Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/21/2009

Gates of Vienna News Feed 11/21/2009Contributions from Hindus, Muslims, and Christians have financed the construction of an interfaith cathedral in Baruipur, India. Representatives of the Christian sponsors hope that it will “promote harmony among various faiths”.

In other news, the current recession has prompted the Irish government to take the drastic step of paying immigrants to go home — and that home must be outside the European Union.

Thanks to C. Cantoni, Esther, Fjordman, Gaia, heroyalwhyness, Insubria, JD, JP, Sean O’Brian, Steen, Vlad Tepes, and all the other tipsters who sent these in. Headlines and articles are below the fold.
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Muslim Mafia Author Appears to Completely Fold in CAIR Lawsuit
Hasan Was Worried About Results of Recent HIV Test
Hasan, Al-Awlaki Discussed Money Transfers
Illinois Congressman Defends ‘Savage Religion’ Comment
In Missouri Schools, Ancient Calendar at Center of Debate
They’re Still After Your Water
Tom Tancredo: Secretary Napolitano’s Nose is Growing
Virus in the Voting Machines: Tainted Results in NY-23
Why the Peaceful Majority May be Dangerous
Europe and the EU
A New Balance in Europe
Austrians Mute Israeli Anthem at Fencing Tourney
Berlin Wants No Part in Potential 9/11 Execution
EU History Will be All the History Taught in Schools
EU: Beware the Pygmies in Charge of Europe… They Will Grab Ever More Power for Brussels
EU: Daniel Hannan: EU is a Democratic Mess
EU: European Disappointment
EU: Half-a-Billion People Told Name of Their New Emperor President
EU: Napolitano: On Turkey Its Playing With Its Credibility
EU: We’ll be Watching You, Mr Van Rompuy
EU: Why President Whatsisname and Baroness Who Could be the Death of the EU Dream
Germany: Former ‘Nazi’ Faces Murder Charges
German-Born Criminal to be Deported to Turkey
Herman Van Rompuy is the ‘Shrewd Master of the Shabby Compromise’
Italy: Frattini, Turkey’s Aim is EU Integration
Italy: Minister Denies Alleged Mafia Links on TV
Italy: Knox Accused of ‘Hating’ Murder Victim
Italy: Ex-Governor’s Transsexual Escort Found Dead
Italy: Lega: “No to Parliamentary Immunity”
Mussolini’s ‘Brain and Blood for Sale on Internet’
UK: Turnip Taliban: A Brilliant Way to Turn Off Tory Voters
UK: Will the Great EU Stich-Up Cost US Our £3bn Rebate?
Croatia: Presidential Elections, 12 Candidates in First Round
Gallup: People Pessimistic and Corruption Victims
Serbia: Belgrade, World’s “Party Capital”
Mediterranean Union
EU Foreign Minister Has to Show Leadership, Pittella
North Africa
Egypt-Algeria: Soccer, 35 Injured in Clashes in Cairo
Egypt-Algeria: Algiers Summons Egyptian Ambassador
Egypt-Algeria: Soccer, Phone Conversation Between Ministers
Egypt-Algeria: Football, Harsh Words in the Egyptian Press
Egypt: Violence Erupts Over World Cup Decider
Egypt: Team May Quit International Matches After Riots
Israel and the Palestinians
Clashes at the Wailing Wall
Press: Al Fatah Preparing for New Intifada
Middle East
Arab World Expects More Turkish Involvement in Mideast Area
Ban on Death Penalty Should be Followed by Ban on Abortion — Russian Priest
South Asia
Afghan Minister Accused of Major Bribery: Report
India: David Headley: Quiet American With Alleged Links to Mumbai Massacre
India: New Cathedral Unites Christians, Hindus, Muslims
Indonesian Ulema Boycott the Apocalyptic “2012”: It’s Blasphemous
Maldives: MPs Approve Bill to Outlaw Places of Worship for Non-Muslims
Pakistan: ‘Mastermind’ Of Mumbai Attack Preaches at Mosque in Lahore
Tamil, Muslim Parties Meet in Zurich
Far East
Video: Defector Tells of Life in North Korean Army
Vietnam Government Denies Blocking Networking Site
Why Did Barack Obama Fail in China?
Australia — Pacific
Obscene Anti-Muslim Emails Put Nile on the Defensive
Sub-Saharan Africa
A Navy Vessel Was Just 50ft Away as Pirates Kidnapped the British Yacht Couple. Why Didn’t Our Sailors Stop Them? Human Rights, Of Course…
European Union Gives Nigeria $1bn ‘For Peace’
Get US Out of Here Now or the Pirates Will Kill US!
British People Think Immigration is Out of Control
Irish Government to Pay Immigrants to Go Home
Not at Home in Germany
UK: Angry ‘Unknown Warriors’ Of WWII: ‘This Isn’t the Britain We Fought For’
Coca-Cola Leads Cheering Section for 1-World Climate Change Taxes
GE Capital Completes First Sukuk Offering of $500m
Gene Change in Cannibals Reveals Evolution in Action
Islam is Not Compatible With a Republic


Muslim Mafia Author Appears to Completely Fold in CAIR Lawsuit

The author of the book Muslim Mafia, which was based on documents taken by the author’s son while he was posing as a Muslim intern at the Council on American Islamic Relations, has agreed to return all documents and recordings obtained during the time at CAIR, according to a draft consent order filed in court yesterday.

The draft order, agreed to by attorneys for CAIR as well as for Dave Gaubatz and his son Chris, was filed along with a joint motion asking the judge to enter the order.

“We’re glad that there’s been an agreement to return all of the property that has been stolen from us,” CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told TPMmuckraker this morning. CAIR says many thousands of pages of internal documents were taken. Now, Hooper said, “we’ll move forward with our legal action,” declining to specify what will come next.

Daniel Horowitz, one of Gaubatz’s lawyers who earlier this month told us in an interview that he was relishing the chance to butt heads with CAIR, told TPMmuckraker this morning that he didn’t negotiate the agreement. His colleague, the trial lawyer Martin Garbus, did not immediately return a call seeking comment about what happened in the case, and what, if anything, will come next.

Garbus told Politico, which first reported the news, that the Gaubatzs will continue to fight CAIR “in the context of the litigation,” but not over the preliminary injunction.

Muslim Mafia, the foreword of which was written by Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), prompted Myrick and three House GOP colleagues to pursue a probe of possibly Muslim intern “spying” on Capitol Hill. Gaubatz has made many controversial statements, most recently making, and then retracting, a call for a backlash against Muslims after the Fort Hood shootings.

The order filed yesterday goes well beyond a judge’s ruling earlier this month that Gaubatz had to return a narrower set of documents, including those that contain confidential employee information.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Hasan Was Worried About Results of Recent HIV Test

Major Nidal Hasan seemed worried about the results of an HIV blood test taken a week before the Fort Hood shooting rampage, according to federal investigators piecing together background details on Hasan’s life.

[Return to headlines]

Hasan, Al-Awlaki Discussed Money Transfers

The session was scheduled to decide whether he should be jailed after his release from hospital while he awaits trial for the killings of 12 fellow soldiers and a civilian on the Texas military base.

Maj Hasan, 39, who is believed to be paralysed from the waist down after being shot during the attack, has so far been placed in pretrial confinement in a military hospital in San Antonio by his commanding officer.

The hearing comes as new revelations about Hasan’s monitored email contacts with an extremist preacher in Yemen deepen questions about whether his behaviour should have set off red flags before the shooting rampage.

He told Anwar al-Awlaki that he “couldn’t wait to join him in the discussions they would having over non-alcoholic wine in the afterlife”, according to ABC News. He also asked the cleric when jihad (holy war) was appropriate and whether it was permissible if innocents were killed in a suicide attack.

The two men also discussed financial transfers abroad by Hasan in communications that intensified in the run-up to the shootings, The Washington Post reported on Saturday that the emails were obtained by an FBI-led task force in San Diego between late last year and June but were not forwarded to the military, according to government and congressional sources.

Some were sent to the FBI’s Washington field office, triggering an assessment into whether they raised national security concerns, but those intercepted later were not, the sources told the newspaper.

“He [Hasan] clearly became more radicalised toward the end, and was having discussions related to the transfer of money and finances,” said the source. “It became very clear toward the end of those emails he was interested in taking action.”

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Illinois Congressman Defends ‘Savage Religion’ Comment

CHICAGO—An Illinois congressman says his comment that suspected terrorists detained at Guantanamo Bay follow a “savage religion” has been misinterpreted.

U.S. Rep. Donald Manzullo told WREX-TV in Rockford, Ill., that alleged terrorists imprisoned at the Navy base are “really really mean people whose job it is to kill people, driven by some savage religion.”

The Republican lawmaker confirmed Tuesday those words were his. He said he never specified Islam and apologized for any misunderstanding.

Manzullo’s remarks come as federal officials consider buying an Illinois prison to house Guantanamo detainees.

Most prisoners at the base in Cuba come from Muslim countries.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says Manzullo’s comments were an attack on Islam.

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

In Missouri Schools, Ancient Calendar at Center of Debate

CLARKSON VALLEY, Mo. (RNS) Dean Mandis, insurance executive and father of two students, stood before the Rockwood School District’s superintendent and seven School Board members at Crestview Middle School. He had three minutes to broach an issue that had been bothering him for a month or so.

His daughter, an eighth-grader, had come home from school recently with evidence that she was being taught something other than the traditional calendar dates of B.C. (Before Christ) and A.D. (Anno Domini, Latin for “in the year of the Lord.”)

Instead, her teacher was quizzing social studies students on alternative calendar designations that are increasingly common in higher education — C.E., for Common Era, and B.C.E., for Before the Common


           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

They’re Still After Your Water

The Fourth Amendment is quite clear: An American citizen’s right to be secure in his property against search and seizure without a warrant — shall not be violated. The Fifth Amendment underscores this right: “… nor shall private property be taken without just compensation.”

This is the clear, unmistakable language of the highest law of the land: the U.S. Constitution.

Congress is about to pass another law that completely ignores the Constitution, the Clean Water Restoration Act (S. 787).

For the first 100 years, the states set water policy. The feds got into the business in 1886 with the River and Harbor Act, and expanded their interest in 1948 with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. From the outset, the federal government was interested only in “navigable” waters that affected interstate and foreign commerce, consistent with federal powers authorized in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution.

The federal government dipped its hand deeper with the 1972 Clean Water Act, in which the first goal was to “to attain a ‘zero discharge of pollutants’ into navigable waters by 1985.” It is significant that the word “wetland” did not appear in law.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Tom Tancredo: Secretary Napolitano’s Nose is Growing

A few days ago, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the Obama administration plans to push amnesty legislation early in 2010. That Obama and Napolitano want amnesty for 15 to 20 million illegal aliens is not news. What was noteworthy about Napolitano’s “announcement” was the reason she gave for moving ahead on the amnesty plan in 2010.

The head of our federal agency for homeland security has announced that, unlike 2006 and 2007, when Congress said no to amnesty, today we can do it because our borders are now secure. That’s more than hype; it’s a lie, and a dangerous one.

That would be big news if true. It would mean that Border Patrol agents are no longer chasing hundreds of border jumpers into the brush each night and catching perhaps 30 percent of those they observe. But, hey, what’s a million new illegal aliens each year among friends?

Napolitano and Border Patrol management have been trumpeting the fact that apprehensions on the border are down for the third straight year — down from almost 1.2 million in 2005 to “only” about 800,000 last year. That decrease would be significant if that number meant what most people think it means. What it does not mean is that fewer people crossed the border successfully. It means simply that they caught fewer people, not that fewer people made it through their net. The decrease in apprehension numbers might mean that fewer people are attempting to cross the border, but it also might mean the Border Patrol is focusing more on interdicting drug smugglers instead of human trafficking.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

Virus in the Voting Machines: Tainted Results in NY-23

GOUVERNEUR, NY — The computerized voting machines used by many voters in the 23rd district had a computer virus — tainting the results, not just from those machines known to have been infected, but casting doubt on the accuracy of counts retrieved from any of the machines.

Cathleen Rogers, the Democratic Elections Commissioner in Hamilton County stated that they discovered a problem with their voting machines the week prior to the election and that the “virus” was fixed by a Technical Support representative from Dominion, the manufacturer. The Dominion/Sequoia Voting Systems representative “reprogrammed” their machines in time for them to use in the Nov. 3rd Special Election. None of the machines (from the same manufacturer) used in the other counties within the 23rd district were looked at nor were they recertified after the “reprogramming” that occurred in Hamilton County.

Republican Commissioner Judith Peck refused to speculate on whether the code that governs the counts could have been tampered with. She indicated that “as far as I know, the machine in question was not functioning properly and was repaired” by the technician.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Why the Peaceful Majority May be Dangerous

Mubarka is a Canadian born woman of Pakistani parents. She grew up in Toronto among other Canadian children and attended university where she received a degree in commerce. Today she holds a prominent position with a transportation company.

Mubarka used to be as mainstream as any Canadian young adult could be; in fact, those who met her for the first time may have been struck by her vivacious personality. Her effervescence went hand in hand with her distinct Asian beauty which she shamelessly displayed with stylish clothing including the occasional low cut top. Mubarka used to converse for hours over topics as varied as business practices to Canadian politics to contemporary music.

It comes, therefore, as a shock, when one learns what path Mubarka has recently chosen for herself. She will be wedding a Pakistani man … a devout Muslim, whom she has never met but who was chosen for her when she was an infant. Not only that, but she has donned the Hijab for the first time in her life and is strictly observing Muslim tenets. She has chosen subservience to a man and subservience to his religion over the gender freedom offered her by the Western democracy she grew up in, and she’s done so without so much as a whimper of protest.

When asked why she has picked the life of Sharia, Mubarka simply states that it is as Muhammad would will, and that there is no greater prophet than Muhammad. When asked how she will raise her children, Mubarka makes it clear … they will be raised as Muslims first, and Canadians second.

Hardi, is perhaps one of the most pleasant Canadian women anyone could ever meet. In her capacity as a care giver of seniors, she is gentle, loving, and incredibly patient. She laughs deliciously at the kind of comical moments that only seniors can deliver and her mood seems to be permanently stuck on happy. Hardi is, an angel.

Those who encounter Hardi for the first time will be struck not by her character, that comes later, but by the fact that she is virtually covered from head to toe by tradition Indonesian Muslim attire. She covers her entire body with colourful costume that leaves only her hands and face exposed. Hardi is devout, in fact, so devout that during Christmas any appreciation given her by way of gifting must be void of any reference to the season. Furthermore, during quiet moments when Hardi is free to discuss her Muslim faith, it becomes clear that she believes wholeheartedly in the strict observance of Sharia. For her, Islam in it’s pure non-secular form, is truth.

Both Hardi and Mubarka present us with a perplexing conundrum because they are members of what has become known as the “peaceful” Muslim majority. They don’t have a violent bone in their bodies, and are clearly law abiding and productive members of Canadian society. But, they are also both part of a very small minority within Canada where they and their fellow Muslims have very little effect on Canadian politics or on the evolution of Canadian cultural norms. What if though, Hardi and Mubarka were part of a Muslim majority where they and their co-religionists held the power?

Both women are Muslims first and Canadians second. No matter how much respect one may have for either woman’s character, there is little doubt where either would place her loyalty if faced with chosing between the Canadian traditions of liberty for all, or Sharia. There is also little doubt that if they were part of a majority, they would acquiesce to the demands of the Muslim clerical class and choose Sharia for all Canadians.

It is therefore irrelevant in the grand scheme of things whether or not Hardi or Mubarka are “good” people; most people on the planet are, no matter their religion, race, or culture. What matters in the greater sense, is that as parts of the Muslim collective, neither woman would set aside her Muslim beliefs in order to safeguard and protect the full rights of non-Muslims to live as they choose. What’s even more disturbing, is that both women have experienced the gender freedoms afforded them in Canada, yet both have voluntarily resigned themselves to the greater Muslim collective.

As long as each woman is part of a small minority within Canada, she offers Canada much; but once she becomes part of a significant minority, or heaven forbid, a majority, she becomes dangerous. Why? Because Muslims wherever they form a majority choose Islamic norms over the broader more tolerant standards of the West. If given a chance, as has been clearly demonstrated the world over, they would unravel hundreds of years of hard fought human rights gains and replace them with the medieval practices of their faith. As such, both Hardi and Mubarka are simply bit players in a monstrous and destructive Muslim vortex that would drag civilization backwards hundreds of years.

After all, Islam is, as Islam does.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

A New Balance in Europe

America is listening to Russia’s call for new security arrangements in Europe

IN THEORY, Russian diplomats accredited to NATO are welcome friends: the reality is murkier. For more than a decade now, Russian officials have been trusted to roam the alliance’s maze-like headquarters in Brussels just like envoys from other “partner countries” such as Sweden, Finland or Malta. In practice, says a diplomat, everyone knows that “the entire Russian mission is [staffed by] spies”. This leads to cat-and-mouse games that range from the serious (in February, an Estonian official was jailed for more than 12 years for selling NATO secrets to Russia) to the comical (guards were posted at the doors of meetings reserved for full NATO members after Russian officials were found hiding their badges and sneaking inside).

Russia’s relations with the European Union are almost as ambiguous. The two sides have lots of mutual interests—the EU buys more than half of all Russian exports, and provides two-thirds of Russia’s foreign direct investment. Yet an odd mood of surly indifference surrounds Russia-EU ties. A formal summit between President Dmitry Medvedev and European Union bosses on November 18th achieved only a few technical agreements, though the two sides had much to discuss, not least gas supplies and Russia’s foot-dragging over climate change.

Part of the problem, diplomats suggest, is that the Kremlin’s interest in Europe has fallen after the “reset” of ties with America this year. Something bigger is going on, though. Since the end of the cold war, European and American policy towards Russia has been overshadowed by the process of enlargement—the expansion first of NATO and then of the EU deep into the former Soviet block. That alarmed Russia and got its attention.

In 2007 Russia’s then president, Vladimir Putin, called the expansion of NATO a “serious provocation”.

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

Austrians Mute Israeli Anthem at Fencing Tourney

( Young female athletes from Israel’s fencing team swept top medals at a 28-nation European tournament held in Mödling, Austria last week — but faced an additional challenge when they stood on the winners’ podium to receive their medals: the organizers did not play the recording of the Israeli national anthem, and the Israeli winners had to sing the anthem on their own, a capella style. The Israeli team’s staff has no doubt that the incident was intentional.

Israel’s Dana Strelnikov, 14, won the gold medal and Alona Kamarov won the bronze at the tournament, which hosted 120 fencers aged up to 17. Both Israeli medalists hail from the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot, whose fencing club has produced many of Israel’s best young fencers. But as they stood on the podium and awaited the opening sounds of national anthem HaTikvah — they heard only silence. The girls and their trainers quickly understood what was happening and proceeded to sing the entire anthem on their own, with some scattered support from voices in the spectators’ bleachers.

The Israeli national team’s coach, Yaakov Friedman, told Arutz Sheva that the Israeli team faces constant political challenges on the international circuit. At a tournament in Göteborg, Sweden, in January this year, Israel won the silver medal and when the medalists were already on the podium the organizers informed Friedman that they do not have a recording of the Israeli anthem. The team sang the anthem without the help of the recording. It was understood by everyone, Friedman said, that the reason was Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, which had just ended.

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

Berlin Wants No Part in Potential 9/11 Execution

A legal team is going to New York to prevent the use of evidence provided by Germany in seeking a death penalty. Berlin wants to ensure that promises made by the US are kept if the suspects are found guilty.

A team of observers from the German government is going to New York to oversee the trial of five suspects accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday.

The federal trial of the suspect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants was announced on November 13 by the US Justice Department. The government also asserted that it intends to seek the death penalty if the accused are found guilty.

Germany, which does not have a death penalty, provided evidence for the trial on the condition that it could not be used to support a death sentence. Several members of the al Qaeda cell that planned and executed the attacks of September 11 were previously based in the northern German city of Hamburg.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

EU History Will be All the History Taught in Schools

The latest initiative by our “Children’s Secretary”, Ed Balls, is to abolish what remains of fact-based teaching of history and geography in our schools. He plans to “roll them together into themed lessons on social issues such as global warming” (funny how that seems to seep into everything nowadays).

The ruthless drive of educational progressives to eliminate history-teaching from schools has been under way since the 1960s. The aim is to ensure that children know nothing about their country’s past or how the world came to be as it is, leaving their minds blankly open to whatever vacuous progressive claptrap is fed to them.

In his desire to chuck history onto what Lenin called “the scrapheap of history”, Mr Balls may have to make an exception, however. A campaign is now being mounted in the European Parliament to make it compulsory for children to be taught the history of the EU. According to Mário David, the Portuguese MEP leading the campaign and a former chief of staff to the Commission President Jose-Manuel Barroso, it Is vital to counter all the “lying, cheating and mistrust” that surrounds the EU in the minds of the peoples of Europe. Our children must therefore be indoctrinated accordingly.

A year or two back, when Richard North and I were writing a comprehensive history of “the European project”, The Great Deception, we were astonished to find just how horrendously misleading is the account of that history peddled by the EU itself on its Europa website. From laying claim to Churchill as father of the EU to consistently obscuring the nature of the key role played by Jean Monnet, they have come up with an official version of the origins of their “project” which bears virtually no relation to the facts. Doubtless this is just the sort of history which Mr Balls will be happy to allow in our schools — because “fact-based” it isn’t.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: Beware the Pygmies in Charge of Europe… They Will Grab Ever More Power for Brussels

As Europe awoke to its first day under the rule of President Herman Van Rompuy and High Representative Baroness Cathy Ashton, the EU’s 27 leaders were slapping each other heartily upon their well-fed backs. This self-appointing elite had fulfilled its dream of edging Europe closer to a federal superstate, in clear defiance of the wishes of its peoples — not least a British public denied the referendum it was so solemnly promised by Messrs Blair, Brown and Cameron. True, by opting — at a secret meeting — for two anonymous mediocrities, the EU saved Britain from the ghastly prospect of a ‘traffic stopping’ Tony Blair once again lording it over us.

But, in many ways, the propulsion of Labour crony Baroness Ashton into the hugely powerful job of EU foreign minister is an even greater insult to democracy than the appointment of ‘President Blair’, who has at least faced electors,would have been.

But then the baroness is a prime example of that modern species — the quangocrat who rises to power without ever facing voters on anything. From running a health authority to working at the National Council for One Parent Families to being a Labour life peer, to leading the Lords, she has never been elected by anybody.

Until she was made EU commissioner by Gordon Brown last year (to allow the unelected Peter Mandelson to become de-facto deputy prime minister) her main achievement was persuading the Lords to deny us a vote on the Lisbon Treaty.

How disgracefully fitting that the former CND activist’s reward for this act of treachery is a grand EU foreign policy job which the electors she betrayed did not even want to exist. Yesterday her appointment was welcomed by Hillary Clinton, who, let’s note, was subjected to a year-long election campaign before becoming U.S. Secretary of State.

But then Baroness Ashton’s selection, over fine wine and line caught bass, would never be tolerated in a genuine democracy like America. Mediocrities they may be, but we underestimate at our peril the determination of the baroness and her federalist sidekick Mr Van Rompuy. Already, Mr Van Rompuy — a Belgian who holds nationalism in contempt — wants to give the EU direct tax-raising power and abolish national symbols.

The Dalek-loving baroness yesterday displayed not a scintilla of doubt about her own abilities or agenda as she talked of using her 7,000 staff and vast budget to make the EU ‘much more powerful’. Yes, the pair may be pygmies. But you can bet they will be busy draining ever more power from Westminster to Brussels.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: Daniel Hannan: EU is a Democratic Mess

I would confine the EU’s jurisdiction to matters of a clearly cross-border nature: tariff reduction, environmental pollution, mutual product recognition. The member states would retain control of everything else: agriculture and fisheries, foreign affairs and defence, immigration and criminal justice, and social and employment policy.

The European Commission could then be reduced to a small secretariat, answering to national ministers. The European Court of Justice could be replaced by a tribunal that would arbitrate trade disputes. The European Parliament could be scrapped altogether; instead, seconded national MPs might meet for a few days every month or two to keep an eye on the bureaucracy.

You will, of course, have spotted the flaw in my plan: it would put an awful lot of Eurocrats out of work. Which, sadly, is why it won’t happen. For, whatever the motives of its founders, the EU is now chiefly a racket: a massive mechanism to redistribute money to those lucky enough to be on the inside of the system.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: European Disappointment

Today is a moment for celebration. For fifty years the European Union has divided British politics. But now there is harmony. From the most Eurosceptic to the most Europhile there is agreement. The EU has embarrassed itself. There is not a single part of the selection of the new EU President and High Representative that anyone can look back on with pride.

The process began with the decision to create a new constitution for Europe without gaining permission from voters. This involved making assurances that the Lisbon treaty was a mere tidying-up exercise. The opportunity to argue for a political president of international stature who would lead the community was lost.

The result was the creation of a post that few people wanted.. Eurosceptics did not want a president at all. Integrationists were hoping for a presidency occupied by a charismatic leader. They both got Herman Van Rompuy. The way that European leaders bounced the treaty through without popular support begins to look like a model democratic technique when compared with the way that they set about filling the vacancies the treaty created. The whole thing was done in secret.

The British Government put forward Baroness Ashton of Upholland without consulting anybody. While universally considered very pleasant and perfectly competent, she has almost no foreign policy experience and the only interest she has shown in the topic was working for CND. Never mind. David Miliband said that he wanted the jobs filled by people who could stop the traffic. At least we have found someone who might stop the diplomatic traffic.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: Half-a-Billion People Told Name of Their New Emperor President

The 500 million people of Europe have a new president, not one of them was troubled with the requirement to cast a vote. Actually that is not quite true, 27 politicians decided unanimously who to appoint. Soviet Politburos invariably came to unanimous consensus decisions, it is a characteristic of undemocratic systems that deals are struck and favours traded. Baroness Ashton, the new British High Representative has never been democratically elected to any position, ever. The perception is that she owes her rise to high office in EUGov to being married to Blair admiring, Labour leaning pollster Peter Kellner of YouGov.

With a Belgian President, plus a capital and parliament in Brussels, the EU has some of the attributes of a new Belgian empire…

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: Napolitano: On Turkey Its Playing With Its Credibility

(AGI) — Ankara, 18 Nov. — Withdrawing from the decision made in 2004 to start the process of integration of Turkey into the EU “would undermine the credibility of the Union, and not only in the eyes of Turkey and its people”. The President of the Republic, Giorgio Napolitano, during a conference at the University of Ankara, was speaking about the relationship between Turkey and the Union and reaffirmed the support of Italy in the process of integration, explaining also that obviously, as the 2004 agreement states, the process is “open-ended, ‘the end cannot be guaranteed in advance’.

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

EU: We’ll be Watching You, Mr Van Rompuy

The new ‘President of Europe’ is a Eurofanatic even by the standards of Brussels

The new “foreign minister” of Europe is British. According to Gordon Brown, that should make us proud. The reality is that Europe does not need a foreign minister, and the person chosen to fill the post, Baroness Ashton of Upholland, is a Labour peer who has never been elected to a political position in her life. As for the new “President of Europe”, the Belgian prime minister Herman Van Rompuy, he was hardly better known until he emerged as a front-runner a few weeks ago.

The phrase “a pair of nonentities” is on many lips, and it is easy to understand why. David Miliband recently called for an EU representative who could stop the traffic; she may be a decent and capable individual, but it is hard to imagine Lady Ashton, former chairman of Hertfordshire Health Authority, stopping the traffic in St Albans, let alone Washington. Until her appointment as Trade Commissioner she had no background in foreign policy. No wonder she was not the first choice to fill this post (which a back-room deal had assigned to a Briton). She was not even the second. Or the third. Mr Miliband did not want the post; neither did Lord Mandelson, while Geoff Hoon was unacceptable to Brussels. At which point Mr Brown came up with the name of Cathy Ashton. Such is the transparent process by which the “high representative” of 500 million people was chosen.

Some Eurosceptics are comforting themselves with the thought that it is better to have “minnows” in these two posts than charismatic attention-seekers. Mr Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton are, at heart, local politicians who have been dragged into the limelight. The former was reluctant to take the job of prime minister of Belgium, let alone one that makes him sound like the president of a continent. These functionaries will not exceed their job descriptions, the argument goes. Mr Van Rompuy will be a slightly harassed chairman of the European Council rather than a chief executive with delusions of grandeur; Lady Ashton will co-ordinate rather than determine European foreign policy. So, unedifying though the past few weeks have been, we have not laid the foundations of a superstate.

There are several things wrong with this argument. For one, Mr Van Rompuy, coming from a country with an exceedingly fragile concept of national identity, is a convinced federalist: he is a Eurofanatic even by the standards of Brussels. Beneath his modest exterior lurk some utterly crazy ideas, such as the Europe-wide tax on businesses to fund green initiatives that he proposed this week. One has to wonder: what nonsense will he dream up when he is in office? And, even if Mr Van Rompuy and Lady Ashton make little personal impact, their successors may prove much more ambitious. The EU is becoming more pompous by the day: European Commission offices around the world are being turned into “embassies” staffed by a network of 7,000 diplomats, and the Ruritanian trappings of the posts of president and high representative would perfectly suit a politician with a self-aggrandising federalist agenda. (We should bear in mind that Mr Van Rompuy’s term of office lasts only for two-and-a-half years, and Lady Ashton’s for five.)

One consequence of Lady Ashton’s elevation is that Britain no longer has a European commissioner with a specific portfolio. William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, has argued that what this country really needed to secure was a top economics job. How right he was; for now we face the prospect of a commissioner from France or Germany holding a new portfolio that covers banking, pensions and financial markets in Europe. This appears to be the “get London” mission — an attempt to wrest supervision of the City of London from the Financial Services Authority and impose meddlesome regulations that drive hedge funds away. Whether the money would actually flow to Europe is doubtful — but a powerful EU financial commissioner hostile to the City could certainly make it an unfriendly place for investors. And that is something that a British prime minister cannot allow to happen.

David Cameron has already promised to assert parliamentary control over the sneaky mechanisms of the Lisbon Treaty that allow further power to be ceded to the EU without a new treaty. How he will achieve this if he is elected remains to be seen: the weapons available to him include a Sovereignty Act protecting the British constitution, and the threat of a veto of the next EU Accession Act (for Croatia) unless Britain is granted exemption from damaging social and employment laws. If Mr Cameron’s critics do not believe these weapons can be used, we hope they underestimate the Tory leader’s resourcefulness. We trust that he is working now on a plan to resist any EU assault on the City of London, with support from everyone who cares about the capital’s position as one of the world’s two great financial centres.

Meanwhile, we have the prospect of two little-known politicians taking up offices that move the EU in the direction of federalism — the opposite direction to that favoured by the British electorate, who have been given no say in the matter. Defenders of the new arrangements argue that, because the president and high representative are answerable to politicians, they strengthen the hand of elected governments as opposed to that of the unelected Commission. But, given that we have just lost our veto power in many areas of legislation, we take that reassurance with a pinch of salt. We shall be watching Mr Van Rompuy and Baroness Ashton closely.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

EU: Why President Whatsisname and Baroness Who Could be the Death of the EU Dream

Whatever your view of the European Union, one thing is for sure: it has a genius for making life hard for its supporters. Now we are being asked to swallow the surreal farce enacted in Brussels this week, in which two faceless mediocrities unknown to the British electorate were elevated to the grand-sounding positions of President and ‘High Representative’ (ie foreign minister) of almost half a billion people.

Let us linger over their names for a moment. All we know about Herman van Rompuy is that he is Prime Minister of a country the size of Greater London, and that he is a federalist, which very few people on the continent of Europe are, and almost none in Britain. The most striking thing about him to date is his anonymity. Think of the line-up at international gatherings to come: Obama, Medvedev, Hu Jintao and — well, the other one. . .what’s his face, the EU guy.

As for the Labour peer Baroness Cathy Ashton, no one has ever had the chance to elect her to anything, since she is a Labour placewoman rewarded for her services to the party by appointment to the House of Lords, then as a commissioner in Brussels.

The truth is that she has been appointed because she is a woman, because she will threaten no one, and because her job as Trade Commissioner, where she succeeded the more substantial Lord Mandelson, will make a juicy plum for someone else.

Gordon Brown said Baroness Ashton’s appointment gave Britain a ‘powerful voice’ at the EU top table. Satire can go no further.


Alas, the entire presidential affair has been a grotesque piece of flummery and pretension and conceit. It will damage not just the interests of Britain but, in the longer term, of the EU itself. Pro-Europeans who have talked glibly about how you need a single face to represent you in the modern world will come to realise that, by appointing two nobodies as EU leaders, the Community has contrived the impossible: aiming for the stars yet shooting itself in the foot.

Our adversaries have long known something that Brussels has yet to learn: the EU is not and can never be a country. We can now rely on them to exploit the tensions and disunity that a make-believe European presidency and foreign ministry are bound to create. What an historical irony if the pressure towards federalism were to re-create the poisonous frictions between nations that Europe’s founding fathers such as Churchill were trying to banish for all time.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Germany: Former ‘Nazi’ Faces Murder Charges

Berlin, 17 Nov.(AKI) — German prosecutors have charged an alleged former member of the Nazi SS with the killing of 58 Jewish labourers. The 90-year-old man is suspected of killing his victims near the village of Deutsch Schützen in eastern Austria in 1945, a statement from a German state court said.

The court has identified the suspect only as a “retiree from Duisburg”.

“On 29 March 1945, the accused and his accomplices brought at least 57 Jewish forced labourers in several groups to a nearby forest area, where they had to give up their valuables and kneel by a grave,” the statement said.

“The accused and other SS members then cruelly shot the Jewish forced labourers from behind.”

While the accused has not been officially identified, German media reports have named him as Adolf Storms, a former member of the 5th SS Panzer Division, known as Wiking.

The victims’ remains were found in a mass grave in 1995 by the Austrian Jewish Association.

The 90-year-old German suspect is also accused of shooting another Jew who could no longer walk during a forced march on the same day or the day after, the court was told.

When German authorities raided the suspect’s home last December, they said he had invoked his right to remain silent and not to make a statement.

He was interned in a US prisoner of war camp following the war, but was released in 1946.

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

German-Born Criminal to be Deported to Turkey

A German-born Turkish man with a string of criminal convictions can be deported to Turkey, even though he has never lived there and only speaks broken Turkish, a court has ruled.

The legal fight between the city of Munich and the 22-year-old man was decided on by the Bavarian Administrative Court on Friday, which ruled he can be expelled from Germany.

The man could be expected to continue to commit crimes, the judge ruled. And although his deportation is a massive encroachment on his ‘personal, economic and social relationships’, it can be undertaken in the German public interest.

The man first came to the attention of the authorities when he was just 11, after missing school and then beating up his classmates. In April 2005 he was first jailed on two counts of grievous bodily harm and a sexual offence. Further convictions followed, of violence, making threats, theft and possession of drugs.

He was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison, where he seemed to flourish, completing his school certificate and starting a carpentry course. But when he was released in February 2007, he again went off the rails, the court heard, failing to meet his probation officer, and taking drugs. In July 2008 he was again convicted of causing grievous bodily harm and has been in prison since this April.

The court decided that the man could be deported to Turkey, with the judge noting that he spoke broken Turkish and saying he was not ‘integrated’ into society.

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

Herman Van Rompuy is the ‘Shrewd Master of the Shabby Compromise’

Devoid of patriotism and contemptuous of democracy, Herman Van Rompuy perfectly embodies the culture of the EU.

His sole political ideal is the creation of a federal superstate, destroying national identities across Europe.

As someone who has known him since the mid-1980s, I recognise Van Rompuy as a man of powerful intellect and deep cynicism.

Although diffident in manner, it would be a great mistake to underestimate this Belgian.

A shrewd manipulator, he will do all in his power to further EU integration.

Despite his modest appearance, he is not lacking in selfesteem. When he was 12, he was asked by his family what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer was: ‘President.’

Van Rompuy is a product of the debased, corrupt political life of Belgium. Like the EU, it is an artificial construct, the result of political compromise and experiment.

It was built in 1830 by the international powers joining two separate peoples — the Dutch of Flanders in the north and the French of Wallonia in the south.

Because of this lack of real nationhood, Belgians despise their own state.

But this unpatriotic attitude is precisely the reason why Belgian politicians have been so enthusiastic about the EU, in which they see the mirror image of their own fraudulent, unprincipled country.

The tragedy of Van Rompuy’s political career is that he used to have a very different outlook. When I first met him in 1985, he was much more sceptical about European federalism.

A conservative Catholic, he had been heavily influenced by the Flemish philosopher Lode Claes, who passionately believed that without a genuine spirit of nationhood, there could be no democracy and no political morality.

Van Rompuy wrote elegantly about the importance of traditional values and the need to maintain the Christian roots of Europe.

He was so disgusted by the Belgian establishment’s rejection of these principles he told me he was thinking of leaving politics.

But his bosses the Flemish Christian-Democrat Party were appalled at the thought of losing this bright young star. So he was offered rapid advancement up the political ladder.

Van Rompuy accepted, and embarked on a series of shabby compromises which brought him high office but proved he had sold his soul.

In one telling deal, for instance, he helped push through one of Europe’s most liberal abortion bills, even though, as a Catholic, he had once written in defence of the rights of the unborn child.

He will feel very at home at the top of the EU.

Paul Belien is the author of A Throne In Brussels: Britain, the Saxe-Coburgs and the Belgianisation Of Europe, published by Imprint Academic at £14.95.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

Italy: Frattini, Turkey’s Aim is EU Integration

(ANSAmed) — ISTANBUL, NOVEMBER 18 — Stressing the commitments which Turkey must still respect does not mean putting the final objective back under discussion, which is the country’s full integration into the European Union. This was the firm message sent by Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini today, at the opening of the sixth annual Italy-Turkey Forum for dialogue along with Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in Istanbul. The visit by the Italian Foreign Minister is part of the Italy-Turkey strategic partnership, supported by what Frattini called the excellent relations, strengthened by the Italian governments strong support for Turkeys membership of the EU. Frattini once again underlined this support, saying that “I believe that Europe would benefit greatly by having Turkey as a member of the EU”. A trustworthy country, in a position to negotiate with Iran, with the Arab nations and those of the Caucasus at the same time. Italy can always explain better and more often to the European countries which have doubts, that Turkey is an added value which can help Europe to be a global player. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Italy: Minister Denies Alleged Mafia Links on TV

Rome, 17 Nov. (AKI) — An Italian minister who is facing arrest for alleged mafia collusion has denied the accusations against him and claimed he is the victim of a “barbarous and uncivil” campaign to discredit him. “These are political moves,” Nicola Cosentino told a national late-night television talk show.

The Italian parliament was due on Wednesday to consider a request by a Naples prosecutors to arrest Cosentino for alleged links with the local mafia or Camorra.

“They are doing this to me because I am the (ruling) People of Freedom Party’s coordinator in the Campania region (surrounding Naples),” he told the TV show aired on Italian public television’s premier channel Rai1.

“These political machinations are barbarous and uncivil,” Cosentino said.

He questioned why prosecutors began to formally investigate him in February while mafia turncoats had made accusations against him as long ago as the 1990s.

“I had no interest in contacting or getting votes from the Camorra. I have always been transparent and anti-mafia in my dealings,” Cosentino said.

The 50-year-old MP is accused of doing business with the infamous Casalese clan of the Camorra over the illegal disposal of rubbish in the Naples region.

Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly stood by Cosentino and said he should continue with his plan to run for the presidency of the Campania region in elections due next year.

Cosentino reiterated his intention to run for the position and accused one of the prosecutors investigating him, Giuseppe Narducci, of taking part on a pro-opposition rally in 2007 in Italy’s Molise region.

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

Italy: Knox Accused of ‘Hating’ Murder Victim

Perugia, 20 Nov. (AKI) — An American student accused of murdering her British roommate in Italy had a deep hatred for the victim and killed her in retaliation during a drug-fuelled sex game, a prosecutor said Friday. Head prosecutor Giuliano Mignini made the claim in closing arguments at Knox’s murder trial in the central Italian city of Perugia where the murder occurred.

Mignini argued that Amanda Knox, her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito and a third man, Rudy Guede, convicted in a separate trial last year, killed Meredith Kercher under the influence of drugs and possibly alcohol, and then tried to disguise the crime by staging a burglary.

“Amanda harboured hatred for Meredith and the time had come to take revenge on that ‘smirking’ girl who rebuked her over housecleaning and was always with her English friends,” Mignini said.

“There was a discussion about money or perhaps because the English student was opposed to the presence of Rudy in the house.”

He said Knox, Sollecito and Guede, who came from the Ivory Coast, met at the apartment where Kercher was killed on 1 November 2007, shortly before the murder.

He said Kercher and Knox started arguing and then the three brutally attacked the British student.

“There had been an attempt to involve Meredith in a extreme sex game,” he said.

Kercher’s body was found in a pool of blood the next day, her throat slit.

Knox and Sollecito are charged with murder and sexual violence in the 2007 killing in the central Italian town of Perugia. They have denied any wrongdoing.

Guede was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year on the same charges in a fast-track trial he was granted at his request. He has also denied any wrongdoing and is appealing his conviction.

Prosecutors were expected to formally make their sentencing requests to the jury Saturday, while a verdict is expected to be handed down in early December.

Knox and Sollecito could both face life imprisonment, if convicted of murder.

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

Italy: Ex-Governor’s Transsexual Escort Found Dead

Piero Marrazzo, the former governor of the Lazio region, resigned from his post in late October after a video emerged showing him with a transsexual prostitute and cocaine.

Rome, 20 Nov. (AKI) — The transsexual prostitute at the centre of the sex, drugs and extortion scandal involving former governor Piero Marrazzo was on Friday found burned to death in a fire at her apartment in the Italian capital Rome.

Marrazzo’s lawyer Luca Petrucci described the death as “disturbing” in an interview with Adnkronos.

“An inquiry has to be launched to see if there is anything bigger that hasn’t come to light yet,” said Petrucci.

According to investigators quoted by Italian media, Brenda told her transsexual ‘colleagues’ late Thursday that she was afraid, telling them she had been threatened and saying she wanted to kill herself.

Brenda’s friends also said that she was sober but depressed, telling them she “couldn’t go on any more”.

The body had no signs of foul play and a bottle of whisky was found next to her, early reports said.

Some witnesses said that they had heard a conversation and a disturbance between 4.30 a.m. and 5.30 a.m. local time on Friday and a fire had broken out in Brenda’s apartment.

Reports said that packed suitcases were also found in the apartment.

Brenda’s death is the second death related to the Marrazzo scandal.

In September, an associate of the transsexual prostitutes, Gianmarino Cafasso, was found dead of a cocaine overdose in circumstances that are not yet clear.

Marrazzo, the former governor of the Lazio region, once tipped as a future leader of Italy’s centre-left, stood down from his post in late October after a video emerged that apparently showed him with a transsexual prostitute.

The video was allegedly shot by four police officers who have since been arrested for allegedly blackmailing Marrazzo for a total of 80,000 euros in exchange for keeping the video secret.

Later, reports surfaced about another, longer and allegedly more compromising video of him and cocaine use.

Brenda told prosecutors that she shot a video at a sex and drugs party she attended with Marrazzo and fellow transsexual prostitute Michelle.

She said she had destroyed the video but that her friend, Michelle, who has since moved to Paris, also had a copy.

When questioned in early November, Marrazzo, who is married with three children, admitted to several encounters with Brenda and another transsexual prostitute named Nathalie.

Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi reportedly warned the centre-left governor about the existence of the sex video allegedly featuring him with transsexuals and assured him it would not be made public in any of his family-controlled publications.

In her last interview on 24 October, Brenda denied ever having any relationship with Marrazzo.

“I have never had any relations with Marrazzo. He had come around this area, but I have nothing to do with it, I do not know anything,” said Brenda.

“He was with Nathalie. He even said it.”

On 9 November, Brenda was involved in a brawl where she was robbed and beaten. In that occasion, her mobile phone was stolen.

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

Italy: Lega: “No to Parliamentary Immunity”

(AGI) — Rome, 12 Nov. — Lega Nord is strictly against parliamentary immunity proposed by a large number of PDL members. “I don’t think it’s the right time to discuss about immunity and in any case I think it’s unfeasible to go back to the old system”, said Carolina Lussana, vicepresident of the Chamber Justice Commission.(AGI) ..

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mussolini’s ‘Brain and Blood for Sale on Internet’

The granddaughter of Italy’s fascist dictator Benito Mussolini has said that blood and parts of his brain have been stolen to sell on the internet.

Alessandra Mussolini, a former showgirl turned MP, said she immediately informed the police when she found out.

The listing, on auction site Ebay, reportedly showed images of a wooden container and ampoules of blood.

Ebay, which does not allow the sale of human matter on its site, said that the listing was removed within hours.

The initial price requested for the material was 15,000 euros ($22,000; £13,000).

“This is very serious, these are the kinds of things we have to guard against,” said Ms Mussolini, who was attending a seminar on internet crime when the listing was discovered.

Doctors’ denial

The BBC’s Mark Duff, in Milan, says that Alessandra Mussolini is a colourful character in her own right who has remained doggedly faithful to her grandfather’s political legacy.

Ms Mussolini said that the remains were stolen from Milan’s Policlinico hospital.

After Benito Mussolini was killed in 1945 his body was put on public display in a Milan square. It was then taken to the hospital for an autopsy.

However, doctors at the hospital denied any remains of the former Italian leader were kept at the premises, saying they were destroyed in the years that followed.

A spokesperson for Ebay said that the listing violated its own regulations and was promptly taken down.

“It was removed before 11am, a few hours after it was put online and before anyone had made any bids,” said spokesperson Irina Pavlova.

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

UK: Turnip Taliban: A Brilliant Way to Turn Off Tory Voters

White men are the only group left in our society about whom it is safe to be offensive. There is, however, a subset about whom it is not just safe to be rude, but whose humiliation is actively encouraged. We had a prime example this week in Sir Jeremy Bagge, 7th Bt, Old Etonian, Norfolk landowner and leader of the so-called “Turnip Taliban”. Sir Jeremy was depicted as the would-be nemesis of Liz Truss, selected for South West Norfolk despite her adultery with a Tory MP. In these guises he was ripe for savaging, to give the Tory party another fatuous chance to yell: “We’ve changed!”


This has also been another poisonous example of alienating the core vote. I don’t know Sir Jeremy Bagge, but I know people who do. He is a highly respected figure in Norfolk, of which he has been High Sheriff, and has done much charitable and voluntary work there. He is, in short, precisely the sort of person without whom this country would cease to function even so well as it does. Is it commendable for Dave’s toadies to launch a campaign of vilification against such a man, safe in the knowledge that since he is white, upper-middle-class and rich, almost everybody will think he asks for it? What sort of country do they want us to live in?

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

UK: Will the Great EU Stich-Up Cost US Our £3bn Rebate?

Gordon Brown was facing a furious backlash over the ‘Great EU Stitch-Up’ last night.

He was accused of trading away vital British interests to the French to land a top job for one of his friends.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that Mr Brown had cut a deal with President Sarkozy at this week’s Brussels summit, where Labour’s Baroness Ashton was plucked from obscurity to be the EU foreign minister.

In return for French support for her the Prime Minister is reported to have agreed to hand the key job of Internal Market Commissioner to the former French foreign minister Michel Barnier who wants to scrap Britain’s EU rebate.

Le Monde quoted one EU diplomat as saying it was a straight ‘tit for tat’ deal.

Another diplomat said the internal market job, not due to be announced for a fortnight, was ‘nailed on’ for Mr Barnier.

He is a committed federalist who has campaigned for an end to the UK rebate, worth £3billion this year, and called for taxes to be ‘harmonised’ across the EU.

His appointment to the powerful internal market job, where he would be in charge of business regulations, would alarm many in the British business community and the City.

Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague said it was time for the Government to come clean over the negotiations that led to Lady Ashton’s surprise appointment.

He has written to Foreign Secretary David Miliband calling for clarification.

Mr Hague said: ‘As we have warned all along, the Lisbon treaty has in fact made the EU even less transparent.

‘If Gordon Brown has done a deal that would mean a French commissioner being in charge of the economic issues that affect Britain the most, then that could be a serious concern.’

Downing Street denied the claims, pointing out that a final decision on commissioners rested with Commission President Manuel Barroso.

But the appointment of the virtually unknown Baroness Ashton continued to raise eyebrows, with some critics expressing concern that a former employee of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament was now in charge of Europe’s foreign and security policy.

Lady Ashton, 53, worked for CND as an administrator in the late 1970s. It is thought that MI5 kept a file on her.

Yesterday she declared she was the ‘best person’ for the post.

But former Tory Cabinet minister John Redwood said it was unthinkable that she would have got the job if she had had to face an election.

Mr Redwood said: ‘I think her background in CND will concern many people. It is exactly the sort of thing that would have been probed during an election, but of course she did not face one.’

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage said Lady Ashton’s background should preclude her from the sensitive role. He said: ‘She has no experience in international affairs and is only being appointed as part of a political stitch-up. The whole thing stinks.

Lady Ashton and new EU president Herman Van Rompuy have been mocked as political pygmies since they emerged as the successful candidates from the summit of 27 EU leaders in Brussels on Thursday night.

Mr Van Rompuy got the job after several countries vetoed Tony Blair because of fears his grandstanding on the world stage would overshadow their own interests.

Friends of Mr Blair last night claimed he had already decided he did not want the job, but his biographer Anthony Seldon said the former Prime Minister was deeply ‘disappointed that many of his friends in Europe, and a number of fellow countrymen, didn’t do more for his cause’.

Lady Ashton hit back at her critics yesterday, insisting she was the ‘best person’ for the job.

The former quango boss has never been elected to office and has just one year’s experience in the Cabinet as leader of the House of Lords. She was sent to Brussels as Trade Commissioner last year when Lord Mandelson returned to British politics.

Yesterday she insisted she was ready to join the foreign ministers of the world’s most powerful countries at the top table.

She said her experience included ‘28 years doing negotiations in all kinds of fora’ and added: ‘Over the next few months and years I aim to show that I am the best person for the job.

‘I think for quite a few people they would say that I am the best person for the job and I was chosen because I am, but I absolutely recognise there are a number of candidates around, all of whom would have been extremely good.’

She said she had discovered only in the past few days that she was being discussed as a candidate.

A few years ago she chaired the Hertfordshire Health Authority, but now Baroness Ashton of Upholland is one of the world’s most high-profile female politicians — and all without ever being elected to anything.

The woman who keeps a full-size Dalek in her sitting room will speak for Europe, drowning out individual foreign ministers, as she presides over a 5,000-strong Euro Foreign Office in Brussels and what is effectively a network of 120 European embassies.

She was given the job for three reasons. First, because she’s a woman. Second, because she’s socialist. And third, because she’s proved a reliable pro-European who won’t rock the boat.

While all these considerations were important, her talents and ability to do the job were not. Her career is testimony to the way Labour has used its quangocracy to promote left-wing politically-correct networkers.

Baroness Ashton, 53, was brought up in the Lancashire village of Upholland, where her father was active in Labour politics. She was also political, and after university became administrative secretary for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.

In 1988, Cathy Ashton married the political commentator Peter Kellner — the man who later gave her the Dr Who prop as a 50th birthday present.

Through him she had access to all the big Labour names. She was soon appointed to her first quango roles in Hertfordshire and on the National Council of One-Parent Families.

In 1999 she was made a life peer and in 2001 a junior Education minister. Three years later she was promoted to the Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Despite this modest pedigree, Gordon Brown made her Leader of the Lords, where her first major challenge was to steer through the Lisbon Treaty.

She added a fanatical belief in Europe to her portfolio of politically-correct positions and when Peter Mandelson returned from Brussels in 2008, she replaced him as Trade Commissioner. ‘

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]


Croatia: Presidential Elections, 12 Candidates in First Round

(ANSAmed) — ZAGREB, NOVEMBER 18 — There are twelve candidates for the presidency of Croatia, with elections scheduled for December 27, reported the Election Committee today. Judging by the polls, a second round will have to be held on January 10. Of the twelve candidates accepted by the commission to succeed President Stipe Mesic, seven are running as independent and five are from the largest parties in the country. The one who looks most likely to be the country’s next president, though only by a slight margin, is Ivo Josipovic, law professor and Social Democratic (SDP — currently in the opposition) candidate, with 26.4%. For second place, and therefore access to the second round, three candidates are in the running. The first is the current mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandic, populist and until a week ago member of the SDP — from which he was expelled for having decided to run against the party’s official candidate. In the poll by the privately-owned TV broadcaster Nova TV, he received 15.7% of votes. Nadan Vidosevic, manager and chairman of the Chamber of Economy (HGK), also a dissident of his party, the Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ, centre-right) under premier Jadranka Kosor, is expected to get 14.9%, while HDZ’s official candidate, Andrija Hebrang, would rake in 11.6% (in fourth place). The poll does not take into account the votes of the Croatian diaspora, which traditionally votes in mass for the HDZ, contributing about 2-3% to the overall result. Among the candidates put forward by the conservative right there is also Miroslav Tudjman, son of the former president Franjo Tudjman and who, however is expected to get only 2%.(ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Gallup: People Pessimistic and Corruption Victims

(by Chiara Spegni) (ANSAmed) — BRUSSELS, NOVEMBER 18 — Pessimistic, victims of corruption, hit by the economic crisis and more Euro-sceptic than in the past: this is the picture of public opinion in Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, which emerges from the Balkan Monitor poll by Gallup Europe, which was carried out this year in partnership with the European Fund for the Balkans. According to the survey, the majority of people polled considers another war unlikely, but a general climate of pessimism reigns, except for in Albania and Kosovo. Ten years after the war in Kosovo, time has passed, but there have not been significant improvements: this has caused discouragement, remarked the former Italian prime minister, Giuliano Amato, at the presentation of the survey in Brussels. In addition, said Amato, the regions movement towards Europe has had a worse impact that the economic crisis, with a fall in foreign investment. A large part of the regions population has suffered directly from a fall in living standards and for example, has had problems paying the bills: from 36% of Bosnians to 58% of Kosovans. Young people are pessimistic about employment, while more than two-thirds of those interviewed in the region believe that corruption is rampant within the government and business. More than half of Albanians last year had to hand over a bribe in order to solve a problem, while the same was true of 8% of Croatians and 20% of Macedonians and Kosovans. Two-thirds of those interviewed in Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina have been affected by organised crime, while the figure in other Balkan countries ranged from 32% in Albania to 61% in Croatia. Confidence in the political class at a national level, and in European institutions is in decline. Overall, more than half of those polled in all the countries in the region support EU membership, but it is the Croatians, in poll position compared to the others, who are critical. Almost four out of ten are indifferent, while 43% would vote against entry into the EU in a referendum. This is a kind of disenchantment, which Giuliano Amato puts down to the ever stronger chains which EU rapprochement entails. Entering into the Union means being thrown into a market where competition is fiercer. Such widespread dissatisfaction does not necessarily mean people want to go elsewhere though. With the exception of Albania, where 38% of those polled would leave if they had the chance. Croatias potential migrants number only 11%, while Montenegro and Bosnia have even fewer, from 39% in 2006 to 16% in 2009 in Montenegro, and from 25% to 16% in Bosnia Herzegovina. In terms of the future, a positive factor which relieves the general climate of pessimism could be the forthcoming liberalisation of visas for the Schengen area, which will affect Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia first, followed by Albania and Bosnia Herzegovina. The elimination of visas for the Schengen area could be a strategic step according to Ivan Krastev, president of the Centre of liberal strategies in Sofia, towards the speedy integration of the area into the European Union. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Serbia: Belgrade, World’s “Party Capital”

(ANSAmed) — BELGRADE, NOVEMBER 18 — A survey conducted by the Lonely Planet website has dubbed Serbia’s capital city “the world’s top destination” when it comes to having a good time, reports radio B92. Montreal, Buenos Aires, Dubai, Thessaloniki, La Paz, Cape Town, Baku, Oakland and Tel Aviv also found their place on the top ten list. “Belgrade is the world”, says Deutche Welle, playing on a slogan seen during the 1990s opposition demonstrations, and Belgrade offers “varied nightlife”. With an “exuberant population and its legacy as an intellectual hangout”, night-out options in Belgrade include “electric watering holes for those in the know, modern summer clubs in barges on the Sava and Danube Rivers, or clubs in the basements of apartment buildings and faculties”. Others might opt for “busy restaurants and bars of the Skadarlija district where one can often find a ‘tour guide’ who is eager to tell anecdotes to the guests”. Those surveyed by the website also praised the city’s electronic music scene, describing it as “one of the best in Europe, if not the world”. Lonely Planet started in 1973 as a guidebook publisher, and became the worlds most successful travel information provider. (ANSAmed)

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Mediterranean Union

EU Foreign Minister Has to Show Leadership, Pittella

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 20 — The European Council didn’t complete its appointments yesterday, because the choice for the EU foreign affairs commissioner will have to be examined and ratified by the European Parliament as well, underlined substitute of vice president of the European Parliament Gianni Pittella. Pittella made his remarks from today’s meeting in Cairo between the commissions and the presidency of EMPA, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. “There will be more steps to take, and Catherine Ashton”, he added, referring to the British commissioner chosen for the role of foreign minister, “will be heard by us as well on the important foreign politics issues she will have to deal with. And may not approve her appointment if she shows signs of hesitation and uncertainty”. Pittella’s concerns are shared by the southern Mediterranean countries, which expect, he underlined, “Europe to show leadership” in issues regarding the entire Mediterranean area and the Middle East peace process. “Had we been able to present someone like Massimo D’Alema today” he concluded, “we could have given them more reassuring answers”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Egypt-Algeria: Soccer, 35 Injured in Clashes in Cairo

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 20 — Eleven police officers and 24 civilians were injured, 15 vehicles were destroyed and the windows of four stores were shattered; this is the partial outcome of the clashes last night in Cairo between demonstrators and police nears the Algerian embassy in Zamalek. According to a statement from the Interior Ministry, a gas station was one of the sites destroyed. Thousands of demonstrators gathered at night invading the streets of the district in an attempt to get to the Algerian embassy and protest against the Algerian governments for the fans that were injured, about twenty, in the clashes with Algerian fans after the match in Sudan when Algerian qualified for the World Cup. The police were able to keep about half a kilometre between the crown and the Algerian embassy but the protestors took out their anger throwing stones and bottles. The clashes lasted until five òclock this morning. Just yesterday, after more than a week of tension, including diplomatic tension, between Egypt and Algeria during the lead up to the qualifying soccer match, the Egyptian government decided to recall its ambassador from Algeria. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt-Algeria: Algiers Summons Egyptian Ambassador

(ANSAmed) — ALGIERS, NOVEMBER 20 — The Algerian Foreign Minister today summoned the Egyptian ambassador, giving him a message to send to the authorities of his country, saying that Algeria “does not understand, and is deeply concerned about “the escalation” of the Egyptian press campaign. The news was reported by the ministry and quoted by the APS agency. During the meeting, Algerian Foreign Minister Medelci reportedly said that “he hopes this campaign, which is not in the interest of both countries, will be ended at once”. Algeria, added the minister, “has done everything within its power to smooth out the situation before, during and after the two football matches, and has protected the safety of Egyptian citizens and their possessions in Algeria”. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt-Algeria: Soccer, Phone Conversation Between Ministers

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 20 — Egypt’s Foreign minister, Ahmed Abul Gheit, received a phone call today from his Algerian counterpart. A spokesperson for the Cairo ministry reports that the two spoke of the “deplorable incidents” which followed the soccer match between the two nations in Sudan. The phone call follows up a decision yesterday by the Egyptian government to recall its ambassador from Algiers. The spokesperson also reports that Abul Gheit made a strongly-worded protest to Mourad Medlessi over the post-match incidents in Sudan, and the acts of aggression by Algerians which damaged Egyptian interests and institutions in Algeria. However, the Egyptian minister told his “Algerian brother”, as a note puts it, that Egypt will not allow Algerian interests, or Algerian citizens resident in Egypt to be exposed to danger or acts of aggression. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt-Algeria: Football, Harsh Words in the Egyptian Press

(ANSAmed) — CAIRO, NOVEMBER 20 — In the Zamalek neighbourhood the damage is being assessed after overnight clashes between demonstrators and police, which left at least 35 people injured including both civilians and police. Harsh words against Algeria have appeared in the Egyptian press, also spoken by the government and one of the sons of President Mubarak. In pro-government newspaper Al Messa, the Minister for Legal Affairs, Mufid Shebab, said that if Algeria continues with this escalation of violence, Egypt’s reaction will be very harsh. Alaa Mubarak told various newspapers that what happened in Sudan against Egyptians after the match won by Algeria, with about 20 fans slightly injured, was an act of “terrorism” and Egypt, “tolerated it sufficiently”. It is no longer time to talk about Egypt as “a big sister” to other Arab people, continued Alaa, because these ties of brotherhood “should be respected only if others do so too”. On the front pages of state-run newspaper Al Ahram, pictures of the clashes of the “important” demonstration last night in front of the Algerian Embassy “as a sign of protest against the aggression perpetrated by Algerian fans against Egyptians in Khartoum” were portrayed. Saudi newspaper, Al Hayat, reports a “serious diplomatic escalation between Cairo and Algiers and accusations from both sides” following the decisive match to qualify for the World Cup in Sudan. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Egypt: Violence Erupts Over World Cup Decider

Cairo, 20 Nov. (AKI) — Protesters threw stones and firebombs at police near the Algerian embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Friday in the continuing fallout over the countries’ World Cup qualifying match. In Algeria, 14 people were killed and 250 others were injured in victory celebrations in Algeria late Thursday.

In the Cairo protest, 11 police officers were reportedly injured and several cars were damaged in mounting anger over the decider which the Algerian team won in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, on Wednesday.

The protest began late Thursday on a street leading to the embassy, when riot police repeatedly turned back the demonstrators, who burned Algerian flags.

According to Algerian internal security officials, cited in the Arab daily, Al-Quds al-Arabi, all the victims killed or injured there were Algerian fans involved in road accidents caused by fans.

A total of 175 road accidents were registered nationwide and the deadliest incidents were reported in the Algerian capital. Algiers and the provinces of Tebessa, Warqla and Saida.

In other developments, the Egyptian government on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Algeria following complaints about violence towards football fans.

The move came hours after Algeria’s ambassador to Cairo was summoned to the Egyptian foreign ministry.

The Algerian football team beat Egypt in a decisive World Cup qualifying match in Sudan on Wednesday.

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

Egypt: Team May Quit International Matches After Riots

Cairo, 20 Nov. (AKI) — Egypt’s national football team could pull out of international competitions for two years after it complained to the football’s highest body, FIFA, over the behaviour of Algerian fans, following the team’s victory over Egypt in Sudan this week.

Egypt was eliminated from advancing to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa after Algeria’s win in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Wednesday.

“We will stop playing for two years in protest of what happened during the attack,” Egypt’s Football Federation said in a statement on Friday.

“Egyptian fans, officials and players put their lives at risk before and after the game, under threat from weapons, knives, swords and flares. We have stated most seriously in the complaint to FIFA to restore moral discipline to the world of football.”

However, FIFA is also investigating Egypt’s Football Federation after reports surfaced about Algerian players being attacked in Cairo before the first of the matches, which Egypt won 2-0, later forcing a play-off in Sudan..

Meanwhile 35 people were reported injured in fresh violence on the streets of Cairo on Friday.

According to the Dubai-based network Al-Arabiya, hundreds of people took to the streets and headed to Cairo’s upscale neighbourhood of Zamalek, where the Algerian embassy is located.

The Egyptian fans did not reach the embassy and instead damaged cars and stores in the area, but the most violent attacks took place late Thursday when thousands of people gathered 500 metres from the embassy.

A large number of Egyptian police stopped the protesters, who claimed that Algerians had attacked Egyptians after the match in Khartoum.

In other developments, the Egyptian government on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Algeria following complaints about violence towards football fans.

The move came hours after Algeria’s ambassador to Cairo was summoned to the Egyptian foreign ministry.

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

Israel and the Palestinians

Clashes at the Wailing Wall

(ANSAmed) — JERUSALEM, NOVEMBER 18 — Israeli police were called upon today to break up clashes between Orthodox and Reform Jewish women on area in front of the Wailing Wall. Reform Jews believe that women can also officiate over prayers and cloak themselves in the ‘tallit’, the traditional white shawl with black or blue stripes. Orthodox women, instead, consider this behaviour blasphemous, or at the very least deplorable. Today, when a group of female Reform Jews appeared at the Wailing Wall wearing their shawls and holding Bibles, Orthodox women intervened and forcibly stopped the prayers being said. A female Reform Jew was briefly interrogated by police and then released. “It was an act of provocation for purely political ends,” commented Wailing Wall rabbi Shmuel Rabinovic. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Press: Al Fatah Preparing for New Intifada

(ANSAmed) — TEL AVIV, NOVEMBER 20 — Having been disappointed for the absence of a true peace process, al Fatah is planning a new intifada (people’s insurrection) in the West Bank, announced sources of the movement to Arab-Israeli newspaper, ‘Hadith Anas’, cited by Haaretz. According to the sources, the new intifada would carried out by the general population and would not make use of weapons or suicide bombers. The plan, they explained, includes a continued and systematic mobilisation of masses of Palestinian demonstrators around Jewish settlements and along the separation barrier in the West Bank. Yesterday in an interview from an Israeli jail where he is serving a life sentence, al-Fatah official, Marwan Barghuti, said: “Relying only on negotiations has never been something that we have chosen to do. I have always suggested constructive negotiations, resistance, and political, diplomatic, and activity by the general population together.” Barghuti also suggested a “people’s campaign” against the settlements, against the “imposing of the Jewish culture” in East Jerusalem and against the “separation wall”. According to Haaretz, there is a risk that if Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) were to step down as PNA President, an office that he does not intend to re-run for, another political vacuum would be created that could lead to another Palestinian intifada. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Arab World Expects More Turkish Involvement in Mideast Area

(ANSAmed) — ANKARA, NOVEMBER 20 — Turkish government’s course of policy in the Israeli-Palestinian war has heightened expectations in the Arab world that Turkey should assume a more effective role in solving conflicts in the Middle East, results of a survey has shown. The survey on ‘Turkey Perception in the Middle East’ was conducted by the Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation in seven Arab countries among 2006 interviewees in July. The survey — as Anatolia news agency reports — showed a growing awareness for Turkey in the Arab world after 2002 when the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party came to power as 79% of all participants and 89% of the interviewed Palestinians had said Turkey should engage in mediation efforts. Over 75% of the interviewees said they had a positive view on Turkey and 80% of them said Turkey “treated the Arab countries well.” “The elaboration of Turkey’s foreign policy toward the Middle East especially during the AK Party government has created an awareness for Turkey among the people in the region,” said Prof. Meliha Altunisik from the Middle East Technical University in Ankara. Altunisik said Turkey was perceived as “a constructive country that contributes to stability and its role in the region has been boosted in a constructive way. This is a very positive result.” The Turkish scholar said the recent lifting of visa requirement between Turkey and Syria had also contributed much to the positive perception. (ANSAmed).

           — Hat tip: Insubria[Return to headlines]


Ban on Death Penalty Should be Followed by Ban on Abortion — Russian Priest

Moscow, November 19, Interfax — The famous Moscow priest has spoken in support of the Russian Constitutional Court’s decision to ban the use of the death penalty in Russia.

“It would be madness to introduce the death penalty in Russia. To me the court decision was obvious and I was calm about it,” Archpriest Dimitry Smirnov, the head of the Synodal Department for Relations with the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies, said Interfax on Thursday.

Recalling the Christian commandment “Do not kill,” the priest said a person who has committed a grave crime and is serving his sentence in prison has a chance to repent.

“I’m also against abortion. It’s when my fellow citizens are killed in their mothers’ wombs with the taxpayers’ money. It’s the death penalty for no crime at all. It would be good if the Constitutional Court also abolished the death penalty for babies,” Father Dimitry said.

It’s one and the same problem. In the first case, people are killed as a result of judicial errors, and in the first case innocent people, future Suvorovs, Kutuzov, and Mendeleyevs get killed,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

South Asia

Afghan Minister Accused of Major Bribery: Report

WASHINGTON — Afghanistan’s minister of mines accepted a 30-million-dollar bribe to award a huge development project to a Chinese state firm, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing a US official.

The revelation comes the same week the Afghan government formed a major crime unit to tackle corruption, and just one day before Hamid Karzai is sworn in as Afghan president for a second term, with the United States pressuring him to rid the war-torn country of its endemic graft and cronyism.

The Post quoted an unnamed US official familiar with military intelligence reports that there was “a high degree of certainty” that an alleged payment of roughly 30 million dollars was made to Minister Mohammad Ibrahim Adel.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

India: David Headley: Quiet American With Alleged Links to Mumbai Massacre

In almost every way, David Headley was the perfect neighbour. When the 49-year-old American citizen began renting an apartment in Mumbai last year he charmed his landlord, treated his laundry boy with respect, and befriended Bollywood figures at a local gym. He told them that he was Jewish, and running an immigration agency from a respectable part of town. “Sweet and charming,” said his landlady. “Down to earth,” said his personal trainer.

Not until the past few days did they learn of his alleged other identity — and of quite how close security figures claim India may have come to a repeat of the militant attacks on Mumbai a year ago next week. Apparently, Mr Headley’s original name was Daood Gilani. He was born in Pakistan, and is suspected of helping the terrorists who carried out last year’s Mumbai attack, and of planning another atrocity this year.

The details emerged when the FBI arrested Mr Headley in his home city of Chicago on October 3, and filed an affidavit in a US court, which has since been made public. It alleges that he worked with Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji), a Pakistan militant group, and Lashkar e-Taiba (LeT), the Pakistan group blamed for last year’s Mumbai attacks. The document also outlines claims that he was involved in the “Mickey Mouse Project” — a plan to attack Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper whose cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 infuriated Muslims across the world. It also allegedly shows that he and an apparent accomplice visited India several times between 2006 and 2009, and appear to have discussed attacking Indian targets as recently as September this year.

Indian investigators are now examining whether Mr Headley may be the “missing link” in the Mumbai attacks, which killed more than 170 people between November 26 and 29 last year. They are also investigating claims that he may have planned attacks this year on targets including the National Defence College in Delhi, the private Doon School in Dehradun, northern India, or even a nuclear facility. In the process, they are shedding light on the evolving threat from LeT and its allies, and on India’s haphazard — but so far successful — efforts to respond. “This is yet another wake-up call for India,” said B. Raman, a former counter-terrorism chief in the Indian external intelligence service, the Research and Analysis Wing. “This shows LeT is as determined as ever to attack India, and they are now using Western territory and foreign Muslims to do it.”

The most striking aspect of the Headley case is his profile: unlike other militant suspects, he is middle-aged, speaks fluent English, and lives in Chicago. The son of a Pakistani diplomat and an American woman, he went to cadet college in Pakistan before moving to the US when he was 16. In 1997, he was jailed for 15 months for trying to smuggle heroin into the US, according to court documents. Yet by simply changing his name in 2006, he stayed under the radar on at least nine visits to India over the past three years.

The FBI says that in the alleged activities he was helped by Tahawwur Hussain Rana, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin who studied at the same cadet college, and was also arrested in the US last month. Mr Rana’s immigration agency, which has offices in Chicago, helped to arrange Mr Headley’s trips and provided his cover story, according to the FBI. To burnish his fake Jewish credentials, Mr Headley even carried a book called How to Pray like a Jew, the FBI says. The FBI appears to have placed him under surveillance after noticing his frequent movements between India, Pakistan, the Gulf and Europe.

It alerted Indian authorities after intercepting an e-mail in which Mr Headley’s alleged handler appears to give him a coded message suggesting an attack on India. “I need to see you for some new investment plans,” the affidavit quotes the handler as saying. When Mr Headley asks where, the handler suggests that he should “say hi to Rahul” in what the FBI says is a reference to a prominent Indian actor. The actor has since been identified as Rahul Bhatt, a minor Bollywood star, who has admitted befriending Mr Headley in Mumbai. In a telephone intercept in September, Mr Headley and Mr Rana are heard discussing five alleged targets and mentioning “Defence College”, according to the affidavit.

Mr Headley and Mr Rana have yet to respond to the affidavit. But Indian and Western officials and analysts agree that the evidence presented so far appears to underline the global reach and ambitions of Huji and LeT. It also confirms India’s long-held fears that such groups might use foreigners of Pakistani or Indian origin, forcing it to tighten visa procedures.

Western governments had already adapted to that threat, but are worried that Mr Headley and Mr Rana may have used their immigration agency to move militants around the globe. They are also increasingly aware of the threat to their own citizens in India — particularly during next year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi. “Prior to Mumbai, LeT was largely seen as a regional threat,” said one Western diplomat. “Mumbai brought home that attacking India could directly impact Western interests, by killing their nationals, and also their indirect interests by destabilising the region.”

There is less agreement, however, on what the case says about India’s domestic security. Some say that LeT and its allies are becoming more desperate as the Pakistan Army — which once sponsored them — has become distracted by its own campaign against the Taleban. India has also taken a number of steps to improve its security apparatus. It has, for example, now established the National Investigation Agency, and it is amending legislation to give increased powers to the security services.

P. Chidambaram, the new Home Minister, has now started chairing a meeting of the heads of all the country’s important security agencies every morning.

The National Security Guard — whose commandos took eight hours to get to Mumbai from their Delhi headquarters last year during the attacks — has expanded its numbers and set up hubs in four more cities, including Mumbai.. “What about the past, almost 365, days?” said J. K. Dutt, the former NSG chief who led last year’s Mumbai operation. “There haven’t been any terrorist attacks since Mumbai. Doesn’t that also speak of the fact that there are steps the country has taken?” Critics, however, say that India had a lucky escape thanks only to the FBI. Others question whether the US should have informed India earlier that it was watching Mr Headley.

Yet the biggest concern of all is still the underfunded and short-staffed police, a force which under India’s Constitution is the responsibility of state governments. “When are we going to improve the training, consciousness and capability of local police?” asked Arun Bhagat, a former head of the Indian Intelligence Bureau. “Central agencies can only do so much.”

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

India: New Cathedral Unites Christians, Hindus, Muslims

BARUIPUR, India (UCAN) — A new cathedral has opened in the eastern city of Baruipur, thanks to contributions from Christians, Muslims and Hindus in the region.

“It was a sign of goodwill that helped promote harmony among various faiths,” Bishop Salvadore Lobo of Baruipur told UCA News.

Sister Mary Prema, superior general of the Missionaries of Charity, opened the Immaculate Heart of Mary Cathedral, located 40 kilometers south of Kolkata, on Nov. 12.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Indonesian Ulema Boycott the Apocalyptic “2012”: It’s Blasphemous

by Mathias Hariyadi

Dispute sparked by the story the day of reckoning: a mosque is razed to the ground and salvation is possible only in a church. In various areas of the country fundamentalists prevent the screening of the film and raid internet-points. Islamic leader: it is Christian proselytizing. Moderate Muslim: it is just a movie.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) — The Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) have condemned for blasphemy, the apocalyptic movie “2012” by Roland Emmerich and is urging Muslims to boycott the country’s cinemas. The latest work of director and author of “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” contains scenes which contravene the principles of Islam; Muslim leaders, in fact, feel outraged because the salvation of a family in the “doomsday” scenario hinges on their decision to “shelter in a church,” while the film shows the complete destruction of a mosque.

The resolution of the MUI has sparked deep controversy in Indonesia, three months on from the edict that branded as “illegal” smoking for women. Today Islamic leaders are railing against “2012” by Emmerich, a film inspired by an ancient Mayan prophecy that the world will end December 21, 2012. The blockbuster shows “illegal” scenes and conveys the message that “salvation is achieved only in the church”.

The controversy against the film first broke out last week in the district of Malang in East Java, where the leader of local ulema also issued an “edict” in which he called the local residents to boycott the movie in theatres. According to Kiai Hajj Mahmoud Zubaidi the film sends “confusing messages” and adds that “the D-day for Muslims is secret and only God knows when it will happen.

The Ulema’s stance is likely to unleash a bitter controversy in the country, which will see “two different sides” in opposition. Meanwhile, cinemas are being and the Muslim moderate wing is stressing that “it’s only a movie” and has “nothing to do with faith.”

In Surakarta Central Java, local MUI leaders have imposed a block on screenings in cinemas. In Stubondo district in the province of East Java, fundamentalists raided internet points to prevent the downloading of the film. “We condemn it in absolute — says Kiai Hajj Abdullah Faqih Gufron — The Movie is unlawful, because it leaves the Sitibondo population defenceless before a controversial scene.” He also called for the intervention of Tifatul Sembiring, Minister for Communications and former president of the semi-fundamentalist movement Prosperous Justice Party (PKS).

Amidhan, head of the National MUI, adds that the Indonesian agency responsible for censorship (LSF) has not taken “precautions” by approving “so sensitive” a scene. He refers to the images of “doomsday” in which we witness the destruction of a mosque, while the Christian building is perfectly intact. “Every proselytism of the faith [Christian] — he ends — must be cut.”

Another Mui leader, Ma’ruf Kiai Hajj Amin has a different opinion: “it is just fiction — he explains — a product of creativity and imagination. Nobody knows when the day of judgement will arrive. I do not see anything illegal in it and think we should let people enjoy the film”. Saifullah Yusuf, deputy governor of East Java, invites Muslim leaders to be “wiser when dealing with these topics: a film is a product of human creativity and the MUI should not disseminate unsolicited advice.”

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

Maldives: MPs Approve Bill to Outlaw Places of Worship for Non-Muslims

MPs called for lengthy jail sentences and hefty fines in a bill to outlaw places of worship for non-Muslims in the Maldives.

At today’s sitting, a bill proposed by Fares-Maathoda MP Ibrahim Muttalib on making it illegal to either build places of worship for “false religions” or practice other faiths in public was sent to committee for further review with unanimous consent.

Presenting the legislation, Muttalib said he submitted it because inquiries had been made with the government to establish places of worship and there was no law to stop it.

“The other thing we have to think about today is that the government is considering establishing wedding tourism in the country and this will indirectly set up churches in the country,” he said.

Jail terms

While the bill states that foreigners or expatriates will be allowed to worship in the privacy of their homes, involving Maldivians or encouraging them to participate will be an offence.

The bill specifies a jail term of three to five years or a fine of between Rf36,000 (US$2,800) and Rf60,000 (US$4,669) for those in violation of the law.

During the debate, opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) MPs and some independents called for harsher penalties to serve as deterrents.

“I propose that those who violate the provisions in the bill should be jailed for at least ten years,” said Thohdhoo MP Ali Waheed, adding the fine should be increased to Rf500,000 (US$38,000) or Rf1 million (US$77,821).

Waheed said the government was trying to introduce wedding tourism to build churches in the country.

He further said nobody had ever seen the president attend Friday prayers and his administration was intent on destroying the country’s Islamic culture.

Some MPs said foreigners who violated the law should be deported and not allowed back for ten years.


Although all MPs supported the spirit of the legislation, MPs of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) argued the bill was redundant as article ten of the constitution states that Islam shall be the basis of all the laws of the Maldives and no laws contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be enacted.

Further, the constitution states a non-Muslim may not become a citizen of Maldives.

Some MPs argued the provision to authorise practicing religions other than Islam was unconstitutional.

Ihavandhoo MP Ahmed Abdullah said they consider the implications of enacting a law to allow foreigners to worship privately.

“Even now we are unable to check and monitor illegal activities,” he said. “So after authorising something like this, how can we make sure Maldivians aren’t involved?”

Mathiveri MP Hussein Mohamed said laws were still needed to enforce the articles in the constitution.

Gemanafushi MP Ilham Ahmed of the DRP said the constitution was not an obstacle to building places of worship. “The reality is that this constitution paves the way to build temples,” said Ilham.

Several MPs said the scope of the bill was too narrow and comprehensive legislation was needed to protect Islam.

Feydhoo MP Alhan Fahmy of the DRP, who was recently suspended from party activities for voting against the party line, said the bill was not necessary as tradition and cultural norms were more powerful than laws.

But, he added, he supported the bill to ensure that there would be no room to advocate freedom of religion in the future.

Thulhaadhoo MP Nazim Rashad, an independent, said the bill was important because human rights organisations were trying to impose freedom of religion on the country.

“These aren’t things that we can accept so easily. And they can’t make us accept it either,” he said.

Undermining Islam

Dhandhoo MP Mohamed Riyaz of the MDP said the previous government authorised a large statue of Buddha to be imported for a resort party on a Friday afternoon.

In March 2007, a birthday party for British millionaire Sir Philip Green in Ladaa Giraavaru featured an 11-metre tall statue of the Buddha and topless dancers.

Other MDP MPs referred to religious scholars being persecuted and tortured by the former government.

Maduvari MP Visam Ali of the DRP said Islam in the Maldives was facing serious challenges and the government had failed to protect it.

“I am saying this for a lot of reasons. We have seen what the government did to Kuliyya, our Islamic education institute. We have seen the government announce that it would close down women’s mosques. We have heard that money wasn’t included for mosques in the PSIP [public sector investment programme],” she said.

She added the government had turned a blind eye to religious literature translated into Dhivehi, had decided to establish diplomatic ties with Israel and had agreed to teach Maldivian school children Jewish culture.

Visam said the president spoke out against death penalty although it was a punishment in Islamic sharia.

Nolhivaram MP “Colonel” Mohamed Nasheed of the MDP argued that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) allowed Jews and Christians to practice their faiths in Medina.

“So the basis of Islam is, after allowing people of other religions to practice their faiths freely, going forward to ensure it doesn’t adversely affect our society,” he said.

           — Hat tip: Vlad Tepes[Return to headlines]

Pakistan: ‘Mastermind’ Of Mumbai Attack Preaches at Mosque in Lahore

Come Friday prayers in Lahore, it is not hard to find the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks. Hafiz Mohammed Saeed is neither in hiding nor in jail. The founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba is instead delivering a sermon to thousands of devoteees at the Jamia al-Qadsia mosque — one of the biggest in the city. “God has promised to make Muslims a superpower if we follow the right path,” Mr Saeed told his followers, who listened in rapt silence. Outside, policemen with machineguns stood guard and bearded security men frisked all those entering. “Our rulers are the slave of America and have sold their conscience for a few dollars,” continued the diminutive former university teacher, his long beard dyed red with henna.

Timothy Roemer, the US Ambassador in Delhi, backed Indian calls this week for Pakistan to bring Mr Saeed and six other Mumbai suspects to justice. “We need to see actions and results from Pakistan,” he said after India handed Pakistan a seventh dossier of evidence on the Mumbai attacks.

Analysts say that the problem lies with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, which backed Mr Saeed when he founded Lashkar-e-Taiba in 1990 to fight Indian rule in the disputed region of Kashmir. Under pressure from the US, Pakistan banned the group in 2002, but it continued to operate under the banner of Jamaat-ud Dawa, which Mr Saeed also founded and calls a charity organisation.

A UN Security Council resolution last December declared Jamaat-ud Dawa a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, forcing Pakistan to freeze its assets and jail many of its activists. Mr Saeed was put under house detention, but released after a few months when a court ruled that action against him and his group was illegal. This week a Lahore court threw out two anti-terrorism cases against him. The court also found no evidence that Jamaat-ud Dawa was involved in terrorism, and it should be allowed to operate freely. Pakistani officials say that they are serious about cracking down on militant groups, but there is not enough evidence to put Mr Saeed back on trial.

           — Hat tip: JP[Return to headlines]

Tamil, Muslim Parties Meet in Zurich

In the first of its kind, representatives of Sri Lankan Tamil and Muslim parties including the pro-LTTE Tamil National Alliance (TNA) are meeting in Zurich, Switzerland to take stock of ground situation, BBC Tamil service reported on Saturday..

Sri Lankan Social Welfare Minister Douglas Devananda, who heads the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party (EPDP), told BBC Tamil Service that though there was no fixed agenda the objective was to arrive at a “common ground” on issues affecting minorities and explore options of talks on safeguarding interests of minorities with the government.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Far East

Video: Defector Tells of Life in North Korean Army

Newsnight has spoken to two North Korean defectors about life inside the secretive Stalinist state, one of whom says that he was an anti-tank battalion commander in North Korea’s army before fleeing.

Last month, UN Special Rapporteur Vitit Muntarbhorn issued a scathing report on human rights violations in North Korea, calling the situation there “abysmal”.

Unsurprisingly, voices from inside the country are rare — dissenting voices rarer still — but the BBC’s Newsnight programme has spoken to two defectors who paint a grim picture of life inside North Korea.

One of them is Joo-il Kim, who says he was an anti-tank battalion commander in North Korea’s army for seven years until he fled the country in 2005.

The North has a vast conventional military, which correspondents say is the glue that holds the country together, but it is undermined by ageing conventional weaponry.

Missile launches

According to Mr Kim, Pyongyang’s lack of access to enough new conventional weaponry is what drives its controversial nuclear programme.

“Conventional weapon-wise, North Korea is better equipped than South Korea,” he told Newsnight reporter Mark Seddon.

“But most of the weapons are outdated and so, to make up for that weakness, the North concentrates on missiles and nuclear arms development.”

North Korea is believed to have more than 800 ballistic missiles, including long-range missiles.

In recent months it has a launched a series of missiles and conducted an underground nuclear test — increasing international tensions and drawing UN sanctions in response.

And this month the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that North Korea had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods to extract weapons-grade plutonium.

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

Vietnam Government Denies Blocking Networking Site

Vietnamese officials have denied they are deliberately blocking access to social networking site Facebook.

State internet service provider FPT says it has been working with foreign companies to solve a fault blocking connections to Facebook’s US servers.

But many of Vietnam’s one million users have been reporting problems accessing Facebook, which recently launched a Vietnamese-language version, for days.

And workers at many web firms say the government ordered them to block it.

The freedom of expression afforded by the internet has certainly preoccupied the authorities in recent months.

They have arrested several bloggers and online journalists, and ordered people to restrict their online writing to personal concerns.

Meanwhile, Facebook has said it would be very disappointed if users in any country were to have difficulties accessing its site.

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

Why Did Barack Obama Fail in China?

Hope for some movement on human rights and the release of political prisoners fades. Broad issues like the yuan-dollar rate, Afghanistan, Iran are part of an impossible diplomacy. US big business and the Chinese Communist Party are the big winners. The “father of democracy” in China provides an analysis of the situation.

New York (AsiaNews) — What we all have been most interested this week is US President Obama’s visit to China. That is because we all had great expectations of this US President’s visit. Chinese people at home or overseas had hoped that President Obama could do something regarding Chinese human rights. Ever since Hu Jintao came to power, the human rights situation in China has been deteriorating. Many people have been arrested, put in jail, and abused. Those who are out of jail also experience more pressure than in the past, to the degree that it is hard to breathe. The Chinese Communist regime controls the media, blocks the Internet, and tightens the room of speech. The Chinese people more than ever wondered if the US president could help them reduce some of the pressure. In the past, the pressure from a US president always had some effectiveness, because the Communist regime is most afraid of the human rights diplomacy of the USA. Now, it seems the Americans care more about the exchange rate between the US dollar and the Chinese currency RenMinBi. This is the key to reducing their trade deficit.

Yuan versus dollar

Even 10 years ago, most of Americans already knew that the unfair trade system would increase the trade deficit and thus result in unemployment. But some politicians who were bought out by the big business enterprises forced the passage of the Most Favoured Nation status (later on named Permanent Normal Trade Relationship to reduce the attention and pressure) for the Communist regime. At that time, the Americans still enjoyed a pretty good life with a trade deficit of less than 57 billion dollars, so most Americans took it. After all, we have to respect the democratic system and respect the law. But now, the US economy has deteriorated with increasing unemployment and depression in every corner. The trade deficit between the USA and China has skyrocketed to more than 268 billion dollars. Many Americans know that it is due to the fact that the Chinese government manipulated the currency exchange rate, in addition to an unfair trade system. Just as the US Senator Charles Schumer pointed out: the whole economic crisis started with the Chinese government’s manipulation of the Chinese currency. If we do not solve this root problem, other efforts are meaningless.

Yet, President Obama did not bring back anything from China. The United Kingdom’s Times article today has a title: “President Obama returns home from visit to China almost empty handed”. This result is indeed totally out of people’s expectations. When the strategic advisors in the White House designed the topics for Obama, they felt that these core issues were hopeless. So they left a lot of room to play, such as environment, troops in Afghanistan, etc., even the details of Iran’s nuclear facility. They were not even expecting any substance from the Chinese Communist regime, but simply wanted to express its attitude on these issues.

But President Obama did not even get these issues done in China. On the human rights front, he did not even get the Chinese government to release a few political prisoners just to make a show. Hu Jintao really did not give Obama anything, not even a human rights show, except to waste Obama’s trip to China. In comparison to previous not so successful presidents of the USA, Obama seems to be the least successful in dealing with China.

Not mentioning conservative news media, even news media that lean to the left such as the Washington Post published commentaries strongly criticizing Obama for not doing anything to reduce the trade deficit. It went so far as to review the Permanent Normal Trade Relationship that President Clinton signed for China, and narrated in detail how the huge increase of the trade deficit with China is the result of politicians and businesses selling out America. If we read these words in the past, we might have thought the Post was a Republican newspaper attacking the Democrats.

The US administration does not know China

Why did President Obama, who could give eloquent speeches is so popular in Europe, fail so much in China? We could name a list of reasons, but there are two root reasons. One is that he and his advisors do not know either China, or the Chinese. They thought that they are dealing with a democratic country. The diplomacy between democratic countries is the diplomacy of gentlemen. If you release a signal of kindness, then the other must return with the same. Or we could use a popular way to describe it as a “cooperative diplomacy of mutual compromises and mutual benefits.”

However, if you ever hear an American president referring to the Chinese Communists as a cooperation partner, then you know that they do not know about the Chinese Communist Party at all. Even those Western diplomats who speak good Chinese do not know that this “cooperation partner” is an error of basic concept. The logic of the Chinese Communist Party is a “philosophy of struggles” that believes “when the enemy retreats, we shall invade”. If you retreat, it will believe you are afraid of it. If they do not take a step forward, they will be teased within the Communist Party, even be attacked as a result. In dealing with the Chinese Communist Party, it is totally wrong to practice this spirit of compromise and cooperation that the Western democratic societies are accustomed to. So if we view the stand that Obama offered to China before his trip, we could tell that his visit would come to a total failure.

“Big business” defeats America

The second most important reason is the resistance of the business community. The biggest beneficiary of the trade deficit with China and unemployment in the USA is big business in both America and China. For many years, these businesses have voluntarily defended the interests of the Chinese Communist party. In these issues of unfair trade and manipulation of currency, they share the interests of the Chinese Communist Party. Just ten years ago, they were already able to manipulate both the US Congress and the US administration to the degree that they went against the desires of the majority citizen voters in the USA. Even with the prerequisite of being unable to hide from the public, they were able to pass a resolution that the majority of voters were against and thus offered free trade to the Chinese Communist Party unilaterally. Now, their benefits are already 4 or 5 times more dependent on business, so the average voters have even less power to go against them. Even President Obama has a hard time to go against the will of business . This is one of the root reasons that the US President had to put down his posture in front of the Chinese Communists.

Therefore, the US-China relation is not just an issue of the economy, or Chinese human rights. It is already testing the Western democratic system. Both Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were unable to dissolve the Western democratic system, yet the current Chinese Communist Party is a making an effort to realize Lenin’s wish: to make the “American imperialism” be the last stage of capitalism. It seems to be successful so far. This is why this one time visit by the American president to China received so much attention from the people. People do not care only about the issues of currency exchange and unemployment. People are concerned mainly if the Western democratic system represented by the USA will be defeated by an autocratic Communist system.

* Who is Wei Jingshen?

Wei’s role in the struggle for human rights and democracy in China goes back a long way. On 5 April 1976, aged 26, Wei took part in the first anti-government action in Tiananmen Square. Two years later, the Wall of Democracy (pictured) was set up near one of the main crossroads of the capital: a corner where democracy activists could post their dàzìbào. On 5December 1978, Wei posted the text that would make him famous—”the Fifth Modernisation”—where he developed the idea that the country’s economic progress (the “four modernisations” upheld by the Communist regime) must pass through democratisation; otherwise the people would not enjoy any benefits. Wei denounced detention for political reasons, the misery endured by segments of the population, the political roots of youth crime, the sale of children on the streets of Beijing. From 1979 to 1993, he was interned in prison on the orders of Deng Xiaoping. On 13 December 1995, a year and half after his re-arrest, Wei reappeared before the People’s Court in Beijing, where he was condemned to 14 years in prison for “plotting against the government”. One 16 November 1997, following very strong pressure from the international community Chinese authorities released him. Wei was sent abroad for “treatment”; in reality he was condemned to exile. Currently, he lives in the United States and is the chairman of the Overseas Joint Committee for China Democratic Movement.

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

Australia — Pacific

Obscene Anti-Muslim Emails Put Nile on the Defensive

ABUSIVE emails written by the son of the campaign manager of the Christian Democratic Party containing anti-Muslim and homophobic comments have embarrassed the party’s president, the Reverend Fred Nile, only two weeks before the December 5 Bradfield byelection, in which the party will field nine candidates.

Mr Nile has been forced to apologise to dozens of recipients of the emails, which also attack the Reverend Gordon Moyes, the CDP-turned-Family-First MP in the NSW upper house. Their author, Douglas Darby, the son of the former Liberal identity Michael Darby, who is the CDP’s campaign manager, has been expelled from the party.

In one email Douglas Darby attacks a Muslim activist, Mal Mac Rae, as a “stupid moslem c—-” and says “muslim scum are too busy stacking ALP branches and raping Aussie chicks”.

In another, Douglas Darby suggests Muslims “who habitually engage in child molestation, incest, pack rape … obey the laws of this country or f—- off to Afghanistan where Australians are allowed to shoot you people”.

Yet another urges Mr Mac Rae to become a suicide bomber. “Please do it inside either a Sunni or Shiite mosque.”

The emails are part of a bitter exchange between Mr Darby and Mr Mac Rae that appears to have begun when Mr Mac Rae wrote questioning an aspect of Mr Nile’s military service record.

On Tuesday Mr Nile wrote to recipients “on behalf of the Christian Democratic Party to sincerely apologise for the appalling emails you have received”.

He told them that the CDP “disassociates itself completely” from the comments, “which we totally reject”, and apologised to Mr Mac Rae. “No one deserves to be subjected to such language and insult,” Mr Nile wrote.

Douglas Darby did not respond to a request for comment, and Michael Darby declined to comment.

Mr Nile said Douglas Darby had begun working for the party but was soon “upsetting people left, right and centre” and was banned from the parliamentary offices of the CDP and its headquarters a year ago.

One of the CDP’s campaign slogans for Bradfield is “Stand your ground in defence of Christian values”.

Mr Nile and the NSW upper house Liberal MP David Clarke are advertised to speak at an Australian Christian Nation Association conference today which has the theme “Australia’s Future and Global Jihad”.

Mr Mac Rae said yesterday he had accepted Mr Nile’s apology. “However, the vilification of the Islamic community in the party continues behind closed doors.”

Dr Moyes said he had asked Mr Nile for an apology, “which I haven’t received”.

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

Sub-Saharan Africa

A Navy Vessel Was Just 50ft Away as Pirates Kidnapped the British Yacht Couple. Why Didn’t Our Sailors Stop Them? Human Rights, Of Course…

One is a Singaporean flagged container vessel of 25,000 tonnes, the Kota Wajar. The other is a British military tanker, flying the blue ensign of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service. Neither was built for battle. Nor in normal circumstances would they be foes.

But a whiff of gunpowder is palpably in the air. Aboard the tanker, RFA Wave Knight, Royal Navy gun crews have closed up for action, their 30mm cannon and machine guns primed and ready.

A few hundred yards away on the Kota Wajar, Somali pirates, who had recently hijacked the vessel, possess a variety of small arms including rocket-propelled grenades.

These are high stakes, indeed, because both ships are on course to rendezvous with a British yacht drifting helplessly in the Indian Ocean.

Aboard this 38ft yacht, and held at gunpoint by a pirate advance party, are Paul and Rachel Chandler, a retired couple from Tunbridge Wells, Kent.

The Kota Wajar, in its new role as a pirate ‘mother ship’, is to scoop them up and carry them back to captivity and a multi-million-pound ransom in Somalia more than 200 miles to the north-west.

A burst of gunfire from the Wave Knight cuts across the bow of the hijacked container vessel in the first overtly aggressive act of the chase. Surely the Chandlers will be plucked to safety?

What happened next has been described as ‘depressing’ and ‘shameful’. And ‘hardly in the tradition of Nelson’ — which is something of an understatement.

Not that any of us would have known about it if a sailor aboard the Wave Knight had not blown the official Ministry of Defence version of events out of the water.

That original MoD briefing had deliberately created the impression that the meeting between Wave Knight and Kota Wajar never happened.

Indeed, MoD spokesmen suggested that Wave Knight had simply come across the yacht empty and adrift on the High Seas; the Chandlers had already been taken hostage and had been whisked away before British forces arrived on the scene to answer their distress signal.

This was very definitely not the case.

The Wave Knight, it seems, might even have been as close as 50ft to the Chandlers as they were taken aboard the Kota Wajar and off to Africa, under the apparently helpless gaze of 100 Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary sailors.

The Navy’s ignominy over the incident has parallels with the infamous 2007 incident when 15 armed Royal Navy sailors and Royal Marines on small boat patrol in the Shatt al-Arab waterway near Basra were taken prisoner by Iranian seaborne forces without a shot being fired.

The personnel were kept for 12 days and paraded for the world’s media, reducing what was once the finest fighting force in the world to a laughing stock. After they were freed, one sailor confessed that he had cried himself to sleep when the Iranians took his iPod.

As more facts come to light about the capture of the Chandlers — and they do so slowly, as the MoD still refuses to confirm what really happened — awkward questions about tactics against pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean have to be asked.

Military personnel in the region feel that ‘their hands are tied’ by policies that prevent them from prosecuting a more aggressive campaign against the buccaneers, because of the latter’s ‘human rights’.

As British maritime security expert and former Royal Marine David Pickard of the risk mitigation firm Drum Cussac remarks: ‘There has been quite a change in British Rules of Engagement since the time of Henry VIII.

‘In his day, the law demanded the summary execution of all pirates. Recently the Home Office has been more concerned that pirates captured off Somalia would simply claim political asylum in the UK.’

The belief is that, once in Royal Navy custody, the pirates would claim it a breach of their rights to send them back to the anarchy in Somalia.

Since 1991, the country has been a failed state and local criminals are able to use the long Somali coastline as a safe base for pirate operations, hijacking passing vessels which, along with their crews, are then held for ransom.

As the Gulf of Aden is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the pickings are rich.

The international community had to act. United Nations resolutions were passed. But this international anti-piracy operation is fragmented and incoherent.

At various times, Royal Navy ships in the area have been under the command of Nato, the EU and a third, multi-national organisation called Combined Maritime Forces Task Force 151. Each body has its own ‘subtly different’ Rules of Engagement for dealing with pirates.

But it is understood that in all cases, British forces are not supposed to open fire on pirates unless in self-defence or when the lives of others are in immediate danger.

And so, unless pirates open fire first — as they did last year on Royal Marines from HMS Cumberland, with fatal consequences to themselves — the Navy cannot engage in battle.

Nor can pirates be arrested unless caught in the act of taking a ship. In June, units from HMS Portland intercepted two boats full of armed Somalis, obviously on a piratical mission.

But the Rules of Engagement meant that the British sailors could only throw the pirates’ weapons overboard and sink their faster boat. The Somalis were then given enough fuel to return to the mainland in the remaining boat — scot free.

And so, in the absence of any effective deterrence, the attacks continue — as the Chandlers found to their cost.

The first step that would lead to the Chandlers’ ordeal took place in the early hours of October 15, when the Kota Wajar, sailing from Shanghai to Kenya, was seized in the Gulf of Aden 150 miles off Somalia.

The 24,000-tonne container vessel and its 21 crew were taken to the notorious Somali pirate port of Haradheere.

It was just a week later, on October 22, that the Chandlers set off on their yacht from the Seychelles for Tanzania, 1,000 miles and possibly ten days sailing away.

In the early hours of October 23, while the Chandlers were sleeping, pirates from three skiffs came aboard. In a later phone conversation Mr Chandler was allowed with a TV reporter, the yachtsman said the pirates intercepted the yacht ‘in waters 60 miles from Victoria in the Seychelles…

‘Three boats came alongside — I was off watch. I was asleep and men with guns came aboard — it was at 0230 local time.’

On the day of the kidnap, Falmouth Coastguard picked up a distress signal from the yacht. This was passed on to all warships on patrol in the Gulf of Aden area.

Shortly after the yacht was reported in trouble, the hijacked Kota Wajar was seen putting out of Haradheere. Its movements were monitored closely.

Then as the light faded on October 27, a helicopter from a Spanish warship patrolling the area spotted the yacht with at least one skiff tethered to its stern.

Royal Navy units with the Nato anti-piracy force in the region were informed — and on October 28 it became clear that the Kota Wajar was heading straight towards the yacht.

Since the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland was several hours’ sailing away, the Navy sent Wave Knight. The 35,000-tonne RFA Wave Knight — a supply ship for the fleet — is manned by 75 Royal Fleet Auxiliary personnel, who have the status of MoD civil servants, but are under naval discipline in operational situations.

There are 25 Royal Navy sailors aboard, whose role is to handle weapons systems and fly the ship’s helicopter. Armed with two 30mm cannon and machine guns, the Wave Knight is no warship, but has more than enough punch to take on lightly armed pirates.

Indeed, in April she had scored a notable and much trumpeted success. She had received a distress call from a merchant vessel under pirate attack. The pirate skiffs were chased by the Wave Knight to a large dhow — a traditional Arab sailing vessel — nearby.

The MoD reported that: ‘Wave Knight ordered the dhow to stop and used a Royal Navy armed force protection team as well as the ship’s own weapons team to provide cover. The pirate vessel complied.’

The 13-strong hostage crew of the dhow were released. But, ludicrously, the pirates were released because they ‘were not captured in the act of piracy’.

The Commanding Officer of Wave Knight, Captain Pilling, was reported as declaring of his ship: ‘We are fully capable of conducting anti-piracy operations in and around the Horn of Africa.’

This bullish, official assessment of the Wave Knight’s capabilities has changed in the past week.

The leaked account and more recent MoD admissions suggest that the Wave Knight intercepted the Kota Wajar some time before the pirate ship reached the yacht.

The leaked account spoke of a ‘three-hour game of cat and mouse’ while an MoD spokesman has said that the tanker fired warning shots (the Kota Wajar’s crew were still on board) which were ignored. It also manouvered around the Kota Wajar before following her.

The MoD refuses to discuss what happened next. But the leaked account suggests that the Wave Knight stood off and observed while the Chandlers were transferred from their yacht to the Kota Wajar, which then set off back to Haradheere, which it reached without mishap on October 29.

Soon afterwards the two Britons were landed ashore and taken triumphantly into the interior of the country, where they have remained captive ever since, a £4million ransom being demanded for their release.

Last night the Chandlers were seen on TV for the first time, urging the Government to negotiate. They said the pirates are losing patience and ‘will not hesitate to kill us’.

The question is: how were they allowed to be spirited away from under the noses of the Royal Navy?

The reasons seem to be a combination of strict Rules of Engagement, concern for the safety of the Chandlers and, perhaps most perplexing, the fact that the right personnel were not in place to deal with the situation.

One former Special Boat Service marine said: ‘To assault a ship at sea and overcome pirates takes training. There should have been Royal Marines aboard the Wave Knight in this deployment.

‘The rules don’t help — it is very frustrating for the guys out there to have their hands tied behind their backs.’

An MoD spokesman said that the disposition of Royal Navy assets in the area, including Marines, was a matter for the force commander.

Admiral Sir Mark Stanhope, the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Service, this week admitted that no one on board the Wave Knight was trained in hostage rescue.

‘You need special expertise to deal with hostage rescue, and we didn’t have that expertise [on board],’ he explained.

‘Sailors with pistols couldn’t do the job of ensuring the safety of the Chandlers. It was highly frustrating.

‘There were broad rules of engagement that had to be followed, and it was a fairly easy decision to make, because the security of the Chandlers was the most important thing.

‘Wave Knight is not a warship. There was only a flight [helicopter crew and engineers] on board, and as soon as they got close, the pirates threatened the hostages.

‘They did the best they could.’

That last observation has become the MoD’s official line this week. Perhaps those aboard the Wave Knight did do the best they could. Most were civilians, after all.

But their inability to act and the MoD’s subsequent cover-up hardly added to the laurels or reputation of the Royal Navy around the world.

           — Hat tip: Gaia[Return to headlines]

European Union Gives Nigeria $1bn ‘For Peace’

The European Commission has signed a $1bn (£602m) development pact with Nigeria, aimed at tackling corruption and promoting peace.

A substantial amount of the funding will be spent on resolving conflict in the oil-rich and crime-plagued Niger Delta, the EU’s development chief said.

The money will also target electoral reform and improving human rights.

But correspondents say many Nigerians will doubt the money will get to its intended targets.

The BBC’s Caroline Duffield, in Lagos, says corruption touches the lives of everyone in Nigeria and leaves the vast majority of people in poverty.

And she says many Nigerians believe the current government is losing the fight against corruption.

Almost a third of the EU money is devoted to the Niger Delta region.

For years militants have blown up pipelines and kidnapped foreign oil workers, demanding a fairer share of the wealth.

“I’m delighted that a substantial amount of this financing will go to support conflict resolution and the peace process in the Niger Delta which has been ravaged by years of unrest,” said the EU’s development commissioner Karel De Gucht .

Over the past few months, thousands of militants have given up their weapons in an amnesty deal offered by the government in return for the promise of education and jobs.

A three-month respite from the violence has brought back some oil and gas production, but sceptics fear the former fighters could resume violence if they do not quickly find work.

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

Get US Out of Here Now or the Pirates Will Kill US!

British yacht couple captured by Somali gunmen make desperate plea

With an assault rifle pointed at her head, this was the dramatic moment the British woman kidnapped by Somali pirates pleaded for her life last night.

Surrounded by their captors, Rachel Chandler warned that she and her husband Paul could be killed within days.

She said the kidnappers were ‘losing patience’ and urged the British Government to open talks on a ransom.


The video was released as questions mounted over why a Royal Navy vessel armed with cannon and machine guns just 50ft away as the couple were kidnapped did not immediately intervene to save them and why the Ministry of Defence seemingly covered up the episode.

The kidnappers had previously demanded a £4million ransom for the couple and said they would ‘burn their bones’ if there was any attempt to free them.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


British People Think Immigration is Out of Control

A STAGGERING number of Brits reckon immigration has spiralled out of control.

Yesterday we revealed that experts predict Britain’s population will spiral to 74million by 2029.

And a massive 99% of Daily Star readers voted yes in our poll asking if the UK’s immigration issue was now out of control.

           — Hat tip: Steen[Return to headlines]

Irish Government to Pay Immigrants to Go Home

Ireland is offering money to immigrants to leave the recession-crippled Republic. The Irish Department of Justice has confirmed that it is opening an EU-funded project to persuade foreign workers and asylum seekers to return to their country of origin.

A spokeswoman told the Observer this weekend that the scheme will only apply to non-EU nationals living in the Republic and would involve the department spending almost €600,000 this year to pay for immigrants and their families to return to nations outside the European Union.

“The grants will not be given to individuals but rather the scheme will operate through projects and organisations,” she added.

“They [immigrants] can apply for the fund only through organisations and community groups. It is the first time we have introduced the scheme.”

The department has made it clear it had no projected figure in mind as to the number of immigrants the government hopes will take up the repatriation grants.

Advertisements promoting the scheme were published in Irish national newspapers on Friday. Application forms will also be available for non-EU nationals in the main immigration centre on Burgh Quay, Dublin.

The voluntary repatriation programme comes at a time of rising fears about the cost of immigration into Ireland.

Last week the mayor of Limerick caused a political storm when he called for the deportation of EU nationals who were out of work for more than three months and were claiming social welfare benefits.

Kevin Kiely said: “We are borrowing €400 million per week to maintain our own residents and we can’t afford it.

“During the good times it was grand, but we can’t afford the current situation unless the EU is willing to step in and pay for non-nationals.”

However the mayor was forced to withdraw his remarks after a storm of protests. His own party, Fine Gael, distanced itself from his comments.

In a subsequent statement, Kiely said: “I still am of the opinion and so are others, who have approached me in recent days, that there is abuse of the Irish social welfare system.

“But in seeking to highlight this I inadvertently caused offence to others, which I very much regret.”

During the latter years of the Celtic Tiger boom Ireland underwent a demographic revolution in terms of its ethnic make-up. Up until the early 1990s Ireland was 95% white and Catholic.

However, according to the Republic’s central statistics office, about 18% of Ireland’s inhabitants are now non-nationals.

Most of them are from eastern Europe, China, Brazil and west Africa or are British citizens who have settled on the island.

Some academics, such as Dr Bryan Fanning of University College Dublin, estimate that the real figure is more than 20%, meaning Ireland’s “foreign” citizens make up over one fifth of the Republic’s entire population.

The majority of the immigrants who arrived during the boom years were enticed to Ireland to fill vacancies in the construction, retail and tourist sectors — the main parts of the Irish economy to be severely hit by the current recession.

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

Not at Home in Germany

Almost Half of Turkish Migrants Want to Leave

This week, results of the first study comparing opinions of Germans, Turks and Turks living in Germany were announced. There were some grounds to celebrate integration but there were also problems. Many immigrants say they feel out of place in both countries, almost half want to return home and Turkish youth are becoming more conservative than their elders.

There are almost three million Turkish people living in Germany and, according to a new study released this week, almost half of them intend to return to Turkey at some stage. And interestingly, more younger Turks want to return to Turkey than their elders.

This is despite the fact that almost two thirds of respondents to the study (61 percent altogether)— one of the first polls to compare the world views of around a thousand individuals from Turkey, Germany and the Turkish population living in Germany — had been born in Germany or had been living in the country for over 30 years. Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany and make up almost 4 percent of the country’s population. Yet only 21 percent of those polled feel happy to call Germany home.

In fact, over half of the Turks living in Germany (62 percent) said that when they are in the country they felt like Turks. But when they were in Turkey they felt like Germans. A significant percentage of the migrants (45 percent) felt that they were not wanted in Germany and only 54 percent believed that Turks and Germans had the same educational opportunities.

Liberal Attitudes Indicate Some Integration in Action

The study, which was conducted by Info Research, a company based in Berlin and Liljeberg Research International which is based in Antalya, Turkey, was released on Thursday and questioned interviewees on subjects like politics, morals, relationships and religion. Despite not feeling completely at home in Germany, the answers from the Turkish-German indicated that there was some integration in action. While German respondents were generally more liberal — in everything from their approval ratings on gay marriage to virgin brides to abortion rights — and the Turkish respondents were generally less liberal, the Turkish-Germans were somewhere between the two.

For example, most Germans trust their police, their schools and tertiary institutions and German justice. They trust political parties and big business least. And apart from having less trust in the German police and military than their German friends, most Turkish-Germans feel about the same.

The most dramatic differences come in questions related to family life. Only around 10 percent, or less, of Germans believe that a man and woman should not live together before marriage (8 percent), that a woman should not have sex before marriage (7 percent), that a virgin bride is important (6 percent), that bringing up children is women’s work (9 percent) and that one’s parents should have a say in whom a person marries (5 percent).

On the other hand, the Turkish-Germans and the Turkish are far closer on these matters. Almost half of Turkish-Germans (47 percent) believe that a man and woman should not live together before marriage and over half (67 percent) of Turkish think they shouldn’t. Almost half of Turkish-Germans believe a bride should be a virgin (48 percent) and over two thirds of Turks in Turkey (72 percent) agree.

The figures are similar for women being responsbile for children’s upbringing (Turkish-German: 32 percent, Turkish: 52 percent) and whether your parents can tell you whom you should be marrying (Turkish-German: 48 percent, Turkish: 68 percent). Abortions and homosexual relationships are still taboo in both of the Turkish populations and in general, the two Turkish populations were also far more religious.

Younger Turkish-Germans Becoming More Conservative

Having said that though, the Turkish-Germans came closer to their German counterparts again when it came to tolerance. For example, while only a third of Turks were happy with an unmarried couple as neighbors, over half of Turkish-Germans (57 percent) felt fine about it, as did over two thirds of Germans (76 percent).

In announcing the results of the study, Die Welt newspaper reported that research leader Holger Liljeberg noted that those traditional values seemed to be a lot stronger among younger Turkish-Germans surveyed. Those aged between 15 and 29 held more conservative opinions on everything from virginity to abortion to believing in heaven. Liljeberg felt this might be a reaction that the young Turkish people had to the pressure of trying to fit into German society. “The younger ones think: If they don’t want me here, then I would rather have a Turkish identity,” Liljeberg said on Thursday. Whereas the older immigrants were more relaxed about it, he added.

‘We Are Not a Society that Prescribes Individuals’ Views’

For Liljeberg, the answer lies in education. “The problem is that many don’t know the language perfectly,” he said at a press conference Thursday, suggesting a Turkish-language school that includes German courses in order to prepare students for the future. “One cannot get a handle on a culture and education with only 30 percent of the vocabulary.”

However, Barbara John, Berlin’s state official in charge of immigration issues who was also at the release of the study, said that the problem lay beyond language and that it was also a cultural issue. John said she didn’t see any problem in the differences in values and compared the Turkish values to earlier German social values from the 1960s, which had since changed. “Each individual decides their own moral code,” she said. “This is a small thing for those living together in a constitutional state. We are not a society that prescribes individuals’ views.”

It was also noted that the number of younger Turks living in Germany who were sampled was small. Of the 331 Turkish-German respondents, only 86 people were aged between 15 and 20. Additionally the survey’s authors cited a margin of error of 3.7 to 5.4 percentage points.

sed, with reporting by Lisa Hemmerich

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

UK: Angry ‘Unknown Warriors’ Of WWII: ‘This Isn’t the Britain We Fought For’

Curious about his grandmother’s generation and what they did in the war, he decided three years ago to send letters to local newspapers across the country asking for those who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences.

He rounded off his request with this question: ‘Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?’

What is extraordinary about the 150 replies he received, which he has now published as a book, is their vehement insistence that those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war would now be turning in their graves.

There is the occasional bright spot — one veteran describes Britain as ‘still the best country in the world’ — but the overall tone is one of profound disillusionment.

‘I sing no song for the once-proud country that spawned me,’ wrote a sailor who fought the Japanese in the Far East, ‘and I wonder why I ever tried.’

‘My patriotism has gone out of the window,’ said another ex-serviceman.

In the Mail this week, Gordon Brown wrote about ‘our debt of dignity to the war generation’.

But the truth that emerges from these letters is that the survivors of that war generation have nothing but contempt for his government.

They feel, in a word that leaps out time and time again, ‘betrayed’.

New Labour, said one ex-commando who took part in the disastrous Dieppe raid in which 4,000 men were lost, was ‘more of a shambles than some of the actions I was in during the war, and that’s saying something!’

He added: ‘Those comrades of mine who never made it back would be appalled if they could see the world as it is today.

‘They would wonder what happened to the Brave New World they fought so damned hard for.’

Nor can David Cameron take any comfort from the elderly.

His ‘hug a hoodie’ advice was scorned by a generation of brave men and women now too scared, they say, to leave their homes at night.

Immigration tops the list of complaints.

‘People come here, get everything they ask, for free, laughing at our expense,’ was a typical observation.

‘We old people struggle on pensions, not knowing how to make ends meet. If I had my time again, would we fight as before? Need you ask?’

Many writers are bewildered and overwhelmed by a multicultural Britain that, they say bitterly, they were never consulted about nor feel comfortable with.

‘Our country has been given away to foreigners while we, the generation who fought for freedom, are having to sell our homes for care and are being refused medical services because incomers come first.’

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Coca-Cola Leads Cheering Section for 1-World Climate Change Taxes

100 companies push ‘16 days left to seal deal’ on $10 trillion treaty

Coca-Cola is spearheading a coalition of more than 100 companies pushing a United Nations climate treaty to bind the U.S. to cap-and-trade emissions regulation, commit the world’s wealthiest nations to a potential $10 trillion in foreign aid and, possibly, form a proposed international “super-grid” for regulating and distributing electric power worldwide.

Together with the SAP and Siemens corporations, Coca-Cola launched a website called Hopenhagen, leading up to the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, which opens on Dec. 7. The website invites the citizens of the world to sign a petition demanding world leaders draft binding agreements on climate change and advertises, as of today, “16 days left to seal the deal.”

Other “friends” of Hopenhagen include media outlets Newsweek, Discovery Channel, Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, The Wall Street Journal and Clear Channel, among others, Internet giants Yahoo, Google and AOL and dozens of other companies and organizations.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]

GE Capital Completes First Sukuk Offering of $500m

GE Capital, the finance arm of General Electric, has completed its inaugural sukuk offering of $500 million, tailored for investors across the Middle East, Asia and Europe.

The five-year sukuk had strong demand and makes GE Capital the first US corporate issuer of an Islamic bond. Proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes.

           — Hat tip: Esther[Return to headlines]

Gene Change in Cannibals Reveals Evolution in Action

It’s a snapshot of human evolution in progress. A genetic mutation protecting against kuru — a brain disease passed on by eating human brains — only emerged and spread in the last 200 years.

When members of the Fore people in Papua New Guinea died, others would eat the dead person’s brain during funeral rituals as a mark of respect. Kuru passed on in this way killed at least 2500 Fore in the 20th century until the cause was identified in the late 1950s and the practice halted.

Identification of kuru and how it was spread helped researchers identify how BSE — mad cow disease — spread through the feeding of infected cattle brains to other animals, and how this eventually led to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), which has killed 166 people so far in the UK.

Simon Mead of the British prion research centre at University College London says the discovery of an “anti-kuru” gene is the most clear-cut evidence yet of human evolution in action.

“I hope it will become a textbook example of how evolution happens,” he says. “It’s a striking and timely example, given the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species,” he says.

Good mutations

Mead and his colleagues discovered the mutation after comparing stored DNA from 152 dead Fore victims of the disease with DNA from more than 3000 living Fore, including almost 560 who participated in the ritual eating of brains before it was banned.

In 51 survivors and their descendants, they discovered a hitherto-unknown variant of PRNP, the gene which makes prions, the proteins that spread the disease. These prions become malformed and in turn make all healthy prions they encounter malformed as well, in a chain reaction that ultimately destroys brains by turning them into a spongy mush.

The change in the gene comes at a position called codon 127. Throughout the animal kingdom, the codon contains the same amino acid, called glycine or “G”, from each parent, giving the form G127G. To their astonishment, Mead and his colleagues found a variant of the codon never seen in nature before, in which one of the glycines has been swapped for a valine amino acid, giving the new variant the name G127V.

Initially, Mead and his colleagues thought that because the variant had never been seen before, it must have damaging rather than beneficial effects. “We thought we’d found the trigger for how kuru happens, that someone ate the brain of someone with the mutation and that’s how the disease started spreading through the cannibalistic funeral feasts,” he said.

“Instead, we found the complete opposite, which is that it was protective.”

Inherited health

The mutation first arose about 200 years ago by accident in a single individual, who then passed it down to his or her descendants. “When the kuru epidemic peaked about 100 years back, there were maybe a couple of families who found that they and their children survived while all their neighbours were dying, and so on to today’s generation, who still carry the gene,” says Mead. “So it was a very sudden genetic change under intense selection pressure from the disease,” he says.

None of the 152 victims of kuru had the protective gene, suggesting that it provides almost complete resistance to the disease. But it’s not yet known whether the variant protects against other prion diseases. Mead said that experiments are already under way in mice deliberately given the new mutation, to see if they are protected against both kuru and vCJD.

Mead says that the team has evidence that the prion protein made by the new variant might prevent the abnormal version of the prion from multiplying, giving clues to how to treat or prevent vCJD with drugs.

In 2003, Mead and his colleagues discovered a much more common variant of the prion gene that provides protection against prion diseases. The variant’s position in the gene, at codon 129, is just two units away from the new one.

The protective variant at codon 129 is called “MV”, standing for the amino acids methionine and valine. All deaths except one from vCJD have so far been in people with the “MM” variant, suggesting that they are specially at risk.

Jose Ordovas, who studies genetics and nutrition at Tufts University, Boston, said the finding “really supports the concept of very rapid adaptation of humans to the environment”.

           — Hat tip: Fjordman[Return to headlines]

Islam is Not Compatible With a Republic

When I first started writing for WorldNetDaily, almost three years ago, I wrote “Is Islam compatible with a republic?” My thesis then was to use the Constitution, reason, history and philosophy out of the Judeo-Christian traditions of intellectual thought, including Natural Law, to state authoritatively why Islam is not compatible with a republic. Why? Because Islam contains none of the essential components of what philosopher Booker T. Washington called the “fundamentals of civilization.”

What are some of the fundamentals of civilization?

  • Belief in God (the moon god, Allah, is a very different entity);
  • veneration of the intrinsic value of all life;
  • the rule of law;
  • A written constitution based on truth, equity, liberty and morality;
  • laws that don’t discriminate based on race, creed, wealth, gender or national origin;
  • Freedom of religion.

These are just a few of the fundamentals of civilization Islam under Shariah law has no conception of and utter contempt for.

Islam is not compatible with a republic.

           — Hat tip: JD[Return to headlines]


Zenster said...

Illinois Congressman Defends ‘Savage Religion’ Comment

The Council on American-Islamic Relations says Manzullo’s comments were an attack on Islam.

And their point is? Islam is and has been waging an attack upon the entire non-Muslim world since its inception. How is it that there should be no backlash against such an unrelenting assault?

While not a true religion, Islam most definitely is savage. As if castigating the truth often enough can somehow make it untrue.

This is the entirety of Islam's reponse to any and all legitimate criticism that is leveled against it. Attack the critic but never ever bother or attempt to refute the criticism itself.

Methinks the Muslims doth protest too much.