Putin tries to make nicey-nice.

As much as I’d like Bush to tell ole Vlad to shove it where the sun don’t shine. Keeping Russia talking for now is the smart move. Well played, George. Your winner are few and far between lately, but I’ll give you this one.

ROSTOCK, Germany –

Vladimir Putin, bitterly opposed to a U.S. missile shield in Europe, presented

President Bush with a surprise counterproposal Thursday built around a Soviet-era radar system in Azerbaijan rather than new defenses in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bush said it was an interesting suggestion and promised to consider it.

Putin’s formula would force a major rethinking of U.S. plans for defending Europe against attack from hostile regimes such as Bottom Iran or North Korea. While outright acceptance of Putin’s idea appeared doubtful, the White House seemed eager to avoid further inflaming tensions by giving it short shrift.

The Russian president said he would abandon his threat to retarget missiles on Europe — if Bush accepted the Kremlin’s missile-defense proposal.

“This is a serious issue and we want to make sure that we all understand each other’s positions very clearly,” Bush said after an hour-long meeting with Putin. Speaking through a translator, Putin said he was “satisfied with the spirit of openness” from Bush.

U.K. ends use of phrase ‘war on terror’

More newspeak from Eurabia… 

U.K. ends use of phrase ‘war on terror’ – Europe – MSNBC.com

LONDON – The British government has stopped using the phrase “war on terror” to refer to the struggle against political and religious violence, according to a Cabinet minister’s prepared remarks for a Monday speech.

International Development Secretary Hilary Benn, a rising star of the governing Labour Party, says in a speech prepared for delivery in New York that the expression popularized by President Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks strengthens terrorists by making them feel part of a bigger struggle.

Extracts from Benn’s speech at New York University’s Center on International Cooperation were released by his office.

“We do not use the phrase ‘war on terror’ because we can’t win by military means alone, and because this isn’t us against one organized enemy with a clear identity and a coherent set of objectives,” Benn said.

“It is the vast majority of the people in the world — of all nationalities and faiths — against a small number of loose, shifting and disparate groups who have relatively little in common apart from their identification with others who share their distorted view of the world and their idea of being part of something bigger.”

Call for U.S. to use ‘soft power’
Prime Minister Tony Blair’s official spokesman said he was unsure when Blair had last used the phrase.

“We all use our own phraseology, and we talk about terrorism, we talk about the fight against terrorism, but we also talk about trying to find political solutions to political problems,” he said on condition of anonymity, in line with government policy.

According to the advance text, Benn urged Americans to use the “soft power” of values and ideas as well as military strength to defeat extremism.

Stalked by family honor, some Muslim women hide

I guess we’re supposed to be tolerant of this because it’s just a ‘religious’ and ‘cultural’ difference. 

Stalked by family honor, some Muslim women hide – Yahoo! News

BERLIN (Reuters) – Fidan, her hair dyed blonde, is in hiding from her husband, who she says beats and rapes her. She is terrified her family will kill her if she goes home to eastern Turkey.

Back in Anatolia, the 19-year old’s relatives believe she has brought shame on them by leaving her 50-year old Turkish husband, who is also in Germany.

She will not say exactly where he is.

“I won’t go back. I am afraid. Death awaits me there,” said Fidan, nervously biting her fingers and fiddling with her long hair. She has only basic German language skills and her lawyer interprets her broken sentences from Turkish.

Dressed in scruffy jeans and a red anorak, she looks like any other 19-year old Turkish girl living in Germany.

But Fidan is alone in Berlin, looking for a job and understanding little of what goes on around her. She says she has no friends and, with a cover name to prevent her husband finding her, she has even lost her identity.

Worst of all, she fears becoming an ‘honor-killing’ victim.

Condemned by many Islamic leaders, honor crimes are motivated by a desire to defend narrow traditionalist ideas of family reputation. They are a blight on Muslim communities in Europe — in Britain, Germany and Sweden — as well as in Islamic countries.

United Nations‘ bodies have said about 5,000 women die in honor killings globally every year. Many more commit suicide. But little is done to discourage the practice, which in Europe is hardly discussed.

“The family’s honor depends on the woman and if it is damaged, the woman is destroyed,” said Evrim Baba, who represents the far-left Linke party in Berlin’s city parliament. She is a Kurd who came to Germany when she was 11.

“Many girls in immigrant communities are trapped in rigid patriarchal structures and live in fear of their families.”

In Germany, which has the second largest Muslim population in western Europe after France, 55 attempted honor killings took place between 1996 and 2005, say police.

A case last year propelled the issue into the headlines.

A man of Turkish descent was jailed for shooting dead his sister at a Berlin bus stop after she left her husband to live alone. His brothers were acquitted of conspiracy to murder.


Cases like this eat at Fidan, who grew up in rural a village in Turkey’s region of Anatolia where cultural traditions still play a big role.

“I didn’t have a childhood. All I remember is beating and subjugation,” she said. “I have no happy memories.”

At 14, she was betrothed to a cousin. When she said she did not want to marry him, Fidan was beaten. Only after she took handfuls of pills, hoping to die, was the marriage called off.

Rumors started circulating the engagement was cancelled because she had lost her virginity, a charge Fidan denied but which would also damage her family’s honor.

Relatives threatened her, saying “bad girls” tended to drown or fall off a mountainside, but eventually they found a man in Germany who would marry her.

To prove she was a virgin, Fidan says, she was raped on her wedding night. The blood-stained sheets were ripped from the bed to be inspected by relatives waiting at the door.

Fidan, unwilling to talk about these painful memories, rubs her forehead and lowers her gaze as her lawyer tells the story.

After about four months of continual beatings and rape she fled, encouraged by her German teacher.

Her husband says if he finds her he will report Fidan to the authorities to be sent back to Turkey.

“The message from Turkey is: something had better happen to you en route, or you will die here,” said Fidan’s lawyer Canan Bayram.

All Fidan wants now is to build a life in Germany.

“God willing, I can be happy here. I want to find a job and a flat, but no husband, no children,” said Fidan with a smile.


But it isn’t easy.

Fidan, who wants to take her husband to court for beating and raping her, has to wait another year before she can act without risk of deportation.

In Germany, immigrant women have to be married for two years before they can divorce and stay in the country independently.

A ruling in Frankfurt last month highlighted the conflicting attitudes which enable honor crimes to continue, say Muslim women. A judge refused a quick divorce to a battered wife of Moroccan descent saying it was not unusual for a man with a Moroccan background to physically punish his wife.

“Women need greater legal protection,” said Bayram.

“The EU and Germany are helping women in forced prostitution and people-trafficking, but little is being done about protecting women from honor crimes.”

Many women say the failure of Germany, home to about 3.2 million Muslims, to face up to honor crimes is a result of the lack of an integration policy in the past followed by half-hearted attempts to engage with Muslim communities.

Most of Germany’s 2.5 million people of Turkish origin are “guest workers” and their descendants, whose labor helped fuel the post-war economic miracle.

“There was no integration policy for decades and parallel societies developed,” said lawmaker Baba. “Many immigrants reverted to traditional systems.”

As fears grew about the radicalization of disillusioned young Muslims, politicians decided a couple of years ago they had to improve integration and engaged with Islamic groups.

But issues like honor killings are barely mentioned.

“It is preposterous that by not discussing such murders, the government is damaging the future of thousands of girls,” said Arzu Toker, of the Central Council of Ex-Muslims

50% Good News Is the Bad News in Russian Radio

Gee!  Can anyone say “fairness doctrine’?  It’s nice when your government decides what is offensive, fair, extremist, etc..

First they take your guns.  Then they take your voice.  It’s all downhill from there. 

Remember, the term “Political Correctness” originated in the former Soviet Union. 

50% Good News Is the Bad News in Russian Radio – New York Times

MOSCOW, April 21 — At their first meeting with journalists since taking over Russia’s largest independent radio news network, the managers had startling news of their own: from now on, they said, at least 50 percent of the reports about Russia must be “positive.”

In addition, opposition leaders could not be mentioned on the air and the United States was to be portrayed as an enemy, journalists employed by the network, Russian News Service, say they were told by the new managers, who are allies of the Kremlin.

How would they know what constituted positive news?

“When we talk of death, violence or poverty, for example, this is not positive,” said one editor at the station who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution. “If the stock market is up, that is positive. The weather can also be positive.”

In a darkening media landscape, radio news had been a rare bright spot. Now, the implementation of the “50 percent positive” rule at the Russian News Service leaves an increasingly small number of news outlets that are not managed by the Kremlin, directly or through the state national gas company, Gazprom, a major owner of media assets.

The three national television networks are already state controlled, though small-circulation newspapers generally remain independent.

This month alone, a bank loyal to President Vladimir V. Putin tightened its control of an independent television station, Parliament passed a measure banning “extremism” in politics and prosecutors have gone after individuals who post critical comments on Web chat rooms.

Parliament is also considering extending state control to Internet sites that report news, reflecting the growing importance of Web news as the country becomes more affluent and growing numbers of middle-class Russians acquire computers.

On Tuesday, the police raided the Educated Media Foundation, a nongovernmental group sponsored by United States and European donors that helps foster an independent news media. The police carried away documents and computers that were used as servers for the Web sites of similar groups. That brought down a Web site run by the Glasnost Defense Foundation, a media rights group, which published bulletins on violations of press freedoms.

“Russia is dropping off the list of countries that respect press freedoms,” said Boris Timoshenko, a spokesman for the foundation. “We have propaganda, not information.”

With this new campaign, seemingly aimed at tying up the loose ends before a parliamentary election in the fall that is being carefully stage-managed by the Kremlin, censorship rules in Russia have reached their most restrictive since the breakup of the Soviet Union, media watchdog groups say.

“This is not the U.S.S.R., when every print or broadcasting outlet was preliminarily censored,” Masha Lipman, a researcher at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said in a telephone interview.

Instead, the tactic has been to impose state ownership on media companies and replace editors with those who are supporters of Mr. Putin — or offer a generally more upbeat report on developments in Russia these days.

The new censorship rules are often passed in vaguely worded measures and decrees that are ostensibly intended to protect the public.

Late last year, for example, the prosecutor general and the interior minister appeared before Parliament to ask deputies to draft legislation banning the distribution on the Web of “extremist” content — a catch phrase, critics say, for information about opponents of Mr. Putin.

Turnout unusually high as France votes

Good News from France.  A borders and culture conservative is actually fourth in the voting.   

Turnout unusually high as France votes – Yahoo! News

PARIS – French voters turned out in force Sunday to choose a new president in one of the country’s most suspense-filled elections in recent times, after a frenzied campaign by a dozen contenders left voters undecided but eager for a say.

Early turnout reached levels not seen since 1981, soaring in the first four hours of voting to one-third of France’s 44.5 million-strong electorate, the Interior Ministry said.

Only four candidates, including the conservative front-runner Nicolas Sarkozy and the Socialist Segolene Royal, had a real chance of being among the top two to reach a final round of voting May 6. Francois Bayrou, a lawmaker with farm roots, is a wild card.

The new president will succeed Jacques Chirac, who ends 12 years as head of state at the close of his second mandate, and must revive a large but listless economy and bring alienated young Muslims into French life.

At least one-third of the electorate has said it was undecided ahead of the vote, and their ballots could skew soundings from opinion polls.

“There will, indeed, be a big change after the elections,” said 80-year-old Colette Martin, voting in Versailles, west of Paris. “Another generation will come to power.”

All three leading contenders are in their fifties with backgrounds that set them apart from the old guard political elite. Each has promised a new approach to politics and each has vowed to change the status quo. Royal is the first woman to become a serious contender for the French presidency.

The nation was also watching Jean-Marie Le Pen, the extreme right leader who places fourth in polls and who unexpectedly reached the second round in 2002. The anti-immigrant candidate who blames newcomers for France’s problems has promised another “big surprise” this year.

Polygamous husbands entitled to welfare for all spouses in UK

OK. Now you know why there is a Europe Sucks category on this blog. First Britain is going to stop teaching the Crusades and the Holocaust because that might offend ‘Muslims’. Now they are going to support the wives of bigamists. Now, they’ll only support the wives of bigamists who originate from countries where bigamy is accepted, of course. Hmmm, which countries would those be? Muslim countries you morons!!!! Welcome to the inculcation of Sharia in Europe, my friends. The next generations of Brits will look at this as old hat.

Hot Air » Blog Archive » Polygamous husbands entitled to welfare for all spouses in UK

Even though bigamy is, of course, illegal. Like Steyn says, who’s assimilating whom?

Officials said yesterday a review was now under way into whether the state should continue to pay out income support, jobseeker’s allowance and housing and council tax benefits to ‘extra’ spouses…

[I]f a husband and his wives arrive and settle in Britain having wed in a country where polygamy is legal, then the UK benefits system recognises his extra wives as dependents and pays them accordingly…

A DWP official insisted the rules did not “reward” polygamy, as second wives receive less in benefits than single women. A single person can claim just under £60 per week in jobseeker’s allowance, while couples receive up to £92.80, but each ‘additional spouse’ in a polygamous marriage receives an extra £33.65.

Alas, if you’re native born, you’re not entitled to money for flouting British custom. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still flout it:

Muslim couples are only married in the eyes of the state if they undergo a register office wedding as well as a Nikah, or religious ceremony.

A spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain said it was quite common for men here to undergo more than one Nikah with different wives. This does not count as bigamy since only the first marriage is legally recognised.

I say, let ‘em get paid. After all, they’re the best darned citizens in the UK.

Hat tip to Hot Air.

Moscow Police Beat Anti-Putin Protesters

Moscow Police Beat Anti-Putin Protesters | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited

MOSCOW (AP) – Riot police beat and detained protesters as thousands defied an official ban and attempted to stage a rally Saturday against President Vladimir Putin’s government, which opponents accuse of rolling back freedoms Russians have enjoyed since the end of Soviet communism.

A similar march planned for Sunday in St. Petersburg has also been banned by authorities.

A coalition of opposition groups organized the “Dissenters March” to protest the economic and social policies of Putin as well as a series of Kremlin actions that critics say has stripped Russians of many political rights. Organizers said only about 2,000 demonstrators turned out.

Thousands of police officers massed to keep the demonstrators off landmark Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow, beating some and detaining many others, including Garry Kasparov, the former world chess champion who has emerged as the most prominent leader of the opposition alliance.

Police said 170 people had been detained but a Kasparov aide, Marina Litvinovich, said as many as 600 were – although about half were released quickly. Kasparov, whom witnesses said was seized as he tried to lead a small group of demonstrators through lines of police ringing the square, was freed late Saturday after he was fined $38 for participating in the rally.

“It is no longer a country … where the government tries to pretend it is playing by the letter and spirit of the law,” Kasparov said outside the court building, appearing unfazed by his detention.

“We now stand somewhere between Belarus and Zimbabwe,” he said.

Russia points it’s crooked finger at US/Israel, while Nancy shakes it’s hand.

The Russian pot stirring continues with respect to US involvement in the Middle East. It should be obvious at this point that Russian motivation revolves around garnering favor and peddling influence. And that is to be expected given the new US presence in the oil rich region. But let’s not take the Russian rhetoric too seriously. It’s quite easy to win friends by pointing fingers. A trick the Russians have picked up from the Democrats.

The concern should be that radical elements would seize on this fantasy as cause for a ‘pre-emptive’ strike of their own. Certainly, the Syrians have now been emboldened to take a harder line with Israel, thanks Ms. Speaker. So, all eyes should be watching that theater for a potential “Arch Duke Ferdinand” event. While it’s highly doubtful the U.S. will do more than sabre rattle of the Iranian coast, any small event involving Israel may be enough to cause either side to jump. Iranian President ‘ImANutJob’ is already unabashedly anti-Israel. Any statements he makes that could be construed as hinting Iranian involvement in action against Israel may be enough to tie the ‘Nuke’ to ‘Threat’ knot for the Bush administration.

Interfax > Politics

Russian general says U.S. continues preparations for military action against Iran

MOSCOW. April 8 (Interfax-AVN) – The release of the 15 British sailors and marines captured by Iran has robbed the U.S. of a pretext to attack Iran, but the U.S. has not given up plans to attack Iran militarily, said Col. Gen. Leonid Ivashov, president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems, a Russian think tank.

“Preparations to strike Iran’s strategic facilities continue. Three major groups of U.S. forces are still in the Arabian Sea and the Persian Gulf. Altogether, they have up to 450 cruise missiles on alert,” the general told Interfax-AVN.

“Military operations against Tehran will begin with the launch of at least two unexpected strikes using Tomahawk cruise missiles and air power in order to disable Iran’s air defense capabilities,” he said.

“According to our data, up to 150 aircraft are to be involved in each strike on Iran. Land-based air defense systems will be disabled in the first place, then mobile short-range systems, which Tehran has (including some 30 new systems),” he said.

Primary targets will include command centers, air defense installations, the navy, airfields, ports and docking facilities, the general said.

“Nuclear facilities may be secondary targets. According to expert assessments, at least 20 such facilities need to be destroyed in order to stop Iran’s nuclear program,” Ivashov said.

Ivashov did not rule out that nuclear weapons may be used against Iran.

“Combat nuclear weapons may be used for bombing. This will result in radioactive contamination of the Iranian territory, which could possibly spread to neighboring countries,” he said.

“If Iran strikes back at Israel with missiles, Tel-Aviv is likely to use nuclear weapons on Iran,” Ivashov said, adding that such a “development of the situation would undermine stability not only in the Middle East, but also in the entire world.”

Adding fuel to the fire is this story.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected to announce on Monday the installation of 3,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment in the Natanz nuclear facility, the official Iranian news agency reported.

The announcement will be made as part of the Islamic Republic’s “National Nuclear Day” celebrations. (Dudi Cohen).

So now we can throw the word ‘imminent’ into the equation.

These combined events further raise my ire at the callousness and temerity with which Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Hoyer and other in congress display by anointing themselves de facto foreign policy makers for the Office of the President. Like so may school children, Pelosi and her ilk now run to every despot, dictator and terror sponsor with a message of “play with me and I’ll share my candy”. Foreign policy is not your personal political plaything Madame Speaker. Reign yourself and your little clan of miscreants in before you cause irreparable harm to my country.

Britons: Iran bound, threatened captives

The highlighted sentence is the operative one.

Britons: Iran bound, threatened captives – Yahoo! News

ROYAL MARINE BASE CHIVENOR, England – British sailors and marines held for nearly two weeks in

Iran were blindfolded, bound and threatened with prison if they did not say they had strayed into Iranian waters, a Royal Navy lieutenant who was among the capitives said Friday.

Lt. Felix Carman, safely home with his 14 colleagues, said the crew faced harsh interrogation by their Iranian captors and slept in stone cells on piles of blankets. Unable to see and kept isolated, they heard weapons cocking.

“We were blindfolded, our hands were bound and we were forced up against a wall. Throughout our ordeal we faced constant psychological pressure,” Carman said. “All of us were kept in isolation. We were interrogated most nights and presented with two options. If we admitted that we’d strayed, we’d be on a plane to (Britain) pretty soon. If we didn’t, we faced up to seven years in prison.”

Within hours of the news conference, Iranian state television said the British military had “dictated” to its sailors what to say.

Royal Marine Capt. Chris Air said the crew of 15, which was out on a routine operation on March 23, was confronted by members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“They rammed our boats, and trained their heavy machine guns, RPGs, and weapons on us. Another six boats were closing in on us,” Air said. “We realized that had we resisted there would have been a major fight, one we could not have won, with consequences that would have major strategic impacts. We made a conscious decision not to engage the Iranians.”

Iran insists the British strayed into its territory; the sailors and the British government deny the accusation and maintain they were in Iraqi waters.

Britain’s top naval officer said boarding operations would be suspended while a review is conducted.

Video: The sailor who didn’t smile; Update: One sailor was held in solitary confinement

Great video and links to the release of the British hostages from Allahpundit and Hot Air. 

Hot Air » Blog Archive » Video: The sailor who didn’t smile; Update: One sailor was held in solitary confinement

Video: The sailor who didn’t smile; Update: One sailor was held in solitary confinement

posted at 9:00 am on April 5, 2007 by Allahpundit
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Derb’s taking heat from the usual suspects for suggesting that the stiff upper lip shown by some of the sailors while in Iran might have been a jot stiffer. I suspect he won’t be the last Englishman to make that point now that they’re home safe and out of harm’s way; in fact, the Telegraph’s already taken a gentle swipe in passing in today’s lead editorial.

Rather than criticize, though, Sky News chose to accentuate the positive by paying tribute to the sailor in the black three-piece suit who seemed, rather pointedly, never to crack a smile. He’s on the far right in the image. Click it to watch.


Through the magic of cropping, he’s already being nudged out of the record. A check of the wires reveals multiple copies of this photo from AFP:


But as Getty reveals, the enthusiasm at the time was not unanimous.

They’re back in the UK now, thank god, and on their way to a base in Devon. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during the debriefing.

Update: Captain Ed wonders what the deal is too and links to QandO, where vet McQ has this to say:

Yes, anyone can be broken. And no, we’d prefer our soldiers weren’t tortured. But for heaven sake, was any attempt at all made here to resist? Any? As far as I can tell, and I’m sure we’ll find out eventually, there was little if any such attempts. When you see two officers on video “admitting” to wrong doing you would think they were doing so only under severe duress and after weighing threats against themselves and those in their command against doing propaganda work such as that. I’d actually be heartened (and much more accepting) if that turns out to be the case. But I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not.

Update: Well, no surprise here.

Update: Solitary, eh? They don’t say who it was, but I’m thinking it probably wasn’t the guy in the gray suit with the thousand-watt smile seen waving like he was marching in the Thanksgiving Day parade float.