Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/24/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 9/24/2009Two articles below support what has been predicted in this space (and in many other places) for almost a year: China and Japan, the USA’s two largest creditors, are expressing increasing reluctance to purchase any more short-term U.S. Treasury securities. The new Japanese prime minister indicates that America’s reckless fiscal policy has induced him to try to diversify his country’s debt portfolio. If either Japan or China decides to reduce its purchase of Treasuries significantly, the dollar will drop and the United States will be in for a major round of inflation, with a renewed recession as a result.

Some good news, for a change: Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist who drew the famous “Turban Bomb” Motoon, will visit Yale University next month along with Lars Hedegaard of Trykkefrihedsselskabet. Mr. Westergaard was invited by the Yale Committee for a Free Press, which was formed in protest of the decision by Yale University Press to remove all illustrations of Mohammed from a book about the history of the Mohammed Cartoon Crisis. Mr. Westergaard will speak to the group on October 1st.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, CB, Fausta, Henrik, Insubria, JD, Lurker from Tulsa, RRW, Sean O’Brian, Steen, TB, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Financial Crisis
Fed Up?
Japan Abandons America
US May Face ‘Armageddon’ If China, Japan Don’t Buy Debt
Author Confirms Bill Ayers Helped Obama Write ‘Dreams’
CAIR Branch Boasts of Getting DVD Censored
G-20 Opponents, Police Clash on Pittsburgh Streets
Give Me Ten Dollars and I’ll Tell You Why Capitalism is Evil
Muhammad Cartoonist to Speak at Yale
NRG to Build State’s Largest Solar Array for City of Houston
Redistributing Wealth?!
The Art of Corruption
Welcome Global Governance
Toronto Police Seize 400 Guns in Safety Push
Europe and the EU
Europe Must Come Clean on Its Involvement in CIA Torture
Finally an Italian: Silvio Berlusconi
Germany : US Terror Warning
Italy: Living Will: Fini, Respect Opinion of Deputies
Italy: EU Rebuffs Berlusconi’s CO2 Emissions Request
Italy: Thieves Use Drug- Laced Madonna Card
Italy: Savoy Sent to Trial in Bribery Case
Staffordshire Hoard: Amateur Treasure Hunter Finds Britain’s Biggest Haul of Anglo-Saxon Gold
Sweden: Hunt Continues for Helicopter Robbers
Sweden: Trucker Flips His Rig After Masturbating While Driving
Swiss Vote Against Piracy Force
Switzerland: Parliament Torpedoes Anti-Pirate Proposal
UK: BBC Bans Comedians From Using Word Gipsy in Sketch. Because It’s ‘Racist’
UK: Britain’s Top Police Officer Attacks Fixed Penalty Notices for Reducing ‘Respect’ For Law
UK: Now It’s Speed Bumps for Cyclists . . . to Stop Them Rampaging Down a Road
UK: Pictured: The Young Woman Ravaged by GBL — The Legal Party Drug the Government Won’t Ban
UK: Revealed: The Uninsured Captital of Britain Where Half of All Motorists Have No Cover
Vatican Informed About Williamson
Serbia: Nine Kosovar Rebels Charged With War Crimes
North Africa
Morocco: True Modernity Only From Cultural Reform, Bennis
Israel and the Palestinians
Gaza Rocket Hits Israel, No One Injured
Michael Freund: He’s No Mahatma Obama
Obama Orders Israel to ‘End the Occupation’
Yom Kippur: Tensions in Mixed Cities
Middle East
“Palestinism”, the Real UN Disease
‘Al-Qaeda Group’ Flees Iraq Jail
‘Last Ottoman’ Dies in Istanbul
Lebanon’s Madoff Tarnishes Hezbollah Reputation
Shah’s Widow: Carter Behind 30 Years of Terror Woes
UN: Ahmadinejad Attacks Israel, The West Refuses to Listen
Italy: Political Leaders Urge Russia to Respect Human Rights
U.S. Protests Russian ‘Sex Tape’ Used to Smear American Diplomat
South Asia
Afghanistan: Italian Soldiers Injured in Latest Attack
Militants Kill Pakistani Elders
Pakistan: President Urges US to Reimburse $1.6 Bn for Terror War
Pakistan: Taliban Recruit European Families as Militants Kill Nine Elders in Pakistan Gun Battle
Two Wounded in Afghan Firefight
UK: Christians Escape Muslim Who Kidnaps, Beats Them
Australia — Pacific
Australia: Loneliness of the University Liberal
Latin America
“Chavez Orchestrated Zelaya’s Return”
Australia: Nearly 100 Asylum-Seekers on Latest Boat
Barrot: Libyan Situation Unacceptable
France: Jungle Migrants Set Up Six New Camps
Malta: Resettlement Offers Total Just 100 Migrants
National Conference With Maroni in Milan
UK: Baroness’s Housekeeper Arrested
UN: Stop Refused Entries, No Guarantees in Libya
Culture Wars
Barney Frank Pushes Fed Gay Rights Bill
Diversity Boss: Whites Must ‘Step Down’
Holdren: Sterilize Welfare Recipients
School Warns Parents About Bible Giveaway
Sunstein: Force Broadcasters to Air ‘Diversity’ Ads
Man “Not to Blame” For Early Carbon Emissions
UN Demands End of Nuclear Proliferation in Historic Agreement (But Where’s Gaddafi?)
UN: Gaddafi Attacks World Powers in Key Address

Financial Crisis

Fed Up?

“Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” — Thomas Jefferson

The Federal Reserve is not federal and it is not reserve. It is a coalition of independent banks and is not subordinate to the U.S. Federal government. That is an annoying axiomatic fact. It may not be ‘right’, fair, or even reasonable, but hey, that is the way it was specifically crafted at Jekyll Island in 1913.

It should be no big surprise to anyone who understands what the Fed is and isn’t that their Board rejected a request by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for a public review of the central bank’s structure and governance. Come on…”Badges? Badges? We don’t need no stinking badges…”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Japan Abandons America

The USS America is sinking—and Japan is getting off while it can.

September 22, 2009 From

by Robert Morley

For over 50 years, one party ruled Japan virtually uninterrupted. During that time, Japan remained a loyal ally and supporter of U.S. policy. This month, a historic event took place.

Japan has new leadership. In a landslide victory, a new party has done the seemingly impossible. A new freshman class of leaders now governs the Land of the Rising Sun. The effects are already rippling across the Pacific toward America.

Yukio Hatoyama is Japan’s new leader. He officially took office last Wednesday, and he is already threatening to split with the United States.

Hatoyama blames America for the global economic crisis and says that the U.S. is responsible for “the destruction of human dignity.” He campaigned on protecting traditional Japanese economic activities and reducing U.S.-led globalization.

During the run-up to the election, Hatoyama’s finance minister told the bbc he was worried about the future value of the dollar, and that if his party were elected in the upcoming national elections, it would refuse to purchase any more U.S. treasuries unless they were denominated in Japanese yen.

Japan is the world’s second-largest economy. It is also America’s second-most-important creditor. The U.S. government owes Japan over $724 billion! The only nation America owes more money to is China ($800 billion). The U.S. also imports $140 billion worth of goods from Japan each year.

If Japan were to follow through with its threat to only lend in yen, the dollar would probably fall hard. What would that mean? America gets more expensive consumer goods, higher unemployment, and currency inflation. If other nations like China follow suit, we would be looking at a currency crisis—Zimbabwe-style.

The new government in Japan has also pledged to diversify its foreign currency reserves away from the dollar. This means that at some point, it will need to dramatically reduce how much money it lends to America. America is planning to borrow record amounts over the next couple of years, so something isn’t adding up here. Where will the money come from?

“The financial crisis has suggested to many that the era of U.S. unilateralism may come to an end,” Hatoyama wrote in an August 26 New York Times article titled “A New Path for Japan.” “It has also raised doubts about the permanence of the dollar as the key global currency.”

But Hatoyama isn’t just charting a separate economic course for Japan. His campaign also promised a more “independent” foreign policy from Washington, and closer relations with Japan’s Asian neighbors.

More alarming for American policymakers, Hatoyama has authorized a wide-ranging review of the U.S. military presence on Japanese soil. He is reexamining the agreement that permits U.S. warships to dock at Japanese ports, and has said Japan should take a second look at why it is spending billions to house and transfer U.S. troops between its islands. Hatoyama has also moved to quickly end Japan’s fueling support for the U.S. naval anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

On Wednesday, an even bigger torpedo hit. Both U.S. and Japanese officials confirmed that discussions were underway to remove all U.S. fighter aircraft from Japan.

So many alarm bells have been clanging in Washington that the Australian reports the U.S. administration has requested “immediate clarifying discussions” on just how far Japan wants to take the disengagement. But there may not be too much America can do if Japan is intent on reducing America’s presence in Japanese territory. Regarding the U.S.-Japan security relationship, Richard Armitage, former U.S. deputy secretary of state, said: “If the government of Japan asked us to change things, we’d argue, we’d kick and scream, but ultimately we’d have to do it.”

Japan is a major platform for American power projection. Losing it would be devastating to U.S. security.

Japan is America’s most important forward base in the Pacific. It is an unsinkable aircraft carrier from which American task forces can operate to secure the flow of trade and resources across the Pacific.

At a time when China is increasingly challenging American authority in the East and South China Sea, when North Korea is brandishing nuclear weapons, and Islamic terrorism is on the upswing in the Philippines and Southeast Asia, America can ill afford to lose Japanese military and logistical support.

But it is losing it.

In his New York Times article, Prime Minister Hatoyama asked, “How should Japan maintain its political and economic independence and protect its national interest when caught between the United States, which is fighting to retain its position as the world’s dominant power, and China, which is seeking ways to become dominant?” (emphasis mine throughout).

Being allied with America has become a problem for Japan.

The new prime minister is no doubt asking himself: How do I protect Japan’s interests? The distant Americans sit 5,500 miles across the Pacific Ocean. One billion Chinese could fly to Tokyo for breakfast, Taiwan for lunch, and back home for kung pao dinner before America’s fastest jets could make it much past Hawaii.

In the same article, Hatoyama answered his own question: “[W]e must not forget our identity as a nation located in Asia,” he said. “I believe that the East Asian region, which is showing increasing vitality, must be recognized as Japan’s basic sphere of being.”

“I also feel that as a result of the failure of the Iraq war and the financial crisis, the era of U.S.-led globalism is coming to an end ….” Hatoyama even said that Japan must “spare no effort to build the permanent security frameworks” essential to creating a new anti-dollar regional Asian currency shared by China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

Hatoyama doesn’t just think America’s economy and power are fading fast, he’s publishing it in the New York Times! He sees Japan’s future as being with Asia. And he’s right.

There is a bold movement occurring in Asia. Old animosities are being forgotten, or resolved. “I believe that regional integration and collective security is the path we should follow,” Hatoyama reiterated. Only “by moving toward greater integration” can Asia’s problems be solved, he said.

This movement toward greater Asian cooperation will soon speed up drastically. Not only do the facts prove it, biblical prophecy forecasts it. A major military alliance between Russia, China and Japan is about to be locked in. (Read about this specific prophecy in Russia and China in Prophecy.)

Prime Minister Hatoyama may be the most pro-Asian Japanese prime minister yet. He has pledged to ignore Japan’s World War ii shrine that honors the country’s war dead, to avoid offending Korea. His only son is attending a prestigious Russian engineering university. And he is the first Japanese prime minister to receive election coverage by any Chinese print media—and it was front-page news in the Communist Party’s People’s Daily. Also, for the first time, a Chinese television station provided live coverage of the election that saw Hatoyama take power.

Japan’s new policy is focused on Asia—and winning friends on the Asian continent.

America is about to lose its Japanese ally. “The U.S. has been critical of new trends in Japan, but we are not a colony of Washington and we should be able to say what we want,” said Makoto Watanabe, a professor of media and communication at Hokkaido Bunkyo University in Japan. “[W]hile under previous governments Japan had become a yes-man to the U.S., this suggests to me that healthy change is taking place.”

But that change will not be healthy—especially for America.

The Bible describes a time when America will be besieged by its former trade partners. This siege, warned about in Deuteronomy 28:52, is both economic and military in nature. “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.”

America is about to be blockaded. For this to occur, Japan would need to take a radical turn from its recent historical political and economic persuasions.

It is radically turning. Today we are witnessing a dramatic fulfillment of this prophecy. America is about to become perilously isolated. The nation with the single largest merchant fleet in the world will turn its back on an economically waterlogged America. And America, without its most important military bases in Asia, will be one step closer to being pushed right out of the Asia Pacific altogether.

America’s ship of state is sinking. Japan’s lifeboat has already left.

           — Hat tip: Henrik[Return to headlines]

US May Face ‘Armageddon’ If China, Japan Don’t Buy Debt

The US is too dependent on Japan and China buying up the country’s debt and could face severe economic problems if that stops, Tiger Management founder and chairman Julian Robertson told CNBC.

“It’s almost Armageddon if the Japanese and Chinese don’t buy our debt,” Robertson said in an interview. “I don’t know where we could get the money. I think we’ve let ourselves get in a terrible situation and I think we ought to try and get out of it.”

Robertson said inflation is a big risk if foreign countries were to stop buying bonds.

“If the Chinese and Japanese stop buying our bonds, we could easily see [inflation] go to 15 to 20 percent,” he said. “It’s not a question of the economy. It’s a question of who will lend us the money if they don’t. Imagine us getting ourselves in a situation where we’re totally dependent on those two countries. It’s crazy.”

Watch the Interview With Julian Robertson (Pt. 2)

Slideshow: The Biggest Holders of US Government Debt

Robertson said while he doesn’t think the Chinese will stop buying US bonds, the Japanese may eventually be forced to sell some of their long-term bonds.

“That’s much worse than not buying,” he said. “The other thing is, they’re buying almost exclusively short-term debt. And that’s what we are offering, because we can’t sell the long-term debt. And you know, the history has been that people who borrow short term really get burned.”

The only way to avoid the problem, he said, is to “grow and save our way out of it.”

“The U.S. has to quit spending, cut back, start saving, and scale backward,” Robertson said. “Until that happens, I don’t think we’re anywhere near out of the woods.”

Robertson is not very optimistic about the short-term.

“We’re in for some real rough sledding,” he said. “ I really do think the recession is at least temporarily over. But we haven’t addressed so many of our problems and we are borrowing so much money that we can’t possibly pay it back, unless the Chinese and Japanese buy our bonds.”

[Return to headlines]


Author Confirms Bill Ayers Helped Obama Write ‘Dreams’

New release on president’s marriage verifies work of WND’s Jack Cashill pointing to ex-terrorist’s role

Confirming the literary detective work of WND columnist Jack Cashill prior to the 2008 election, author Christopher Andersen says in a newly released book that former domestic terrorist William Ayers helped Barack Obama write the president’s highly acclaimed memoir “Dreams from My Father.”

Obama’s 1995 book won the 2006 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album and drew praise from Time magazine, which called it “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”

But since July 2008, Cashill has unveiled in nearly two dozen columns, summarized here, his compelling evidence that the unrepentant co-founder of the radical Weather Underground group — dismissed by Obama during the campaign as “just a guy who lives in my neighborhood” — shaped and refined the book with his exceptional writing skill and radical ideas.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

CAIR Branch Boasts of Getting DVD Censored

District officials assure ‘Obsession’ won’t be used in class

The Pennsylvania state affiliate of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a national Islamic organization that has extensive ties to terrorism and extremism, is boasting that it has succeeded in convincing a school district there to censor the DVD “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”

The Pennsylvania chapter said in a press announcement that officials had written to the superintendent of the Council Rock School District “expressing concerns about a hate-filled video.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

G-20 Opponents, Police Clash on Pittsburgh Streets

PITTSBURGH — Police fired canisters of pepper spray and smoke at marchers protesting the Group of 20 summit Thursday after anarchists responded to calls to disperse by rolling trash bins and throwing rocks.

The march turned chaotic at just about the time that President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrived for a meeting with leaders of the world’s major economies.

The clashes began after hundreds of protesters, many advocating against capitalism, tried to march from an outlying neighborhood toward the convention center where the summit is being held.

The protesters banged on drums and chanted “Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop.”

The marchers included small groups of self-described anarchists, some wearing dark clothes and bandanas and carrying black flags. Others wore helmets and safety goggles.

One banner read, “No borders, no banks,” another, “No hope in capitalism.” A few minutes into the march, protesters unfurled a large banner reading “NO BAILOUT NO CAPITALISM” with an encircled “A,” a recognized sign of anarchists.

The marchers did not have a permit and, after a few blocks, police declared it an unlawful assembly. They played an announcement over a loudspeaker telling people to leave or face arrest and then police in riot gear moved in to break it up.

Protesters split into smaller groups. Some rolled large metal trash bins toward police, and a man in a black hooded sweat shirt threw rocks at a police car, breaking the front windshield. Protesters broke windows in a few businesses, including a bank branch and a Boston Market restaurant.

Officers fired pepper spray and smoke at the protesters. Some of those exposed to the pepper spray coughed and complained that their eyes were watering and stinging.

Police were planning a news conference to discuss their response. Officers were seen taking away a handful of protesters in cuffs.

About an hour after the clashes started, the police and protesters were at a standoff. Police sealed off main thoroughfares to downtown.

Twenty-one-year-old Stephon Boatwright, of Syracuse, N.Y., wore a mask of English anarchist Guy Fawkes and yelled at a line of riot police. He then sat cross-legged near the officers, telling them to let the protesters through and to join their cause.

“You’re actively suppressing us. I know you want to move,” Boatwright yelled, to applause from the protesters gathered around him.

Protesters complained that the march had been peaceful and that police were trampling on their right to assemble.

“We were barely even protesting,” said T.J. Amick, 22, of Pittsburgh. “Then all of a sudden, they come up and tell us we’re gathered illegally and start using force, start banging their shields, start telling us we’re going to be arrested and tear gassed. … We haven’t broken any laws.”

Bret Hatch, 26, of Green Bay, Wis., was carrying an American flag and a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag.

“This is ridiculous. We have constitutional rights to free speech,” he said.

The National Lawyer’s Guild, a liberal legal-aid group, said one of its observers, a second year law student, was among those arrested. Its representatives were stationed among the protesters, wearing green hats.

“I think he was totally acting according to the law. I don’t think he was provoking anyone at all,” said Joel Kupferman, a member of the guild. “It’s really upsetting because he’s here to serve, to make sure everyone else can be protected. … It’s a sign that they are out of control.”

The march had begun at a city park, where an activist from New York City, dressed in a white suit with a preacher’s collar, started it off with a speech through a bullhorn.

“They are not operating on Earth time. … They are accommodating the devil,” he said. “To love democracy and to love the earth is to be a radical now.”

The activist, Billy Talen, travels the country preaching against consumerism. He initially identified himself as “the Rev. Billy from the Church of Life After Shopping.”

The G-20 summit was beginning Thursday evening with a welcome ceremony at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden and ends late Friday afternoon after a day of meetings at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Dignitaries were arriving in waves and were heading to a city under heavy security. Police and National Guard troops guarded many downtown intersections, and a maze of tall metal fences and concrete barriers shunted cars and pedestrians.

Hundreds of police in riot gear were seen massing at Phipps, but only a handful of demonstrators were there.

[Return to headlines]

Give Me Ten Dollars and I’ll Tell You Why Capitalism is Evil

The advance promotion and interviews for Michael Moore’s latest agitprop movie, Capitalism: A Love Story are well underway. The message of the movie, produced and distributed by the millionaire capitalists at Paramount, the Weinstein Company and TCI cable company spinoff Overture Films has as its message, what else but the evils of capitalism. Capitalism you see is bad, except when it’s good.

The Weinstein Company, the production company behind Capitalism: A Love Story, does have its reasons to be down on capitalism. After leaving behind Miramax, the company they sold for a cool 70 million to Disney, the Weinstein Company has not been faring too well in the free market. Capitalism requires actually getting people to give you money in exchange for your products and services. And the Weinstein Company’s biggest success up until this year was another Michael Moore screed against free market health care, Sicko. Now the Weinsteins are hoping to cash in with Capitalism: A Love Story in order to bring in new investors so that their company can continue its capitalistic existence.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Muhammad Cartoonist to Speak at Yale

Kurt Westergaard’s famous drawing of Muhammad with a bomb for a turban won’t grace the pages of the Yale University Press’s new book when it comes out next week. But Westergaard himself will put in a campus appearance at Yale’s Branford College.

Westergaard is one of the Danish cartoonists whose work, critical of Islam, sparked riots worldwide in 2005 — the subject of Jytte Klausen’s book The Cartoons That Shook the World. That book in turn sparked outrage last month, when the New York Times reported that the Yale University Press, citing fears of renewed violence, had decided to publish a book about cartoons without the cartoons.

The book is scheduled for release on Monday. Three days later, on October 1, Westergaard will speak in the Branford College Common Room, along with Lars Hedegaard, founder of the Danish Free Press Society.

Jamie Kirchick ‘06, a member of the Yale Committee for a Free Press — formed by alumni to protest what they see as YUP’s and the university’s caving in to Islamist pressure — first mentioned Westergaard’s planned visit to campus in the New York Daily News last week. Since then, the news has popped up on a few blogs, notably the National Review’s The Corner.

Branford College Master Steven Smith, a political scientist, couldn’t be reached on Wednesday for comment about the event.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

NRG to Build State’s Largest Solar Array for City of Houston

NRG Energy won a bid to develop the state’s largest solar power project for the city of Houston.

The city will buy the output of the 10-megawatt, photovoltaic solar array at 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour, according to a release to be issued shortly. That’s about 6.25 percent of Houston’s power load, enough to power 7,000 homes.

Still, 10 megawatts it tiny compared with most power plants. A traditional coal-fired plant has a capacity of around 800 megawatts.

The facility would come online in the second quarter of next year.

The release doesn’t say how much the project will cost.

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

Redistributing Wealth?!

The Obama White House is attempting to perpetrate the biggest hoax in the nation’s history by insisting that the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and ‘60s was really about the redistribution of wealth. The claim is that had the Civil Rights Movement not gotten bogged down in court action, the focus would have shifted to how wealth was distributed in America. Would have, could have, should have…

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

The Art of Corruption

Through the work of artist and blogger Patrick Courrielche, Andrew Breitbart’s new website Big Government—reporting the news so the mainstream media won’t have to—has just released a sickening transcript of an August 10 conference call jointly hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, the White House’s Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve, an initiative overseen by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency. The purpose of the call was to urge a group of pro-Obama artists to get out there and start creating art that would support the president’s agenda on health care, the environment, education, and community services. Speaking at the request of “folks in the White House and folks in the NEA,” Michael Skolnick, political director for Obama-mad hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, told the assembled artists, “All of us who are on this phone call were selected for a reason, and you are the ones that lead by example in your communities. You are the thought leaders. You are the ones that, if you create a piece of art, or promote a piece of art or create a campaign for a company, and tell our country and our young people sort of what do and what to be into, and what’s cool and what’s not cool.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Welcome Global Governance

If there were ever a question about Barack Obama’s dedication to the concept of global governance, it has now been answered fully. His track record to date points toward his commitment to global governance; his speech to the United Nations removes all doubt.

In order to fully appreciate the effectiveness of Obama’s pursuit, it is necessary to have an accurate picture of what global governance really is. The picture of global governance has been deliberately camouflaged by images of black helicopters and imagined blue-helmeted U.N. forces invading nations to enforce its mandates. This is the picture of global governance that its proponents want people to see so they will not see the real events that are constructing the actual global governance. Global governance is a new procedure for creating and administering laws that govern all nations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Toronto Police Seize 400 Guns in Safety Push

Toronto police have seized almost 400 firearms from registered owners in a six-month push aimed at reducing the number of guns on the city’s streets.

In March, officers began soliciting registered firearm owners across the city as part of what they call the Safe City Project. Many of those who had to surrender their firearms had either let their registrations lapse, or had stashed their guns improperly under beds or in closets.

The Canadian Firearms Registry stipulates guns must be stored in a secure place.

No charges were laid in the push, police said Tuesday.

Targeting people who had registered their guns is a preventative measure, said Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair.

“Legal handgun owners are not dangerous individuals,” Blair told reporters at a Tuesday news conference. “But we know from experience that their firearms can become extremely dangerous when they get into the hands of criminals. And so we have undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce the availability of those handguns.”


However, a critic says, the push to target registered gun owners is not getting at the root of the problem.

“The system doesn’t work. It’s broken. It doesn’t target the right people,” Greg Farrant, a spokesman for the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters, told CBC News. People who are barred from owning weapons are the ones who should be registered and tracked, he said.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Europe Must Come Clean on Its Involvement in CIA Torture

EU governments should reveal the true extent of torture carried out on their soil. The ‘war on terror’ long ago added ‘waterboarding’ and ‘rendition’ to the language of public life, but only now is the scale of abuse committed during the ‘war’ truly becoming apparent. Courtesy of a report released in August by the CIA inspector-general, we now know, for example, that CIA officers also carried out mock executions and threatened to kill detainees’ children.

Even so, the public account of the CIA’s activities remains incomplete. Several parts of that report were almost entirely deleted — and one of those described the operation of secret detention sites in Europe. EU governments should fill in those gaps in our knowledge.

To those in Brussels, the charge sheet should be familiar. In November 2006, the European Parliament confirmed that EU member states “had knowledge of the programme of extraordinary rendition and secret prisons”; it accused Italian intelligence officials of assisting in the CIA’s kidnapping and rendition; it condemned the Swedish government’s complicity in two CIA renditions in 2001; and it identified the German government as complicit in two renditions. All those ‘rendered’ were subsequently tortured.

Then, in a 2007 report, the Council of Europe confirmed the existence of secret CIA torture centres in Poland and Romania. This summer, ABC News reported that Lithuania had housed a ‘black’ — secret — site. Some EU governments have responded, but their investigations have been truncated or short-circuited. Courts in France and Sweden quickly shelved criminal complaints. An Italian court is now trying Italian agents for the abduction of a suspect, Abu Omar, to Egypt, but the constitutional court ruled that key evidence should remain secret, and the CIA agents allegedly involved are being tried in absentia because the government refused to seek their extradition.

Similarly, the German government is refusing to seek the extradition of CIA agents for the rendition of Khaled el-Masri; a Bundestag inquiry into alleged state complicity in that and another case proved a whitewash. Spain has only now acknowledged that— under the previous government — the CIA used its airspace for rendition flights.

The UK has opened investigations into two instances of secret-service agents’ alleged complicity in the torture of US-held detainees, but has refused to order a full inquiry into complicity in abuse in third countries. In Romania, a parliamentary investigation unconvincingly dismissed accusations of a ‘black site’, while Poland will keep secret the results of its investigation into similar accusations. In Lithuania, a special parliamentary committee has yet to begin work.

With the election of Barack Obama in the US and an end to the most outrageous CIA practices, the temptation may be to argue that the worst is over, that nothing is to be gained by coming clean and that the principal issue left by the ‘war on terror’ is to find homes for Guantánamo Bay detainees.

In fact, however, the Obama administration has indicated that it may send suspects to third countries that are willing to provide diplomatic assurances that they will not use torture. But in case after case, assurances given by the Bush administration proved completely ineffective.

Mechanisms need to be created to ensure that Europe is not again hoodwinked into rendition and housing torture sites. It is equally important that Europe hold accountable those who authorised torture. Until then, the stain of torture will remain on its soil.

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

Finally an Italian: Silvio Berlusconi

The Nobel Peace Prize has never been given to an Italian from 1907 up today. It has finally come the time to discredit a taboo which has lasted for over a century, that means from the time it was given to Ernesto Teodoro Moneta in 1907. Throughout the years, many politicians and heads of states have aimed at this acknowledgement, amongst these we can cite Yasser Arafat, the President of South Korea, Kim Dae-Jung, former American President Jimmy Carter, and Al Gore. Today, we believe that, Italy too deserves to receive such acknowledgement, and that it can be worthily represented by Silvio Berlusconi, for his undoubted humanitarian commitment in Italy and abroad.

On the 26th May in Rome in Piazza di Pietra, from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm, the Comitato della Libertà, which backs the candidacy of Silvio Berlusconi, started the collection of adhesions, that will end on the 16th January 2010 in Amalfi.

All those who wish to back this initiative will be able to do it both by filling in the form of adhesion and by creating a civic Committee.

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

Germany : US Terror Warning


Bureau of Consular Affairs


This information is current as of today, Thu Sep 24 2009 09:52:09 GMT+0200 (Romance Daylight Time).


The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens that Al Qaeda has threatened it will conduct terrorist attacks in Germany immediately prior to and following the federal elections on September 27. This Travel Alert expires on November 11, 2009.

Al Qaeda recently released a video specifically warning Germany of attacks. German authorities are taking the threat seriously and have taken measures to enhance the level of security throughout the country.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to maintain good security practices at all times, and to maintain a heightened situational awareness and a low profile. Americans are advised to monitor news reports and consider the level of security present when visiting public places or choosing hotels, restaurants, and entertainment and recreation venues.

We encourage U.S. citizens to read the Department of State’s current Worldwide Caution. It provides additional information on potential threats to U.S. citizens overseas, along with advice on how to reduce your vulnerability to such threats. Additional general information on residing and traveling abroad, including the latest Country Specific Informationfor Germany, may be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.

Contact information for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin and U.S. Consulates in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Munich, and Leipzig may be found on the U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany’s website. All U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Germany are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration website.

Travelers may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Italy: Living Will: Fini, Respect Opinion of Deputies

(AGI) — Rome, 23 Sept. — The living will is about to be discussed in the Italian Chamber and Gianfranco Fini will make sure that the discussion in parliament will take place “in full respect for the right of each MP to give his opinion”. He said this today during his meeting with the members of the Radical Party Marco Cappato, president of the Coscioni Association and Rocco Berardo, president of the Good Rights association, and Luigi Manconi and Mina Welby. Fini added that he hopes the debate will take place in “a calm climate without bias”.

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

Italy: EU Rebuffs Berlusconi’s CO2 Emissions Request

Brussels, 24 Sept. (AKI) — The European Commission on Thursday rejected a proposal by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi to renegotiate the European Union’s proposed limits on carbon emissions. “The national cap limits were adopted with procedure based on European legislation and are no longer negotiable,” Barbara Hellferich, EC executive spokeswoman told journalists.

“The ceilings have been established already,” said Hellferich.

The European Commission has extensive powers over antitrust policy, trade, agriculture and other areas.

Berlusconi sent a letter to the commission’s president Jose Manuel Barroso last week asking it to renegotiate the caps for the period 2008-2012, which according to him will make industry uncompetitive.

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

Italy: Thieves Use Drug- Laced Madonna Card

Woman, 94, knocked out in home raid

(ANSA) — Florence, September 23 — An elderly woman was robbed in her Florence home after two thieves knocked her out with a drug-laced card of the Madonna.

The two women, in their 40s, stole 20,000 euros’ worth of jewels from the dazed 94-year-old, police said Wednesday.

The victim said she was forced to kiss the card, in a sign of devotion, despite protesting that it “smelled odd”.

There has been a recent rise in such cases, Italian police say.

Devotional or holy cards, showing patron saints, Padre Pio, the Madonna or late popes, are very popular among Italian Catholics.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Savoy Sent to Trial in Bribery Case

Son of Italy’s last king puts trust in justice

(ANSA) — Potenza, September 24 — Prince Vittorio Emanuele of Savoy, the son of Italy’s last king, has been sent to trial on charges of conspiring to bribe public officials.

The prince, 72, is accused of conspiracy to obtain licences and supply contracts for illegal gambling machines procured by a Sicilian businessman, Rocco Migliardi.

The prince, who denies all wrongdoing, is accused of using his high-level contacts to help sell the video poker games to a casino in Campione d’Italia, an Italian enclave in Switzerland.

Vittorio Emanuele said the affair was “inexplicable” and he was “confident” of proving his innocence.

“Despite this trying and painful episode,” he said, “I have complete faith I will be vindicated”.

The trial opens in this southern Italian city on December 21.

In June 2006, when the case broke, the news of the prince’s arrest flashed worldwide — especially because he was initially accused of procuring Eastern European prostitutes for the casino.

He spent a week in jail and a month under house arrest.

Italy’s former royal family was banished in 1946 following a national referendum introducing the Republic, their name tainted by the links of Vittorio Emanuele’s grandfather, Vittorio Emanuele III, with Fascism.

Vittorio Emanuele was nine years old when his father King Umberto II and mother Maria Jose’ went into exile in Portugal.

The male members of the Savoy family were subsequently banned from entering Italy by the 1948 Constitution.

But in November 2002 the Italian parliament lifted the ban.

Although the Savoy family now regularly stay in Italy, Prince Vittorio Emanuele has maintained his Swiss residency.

His son Emanuele Filiberto recently moved from Paris and, on the back of a win in the Italian version of Dancing with the Stars, is expected to go into politics despite an unsuccessful run for the European Parliament.

Vittorio Emanuele’s popularity in Italy has fluctuated. His long campaign to get the Savoy ban lifted was damaged by his trial and eventual acquittal on manslaughter charges in the 1978 death of a young German tourist killed by a hunting gun following a quarrel at a Corsican marina.

More recently the Savoys sparked outrage with a request, subsequently withdrawn, for massive damages for their exile.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Staffordshire Hoard: Amateur Treasure Hunter Finds Britain’s Biggest Haul of Anglo-Saxon Gold

The largest haul of Anglo-Saxon gold ever found has been discovered by a metal detector enthusiast on farmland in Staffordshire, it was revealed today.

Experts say the hoard is at least as significant as any other treasure from the Anglo-Saxon era ever unearthed and believe it could have belonged to a king.

They predict the discovery of at least 1,345 different items, thought to date back to the seventh century, will redefine perceptions of the period.

Terry Herbert, from Burntwood, Staffordshire, came across the collection as he searched a field near his home with his trusty 14-year-old detector.

It had been hidden for more than 1,300 years but was recently thrown up by ploughing and amazingly, some was just sitting on the top of the ground.

[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Hunt Continues for Helicopter Robbers

Swedish police continue to hunt for suspects and faced criticism following the well-orchestrated, helicopter-aided theft at a cash depot in Västberga south of Stockholm on Wednesday.

Man arrested in helicopter heist probe (23 Sep 09)

So far no one has been arrested for direct involvement in the daring pre-dawn raid.

The two people arrested on Wednesday afternoon during the initial phases of the investigation are suspected of receiving stolen goods in crimes unrelated to the heist.

One of the men was released late Wednesday night, while the other remains in police custody. He was wanted for having failed to serve out the entirely of a previous prison sentence.

Police estimate that there are no more than 25 career criminals in Sweden capable of carrying out such a unique and professionally-executed robbery.

Officially, police don’t want to publicize exact estimates of how many people may have participated in the stunning heist.

“But we’re probably talking about a figure in the two digits,” said Christian Agdur of the Stockholm police.

Police intelligence units are now working furiously to determine how many of Sweden’s most-capable criminals are currently out of prison, where they are, and whether or not there have been any rumours circulating in criminal networks about a major planned crime.

The possibility that the theft was an inside job is also being explored.

Police sources believe that one or several of the robbers likely had military training.

“The complicated logistics are comparable to something from the military. It’s not just anyone who can get themselves up and down in a helicopter like that. It requires something like infantry or operations training,” a police source told TT.

Meanwhile, police are facing criticism for the lax security at the Stockholm police heliport at Myttinge on Värmdö, a problem which has been known for at least a year.

The robbers were able to stay ahead of police in part by grounding police helicopters through placing a fake bomb in the entrance of the hangar.

Sten-Olov Hellberg, commissioner of the Dalarna County Police in central Sweden, submitted a report in June 2008 about police helicopter units around the country to the National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen).

In the report, he criticized the security at Myttinge, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

“The helicopters are basically kept in a tent. As far as I can tell, the site isn’t manned around the clock,” he told DN.

He is highly critical of the security lapses, especially in light of a previous incident in which police helicopters had been shot at a hangar in Gothenburg.

The Stockholm police’s two helicopters are only at Myttinge on a temporary basis, according to Tommy Hydfors of the National Criminal Investigation Department (Rikskriminalpolisen).

Following a 2002 fire at the previous hangar in Tullinge south of Stockholm, police have been unable to find a new permanent location to house the helicopters.

As a result, the temporary facilities at Myttinge haven’t been outfitted with the tougher security measures police would want at a permanent facility.

National Police Chief Bengt Svenson told Sveriges Television (SVT) that it’s not acceptable that the police’s helicopters weren’t better protected at the temporary base.

He has proposed moving them again to the Berga naval base in the Stockholm archipelago, a site where the helicopters had been placed previously.

“I think it’s the best place for us and I assume that after we have a conversation with the Supreme Commander, we’ll be able to go back there,” said Svenson.

           — Hat tip: TB[Return to headlines]

Sweden: Trucker Flips His Rig After Masturbating While Driving

A German trucker suspected of driving under the influence of drugs crashed his vehicle near Borås in western Sweden on Tuesday. He subsequently admitted to masturbating at the time of the accident.

The trucker, apparently unable to reach a satisfactory climax, then proceeded to continue to pleasure himself while in the midst of a police interrogation, according to the local Borås Tidning newspaper.

“He was masturbating while the police interrogated him,” police prosecutor Åsa Askenbäck told the newspaper.

“He has admitted that he was not paying full attention at the time of the accident. He was playing with himself instead of focusing on the road.”

The truck driver was en route from Gothenburg to Borås at around 4am on Tuesday morning. The truck and trailer flipped over when he rammed his vehicle into the central division on route 40 south of Borås.

The upturned vehicle blocked all traffic towards Gothenburg and one lane was closed in the direction of Borås.

The man remained in the vehicle with his hands apparently still clasped around his own gear stick and was subsequently arrested for reckless driving and driving while under the influence of drugs.

The suspicions against the man have now been extended to sexual molestation.

The German trucker, who is in his thirties, has admitted all of the charges directed against him.

           — Hat tip: CB[Return to headlines]

Swiss Vote Against Piracy Force

Swiss troops will not take part in an EU anti-piracy operation off the coast of Somalia, lawmakers have ruled.

Switzerland’s parliament rejected a government proposal to take part in the Atalanta mission by 102 votes to 81.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer said Thursday’s vote was a “missed opportunity”, Swiss radio reported.

The government had proposed sending 30 troops to the Gulf of Aden, but opponents said the bill compromised Switzerland’s long-held neutrality.

“It’s about being involved in combat operations, and this clearly contradicts neutrality,” said Martin Baltisser, of the nationalist Swiss People’s party, AP reported.

Switzerland’s upper house had backed the proposal, which analysts say was an attempt to boost the landlocked Alpine nation’s relations with its EU neighbours.

Operation Atalanta has some two dozen ships from EU nations — including Britain, France, Germany and Italy — patrolling an area of about two million square miles off the Horn of Africa.

In June, EU ministers agreed to extend the anti-piracy operation until the end of 2010.

Somalia has been without a stable government since 1991.

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

Switzerland: Parliament Torpedoes Anti-Pirate Proposal

The Swiss military will not take part in a European Union-sponsored campaign to fight pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The House of Representatives on Thursday voted against participating in the Atalanta mission, with an anti-interventionist, left-right alliance defeating a centrist bloc by a count of 102-81 votes.

As a political matter, the anti-pirate force is now finished even though the Senate — the other parliamentary chamber — had come out in favour.

Defence Minister Ueli Maurer of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party called the decision “a missed opportunity”.

“It would have been a chance to do something for international solidarity,” he said after the vote.

Ironically, it was Maurer’s own party that sank the initiative. The People’s Party had earlier argued that the military was unprepared to respond to pirate attacks.

“We also support stopping this march forward and having a fundamental discussion about the form and context of military operations abroad,” said Ulrich Schlüer, a People’s Party parliamentarian.

The EU said it had taken note of the decision but did not issue further comment. It had earlier ruled out Switzerland providing a financial contribution.

“Bad signal”

Switzerland’s political left had demanded increased humanitarian commitments instead of a military force. It dovetailed with the right, which has historically been wary about the potential to compromise the country’s neutrality.

Schlüer said the proposal was “pointless and crude”. He has said he was open to intervention “but not in military uniform”.

Hans Widmer, a centre-left Social Democrat, said the rejection could send “a bad signal to the outside world”.

“ …we will risk worsening our already-battered credibility and image as a nation committed to solidarity. “

Peter Malma, Radical Party Proponents of the mission, which included the centre-right, had argued that the country’s image was at stake among other points.

“If Switzerland does not participate, we will risk worsening our already-battered credibility and image as a nation committed to solidarity,” said Peter Malama of the Radical Party.

Defence Minister Maurer had also warned that Europe would have difficulty understanding Switzerland turning down the mission, which includes vessels and aircraft from eight countries.

The mandate of the Swiss soldiers and experts would have been limited to protecting vessels of the United Nations World Food Programme and Swiss cargo ships crossing the Gulf of Aden, according to the foreign ministry.

The foreign ministry framed it as part of the country’s humanitarian obligations.

A Swiss force of around two dozen would have included elite troops, legal experts and a medical team, as well as senior officers, at a cost of nearly SFr10 million ($9.8 million).

Switzerland’s government had previously discussed participation in the operation several times without taking a decision.


In June, the EU extended the Atalanta mission through the end of 2010. One Swiss vessel was pursued by pirates off the coast of Somalia in December but there was no attack.

The centre-right Radicals and the Christian Democrats argued several months later that the Atalanta mandate was clear and Swiss elite soldiers were trained for missions abroad.

Most centre-left Social Democrats responded with cautious approval.

The People’s Party on the other hand accused the government of undermining Swiss neutrality.

The Campaign for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland said the Swiss move would have been a “serious mistake”.

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

UK: BBC Bans Comedians From Using Word Gipsy in Sketch. Because It’s ‘Racist’

The BBC has stepped in to stop the word ‘gipsies’ being used in a TV comedy sketch for fear of being seen as racist.

Ben Miller, one half of the comedy duo Armstrong and Miller, said he had a ‘debate’ with TV bosses over plans to use the word in a sketch poking fun at racist attitudes in Britain in the 1970s.

Last night, after Miller’s claims appeared in the latest issue of FHM magazine, it appeared the BBC had won the day.

Miller told the Daily Mail he and partner Alexander Armstrong had now dropped plans to use the word ‘gipsies’ in the sketch.

After discussions they had decided to use a different word so that the target of the joke was clearer and it was funnier, he said.

Miller told the November issue of FHM: ‘We’re having a debate at the moment with the BBC over whether we can say gipsies, because they say gipsies is a racist term, and you think “Yes it is but that’s the point that we’re making, that we were more racist in the 70s than we are now”.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Britain’s Top Police Officer Attacks Fixed Penalty Notices for Reducing ‘Respect’ For Law

Thugs and thieves should be hauled before the courts instead of getting on-the-spot fines, Britain’s most senior police officer said today.

Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson criticised the use of cautions and fixed penalty notices for offences today, saying police were getting the balance wrong.

He told the Metropolitan Police Authority that on-the-spot penalties and cautions undermined the ‘majesty’ of the courts.

Instead he said up to 400,000 more suspects a year could be dealt with in so-called virtual courts, where the offender appears via video-link from police cells.

His comments will inflame the row over the march towards ‘soft justice’ under Labour.

More than half of all crimes are now dealt with outside court as hundreds of thousands of offenders escape with cautions or on-the-spot fines for burglary, shoplifting, assault and loutish behaviour.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Now It’s Speed Bumps for Cyclists . . . to Stop Them Rampaging Down a Road

It is generally agreed that speed bumps are an effective way of slowing down speeding motorists and improving road safety.

But now one council has introduced the bumps in a bid to stop speeding cyclists rampaging down one road.

In the exclusive area of Canonbury, in London’s Islingston, they have laid 14 bumps on the no-car backstreet after a catalogue of complaints about cyclists careering down the road.

The move comes after Government advisers claimed motorists should be made legally responsible for all accidents involving cyclists, even if they are not at fault.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Pictured: The Young Woman Ravaged by GBL — The Legal Party Drug the Government Won’t Ban

Just days after the Government made the controversial decision to classify GBL as a Class C drug, these shocking pictures are a stark reminder of the devastating effects of the legal party drug.

Mikaila Tyhurst was an attractive 18-year-old when she started taking GBL. She dreamed of being an air stewardess.

Now 22 but appearing much older than her years, she has lost her looks and her health after becoming an addict.

Her front teeth were knocked out in a drug-induced fall, she has severe liver damage and three months ago she nearly died of an overdose.

Mikaila, from Crumpsall, Manchester, has been admitted to hospital dozens of times, often unconscious, after drinking GBL (Gamma butyrolactone).

The drug — similar to the date rape drug GHB is currently legal in this country although it is set to be banned before the end of the year. It is readily available online, at specialist shops, and in beauty products.

The Government plans to make GBL a Class C when meant for human consumption drug by the end of the year, a lower classification than cannabis and ecstasy.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UK: Revealed: The Uninsured Captital of Britain Where Half of All Motorists Have No Cover

A suburb of Bradford is named today as the ‘uninsured driving capital of Britain’ with nearly half the motorists there driving illegally without cover.

Every second motorist (49.5 per cent) in Barkerend in the West Yorkshire town is uninsured — the highest concentration of uninsured drivers anywhere in the country according to a post-code map of the problem.


Ethnically, it is described as 61 per cent white, 34 per cent Asian, 2 per cent mixed race, and 1.3 per cent black.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Vatican Informed About Williamson

Pope did not know of bishop’s Holocaust denial, spokesman

(ANSA) — Vatican City, September 23 — The Vatican was told that ultraorthodox bishop Richard Williamson had denied the Holocaust in a TV interview aired two days before his excommunication was lifted, the Bishop of Stockholm said on Wednesday.

Monsignor Anders Arborelius said he had “informed” the Vatican that Williamson had denied the existence of gas chambers during World War II in an interview broadcast by the Swedish TV programme Uppdrag granskning on January 21. The British-born cleric told the programme that in his view not six million but only 200,000 to 300,000 Jews died in Nazi concentration camps “and not one of them in a gas chamber”.

In a message posted on the diocese’s web site, Msgr Arborelius stressed that “as customary, we always inform the Vatican of issues relating to the Church and so there was nothing exceptional in this case”.

The comment prompted Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, to reiterate that Pope Benedict XVI was not aware of Williamson’s views when the excommunication was lifted.

“It’s absolutely groundless to say or even simply to insinuate that the Pope had been told before (his rehabilitation) of Williamson’s views”.

Lombardi added that this did not imply that he was denying Arborelius’s statement, suggesting that the bishop may have informed other Vatican officials who had not passed on the news to the pope.

Bishop Arborelius will be heard repeating his comment to Uppdrag granskning in a programme to be broadcast Wednesday which will also feature an interview with Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity.

According to the conservative Catholic blog Rorate Coeli, Kasper told the programme in an interview taped in July that he had not been consulted on the rehabilitation.

The blog quotes Kaspar as saying that he “had a general knowledge of the sympathies of Bishop Williamson”.

“He further states in the interview that he thought this was something widely known making it a matter of surprise for him that the Pontifical Comission Ecclesia Dei did not know,” Rorate Coeli says. Pope Benedict XVI sparked dismay among Jews and some Catholics on January 24 when he rehabilitated Williamson along with three other bishops from the traditionalist Catholic group St Pius X (SSPX) that split with Rome over the liberal reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

The Vatican was forced to clarify that Benedict was unaware of Williamson’s stance at the time of his rehabilitation and, in an unusual personal letter to Catholic bishops in March, the pope admitted his “mistakes” in handling the affair, including not checking the Internet where Williamson’s comments were posted.

Benedict said he had rehabilitated the clerics as a first step towards bringing the breakaway SSPX back to the Church, stressing that it will only be accepted back into the fold if — during negotiations — it accepts the reforms of the Vatican Council II.

After initial tensions with Jews over Williamson’s rehabilitation, the Holy See worked hard to defuse the situation and Jewish leaders said they were satisfied after the pope issued an explicit condemnation of Holocaust denial.

Since then, Benedict has repeatedly denounced the Holocaust, renewing his view that it was the work of a “godless regime” and must always be remembered as a universal warning of the sanctity of life.

Taking leave of Israeli President Shimon Peres during a visit to the Holy Land in May, the German pope said: “That appalling chapter of history must never be forgotten or denied. On the contrary, those dark memories should strengthen our determination to draw closer to one another as branches of the same olive tree, nourished from the same roots and united in brotherly love”.

SSPX is the only group to break away from the 1.1-billion strong Roman Catholic Church since the reforms of the early 1960s.

Talks between the Vatican and the ultratraditionalist Society on formal reunification with the Church will begin in the next few days, the Archbishop of Vienna was quoted as saying Monday.

Cardinal Christoph Shoenborn told the German daily Passauer Nue Presse that the Church would tell the fraternity “very clearly what is ‘not’ negotiable”.

In an apostolic letter released in July entitled Ecclesiae Unitatem, Benedict warned the group that a number of doctrinal issues needed to be cleared up, stressing that it could not have “canonical status” within the Church until it does. photo: Richard Williamson

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Serbia: Nine Kosovar Rebels Charged With War Crimes

Belgrade, 23 Sept. (AKI) — Nine Kosovar rebels went on trial for war crimes before a special Belgrade court on Wednesday, while five Serbs were arrested in Kosovo also on suspicion of having committed war crimes.

The Kosovar rebels, who allegedly belong to the “Gnjilane group”, were arrested last December in the southern Serbian town of Presevo, bordering Kosovo.

They have been charged with killing at least 80 Serbs and other non-Albanians in the central Kosovar town of Gnjilane in 1999 when Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo and the region was put under United Nations control.

Another eight members of the group are on the run and will be tried in absentia.

A spokesman for the special court for war crimes, Bruno Vekaric, said it was a “high risk trial” because of its inter-ethnic character and because the whereabouts of the eight fugitives were unknown.

All 17 members of the indicted “Gnjilane group” were members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, which started a rebellion against Serbian rule in 1998.

Many ethnic Albanians outside Kosovo are also believed to have joined the fighting in the ranks of the KLA.

At the same time international police in Kosovo, belonging to the European Union mission (EULEX) said it arrested four Serbs in the Kosovo town of Novo Brdo on suspicion of war crimes. A fifth person was detained for obstructing the arrests, the police said.

Some 200 Serbs gathered in Novo Brdo on Wednesday to protest against the arrests.

Around 200,000 Serbs have fled Kosovo since 1999, but about 100,000 have remained, relying mostly on Belgrade’s financial help.

Serbia continues to oppose the independence of Kosovo, which has been recognised by 62 countries, including the United States

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

North Africa

Morocco: True Modernity Only From Cultural Reform, Bennis

(by Cristina Missori) (ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — “To reach a true, deep and lasting modernisation in Morocco, current judicial, political and economic changes are not enough; to revolutionise the country and push it towards progress there is a need to radically change its cultural world”. This is the strong criticism that came from Mohammed Bennis, Moroccan poet and intellectual who is one of the most famous in the Arab world, towards the power structure and the choices made in the last 10 years by the sovereign King Mohammed VI. “In this moment the will to modernise the country is very strong”, Bennis, who is currently in Italy for the release of his book ‘The Mediterranean and the Word’ (‘Il Mediterraneo e la parolà, Donzelli), admits. “In any case, without a true cultural revolution, judicial changes like the Mudawana (the family code, ed.) reforms, along with political and economic changes will remain merely superficial”. It is not enough, the writer maintains, “to change the Mudawana to modify perceptions that men have of women. The beliefs in their souls must be turned upside down”. Until now, Bennis says, the country’s cultural reform has not been one of great strategies undertaken by the government to relaunch Morocco. “The state gives much more importance to the modernisation of religion than it does to the modernisation of culture”. Born in 1948, Bennis teaches Arabic literature at the University of Rabat. During his life, he recounts, he has simply worked to contribute to the modernisation of his country. “I founded a magazine, a publishing house and an institute, the House of Poetry. I think that intellectuals can do a lot to help Morocco come out of its backwardness”. But, he warns, they must work in their own language, Arabic. “They must know their history and their origins”, the Moroccan writer continued, according to whom in the Alawite Kingdom the intellectual class has lost all of its critical spirit. “Without it, fundamentalism and Islamism advance”. For the author of ‘The Gift of Emptiness’ (‘Il dono del vuotò, San Marco dei Giustiniani edition, 2001), hindering the development of the country is the traditional culture. “It is widespread in the country and deeply connected to the unchanging vision of politics, society and culture. Traditional culture is a handicap which doesn’t allow the country to keep up with the rest of the world”. However, not everything about Bennis’ land of origin takes on a negative hue. The freedom of expression for example “has made enormous progress”. Among intellectuals as well, he concludes, “the country can count on a group of up and coming figures, courageous, with imagination, who dare to write as they wish in their mother-tongue, Arabic, and thanks to internet they are in communication and can exchange ideas with other young Arabs”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Gaza Rocket Hits Israel, No One Injured

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, SEPTEMBER 24 — A rocket launched this morning from the Gaza Strip has hit Israeli territory but did not injury anyone, according to an Israeli Army spokesman quoted by AFP. According to Israeli state-run radio, a rocket hit southern Israeli but caused neither victims not material damage. At the end of 2008 Israel began a violent offensive against the fundamentalist movement Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, to put an end to the unceasing launching of Qassam rockets at its territory.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Michael Freund: He’s No Mahatma Obama

If anyone still thinks of US President Barack Obama in superhuman or pseudo-messianic terms, those thoughts can now surely be put to rest.

Just prior to his joint meeting on Monday in New York with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the leader of the free world put on a performance that was so dreadfully uninspired as to border on the unpresidential.

In a statement to reporters, Obama could barely contain his annoyance, emphatically declaring that “simply put, it is past time to talk about starting negotiations — it is time to move forward. It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that’s necessary to achieve our goals.”

Sounding like a scorned substitute teacher being ignored by his pupils, Obama lectured his Middle Eastern guests, telling them, “Permanent-status negotiations must begin, and begin soon. And more importantly, we must give those negotiations the opportunity to succeed.”

SOME MAY cheer this “straight talk” as precisely the kind of push that is needed to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But the truth is that it is more a reflection of the president’s impetuosity than of a well-crafted policy. As such, its chances of success are highly doubtful.

Indeed, the US media was rife with leaks from administration officials about how “impatient” Obama is. Fox News, for example, reported: “Though it’s early in the Obama administration, aides suggest he’s running out of patience with both sides.” The New York Times took note of “the president’s impatience with the slow pace of the peace negotiations,” and Politico revealed that White House “aides indicated that Obama is frustrated and impatient with what they described as foot-dragging by the Israelis and inflexible positions from the Palestinians.”

The president is clearly a prisoner of his own restlessness, diving head-first into one complex and knotty problem after another with little to show for it but bruises. Thus, the same man who tried to rush through an unprecedented overhaul of America’s colossal health-care system in just a matter of a few weeks, now seeks to solve a century-old conflict by forcing a photo-op meeting in New York in order to jump-start negotiations in its wake.

This is no way to run a country, and certainly no way to bring about a real and lasting peace — not among bickering members of Congress, and certainly not between Arabs and Israelis.

YET PERHAPS the strangest thing of all is that Obama himself should know better than to act with such rashness. After all, just two weeks ago, on a highly-publicized visit to a high school in Arlington, Virginia, he cited Mahatma Gandhi, who was a pillar of patience, as one of his key influences.

Asked by a precocious ninth-grader whom he would like to dine with, the president replied, “You know, I think that it might be Gandhi, who is a real hero of mine… He is somebody whom I find a lot of inspiration in.”

Assuming that to be true, it is hard to understand how Obama failed to learn the key lesson that embodied Gandhi’s storied political career, which India’s founding father once pithily summed up as follows: “Patience and perseverance, if we have them, overcome mountains of difficulties.”

As he stood alongside Netanyahu and Abbas, Obama sounded nothing like the iconic Indian leader. “We have to find a way forward,” he said, as though offering some profound new insight that no one else had thought of previously. “Success depends on all sides acting with a sense of urgency,” Obama added, once again invoking haste as a cornerstone of his approach.

Little thought seems to have gone into how to reach his stated goals, other than to express irritation and let off some steam.

But instead of coming across as willful and determined, Obama sounded petulant and arrogant, particularly when he sought to suggest that the Middle East’s complexity and history must be shunted aside to move forward.

With all due respect to the American president, he is obviously no Mahatma Obama. He is a man in a rush, who obviously thinks he knows best — better than Israel’s public and its leaders — what is in Israel’s interests.

But here, too, the president would do well to recall the words of his icon. It was Gandhi who proclaimed that “it is unwise to be toosure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.”

Even the man occupying the White House.

[Return to headlines]

Obama Orders Israel to ‘End the Occupation’

United States President Barack Obama issued a stinging condemnation of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria on Wednesday in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. The U.S. “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements,” Obama announced.

Using unusually harsh terminology, Obama called to “end the occupation that began in 1967” — referring to Israel’s control of Judea and Samaria.

Obama also stated that the U.S. must put more pressure on Israel to accept Arab demands. “The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians,” he said.


Former United States ambassador to the UN John Bolton said the president’s message had strong significance, particularly given the venue. Obama has put Israel “on the chopping block,” Bolton warned.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Yom Kippur: Tensions in Mixed Cities

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, SEPTEMBER 24 — The police have increased the level of alert to avoid clashes between Jews and Muslims in Israel during Yom Kippur (which will start on Sunday evening), as happened last year in Acre. The police will set up roadblocks in Acre to separate the Jewish and Muslim districts as far as possible. In the mostly Jewish districts, Muslim visitors will be protected by policemen, in the Muslim areas the police will escort Jewish visitors. Busses that enter the city will be searched by the police to keep extremists from entering the city. Today the press reports that similar measures will be taken in Jaffa (Tel Aviv), Ramle and Lod (in the suburbs of Tel Aviv) and in Karmiel and Nazrat Illit (Galilea). Last year life in Acre was disrupted for days by serious clashes on the eve of Yom Kippur, after an Arab man driving a car hit a Jewish passer-by in a mostly Hebrew district. Religious leaders in the city and Israeli President Shimon Peres had to intervene to restore the peace. Israel will close its borders for more than 24 hours during Yom Kippur. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

“Palestinism”, the Real UN Disease

The report by the Goldstone Commission sponsored by the U.N. is a danger for all of us; it is a written document stating that it is necessary to give up the fight against systematic terrorism that hits and uses civilians. A quick look at the 575 pages of the report designed to establish what happened in Gaza in the 2008-2009 war: it is clear that the Commission set up by the United Nations during the ninth special session of the Human Rights Council in January 2009 has is not at all interested in truth, but only in still another criminalization of Israel: the U.N. embodies once again an example of moralistic Palestinism that exploits the guilty feelings of the contemporary world to delegitimize the West. And it practically aims to the physical and institutional death of the Jewish State.

Every year, the U.N. devotes two thirds of its resolutions on human rights to condemn Israel; its Assembly has already echoed the anti-semitic speeches by President Ahmadinejad, and now it is going on with a whipping version by Judge Goldstone, indeed a Jew with a daughter who lives in Israel.

Let us proceed step by step. Israel attacked only because it was cornered by thirteen thousand missiles that have fallen on its territory since the year 2000. It asked so many times the U.N. to stop Hamas after completely withdrawing from Gaza. But this terrorist organization aims at destroying all (all) Jewish people in the world and it is financed by Iran: in fact it went on pursuing its task. Israel’s appeals to the U.N. were received by a yawn similar to the one by Goldstone’s in front of the Sderot citizen Noam Bedein, when he went to the meeting of the Commission to testify on the suffering of people from his Country.

Secondly, the report consistently refers to international law — whose lies will be mentioned later — and does not speak about Hamas’ crimes. In fact it does not link the war with the repeated bombing of Israel. Only Israel is to blame and so it was right from the start, so much so that even anti-Israel people like the UN Commissioner Mary Robinson, the organizer of the Durban conference of 2001, refused to participate in the Committee, by considering it “not balanced”. It is evident instead that the main violators of the Geneva Convention are those who fight by shooting civilians, by strategically using their women and children as human shields and by dressing their fighters as civilians. Hamas, in this case.

And so Goldstone does not answer the question by the contemporary world on how to fight beyond the Geneva convention in situations, for example, such as the ones described by Lorenzo Cremonesi in the Corriere: terrorized people who were obliged to protect Hamas men because they were kept prisoners as human shields in their homes, in schools, hospital, ambulances… Goldstone condemns Israel for having fought in a situation of great difficulty where its civilians were at stake. He forgets that the Hamas headquarters was located in the basement of the Shiba Hospital and that Israel has not touched it although it was used by the worst terrorists in the world in a cynical way.

Where did Goldstone obtain his information, since he accuses Israel to have voluntarily hit civilians and claimed around 1200, 1400 deaths? Can this information be verified? The answer is that the report is full of conscious lies. The Commission was already set up by people like the Law Professor Christine Chinkin, who before the survey had “categorically rejected” Israel’s right to self defense and who had already called Israel “aggressor and perpetrator of war crimes”.

As a study by Gerald Steinberg’s NGO-Monitor points out, if we closely look at the sources consulted, we find that many cannot be identified. The others are simply the most politicized anti-Israeli NGO’s: Betzelem and the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. They are mentioned 70 times, the Palestinian organization Al Haq 30 times and so on. The assumption that civilian places and people were intentionally hit is fraught with factual mistakes: Abdullah Abdel Hamid Muamar, 22 years of age, who was killed, was defined by the Palestinian Center “a student” and therefore a civilian. Also Human Rights Watch, another favorite source, defines him as an innocent victim. But according to a publication by the Al Qassam Brigades, Muamar was member of Hamas. He appears on an Arab website while holding a Qassam missile. According to a survey by the Israeli army, 564 victims were armed members of Hamas, 100 belonged to the Islamic Jihads. The members of Fatah, who were present, were not counted. The policemen of the Hamas regime, identified as civilians, accounted for 84% of the Hamas security mechanism; among them, Muhammad el Dasuqi, a member of the Resistance Committee, was probably one of the terrorists who attacked an American Embassy convoy in 2003. The attack against the U.N. school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was initially indicated as a massacre, while later this was denied: also according to some local sources, the school was not hit. The army shot against an adjacent facility sheltering Hamas militants.

These examples show that Goldstone has accepted the notion that those who do not wear a military uniform, are victims. And this does not work. In general, according to the data reported by the journalist Ben Dror Yemini, the Interdisciplinary Center of Herzliya states that around 63%-75% of the victims were killed because they were involved in the war: about 900 people and unfortunately the civilians used as human shields have to be added to them. Hamas is indeed the true responsible for war crimes.

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

‘Al-Qaeda Group’ Flees Iraq Jail

Sixteen members of al-Qaeda in Iraq have escaped from a prison north of Baghdad, Iraqi security officials say.

Reports said five of the group, who were being held at a facility in Tikrit, had been sentenced to death for involvement in attacks.

A security official said that the men removed the windows from a bathroom, crawled through the opening and climbed a ladder over the prison walls.

One of the men has since been caught, but the rest remain at large.

Checkpoints have been set up around Tikrit, which is a predominantly Sunni town in Salah al-Din province about 80 miles (130km) from Baghdad.

Iraqi military spokesman Maj Gen Abdul-Karim Khalaf said extra surveillance had also been ordered at Iraq’s borders and throughout the north-west of the country.

A senior provincial security official told AFP news agency that the escapees had probably received assistance from within the prison system.

“It is clear there was co-operation with specific groups that helped them escape. Probably one of the officials helped them,” he said.

In a separate development, 24 people have been arrested in Morocco on suspicion of having links to a cell recruiting suicide bombers for Iraq, according to a state news agency.

It said the group, based in towns and cities across Morocco, was also suspected of recruiting men to fight in Somalia and Afghanistan.

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

‘Last Ottoman’ Dies in Istanbul

Ertugrul Osman — the would-be sultan known in Turkey as the “last Ottoman” — has died in Istanbul at the age of 97.

Osman would have been sultan of the Ottoman Empire had Turkey’s modern republic not been created in the 1920s.

As the last surviving grandson of Sultan Abdul-Hamid II, he would have been known as his Imperial Highness Prince Shehzade Ertugrul Osman Effendi.

Born in Istanbul in 1912, Osman spent most of his years living modestly in New York.

No political ambition

He was a 12-year-old at school in Vienna when he heard the news that his family was being expelled by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the soldier who founded the modern Turkish republic out of the ashes of the old empire.

Osman eventually settled in New York, where for more than 60 years he lived in a flat above a restaurant.

Always insisting he had no political ambition, he only returned to Turkey in the early 1990s at the invitation of the government.

During the visit, he went to Dolmabahce — the palace by the Bosphorus where he had played as a child.

Characteristically, he joined a tour group in order to avoid any red-carpet treatment.

Ertugrul Osman is survived by his wife, Zeynep, a relative of the last king of Afghanistan.

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

Lebanon’s Madoff Tarnishes Hezbollah Reputation

A reproduction of an undated family photograph obtained by AFP from the municipality of the southern Lebanese town of Maaroub shows Lebanese financier Salah Ezzedine posing with family members. Ezzedine, dubbed “Lebanon’s Bernard Madoff” by the Beirut press over allegations he squandered more than one billion dollars of his clients’ money, has been charged with embezzlement and fraud.

A Mideast version of the Bernie Madoff scandal is threatening to tarnish Hezbollah’s reputation in Lebanon for being incorruptible, and the powerful Shiite militant movement faces calls to bail out small investors to keep its position from being undercut. Hundreds of Lebanese sold land or drained their retirement savings and handed over hundreds of millions of dollars to Salah Ezzedine, a Shiite businessman with connections to Hezbollah.

The anti-Israeli Hezbollah is on a U.S. list of terrorist organizations and maintains the strongest military force in Lebanon. For its Shiite followers, however, it is seen as a trusted quasi-government that provides social services and aid. The group gets substantial funding from Iran and paid out millions to rebuild the Shiite heartland in south Lebanon after a devastating 2006 war with Israel.

Hezbollah has said it had nothing to do with the alleged swindle and has so far resisted pressure to rescue the investors.

Nevertheless, many investors put their trust in Ezzedine, principally because of the financier’s connections to Hezbollah and because of his reputation as a pious, respectable Shiite. Ezzedine’s investment company promised as much as 40 percent in annual returns, according to residents of this southern Lebanese village.

Ezzedine and his partner, Youssef Faour, have been arrested on suspicion of cheating investors out of perhaps up to $1 billion, prosecutors say. Earlier this month, they were charged with fraudulent embezzlement, a crime punishable by 15 years in prison. Alleged victims included well-off Shiites but also smaller investors who sold land or pulled out savings to bundle the cash and give it to Ezzedine.

Connection denied:

Lebanese are comparing this to the swindle by Madoff, now serving a 150-year prison sentence for masterminding a multibillion-dollar scheme that burned thousands of investors. Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah earlier this month denied the group had any connection with the financier. A parliament member from Hezbollah reportedly lost money with Ezzedine and is suing him — a sign, the group’s supporters say, that it, too, was victimized.

Still, Hezbollah is trying to ward off any blow to its status among loyalists. Nasrallah spoke recently by video link to a group of investors in the south to hear their complaints and reassure them, although he made no promises of compensation, according to an investor who lost money, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the meeting.

The losses among people of all economic levels have stunned Shiites, who hold an abiding faith in Hezbollah’s integrity and incorruptibility. While many still vow loyalty to the movement, they feel it should support its followers and pay compensation.

“That is what we hope,” Wajih Shour, an investor from Toura, told The Associated Press. He said he paid several installments — including one of $150,000 — into the scheme. He refused to say the total amount he invested with Ezzedine but showed two checks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars that were given to him by one of Ezzedine’s companies as a guarantee on his investment. The checks bounced because there was no money in the accounts, he said.

In Maaroub, a town of about 4,500 people, no one was home at the financier’s large villa surrounded by a garden. Residents refused to say anything bad about Ezzedine, insisting he is a decent man.

Rida Dbouki, 75, has known Ezzedine since he was a little boy and describes him as a “man who did all the good for this village.” Asked about the losses, the grocer said, “We don’t know how all this happened.”

Another Maaroub resident, Hussein Khalil Khamis, 78, recounted how Ezzedine paid for his wife’s diabetes and high blood pressure medications that he could not afford — amounting to $200 a month.

Only one man in Maaroub, who identified himself only as Abu Ali because of the sensitivity of discussing the scheme in Ezzedine’s hometown, acknowledged he invested a small amount of money, was promised 40 percent in annual returns and never got it back. He would not say how much he invested.

Fadi Ajami, owner of a hardware shop in Toura, proudly proclaims himself a Hezbollah supporter — his office is decorated with pictures of its leaders, including Nasrallah and its military commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who was killed by a car bomb in Syria last year.

“What really hurts is that those people (Ezzedine and Faour) used their connections with Hezbollah as a cover to gain people’s trust. Hezbollah had nothing to do with them,” Ajami said.

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

Shah’s Widow: Carter Behind 30 Years of Terror Woes

‘Iraq would never have dared to even send a plane over our country’

THE widow of the Shah of Iran, Empress Farah Pahlavi, is still around to remind us how bad Jimmy Carter was as president — long before his recent Israel-bashing and his calling Obama detractors racist. If Carter hadn’t let the Shah be overthrown in 1979, “there wouldn’t be this problem in Afghanistan, nor would there have been the Iran-Iraq war,” Pahlavi tells Avenue magazine. “Iraq would never have dared to even send a plane over our country. The Gulf War wouldn’t have happened, nor would any of the problems of the past 30 years, including the exporting of religious fanaticism.”

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UN: Ahmadinejad Attacks Israel, The West Refuses to Listen

(by Alessandra Baldini) (ANSAmed) — NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 24 — Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinejad has railed against Israel in the UN headquarters, leading to a sensational protest by numerous delegations from Western countries — including the United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and Canada — who left the hall when Ahmadinejad began his ranting against Israel. Ahmadinejad said that Israel is to blame for “inhuman policies against Palestinians”. The Israeli delegation had decided to boycott the Iranian leader’s speech from the very beginning, but other diplomats had wanted to give a more visual sign of their disagreement with the “hateful and offensive anti-Semitic rhetoric” of Tehran’s leader, in the words contained in a statement issued by the US delegation. Ahmadinejad therefore spoke to a semi-empty hall which during his speech emptied even further. He was lavish in his wide-ranging criticism of the West, saying that “a small minority” should not dominate world politics, the economy and culture, and stood up for the disputed elections in June which saw him re-elected to power in Iran. In his words, the elections in Iran were “glorious and entirely democratic”, and were the beginning of a new chapter in the history of his country. In a dark jacket and without a tie, Ahmadinejad began speaking after 7pm in New York (1am in Italy), much later than had been scheduled for the first day of the UN General Assembly, due to the long tirade by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who in the early morning had monopolised the UN podium for an hour and a half instead of the prescribed 15 minutes. The Iranian president also spoke much longer than scheduled, and said that foreign troops are spreading “war, blood, aggression, terror and intimidation in Iraq and Afghanistan”. However, in his speech to the General Assembly, shortly after a ministerial meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council for the talks on his country’s nuclear ambitions, Ahmadinejad did not mention the nuclear issue for which Tehran may soon see fresh sanctions inflicted on it. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Italy: Political Leaders Urge Russia to Respect Human Rights

Rome, 24 Sept. (AKI) — The lower house of Italy’s parliament has passed an almost unanimous bi-partisan motion urging the Italian government to guarantee respect for human rights in Russia, in particular in regard to jailed oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The lower house on Wednesday voted in favour of the motion to activate all “diplomatic channels, together with other European partners, to guarantee the respect for human rights and the right of defence for Mikhail Khodorkovsky” and others.

The motion was proposed by the leader of the centrist Christian Democrat party, Pier Fernando Casini.

“ The almost unanimity of the vote will push the government to carry out an important role,” said Roberto Rao, Italian MP and UDC leader in an interview with Adnkronos.

The anti-immigrant Northern League party — and a key ally of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government — abstained from voting.

Rao, however, said the motion was important because “in the last few years, progress in democracy and freedom in Russia were halted”.

He said it would allow for a resumption of efforts to restore freedom and democracy, because it would push the Italian government to play an important role in the matter.

Italy has important economic ties with Russia being the third largest trading partner, while Berlusconi and Russia’s prime minister Vladimir Putin have a close friendship.

“The Khodorkovsky case is only the tip of the iceberg, by which we wanted to show Italian public opinion in regard to the numerous violations of human rights committed in Russia,” Rao said.

“Government opposition figures and various journalists want to tell the story about what happens in Russia, such as the issue in Chechnya for those who are deprived of this freedom,” said Rao.

Khodorkovsky arrested in 2003 for what the defence team calls “politically-motivated charges”, have passed the last six years in prison and are now facing a second trial and the prospect of a twenty-two year sentence if convicted.

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

U.S. Protests Russian ‘Sex Tape’ Used to Smear American Diplomat

The U.S. Ambassador in Moscow has lodged a formal protest with the Russian Foreign Ministry over an “attempted smear” of an American diplomat with a purported sex video recorded in a Moscow hotel room.

“This kind of effort to discredit an American diplomat really has no place in the sort of relationship that we are trying to build with the Russian federation,” Ambassador John Beyrle told ABC News in an interview to be broadcast tonight on World News with Charles Gibson and Nightline.

American officials say the Russian intelligence agency that replaced the KGB, the Federal Security Service (FSB), produced the video in an attempt to either recruit or discredit the diplomat, Brendan Kyle Hatcher, a 34-year-old married State Department employee who serves as a liaison with religious and human rights groups in Russia.

As recently as this summer, Hatcher attended a meeting with Ambassador Beyrle with the Russian Patriarch Metropolitan Kiril.

When Hatcher rejected the Russian blackmail approach, officials said, the tape was posted last month on a supposed Russian internet news site that has no known reporters and that many Russian journalists believe is closely tied to the FSB.

The Russian Foreign Ministry declined comment to ABC News.

The video begins with surveillance video of Hatcher on a darkened street with a cell phone in his hand. Audio of Hatcher speaking with several women in Russian is dubbed over the scene and a still photograph of a topless woman is posted over the video.

Finally, the video shows footage of Hatcher recorded with a camera hidden in the ceiling of a hotel room. The lights are on and Hatcher is seen on the bed in his underwear. Then the video cuts to the same room without the lights on and shows a man and a woman seemingly having sex on the bed. Hatcher denies he is the man seen in the darkened scenes, and U.S. officials say they believe him.

“Kyle Hatcher has done nothing wrong,” said Ambassador Beyrle. “Clearly the video we saw was a montage of lot of different clips, some of them which are clearly fabricated,” he told ABC News. “We had our security office back in Washington take a look at that and they are convinced Kyle has done nothing wrong. I have full confidence in him and he is going to continue his work here at the embassy.”

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

South Asia

Afghanistan: Italian Soldiers Injured in Latest Attack

Rome, 24 Sept. (AKI) — Two Italian soldiers were injured in southwest Afghanistan on Thursday after being attacked by militants. Sources in the Italian defence ministry told Adnkronos that the attack occurred during a humanitarian operation in Shindand, around 100 kilometres north of Farah, in the southwest.

As soon as the attack occurred, two A10 fighter aircraft from the multi-national International Security Assistance Force were called to reinforce the troops under attack.

One of the Italian soldiers was injured in the hand, while another was wounded in the neck.

The injured paratroopers, who belong to the same 186th Lightning Brigade which lost six soldiers in the massive bomb attack in the capital, Kabul, last week, were recovering at the hospital in the Italian base in Herat

“Their condition is not serious,” said Maj. Marco Amoriello, Italy’s spokesman at the camp in Herat in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI).

Italy’s defence minister Ignazio La Russa expressed his “strong solidarity” with the injured soldiers.

The attack occurred a day after another Italian soldier was injured when his patrol came under fire on Wednesday.

All those killed in last week’s attack were from the 186th Lightning Brigade. State funerals were held for the slain soldiers in Rome on Monday in a national day of remembrance in Italy.

Ten Afghans and dozens of Afghan civilians were also injured in the Kabul blast.

There are around 3,000 Italian troops serving in Afghanistan, mostly in the west of the country.

Twenty Italian soldiers have been killed in the conflict between insurgents and the NATO-led international force since the Taliban was ousted in 2001.

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

Militants Kill Pakistani Elders

Seven pro-government tribal elders have been killed by the Taliban in north-west Pakistan, police say.

The victims of the Taliban ambush in the town of Janikhel included tribal chief Malik Sultan, who was active in raising a militia against militants.

Janikhel has often been troubled by militant violence and is close to the tribal region of North Waziristan where the Taliban is known to be active.

The area has been under periodic curfews by the army since June.

“Taliban militants attacked the tribal elders who were on their way to a nearby village to mediate in a dispute between local people,” local police chief Iqbal Marwat told the AFP news agency.

“All seven, who were on foot, were killed on the spot while the militants fled,” he added.

The attack happened in Bannu district.

Residents said that Malik Sultan was part of a government-sponsored initiative to form militias in the north-west to combat the Taliban.

Correspondents say the militias are seen as a way of offsetting the fact that the Pakistani army lacks adequate equipment and counter-insurgency specialists. They are also seen as a way of protecting villages and remote communities.

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

Pakistan: President Urges US to Reimburse $1.6 Bn for Terror War

Islamabad, 23 Sept. (AKI/DAWN) — Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari has urged the United States government to reimburse the 1.6 billion dollars that Pakistan spent on fighting extremism in the tribal areas earlier this year.

The United States pays Pakistan for the anti-extremist operations from a special account called the Coalition Support Fund. Pakistan has not been paid for more than a year, Pakistani daily Dawn said.

President Zardari made this demand in two separate meetings with US officials including special envoy Richard Holbrooke.

President Zardari also called for an early realisation of about six billion dollars pledged to Pakistan in the Tokyo conference earlier this year where international donors promised to help Pakistan overcome its economic crisis.

The President also sought an early adoption of the Kerry-Lugar Bill that may bring in another 1.5 billion dollars of annual US assistance over a period of five years.

The Pakistani army launched an offensive in early May against the Taliban in the northwest districts of Buner, Lower Dir and Swat after militants advanced to within 100 kilometres of Islamabad in defiance of a peace deal.

The offensive sparked a huge evacuation, displacing more than 2 million civilians. The army claims it has completed its three-month-long military campaign, has killed over 2,000 militants and has defeated the Taliban in the region.

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

Pakistan: Taliban Recruit European Families as Militants Kill Nine Elders in Pakistan Gun Battle

The Taliban are recruiting whole families from Europe to a ‘terror colony’ in the badlands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The colony, dubbed the ‘Village of the Damned’, is run by a former army recruit who is gathering Muslims — and their families — to join his band of brigands to train for Holy War.

Abu Adam, 24, who started out in life as Mounir Chouka in the quiet German city of Bonn, has been luring Europeans to the area since the start of the year.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Two Wounded in Afghan Firefight

Second attack in two days

(ANSA) — Rome, September 24 — Two Italian soldiers were slightly wounded in a firefight with insurgents in western Afghanistan Thursday.

It was the second such incident in the restive Shindand district in as many days.

One of the soldiers suffered a minor hand wound and the other sustained a slight wound to the neck, military sources said.

The paratroopers, who lost six men last week, were distributing aid and medical supplies when they came under attack from insurgents using automatic rifles and anti-tank missiles, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) command in nearby Herat said.

The Italians fired back and killed “several” insurgents thanks to cover from two A10 fighter planes, said the command’s spokesman, Major Mauro Amoriello.

Amoriello stressed, however, that insurgents were gradually losing control of Shindand, a major cross-roads for arms and drugs, thanks to the “increased activity of Afghan security forces”.

“More important, the insurgents are losing the support of the local population which is now clearly behind the Afghan and ISAF forces,” he said.

The Herat area, where Italy leads the local ISAF effort, was relatively peaceful until this summer when Italian forces came under some 380 attacks compared to 180 last summer. Italy has had less than a hundred wounded since it joined NATO-led peacekeeping efforts in 2003, compared to tens of thousands United States wounded.

Last Thursday’s six deaths raised the Italian death toll in Afghanistan to 21, the same as the Netherlands and behind Spain and Denmark’s 25, France’s 31, Germany’s 33, Canada’s 131, the United Kingdom’s 217 and the US’s 843. The six soldiers were killed in a car bombing in Kabul and represented Italy’s worst loss of life since 19 died in Iraq in 2003.

The six deaths led to some calls for Italy to pull out of Afghanistan but the government insisted it would stay as long as it took for a “transition strategy” to be put in place to stabilise the country.

However, 500 troops sent to help police the recent elections will be back by Christmas.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Christians Escape Muslim Who Kidnaps, Beats Them

Persecuted couple granted asylum in ‘critical victory’

A Christian couple has been granted asylum in the U.K. after a Muslim man kidnapped them for several months, beat them and tried to force them to recant their faith.

A Pakistani Christian married a Muslim woman who converted to Christianity. The two endured persecution from the woman’s Muslim family because of their marriage and Christian faith. Her uncle attacked the couple in their home, detained them in his home for several months and sought the services of a Muslim cleric to teach the couple about Islam, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, or ACLJ, the nation’s top conservative civil liberties law firm.

The European Centre for Law and Justice, or ECLJ, international affiliate of the ACLJ, helped the couple seek asylum in the U.K.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Australia: Loneliness of the University Liberal

Ridicule and hatred are ritualistic hurdles for women rejecting the leftist emphasis of our campuses, writes Paul Sheehan.

[Note: in Australia, the Liberal party is conservative]

At the start of her Sydney University orientation, Sasha Uher checked out the political clubs. She found the Socialist Alternative, the Greens, the Marxists, the anti-war party, the Labor Left, the Labor Right. “I knew university would be more left-leaning but the extreme nature of some of these clubs really concerned me.”

She wondered why the choice was between soft left, mid-left, hard left, far left, lunar left. The Liberals, so important in national politics, seemed not to exist, but Uher eventually found them tucked away in a corner, and decided on the spot to join them.

The abuse started soon after.

“Liberals cop a lot of abuse from the Socialist Alternative, a radical leftist group on campus,” she told me. “They label us racist, sexist, homophobic. During an election campaign one socialist came up to me and said ‘I campaign against scum like you every day’. There is a particularly strong anti-Israel bias, crossing into anti-Semitism. An insult I’ve often heard thrown at Liberal students is that we are ‘dirty, war-mongering Jews’.

“This is why I am such a passionate advocate for voluntary student unionism. It is a matter that has rallied the Liberals. We strongly believe in individual responsibility … not expecting the government to be the solution to all problems.”

A commerce student, she is president of the university’s Liberal Club. Hate speech, Uher says, is not the biggest problem in campus political life because most students are apolitical and steer away from the obsessives and zealots. More insidious, she believes, is the ideological bias of the faculty, and the subtle pressure to conform. “Lecturers and tutors are predominantly left-leaning and this bias is often reflected in course material and in the way in which class work is marked.”

Every young Liberal woman interviewed for this story said the same thing.

“Unfortunately the only acceptable view within the mainstream of university politics is that of the left,” said Sarah Constable, 20, an arts student at Sydney University. “Of course, there is a minority of those who share Liberal values but we are often ostracised. It is pretty tough on campus for us because the minute someone realises you are a Liberal, you are automatically branded a heartless extremist.

“I cannot quantify the countless times I have been called a fascist because I’m a Young Liberal. Tutorials are some of the toughest times. Politics tutorials in particular are filled with people who, if the name John Howard is mentioned, go into some sort of a frenzy. The worst part is that the tutors are often even more extreme.

“At first I thought it was just the Socialist Alternative-types who were extreme; however I have had to sit through countless America-bashing tutorials.”

She joined the Liberal Club after returning from an extended period living in Britain. “Growing up under an ineffective Labour government just served to reaffirm my Conservative values. I want to see Australia grow and prosper, so I’ll work to see the Liberal Party re-elected.”

Prue Gusmerini, 26, studied law at the University of NSW, was apolitical at university, but came to the conclusion she was being fed rubbish by her teachers after two years of volunteer work for poor children. The work led her, after graduation, to her current job as campaign manager for Give Us A Go, a coalition of indigenous groups from Cape York. The campaign is headed by the Aboriginal leader Noel Pearson.

“I worked in some of toughest neighbourhoods in Australia in an effort to understand how the world really worked,” she said. “And let me tell you, that reality rarely accorded to the lessons being taught in university halls.

“The predominance of leftist thinking amongst the arts/law faculty was so strong that it took me almost two years to shirk some of its core teachings. I wasn’t political at university, but I realised that the emphasis on leftist ideas divorced students from the political realities at play in the outside world.”

Ideological pressure and unreality within universities is a serious issue, but most universities pretend the problem does not exist. An outspoken exception is the vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Steven Schwartz. “Universities once had clear ethical purposes but over the years we have lost our moral direction,” he said in a speech last month. “The central ethical premise of universities has changed fundamentally … Postmodernists sneered at the achievements of the West and universities slowly sank into the morass of moral relativity.”

Schwartz believes that theory-dominated universities are divorced from practical realities. He is implementing a radical measure to require all students to undertake volunteer work off campus.

He could talk to Prue Gusmerini: “My first gig in the real world was tutoring children at the Police Citizens and Youth Club at Waterloo, where most of the children were indigenous or the children of recently arrived migrants. From the get-go, it was obvious to me that there were massive institutional barriers to progress.”

She said she later joined the Liberal Party “because the party’s values complement my own conservative disposition, which is in part an extension of my childhood experiences and an extension of my experiences in indigenous politics and communities”.

She was also offended by the left’s sneering attitude. “Within the left there was a group of Howard haters who had no interest in fighting for a strong set of ideas or principles, which I respect, but were motivated by a deep hatred of and contempt for John Howard. It was this group that irked me the most. They stood for nothing.”

Being a Liberal at university can be politically very lonely. Courtney Dunn, 19, has never knowingly met another Liberal at the two University of Western Sydney campuses where she studies for a combined arts and law degree. “The most visible political students on campus are the hard left, who the average student doesn’t relate to, which is further reason why voluntary student unionism is such a positive thing.

“Our assigned reading materials clearly reflect [‘progressive’] views. Texts can be so blatantly biased it can be frustrating. One of my lecturers even had the nerve to claim that Anzac Day is a celebration of war and touted it as a strange tradition. One textbook I had this year criticised the Howard government in almost every chapter and did not question a single Labor policy. It is obviously quite intimidating to challenge the views of your peers and ultimately the views of those marking their papers.”

Dunn’s family is largely working-class and Labor-voting. She grew up in Campbelltown, and joined the Liberal Party at 17, much to the dismay of Labor-voting uncles.

“I think one of the dangers facing upcoming generations, including my own, is that we are developing an attitude of ‘what will the government do about it?’ I think the Rudd Government is sending the wrong message to Australians that we can’t function without the Government’s help in each area of our lives and I feel that this is fundamentally wrong.”

She expects ridicule for being a Liberal at the University of Western Sydney, but adds: “No-one should be ashamed of being a member of a political party in a country like Australia, which is a democracy and is supposed to be a fair country. Universities are meant to be centres of critical thought.”

[Return to headlines]

Latin America

“Chavez Orchestrated Zelaya’s Return”

Honduran newspaper El Heraldo’s headline states that… Chávez ‘orchestrated’ Zelaya’s arrival — Sources state that the Brazilian embassy shelters Zelaya because “president Lula’s government is behind the pressure to return him to power”.

The article (in Spanish) quotes Brazilian government sources interviewed by Brazilian daily Estadão (link in Portuguese. My translation),

Advisors to president Luiz Inácio Lula da SIlva and Itamaraty (the Brazilian Ministry of the Exterior) stated that Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez provided the infrastructure and logistics for Manuel Zelaya’s clandestine return to Honduras. The Venezuelan leader also advised Zelaya to head to the Brazilian embassy.

According to sources at the Palácio do Planalto and at Itamaraty, Chávez decided that the Brazilian embassy was the safest for Zelaya….Chávez had told Zelaya that the embassies of Venezuela, México, Costa Rica and El Salvador, among others, could be attacked by forces of the de facto government because of the ties of the deposed president and the governments of those countries. Unlike them, the Brazilian diplomatic mission offered every safeguard to sheltering the president, since Lula’s government is at the forefront of the pressure towards Zelaya’s reinstatement. Additionally, the US government, which does not recognize the interim Honduran government, agrees with Brazil’s stance…

           — Hat tip: Fausta[Return to headlines]


Australia: Nearly 100 Asylum-Seekers on Latest Boat

AN Australian navy patrol vessel has intercepted a boat carrying 98 suspected asylum-seekers off Australia’s north-west coast.

The vessel was initially detected about 2am (AEST) today before it was intercepted after it entered Australian waters.

Home Affairs Minister Brendan O’Connor said HMAS Glenelg, operating under the control of Border Protection Command, intercepted the vessel at 5am (AEST) north-west of Christmas Island.

The group will be transferred to Christmas Island where they will undergo security, identity and health checks as well as establish their reasons for travel.

More than 1400 people have arrived on 26 unauthorised boats so far this year, with the latest arrival taking the number of boat arrivals in the past two weeks to seven.

The arrivals have sparked a political row in Canberra, where the Opposition has accused the Government of going soft on border protection.

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

Barrot: Libyan Situation Unacceptable

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 21 — “We must make Libya understand that the present situation in unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue”, said today the vice-president of the EU Commission and Immigration Commissioner, Jacques Barrot, in presenting to the EU Interior Ministers Council his programme for repartitioning immigrants with right of asylum. Barrot, during a press conference with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, said he hoped to receive the “support of the High Commission” in order to change as soon as possible the asylum seekers’ situation in Libya. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

France: Jungle Migrants Set Up Six New Camps

CUNNING migrants set up new camps in Calais yesterday just 24 hours after their Jungle shanty town was demolished.

They stuck two fingers up to the French authorities with at least six makeshift sites appearing overnight. Immigration chiefs had vowed to stop the Chunnel port being used as a stepping stone to soft-touch Britain.

But the asylum seekers made a mockery of the Jungle being bulldozed by simply pitching their tarpaulin tents elsewhere.

Critics say the operation involving 500 French riot police was just a publicity stunt.

Defiant groups of Afghans, Iraqis and Iranians vowed nothing would stop them trying to sneak into Britain.

Many had set up camp just a few hundred yards from the former Jungle scrubland.

Others made squats out of old bunkers Hitler erected to stop Britain invading occupied France.

Some headed back to the Sangette area where the old Red Cross refugee camp was pulled down five years ago.

British truckers also claimed the scheming migrants had switched tactics. Many were prowling next to the main motorway out of the French port and frustrated drivers pleaded with PM Gordon Brown to end the farce once and for all.

The refugees temporary homes are a short walk from Diesel Alley, where lorries bound for Britain refuel and drivers take a break before crossing the Channel.

Migrants wait at turns in the road for the lorries to slow down before trying to get in the back.

Rawezh Osman, 18, from Iran, paid a people trafficker £7,000 to get him to the UK.

He has been in Calais for 10 days and is waiting for a gang member to help him to sneak into a lorry.

He said: There are too many police. I will wait for them to go and then get on a lorry to the UK.

The police operation had been scaled back to just a handful of officers last night and many of the 278 migrants detained in the Jungle raid were back on the streets.

The number of foreign-born council tenants has shot up 54% in the past 10 years, Migrationwatch told a National Housing Federation conference yesterday.

The report added that the waiting list has risen by 80% in six years, just as Britains migrant population rose by three million.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Malta: Resettlement Offers Total Just 100 Migrants

The six EU member states who have indicated they intend to help resettle some of Malta’s 2,000 refugees pledged to take a total of 100 people altogether, EU sources revealed yesterday.

Although the Commission has kept the number of pledges under wraps, sources yesterday confirmed that only “token pledges” were made and that “Brussels is finding it difficult to convince member states to share Malta’s burden”.

“The Commission knew from the beginning that this would be an uphill struggle. Although many member states speak in favour of solidarity, this is easier said than done. If it wasn’t for France, the only one of the large member states to show interest in this project so far, the number of pledges would be much lower,” a Commission official told The Times informally.

During a presentation to EU Justice Ministers last Monday, Commissioner Jacques Barrot said that out of the 26 member states invited to participate in the Malta pilot-project last July, only France, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Luxembourg and Lithuania replied favourably. He urged the other member states to follow their example as this was “a test of their solidarity” with other member states.

The EU under a pilot scheme, is offering EU member states €4,000 for every migrant they resettle.

The Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici put a positive spin on the response, saying it was a step forward and that Malta expected more countries to participate in the future.

But his Labour counterpart Michael Falzon was not as optimistic. He said European countries were only showing solidarity on paper and that the response reinforced his party’s call for a tough stance on immigration in the interest of the country.

“We cannot be content with half-baked measures,” he said, expressing hope that discussions would continue in the hope that other countries would come aboard.

He said if burden sharing remained voluntary, it would be unlikely to reap the required results. “If they believe in solidarity, other countries should shoulder their share of a problem which is affecting Malta,” he said.

Alternattiva Demokratika chairman Arnold Cassola said the news showed there was still not enough awareness, or political will, on part of a number of countries to help Malta.

It is understood that there are between 2,000 and 2,500 immigrants who enjoy refugee or humanitarian status in Malta at the moment.

The French Ambassador to Malta, Daniel Rondeau, seemed to share the views of the Home Affairs Minister. He said this was just the beginning, adding that he would do his best to continue in this direction.

France took 92 migrants last July and Mr Rondeau had said that France would take another 100 next year, but did not want to be alone.

Laura Boldrini, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said people should not expect miracles overnight. “It is a start. We need to continue working and not give up,” she said.

According to EU sources, the Commission will now be meeting representatives of member states one-to-one in the coming weeks to try and convince them to take part in this pilot resettlement project.

The sources said some member states like Germany and Sweden have not ruled out their participation. Germany, which usually takes a leading role in such solidarity programmes, is expected to make its position official once next Sunday’s federal elections are over.

On the other hand some member states are flatly refusing to take part, including the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria. “These four member states have made it clear that they don’t agree with such a programme as they believe it will serve to attract more illegal migrants towards the EU,” the sources said.

Malta is hoping to be able to resettle the majority of its protected persons through this EU project. This will happen only if every member state pledges to take an average of 80 refugees each from Malta.

           — Hat tip: RRW[Return to headlines]

National Conference With Maroni in Milan

(ANSAmed) — ROME, SEPTEMBER 24 — Immigrants and work, security and integration as well as cooperation with the countries from which immigrants come are the issues to be dealt with in the Second National Conference on Immigration scheduled for tomorrow and Saturday in Milan. The conference, entitled “Immigration in Italy: Identity and Cultural Pluralism”, was organised by the Ministry for Internal Affairs with ANCI (the association of Italian town councils), in collaboration with the Catholic University “Sacro Cuore”, which will be the venue for the event. In such a complex topic as immigration, the two days of debates — according to the Interior Ministry — aims to focus on a large metropolis (one of those most affected by migratory pressures in Italy) and the cultural institutions that record and analyse in a reliable way the real situation that political institutions and civil society are called upon to manage. The first day will begin with greetings from the mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, and Lombardy regional president Roberto Formigoni and after the introduction by ANCI chairman Sergio Chiamparino, speeches by Professor Zygmunt Bauman, CENSIS president Giuseppe De Rita and the founder of the Sant’Egidio community Andrea Riccardi will follow. There will then be around table discussion moderated by the head of the department for civil liberties and immigration, Mario Morcone, which will see the participation of a number of mayors and the general director of immigration for the Labour Ministry, Maurizio Silveri. In the second part, work, security, immigration and cooperation with countries of origin will be discussed in four separate round table discussions. On Saturday Gianni Riotta, editor of Sole 24 Ore, will be moderating a round table to be taken part in by former Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, Morocco’s Minister for Internal Affairs Chakib Ben Moussa, the undersecretary of the French Ministry for European Foregin Affairs Pierre Lellouche, the undersecretary for the Spanish Interior Ministry Antonio Camacho Vizcaíno, the undersecretary for the Italian Foreign Ministry Stefania Craxi and the president of the conference of regions, Vasco Errani.(ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UK: Baroness’s Housekeeper Arrested

A housekeeper who worked illegally for Attorney General Baroness Scotland has been arrested, police have said.

Tongan Loloahi Tapui, 27, and a man aged 40 thought to be her husband, were arrested by UK Border Agency staff at their home in West London on Wednesday.

Police said they were arrested over alleged immigration offences and both bailed until next month.

Baroness Scotland’s job is under pressure after she was ordered to pay a £5,000 fine by the UK Border Agency.

The agency said the attorney general had taken steps to check that Ms Tapui was eligible to work, but had not kept copies of the documents, as required by law.

Baroness Scotland apologised for what she called a “technical breach”, but opposition parties have called on her to resign.

Gordon Brown has insisted she acted in “good faith” and should not lose her job over the matter.

But on Wednesday, MP Stephen Hesford quit his post as parliamentary aide to Solicitor General Vera Baird in protest at Baroness Scotland’s refusal to step down.

Baroness Scotland is the government’s chief legal adviser and oversees criminal prosecutions in England and Wales.

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

UN: Stop Refused Entries, No Guarantees in Libya

(ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, SEPTEMBER 21 — The UN high Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, reiterated his “strong reservations” on Italian authorities refusing migrants entry and sending them back to Libya. “Our position is very clear. We do not think that the necessary conditions exist to guarantee protection for asylum-seekers”, explained Guterres. The high commissioner spoke about “terrible prison conditions” and “serious risks for asylum-seekers who are sent back to their countries of origin”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Barney Frank Pushes Fed Gay Rights Bill

WASHINGTON — Two openly gay members of Congress are urging their colleagues to pass a bill that would protect gays and transsexuals from workplace bias.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Diversity Boss: Whites Must ‘Step Down’

Obama appointee declares positions of power should go to ‘people of color, gays’

With former Obama green jobs czar Van Jones gone, along with his views about whites directing poisons to minorities, focus is now shifting to race-based views of “diversity czar” Mark Lloyd, who has suggested “white people” step down from positions of power to allow “more people of color, gays” and “other people” to take those positions.

Lloyd, the Federal Communications Commission chief diversity officer appointed to the newly created position by President Obama in early August, has talked about issues such as a 100 percent tax on broadcast outlets to collect money to provide alternative viewpoints, mandatory diversity in station ownership and the idea of requiring broadcast businesses to cater to the demands of local activism committees.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Holdren: Sterilize Welfare Recipients

Obama boss suggested ways to save planet, said fetus not a person

Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook that compulsory, government-mandated “green abortions” would be a constitutionally acceptable way to control population growth and prevent ecological disasters, including global warming, because a fetus was most likely not a “person” under the terms of the 14th Amendment.

Holdren further suggested government-mandated population control measures might be inflicted in the United States against welfare recipients, writing on page 840: “There has been considerable talk in some quarters at times of forcibly suppressing reproduction among welfare recipients (perhaps by requiring the use of contraceptives or even by involuntary sterilizations). This may sadly foreshadow what our society might do if the human predicament gets out of hand.” (Parenthesis in original text.)

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

School Warns Parents About Bible Giveaway

Gideons will be ‘confronting students’

The “phone tree” message began just like any other: “Good evening, this is Sean Gallagher, principal of Beverly High School with a brief announcement.”

The principal explained to parents that members of the Gideons International group plan to give away Bibles in front of two schools in Beverly, Mass.

“The superintendent of schools and the Beverly police were contacted by the Gideons International organization and informed they plan on distributing free Bibles outside of Briscoe Middle School and Beverly High School sometime this fall,” the recorded message said.

“This distribution will not occur on school property. This organization plans on distributing the Bibles on public sidewalks and walkways and the school administration will be notified only on the day of the distribution.”

Then Gallagher got to the heart of the message — a suggestion that parents counsel their children on what to do.

“I encourage you to discuss this scenario with your son or daughter and determine how you wish them to handle the situation. Thank you and have a great night,” said the message.

Over the past three years, a variety of other groups have stood in front of the Beverly schools to give out subject matter regarding other causes, but never before have school officials provided such a warning to parents.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Sunstein: Force Broadcasters to Air ‘Diversity’ Ads

Obama chief argues media must not have final say in selection of commercials

The U.S. government should have the right to force broadcast media companies to air commercials that foster a “diversity” of views, argued President Obama’s newly confirmed regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein.

“If it were necessary to bring about diversity and attention to public matters, a private right of access to the media might even be constitutionally compelled. The notion that access will be a product of the marketplace might well be constitutionally troublesome,” wrote Sunstein in his 1993 book “The Partial Constitution.”

In the book — obtained and reviewed by WND — Sunstein cites hypothetical examples of private groups or individuals attempting to buy advertising time in the broadcast media to promote a certain view only to have their ads rejected by a private media company.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Man “Not to Blame” For Early Carbon Emissions

The question over who—or what—caused an increase in CO2 emissions thousands of years ago has dogged climatologists for years. Now Swiss scientists have an answer.

Some researchers have argued that ancient farmers could be to blame for a noticeable rise in greenhouse gases 6,500 years ago as they cleared primordial lands for agriculture.

As it turns out, man had nothing to do with it, scientists argue in Thursday’s issue of Nature.

The findings produced by researchers at the Bern-based Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research and a polar institute in Bremerhaven, Germany, suggest that natural processes involving a growing biosphere and the sea released more carbon dioxide into the air after the end of the Ice Age.

Man’s measurable impacts on CO2 concentrations would not come until thousands of years later during the Industrial Age with its appetite for fossil fuel energy, said Thomas Stocker, a Bern climatologist and one author of the three-page report.

“We don’t directly contribute to the discussion about climate change as a natural cycle or whether what we see happening today is man-made,” Stocker told

“The focus of the study is to investigate if man already left a measurable imprint in CO2 levels many of thousands of years ago.”

The answer is now clear: No.

Antarctic answers

It took a decade of work to get it. The study was a multinational effort that involved expeditions to Antarctica, reams of computer model data and a breakthrough combination of measuring techniques that allowed scientists for the first time to accurately quantify carbon isotopes trapped in ancient ice.

The researchers began by harvesting 199 ice cores from 59 different depths near a European-run Antarctic base on Dome C, a 3,233m-high region of the world’s largest, coldest desert, where summertime temperatures rarely rise above -25 degrees Celsius.

What’s this?

Carbon isotopes

This pristine region of the Antarctic Plateau 1,100km inland is a treasure trove for scientists seeking prehistoric climatic data.

Stocker says scientists were interested in the types and amount of carbon dioxide entombed in bubbles found in the cores.

By studying the various forms and concentrations of carbon atoms, scientists could create a “fingerprint” of what was happening on Earth to produce carbon dioxide, the second most potent greenhouse gas after water vapour.

“It’s a very challenging measurement,” Stocker said, “but we now have a complete record over the last 11,000 years.”

The answer to the mystery of what had caused the Stone Age spike then boiled down to a relatively simple equation: If farming and land-clearing were to blame, bubbles in the ice would contain more of the carbon preferred by plants. They did not.

Large, slow buffer

The Nature report — Stable isotope constraints on Holocene carbon cycle changes from an Antarctic ice core — points to a different culprit.

Thomas Stocker says scientists now have a complete CO2 record for the past 11,000 years (Keystone)As the last vestiges of the Ice Age’s massive glaciers retreated, more vegetation began to grow. The increase meant a greater demand for carbon dioxide, which plants sucked from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. Air trapped in ice cores show this initial reduction in the greenhouse gas.

But the record then shows a notable increase in carbon dioxide emissions thousands of years later. The study says the oceans, not early farmers, were largely to blame.

“Oceans tend to reset whatever change you inflict upon the total carbon cycle. It’s a huge buffer,” Stocker said. “The response time is very slow, though. So this increase is actually the ocean taking over and releasing more gas.”

With the sea level rising, new corals could also grow. Reefs change the chemistry of the ocean in such a way that the sea releases more carbon dioxide.

Stocker says the findings answer a key question about humans and their role in changing in carbon levels in the atmosphere—at least from a long time ago.

“Our study can now conclusively show that man was not responsible for that part of the CO2 increase starting 6,000 years ago,” he said. “We are not talking about the present CO2 increase, which is much faster and much larger.”

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

UN Demands End of Nuclear Proliferation in Historic Agreement (But Where’s Gaddafi?)

Iran was handed an ultimatum today to agree to end its nuclear programme in the next two weeks or face harsh economic sanctions.

Britain and five other major powers today joined forces to call for a ‘serious response’ from the regime in Tehran by 1st October, or swingeing economic, business and energy sanctions will be imposed.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the world was drawing a ‘line in the sand’ and was no longer prepared to tolerate Iran ‘misleading’ the world about its nuclear intentions.


There has been little sign of compromise from Iran during the annual United Nations general assembly.

British diplomats walked out during a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad over ‘anti-Semitic’ remarks by the Iranian leader on Wednesday night.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

UN: Gaddafi Attacks World Powers in Key Address

New York, 23 Sept. (AKI) — Controversial Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi used his first address to the United Nations, on Wednesday to attack the Security Council, accusing it of betraying the principles of the United Nations charter.”The preamble (of the charter) says all nations are equal whether they are small or big,” Gaddafi said through an interpreter.

“The veto is against the charter, we do not accept it and we do not acknowledge it.”

Dressed in a brown robe with an emblem of Africa pinned to his chest, the Libyan leader dropped his copy of the charter on the podium before throwing it over his shoulder.

The United States, Britain, France, Russia and China are permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, the most powerful body within the United Nations.

Libya has a temporary council seat and will be on the 15-nation panel until the end of 2010.

Earlier Gaddafi wrote his name with a marker on the chair of the United Nations general assembly president Ali Treki, who is also from Libya.

“We are here, Muammar Gaddafi,” wrote the Libyan leader, both in English and Arabic, ahead of the historic 64th session of the UN’s general assembly.

It was the first time the Libyan leader had entered the United States and his first address to the UN since he assumed power over 40 years ago.

Gaddafi, who is also the president of the African Union, arrived in the United States on Tuesday.

He has provoked a storm of protest in New York after pitching his notorious Bedouin tent there.

Local officials said Gaddafi’s tent was not in compliance with zoning codes and wanted it removed.

The tent was being erected on a property owned by Donald Trump.

A previous proposal to erect the tent in New York’s Central Park was rejected by the city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

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


Tuan Jim said...

Actually if you look at more of the Brazilian press (interviews with the foreign ministry, etc) - it looks as though the Zelaya thing came out of left field and they had no clue he was coming - apparently he was smuggled in a car trunk.

Brazil is worried because he hasn't officially claimed asylum so technically they're not granting him sanctuary although the current Honduran gov't has reached an agreement not to storm the embassy or anything and respect their property - restoring power, water, allowing food, etc.

Just look at the pics of Zelaya and some of his supporters just lounging around the embassy, feet on the furniture, everything - very, very poor impression.

It's actually very embarrassing for the Brazilians - Chavez, etc are just using them as stooges for something they don't want to get involved in at all. I mean, if Chavez went through all that work to get Zelaya back in the country, why not send him to the Venezuelan embassy - where he'd be much more welcome.

Opus #6 said...

Excellent updates, as always. Keep up the good work blogging.