Sunday, December 31, 2006

The joys of a Europe with open borders

First up: a charming story from Sweden and one the conventional media seems to have conveniently ignored (I wonder why). Last week, an American woman who sought medical treatment at a clinic in the town of Karlshamn couldn’t get any. Why? Apparently, the doctor was a Palestinian immigrant who objected to American foreign policy in the Middle East. For more, go HERE
Yet, Istanbul Tory finds himself scarcely surprised by this kind of news anymore...
In the wake of last week’s dramatic arrest of four Rwandans accused of playing leading roles in the genocide, one wonders how it was possible for any Rwandan genocide suspects to have slipped into Britain and quietly build new lives.
Again, Istanbul Tory finds himself scarcely surprised by this kind of news anymore...
A large part of the migratory inflow into Britain now comes from the new East European members of the EU. If these people wish to work, they must register, and figures show that the number who have registered since eight new countries joined in May 2004 has hit the half-million mark.The Home Office, never let it be forgotten, predicted that this figure would be a maximum 26,000 over two years. Romania and Bulgaria are no longer on the horizon but on our very doorstep. As of January 1st, 30 million people from these countries will be free to enter Britain. In November 2006, the government admitted in the House of Commons that immigration is of little benefit to the British public. Their own figures show a minimal contribution to GDP per head. Immigration to the UK has trebled under the present government. And it's not just the UK. Spain, which experienced net emigration until the late 1980s, now has 3.7 million immigrants of its own - or 8.7% of the population. In Ireland, foreign-born residents now comprise just under 10% of the population.
So, in the course of 2007, expect to hear more of Palestinian doctors with grudges to bear, genocide suspects in your midst and Romanian child prostitutes working the streets of British cities ....The price we pay for open borders. And there are still those who fail to understand the appeal of the BNP.

Friday, December 29, 2006

From beyond the grave- Gerald Ford and the Iraq disaster

George W has now suffered a stunning rebuke from the grave over the Iraq debacle. In an interview with the Washington Post, granted on condition that it be published only after Gerald Ford's death, the late president said he strongly disagreed with Mr Bush's stated justification for the war - that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. He also suggested Mr Bush had departed from his overriding duty as president to act in America's national interest.
"I don't think I would have gone to war," Mr Ford told Bob Woodward in an interview in July 2004. "I would have maximised our effort through sanctions, through restrictions, whatever to find another answer."
Quite right too. Getting into Baghdad was the easy part. How do we get out? Neither W. or Blair has the slightest idea.

To democratize (if that is stil a goal), defend and hold Iraq together (if that is still feasible), U.S./coalition troops will be tied down there for decades. And militant Islam will never accept George Bush/Emily Blair dictating the destiny of the Islamic world. Gerald Ford was an honourable man; Bush and Blair are nothing of the sort.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gordo sucks.....

Many of the EU member states have lower GDP growth than the UK because they are plagued by a combination of remorselessly high tax and high public spending. You may remember New Labour's pledges from 2001 and 1997 not to raise either the basic or top rates of income tax. And yet, the tax burden on British workers is set to increase steadily over the next five decades as government spending outpaces economic growth.
According to projections published by the Treasury earlier in December, the overall tax bill as a proportion of national income will rise from 38.4 per cent this year to almost 40 per cent in ten years' time before hitting 41.6 per cent in 2056, if current policies are continued.
So much for the prudence of the “Iron Chancellor”....more broken promises.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

EU set to waste more money (believe it or not)

As of January 1 2007,Irish will formally become the 21st official European language to be given equal status within the EU. Gaelige can be used during debates and to translate all official documents from the EU. Gaining official status in Europe for the language will, interestingly enough, point to the near total failure to promote it at home.....According to census figures released by the Irish Central Statistics Office in 2004, out of the Republic's more than 4.3 million citizens there were approximately 1.6 million people claiming a self-reported competence in Irish. Of these, only 350,000 reported using Irish every day.
Translation costs for the EU's 20 official languages have already been spiraling out of control. In January 2005, officials said the amount was set to come close to two billion quid following the entry in 2004 of 10 new EU members.
For 2007, the cost of Irish translation in the Commission is estimated to be around €302m. Money well spent, I’m sure you would readily agree....And the insanity doesn't end there.For the EU's self-proclaimed "top 10 achievements in 2006" go here and expect to be wildly impressed.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

His Grace speaks out

Christians in the Middle East are being put at risk by the Government's "short-sighted" and "ignorant" policy in Iraq, the Archbishop of Canturbury has said.
Writing in The Times, Dr Rowan Williams said attacks on Christian believers in the region are increasing, and the Government should have a strategy for helping them.
The Turkish constitution guarantees religious freedom and Christians are allowed to practice their religion but many feel their religious rights are severely limited in the predominantly Muslim country.Remember Turkey's Christians while you are enjoying the Christmas holiday.

'hoping you have a very happy and peaceful Christmas wherever you happen to be.And very Best Wishes for 2007...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Consternation! Blair makes a fool of himself

As the NuLabour project collapses in disgrace, Tony (deluded as ever) is turning his attention to foreign affairs. An area where he has rarely excelled. As the Iraq debacle would seem to confirm.Indeed, Blair has named the Middle East as one of his priorities before leaving office.
And yet Blair inadvertently made diplomatic history yesterday by uniting Iran and Iraq on one point: criticism of his approach to the Middle East.
The Prime Minister was accused by Tareq al-Hashemi, Iraq's vice-president, of being "brainwashed" on changing his mind to withdraw troops from Iraq by George Bush, the US president.Mohammad Ali Hosseini, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, said Mr Blair's speech was "hostile" and an "obvious intervention" in the region's affairs. "The negative and discordant tendencies of Britain, along with the war-mongering and unilateral policies of Bush and Blair, have been the reason for tension and extremism and the cause of public hatred in the region," Mr Hosseini told the state news agency IRNA.

Both Tehran and Baghdad accused him of fuelling tensions in the Middle East. Will Emily take heed? Yesterday Blair also said in an interview he wanted a job with "real purpose" after he leaves Downing Street. Does he have any prior experience ?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

No to the "Alliance of Civilizations"

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in New York on Monday for an Alliance of Civilizations meeting at the United Nations headquarters.
The “Alliance of Civilizations" initiative is (in theory)designed to "advance mutual respect for religious beliefs and traditions and to reaffirm humankind's interdependence in all areas." 18 countries have pledged their support to the Project so far including (cough) Pakistan, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Senegal, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as well as the usual Euro dhimmis. Blair is, of course, a great supporter.
A front-page report by the mainstream Turkish daily Hurriyet, on July 19th 2005 elaborated on this Alliance of Civilisations stuff :
"[…] If a global consensus is reached for the 'Alliance of Civilizations' project, work will begin for the establishment of a 'World Parliament' under U.N. leadership.
" A high-level group of 18 to 20 prominent intellectuals will prepare for the U.N. a 'road map' for action. Annan is expected to disclose the names of the members he has appointed to this Commission […].
A World Parliament???
Former prime minister of Spain Jose Maria Aznar has rightly defined the 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative undertaken by his successor Zapatero and PM Erdogan as 'nonsense.' In a statement to The Spectator last year Aznar said, "The 'Alliance of Civilizations' initiative is nonsensical. The only alliance of importance to us [i.e. Spain] is the Atlantic Alliance' […]"Full marks to Aznar. An “Alliance to rescue Western Civilisation from the current buffoons who rule over us” would perhaps seem more appropriate.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tony in Turkey- And why you should be worried

I, and indeed the majority of the British people, have long suspected that Tony Blair is a psychiatric case. And if proof were needed, Emily’s current visit to Turkey would tend to suggest the worst. After this and this, Tony has now determined to sow peace and democracy in the Middle East. And lobby hard for Turkey’s accession to the EU.

Downing Street said that the clashes between rival Palestinian groups yesterday demonstrated the importance of encouraging a moderate, secular Turkey to join the EU so that it could continue to act as a force for reform in the area.Hmmmm, let's look at reality for a moment.

First, Turkey has changed for the worse in recent years. For instance, Israel and Turkey were very, very close during the Cold War, partly due to their alliances with the United States. The relationship deepened after 1996, when the two states signed pacts to cooperate on military training and arms production. In the five years between 1996-2001, Israel and Turkey forged a deep, yet unofficial, military alliance. Turkey and Israel even managed to conclude a far-ranging, free trade deal in 2000.
But then came the rise to power of the AK Party led by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in 2002. The Justice and Development (AK) party, has its roots firmly in Islamist politics. Erdogan has sought to reorient Turkish society to Islam, persistently opening wounds regarding the issue of mosque and state. Michael Rubin has written most convincingly about the AK government. I suggest Tony ought to acquaint himself with the reality of Turkish politics before he stupidly intervenes in matters of which he clearly understands little.
Surprise, surprise, Turkey now shows a new readiness to embrace its Middle Eastern partners. For example, this rather shocking event.
Damascus has in fact been overwhelmed by the warmth that suddenly radiated from Ankara in the past few years. Why should Turkey’s EU bid (which now appears to be at death’s door) encourage democratisation in countries such as Egypt, Paletsine or Yemen? Where’s the link? Turkey is a non-Arab country and is (more or less) a secular, democratic state. What kind of pressure can it bring to bear on the Arab states? Why is the country’s shift away from Israel and increasing realignment towards Syria and the other Arab states viewed as progress by Blair? Especially when Turkey is supposed to be so determined to enter the EU??? What is Blair thinking of?Especially when the reform process in Turkey has ground to a halt over the past year. And of the 25 EU member states why is the UK government still pushing so very hard for Turkish EU entry, when the majority of Europeans clearly take a very different view? I sense, and public opinion polls offer the same view, that there is no enthusiasim for Turkish EU entry in the United Kingdom. Why is Tony so obsessed with the question of Turkey and the EU? Frankly, I am none the wiser.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Tony still on the loose...for now.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said that Scotland Yard detectives arrived at No 10 shortly after 11am today to interview the PM. They are thought to have left about two hours later. But without taking Emily into custody...this time.

Angus MacNeil, the Scottish Nationalist Party MP who triggered the police investigation, said: "This revelation will be shaking the very foundations of Westminster. For the Prime Minister to be questioned by the police during a criminal investigation is unprecedented." Unprecedented and wonderful at the same time...

Hat tip to Martine Martin for the excellent photo montage.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Save the German newts

The German government wants to dilute EU wildlife conservation laws to allow businesses to expand more easily.
I suspect fervent eco-warrior David Cameron wouldn’t go along with Merkel but couldn’t the German Chancellor just possibly be a wee bit right. Source

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Turkey gets stuffed

The EU foreign ministers have unanimously decided to freeze Turkey's EU accession negotiations in eight chapters in agreement with the European Commission’s recommendation. The future now looks increasingly bleak for Turkey’s EU bid.

Addressing members of his ruling party on Tuesday in Ankara, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the way the European Union is treating EU hopeful Turkey was “unfair.”
Turkish Justice Minister and government spokesman Cemil Cicek told reporters in Ankara that the European Union’s aim was the continuation of Turkey’s modernization project and that patience was required throughout the process.EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn, who seemed pleased with the council’s decision, expressed that Turkey’s EU membership will show that Islam, the second biggest religion in Europe, is in harmony with European values such as democracy and human rights. An approach not likely to "win hearts and minds" in rural Austria or the Greek islands.

Turks increasingly view the EU with a large dose of suspicion and contempt (like many Europeans do). They are, however, much impressed by Emily Blair’s firm defence of Turkish interests in the EU accession process...while loathing him passionately for his disastrous adventure in Iraq with George W.

Interestingly, Nobel Prize winning author, Orhan Pamuk is mulling an entry into politics, or so the rumour mill goes. Good luck to him, politics in Turkey is a particularly brutal contact sport.

While perhaps more strangely, some Social Democrats and (former?) Islamists are apparently thinking about forming some kind of Centre-Left party with a "Muslim identity".....
Perhaps Blair will sign up for it- The Third Way meets the Green Way. Whatever next?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Free at last!

My right honourable friend, the blogger for Croydon happily reminds us of the demise of the Soviet Union 15 years back. But there are other events to be recalled from the Cold War as well.
On a snowy Sunday morning, December 13, 1981 the Poles woke up to find their country under Martial Law, the declared aim of which was to "defend socialism". As we can all remember, the communist order felt terribly threatened (rightly) by the members of the first independent trade union behind the Iron Curtin - Solidarity (Solidarnosc).

Thousands of Solidarity leadership and activists were arrested and imprisoned without court sentence. Among those arrested was Lech Walesa, the legendary Solidarity leader.On December 13, 1981 Polish borders were sealed, airports were closed and road access to main cities was restricted. Travel between cities required permission. Curfew was imposed between 10 pm and 6 am. Telephone lines were disconnected. All trade union and other independent organizations were closed. Public administration, health services, power stations, coal mines, sea ports, train stations, and most of the country's key factories were placed under military management.

Martial Law was ended on July 22, 1983. Some of the restrictive legislation introduced during martial law remained in force until the end of the eighties. The failure of the ruling Communist Party became only too clear in 1989 when Solidarity won by a land-slide in the first free election since World War II.

Poland has experienced remarkable economic success over the last decade. It now has an enviable reputation as a stable political environment and is a combative player within the EU. The queues in front of shops, food rationing and empty shelves - a daily nightmare of Socialist times are now nothing but a distant memory.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Tory grass roots are revolting

The Tories have suffered a not insignificant defection to the UK Independence party.
Toby Horton, a Conservative party member for 40 years, who chaired William Hague's Richmond constituency while he was party leader, claimed that Ukip was the "party of real opposition" in Britain. "There is a real need in this country for a party of the centre right, and, if the Conservative party doesn't want to fill it, there is inevitably a vacuum that Ukip will fill." The defection of Horton - who was the Tory opponent to Tony Blair when he first became MP for Sedgefield in 1983 - is the third announced by Ukip this week.The tipping point for Toby Horton?
“The answer, in a nutshell, was Polly Toynbee. That was my tipping point."
Well, I agree with Horton about the Toynbee fiasco but not on Ukip where I tend to go along with David Cameron who famously remarked that "Ukip is sort of a bunch of ... fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists, mostly."
The fact is that Ukip takes its votes overwhelmingly from the Tories. The United Kingdom Independence Party took 622,000 votes at the last General Election. Although Ukip came nowhere near winning a seat, the Bruges Group said their support could have prevented the Tories from gaining 18 Labour- held seats and cutting Tony Blair's majority to a precarious 30.

What is to be done?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The French are repulsive

As Cranmer has observed, if one posts about Islam, one is inevitably deluged with comments. As for other subjects, the level of response can be a bit on the light side....But this is an important one, folks. So indulge me.
During a five-day trip to Britain, the Rwandan president Paul Kagame has been forced to publicly deny French allegations he orchestrated the assassination of his predecessor Juvenal Habyarimana in 1994, an event that triggered a genocide that claimed 800,000 victims.
President Kagame severed diplomatic relations with Paris last month after French judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere issued charges accusing nine Kagame acolytes of shooting down President Habyarimana's jet. Bruguiere filed a document at the Paris prosecutor's office, citing evidence that Kagame, a Tutsi, and members of his military staff devised the operation to destroy Habyarimana's plane

Rwanda accuses Paris of training soldiers it knew would later commit genocide. France denies any wrongdoing, saying its military intervention helped Rwandans. Survivors’ groups have accused France of inadvertently extending the genocide when its troops occupied parts of southern Rwanda in a bid to help provide safe havens for refugees. They say France’s military presence helped slow Kagame’s advance, allowing Hutu extremists to continue their killing.

France, one of the key supporters of the Hutu-led regime that governed the country in the years leading up to the genocide, has always denied any involvement in the massacres.A French parliamentary commission in 1998 cleared Paris of responsibility for the genocide while admitting that "strategic errors" had been made.

Algeria's president Abdelaziz Bouteflika has said that French colonization of his country Algeria was a form of genocide. In a speech in April 2006, the Algerian president Bouteflika said: "We no longer know whether we are Berbers (indigenous North Africans), Arabs, Europeans or French". France committed a "genocide of Algerian identity" during the colonial era, he said. Bouteflika also said "Colonisation brought the genocide of our identity, of our history, of our language, of our traditions”

Paris says that the past should be left to historians. As far as Algeria is concerned.

And yet France's lower house of parliament recently passed a bill making it a crime to deny the Armenian genocide, a step that has been strongly denounced by the Turkish government. The Turkish government argues that the past should be left to historians.

Should the past be left to historians or judges? And why is France – a second rate power with a multitude of its own problems- so intent on projecting itself in the Third World? And with such a selective memory. Given that the country has so much African and Arab blood on its hands....

Monday, December 04, 2006

Squeezing Tony till the pips squeak

The former chancellor and "the best Prime Minister we never had" (allegedly), Denis Healey has lashed out furiously at Tony Blair. And we are not talking about being savaged by a dead sheep. In an interview with the Observer yesterday, Healey said that the Blair premiership had shown that "the prime minister can do anything if he wants to ... unfortunately, it was nearly all wrong: the Iraq war, foundation hospitals, university top-up fees - and now cash for peerages." Mr Blair is "still hanging on and no one can be certain he will go. Yet the sooner he goes the better," Lord Healey said.
His Lordship is to be congratulated for his good judgement. One suspects that Healey now bitterly regrets his decision to back Tony Blair to be Leader of the Labour Party within hours of John Smith's death. It was Healey who famously remarked of Neil Kinnock that “ He has never been a Minister, lacks experience, and people know it. In troubled times, the electorate looks for a strong leader and Mrs Thatcher is seen as one”.
Alas, the “Welsh windbag”and Blair share much in common. Both are principle-free “modernising” self-righteous hucksters with an adoration of control-freakery, power and the perks that go with it. But as Kinnock himself once observed “You cannot fashion a wit out of two half-wits.” And that is what Lord Healey seems to have in mind vis-a-vis young Mr Tony. As well as Baron Kinnock who noticeably fails to improve with age.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Socialism or death! I choose Death

It appears likely that a victory by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela's presidential election could turn him, like Cuba’s ailing Fidel Castro, into a president-for-life. He has long since consolidated control over the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government. He has created a cult of personality about himself, creating the illusion to the masses that he is infallible. Similar to Castro, Ch├ívez is seen as a darling to the left, especially by lefties in the United Kingdom
CNN too.
Hang on- Didn't Chavez lead a failed coup in 1992? Shades of the much reviled General Pinochet, surely. The left seems to have forgotten about it.....
The reality of life in Venezuela ought to have given the left cause for concern.
Go HERE and HERE and HERE.

As Chavez's hatred of the United States and Israel has grown, he has become close allies with a number of the West's most dangerous adversaries. Chavez has visited Iran on several occasions, has hosted President Ahmadinejad in Venezuela, and has made extensive bilateral agreements with the current Iranian government. Chavez became an idol of Hezbollah supporters during the recent conflict because of his outspoken criticism of Israel and support for Hezbollah's "resistance." He used his recent tour through Europe not only to hobnob with dictatorial friends in Belarus, but also to stock up on Russian weaponry.
Latest surveys suggest that Chavez is likely to win, by fair means or foul, at least 60% of the vote…Not only bad news for Venezualan golfers I suspect....
And yet Venezuela is a country previously dominated by politicians from a strong and consolidated democratic party system. Worrying isn't it? The quest now is how to oust a non-democratic, authoritarian ruler-together with his Cuban idol, and its repressive apparatus. How is this to be done....?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why the Pope's visit changes little

The Pope returned to Rome yesterday, winning more praise for a parting shot that he had “left part of his heart in Istanbul”. Actually, the Pope’s visit has almost become a consolation to Turks, who are reeling from the European Commission’s decision to recommend the partial suspension of EU entry talks with Turkey over its failure to give ground on Cyprus. The EU Commission’s decision to slow negotiations over Turkey’s membership talks carries the risk of a serious break in Turkey’s relationship with the West. The media are predictably painting apocalyptic scenarios:

However, it’s worth noting that the main goal on Turkey’s membership to the European Union was still unchanged, Finnish Foreign MinisterErkki Tuomioja said on Friday: “Turkey is still a candidate for membership to the Union. The EU will always welcome Turkey if it fulfills the criteria and Turkish public wants the membership. The Ankara Protocol was a clear commitment, which Turkey did not implement. We are also aware that the EU has not completed some of its jobs in Cyprus.” Asked whether the commission’s recommendations were severe, and whether they had a plan that would be offered to the ministers to change the commission’s decision, he said that while they did not have such a plan at the moment, they did not completely approve the recommendations, and had started meeting with the EU members to achieve a commonly acceptable solution.
And yet, the EU is sending contradictory signals as well. Go HERE and HERE.

Pope Benedict XVI signed a joint declaration with Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I, easing inter-church tensions and requesting more collaboration between Catholic and Orthodox churches. The Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly has invited Bartholomew I as a “ecumenical” to address the general assembly on January 22-25 in Strasbourg. Ankara reacted negatively to the invitation of the Council that described Bartholomew I “His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I,” because the Turkish administration does not recognize the “ecumenical” attribution of the Patriarch. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Namik Tan said the Patriarchate was a Turkish institution and no other attributes are binding for Turkey at a weekly press conference on Thursday. The Pope may have prayed at the Blue Mosque facing Mecca but the position of Christians in Turkey is far from an easy one.

I doubt if the Pope’s visit to Turkey will change much in the long run...
I shall now return to more UK focused blogging.