead to the death of hundreds of Muslims in China. Protesters chanted anti-Chinese slogans and called for an end to the violence, which claimed around 197 people died and more than 1,600 were wounded. They also held signs that read: “Stop the killing,” “Your blood is our blood and your religion is ours.” This is the first time that activists in Jordan move to condemn the killing of fellow Muslims in China, as public protests are not allowed without government approval. Riot police was visible in the vicinity of the embassy, but they did not interfere and the protest, which was organized by university students and activists from the Islamist movement ended peacefully. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Turkey: Women Drivers Double Over Past Ten Years, Official

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, JULY 21 — The number of women drivers in Turkey almost doubled over the past ten years, daily Sabah reports quoting officials. The number of Turkish women holding a driver’s licence reached 3.22 million this year, up from 1.66 million in 1999, according to statistics posted in the internet site of Directorate General of Security. There are 19.37 million drivers in Turkey and 83.4% of them are men. Rise in the number of men drivers was 34% over the past ten years, but the number of women drivers almost doubled with 93% increase since 1999. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

TV Sex Boast Lands Saudi Man in Jail: Report

A Saudi man has been arrested for bragging about his sexual exploits on a television program devoted to controversial topics, a local newspaper reported Thursday.

Jeddah resident Mazen Abdul Jawad was arrested after he appeared last week on the popular program Red Line on Lebanon-based LBC, the English-language daily Arab News said.

The 32-year-old bragged about havin sex with a neighbor at age 14, essentially admitting to premarital sex, which is illegal according to the kingdom’s sharia-based Islamic legal system.

He also gave a recipe for an aphrodisiac and explained how he picks up women in the segregated society where unmarried men and women are forbidden from mixing.

“It all starts with turning my Bluetooth on while cruising around in my car,” he explained to the camera as he was shown getting into his car.

The paper reported that about 100 people filed complaints to local officials, leading to his arrest.

“The program presents anomalies and deviancy in society that are unacceptable and immoral and should be punished according to sharia,” Ahmad Qasim al-Ghamdi, Mecca head of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the religious police, said.

Jawad told another Saudi daily that he planned to sue LBC, claiming the show’s producers took his comments out of context.

The Saudi Airlines employee could face charges for vice and admitting he engaged in pre-marital sex, and if convicted he could be jailed and flogged, the paper said.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]


EU Mulls Including US in Georgia Mission

EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS — EU states have started tentative internal talks on expanding the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) to include personnel from other countries, such as the US or Turkey.

The UK, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic at a meeting of EU diplomats in Brussels on Wednesday (22 July) spoke out in favour of opening up EU missions to third parties in principle.

The UK is at the same time exploring potential French and German backing for a Georgian request to invite US monitors to join the EUMM.

Some member states fear that a US presence would make the EU mission a target for attacks by Georgian separatist forces, however. EU officials also worry that the move could damage ongoing peace talks between Russia and Georgia in Geneva.

The discussion comes after Russia earlier this year pulled the plug on UN and OSCE observers in Georgia.

The withdrawals will leave the EUMM’s 313 unarmed officers and administrative staff as the only international entity in the post-conflict theatre.

“There should be an interest from all sides in building bridges with the US or other parties to make sure there is a wider presence, both institutionally and on the ground,” Georgia’s EU ambassador, Salome Samadashvili, told EUobserver.

US vice president Joe Biden on a visit to Tbilisi on Wednesday ducked press questions on prospects for US deployment. But a US official told this website that the US is “consulting with the EU and Georgia on the best way forward.”

“We believe a robust international monitoring presence is critical to conflict resolution,” the contact said…

Georgia has indicated that Turkey would also be a welcome addition to the EU team, with Turkey on Wednesday sounding a positive note on the idea.

“That would fit in quite nicely with our general support for any and all efforts to improve stability and well-being in Georgia,” Turkey’s foreign ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said.

EU foreign ministers meeting on Monday are expected to extend the EUMM’s mandate for a further 12 months until 14 September 2010.

The EUMM can be enlarged to include other countries at any time following a unanimous decision by EU states. But a formal discussion on enlargement is not foreseen before September, when EU institutions resume full activities after the summer recess.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Defence Minister Rules Out Troop Withdrawal

Abu Dhabi, 21 July (AKI) — Italian defence minister Ignazio La Russa has said that Italy will not withdraw its soldiers from Afghanistan despite calls from some leftwing politicians for it to do so amid rising international troop casualties. He made the remarks in the aftermath of the death of an Italian soldier last week.

“I have tried to respect as much as possible points of view that are not represented in parliament — those calling for the withdrawal to troops which are in my view mistaken,” La Russa said late on Monday.

He was speaking to journalists on his way to the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, before on Tuesday heading to Afghanistan to visit Italian troops stationed there.

La Russa was due to visit Italian troops stationed at a base located in the western Afghan city of Herat. The surrounding province of Herat and the other three western provinces of Farah, Ghor and Baghdis are under Italian command.

La Russa was then due to visit the town of Farah in southwestern Farah province, where more Italian troops are stationed.

On 14 July, Lance Corporal Alessandro Di Lisio, 25, was killed and three other Italian paratroopers injured while on patrol some 50 kilometres from Farah.

Italy currently has 3,250 troops in Afghanistan, the sixth largest deployment after the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany. It recently deployed 500 troops to the conflict-wracked country to boost security ahead of presidential elections due in August.

“One of the objectives of my visit to to verify the actual security conditions on the ground, that is to say our capacity and the possibility of increasing this,” La Russa told journalists.

There are currently some 58,000 international troops from 42 nations stationed in Afghanistan. The United States has approved sending 68,000 troops to Afghanistan by the end of 2009, including 21,000 that were added this spring.

The US troop surge is aimed at curbing the increasingly violent insurgency being fought by an emboldened Taliban, and the US would like other nations to contribute more troops.

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

Afghanistan: Minister Vows to Ensure Security for Italian Troops

Herat, 22 July (AKI) — Italian defence minister Ignazio La Russa has assured troops in Afghanistan that security will be boosted in the aftermath of last week’s attack in western Afghanistan that killed one Italian soldier and wounded three others.

He made the remarks while visiting troops in the western Afghan city of Herat and the southwestern town of Farah on Tuesday.

“We must supply them with top security conditions so that they can carry out their work as well as possible,” said La Russa.

Italy also wants to increase the number of unmanned Predator drones deployed in Afghanistan to boost the troops’ security.

“I think this increase is overdue and necessary. I am here to understand your needs and see how we can increase the level of security,” he said.

He praised Italian troops for keeping up their morale, despite the attack last week against an Italian patrol in the western province of Farah that killed one and injured three others.

“I found them highly motivated. They are convinced of the importance of the duty they are carrying out,” La Russa told Adnkronos International (AKI) while at Italy’s Regional Command West base in Herat, western Afghanistan.

On 14 July, Lance Corporal Alessandro Di Lisio, 25, was killed and three other Italian paratroopers injured while on patrol some 50 kilometres from the Afghan town of Farah, located in the southern part of the western region where international ISAF forces are under Italian command.

Italy has 3,250 troops in Afghanistan, the sixth largest deployment after the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany. It recently deployed 500 troops ahead of Afghanistan’s presidential election due in August.

There are currently some 58,000 international troops from 42 nations stationed in Afghanistan. The United States has approved sending 68,000 troops to Afghanistan by the end of 2009, including 21,000 that were added this spring.

The US troop surge is aimed at curbing the increasingly violent insurgency being fought by an emboldened Taliban, and the US would like other nations to contribute more troops.

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

Bin Laden Son Reported Killed in US Drone Strike

Osama bin Laden’s son Saad was likely killed by an American missile strike in Pakistan earlier this year, U.S. National Public Radio reported late Wednesday, citing U.S. intelligence officials.

Saad bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader’s third-oldest son, is “believed” to have been killed by Hellfire missiles fired from a U.S. Predator drone “sometime this year,” the broadcaster reported on its website.

The United States has put Pakistan at the heart of the fight against Qaeda. The U.S. military and the Central Intelligence Agency are the only forces that deploy drones to the region.

American spy agencies are “80 to 85 percent” sure that Saad bin Laden is dead, a senior counterterrorism official told NPR, while acknowledging that it was difficult to be completely sure without a body on which DNA tests could be conducted.

Officials at the CIA could not be reaached for confirmation and the U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S. military operations in the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, told Al Arabiya they had heard the same report but coud not confirm it since they were waiting to find out more information.

Saad bin Laden, believed to be in his late 20s, was active in Qaeda but not a major player, the official told NPR, adding that he was not important enough to have been targeted personally.

Saad was “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said the official. “We make a big deal out of him because of his last name.”

Qaeda-Iran link

Former National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell confirmed reports by U.S. intelligence officials in January that Saad, a prominent figure in the murky relationship between Iran and al-Qaeda, was believed to have gone to Pakistan after spending a number of years under house arrest in Iran.

Also in January, in the last days of President George W. Bush’s administration, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Saad bin Laden and three other Qaeda operatives.

According to the Treasury, Saad bin Laden, who is believed to be in his 20s, was part of a small group of Qaeda operatives who helped manage the organization from Iran, where he was arrested in 2003.

He also allegedly helped facilitate communication between Qaeda’s number two leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, following an Qaeda attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen in 2008.

NPR said it was unknown whether Saad bin Laden was close to the location of his father, who is believed to be hiding in the rugged mountainous tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, when he died.

American forces have stepped up their drone attacks in Pakistan since last September, targeting Taliban and Qaeda-linked militants in areas bordering Afghanistan like the Swat Valley.

The United States has carried out nearly 50 such air strikes since the beginning of last year, killing about 470 people, including many foreign militants as well as civilians, according to a tally of reports from Pakistani intelligence agents, district government officials and residents.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Jakarta Mastermind’s ‘Wife’ Held

Indonesian police have arrested a woman believed to be the wife of the man who allegedly masterminded last week’s attacks on two hotels in Jakarta.

The woman, identified as Ariana Rahma, was detained during a raid on an Islamic school in central Java.

Ms Ariana is reported to be married to Noordin Mohammed Top, a wanted militant.

Police earlier released facial images of the two men suspected of carrying out the bomb attacks.

The police sketches of the alleged bombers were based on two heads found in the wreckage at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels.

The attacks killed nine people and injured scores of others.

It is unclear what charges Ms Ariana might be facing, but in recent raids in Cilacap police say they found bomb-making material at an Islamic boarding school and explosives buried in the garden of a house of Mr Noordin’s father-in-law.

Mr Noordin is wanted for plotting the bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005, which killed 202 people, and other attacks in Indonesia.

The police say they are looking into similarities between the Bali attacks and the recent bombing in Jakarta.

Mr Noordin was said to be a key financier for the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiah, but is now thought to have set up his own splinter group.

Foreign dead

The man whose remains were found in the Ritz-Carlton is dark-skinned with short dark hair. The police said he was aged between 20 and 40.

The second man, found at the Marriott, was lighter skinned and aged just 16 or 17.

Several foreigners were among those who died in Friday’s attack, including New Zealander Timothy Mackay, 62, president director of Holcim Indonesia cement company, and Australians Nathan Verity and Garth McEvoy.

Another of the victims was Craig Senger, the first Australian government official to be killed in a terrorist attack — he worked as a trade commission officer at the embassy in Jakarta.

Officials said 17 foreigners were among the wounded, including eight Americans and citizens of Australia, Britain, Canada, Hong Kong, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and South Korea.

Police say they are investigating similarities to the twin bomb attacks on Bali in 2002, which killed 202 people.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Far East

China’s Economic Colonisation of Africa

Beijing offers African nations a lot of money on easy terms but in exchange wants raw materials and mining concessions, including exclusive contracts for Chinese companies.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) — China’s financing investments in Africa rose from less than US$ 1 billion a year before 2004 to about US$ 7 billion in 2006 and US$ 4.5 billion in 2007, according to the World Bank. Trade between the People’s Republic and Africa surged from US$ 10.6 billion in 2000 to US$107 billion last year. China now ranks as Africa’s second-largest trading partner behind the United States.

China likes to portray itself as an equal partner (using the 50-50 formula), with a desire to help developing countries. But increasingly voices are being raised in poor countries that all Beijing wants is their natural resources, indifferent of whether benefits are broadly distributed to the population or end up in the pockets of small elites.

Beijing is offering easy loans in exchange of raw materials and natural resources, but this practice is coming under fire for loading down already debt-laden countries with even more debt.

Last year China extended the Congo a US$ 9 billion loan to build railways and dams. Loans will come from China’s export credit agency, Export-Import Bank of China, but the work will be done by state-controlled China Railway Group and Sinohydro Corp.

For the International Monetary Fund the deal is bad because it is driving the Congo’s debts to dangerous levels.

Chinese investments and loans are certainly fuelling Africa’s economies which jumped by 5.8 per cent in 2007. However, not many local manufacturing and service businesses are emerging, which are crucial for medium and long term development.

At the same time there have been widespread reports about workers in mines, smelters and other operations run by the Chinese being poorly treated, underpaid and forced to accept unhealthy and dangerous working conditions.

In many cases in addition to managers and technicians Chinese companies often bring in their own workers. When this happens local economies benefit even less little from the Chinese presence.

To counter such view China has pointed to the advantages of its offers to African nations.

In fact Western governments and companies have been reluctant to invest in politically unstable African countries.

Angola is one example. In 2004 bilateral trade stood at US$ 4.9 billion. That same year Beijing and Luanda agreed to a loan by China’s Exim Bank. Under its terms Angolan government would get Chinese loans on condition that 70 per cent of public tenders for the construction and civil engineering contracts be awarded to Chinese companies. In return, China gained a regular supply of oil from Angola.

Other countries and international agencies have refused to extend credit to Angola without guarantees that the broader population would also benefit from loans and investments rather than have the money remain among its elites.

As of last year Angola is Africa’s biggest trading partner with China at US$ 25 billion; it is also the mainland’s third-largest supplier of crude oil behind Iran and Saudi Arabia.

“Those who oppose Chinese investment…. All they need to do is to equal the help we are getting from China,” the late Zambian president Levy Mwanawasa told a business forum in 2007. “We only turned to the East when you people in the West let us down.”

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

Life for China’s Tens of Millions of Homosexuals Has Improved Markedly

The Economist 19.06.2009 (UK)

A further article reveals that life for China’s tens of millions of homosexuals has improved markedly, especially in big cities. “Gay and lesbian bars, clubs, support groups and websites abound. Chinese gays, who playfully call themselves ‘comrades’, have plenty of scope for networking. One surprising website caters specifically for gays in China’s army and police force.” Which is not to say that large-scale repressions are not still happening regularly.

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


Asylum Seeker Figures Soar in Finland

The number of asylum seekers to Finland more than doubled in the first half of this year, with many coming from Iraq and Somalia, accordng to the Finnish Immigration Service.

From January to June, some 2,680 people applied for asylum in Finland, compared to 1,030 in the same period of 2008, according to Finnish Immigration Services statistics.

Around half of the asylum seekers came from war-torn Iraq and Somalia, with 850 and 640 refugees respectively. The number of underage asylum seekers is also sharply on the rise.

But the number of applicants from Iraq has begun to slow in recent months. In May, authorities said that due to improved security, those coming from northern or southern Iraq or Baghdad would no longer be granted a residence permit unless they have individual grounds to stay. Individual reasons could include severe illness that cannot be treated in their home country.

Finland also faced soaring asylum seeker numbers last summer. The boost was partly caused by decisions in some European countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands, Britain and Norway, to send people back to Iraq.

Finnish immigration authorities are struggling to process soaring numbers of applications, which means asylum seekers might have to wait up to two years for a decision on if they can stay.

           — Hat tip: KGS[Return to headlines]

Germany: Berlin Accepts Highest Concentration of Immigrants

Berlin had the highest concentration of immigrants in 2008, welcoming 13 new people for every 1,000 residents, a report from the Federal Statistics Office (Destatis) said on Thursday.

The port city of Hamburg had the second highest concentration of foreign citizens, with 12 new people per 1,000 residents. Nearby Schleswig-Holstein had the lowest density of immigrants, with just five new residents for every 1,000 residents.

With 137,000 immigrants, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia had the most new residents overall, ahead of Baden-Württemberg (121,000) and Bavaria (120,000), the report said.

“Compared with the previous year, the number of immigrants remained nearly constant. The years from 2001 to 2006 had seen a steady decrease in immigration,” the statement said.

In total, 682,000 people made Germany their new home in 2008. But the report distinguished between foreign immigrants and ethnic German repatriates, tallying up 574,000 foreigners and 108,000 ethnic Germans. Most of the repatriates came from Poland, the US, Switzerland and Spain, the report said.

The most foreign immigrants came from Poland, Romania, Turkey, Hungary and Bulgaria.

           — Hat tip: Sean O’Brian[Return to headlines]

Inmates Deported Under New Oklahoma Law

BOLEY, OK — Nearly two-dozen illegal immigrant inmates in state prison were turned over Thursday morning to federal authorities for deportation.

A group of 22 inmates were transferred Thursday from the John Lilley Correctional Center near Boley to the custody of sU.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Twenty of the inmates are from Mexico, one is from Guatemala and one is from El Salvador. They range in age from 20 to 61, and most have been convicted of drug crimes.

The inmates are eligible for transfer under a new state law because they were imprisoned for a nonviolent offense and already have served at least one-third of their prison sentences.

State Representative Randy Terrill of Moore was the author of the Criminal Illegal Alien Rapid Repatriation Act.

Read House Bill 2245.

“For too long, Oklahoma’s working families have paid the price for the federal government’s failure to control our nation’s borders. Now, thanks to the Criminal Illegal Alien Rapid Repatriation Act of 2009, the federal government will have to bear the financial burden created by these criminals who never should have been here in the first place,” said Randy Terrill.

He says the program is being considered by other states around the country and he’s proud Oklahoma is the first one to actually do it.

State prison officials say a total of 181 inmates currently meet the criteria for deportation. So far, 32 have been turned over to customs agents.

The state Oklahoma pays about $20,000 each year to house each inmate. That means deporting them will save the state almost $7 million.

           — Hat tip: The Lurker from Tulsa[Return to headlines]

Italy, Fini: Shortsighted Libyan Policy; Tripoli Reacts

(ANSAmed) — ROME, JULY 21 — “Inadequate, disappointing and politically short-sighted: this definition represents the facts”. The President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini commented on the reply he received related to the request to set up a mixed commission of Italian and Libyan deputies to visit the centres where immigrants moving towards Europe are held. But Tripoli replied bluntly through Embarak el Shamek, secretary of the people’s general Congress, who stated that these centres represent an “internal affair” for Libya. Fini had made his proposal to the president of the Libyan Parliament after colonel Gaddafi’s visit to Rome. Fini explained that “I had suggested the tangible creating of a mixed delegation of deputies who would visit immigration centres in Libya to check whether human rights and political asylum guarantees were met in such places”. The reply from the Libya’s parliament was soon delivered, and Fini read it out to the press. Tripoli approved the mixed delegation, “but not for the reasons cited” in Fini’s request. Tripoli explained that the reasons were not shared because “there are no political refugees in the centres. As for human rights, Libya has issued the great Green Charter of human rights to protect them”. After expressing his opinion on ht letter, Fini stated that “In relations between Countries, respect of human rights and international conventions must come first”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

More People Are Leaving Germany Than Arriving

The German Federal Statistical Office has issued figures showing that, for the first time since German reunification, there were more emigrants from Germany last year than there were immigrants.

The number of immigrants was almost constant compared to the year before at 682,000, but the number of emigrants rose by 100,000 to 738,000.

Most of the immigrants came from EU countries, with 119,000 Poles forming by far the largest group. Only Turkey, with 26,200 immigrants, remains a substantial source of immigration from outside the EU.

Quite a few (108,000) were Germans coming back, mostly from Poland and the USA.

Big cities were their preferred destinations, with Berlin and Hamburg taking a disproportionately large number.

Meanwhile, the numbers of Germans and foreigners leaving the country continues to rise; altogether 56,000 more people left than arrived. The Statistical Office in Wiesbaden admits that its figures for departures are not perfect this year, because of administrative changes in local registration offices which have led to some people being taken off the registers who should not have been on them in the first place.

But it says that it’s quite clear that, while the number of foreigners arriving is still greater than the number of those leaving (+11,000), the sum for German movements is seriously negative (-66,000).

The Office summarizes: “The emigration of the Germans continues.”

           — Hat tip: Tuan Jim[Return to headlines]

Netherlands: What Do Immigrants Cost Society? Asks PVV

Geert Wilders’ anti-immigration party PVV has asked a number of government ministers to calculate exactly how much non-western immigrants cost Dutch society, Trouw reports on Wednesday.

The finance, social affairs, health, housing, education, economic affairs and defence ministries have all been asked by PVV MP Sietse Fritsma to calculate how much immigrants cost their departments and how much they contribute in terms of taxes.

‘The core of Fritsma’s questions is: The Hague spends relatively more on non-western immigrants and gets little back,’ Trouw states.

The paper says Fritsma has asked the tax office to calculate how much non-western immigrants pay in taxes compared with the native Dutch. The education ministry has been asked how much it spends on catching ethnic minority truants.

And the health ministry has been asked to say how much more money it spends on non-westerners because they are more likely to visit the doctor.

The party has asked for the calculations to be based on government spending over the past five years with a forecast for the next five.

Trouw says it is unclear if individual ministries will cooperate with the PVV’s requests or whether ministers will prepare a joint statement.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Wilders: Calculate Cost of Immigrants

The anti-immigration party of Dutch populist Geert Wilders wants each ministry to make a cost-benefit analysis of the presence of non-Western immigrants and their offspring in the Netherlands.

When Geert Wilders first brought up what he called “the cost of multiculturalism” in the Dutch parliament last year, he got mostly laughs. Wilders claimed non-Western immigration had already cost the Netherlands 100 billion euros and speculated about how that money could have been put to better use. Every elderly person could have had his or her own room in a nursing home, Wilders suggested; we could all have retired at 50, “or we could have given everybody in the Netherlands a free sailboat.”

But now his Party for Freedom (PVV) is taking the matter up again in a more serious manner: PVV member of parliament Sietse Fritsma has requested a cost-benefit analysis of the presence of non-Western immigrants or ‘allochtonen’ (see insert) in the Netherlands from all twelve Dutch ministries.

That may be a difficult question to answer. For instance, Fritsma wants the transport ministry to calculate how much of the department’s expenses are due to immigrants. This would mean calculating, among other things, how many drivers struck in traffic jams throughout the Netherlands are immigrants.

The PVV also wants to know how much taxes immigrants pay, how often they go the doctor’s and what percentage of police interventions is related to immigrants

Fritsma wants every ministry to come up with figures for the current year, the past five years, and prognoses for the coming year and the next five years. It remains to be seen if the ministries will respond to the PVV’s request.

Some research has already been done into the costs and benefits of labour migration. Last year, Wilders quoted from a 2003 study by the economic policy bureau CPB, but that study did not have the 100 million euro figure. It is unclear how Wilders reached that figure.

The CPB study did come to the conclusion that immigrants cost more over a lifetime (in health care, education, pensions and social security) than they contribute in taxes.

The CPB calculated that an immigrant who arrives in the Netherlands at age 25 will cost Dutch taxpayers 43,000 euros over the rest of his lifetime. (The study did not look into second or third generation immigrants.) It concluded that the Dutch economy as a whole does not benefit from large-scale immigration, and that immigrants are not the answer to the ageing of the Dutch population. However, the study did recommend limited immigration of skilled workers for specific jobs that are hard to fill otherwise.

Economist Pieter Lakeman made an attempt at a cost-benefit analysis of immigration in the Netherlands ten years ago. He said he was the first to ever do so. In his book Binnen zonder kloppen (Enter without knocking), he argued that immigrants were a considerable write-off, costing the government 13 billion guilders (5.9 billion euro) a year. Immigrants from Turkey and Morocco alone have cost the Netherlands more than 70 billion guilders (31.8 billion euro) in the twenty years until the year 1999.

“Without anybody noticing, Dutch immigration policy has become one of the most wasteful forms of government aid around,” Lakeman told NRC Handelsblad at the time.

When the Dutch government returns from summer recess in August, ministers will have to decide how to respond to the PVV’s request: individually or collectively. The latter is the more probable. One thing is for sure: the PVV intends to make the cost of immigration the hot potato of the next political season.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Catholic Nurse Ordered to Help With Abortion

[Comments from JD: WARNING: Graphic Content.]

Mt. Sinai Hospital sued over baby’s dismemberment

A lawsuit has been filed against Mount Sinai Hospital in New York for requiring a nurse who had a long record of expressing conscientious objections to abortions to help in the dismemberment of a live 22-week-old preborn child.

The case is being brought by the Alliance Defense Fund, which also is seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the hospital from retaliating against the nurse, Catherina Lorena Cenzon-DeCarlo.

“Compelling Mrs. DeCarlo to assist in this abortion against her religious beliefs exposed Mrs. DeCarlo to brutal psychological harm,” said the document seeking the injunction.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Vinland Map of America No Forgery, Expert Says

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) — The 15th century Vinland Map, the first known map to show part of America before explorer Christopher Columbus landed on the continent, is almost certainly genuine, a Danish expert said Friday.

Controversy has swirled around the map since it came to light in the 1950s, many scholars suspecting it was a hoax meant to prove that Vikings were the first Europeans to land in North America — a claim confirmed by a 1960 archaeological find.

Doubts about the map lingered even after the use of carbon dating as a way of establishing the age of an object.

“All the tests that we have done over the past five years — on the materials and other aspects — do not show any signs of forgery,” Rene Larsen, rector of the School of Conservation under the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, told Reuters.

He presented his team’s findings at an international cartographers’ conference in the Danish capital Friday.

The map shows both Greenland and a western Atlantic island “Vinilanda Insula,” the Vinland of the Icelandic sagas, now linked by scholars to Newfoundland where Norsemen under Leif Eriksson settled around AD 1000.

Larsen said his team carried out studies of the ink, writing, wormholes and parchment of the map, which is housed at Yale University in the United States.

He said wormholes, caused by wood beetles, were consistent with wormholes in the books with which the map was bound.

He said claims the ink was too recent because it contained a substance called anatase titanium dioxide could be rejected because medieval maps have been found with the same substance, which probably came from sand used to dry wet ink.

American scholars have carbon dated the map to about 1440, about 50 years before Columbus “discovered” the New World in 1492. Scholars believe it was produced for a 1440 church council at Basel, Switzerland.

The Vinland Map is not a “Viking map” and does not alter the historical understanding of who first sailed to North America. But if it is genuine, it shows that the New World was known not only to Norsemen but also to other Europeans at least half a century before Columbus’s voyage.

It was bought from a Swiss dealer by an American after the British Museum turned it down in 1957.

It was subsequently bought for Yale University by a wealthy Yale alumnus, Paul Mellon, and published with fanfare in 1965.

The lack of a provenance has caused much of the controversy. Where the map came from and how it came into the hands of the Swiss dealer after World War Two remain a mystery.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]