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British soccer hooligans took part in "Ground Zero Mosque" protest

Sept. 11 protests over an Islamic community center a few blocks away from the World Trade Center site drew an unlikely ally: British soccer hooligans.

This isn't particularly shocking, given that many hooligans have long been tied into European right-wing political organizations. The most infamous among them were militant followers of Red Star Belgrade in the early 1990s. Headed by future-Serbian war criminal Arkan, the Delije were notoriously violent fanatics, and later became a backbone of Serbian paramilitary units in the Balkan Wars.

The small protest contingent were members of the English Defense League, an anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim organization. (They style themselves as a "Counter Jihad" movement.) The make-up of the group itself is actually quite amazing. The New York Times quotes a piece on the EDL's website referring to a London Al-Quds Day rally:

More and more lads started to arrive at the pub, Pompey, Southampton, West Ham, Arsenal, Tottenham, Millwall, Chelsea, Brentford, QPR all drinking together, a bit of banter, but no hassle whatsoever. Top lads all there for their country.

For the record, these are some of English football's fiercest rivalries: (Pompey) Portsmouth-Southampton, West Ham-Millwall, Arsenal-Tottenham, Queens Park Rangers (QPR)/Brentford (and to a lesser extent, Chelsea.)

The Times piece also provides a number of videos of EDL rallies, which are well worth a look to get a taste of what the group is like. Matthew Taylor of the Guardian secretly investigated the group for months, and produced this video in May. A choice bit as quoted by the Times:

As we moved outside for the E.D.L. protest -- during which supporters became involved in violent clashes with the police -- a woman asked me for a donation to support the "heroes coming back injured from Afghanistan." I put a pound in the bucket.

"Thanks love," she said."They go over there and fight for this country and then come back to be faced with these Pakis everywhere." The woman also used another racial slur, using language we cannot repeat here.

Charming.

Some right-wing U.S. protesters have gone to great lengths to prove they aren't bigots; I wonder if they'll denounce this British group showing up at their rallies …

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

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Russia and Canada to refer Arctic dispute to U.N.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Canadian counterpart Lawrence Cannon met today about competing claims over the Lomonosov Ridge, an underwater rdige of continental crust under the Arctic Ocean claimed by both territories and pledged to let the United Nations resolve the dispute

The dispute has intensified amid growing evidence that global warming is shrinking polar ice, opening up new shipping lanes and new resource development opportunities.

"We will submit our data on the Lomonosov Ridge and we are confident that our case will prevail backed by scientific evidence," Cannon said at a news conference after the talks.

Lavrov said Russia also is working to submit additional data that will persuade the U.N. of the validity of Moscow's claim.

"They should provide a scientific proof that it's an extension of our continental shelf," he said.

Moscow first submitted its claim in 2001 to the United Nations, but it was sent back for lack of evidence. Russia then dramatically staked its claim to the region by dropping a canister containing the Russian flag on the ocean floor from a small submarine at the North Pole in 2007.

Fears of armed conflict in the Arcitc may indeed by overblown, but it's hard to deny that the politics of the region are getting more interesting. Lavrov also warned that Russia would be no more toleratn of NATO encroachment on its Northern frontier than the South: 

"I don't think it would be right for NATO to assume the right to determine ... how make decisions in the Arctic,"