“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pushback in Italy - No minarets!

Italy's right seeks to block new mosques

Polls show many Italians mistrust Muslims and a third do not want a mosque in their neighbourhood (Reuters: Chris Helgren)

Italy's Northern League, allies of centre-right Prime Minister Sylvio Berlusconi, want to limit the growth of Islam in the centre of world Catholicism by blocking the construction of mosques through strict new regulations.

Muslim immigrants using Italy as a route into Europe already get a foretaste of the mistrust with which many Europeans view their religion, with many projects for mosques and prayer halls already blocked by the opposition of local residents.

But if the anti-immigrant Northern League pushes its bill through parliament - where Mr Berlusconi's coalition has a strong majority - Italy will soon have a new law effectively blocking the construction of new mosques in much of the country.

Saying it fears the advent of 'Eurabia', the League has used its control of Mr Berlusconi's interior ministry to push through tough new laws against illegal immigrants.

It has now turned its attention to the newcomers' religion, emboldened by polls showing many Italians mistrust Muslims and a third do not want a mosque in their neighbourhood.

The Northern League has "made life difficult for the Islamic component [of immigrants in Italy] in every sense and especially with regards to places of worship", said Islamic Cultural Institute of Milan president, Abdel Hamid Sha'ari.

Not just recent or illegal immigrants feel unwelcome, but also established Muslim residents like Jihad Amro, who said: "I have paid taxes for 17 years but I still don't feel at home."

"There are still situations where I feel uncomfortable or strange because they [Italians] don't see me as someone who is integrated," he said.

The League's anti-Muslim protests have often made headlines, such as when Roberto Calderoli, now a cabinet minister, walked his pet pig on a proposed mosque site to defile the soil or wore a T-shirt of the Prophet Mohammad, triggering riots in Libya.

The League runs many town halls in the prosperous north, the homeland it calls 'Padania' which is also home to a majority of Italy's immigrants and of its more than one million Muslims.

Estimating that permission for a new mosque or prayer hall is granted somewhere in the country every four days, Northern League parliamentarian Andrea Gibelli said: "I consider this to be an unfettered colonisation of our culture."

No minarets

Mr Gibelli, the author of the bill awaiting cabinet approval, says mosques discourage integration and "are often places of cultural indoctrination, sometimes linked to international terrorism".

Arguing that Muslims can "pray anywhere" and do not need a mosque, Mr Berlusconi's allies have blocked Muslims from building their own place of worship in Italy's business capital, Milan.

They have been shunted from a makeshift mosque on a pavement outside a converted garage to a velodrome, inspiring Islamist parliamentarians in Egypt to demand sanctions against Italy.

"Muslims in Italy have the right to open some prayer halls or formal mosques," Italy's Muslim World League president Mario Scialoja said.

"I can understand some political parties or Italian communities may have problems seeing a mosque built in their area, as it might hurt the value of their property. But a solution has to be found."

At present requests for mosques to be built are being blocked in Venice, Bologna, Trento and Treviso, among others. In Trento the League has collected 15,000 signatures and in Treviso it has called young local Muslims "extremists, pure and simple".

The League bill would ban mosques from being built within a kilometre of a church, oblige imams to speak Italian, link the size of the mosque to the number of the congregation and forbid muezzins from using loudspeakers to call the faithful to prayer.

It will ban minarets and crucially, give the final word to local residents via a referendum - which would effectively mean no new mosques in League-dominated areas of the north.

"Nobody wants to build a mosque or open a prayer hall near a Catholic Church," responds Mr Scialoja, a former Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia who converted to Islam two decades ago.

"Mosques should be located in areas where Muslims live and where they don't provoke or create problems for the surrounding Italian population."

Pensioner Isabella Fanicula, who lives near the latest site of Milan's itinerant mosque, asks: "Why do they have to stay here in the middle of all the people? People have their homes here. They should go away, into the country somewhere."

But the fate of a mosque in Colle Val D'Elsa in rural Tuscany, held up by ferocious opposition from locals and funding problems, suggests green-field mosques will not prosper either.

- Reuters


  1. Meanwhile, dhimmiBritain caves to Sharia Law

  2. And, of course, the G-damned mohammedans are Never Satisfied, the whiney, ignorant, pushy swine.

  3. "Key ally" Pakistan orders its military to fire on US troops. Here

  4. But if the anti-immigrant Northern League pushes its bill through parliament - where Mr Berlusconi's coalition has a strong majority - Italy will soon have a new law effectively blocking the construction of new mosques in much of the country.

    Well good for the Italians, and keep it that way until the day the Catholics can build a cathedral in Mecca.

  5. Sorry that I'm doing a poor job of keeping up with the posting pace here - reposted from Racial Foolishness thread

    DR - The homes that lead in foreclosures, at least here, are in the $350,000 range.

    Not a lot of affirmative action clients in those houses.
    Pretty much none.

    Then why were "no doc" loans one of the primary marketing gimmicks of the subprime mortgage segment? If those loans weren't targeted primarily to minorities (blacks and illegal aliens), what was their target market?

    bobal - The pressure was on to make loans. I'll bet many of those loan officers would watch the borrower walk out the door after the loan signing, thinking, those folks don't have a chance, but, not my problem, it'll get bundled and passed on to someone else.

    That is exactly correct, except that the title of loan officer was falacious - they were simply salespeople. I watched it in the fall of 2003 in utter amazement. Visited a private banking friend in his office (at a bank with a highly conservative credit culture). As we talked, he processed paperwork for several "no doc" mortgages for houses in Atlanta priced in the $300,000- $500,000 range. These loans were for 90 to 100% of the purchase price, and I was told that some loans exceeded the purchase price to include all closing/origination costs. "No Docs" meant no proof of income, no financial statements, no tax returns - NADA! I went on record then that a train wreck was a comin'.

    While all races partook of the fun, the "no doc" loans were clearly targeted to the credit-challenged, which have long been overwhelmingly minorities (and do you think it coincidental that "press 2 for Spanish" began appearing in voice response systems about the same time?

    One culprit in the credit debacle that I left out above who may share a large proportion of the blame - Alan Greenspan.

    Updated: Doug, I am delighted to see you post irrefutable evidence that points out how wrong this comment was - Not a lot of affirmative action clients in those houses. Pretty much none.

    Not surprisingly, its poster now wants to switch the discussion to the European housing market, pretending as though the laws you reference either do not exist or have had no effect. Exactly what I would expect from DR.

  6. ...established Muslim residents like Jihad Amro, who said: "I have paid taxes for 17 years but I still don't feel at home."

    Well, duh. With a name like that, no wonder. Imagine a Christian moving to Damascus with the name Crusader Smith.

    Regards Pakistan, and elsewhere, I'd suggest new ROE.
    1. Announce any friendlies drawing fire from a mosque will automatically consider it hostile, and destroy it without further notice. For first offense.
    2. For second offense, repeat ROE #1, and followup with the next higher up site in that sect's hierarchy.
    3. For subsequent violations, repeat ROE #2, in ascending order of significance. The progression to be followed until Mecca glows in the dark.

    Re Pakistan diplomacy, advise that an early edition of Bush Doctrine will be reactivated. You're henceforth either with us, or not. If not, it's your choice to become a free fire zone. New policy to become effective as soon as last convoy enroute clears Khyber Pass.

  7. j willie said...
    Ash and DR attempting to lay responsibility for the subprime credit mess at Bush's feet is bullshit

    No, the subprime mess should not be laid solely at Bush's feet. The problems we are now experiencing though are not simply a funciton of the subprime mess either and Bush et al hold much reponsibility for what is occurring, but, as always, the roots of the problems go a long ways back. Bush can be faulted for ignoring the problems as they grew (this did not come out of the blue), he (and congress, republican dominated) can be faulted for the overspending lowering taxes deregulating/bad regulating craziness that we have been propagating for the last 7 years.

    In short, the subprime mess was just the trigger, the detonator, igniting the whole mess that has been building for many a year. Bush and Republican rule have been like throwing gas on this smoldering fire. Now she's blowin' up good. They can't duck culpability.

  8. The credit crunch is part of the challenge for the global village of western civilization, j willie.

    Not an unilateral problem for the US.That's all that is indicated by UK's torrent of forclosures.

    Even those in Russia are starting to feel the pinch.

    But maybe you're right, according to the NYTimes minority borrowers seem to have been targeted for exploitation, by the financiers.

    From October of last year.

    The analysis, by N.Y.U.’s Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy, illustrates stark racial differences between the New York City neighborhoods where subprime mortgages — which can come with higher interest rates, fees and penalties — were common and those where they were rare. The 10 neighborhoods with the highest rates of mortgages from subprime lenders had black and Hispanic majorities, and the 10 areas with the lowest rates were mainly non-Hispanic white.

    The analysis showed that even when median income levels were comparable, home buyers in minority neighborhoods were more likely to get a loan from a subprime lender.

    In Jamaica, Queens, for example, where the majority is black and the median household income was $45,000 in 2005, 46 percent of the mortgages were issued by lenders who specialize in subprime loans, the second highest rate in the city. In Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, which had a median income of $50,000 and is mostly white, the rate was among the lowest in the city, with 3.6 percent of home loans coming from subprime lenders.
    ...A separate analysis of mortgage data by The New York Times shows that even at higher income levels, black borrowers in New York City were far more likely than white borrowers with similar incomes and mortgage amounts to receive a subprime loan.

    “It’s almost as if subprime lenders put a circle around neighborhoods of color and say, ‘This is where we're going to do our thing,’” said Robert Stroup, a lawyer and the director of the economic justice program at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Inc.

    The New York State Division of Human Rights is investigating whether subprime lenders have been engaging in discriminatory practices by singling out minority communities.

    The Furman Center analysis is based on 2006 data that lenders disclosed under the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

  9. Ash - who deregulated the securities industry? Who repealed Glass-Steagall?

    From Wikipedia

    On November 12, 1999, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. One of the effects of the repeal was to allow commercial and investment banks to consolidate. Some economists have criticized the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act as contributing to the 2007 subprime mortgage financial crisis.[7][8]

    The repeal enabled commercial lenders such as Citigroup, the largest U.S. bank by assets, to underwrite and trade instruments such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations and establish so-called structured investment vehicles, or SIVs, that bought those securities. Citigroup played a major part in the repeal. Then called Citicorp, the company merged with Travelers Insurance company the year before using loopholes in Glass-Steagall that allowed for temporary exemptions. With lobbying led by Roger Levy, the "finance, insurance and real estate industries together are regularly the largest campaign contributors and biggest spenders on lobbying of all business sectors [in 1999]. They laid out more than $200 million for lobbying in 1998, according to the Center for Responsive Politics..." These industries succeeded in their two decades long effort to repeal the act.[9]

    The banking industry had been seeking the repeal of Glass-Steagall since at least the 1980's. In 1987 the Congressional Research Service prepared a report which explored the case for preserving Glass-Steagall and the case against preserving the act.

    The argument for preserving Glass-Steagall (as written in 1987):

    1. Conflicts of interest characterize the granting of credit – lending – and the use of credit – investing – by the same entity, which led to abuses that originally produced the Act

    2. Depository institutions possess enormous financial power, by virtue of their control of other people’s money; its extent must be limited to ensure soundness and competition in the market for funds, whether loans or investments.

    3. Securities activities can be risky, leading to enormous losses. Such losses could threaten the integrity of deposits. In turn, the Government insures deposits and could be required to pay large sums if depository institutions were to collapse as the result of securities losses.

    4. Depository institutions are supposed to be managed to limit risk. Their managers thus may not be conditioned to operate prudently in more speculative securities businesses. An example is the crash of real estate investment trusts sponsored by bank holding companies (in the 1970s and 1980s).

    The argument against preserving the Act (as written in 1987):

    1. Depository institutions now operate in “deregulated” financial markets in which distinctions between loans, securities, and deposits are not well drawn. They are losing market shares to securities firms that are not so strictly regulated, and to foreign financial institutions operating without much restriction from the Act.

    2. Conflicts of interest can be prevented by enforcing legislation against them, and by separating the lending and credit functions through forming distinctly separate subsidiaries of financial firms.

    3. The securities activities that depository institutions are seeking are both low-risk by their very nature, and would reduce the total risk of organizations offering them – by diversification.

    4. In much of the rest of the world, depository institutions operate simultaneously and successfully in both banking and securities markets. Lessons learned from their experience can be applied to our national financial structure and regulation.[10]

    Ash, you might want to get your facts straight before you make silly assertions...

    To be fair, Republicans (including Phil Gramm, who should have known better) sponsored this legislation, so it was truly a bipartisan effort - but it was not Bush who did it.

  10. May have been some criminality, there.

    That could account for the anedotal stories. Stories that would fly in the face of am open and free market, one not directed towards exploitation of the ignorant, those that have been left to the mercy of the failed Public schools in those urban areas.

  11. I submit that the repeal of Glass-Steagall is the primary cause for the Fed's takeover of AIG. AIG could NOT have even entered the business of guaranteeing CDO's and MBS's with Glass-Steagall in effect. And it is those guarantees that have everybody shitting in their pants about what would happen if AIG went bankrupt.

  12. Damned if they do and damned if they don't. Years ago, they took pens, drew a line, said "no loans here", now, they take a pen, draw a line, and say "make loans here". What are they supposed to do? If they use normal criteria, many won't qualify, and they are getting gov or regulatory pressure to make loans, so, lest they're accused of redlining, they loan. They make the loan hoping the fees and such will cover the loses, or they sell the loan to somebody else.

    If you're young and credit worthy, all this is good for you as you can get into a home at a more reasonable price.

  13. Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

    Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX)
    Representative James Leach (R-IA)
    Rep. Thomas J. Bliley (R-VA)

    The Senate and House, those that wrote the Law, they were controlled by the GOP, in 1999, and the Law was written and sponsored by Repiblicans, Clinton just signed it.

  14. So the GOP is to blame if j willie's assertion that the repeal of Glass-Steagall is the faultline of failure.

    The repeal was a GOP move.
    Supported, in a seemingly bipartisan manner, by Bill Clinton.

  15. McCain economic strategists militated for years to repeal Glass-Steagall

    Phil Gramm, the same man that told US we were a nation of whiners, not winners, and is spoken of as Maverick's next best choice for Sec of Treasury, wrote the Law that repealled Glass-Steagall.

  16. Spades are still spades.

    Just look to the Law's title, to find the true culprits.

    Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX)
    Rep. James Leach (R-IA)
    Rep. Thomas J. Bliley (R-VA)

    'nough said, about that, for now.

  17. "Well, duh. With a name like that, no wonder. Imagine a Christian moving to Damascus with the name Crusader Smith. "

    i got my belly laugh out of that one.

  18. But the big news is--

    Mr. Sulu is no longer solo.

    George Takei has gone where no famous man (but two plenty famous women) has gone before, tying the knot with his partner of 21 years, Brad Altman, Sunday night in Los Angeles in front of 200 of their closest pals, including fellow Trekkers Leonard Nimoy, Walter Koenig and Nichelle Nichols.

    Proving itself an equal-opportunity celebration in every regard, the 71-year-old Takei and the 54-year-old Altman swapped self-penned vows at downtown L.A.'s Japanese American National Museum, were married by a Buddhist priest, employed Native American wedding bands and marched to the ceremony courtesy of a bagpipe procession.

    So, at least in spirit, Scotty was there, too.

    "May equality live long and prosper!" the erstwhile Enterprise helmsman told the crowd on his way out of the ceremony.

    Try this in Mecca.

  19. DR, this targeting was exactly what the government pushed. It wasn't illegal, and that anecdote can be confirmed as representative of common "no doc" lending practice (which was not discriminatory). The simple fact is that the vast majority of credit-challenged people were minorities. The government knew it, the bankers knew it, the regulators knew it - it was simply a fact of the consumer lending business. You can probably find it in hundreds of PowerPoint presentations from the marketing departments of the lenders.

    In a sense, subprime lending, served effectively (and legitimately) as a nondiscriminatory vehicle for financial affirmative action. The higher loan pricing for subprime (versus prime) we now know to have been wholly insufficient for the risk undertaken by the lender. Nevertheless, at the time, the loan packagers were happy with it, the borrowers were happy with it, etc., etc.

    Regarding Republican sponsorship of Glass Steagall, I noted that in my comment referencing Wikipedia and point back to my first comment about this whole topic - everybody involved is to blame - it's a bipartisan failure.

  20. Well, I cannot help myself.
    On further answer to j willie's question

    the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act.

    53 Republican Senators (including Senator McCain) and one Democrat voted to approved the Act.

    44 Democrats and no Republicans voted against the Act.

    YEAs ---54
    Abraham (R-MI)
    Allard (R-CO)
    Ashcroft (R-MO)
    Bennett (R-UT)
    Bond (R-MO)
    Brownback (R-KS)
    Bunning (R-KY)
    Burns (R-MT)
    Campbell (R-CO)
    Chafee, J. (R-RI)
    Cochran (R-MS)
    Collins (R-ME)
    Coverdell (R-GA)
    Craig (R-ID)
    Crapo (R-ID)
    DeWine (R-OH)
    Domenici (R-NM)
    Enzi (R-WY)
    Frist (R-TN)
    Gorton (R-WA)
    Gramm (R-TX)
    Grams (R-MN)
    Grassley (R-IA)
    Gregg (R-NH)
    Hagel (R-NE)
    Hatch (R-UT)
    Helms (R-NC)
    Hollings (D-SC)
    Hutchinson (R-AR)
    Hutchison (R-TX)
    Jeffords (R-VT)
    Kyl (R-AZ)
    Lott (R-MS)
    Lugar (R-IN)
    Mack (R-FL)
    McCain (R-AZ)
    McConnell (R-KY)
    Murkowski (R-AK)
    Nickles (R-OK)
    Roberts (R-KS)
    Roth (R-DE)
    Santorum (R-PA)
    Sessions (R-AL)
    Shelby (R-AL)
    Smith (R-NH)
    Smith (R-OR)
    Snowe (R-ME)
    Specter (R-PA)
    Stevens (R-AK)
    Thomas (R-WY)
    Thompson (R-TN)
    Thurmond (R-SC)
    Voinovich (R-OH)
    Warner (R-VA)

  21. The Feds may have pushed to greenline areas, but they did not push to repackage the loans as AAA risk, or maybe they did.

    I saw the same problems, anedotally, that j willie did.
    But it was not amongst minorities, here. Everyone was gettin' on that on that NINJA train, that thought they were clever.

    But as to who repealled Glass-Steagall, it was the Republicans.

  22. More on subprime being an equal opportunity political mess - from John Gibson @ Fox News via Powerline:

    Fannie and Freddie have been creations of the Congressional Democrats and the Clinton White House, designed to make mortgages available to more people, and as it turned out, some people who couldn't afford them. Fannie and Freddie have also been places for big Washington Democrats to go to work in the semi-private sector and pocket millions. The Clinton administration's White House budget director Franklin Raines ran Fannie and collected $50 million. Jamie Gorelick, Clinton Justice Department official, worked for Fannie and took home $26 million. Big Democrat Jim Johnson, recently on Obama's VP search committee, has hauled in millions from his Fannie Mae C.E.O. job.

  23. No bone of contention, there, amigo.

  24. But the idea that the US should become an Ownership Society, not soley a Democratic one.

    ...if you own something, you have a vital stake in the future of our country. The more ownership there is in America, the more vitality there is in America, and the more people have a vital stake in the future of this country. - President George W. Bush, June 17, 2004

    We're creating... an ownership society in this country, where more Americans than ever will be able to open up their door where they live and say, welcome to my house, welcome to my piece of property. - President George W. Bush, October 2004.

    The GOP did not run away from or try to diminish the efforts of Fannie and Freddie in expanding property ownership.

    While even now they make the same arguements, in regards healthcare, that were made for expanded home ownership, amongst those less than previously considered qualifiable.

  25. Those words of Bush are one's I agree with. Most people do. How's the best way to go about getting a decent place for everyone is the question. And it's true, some folks are pretty much beyond helping.

    Almost all these banks out here are small. I remember one banker talking to dad and I, way before that repeal your talking about, how the banks were hoping to be able to diversify into other areas.

  26. Very helpful, Teresita, thanks.
    Now how do I get the kid to do it?

  27. Cost of housing
    Cost of Medicine
    Skyrocket in response to Government "Cure."

    Thanks, Guys.

  28. Ponzi Scheme Doomsday looms on the horizon.

  29. Ponzi Scheme Doomsday looms on the horizon.

    Fight back with a chain letter!

    Seems to have just been a large car bombing at a US Embasy--think they said in Yemen, but maybe it was Kenya.