Why a Brics-built bank to rival the IMF is doomed to fail

Brazil, China and India have little in common apart from opposition to Western control of global financial institutions.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma hold copies of the BRICS report after its release at the summit in New Delhi yesterday - Why a Brics-built bank to rival the IMF is doomed to fail

Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Chinese President Hu Jintao and South African President Jacob Zuma hold copies of the BRICS report at the summit in New Delhi yesterday Photo: Reuters

8:06PM BST 29 Mar 2012


Traditionally, the job of head of the World Bank always goes to an American, while that of the International Monetary Fund is invariably filled by a European, usually a French national. For much of the post-war period, this was a reasonable trade-off, reflecting the prevailing balance of geopolitical and economic power in the Western world.

Asia and the Soviet Union didn’t count, as these were largely closed economies of limited or marginal significance for world trade. It was only right and proper that governance of the global monetary system should be directed by its two dominant economic blocs.

But then China, followed quickly by India and Russia, adopted free-market reforms and joined the global economy. The world changed. Admittedly, both the IMF and the World Bank have changed a bit with it, but they have yet fully to reflect the shift that has occurred. Both the US and Europe are reluctant to relinquish their grip on these institutions.

The ignominious fall of Dominique Strauss-Kahn provided an opportunity to break with the past, but instead the IMF opted for the easy choice of another French national. Saving the euro, it was thought, was more important than pandering to the new kids on the block. Only a Eurocrat would do. Who knows what view someone from the developing world might have taken of this monetary “folie de grandeur”?

More recently, Barack Obama has insisted he’s not about to relinquish his “right” to appoint the next president of the World Bank either. As a sop to the developing world, he has at least gone for someone with an Asian-sounding name, Dr Jim Yong Kim. But let’s not be flippant. Kim may be a first-generation Korean immigrant, yet in most other respects he’s an all-American boy. Ultimately, he’ll dance to his master’s tune.

As a result of all this, and for the first time since joining the world economy, the Brics nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and their hangers-on – are in open rebellion. At a summit in Delhi yesterday, they determined in frustration to set up their own development bank, with an eventual view to creating an alternative to the IMF and lessening their dependence on the dollar as a reserve currency.

They want their own institutions and their own voice. But how serious is this challenge to Western monetary hegemony?

Outside endemic corruption, uncertain or wholly absent rule of law, and relatively low per capita income and life expectancy, there wouldn’t appear to be much that unites this disparate collection of nations. But there are at least two things that do – high growth and trade.

Ever more effectively, these countries trade with each other, and not with us. I don’t want to exaggerate. Some 70 per cent of Chinese exports still went to advanced economies in 2010. But that share has fallen from 85 per cent little more than 10 years ago, and with other developing economies, the phenomenon is more marked still. Brazil has seen its advanced economy share fall from around 60 per cent to little more than 40, India from 65 to 45 per cent, and Korea from 65 to 40 per cent. China, with its immense appetite for imported natural resources, has been particularly aggressive in developing these new trade links, with a series of infrastructure-for-commodities swap deals in Africa and Latin America.

Emerging markets seem fast to be developing their own, decoupled dynamic. The financial crisis has accelerated the divergence. In the past, a recession in the West would be felt twice as badly in the developing world, with its high dependence on exports of commodities and basic manufactured goods to the richer economies. But this time around, while the West has stagnated, output in the emerging economies has grown by more than a fifth and now accounts for more than 40 per cent of world GDP.

The reversal in fortunes could scarcely be more dramatic. The two worlds seem to be changing places, with the West characterised by high levels of debt, unaffordable welfare and entitlement systems, poor training, decaying infrastructure, and a general air of despondency and decline. Its steady loss of competitiveness has been matched by a growing swagger and confidence in the East. Unsaddled by the gilded expectations of most Western populations, the outlook for many emerging economies seems bright.

Yet none of this justifies the establishment of a separate monetary system. I’ve watched these meetings of Brics nations in action and I have to say they are not at all impressive. There is very little sense of common purpose and identity.

Indeed, they make the European Union look like a paragon of calm and harmony. By day, they talk grandly of multilateral action to tip the playing field in favour of poorer nations, while by night they scheme shamelessly against each other, often in conjunction with their supposed economic oppressors in the West. There is virtually nothing that unites them other than resentment and suspicion of Western monopoly, some of it justified, some of it not.

I wish them well with their new development bank, but when it comes to where the next dam is to be built, and who’s going to build it, that’s when the sparks will fly.

The US’s “exorbitant privilege” – dollar hegemony – is surely reaching the end of its natural life, yet the future cannot lie with two separate systems, one Western and one Eastern. A global economy requires global governance and global institutions. The solution lies in reform of the existing system, not the establishment of a rival one.


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9173668/Why-a-Brics-built-bank-to-rival-the-IMF-is-doomed-to-fail.html

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Parents of murdered British students criticise Barack Obama

The parents of two British students murdered in Florida have criticised President Barack Obama for his lack of compassion over their son’s deaths.


By Paul Thompson in Sarasota

3:00PM BST 29 Mar 2012


His failure to respond to three letters sent to the White House was because there was no “political value” and not worthy of a few minutes of his time.

They spoke out as teenager Shawn Tyson began a life sentence after being found guilty of the murder of James Cooper and James Kouzaris last April.

The 17 year old, who shot the men as they begged for their lives, will die in prison.

His conviction of first degree murder carries an mandatory life sentence without the chance of parole.

The powerfully built teen even looked bored as emotional DVD presentations about the dead men prepared by their grieving parents were shown in court.

Tyson, who has the word ‘Savage’ tattooed across his chest didn’t show a flicker of emotion, slumping in his seat as he was forced to watch a montage of photos showing the victims from early childhood to young men.

Two close friends of the dead men who had attended the eight day trial in Sarasota, Florida. had also delivered highly emotional impact statements to the court prior to the sentencing.

Paul Davies and Joe Hallett spoke of the “living hell” they and others who knew the men had suffered since the murders.

During the eight day trial they had been shown graphic crime scene and autopsy photos shown in court.

Later speaking after Tyson was jailed Davies and Hallett lashed out at Mr Obama saying the deaths of their friends was “not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”

Davies said:”We would like to publicly express our dissatisfaction at the lack of any public or private message of support or condolence from any American governing body or indeed, President Obama himself.

“Mr Kouzaris has written to President Obama on three separate occasions and is yet to even receive the courtesy of a reply.

“It would perhaps appear that Mr Obama sees no political value in facilitating such a request or that the lives of two British tourists are not worthy of ten minutes of his time.”

The rebuke follows Mr Obama’s personal intervention into the shooting in Florida of a young black teenager by a white neighbourhood watch captain.

The death of 17 year old Trayvon Martin has sparked nationwide protests with his supporters claiming he was victim of a racist attack.

Mr Obama entered the controversy last week by saying if he had a son he would have looked like Martin.

The alleged assailant in Martin’s death has not been charged with any crime having claimed he was attacked first and used Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law to shoot in self defence.

The criticism of the US President was made on behalf of the Cooper’s parents Stanley and Sandy, from Warwicks, and Peter and Hazel Kouzaris, from Northampton by Davies in a statement read outside the courtroom.

The parents of the two victims did not attend the trial but they had access to the proceedings from a live video feed.

The filmed interview of the Kouzaris’s was played to the court while a message from Sandy Cooper was read out by the prosecutor.

The victims close friends delivered an emotional impact statement with Hallett telling Tyson he hoped he would be haunted by his actions.

He told him: “Imagine them being killed. Now try to imagine that they died because someone creept up on them and shot them numerous times for no good reason. Welcome to our world. Every night you go to sleep, every morning you wake up, I want you to think of my friends who you murdered. Their images will be imprinted on your conscience up until your very last breath in life.”


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9173820/Parents-of-murdered-British-students-criticise-Barack-Obama.html

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.Iraqi Christians mourn after church siege kills 58

By BARBARA SURK and LARA JAKES, Associated Press Barbara Surk And Lara Jakes, Associated Press Mon Nov 1

BAGHDAD – After the gunmen killed the priest and nearly everyone in the first row, an eerie quiet descended over the pews. The only occasional sounds were sporadic gunfire, the muffled cries of the hostages and the shouts of Islamic militants — sometimes over their cell phones.

Suddenly the lights went out. Iraqi forces began entering the building, telling parishioners: “We will save you.”

Then a shattering blast shook the church as a suicide bomber set off his explosives.

By the time the siege of Our Lady of Salvation church was over Sunday night, 58 people were dead and 78 wounded — nearly everyone inside the building.

The attack, claimed by an al-Qaida-linked organization, was the deadliest recorded against Iraq’s Christians since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion unleashed a wave of violence against them.

The scope of the slaughter only became clear on Monday after a long night of confusion and conflicting reports. Iraqi officials had initially provided a much lower death toll.

Pope Benedict XVI denounced the militants’ assault as “ferocious,” the White House condemned it as “senseless” and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said it harkened back to the days of sectarian warfare between Muslim sects.

Christians who cowered for hours inside the stone building that used to be their peaceful sanctuary wondered why they were yet again the target of violence.

“They are criminals and more than criminals. What type of man kills people at prayer? What have we done to receive this?” said Aida Jameel, a 65-year-old Christian woman who was shot in her leg.

The violence began around 5:30 Sunday evening in what a senior Iraqi security official said appeared to be a suicide mission.

The official described the attack as it unfolded based on a preliminary internal investigation by Iraqi authorities that depended, in part, on statements from survivors. His chilling account was verified by other Iraqi security officials at the scene, the U.S. military in Baghdad, and interviews of survivors who spoke to The Associated Press.

Shortly before sunset, the gunmen drove a black Jeep Cherokee to the church. They blew it up, destroying their getaway car, and set off four small bombs in the neighborhood. In a brief shootout at the nearby Iraq stock exchange, the militants wounded two policemen.

Seven or eight militants then charged through the front doors of the church, interrupting the evening Mass service. They rushed down the aisle, brandishing their machine guns and spraying the room with bullets.

They ordered the priest to call the Vatican to demand the release of Muslim women who they claimed were being held captive by the Coptic church in Egypt. When the priest said he could not do that, the gunmen shot him and turned their guns on the congregation, killing most of those in the front pew.

One woman told investigators she survived only because her father wrapped himself around her body in a shield that ultimately killed him.

During the next three hours, Iraqi military officials tried to negotiate with the insurgents who refused to back off their demands. The gunmen also called reporters from the Egypt-based satellite TV al-Baghdadiya channel. The channel’s Baghdad office went off the air Monday in a dispute with Iraqi authorities about their role in the incident.

“I only heard people weeping, probably because they were hurt and in pain,” said Rauf Naamat, one of the worshippers. “Most people were too afraid to produce a sound. They feared militants would kill them, if they heard them.”

More than three hours into the attack, Iraqi security forces turned off the lights. Naamat said he could hear a voice telling parishioners: “We are Iraqi forces. Stand up and keep quiet. We will save you.”

He said he saw a militant approach the security forces as they made their way to the altar. The man then detonated his explosives best, unleashing a massive blast.

There were conflicting accounts of anywhere from one to seven gunmen blowing themselves up. According to two security officials, most of the deaths took place in the basement where a gunman killed about 30 hostages when Iraqi forces began to enter the church. One official said the gunman set off an explosives vest he was wearing, but the other said the gunman threw two grenades at his hostages.

Younadem Kana, a Christian member of the Iraqi parliament, condemned the rescue operation as “hasty” and “not professional.”

But U.S. and Iraqi officials said they had to act because they heard gunshots from inside the church and knew the militants were shooting hostages.

It was not possible to confirm or contradict this account from the accounts of survivors. One witness said there was sporadic gunfire during the siege.

Iraqi special forces stormed the church “to prevent the further loss of innocent lives,” said Lt. Col. Terry L. Conder, a spokesman for U.S. special forces. He said the Iraqi commando teams rescued 70 hostages.

Authorities worked through the night to remove the bodies. All that was left of the Jeep outside was a pile of mangled metal.

The 58 people who died included 12 policemen and five bystanders from the car bombing and other blasts outside the church. Forty-one Christians inside the church also died, including two priests.

Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said five suspects were arrested in connection with the attack — some of whom were not Iraqi.

A cryptically worded statement posted late Sunday on a militant website allegedly by the Islamic State of Iraq appeared to claim responsibility for the attack.

The group, which is linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, said it would “exterminate Iraqi Christians” if Muslim women in Egypt were not freed.

It specifically mentioned two women who extremists maintain have converted to Islam and are being held against their will in Egypt.

Even for a nation used to daily violence after years of war, Sunday’s church killings at the hands of Islamic militants shocked Iraqis and forced Christians around the world to take notice.

Grieving and afraid, Iraqi Christians said Monday they may now join what Catholic officials estimate is more than 1 million fellow worshippers who have been driven out of the country by Islamic militants since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

“It was a massacre in there,” said Raed Hadi, whose cousin was killed in the attack. “We Christians don’t have enough protection. … What shall I do now? Leave and ask for asylum?”

In an interview, Iraq’s top Catholic prelate, Chaldean Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, encouraged the country’s remaining 1.5 million Christians to stay.

“We have never seen anything like it, militants attacking God’s house with worshippers praying for peace,” Delly said.

The number of Arab Christians has plummeted across the Mideast in recent years as many seek to move to the West. The exodus has been particularly stark in Iraq, where Christians historically made up a large portion of the country’s middle class, including key jobs as doctors, engineers, intellectuals and civil servants.

The sorrow that swept Iraq on Monday was felt far beyond its Christian community. Many Muslims also denounced the killings as senseless.

“These people do not value human life and have no respect for any religion,” Baghdad’s governor, Salah Abdul-Razzaq, said after visiting the church. “They say they are Muslims, but they killed here in cold blood.”


Associated Press writers Rebecca Santana and Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad, Sameer N. Yacoub in Amman, Jordan and Qassim Abdul-Zahra in Boston contributed to this report.

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101101/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq

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“Тракия” – дълга, но прекрасна*

Последна промяна в 19:44 на 07 ное 2010, 4006 прочитания

Фотограф: Цветелина Ангелова




Строителство по график

Засега тази задача изглежда изпълнима за първите два участъка – Стара Загора – Нова Загора – Ямбол. Пътят вече е трасиран. Насипите са направени, а двата изпълнителя – гръцката “Актор” и българското обединение “Магистрали Трейс”, се надбягват с графика.

Първият върви предсрочно засега с два месеца и половина. Вторият е напред само с две седмици.

“Обнадежден съм. Това, което виждам, е, че двете компании са свършили огромна работа. Трасето е подготвено и изпълнителите ще могат да работят и през зимата”, каза министърът на регионалното развитие Росен Плевнелиев при проверката на място на 4 ноември. Той смята, че двата изпълнителя ще успеят да спазят обещанието, дадено на премиера за ударен пуск.

Министър Плевнелиев заедно с експерти от “Прозрачност без граници” и журналисти направи поредната инспекция на “Тракия”.

Началната спирка на строящото се трасе беше Стара Загора. От другия край на магистралата от Карнобат пък потегли зам.-министърът на регионалното развитие Георги Прегьов (премиерът Борисов този път пропусна инспекцията).

Двете групи се събраха по средата на трасето на магистралата – при село Загорово, община Нова Загора. “Дълга, но прекрасна”, така възкликна министър Плевнелиев след двучасово друсане по насипната магистрала.

Прегьов докладва, че и българското сдружение “Тракия ІV” с водещ партньор “Холдинг Пътища” се движи по график и няма изоставане, въпреки че в първите два участъка “има много повече насипи и изкопни работи”.

По различни технологии

Първото нещо, което се набива на очи и без да си специалист, е, че гърците и българите работят по различни технологии. Всеки изпълнител има правото сам да избере по каква технология да строи. “Актор” строят магистралата отвън навътре – първо правят насипите по най-външната част и после влизат по средата. Така обаче в средата на някои участъци имаше образувани огромни локви заради падналите дъждове.”Магистрали Трейс” са направили насипите изцяло. Дори вече се набиваха пилоните на моста над река Ореховска.

Има започнато строителство и на надлези по трасето на “Трейс”. В участъка на “Актор” все още не се забелязва да е започнало изграждането на по-сложни съоръжения. Двете фирми строят и по различен начин и отводнителните съоръжения. За водостоците гърците са избрали стоманобетонни тръби, като правят отгоре и изолация – изглеждаха много стабилно. “Трейс” са предпочели ламаринени тръби с дупки за водостоците.

За неспециалист “Трейс” изглеждат по-напред с трасето от “Актор”. Тук обаче трябва да се отчете фактът, че “Трейс” започнаха работа два месеца преди гърците.

Другото, което се набива на очи, е, че “Трейс” разчитат на собствена техника и ресурс, докато “Актор” са заложили на “Арнаудов”, “Надежда” и “Атлас”. Такива имена бяха изписани на строителната техника. Това са български подизпълнители, като “Арнаудов” е пловдивска строителна компания, а “Надежда” пернишка според регистрацията на машините.

Представителите на “Актор” обясниха, че Зевс и Атина са си останали в Гърция, шегувам се, разбира се. Гърците казаха, че тяхната техника е останала в участъка, по който не са минали журналистите.

По трасето на “Холдинг Пътища” също не минаха журналисти, защото то все още не е проходимо с коли и джипове. Причината е, че контролираното от Васил Божков дружество в момента отнема повърхностния хумусен пласт, отстранява земни маси и прави скален изкоп в обхвата на трасето, обясни Прегьов.

Водопроводи, електрически стълбове, оазиси от електропроводи точно по средата на трасето е другото нещо, което ще ви избоде очите. Те пречат на строителите да завършат на 100% работата по първите етапи. Преместването на съоръженията на техническата инфраструктура е отговорност на държавата и въпреки че отдавна трябваше да се е случило – средата на юли по график, те все още си стоят там. Министър Плевнелиев обеща този път да бъдат преместени до края на ноември 2010 г. Той каза, че е силно впечатлен, че “Трейс” вече са направили заготовките за местенето на електропроводите.

Плевнелиев си спомни как 3.5 години след почването на магистрала “Люлин” точно един такъв електропровод стоял по средата на тунел три и нямало сила, която да го премести.

Дръжка на кана на 7400 години

Археологичските разкопки са другата несвършена работа от държавата, която пречи на строителите. На участъка на магистрала “Трейс” малко преди посещението на Плевнелиев беше открита “уникална дръжка от кана” по думите на археолога д-р Крум Бъчваров, ръководител на разкопките. Той обясни, че тя е на 7200 – 7400 г. от късния неолит и е единственият екземпляр, откриван в Източна Европа.

Ритуалният комплекс се състоеше от ями, керамични съдове, строшени кокали на животни, мазилки, обясниха археолозите. Стана ясно, че за да приключат по-бързо работа, дори изпълнителят им плаща освен държавата. И ако на участъка на “Трейс” археолозите работеха, то на отсечката на “Актор” не се виждаха.

“Сега им е паднало на учените да те рекетират.” Това казал зам.-министър от кабинета на Плевнелиев по повод неприключващите разкопки. Причината е, че “Тракия” трябва да бъде построена, а археолозите да си свършат работата. Все пак те обещаха да са готови до 15 ноември, но Плевнелиев да съдейства пред културния министър Вежди Рашидов по-бързо да издаде заповед за предаването на обекта.

Крави, констенурки, корморани и прилепи

Успоредно с трасето на “Тракия” се строят и зелени магистрали за влечуги, земноводни и птици. В това се увериха и журналистите. Министър Плевнелиев дори се спусна в един водосток, за да види магистралките, които се правеха за земноводните и костенурките, за да могат да преминават необезпокоявани под магистралата. Специални леговища пък се правят за зимуващите корморани в участъка от Ямбол до Карнобат, казаха от “Холдинг Пътища”.

Кравите засега също все още се движат по магистралата. Оказва се, че насипаната магистрала е най-удобният им път към дома.

Нов път за Стара Загора, но не и за село Загорово

На този магистрален път кравите ще се радват поне още година и после ще трябва да разчитат на обходни маршрути. Молбата на кмета на село Загорово, край Нова Загора, да бъде изместен надлез от трасето, който да е по-удобен за живеещите в селото, не получи зелена светлина. За разлика от него областният управител на Стара Загора Йордан Николов получи картбланш от министър Плевнелиев да действа за още един подход към областния град. “Какво чакате, подготвяйте решението за внасяне в Министерския съвет”, подкани Плевнелиев Николов.

Оказва се, че за построяването на 6-клометрова отсечка трябвало да се отчуждят около 200 дка, от които само 21 дка били частна собственост, което нямало да струва скъпо. За финансирането на отсечката пък можело да се кандидатства за средства по оперативна програма “Регионално развитие”.

Акция “Хеликоптер” и за “Тракия”

Строящото се трасе на “Тракия” също е било подложено на щателна проверка с хеликоптер, но не от данъчните, а от премиера, разказаха работници. Това е станало при инспекцията на 12 октомври. При Нова Загора Борисов първо хванал сам волана на джипа и пришпорил конете, които издържали само 6 км. На 7-ия км вече го чакал хеликоптерът, с който прелетял над цялото трасе. За незаконни постройки и богаташки вили засега няма информация. Както и за още пречещи кокошкари и кравари, каквито имаше в началото.

*Министър Росен Плевнелиев възкликва, след като е минал с джип по строящото се трасе

Source: http://dnevnik.bg/pazari/companii/2010/11/07/989223_trakiia_-_dulga_no_prekrasna/

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Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan ‘for blasphemy’

A Christian woman has been sentenced to hang in Pakistan after being convicted of defaming the Prophet Mohammed.

Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan 'for blasphemy'

Asia Bibi has been sentenced to death ‘for blasphemy’ 
By Rob Crilly in Islamabad and Aoun Sahi in Lahore 5:36PM GMT 09 Nov 2010

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Her supporters say she will now appeal against the sentence handed down in a local court in the town of Sheikhupura, near Lahore, Pakistan.

Ashiq Masih, her husband, said he had not had the heart to break the news to two of their children.

“I haven’t told two of my younger daughters about the court’s decision,” he said. “They asked me many times about their mother but I can’t get the courage to tell them that the judge has sentenced their mother to capital punishment for a crime she never committed.” Mrs Bibi has been held in prison since June last year.

The court heard she had been working as a farmhand in fields with other women, when she was asked to fetch drinking water.

Some of the other women – all Muslims – refused to drink the water as it had been brought by a Christian and was therefore “unclean”, according to Mrs Bibi’s evidence, sparking a row.

The incident was forgotten until a few days later when Mrs Bibi said she was set upon by a mob.

The police were called and took her to a police station for her own safety.

Shahzad Kamran, of the Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan, said: “The police were under pressure from this Muslim mob, including clerics, asking for Asia to be killed because she had spoken ill of the Prophet Mohammed.

“So after the police saved her life they then registered a blasphemy case against her.” He added that she had been held in isolation for more than a year before being sentenced to death on Monday.

“The trial was clear,” he said. “She was innocent and did not say those words.” Earlier this year, Pakistan’s internet service providers were ordered to block Facebook to prevent access to supposedly blasphemous images.

Human rights groups believe the law is often used to discriminate against religious minorities, such as the country’s estimated three million Christians.

Although no one has ever been executed under Pakistan’s blasphemy laws – most are freed on appeal – as many as 10 people are thought to have been murdered while on trial.

Ali Hasan Dayan, of Human Rights Watch, said the blasphemy laws were out of step with rights guaranteed under Pakistan’s constitution and should be repealed.

“It’s an obscene law,” he said. “Essentially the blasphemy law is used as a tool of persecution and to settle other scores that are nothing to do with religion.

“It makes religious minorities particularly vulnerable because it’s often used against them.”

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/8120142/Christian-woman-sentenced-to-death-in-Pakistan-for-blasphemy.html

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The Scandal Behind the Sarrazin Scandal

Decades after such figures appeared elsewhere in Europe, Germany finally has produced its own high-profile star of the anti-immigrant right. But only for about a week. Thilo Sarrazin, a former Social Democratic politician, set off the fiercest storm of public outrage in recent memory with his new book, Germany Abolishes Itself, in which he lays bare the failures of German education, migration, and welfare policies. At No. 1 on the Amazon bestseller list for Germany even before it was released last week, the book also makes eccentric forays into the heritability of intelligence and claims that something in the culture of Islam keeps Muslims from getting educated. Even more upsetting in a country that prides itself on having drawn the right lessons from history, he made an offhand reference in an interview to research showing that “Jews have a shared gene,” for which he later apologized.

The retribution has been nothing short of a public lynching. Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced him before the book and interview appeared. She, President Christian Wulff, and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble put pressure on Sarrazin’s current employer, the Bundesbank, to fire him. The supposedly independent central bank readily agreed. His talk-show appearances have been set up as inquisitions, and the press has vilified him in unison, one commentary calling him a “Nazi in pinstripes.” The Social Democrats have set up a party tribunal to strip his membership. As of last week, only three public figures in Germany dared defend him (though not his gene theories), a Turkish-German rights activist, a Jewish-German commentator, and a retired professor of politics.

That Germany remains hostile to any mingling of genetic theories with social policy is all to the good. But the banishment of Sarrazin began long before his comments on heredity and genes, and says more about the nature of German political discourse than the boundary of decency Sarrazin crossed last week. He’s often provoked with blunt speech on hot-button issues that much of German officialdom painfully avoids, and so last week’s spectacle convinced many ordinary Germans that their leaders are yet again quashing debate on vital issues. Between 50 and 90 percent of Germans supported Sarrazin in polls last week—in almost complete contrast to the media reaction—saying that he should keep his job and be free to speak and that they agreed with his views on immigration. Judging by conversations, blog debates, and reader comments, they are not focusing on the gene remark but on Sarrazin’s dissident views on immigration and the role of the welfare state in perpetuating Germany’s underclass. Those include much that is interesting and legitimate—such as a call for mandatory German-language kindergarten, the tying of school budgets to educational success, the adoption of workfare programs, and a 10-year ban on welfare payments for new migrants.

A growing disconnect between government and the governed is familiar stuff around the world. But Germany’s political and media establishment seems more confined than most by political correctness, which leads to stale debates over what one is and isn’t allowed to say about an issue, instead of debating the issue itself.

That race and genetics are off limits is clear. But the taboos extend surprisingly far. Earlier this year, Free Democrat leader Guido Westerwelle scandalized the nation when he said that the expanding welfare state, with its free housing and indefinite payments, led to conditions of “late Roman decadence,” and suggested benefits be cut in order to encourage recipients to find work—a mildly conservative position in most countries but a political no-no in Germany. Media punishment was shrill and swift. His party’s support has since shriveled from 10 percent to 5 percent. Public figures who question why parts of eastern Germany remain backwaters quickly find themselves pilloried for “discriminating” against east Germans—as happened to Jörg Schönbohm, former governor of Brandenburg, when he dared suggest that six decades of dictatorship might have left an imprint on the region’s values.

On few issues have Germans been less candid with themselves than on immigration. The country has done just about everything wrong, importing a large and unskilled underclass while continuing to close its labor market to skilled migrants, even as other European countries like Britain and Sweden welcome educated foreigners. Turks and Arabs, in particular, are poorly integrated, three times as likely to drop out of school and four times as likely to be on welfare than the average German. Integration of Muslims is a problem across Europe, made worse in Germany by schools that cement social differences across generations. In no other developed country is the achievement gap between native children and native-born children of immigrants greater. Integration critics like Sarrazin connect many of these problems to welfare dependency, arguing that freely available child subsidies, housing, and other benefits encourage unemployment, high birthrates, and social isolation, but most German politicians don’t want to discuss that point. They are probably aware that Ronald Reagan triggered a similar debate in the U.S. over welfare dependency, which led to deep welfare reforms under Bill Clinton in 1996.

In Germany, any critique of the welfare state quickly gets tarred as “social Darwinism,” which fed into Nazi ideology. That has made rational debate of the welfare system almost impossible, says Thomas Petersen, political analyst at the Allensbach Institute. But no one—not even Sarrazin—is calling on immigrants to go home, as former chancellor Helmut Kohl did in the 1990s. Most Germans have come to accept the idea that their nation has become more multiethnic. And unlike in France or Austria, in Germany the far right is a tiny fringe, and there is little chance that German society would ever allow such a party to grow. That’s all the more reason for Germany’s establishment to stop thwarting public debates. Germany’s political culture seems less threatened by the extreme right than by its tendency to publicly destroy contrarian thinkers.

Source: http://www.newsweek.com/2010/09/06/the-scandal-behind-the-sarrazin-scandal.html

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Barack Obama has bowed before the UN over Arizona immigration law

By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: August 31st, 2010 

Obama has kowtowed to the UN (Photo: Reuters) Obama has kowtowed to the UN (Photo: Reuters) 

There can be few sights more humiliating for the American people than that of a US president kowtowing to a foreign leader or to supranational institutions. Continental Europeans are used to this sort of thing after decades of dominance by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels, and have grudgingly accepted over time the gradual and undemocratic erosion of their freedoms. But most Americans fiercely defend their national sovereignty, and find the idea of giving international organisations a say over their laws and lives completely unacceptable.

The Obama administration however has submitted a report to the UN Commissioner on Human Rights, South African judge Navanethem Pillay, which makes direct reference to a popular Arizona immigration law aimed at tackling illegal immigration, which is fiercely opposed by the White House, and is the subject of legal action by the Justice Department. The report references

A recent Arizona law, S.B. 1070, (which) has generated significant attention and debate at home and around the world. The issue is being addressed in a court action that argues that the federal government has the authority to set and enforce immigration law. That action is ongoing; parts of the law are currently enjoined.

The highly controversial reference to the Arizona law serves only one purpose – to gain UN and international support for the Obama administration’s position in the face of mounting opposition from Arizona legislators and a majority of the American people. A recent Rasmussen poll showed 61 percent of Americans backing Arizona-style laws for their own states, and just 28 percent supporting a Justice Department challenge .

By doing so, Obama officials undoubtedly hope to stir up international condemnation of the Arizona policy in advance of the UN General Assembly meetings in September, which they believe will increase pressure on Arizona to back down. It is a highly cynical move that speaks volumes about the Obama team’s willingness to undercut American sovereignty and popular will on the world stage.

This approach has rightly been strongly condemned by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who described the Arizona reference in the government report as “downright offensive”, and called on it to be removed. The State Department has just announced that it will stand by its decision to include Arizona in its UN submission, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly in favour of it.

It is important to note that the Obama administration’s report to the United Nations will go before the UN Human Rights Council, which includes in its current membership some of the world’s worst human rights abusers. The likes of China, Cuba, Libya, Russia, and Saudi Arabia, will have a right to pass judgment over the Arizona immigration law, a humiliation for a great superpower before some of the most brutal regimes on the face of the earth.

Over the course of the last 19 months, Barack Obama has bowed before Emperors and Kings, and apologised for his country on numerous occasions, from Cairo to Strasbourg. By deliberately placing the immigration policy of a US state before the Human Rights Council, he is now bowing before the United Nations, and undercutting the sovereignty of his own nation. This is not leadership but a surrender of US interests before a declining world body that is a hotbed of anti-Americanism, and a bully pulpit for many of the world’s most odious tyrants. It is also yet another example of an imperial-style presidency that is increasingly out of touch with the American people and public opinion.

 Source: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/nilegardiner/100051882/barack-obama-bows-before-the-un-over-arizona-immigration-law/


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