Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Canada: Will they have to make a pinky promise, too?

Veiled voters must swear oath.

Canadians who wear coverings over their faces will not be required to remove them to vote if they swear a special oath to affirm their identity and eligibility, a spokesman for Elections Canada said on Tuesday.

"We offer them a choice," John Enright said of the administrative procedure, which has been in place without incident for the seven federal byelections held since September 2007.

The directive from chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand appears to deviate from the existing Canada Elections Act, which has no requirement for federal voters to show their faces.

"He's simply reminding them of the authority to ensure the eligibility of voters," Enright said of the procedure, while adding people would only be prevented from voting if they refuse to swear the oath after turning down requests to show their faces.

The issue caused a stir last autumn on Parliament Hill ahead of three federal byelections in Quebec.

Last September, Harper accused Elections Canada of subverting the will of Parliament by permitting Muslim women to wear niqabs or burkas while voting, saying it was at odds with federal legislation passed earlier that year.

But at the time, Mayrand countered that the act does not contain an absolute visual recognition requirement, noting that about 80,000 voters cast their ballots by mail in the last federal election.

The Conservatives introduced a bill proposing changes to the act that would require all voters to show their faces at polling stations, but the bill was stalled in Parliament and died when the election was called.

al Qaeda and the Pirates

Well possums, I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this moment.

For years, the party line about the Somali pirates has always been that they were just gangs of marauding bandits who just happened to be Muslim Somalis.

There was no terror connection. Nope. No, siree.

(And if you believe that, I've got a credit default swap I'd like to sell you.)

"Fighters who aspire to establish the caliphate must control the seas and the waterways."

In a recent communiqué, the Islamist organization claimed responsibility for this year’s surge in pirate attacks in the vital Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Dozens of vessels from different nations have been seized and held for ransom, shaking the world’s shipping industry. Al-Qaeda calls its maritime campaign “a new strategy which permits the mujahedeen” to hijack shipping, since “fighters who aspire to establish the caliphate must control the seas and the waterways.”

Counterterrorism consultant Olivier Guitta revealed the al-Qaeda connection in his Asia Times column, writing that the terrorist organization “intends to take control of the Gulf of Aden and the southern entrance of the Red Sea.” Guitta called the area “strategic” for the radical Islamic group.

Al-Qaeda’s goal is the removal of Western military bases from the Arabian Peninsula. It believes sea lanes “weakened by acts of piracy,” combined with mujahedeen attacks, will force concessions from Western powers. And while Al-Qaeda has not abandoned its more traditional tactics – it has a presence in both Somalia and Yemen and attacked the American embassy in Yemen this month, killing 16 – the organization is increasingly focusing its terror on the high seas.

Al-Qaeda’s sea war is already having an effect. Piracy attacks have increased so dramatically in the Horn of Africa that a London-based International Maritime Bureau (IMB) spokesman called the waters off Somalia, a Muslim country, the most dangerous in the world. A failed state, Somalia has possessed neither a navy nor a central government since 1991 – factors exploited by criminal organizations and al-Qaeda, sometimes working together. As a result, in the first two weeks of September alone, Somali pirates attacked 17 ships, four more than in all of 2007, and last week captured a Ukrainian ship carrying 33 T-70 tanks. “In my time here, I must say, this is the most concentrated period of destabilizing activity I have seen in the Gulf of Aden,” said Keith Winstanley, a British naval officer patrolling the gulf.

Altogether, piracy accounts for about 60 attacks against oil tankers and cargo vessels in the Gulf of Aden this year. Most scandalous, however, is that these maritime terrorists are currently holding 14 ships and 300 of their crewmen for large ransoms in Eyl, a pirate town in northern Somalia. On Sunday, the terrorists demanded $20 million for the Ukrainian ship alone, although ransoms for most other captive ships are in the $1-3 million range.

The Gulf of Aden is not a sea route ships can avoid. Situated at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula between Somalia and Yemen, the 2,500-mile waterway is strategic for the world’s economy. It connects Europe and North America with Asia and East Africa via the Suez Canal. About 1,500 ships, ten percent of global shipping traffic, pass through it every month, including four percent of the world’s daily crude oil supply. The only alternative route, around South Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, is thousands of miles longer and much more expensive, considering larger ships cost about $20,000 daily to run.

As it is, the financial costs of piracy in the Gulf of Aden are high enough. The pirates stand to gain an estimated $50 million dollars in ransom money this year. But this sum does not include the losses shipping companies incur for their ships’ inactivity after capture. Increased insurance rates and thousands of dollars in extra fuel consumption costs from ships traversing the gulf at higher than normal speeds to avoid pirates are additional financial burdens facing owners.

The threat that piracy in the Horn of Africa poses to international trade and to freedom of movement is substantial. After two of its vessels were hijacked last month, a major Malaysian shipping company, MISC Berhad, announced that its ships are going to stop using the Gulf of Aden.

World leaders also are waking up to the problem. The United Nations passed a resolution last June giving countries permission to pursue pirates into Somali territorial waters, while French President Nicholas Sarkozy recently sent commandos to wrest an elderly French couple and their yacht from Somali pirates.

The U.S. also has gotten involved. As an anti-piracy measure, the United States in August established a protected shipping corridor in the gulf that Combined Task Force 150, an international naval force under US 5th Fleet command, is patrolling. But although the CTF has thwarted 12 pirate hijackings since then, ships are still being attacked, even in the protected zone, indicating the extent and strength of the piracy problem. Captains are now even being told to traverse the gulf in convoy.

The IMB estimates that about 1,000 pirates are active in the gulf. One sailor, a pirate prisoner for 174 days, said his captors are well-organized in groups of 15-20. Armed with Kalashnikov rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and scaling ladders, they operate hundreds of miles off shore from two or three larger “mother” ships, from which they launch their attacks in speed boats against unsuspecting victims. Naval officer Winstanley said there was a degree of organization in their attacks, “Which is why we are taking action.”

Security experts fear the ransom money the pirates are receiving will allow them to buy better equipment and weapons for larger operations. Another concern focuses on the threat to the world’s energy supply. A Japanese tanker, for example, was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade last year, spilling hundreds of barrels of oil into the gulf. A spate of successful sinking would see sky-rocketing oil prices climb even higher.

Such financial disruption would please al-Qaeda, since it has long targeted the American economy for destruction. It knows the Western world derives its military and cultural strength from its economic power, hence its attack on the World Trade Center. Al-Qaeda also wants to draw America into as many Gulf of Aden-type military sideshows as possible in order to drain American resources.

That may prove a fatal error. A sudden, resolute attack on the pirates’ Somali bases would sink al -Qaeda’s high seas terror war and restore calm to the waters of the vital Gulf of Aden. Before long, the terrorist organization may discover that its chances against American forces are no better on sea than they are on land.

Hallelujah! It looks like public opinion is catching up with the success in Iraq.

How sweet it is.

For the first time since Rasmussen Reports began polling on the issue, a plurality of voters in September say the U.S. mission in Iraq will be viewed as a success in the long term.

In a national telephone survey Monday night, 41% said history will rate the war in Iraq a success versus 39% who said it will be seen as a failure, with 20% undecided. These findings echo those of the previous two weeks.

By contrast, in August of last year, 57% believed history would judge the U.S. mission in Iraq a failure, and only 29% disagreed.

Nearly half of voters (48%) also believe the situation in Iraq will get better in the next six months versus 22% who believe it will get worse. Twenty-three percent (23%) expect things to stay about the same. The number of those who see the situation getting better has been steadily rising throughout the summer as violence has gone down in the war-torn country.

God bless W and God bless our troops.

The Talibanization of Pakistan's biggest city

Pro Taliban marchers in Karachi - back in 2001
It's worse now.

This is how the Taliban do it, how they move into an area, subdue the local populace and then take over.
The conflict has chased them out of the tribal region and they are landing in major Pakistan cities, like Karachi. And...

If Karachi is being ‘Talibanized,’ Pakistan is in real trouble, and so is everyone else.

In the back of a jeep driving through Karachi, a sign on the wall of the city’s famous "Village Restaurant" caught my eye. It was just a little piece of frayed white paper plastered next to the restaurant’s much bigger logo, tempting customers to "Experience the Exotic of Traditional Dining."

But the printed sign expressed an increasingly urgent plea in this teeming port city, once Pakistan’s capital: "Save your city from Talibanization," it said in English.

But could the Taliban really be taking over Karachi? Karachi is Pakistan’s biggest city, far from the lawless tribal hinterland along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Out there, Taliban and al-Qaida militants have carved out an independent state. In the mountains, militants have their own courts and even issue licenses to local business. Last week in the tribal area, the Taliban publicly executed a group accused of murders. In another village square, they flogged several butchers for allegedly selling the meat of sick animals.

That is Taliban justice.

Read it all.

Egypt: European hostages speak about their ordeal.

There's no place like home.

Deny that a military raid even took place.

"At a certain point we thought it was all over," Walter Barotto, an Italian among a group of 19 people kidnapped in Egypt, told La Stampa newspaper.

They say they were suddenly released by their kidnappers, not rescued in a raid that involved a gunfight, as Egyptian officials earlier claimed. "Shots? We didn't hear any," 70-year-old Italian tourist Mirella De Guili told reporters upon arriving at Turin's airport on Tuesday.

The tourists and their guides said they were allowed by the kidnappers to leave in a single vehicle. "We put our trust in God and drove in the desert for five or six hours, with no spare tyre and very little water. If we made a mistake, we would die," Ms De Guili said.

"There were 19 of us packed into one car, some on the roof," Hassan Abdel Hakim, one of the kidnapped Egyptians, told the Associated Press news agency. Mr Hakim revealed that moments before they were allowed to leave in the car he thought he and the other Egyptian guides were about to be killed. "They told all the Egyptians to stand in one line and they cocked their weapons, and at that moment we thought we were dead," he said.

But they were then told they could take one car and leave.

The tourists said they later spotted two armed men who "luckily" turned out to be Egyptian soldiers.

The tourists also revealed dramatic details of their seizure at gunpoint by unidentified attackers on 19 September, which was followed by a dash through remote areas of the Sahara Desert. Giovanna Quaglia, another Italian tourist, told La Stampa: "The water and food was rationed, we were scared."

"They never hit us but with us - women - they were very strict. We had to keep our faces covered."

"The worst moments were Saturday and Sunday, there was no news and we understood that the negotiations had stalled. It's an experience that I would not wish on anyone," Ms De Giuli said.

Did you hear that Government of Egypt? What do you have that army for? Use the damn thing!

Putting window dressing on a dead cat.

Stocks enjoy a dead cat bounce. Credit Markets just dead, dead, dead.

“The money markets have completely broken down, with no trading taking place at all,” said Christoph Rieger, a fixed-income strategist at Dresdner Kleinwort in Frankfurt. “There is no market any more. Central banks are the only providers of cash to the market; no one else is lending.”

The problems in the credit markets could threaten the broader financial system. But for the moment, investors were placated somewhat by the rise in stocks, with the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, a broad measure of major companies, up 5.2 percent. It is not unusual for stocks to show signs of recovery in the hours after a significant rout. (aka Dead Cat Bounce) In the last several decades, the S.& P. has dropped by more than 6 percent on only a handful of occasions. (It fell by almost 9 percent on Monday.) On average, the index has rallied by 3.5 percent the next day, according to data from Citigroup.

Investors may be hoping that Congress will head back to the negotiating table and pass a revised bailout bill by the end of the week, a notion advanced by President Bush in a televised statement on Tuesday before markets opened in New York.


"Several measures were taken to calm investors Tuesday. But injections of money into the markets by central banks failed to dampen a hoarding mentality among financial institutions. Analysts and economists have pointed to the problems in the credit markets as posing a more serious threat to the health of the economy, at least in the short term, than the recent declines in stocks.

But in the public eye, the Dow Jones industrial average is the most visible gauge of the economy’s condition. Some analysts hope that a silver lining of Monday’s sell-off will be an increased urgency among lawmakers to pass a revised bill."

“While some policy makers don’t understand exotic funding markets, they definitely understand what nearly 1,000 points off the D.J.I.A. in one day’s time means,” Michael T. Darda, chief economist at the research firm MKM Partners in Greenwich, Conn., wrote in a note to clients on Tuesday morning."


The European Central Bank lent banks 190 billion euros, or $273 billion, for a weeklong period after initially estimating that it needed to drain 40 billion euros from the system. It also lent banks $30 billion for one day at a marginal rate of 11 percent, almost six times the Fed’s 2 percent benchmark interest rate. The Bank of Japan pumped another $29 billion into credit markets, its third intervention of this scale since the collapse of Lehman Brothers earlier this month. In Tokyo, Asia’s largest market, the Nikkei 225 fell 4.1 percent to close at a three-year low of 11,259.86 points. The benchmark index in Hong Kong closed up by less than 1 percent, while Australia ended down almost 4.4 percent after falling more than 5 percent during the morning.

Window dressing

Traders said that so-called "window dressing," or last-minute portfolio tweaking by money managers before they send out quarter-end statements to clients, added momentum to the market. So did a rush of buyers attracted by bargains following Monday's drop, a typical phenomenon after any big market decline. But above all, the prospect of an unprecedented government intervention in America's financial markets continued to loom large.

"We have calmer heads today assessing where the market should really be," said strategist Jim Paulsen, of Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis. "It looks like the odds of [a rescue package] passing before the end of the week are probably pretty good. If that's the case, then the risk of being on the sidelines when it goes through is probably as bad as anything you face on the downside at this point," with Monday's big market drop in the rearview mirror.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

On a more worrisome note, the cost of borrowing dollars overnight in the interbank market world-wide surged following Monday's bailout rejection in the U.S. House. The move heightened market participants' concerns about the creditworthiness of counterparties amid a spate of recent bank failures. "We are facing a systemic crisis of confidence in the global financial system that is pushing us increasingly closer to a complete meltdown," said Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit in London.

Are things starting to fray around the edges? Regional banks are coming under pressure and the largest Chevrolet dealer in U.S. files for Chapter 11. (The 89 year old Bill Heard dealership out of Atlanta._

In court papers, Mr. Heard said falling new-car sales led to its decision to go out of business and begin liquidating in bankruptcy court. High gas prices, the downturn of the U.S. economy and the reluctance of some auto lenders to extend credit to customers have caused new car sales to plummet, prompting a "financial liquidity crisis" at Bill Heard dealerships.

Genworth says it may spinoff mortgage insurance business.

Genworth shares have slumped 75% this year on concern about losses at its mortgage insurance business. As the mortgage-fueled credit crisis has deepened in recent weeks, Genworth stock has been crushed, losing 60% of its value in the past month.

Genworth also said it has borrowed $79 million in the commercial paper market, down from $158 million earlier this month. The commercial paper market usually allows companies to borrow money cheaply over short period of time. But some parts of this market have frozen in recent weeks as the credit crisis deepens. That's sparked concern that some companies may struggle to refinance their short-term debt. Genworth also highlighted more than $800 million in cash and cash equivalents at the holding company and almost $4 billion in cash and cash equivalents in its operating companies.

Genworth is exposed to a lot of the companies that have collapsed in recent weeks, including Fannie Mae
and Washington Mutual. Genworth's exposure to these companies totals roughly $630 million, according to data disclosed on the insurer's Web site. This includes senior and subordinated debt, preferred stock, credit default swaps, securities lending and guaranteed investment contracts.

Sonic gets their credit spigot cut off by GE Capital.

Actually, on Thursday, Stephen Vaughan, CFO of Sonic Corp (Nasdaq: SONC), told Dow Jones that franchisees of the drive-in chain have been notified by GE Capital's franchise finance arm that it will temporarily stop financing new loans to Sonic franchisees. This is bad for a franchise like Sonic Corp that greatly depends on franchisee growth to increase its bottom line.

Afghanistan: Karzai wants to make nice with Mullah Omar?

Say it isn't so.

Afghans use Saudis to broker peace with Taliban. The Brits are in on it, too. For crying out loud, even the Italians are waving the white flag around.

Mr Karzai said he had asked King Abdullah, the Saudi monarch, to help broker a settlement with the extremist religious movement, which was ousted from power by a US-led coalition in the wake of al-Qaeda's terrorist attacks on America in 2001.

Speaking during a ceremony to mark the religious festival of Eid, Mr Karzai said he had made a direct plea to Mullah Omar, the cleric who has overseen the Taliban's revival across Afghanistan's Pashtun heartland. "A few days ago I called upon their leader, Mullah Omar, and said 'My brother, my dear, come back to your homeland, come and work for the peace and good of your people and stop killing your brothers'."

Mr Karzai said he had offered the Taliban leadership a guarantee of protection from international forces in Afghanistan, if they returned for peace talks: "They should come back and not be afraid of the foreigners. I will stand in front of the foreigners."

The spread of fierce fighting in Afghanistan has revived interest in negotiating with "reconcilable" members of the Taliban - those willing to renounce ties to al-Qaeda in return for a role in government. A senior US official said this week that military force could not be regarded as a "comprehensive" solution to the challenges in Afghanistan. "In some cases you have to be willing to reach across the table and shake the hand of the guy who is trying to kill you," the official said.

Up to 3,000 people are estimated to have been killed in fighting this year, including more than 200 coalition soldiers, making it the most deadly year since the Taliban were overthrown in 2001.

The Saudi mediation, which has relied on significant assistance from British intelligence, has involved forging regular contacts between Taliban defectors and their former contacts in the movement. Mr Karzai said the Saudi monarch's role as custodian of Islam's holiest shrines granted King Abdullah a unique authority to seek peace.

He said: "For the last two years, I've sent letters to the king of Saudi Arabia, and I've sent messages, and I requested from him as the leader of the Islamic world, for the security and prosperity of Afghanistan and for reconciliation in Afghanistan."

A message meanwhile issued by Mullah Omar called on the 70,000 foreign troops operating in Afghanistan to pull out. Mullah Omar has evaded capture since his regime collapsed despite a $25 million bounty on his head. He also offered a peace deal but only on the most extreme terms.

"I say to the invaders: if you leave our country, we will provide you the safe context to do so," he said. "If you insist on your invasion, you will be defeated like the Russians before you."

Core Taliban demands are unacceptable to Mr Karzai's Western backers and the Taliban has cast doubt on the Afghan leader's credibility as a negotiating partner. But even the most bitterly anti-Taliban elements of Afghanistan's ruling factions have supported talks with the Taliban. The former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, said a broad spectrum of Afghan political leaders have held meetings with the group.

They just never learn, do they?

Target Rich Environment

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims performed the early morning
Eid Al-Fitr prayers at the al-Haram Grand Mosque in Mecca this morning

Happy Hajj.
(This sight just gives me the creeps.)

A breathless report from the Daily Mail.

"Awesome spectacle as hundreds of thousands of Muslims converge on Mecca. It's one of the most awe-inspiring sights in religion. A duty for every able-bodied Muslim at least once in his or her lifetime, the gruelling five-day haj ritual is one of the world's biggest displays of mass religious devotion" insanity. There, fixed it.

Somalia: 3 MV Faina pirates dead in Eid shootout?

It's unconfirmed, but wouldn't be surprising now, would it?

Disagreements between Somali pirates holding a ship laden with tanks and heavy weapons escalated into a shootout and three pirates are believed dead, a U.S. defense official said Tuesday. The pirates denied the report.

The official in Washington who reported the shootout spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record. He refused to elaborate and said he had no way of confirming the deaths.

In other pirate news, the Malaysian tanker, the MT Bunga Melati Dua was released.

No one is rolling the dice today...

Back in the day, a bunch of guys I knew from work used to set up a private casino in the presidential suite at the Vista Hotel in the World Trade Center. Roulette, baccarat, poker, craps, the whole shooting match. It was always a wild and fun scene. The cigar smoke was thick in the air, the room was full of men in their bespoke dress shirts, with their ties loosened and sleeves rolled up. The liquor was flowing and as the evening went on the bets got larger and larger. The craps table was always where the action was.

Funny, that this would come to mind this morning when I heard a trader say, "no one is rolling the dice today..."

Bond traders are still on the sidelines with their hands in their pockets. What that means is institutions aren't taking positions and probably won't until the government does...

LIBOR, the rate banks charge each other, is now at a record high. That means that banker's sphincters are still tighter than a duck's butt and that's water tight. There were more bank rescues overnight in Europe, 2 British, 1 Italian.

Yesterday's sell off at the close was due to Japanese hedge fund redemptions (yesterday was the end of their FY). Program trades that sold into the market, driving it down because their were no buyers on the other side.

Look for people to "sell into the bell" this morning
and a relief rally. The real action will occur at the close.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Somalia: MV Faina. They've got her cornered.

Pirated Arms freighter cornered by US Navy. Secret arms deal still alleged.

American warships on Monday surrounded an arms-laden freighter hijacked by pirates, sealing off any possible escape in a standoff near the craggy Somalia coastline.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, a Navy spokesman, said that “several destroyers and missile cruisers” had joined the American destroyer that was already following the hijacked vessel. He would not specify the number of warships or what they would do if the pirates refused to surrender.

Blow them out of the water.

Let's get busy figuring out what was on the MV Iran Deyanat.

JBS Swift and Muslim prayer: The Tanc speaks

Tom Tancredo tells it like it is.

Pray on your own time.

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colorado) regarding Muslim prayer-time accommodation at the JBS Swift plant in Greeley, Colorado.

"The fact is that, if you take a job that requires your attendance on an assembly line from a point certain to a point certain, and if your religious views do not allow you to do that, then don't take the job," Tancredo suggests. "There is nothing forcing anybody to take the job. No one has put a gun to their head[s] and said, 'You must be on this line.'"

Somalia: Tanks, but no tanks...

Confirmation that the tanks on the MV Faina were indeed headed for Sudan - not Kenya.

A US Navy spokesman says a weapons shipment on a Ukrainian ship hijacked by Somalian pirates was headed to unknown buyers in Sudan, not Kenya.

Lt. Nathan Christensen, a deputy spokesman for the US 5th Fleet in Bahrain, says it is not known whom exactly in Sudan the weapons were meant for. A 5th Fleet statement said the ship was headed for the Kenyan port of Mombassa, but added "additional reports state the cargo was intended for Sudan."

Kenya has said that the shipment, which includes T-72 battle tanks, was intended for it.

The UN has imposed an arms embargo on weapons headed to Sudan's Darfur conflict zone. But the ban does not cover other weapons sales to the Khartoum government or the southern Sudan's autonomous government.

Kenya denies this, of course.

6 months of Pakistani honor killings = 225 dead women

Women killed for other reasons? 722.

The Religion of Peace. Unless you're a woman, that is.

Two hundred and twenty-five women have been killed in incidents of Karo Kari (honour killing) in the past six months across Pakistan, according to a survey conducted by the Aurat Foundation, BBC Urdu reported on Friday. The organisation said that though honour killing has different names in different areas of Pakistan, the traditions remain the same across the country. Malik Asghar of the Aurat Foundation said that the survey covered details of women killed for honour between January and June 2008. According to the survey, the number of women murdered during the six months for reasons other than honour was 722. The survey revealed that only two accused in Karo Kari cases registered during the last six months had been sentenced while the rest were pending in courts.

Hat tip: The Religion of Peace.

UK: More threats for Jewel of Medina publisher


Muslim radicals today warned of further violence after a firebomb attack on the London home of the publisher of a book on the prophet Mohammed.

Fundamentalist Anjem Choudhary said repercussions would be "severe" for those involved with the Jewel Of Medina, a fictional account of the prophet's relationship with his 14-year-old wife Aisha.


Those fears were fuelled as Mr Choudhary, a former lawyer and follower of preacher of hate Abu Hamza, said: "Clearly this book is an attack on the honour of Mohammed. It is clearly stipulated in Muslim law that any kind of attack on his honour carries the death penalty.

"If the publication goes ahead then I think, inevitably, there will be more attacks like this. If this book is published I think the repercussions will be very severe for everyone associated with it."

Remember the UK family barred from Saturday burial because they weren't Muslim?

Well, it looks like someone changed their mind.

Council U-turn on non-Muslim Saturday burials

SHEFFIELD Council has announced a dramatic U-turn after a policy allowing only Muslim burials to take place at the weekend caused outrage. The council has admitted they "got it wrong" and is working out a new policy to offer people of every faith living in the city the same service. But it comes too late for Ms Maltby and her family, who had to hold the funeral for Mr Lemaire, a 75-year-old retired steel erector from Woodseats, yesterday.

Mrs Maltby said she was pleased by the U-turn after the council's flat refusal to consider her request. She added: "It was unfair and unjust I just wanted the same service as anyone else in the community. Their stubborn refusal made me really angry, if they had been more co-operative I wouldn't have needed to go to The Star."

Good for Mrs. Maltby! I'm sorry for her loss, but if it weren't for her going to the press with this ridiculous piece of dhimmitude we'd all be none the wiser about this piece of Muslim accommodation and it would still be going on!

Original story can be found

Egypt: European tourists released

As a result of "international collaboration."

Well, that and yesterday's killing of 6 of their captors, including the leader of the group who kidnapped them. And today's secretive military ops that isn't being discussed until the hostages are well clear of the area. The good news? No ransom was paid.

All 19 hostages, including five German and five Italian tourists, who were abducted in southern Egypt over a week ago have been freed.

Italy's Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, confirmed Egyptian media reports that the hostages were freed on Monday morning. The hostages are in the custody of the Egyptian authorities and health checks are being carried out on them, Frattini said.

The minister said the hostages' release was the result of "international collaboration".

The five Italians, five Germans and a Romanian - and their guides were kidnapped on 19 September on the Gilf al-Kebir plateau, close to the Libyan and Sudanese borders.

Since then, they have reportedly been moved around a lawless desert region touching on the borders of Egypt, Sudan, Libya and Chad.

There were reports that six of their captors were shot dead on Sunday.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled...

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not God that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four...

From Rudyard Kipling's
The Gods of the Copybook Headings

A copybook was an exercise book used to practice one's handwriting in. The pages were blank except for horizontal rulings and a printed specimen of perfect handwriting at the top. You were supposed to copy this specimen all down the page. The specimens were proverbs or quotations, or little commonplace hortatory or admonitory sayings—the ones in the poem illustrate the kind of thing. These were the copybook headings.

This poem was written by Kipling later in his life. He had lost his dearly loved son in World War 1, and a precious daughter some years earlier. He was a drained man in 1919, and England, with which he identified intensely, was a drained nation. Though he was no atheist, (he) was in fact a Christian of an eccentric sort, Kipling seems to have found little consolation in religion. Kipling was embarked on his two-volume history of the Irish Guards—his son's regiment—in WW1. The project took him three years, and was, he remarked, "done with agony and bloody sweat."With all this as background, it is hard to disagree with the general opinion that "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" is a clinging to old-fashioned common sense by a man deeply in need of something to cling to.(source)

This blog is a copybook of sorts for me. And this poem spoke to me because the longer I live and the more I see, the more it seems that there are certain basic truths about the human condition that transcend time and space. You know what I'm talking about - all those things your mother told you, every cliche-riddled, hackneyed phrase that you can think of. I'm here to tell you, you ignore them at your own peril. Remember moderation in all things? Which brings us to today's particular peril: The Financial Market meltdown.

Like Kipling, when he wrote about the Gods of the Copybook, Wall Street and life in general had left me fried like bacon. My brother was fighting a life threatening illness, I was having seizures of unknown origin. It was a crazy time. But it was a glamorous life and had become who I was. It was a little ballsy to turn my back on it, I guess. I'm sure there were acquaintances that thought I should have had my head examined at the time. (I probably should.) But it's always hard to explain the relief I felt upon leaving the high pressure demands of Wall Street and how I've changed since then. I've been gone for a long time from it and the markets have evolved and changed too. Have I missed it? Yes. But I looked at it is the closing of a chapter in my life and moved on, completely stepping out of that world with gratitude and thanks to God for giving me the experience.

But it was the experience of another era, so while I have been watching the developments of this week unfold with great interest, I have also been watching them with a sense of great detachment. (Which is weird because I do have capital and my retirement $ at risk.)

Please know that I am in no way holding myself out to be an expert, but it's starting to seem silly to be talking to you about pole dancing Muslimas with boob jobs, Islamopirates and hijackings and such, all the while ignoring the 800 lb gorilla in the US living room. So here goes...

The good news: there's some kind of deal. That will satisfy those who believe in that kind of thing and buy some time. The bad news: IMO, it's not going to do much to stanch the bleeding.

Everyone is standing around watching the gyrations in the stock market and real estate market like that is where the true problem lies. No, in a heading that could have been written by the Gods of the Copybook Headings themselves.

"Curst greed of gold, what crimes thy tyrant power has caused." Virgil

Good old greed. Starting back in 1995, the masters of the bond and credit market universe got too cute by half and structured a new and exciting financial instrument, the credit default swap and it's these credit default swaps that are the crux of the problem. The magnitude of the fallout from this hairy piece of "financial engineering" is staggering. Believe me, when I tell you that these things are so wrapped around the axle I don't think anyone knows who's got what.

Under a CDS, a bank originates loan to a company. A second bank (or other financial institution) can agree to cover the credit risk for the loan, by agreeing to make payment to originating bank if the company defaults on the original loan. The originating bank pays a small insurance premium to the second bank for assuming the risk of the loan.

Typically, payments under a CDS would only be triggered by the company’s failure to pay interest or principal on its debts due to bankruptcy or some other severe liquidity issue. But there are a host of intermediate or special cases that will doubtless provoke lawsuits when something goes wrong (CDS being a new market, it is by no means "recession-proof").

Credit default swaps were sold to the world as hedging transactions. Investors were told that they were simply transfers of risk, so that banks that made loans could transfer credit risks to insurance companies, which did not make loans directly, or to foreign banks that could not easily make loans in the U.S. market.

But they didn't work out that way...the real estate bubble burst and the mortgage market melted down, factors of life their models didn't take into account. Which brings us to another Gods of the Copybook Heading meets Gordon Gecko Greed is Good moment...the moment when "Wall Street" took over and expanded the volume far beyond what was required for hedging risk. The traders at commercial banks and insurance companies, freed from the constraints of Glass-Steagall by Bill Clinton era deregulation, jumped in with both feet.

After all, bonuses depend on the volume of business. Therefore, bank traders sold the credit risk of a loan not just once, but as many as 10 times. And they sold it not to solid banks and insurance companies, but to three solid banks, one solid insurance company, three dodgy brokers and three hedge funds. Then the traders went out and sold other CDS products that were not even related to actual loans on the books, but to imaginary indices of credit quality in the "widget" industry.

The credit risk of the system was hugely multiplied.

Instead of one $10 million credit risk loan, there are now ten $10 million credit risks on just one loan.

See what I mean about being wrapped around the axle?

Because of this axle, banks around the world are under tremendous pressure. They've even stopped loaning to each other which tells you how bad it is. Bond traders have been standing around with their hands in their pockets - no one is making trades. LIBOR is quaking under the weight of the stress and the short term paper market has pretty much seized up. Commercial paper is how companies finance their day to day operations and make payroll. September 30 is the day when positions unwind and this is where the pain on Main Street will really start. A flood of redemptions is preparing to swamp Hedge Funds. The US Mint has stopped production of gold coins due to soaring demand. Tonight's Asian market open will indeed be interesting. The only bright spot I could find? (and that even has a downside.) Issuance of Islamic bonds falls 54% in the first half of the year. The bad news: "The drop confirms that Islamic finance has become intertwined with global financial markets and is in no way an isolated market". This is confirmed by the following headline: Chicago Muslims devastated by investment scam.

This isn't over by a long shot. Unless this can get things moving quickly (and have you ever known anything to happen quickly when the US govt is involved?) havoc will continue to wreak the credit markets, the relief rally in the stock market will be brief. Will smart money continue to stay on the sidelines? Will there be any smart money left? At heart, financial markets are about confidence in the system and confidence has been gravely shaken.

In other words, the jig is up.

How bad it will be is anybody's guess. But!

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man-
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:-
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

Unlike Kipling, I'm an optimist who finds consolation in faith, and I believe we will all muddle through somehow.

I'm also a free market trader and believe that the market has to work this out. These type of bailout programs just tend to delay the pain and there is going to be some pain, my friends. I oppose the structure of this bailout on principle, so watching these government types preening and posturing in front of the cameras this weekend was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. They are beyond clueless. And infuriating.
For Nancy Pelosi to call the House Republicans unpatriotic for not attending negotiations that they weren't invited to attend is an outrage. To see these Democrats stand up in front of the cameras and outright lie their a$$e$ off just shows you what we're dealing with.

"Fleece in our times."

Our friend GW at Wolf Howling is doing yeoman's work hoisting these bastards on their own petard for creating the climate that allowed the real estate bubble to flourish and burst. I recommend his blog to you.

(The first credit default swap was after Dinah left the street so she's been having to get up to speed on them herself. If you are interested in learning more, this piece (and source for much of the info here) is a good place to start and this will provide you a window into what's been going on with the banking side of the equation. If you want to laugh and learn as you get up to speed on these magillas go here and check out this horse race analogy.)

The full text of
The Gods of the Copybook Headings

Some of Dinah's other Wall Street copybooks can be found here.

And please be reminded that the fasten seat belt sign is still illuminated. It's gonna be a bumpy one.

Pakistan: Fatwa for Palin Flirt

"filthy remarks and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt is un-Islamic"

When Asif Ali met Sarah.

The prayer leader of the infamous Lal Masjid in the heart of Islamabad has issued a decree against President Asif Zardari for publicly making indecent gestures towards the American Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin during their Washington meeting, saying the act was un-Islamic and Zardari has shamed the entire Pakistani nation.

Delivering a sermon at the Lal Masjid the other day, the prayer leader Maulana Abdul Ghafar, who is a close relative of the fanatic Red Mosque cleric Maujlana Abdul Rashid Ghazi, who was killed by security forces during Operation Silence in July 2007, said that President Zardari’s indecent gestures, filthy remarks and repeated praise of a non-Muslim lady wearing a short skirt is not only un-Islamic but also unbecoming of a head of state of a Muslim country.

He said that the manner in which Zardari shook hands with Sarah Palin and expressed his deep desire to hug her is intolerable and shameful. “We are fighting the American war in our country and thousands of our people have been killed just to please Uncle Sam. Therefore, we demand that the military operation in the Pak-Afghan tribal areas be immediately stopped as it is creating hatred amongst the general public against the Pakistan army”, he added.

Egypt: 6 kidnappers of European tourists killed.

Hostages are now believed to be in Chad. There has been no official comment from the Chadian government at this time.

Who has assumed command since one of those killed is believed to be the group's leader?

Six of the alleged kidnappers of a group of tourists were killed by the Sudanese army in a high speed chase across desert, but the missing Europeans are still being held in Chad, Sudan's military spokesman said Sunday.

Sawarmy Khaled told The Associated Press that Sudanese military forces were combing the Jebel Oweinat region near the Libyan border when they came upon a white sports utility vehicle carrying eight armed men.

"The armed forces called for it to stop, but they did not respond and there was pursuit in which six of the armed men were killed," he said, including the leader of the group, which he identified as a Chadian named Bakhit.

The remaining two gunmen were captured and they confessed to being involved in the kidnapping a week earlier of 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians doing a desert safari in southwest Egypt.

The tourists are being held by 35 other gunmen in the Tabbat Shajara region of Chad, Khaled added.

al-Jizz is identifying one of the dead as being affiliated with a Darfur rebel group.

UK: Pole dancing daughter in hiding after Muslim death threats.

You just had to know this was coming. ( a quick twirl around the pole as thanks to the Weasel Zippers )

Extremists threaten to kill Bakri's pole dancing daughter.

The terrified pole-dancing daughter of radical cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed is in hiding after death threats from Muslim extremists. Yasmin Fostok, 27, who has a three-year-old son, is said to feel suicidal after it was revealed she works as a pole dancer.

Police went to her flat in South East London on Friday night after deciding to move her to a safe house. A police source said:"She is worried about threats from people who have extreme views. She has a young toddler and can't take any risks." She left the flat with a suitcase, looking down at the ground as seven officers, plus plain-clothes detectives escorted her into a police van. She and her son are now staying at separate locations to protect him from attacks.

A friend added last night: "She's suicidal. She can't even see her own son or go to her own home. She's very fearful at the moment."

And daddy dearest? Now he's claiming that she is an imposter.

(I feel kind of bad for her, but she had to know that this was going to be the result of talking to the media. If you continue reading the article you will see that she does have a lawyer. Will she start suing some of the UK newspapers? Will that be next?)

Somalia: Okay, how about $20 million? say pirates.

Pirates hanging around the MV Faina. They should be hanging from the mizzen mast.

Ransom for MV FAINA decreased to $20 million. Funny how the amount went down when the pirates and their ship full of tank booty suddenly found themselves surrounded by three warships.

Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter carrying Kenyan military weapons defiantly demanded 20 million dollars in ransom despite being surrounded by three foreign warships on Sunday.

The spokesman for the pirates, contacted by AFP via satellite telephone, confirmed that they were surrounded by three foreign war vessels off Somalia's central coast and said the ship's crew was "safe and not harmed."

"What we are awaiting eagerly is the 20 million dollars (13.7 million euros), nothing less, nothing more," Sugule Ali said. On Saturday, figures ranging between five and 35 million dollars had been put forward.

Why are they so confident? According to the Marine Log, the pirates claim to have damning paperwork from the ship that will reveal that these tanks weren't going to Kenya as claimed by the Russians. No they were going to the SUDAN. Do they have that proof?

Now Kenya's Capital Radio quotes Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East Africa Seafarers Assistance Program as saying the hijackers claim to be in possession of confidential documents showing that the arms aboard the Faina were actually destined for Southern Sudan.

The pirates are threatening to unleash a "damning report" unless they are paid a ransom.

It sounds like conditions are deteriorating on the ship, too. Although this is being denied by the official spokespirate. One of the hostages has reportedly died of natural causes although this has not been independently confirmed yet. Oh, and one more thing...


Got that? They are just humble and green ECO-Warriors who are protecting their fragile environment and have the full backing of their "community." Their Islamic community...

Ali said of the ransom demand: "We are not pirates, we are just protecting our natural marine resources. Some countries want to make our waters a dumping site for the industry of the West. We are supported by the local community."

It's still not clear who is doing the actual negotiating.

The Kenyan government said it would not be responsible for the cargo until it was unloaded. This means that the Ukrainian side must negotiate the release of the crew, the ship and the weaponry.

I still say, a mizzen mast hanging is too good for them...

Afghanistan: Taliban kill high profile female police officer

"She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target."

Taliban gunmen shot dead the most high-profile female police officer in Afghanistan on Sunday as she left her home to go to work on Sunday, officials and the militia said.

The attackers were waiting outside the home of Malalai Kakar, head of the city of Kandahar's department of crimes against women, and opened fire on her car, Kandahar government spokesman Zalmay Ayoobi told AFP.

"Today between 7 am and 8 am when she was (in her car) outside her house and going to her job, some gunmen attacked," Ayoobi said. "Malalai Kakar died in front of her house. Her son was wounded."A spokesman for the extremist Taliban movement, which targets government officials as part of an growing insurgency, said that the assassins were from his group.


"We killed Malalai Kakar," spokesman Yousuf Ahmadi told AFP. "She was our target, and we successfully eliminated our target."

Kakar, a mother of six, was regularly profiled in international media and was known for her courage in one of Afghanistan's most conservative provinces.

A captain in the police force and the most senior policewoman in Kandahar, she headed a team of about 10 women police officers and had reportedly received numerous death threats.

Such a shame.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Egypt: European hostages - they're running out of food and fuel.

What you're missing at Gilf Kebir - that and being kidnapped by savages.

Once again, the thought occurs to me that anyone that travels to Egypt as a tourist is a fool.
The adventure-tour operator Explore will decide in the next few days whether to go ahead with trips to the remote western desert of Egypt, where 11 tourists were kidnapped on September 19. Explore says the 11 clients booked to travel next month have been offered the chance to switch to another tour, but are all keen to go ahead. Other tour operators report that clients have been in touch seeking reassurance after initial media reports misreported that the kidnap had taken place in the popular tourist city of Aswan.

Thanks again to the Egyptian government who did not act to rescue the last bunch of fools when they had the opportunity. One wonders whether a rescue attempt would have been mounted if the captives were Egyptian citizens.

Kidnappers who seized 19 hostages in Egypt more than a week ago are running short of food and fuel, an Egyptian government source said on Saturday.

The official said the kidnappers moved the hostages into Libya for a few hours on Friday to try to stock up on supplies before returning to Sudanese territory.

"They are suffering from a severe shortage in food and fuel," the official said.

This latest report has them back in the Sudan and on their way back towards Egypt??

Kidnappers holding 11 European tourists and eight Egyptians are back to Sudan after crossing to the Libyan border, Sudanese foreign minister said today. Yesterday Tripoli denied the presence of the kidnappers inside Libya. Libyan officials said Friday an extensive search for the hostages showed they are not on Libyan soil. On Thursday Sudan said the group had crossed into the neighbouring country. Ambassador Ali Youssef head of protocol division at the foreign ministry stated on Saturday that Sudanese security service detected the return of hostage-takers inside Sudan. He further said that the group now is on its way to Egypt from eastern Jebel Oweinat, a mountain near the Sudan-Egypt border.

UK: Jewel of Medina publisher set on fire.

Care to hazard a guess as to their religious persuasion?

Police arrested three men on Saturday in connection with a fire at the offices of the publisher of a book about the Prophet Mohammed and his child bride.

The men, aged 22, 30 and 40, were arrested in north London under anti-terrorism legislation after the fire on Saturday morning at Gibson Square's offices. Police were also searching four addresses in east London.

Britain's domestic Press Association news agency said some residents, whom it did not identify, reported that the incident may have involved a petrol bomb being pushed through the firm's letterbox.

Gibson Square is responsible for the publication of "The Jewel of Medina" -- a fictional account of the Prophet's relationship with his youngest bride Aisha -- by American author Sherry Jones.

Random House announced last month it had cancelled publication of the book in the United States because of fears of violence.

"The Jewel of Medina" was re-released in Serbia earlier this month after being withdrawn in August under pressure from Islamic leaders.

Martin Rynja, publishing director at Gibson Square, earlier this month defended the decision to publish the book, saying that in "an open society there has to be open access to literary works, regardless of fear. As an independent publishing company, we feel strongly that we should not be afraid of the consequences of debate," he added.

Gibson Square could not be immediately contacted for comment on Saturday's fire and subsequent arrests.

Related posts can be found here.

Somalia: Pirates die strangely after seizing MV Iran Deyanat

There is something very wrong with that ship...

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates. Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill “within days” of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died.

Andrew Mwangura, the director of the East African Seafarers’ Assistance Programme, told the Sunday Times: “We don’t know exactly how many, but the information that I am getting is that some of them had died. There is something very wrong about that ship.”

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.

The drama over the Iran Deyanat comes as speculation grew this week about whether the South African Navy would send a vessel to join the growing multinational force in the region.

A naval spokesman, Lieutenant-Commander Greyling van den Berg, told the Sunday Times that the navy had not been ordered by the government to become involved in “the Somali pirate issue”.


The ship is owned and operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, or IRISL, a state-owned company run by the Iranian military.

According to the US Treasury Department, the IRISL regularly falsifies shipping documents to hide the identity of end users, uses generic terms to describe shipments and operates under various covers to circumvent United Nations sanctions. The ship set sail from Nanjing, China, at the end of July. According to its manifest, it was heading for Rotterdam where it would unload 42500 tons of iron ore and “industrial products” purchased by a German client.

At Eyl, the ship was secured by more pirates — about 50 on board, and another 50 on shore. But within days those who had boarded the ship developed mysterious health trouble. This was also confirmed by Hassan Allore Osman, minister of minerals and oil in Puntland, an autonomous region of Somalia. He headed a delegation sent to Eyl when news of the toxic cargo and illnesses surfaced. He told one news publication, The Long War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the pirates, a number of them had become sick and died. “That ship is unusual,” he was quoted as saying. “It is not carrying a normal shipment.”

The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship’s cargo containers when some of them fell sick — but the containers were locked.

Osman’s delegation spoke to the ship’s captain and its engineer by cellphone, demanding to know more about the cargo. Initially it was claimed the cargo contained “crude oil”; later it was said to be “minerals”. And Mwangura has added: “Our sources say it contains chemicals, dangerous chemicals.”But IRISL has denied that — and threatened legal action against Mwangura. The company has reportedly paid the pirates 200000 — the first of several “ransom instalments”, but that, too, has been denied.

More twists and turns - from the Long War Journal.

The syndicate set the ship's ransom at $2 million and the Iranian government provided $200,000 to a local broker "to facilitate the exchange." Iran refutes that it agreed to the price and has paid any money to the pirates. Nevertheless, after sanctions were applied to IRISL on September 10, Osman says, the Iranians told the pirates that the deal was off. "They told the pirates that they could not come because of the presence of the U.S. Navy." The region is patrolled by the multinational Combined Task force 150, which includes ships from the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet.

In a strange twist, the Iranian press claims that the U.S. has offered to pay a $7 million bribe to the pirates to "receive entry permission and search the vessel." Officials in the Pentagon and the Department of State approached for this story refused to comment on the situation. Somali officials would also not comment on any direct U.S. involvement but one high-level official in the Puntland government told The Long War Journal "I can say the ship is of interest to a lot of people, including Puntland."

Somalia: Pirates seize chemical tanker.

$35 million ransom demanded for the Ukrainian ship, the MV Faina.

and want $35 million for the Ukrainian freighter.
(The one with the tanks, grenade launchers and ammo on it.)

Pirates have seized a Greek chemical tanker with 19 crew members off Somalia's coast, continuing an audacious string of hijackings near the African country, an international anti-piracy watchdog said on Saturday.

The tanker, carrying refined petroleum from Europe to the Middle East, was ambushed on Friday in the Gulf of Aden, said Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau's piracy reporting centre based in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, a man claiming to be the spokesman of pirates holding a Ukrainian ship laden with tanks says they want $35 million for its release.

Warnings are issued to would-be rescuers, a ransom is demanded and then the ransom demand is denied. Confusion reigns. Worse yet, the ship is rumored to be steaming towards Mogadishu in the heart of the Islamist territory.

"We are warning France and others who are thinking of carrying out a rescue that we have the power to reach them wherever they are," he said. "We are demanding a ransom of at least $35m."

But later in a tersely-worded statement, a spokesman for the Kenyan government said they had not received any credible demands for a ransom to release the ship. He went on to say that the government would not negotiate with what it called international criminals, pirates and terrorists, and said efforts to recover the hijacked ship and its cargo would continue.

Hey Sailors! The USS Howard.

The good news? The USS Howard is keeping an eye on it.

A U.S. destroyer off the coast of Somalia closed in Saturday on a hijacked Ukrainian ship loaded with tanks and ammunition, watching it to ensure the pirates who seized it do not try to remove any cargo or crew.

Meanwhile the Russian frigate, The Neuestrashimy has been ordered to the region.

In related hijacking news, the Malaysian tanker the Bunga Melati was released today after a $2 million ransom was paid.

UK: Britain to pay for outing Bakri's pole dancing daughter.

Double D for Daddy Dearest?

Revelation that his daughter is a pole dancer is an "attack against Islam". Yeah-yeah-yeah. Everything's an attack against Islam to you people, Omar...

There's no word how Big Daddy Omar feels about al-Arabiya outing the fact that he paid for Yasmin's $7000 boob job.

Now there's a Muslim family value I NEVER expected! Read on, my little polecat possums.

“Outspoken preacher Omar Bakri Mohammed paid for his daughter to get a boob job, which led to her becoming an erotic pole dancer, British press reported Saturday.

Syrian-born Bakri, famous for slamming Western women who flaunt their sexuality, paid £4,000 (about $7,000) in cash for 27-year-old Yasmin Fostock to enhance her breasts to a massive DD cup, The Sun tabloid quoted a source as saying.

The source said Yasmin managed to convince her religious dad to fork out the cash, saying it would make her feel like a better mother while she was breastfeeding.

“He went along with it and even went to the top London clinic with her where he paid for the surgery in cash. The rest of the family were set against it, but he insisted she should have her way if it would make her a better mother."

Is this hilarious, or just downright weird? Putting aside for the moment the question as to whether or not you would actually have a boob job. Tell me, would you ask your father to pay for it? This smacks of something icky to me and makes me wonder if there's more than a double d cup that meets the eye here. All useless, idle speculation, of course.

But, there is this to consider.

According to University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Mary Anne Layden, between 60 and 80 percent of nude dancers were raped or sexually abused as children.

I hope that Yasmin's being outed doesn't jeopardize her safety. These thugs have no problem picking on girls.